Friday, July 26, 2019

A Style for Every Race, A Style for Every Class

A while back, I posted some rules for using Oriental Adventures/Complete Ninja style martial arts in all parts of AD&D... making two different fighters with swords and shields very different, and allowing them to gain some neat abilities with training.

As part of that, I also decided to create a series of martial arts for different races and classes... each of the ones in the 2e PH, in fact.

Racial Styles

Dwarven Warder

Hard Blocking Style

AC Mod: 3 (AC 7)
Attacks: 2
Damage: d3

1 Basic Parry, Blind-Fighting, Shove
2 Blocking Hand, Mental Resistance, Instant Stand
3 Parry All, Immovability
4 Grappling Block, Iron Skin
5 Arrow Parry, Final Blow, Magic Resistance
6 Great Shout

Battle Axe, Hand Axe, Warhammer, Long Sword

The Dwarven Warder style focuses on defense; most manuevers are done with a shield. Novices tend to prefer larger shields, but as the warrior advances, smaller shields become more prevalent... skill helps to compensate for the smaller shield, and some maneuvers benefit from having a semi-free hand.

Elven Bladesinging

Soft Movement Style

AC Mod: 6 (effective AC of 4)
Attacks: 1
Damage: 1d1

1 Feint, Blind Fighting
2 Mental Resistance, Healing Touch, Instant Stand, Disarm
3 All-round Sight, Ch'i Attacks
4 Leap, Slow Resistance, Iron Skin
5 Swiftness, Magic Resistance
6 Speed, Great Shout

Weapons Available:
Long Sword, Short Sword, Dagger, Staff

A style studied primarily by elven warriors, wizards, and warrior-wizards, this style emphasizes graceful, dance-like movements, usually with a long sword or dagger (for magic-users). Mastering it is the work of centuries (especially as full mastery would require more than 15 weapon proficiencies), but a fully mastered Bladesinger with no armor and a plain longsword is as well-defended as a man in plate, and able to engage demons in direct combat.

Path of Least Resistance

Soft Vital Strikes Style
AC mod: 6
Attacks: 1
Damage: d1
Weapons: Short sword, Dagger, Club, Spear

1 Pain Touch, Feint, Blocking Hand
2 Healing Touch, Mental Resistance
3 Stunning Touch, Armed Defense
4 Paralyzing Touch
5 Curing Touch, Magic Resistance, Final Blow

Most of the Path of Least Resistance concentrates on using simple touches to affect your target; a touch can bring pain or immobility, or heal wounds or abate illness. While weapons training is included with a few of the gnome's most common weapons, and those who are skilled do not need weapons at all, the style very much presupposes that it will be used by the average gnome, with only weapons likely to be at hand, and often used with various animal friends (stunning or paralyzing animals to prevent them from misbehaving, without causing permanent injury).


Hard Movement Style
AC mod: 3
Attacks: 2/1
Damage: d3

Weapons: Broadsword, Scimitar, Sabre, Sickle

1 Feint, Circle Kick
2 Prone Fighting, Backward Kick, Tiger Claw
3 All-Round Sight, Ch'i Attacks
4 Leap, Slow Resistance
5 Swiftness
6 Speed

Dismissed by bladesingers as a corruption of their art, Bladedancing combines human sensibilities with elven grace. Direct and hard-hitting, it cribs many steps from Bladesinging, but is less complex, and many of bladesong's preparatory and misleading movements are elided in favor of the sharp strike at the end.

Dancing with Big People

Hard/Soft Throw Style
AC Mod: 4
Attacks: 3/2
Damage: 1d2

Weapons: Dagger, Club, Knife, Short Sword

1 Fall, Blind-fighting, Pain Touch
2 Instant Stand, Vital Strikes, Locking Block
3 Hurl, All-round sight, Armed Defense
4 Defensive Throw
5 Great Throw

"Dancing With Big People" is a style designed around a halfling's tendency to be undersized compared to their opponents, and so needing what advantages they can get. A typical fight will open with a pain touch (not uncommonly, a rabbit-strike to knees or groin), with the halfling fouling the attacker's weapon, or even throwing them away. While gnomish and dwarvish styles reinforce their natural magic resistance, halflings trust to their innate nature and making big folk pay for trying to hurt them. A common tactic is to get the big folks down on the ground, then finish them with weapons, possibly from a number of other halflings.

Class Styles


Hard Kick Style

AC Mod: 2
Attacks: 2
Damage: d4

Weapons: Battle Axe, Halberd, Bardiche, Voulge

1 Circle Kick, Feint
2 Backward Kick, Concentrated Push
3 All-Round Sight, Ch'i Attacks, Immovability
4 Sweep Kick
5 Roundhouse Kick, Final Blow
6 Great Shout

Though ostensibly a kicking style, Zweihander excels when its practitioners use a two-handed, cleaver-type blade, and taking advantage of their opponent's awareness of their axe to do other effects... such as shoving them back, knocking them to the ground, or simply standing still against all comers. Zweihander has no particular defensive maneuvers; it assumes that its practitioners will be wearing armor, and relying upon that for defense.

The Disciple's Way

Hard/Soft Striking Style

AC Mod: 3
Attacks: 3/2
Damage: d3

Weapons: Long Sword, Horseman's Mace, Footman's Mace, Bastard Sword

1 Iron Fist, Meditation, Shove
2 Tiger Claw, Mental Resistance, Healing Touch
3 Raven's Beak, Ch'i Attacks
4 Crushing Blow, Ironskin
5 Arrow Parry

The Disciple's Way is direct, meditative, and designed for armed and armored warriors facing superior foes. A paladin who has mastered its ways is difficult to influence via magics, combining their own resistances with the superior training of the style. Of special note is the Healing Touch power; a lesser form of the Paladin's own laying of hands, it may, nonetheless, be combined with it, effectively increasing the potency of Lay on Hands by 50%.

The Runner's Way

Hard Movement Style

AC mod: 3
Attacks: 2/1
Damage: d3
Weapons: Knife, Hand Axe, Spear, Dagger

1 Feint, Blind-fighting
2 Prone Fighting, Backward Kick
3 Parry All, Armed Defense, All-round sight
4 Leap, Iron Skin, Slow Resistance
5 Swiftness
6 Speed

The Runner's Way is a style designed to work with a ranger's solitude and proficiency with two-weapon fighting. Both Feint and Parry All take advantage of the fact that a dual-wielding ranger will have, effectively, three attacks in a round, even from a low level, and thus be able to perform far more attacks than might be expected, or shift to defense while still matching a less skilled opponent blow-for-blow. A master of the Runner's Way is lightning-fast, aware of everyone, and even if they are surrounded, able to fight multiple foes as if they were three men.


Magus's Hand
Soft Push Style
AC Mod: 6
Attacks: 1
Damage: 1d1

Weapons: Dagger, Knife, Staff, Club

1 Meditation
2 Concentrated Push, Mental Resistance
3 Ch'i Attacks, Stunning Touch
4 One-finger Push, Slow Resistance
5 Magic Resistance
6 Levitation, Distance Death, Speed

Seldom mastered, the Magus's Hand style presumes that its practitioners are wizards, or have, at least, some bare magical ability. Its concentration is on harnessing that magical power to create magical effects, without requiring the expenditure of spells. As such, practitioners hone their minds, not their bodies, using an almost precognitive sense to avoid being hit.

Shield of the Faithful
Soft Blocking Style
AC Mod: 6
Attack: 1
Damage: d1

Weapons: Footman's Mace, Horseman's Mace, Warhammer, Club

1 Basic Parry, Meditation, Blind Fighting
2 Blocking Hand, Mental Resistance, Disarm
3 Parry All, Immovability
4 Grappling Block, Iron Skin
5 Arrow Parry

The Shield of the Faithful is widespread among Lawful and Good religions as a discipline of protection. While somewhat similar to Dwarven Warder style, as both are blocking styles that emphasize the use of a shield, Shield of the Faithful has few overt attacks; many will practice the art without ever using their weapon in anger, instead preventing all attacks from landing. Those who practice Shield of the Faithful use the largest shields they are able, to better intercept attacks directed at their charges.

Grasp of the Boa

Soft Locking Style

AC Mod: 5
Attacks: 1
Damage: d1

Weapons: Club, Staff, Dagger, Spear

1 Choke Hold, Blind-fighting, Meditation, Iron Fist
2 Locking Block, Tiger Claw
3 Incapacitator, Ch'i attacks, Raven Beak
4 Immobilizing, Ironskin

The Grasp of the Boa is one of several druidic styles based around the movements of an animal; in this case, the great constrictor snakes. At lower levels, it is an effective, though hardly deadly, style, given its relatively low damage. If the druid has reached 7th level, however, they are able to make use of the style's advantages and manuevers while in the form of the snake.

Gangnam Style

Soft Movement Style

1/1 Attacks
AC mod: 6
Damage: 1d1
Weapons: Knife, Club, Dagger

Available Maneuvers (those not from Movement will have their source in parenthesis)
1) Feint, Fall (Throw), Blind-Fighting (Physical)
2) Prone Fighting, Instant Stand (Throw), Mental Resistance (Mystic)
3) All-round sight (physical),
4) Leap, Ironskin (Physical)
5) Arrow Parry (Block)
6) Speed

Gangnam Style developed as a way for thieves to inconspicuously enter more prosperous areas of town. Carrying only unobtrusive weapons (such as a utilitarian knife or a simple walking stick), the thieves would be able to move freely among the rich and famous... and, hopefully, get away if captured. The style stresses movement and defensive maneuvers, but also encourages great risks... dangerous leaps, plunges into darkness, even taunting one's opponents, counting on superior skill to save them.

Ballroom Blitz

Hard/Soft Weapon Style
AC Mod: 3
Attacks: 3/2
Damage: d2

Weapons: Long Sword, Short Sword, Dagger, Staff, knife

1 Improvised Weapons, Meditation, Feint
2 Disarm, Vital Strikes, Mental Resistance
3 Armed Defense, Stunning Touch
4 Defensive Throw
5 Steel Cloth
6 Great Shout

"Ballroom Blitz" is an informal style developed by bards around the idea that they will frequently be unarmed or lightly armed, but still responsible for their own safety. Rather than focus on defensive maneuvers, however, Ballroom Blitz seeks to even the playing field; immediately arming the bard, disarming her opponent, and disabling them in such a way that the bard is put on an even field. An improvisational style that rewards a degree of bravado (beginners face longswords with glass bottles; masters might face the king's guard with little more than a sheet and a smile), its weapon training nonethless emphasizes "the basics" of weaponcraft... swords, knives, and staves.

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