Martial Arts (Action)
|Heroic Action Role-Play|
This is a Metatradition; a tradition that is very wide and non-specific. Each metatradition has many orders, sects, and secret societies that see each others as rivals and believe they alone hold the key to true understanding. Some settings might include magical traditions that are this generic, but in most cases the actual traditions that player characters belong to are much more specific. Martial Arts is the name of a wide collection of styles and practices devoted to developing body control, spiritual balance, and inner powers. These styles vary from the very direct and physical to the very esoteric.
Martial Arts is all about developing the control of your body, breathing, and inner being. As a result of this training, you can what would normally be perform physically impossible tasks.
Martial Artists traditionally focus on Melee powers, often with a focus on unarmed attacks and damage stances. Masters of the art can use the full range of powers, but most practitioners do not develop Create powers until very late in their training.
Martial arts is the archetypal Chi tradition, focusing entirely on inner powers.
Your power is tied to belief, and your belief is tied to a code of behavior. You must follow your ethos, or your power fails. It does not matter if you follow a god or a philosophy; what matters is that your ethos and tenets are central to all that you do. This is the basis of all divine power; if your god actually grants you these powers, or if your faith is just a psychological crutch you use to work your power is an open issue.
Each Powers act must be a manifestation of your belief. You cannot work power unless it fits your picture of the universe. Your power cannot work contrary to your code of ethics, and if you grossly violate the tenets of your religion at any time, you lose your ability to work power until you atone. Most religion have a built-in antithesis; there are opposing gods, devils, the dark side and other negative, opposed forces in most mythologies. If you fall from the path of righteousness, you can usually pick up and continue your studies under a new master, but this will mandate a drastic change in role and personality, and may turn you into an NPC.
Trigger Action (Focus)
When you are in the presence of others who share your faith and support your actions, you can focus. It generally takes about ten people to achieve this, but if you are acting directly in the interests of your faith even a single person will do. In extreme situations of faith, your own belief can be sufficient in itself.
Many orders of martial artists have a code of behavior. Breaking this code makes you lose your powers temporarily while you ponder your actions. Disdaining the code and changing how you live lets you break free from this method, generally making you an outcast from your order.
You are the linchpin of all your power; when you cease to concentrate your power dissipates. You cannot create power effects that continue to work when you are not paying attention to them.
If you relax, fall asleep, or become unconscious all your power effects lapse. This includes any Inherent powers you have. Power effects end when a stance would normally end, such as when you are prevented from taking actions.
Trigger Action (Focus)
Whenever you are not using any powers, including stances, you can focus.
You have a special look you wear to work your power. This is distinctive, and marks you as odd; people in the know can learn things about your Tradition from it. It need not be a specific outfit, rather it is a range of outfits with some common and identifiable characteristic. The exact details vary, but specific colors, long robes, pointy hats, or embroidered signs and glyphs are standard. Variant costumes include extensive tattoos, nudity, a certain style of jewelry or accessories, or a very funky hairdo. If your costume includes a type of armor, you must wear that type of armor to count as being in costume, If it does not, you cannot wear armor while in costume.
If your costume is damage and worn, burned or otherwise mishandled it still works and is still recognizable.
You must be in costume to work powers. Donning your costume is a basic action. It is possible to use powers while wearing the costume under other clothes, but this counts as a Disguise stunt.
You can always focus at any time when in costume, but it costs you a Fortune point to do so.
Martial artists tend to prefer loose robes and tunics, but this is not a method unless it is compulsory. More common is that your training is apparent in your very gait; unless you take constant pains to disguise yourself, your martial arts training is obvious whenever you move.
Echoes add chance to your powers, and this does not stop at the effects you produce consciously. This can be because your powers affects the world in a very fundamental way, a form of backlash, a result of your rampant subconscious, or simply the workings of blind chance.
Your powers are subject to chance and strange effects occur around you constantly. What these side effects are can vary from time to time or have a set theme, as decided when you take the limitation. They are often origin-based. Echoes manifest spontaneously and outside your control. They are noticeable, and can give people in the know information they would not otherwise have. Technological powers cause technological side effects, such as brownouts or glitches. Mystic powers have effects similar to the ones you produce yourself. Echoes are generally funny, in a sadistic kind of way; they never obstruct the story, but can create setbacks and hindrances for you and (rarely) your friends. They are a great plot device for the GM to use when you are taking too much camera time or are using your power for tasks that should be role-played.
You can suggest echoes, or your game master can invent them. If you invent funny and annoying echoes, the game master will probably go easy on you with his own. In either case, it is the game master that has the final word on what happens.
Echoes makes small odd things occur around you, but this is mostly flavor, tough they can sometimes provide clues to enemies or distractions to you. When you use your powers in obvious ways, they manifest more strongly; on a Snakeyes roll when using obvious powers you suffer a Setback from your echoes. This Setback often mimics the power you were using, escalating or reversing it, or changing targets. As setbacks go, this is usually pretty mild.
If you invent a creative echo, you can focus. Alternatively, you can ask the GM for an echo, in which case it might be slightly more severe for making him think one up on his feet. In either case, it is an unusually mild Setback and usually manifests at the end of the round - after you've had a chance to use a Limit Break.
Echoes tend to be closely related to your powers and abilities.
Blind seers and lame but magically powerful smiths are a staple of legends. This is also something the GM can impose temporarily on players, due to damage or other complications of limited duration. Perhament handicaps should be left for the player to decide.
You have some physical handicap that is tied to your power. Perhaps you developed your power to make up for the handicap, or it is a side effect of having acquired the power. You can even have several handicaps if you like. Some examples:
- Blind - Still has a general awareness of moving creatures within Mind meters.
- Deaf - You cannot hear spoken conversation and are easily surprised. The perception element of all your skills are equal to your Mind, but you can use the perception element normally with actions, including as an active defense.
- Lame - Prevent movement as a part of normal basic actions. On a full move action, you can take a normal move instead of a full move
- Crippled arms prevent most physical manipulation and the use of weapons and implements.
- Mute - Prevents mundane speech. Make sure to enforce this strictly.
- Albino - Highly sensitive to sunlight, imposing visual penalties and causing Hits with extended exposure. Looks spooky.
The handicap does not limit your power, instead the handicap itself is limiting. Your powers develop at the price of your physical prowess.
Whenever your handicap causes you acute problems, actual penalties, setbacks, or damage, you can focus. Willfully provoking your handicap does work, but the situation must actually cause you some penalty or discomfort. Using powers to overcome your handicap prevents you from using it to focus, but often powers will only negate part of the handicap, in which case you can still use the remainder to focus.
Brian is lame, but has the magical ability to hover. He needs to kick a fallen branch out of the way to clear a path for his friends. Since he cannot, he can focus, despite that Hover negates most of the penalties of being lame.
While most martial artists are perfect specimens, same went into the martial arts to overcome some physical handicap.
Loss of Control
You are channeling powers beyond your control: sometimes these powers take you over and force you to go wild. You must specify the nature of the power you are connecting to, as this will influence how you focus and what happens when you lose control. In general, this amounts to a specific vice; focusing means tickling this vice, loss of control is when you are overwhelmed.
The actions you do when you lose control can be nonsensical or even destructive. You lose sight of your normal goals and live out your vice in an immediate and direct way. Such actions can indirectly benefit your normal cause, but you pursue them beyond what is reasonable and productive.
You risk losing control in certain situations, especially when doing things somehow relevant to the nature or source of your powers. When you roll Snakeyes on any task, the GM proposes an action your powers tries to force you to do. The GM can also make one such proposition of his own per scene. You can agree, and behave as suggested. In extreme cases, the GM might even take temporary control of your character. If you resist, you lose access to your powers for the rest of the scene.
When doing the type of actions you do when you lose control, you can focus. This can either be because because you gave in to the GMs suggestion or because you came up with a course of action the GM agrees is in accordance with your vice. When you are taking the initiative and choose to skirt the danger, you have to continue to act out your vice until it plays itself out, or risk losing your powers.
While rare, some martial artists become possessed by the ghosts or ancient masters or their own past lives. Others enter the martial arts to overcome such problems, but do not fully succeed. Yet others can be overcome by the ideals of their tradition or philosophy - this can be a particular problem for those that left their tradition.
Manual of Power
Your powers are recorded in some kind of manual, tome, or device; a large but portable object that you need to occasionally check up on in order to use your powers. Notice that a manual of power can itself be an implement, usually a Tome. If your power manual is lost, you can replace it, but that is a major undertaking and only happens between adventures; you are usually better off trying to find it again.
You need to spend an hour with your manual before each session, keeping your powers up to date. If you fail to do this, you suffer power failure. Note that you need not carry your power manual on your person, you only need to consult it once per session.
Basic Action (Focus)
You can use your manual of power to focus, but this is a Basic Action for you. You must actually carry the manual to do so.
Surprisingly common for an internal traditions, literally works detailing secret martial arts traditions are common for self-taught practitioners.
Mark of Power
Your power has left its mark on you and you draw power from this monstrous nature. This can be a demonic or angelic form, sharp claws, obvious cybernetics, huge green muscles, or some other distinctive appearance of your choice. You look quite out of the ordinary and are likely to attract attention and be recognized. It is possible but difficult to disguise this, and it is always visible on close inspection.
If you are transformed into a mundane shape, you lose your powers. Mere illusions won't do, it has to be a physical change. The most radical variant of this is if powers are used to alter your shape, but failing to maintain your supernatural form also triggers power loss. If your form depends on powers, such as Mutations or Cybernetic Implants and these are dispelled, all your powers fail. If you are constantly in disguise for long periods, your powers will gradually weaken, tough you get plenty of advance warning of this.
This kind of power loss has a duration based on the extent of the change; minor changes can cause a power loss for the round, while greater changes can cause power loss for a scene or even one or more sessions in extreme cases.
When an NPCs reaction towards you changes significantly because of your appearance, you can focus. This creates the odd situation that you can often focus in less important confrontations on the street, but rarely when faced with cool villains - unless they have a particular prejudice.
For martial artists, this is usually a refusal to adhere to the cultural norms of their society on hygiene, grooming, dress etc.
Your powers work by controlling chance, manifesting as extreme luck or skillful use of available tools or other plausible plot elements. No obvious supernatural power on your part is involved. What is normal is based on the perceptions of the local populace; if intervention by faeries are everyday events where you are, you can camouflage your powers as such.
You cannot cause effects that clearly and observably violate the laws of nature in the setting or cause an effect outside of local technology. Having a technological gadget at hand can often enhance plausibility. Your powers can also seem to be the side effect of another power-user in the vicinity, as long as the effect is in line with what people expect such people to be able to to.
Trigger Action (Focus, Combo)
You can focus at any time when you manage to cause a power effect that seem entirely reasonable and commonplace but still has a distinct and concrete effect on reality. Subtle effects do not count; only actions that other notice but assume to be natural events qualify. If you come up with a use of a Limit Break that would satisfy this condition, you can use this as a combo to enable you to use that Limit Break.
Not all martial arts styles are supernatural and cinematic.
You have an overabundance power within you. When you release your full power, it comes with an explosive release. This does no harm, but is loud, flashy, and usually causes you to float in the air. It changes your appearance, at the very ruffling your outfit and leaving you slightly crispy. Depending on the campaign and your role, it might leave you stark naked.
You can usually get yourself in order between scenes, but with short scenes you might not have the opportunity. While disheveled, people will consider you rude and vulgar, but depending on the observer you might also seem powerful and erotic.
When you use a lot of powers rapidly there are side effects even when not used to focus. Your hands might glow, you are surrounded by glowing runes, levitate in the air, or glow in strange colors. You can avoid this almost completely by taking your time, using no more than a single power per minute.
You can focus by invoking a power explosion, but only once per scene.
This limitation does not cause your powers to fail, instead making them activate randomly. You can pick up to three misfire triggers - and the power each of them triggers - when you pick this method. The advantage of having more triggers is that you can focus more often the more misfires you suffer. Typical examples of triggers can be when you roll snake eyes, when hit by a certain kind of attack, or when you see the full moon for the first time tonight. When this condition occurs, one of your powers activates outside of your control. Generally, this is the same or a similar power misfiring in the same way each time. Misfires are Setbacks and generally detrimental to you, tough they can sometimes have positive side effects. If the power allows some targeting roll or other way to avoid nasty side effects, you fail this roll. The chosen power is generally a Limit Break. Examples include a Fireball exploding in your face, an involuntary change into an Alternate form, or an accidental Demon Summoning.
Power misfires occur right after you have spent all your shots for the round.
When Power Misfire triggers, you can focus. This focus cannot be used to undo the effect of the Power Misfire, but you can do your own Limit Break just before the power misfire triggers.
You have a reserve of inner power, called mana for supernatural powers and by some technical term such as battery or capacitors for technology. You can use this reserve to fuel your power, but when you have done so you become weak and need to restore your power reserve afterward.
When you have used your power intensely, such as in a fight, you grow tired at the end of the scene. Once the fight is over, you cannot use powers until you have replenished your power; a short ritual taking about 15 minutes. Exactly what you do to recover power reserve depends on your power tradition; eating, meditation, prayer, reading, recharging capacitors or connecting to a power outlet are all examples. If there is a condition placed on your recovery that is out of your control, such as sunlight, use of a power outlet, or high wind, your recovery varies - it becomes 5 minutes with access to this recovery aid, 1 hour without the aid.
You can focus at any time. The first use is safe. Roll 1d6 when you focus this way. If the result is lower than the number of times you used this method to focus this session, the power limitation of Power Reserve kicks in immediately.
Hi-Mi-Tsu! - Xellos, the Mysterious priest, Slayers
You have some secret that must not become known. A magical secret can be almost anything. A technological secret is a wavelength, passcode or other sensitive data that is easily used. It can be nonsense, such as a particular number or the name of some higher being or your own secret name. It can be some fact about you, such as that you are a woman, your exact age or that you are the descendant of Zeus. It cannot be something people would ordinarily say; people will not accidentally blurt out your secret unless the GM is using this as a plot device.
It is possible to find your secret through research or investigation, but this is always an important story development and should have its own dangers and drama. You might intuitively feel when someone is close to discovering your secret, which often leads to dramatic confrontations at the point of discovery.
Anyone who finds out your secret can use it to blackmail you and to gain dominance over you, as you cannot effectively use your powers against them. If your secret ever becomes common knowledge, you are doomed. But this should never happen if you play your cards right; the GM can invoke this as a plot device, but as long as you play along, no villain would waste the hook he has on you by publishing your secret.
Anyone stating this secret in your presence negates your powers for the rest of the scene.
Whenever your secret is in immediate danger of being discovered or used, you can focus. This means that an involving secret is much more useful than an obtuse one.
For a martial artist, this is often some flaw in their technique or training that others can exploit.
Your powers give hints about you. Anyone who sees or even describes your powers can recognize them, but this might not be connected to you unless you are publicly known as a power user. Maybe your fireballs have your personal rune emblazoned on them or your electronic remote-control signals are poorly shielded. This can be very dangerous in combination with methods like Astrology, Power Secret, or Naming.
The information contained in your power signature for enemies to learn must be fairly important, and the GM decides exactly what it is. If you or they use secrets or information in methods, such information is a good pick. Other possible secrets include embarrassing facts that give large bonuses on interactions stunts, blackmail material, codes that give access to your telephone, bank, or internet accounts, personal information about loved ones that can be kidnapped, or your True Name.
Anyone who knows your style can recognize your powers by sight. Know stunts made against you by someone who has seen your powers or their results have a difficulty equal to your Mind or Know, whichever is lower. You never suffer power loss from this limitation, but might clue others in on how to give you Power Loss.
You can focus anytime, but when you do all enemies get to do an immediate Analyze Weakness stunt without spending any shots.
You are dependent on an external supply of energy to work your powers. This could be an electric grid, the universal web of power, the stars being right, the mystic field of force that connects all life, or the attention and good will of a supernatural entity or god. This method tends to be universal; either everyone of a tradition uses it, or no-one does. This makes the method suitable for campaigns where mysterious and remote events dwarf the efforts of the heroes.
When you are out of contact or favor with your power supply, your powers don't work. There might be means for others to disrupt this flow of power, but mostly its something between you and your supplier. Unlike similar methods, this supply is either turned on or off at a remote location; it is not something you can carry an inventory of and use as needed, though there might be ways of getting around it.
Whenever you have been out of supply, your focus sharpens and you have an easier time focusing as your powers come back to you. This free focus lasts for about as long as the power interruption, measured in real-world time; if you were out of power for half a session, you can automatically focus for the remainder of the session.
You focus your power in exclamations, battle cries, and sharp yells. It is not enough to mumble an arcane formula; you shout the name of your power, berate your target, and otherwise make a nuisance of yourself expressing your power.
You cannot use your powers silently. Your words of power need to be audible over your surroundings; in a noisy place your powers themselves might roar. When using Power Words but not focusing, it is not obvious what specific power you are using, only that you are using powers.
You must shout out what Limit Break you intend to use at the start of the round. You can only use this specific limit break this round.
Physical activity can hinder mystical ability; energies that could have been channeled into the mystical are used for base physical body needs. By applying restraint, the distractions of the physical body are eliminated, which frees your power. For technological origins, the same can apply; nerves and brain capacity are re-routed from body control to power control.
You must be physically restrained in some way or your powers become weaker. You cannot use Limit Break powers when not bound. Being bound involves at least one of the conditions below. You must be restrained in such a way that you cannot quickly free yourself; it should take at least 15 minutes for you to get free on your own, someone else can free you with a stunt. Note that it is possible, even encouraged, to use powers to overcome the handicap of restraints.
When you use your powers, there is a risk you will become further restrained; on a Snakeyes roll when using powers you must accept Power Loss or roll 1d6 for a random restraint, adding +1 for each previous restraint.Restraints last at least a scene, and often for the rest of the session. Physical restraint in Action does not completely prevent a hero from action, they impose handicaps to be overcome.
- Gagging prevents mundane speech. Stymies all Charm and Impress checks.
- Handcuffing is when your hands are tied in front of you, but not so tightly as to make them completely unusable; you can still use one hand effectively, such as using weapons or tools of Small size or smaller.
- Hobbling indicates restrained legs, but not fixed to each other. It means you cannot move as part of a normal Basic Action, and can only move your normal move when you do a Full Move action or otherwise do an action that grants extra movement..
- Immobilized, stuck to something, alternatively on a short leash which prevents movement beyond one or two meters. If you are stuck to a creature whose Body is greater than yours, you are forced along as it moves, otherwise you are both immobilized unless you two cooperate.
- Bound Legs you fall prone and cannot stand unsupported, which prevents and hinders many actions as determined by the situation and stunt description. Your Move is reduced to 1. Swimming and flying creatures are entangled, with similar effects.
- Bound Arms prevent most physical manipulation and the use of weapons and implements. You can still use tackles and head butts for (Body +0) damage or a Tiny Ranged Weapon, but limited to Close range.
- Blinded restricts your awareness, giving you only a rough estimate of objects and creatures in a diameter equal to your Mind; you are insensitive to things beyond this range. Everyone has enough concealment to Sneak on you, and against creatures beyond your perception range, you have to use Reflexes rather than Recon for defense against Recon stunts.
- (or more) Hogtie A hogtied character cannot act physically and can only move one meter as a standard action; no movement is otherwise allowed. This also prevents all Defense actions.
You can focus when bound, but if you are not fully restrained, there is a chance the process will backfire. Roll 1d6 when you use this power. If you currently lack the type of restraint indicated by the roll, you are either thus restrained, or the focus fails. Which of these happens can vary depending on tradition, outlook, availability of restrains and even sometimes personal choice. If the focus fails, you cannot try again until the enxt round.
Pyrotesse has hands and legs bound uses this power. Since she lacks some kinds of restraint, she rolls 1d6, rolling a 5, adding +2 for her two current restraints for a total of 7, which indicates blindfolding, which she lacks. Since she has no blindfold and it just doesn't make sense for the scene, she is not blindfolded and focusing fails. She cannot try to use this method to focus again for the current round.
You have some unique item you must have to work your power. Talismans are reasonably large and obvious, like a staff, diadem, dowsing pin, special hat, gizmo or whatever. Without it, you are powerless. Unlike props, this is one specific item. Your talisman is a signature item; it will not disappear unless there is some plot-driven reason for it to disappear, and customs officials and other bystanders will generally ignore it. But its function is always apparent to others of your tradition and to everyone once you start using it for obvious effects. Those in the know might try to take it away from you.
This focus can be either destructible or indestructible. If it is indestructible, it cannot be replaced; you MUST get your unique item back. If it is destructible, it is still tough and hard to destroy, but it can be damaged, and you can replace it.
You suffer power loss when you are without your focus item.
Trigger Action (Focus, Combo)
When your focus item is directly involved in a successful use of your power, such as if you strike with your staff or throw your power diadem, you can focus. You can even do this as a combo with your Limit Break if the Limit Break itself fulfills the condition. This involves a bit of risk; you call attention to your talisman and could potentially lose it.
While rare, some martial artists need a special item, often a weapon, to work their arts. Others don't really know the art at all, instead it is conferred by some item in their possession.
Your power is fueled by sexuality, both your own and that of your targets.
You must have regular sex to replenish your power. You must engage is some sexual activity each day (even if it is as modest as masturbation or sexual fantasies), and you must have a full-fleshed sexual encounter with a partner at least once a week.
Whenever you manage to create sexual tension you can focus. If this is with a friend, it must be a sexual act or a noteworthy development in your relationship. If it is with an opponent, a successful sexually-themed stunt involving Charm or Presence is sufficient.
Your powers work best when you are in a trance, and you are aware even when asleep.
When you use your powers, you enter a trance until your next shot comes up. You cannot use Trigger Actions while in this trance. You do not sleep. Instead you trance as above, and you can still act in this trance.
You enter into a trance (as above) for the rest of the scene. You can break out of the trance trough conscious effort - a Basic Action.
You have taken an oath, and your power only works while you maintain this oath. Stricter vows are likely to interfere much more with your power, but also to grant many more opportunities to focus.
- Vow against killing
- Vow against violence
- Vow of abstinence (from drugs, eating meat, or similar)
- Vow of celibacy
- Vow of fasting
- Vow of forthrightness (no sneaking, approach problems head on)
- Vow of poverty (entrust your upkeep to others, handle no valuables)
- Vow of silence
- Vow of truth (no lying or deliberate deception; silence is acceptable)
You can stand by and watch others breaking the vow with no consequences for you, but in this case you cannot use your adherence to the vow to focus (see below) unless there was some personal stake or advantage you gave up.
You must not have broken your vow recently to practice power. Willfully breaking the vow negates your power for a session, or longer for plot reasons. Breaking it because of coercion or necessity (and this might be frequent in case of such things as fasting) means you cannot use your powers for a scene.
When your vow makes you behave in a way that is irrational or causes a loss in the long or short term, you can focus. This applies even if just one of these three conditions are met; taking a short-term disadvantage might well work out to a long-term advantage, but it still allows you to focus.
Very common and often seemingly nonsensical, these vows are more central (and harder to get rid of) than the codes mentioned under Belief.