Friday, September 21, 2012

Proficiency of the Week (Backdated): Martial Arts (Human/Demihuman)

There are about ten different (unarmed) Martial Arts forms that have been allowed in AD&D. A lot of systems have come and gone, and we settled upon a multi-proficiency 4-style format, and created a worksheet for people whose characters invested in it. Remember that in our variation on the system, characters have an additional starting weapon proficiency, and can also choose to take additional proficiencies in lieu of experience points if they so desire. If their character spends dozens of years doing nothing but refining his skills,  he can become the ultimate master of those skills.

The idea behind this was not to make the old high master of the Eighth Temple of the Flying Tiger the same as the Seven Ancient Brothers of the Cherry Blossom. The idea was, instead, to allow those players who wanted to describe a complex unarmed art form to use a combination of the 4-style format and the Special Attack Weapon Proficiency to create their own martial art legends, based on their own style.

 As my players will attest, there is very little I think can't be fixed with a sheet or handout. It's not that I think players should have a million sheets, I think that players should feel comfortable using worksheets and logs and journals to keep track of stuff. Your martial arts, for example, might just be a list of proficiencies and a line on your combat block but the calculator sheet is how you 'make' your martial arts, and how to keep track of it. Your character can call his +3 to hit with a fist the 'flying fist of the tuna,' but the worksheet tells the DM how it works.

In addition to the worksheet and the special attack proficiency, when using martial arts, I allow the following optional rule to be in effect:

Optional Rule: HANDS/FEET as Magical Weapons:
If the DM allows it, the mental discipline required to allows hand/feet to count as a magical weapons (+1 or higher) can be enough ‘magical energy’ to break through the innate protection of a creature that can only be hit by magical weapons, at a penalty of one. Thus, a monster that can only be hit by +1 weapons can be hit by a martial artist who hits/kicks at +2 (the player still hits at +2, but in terms of what monsters he can hit, it is those who are hit by +1 weapons or lower.) This magical energy is considered psionic energy in nature and is not injured by areas of null magic, but may be disrupted by anti-psionic attacks.
If a player with these pluses hits a monster with a touch attack (wights, acidic creatures, etc.) he gains an extra saving throw per plus to avoid or reduce the damage of the touch attack. If the attack does not normally have a save, he may save for half damage each time (if it is save or die, half-damage is ½ the character’s current HP) Thus a character with +3 who used his touch attack on a wight (normally an attack without a save) would have three saving throws, being able to go as low as 1/8 of a level loss.) Punching a carrion crawler in the tentacles, which would normally force a save vs paralyzation, would allow a 2nd save if the character was +1 to hit. On save or take a status effect change, any save prevents the status effect. If save or take damage, each save reduces the damage by half.

So, without further ado, here is the worksheet itself. More details about the martial arts styles A-D can be found in the Player's Option: Combat and Tactics book, but as the uAD&D players know, that book should be taken with a grain of salt.

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