Rubber Realism

On the other hand, the PCs might be constrained by Realistic Characters (pp. 236-237) in a world that operates according to Mad, Crazy Action (pp. 238239). In that case, adept martial artists can do more not because they have unrealistic abilities but because they're good at realistic skills in a world where "realism" is bent or broken. For instance, being an expert at Acrobatics would allow amazing dodging and movement, and a sufficiently high level of Karate would permit many attacks with a Rapid Strike . . . but because nobody knows Flying Leap, Light Walk, or Lizard Climb, those stunts wouldn't be possible.

This kind of campaign is more suitable than a purely cinematic one for simulating modern action movies where the violence is unrealistic but mythical martial-arts abilities are unknown. Bullets don't hurt much and explosions are slow enough to outrun, but martial arts are merely another weapon in the arsenal, alongside big guns, explosives, and speeding cars. Campaigns inspired by epic costume pieces (notably "sword and sandal" films) can also work this way. The heroes all have perfect teeth and shiny armor, and never die from an infected wound, but it's all thanks to destiny, valor, or divine favor - not strange martial-arts abilities.

Strengths: At the combat realism level of Larger-than-Life (p. 239), this type of game shares the strengths of Borderline Realism (p. 237-238); in fact, many roleplayers are willing to accept the realism level of Epic (p. 239) as long as the characters are believable. This approach is handy for cinematic games where martial arts exist but aren't supposed to be in the spotlight.

Weaknesses: Devotees of historical fiction will find the lack of festering wounds and bad breath disappointing. Cinema enthusiasts might not see the point of allowing flashy forms of Move and Attack without cinematic techniques to remove the penalties, large numbers of Rapid Strikes without Trained by a Master to offset those penalties, and so on. Thus, rubber realism can further split a divided group if the GM isn't diplomatic.

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