Thursday, June 12, 2014

Melee Academy: Martial Arts Training

Based on this thread, a forum poster, Infornific proposed a pretty interesting "what if?" What if Job Training from Power-Ups 3: Talents be expressly allowed for the purposes of learning a specific style of martial arts? That got me thinking...that's not a bad idea. In fact, it's kind of awesome. As someone who has some theoretical knowledge of the martial arts (I'm an untrained brawler and scrapper myself), using a variant of Job Training for a martial arts style seems like a cool way to represent fighting well in one particular style, without being able to fight equally well in all styles.

Note: A good chunk of this came from a forum post and Power-Ups 3.

Martial Arts Style Training
You've spent hours practicing, teaching, or learning a specific form of martial arts. To acquire this advantage you must already have the Style Familiarity perk for it and have all its required skills at Attribute+0 or better. As long as you spend time training in this particular style, you gain a +1 per level of Martial Arts Style Training on every required skill for your template and techniques, which do not default to a particular skill (such as Retain Weapon for ranged weapons, which defaults to Dexterity). GMs may allow a player to choose optional skills that his particular teacher taught him, if appropriate. This is a task bonus, much like that gained from Higher Purpose or Daredevil. You can have at most four levels of Martial Arts Style Training. This can be broken up into one or multiple styles. GMs may waive this for characters with Altered Time Rate, Doesn’t Sleep, Duplication, etc.

Cost of Martial Arts Training
Each level of this advantage costs 2 plus 1 point per required skill or technique that doesn't have a skill default. For example, Martial Arts Style Training (Escrima) has three required skills, Karate, Main-Gauche, and Smallsword - so cost would be 2 (the base amount) plus 3 (for the three required skills) or 5 points/level. A PC could buy (up to) four levels of this trait and gain a +4 bonus to its required skills and attribute-defaulted techniques.

Acquiring Martial Arts Training
If you learn Martial Arts Training in play, you do so at exactly the same speed as individual skills – that is, at 200 hours/point, modified for the type of training (see pp. B292- 293). To qualify for it, you must spend points as noted above.

Maintaining Martial Arts Training
As long as you spend at least (final cost of Martial Arts Style Training per level) hours a week training in a particular style you retain your skill bonus. If you fail to do this, you'll soon lose the edge you've gained. You drop a level of Martial Arts Training every six months you don't practice. If you have the opportunity to
retrain at a future date, though, you’ll earn back the advantage at double the usual learning speed until you’ve reached your former level.

Drawbacks of Martial Arts Training
Martial Arts Training is priced at about the same cost as a "Smooth Talent" (see Power-Ups 3, p. 25), but has a couple of drawbacks:
  • It has to be maintained (see above). Though this doesn't necessarily mean a character will lose the trait (he might have time to practice while adventuring!), it does pose a chance for him not being able to make the time and thus losing his "edge."
  • It (obviously) doesn't benefit skills or techniques you don't know or know at the default level.
  • Because you're receiving a bonus to skill, but not actually a bump in skill, you don't get any of the benefits of having a high-skill  level (damage bonus, Trained ST, etc.).

Optional Rule: Moar Damage
GMs might allow the bonus from Martial Arts Training to add to damage rolls for those with Trained by a Master or Weapon Master in particularly high-powered  campaigns - though it should never be allowed to stack with the damage bonuses gained from high skill, Weapon Master, etc. This means, at its highest levels you're effectively adding an additional damage to all rolls - as long as you're using your style that is.

Optional Rule: You're Only Ninth Dan?! You Know Nothing of My Kung Fu
GMs might allow each level of Martial Arts Training to reduce the bonus vs. fellow stylist's Deceptive Attacks, Feints, etc. - just like they get from having Style Familiarity. This could be a additional reduction of -1 per level after first, or an additional -1 per full two levels, or just an extra -1 for having any levels of Martial Arts Training.

Picking Over The Bones
Being able to whoop butt with one specific style may just be too darned narrow for some gamers (and that's okay). Going this route instead of just buying more Dexterity, higher skill, or Strength is probably a better deal for someone who knows more than a few styles - in fact it is. The same could be said of just acquiring the style's cinematic skills and going from there.


  1. I like it a lot. One question: one of the drawbacks is "is doesn't benefit skills or techniques you don't know or know at the default level." Well, one of the requirements is that you know all the skills in the style, but are you saying that someone with Escrima Training 2 only doesn't get a +2 bonus to Smallsword if their using a technique at default... wait, that makes total sense. If it's from default, they haven't trained at it, so the training doesn't help.

    Yeah, this is really cool. Thanks, Christopher and Infornific!

    1. Right, but there are optional skills and you don't need to know the techniques at above default - but it's sometimes useful. I made it a task bonus because it sidesteps a lot of questions like "If I get a bonus to Karate making it DX+1 - do I get the damage bonus?" Basically, if you have put points in the techniques and skills - it makes you better. Of course, in most instances the bonus to techniques is only going to apply to techniques that have defaults other than skills. The rule for double-counting bonuses from talents are still in play. For example, if you have Double Trouble Martial Arts Training 3, you'd get a bonus to Guns(Pistol) which Dual-Weapon Attack defaults off of at Skill-4. But Retain Weapon (Pistol) defaults off of straight DX which means you'd get Retain Weapon (Pistol) at DX+4, assuming you have it at DX+1 or greater.

  2. A great article on many points; however, progressive schools that specialize in teaching kids are incorporating the best and appropriate aspects from all martial arts. There is no need to be dogmatic and doing so is likely counterproductive for teaching children effectively. Kids Brazilian Jiu-jitsu in Connecticut