Styles

Del Duques cape swirled dramatically as he sized up the henchmen that El Asesino Oscuro had thrown in his path.

The tattooed Japanese with no neck grunted. "We're gonna find out what you look like without the mask."

"Monsieur might have noticed," the Frenchman commented, swiping at the air with his cane, "that this isn't a lucha libre match."

"Louis, Jin, and me, we're here to break a few bones, puta," spat the tall one Del Duque knew only as Leonardo, punctuating his words with a swift kick.

Behind his mask, Del Duque smiled. Sumotori, savateur, capoeirista . . . these would be easy. He had come expecting ninja!

"Martial arts" describes a huge variety of disciplines with many different objectives and philosophies (such as those discussed in External vs. Internal, Hard vs. Soft, p. 162). It can be hard to tell where one art ends and another begins, but in general, a "martial art" or "style" is any body of fighting methods and tactics - aesthetic, competitive, or combative in focus - taught together for long enough to acquire a distinct identity. In Martial Arts, these terms are often synonymous with "school" or even "master," and occasionally refer to a collection of schools - even rivals - that teach the same abilities in game terms.

This means that if a single set of skills and techniques describes a whole collection of related traditions, Martial Arts treats them as one style - although the entry for that style discusses its history and variants. Conversely, if several traditions with identical origins teach different skills and techniques - common when a venerable style diverges to serve multiple, incompatible purposes - they get separate entries. The most common schism is that between a style's "combat" forms and other forms; see Do vs. Jutsu (p. 148).

Martial Arts distinguishes styles on the basis of abilities in order to provide another tool for individualizing characters - another roleplaying "hook." Each player can pick the style that suits his vision of his PC and be certain that this selection influences his options on the battlefield. The chosen style sets aside his PC's actions from those of PCs who practice other styles, thus ensuring that each hero is distinctive even in combat, where dice and rules often threaten to eclipse roleplaying.

To ensure that there are plenty of choices, this chapter describes many different styles - some defunct, some current, and some fictional. The GM is free to modify these to suit his game and his view of the martial arts. In a realistic campaign, nearly any combination of believable abilities is supportable; the world is full of hybrid styles and breakaway schools. In a cinematic campaign, all that matters is that each style offers an interesting set of cinematic abilities so that players can use it to create fun and memorable PCs!

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