Techniques

Each style lists the techniques that students can improve via study at any orthodox school of that art - or even without instruction, if they earn enough points during an adventure - once they've bought Style Familiarity and spent a point on each of the style's skills. Anyone may attempt any technique that defaults to any of his skills. If it doesn't appear as part of a style he knows, though, raising it above default requires outside instruction.

Cinematic Abilities and Prerequisites

Heroic Archer, Trained by a Master, and Weapon Master are explicitly listed as optional traits only for styles for which they're extraordinarily appropriate. A student of any style must possess one of these traits in order to learn cinematic skills, though - these advantages are prerequisites for such skills. A martial artist who lacks such an advantage must learn it (see Learning Secret Martial-Arts Techniques, p. B293) before he can have cinematic skills that depend on it. The GM decides whether the master who taught him his mundane abilities can provide this training.

Cinematic skills may have mundane skills as prerequisites, too. If these aren't part of the style, the student is expected to venture outside his school, learn the necessary skills, and return. The absence of extracurricular skills from the style doesn't make them any less necessary.

Attempts to improve a style's cinematic techniques are subject to the same rules.

Wax on, right hand. Wax off, left hand. Wax on, wax off. Breathe in through nose, out the mouth. Wax on, wax off. Don't forget to breathe, very important.

- Miyagi, The Karate Kid

The GM may ease this restriction, but enforcing it has its benefits. For one thing, it gives combat a roleplaying dimension, with each fighter having his own "repertoire" of moves. It also makes it easier for players to remember the techniques available to them, as it's simpler to learn the game effects of a handful of techniques than those of every possible technique - especially for players who lack personal martial-arts experience and have trouble visualizing what's going on.

A martial artist doesn't have to spend points on any of his style's techniques. They're always optional. In game terms, raising one or two techniques per skill above default - possibly to their maximum - is a good investment. It's an inexpensive way to enjoy a higher effective combat skill in some specialized situations. This is realistic. Martial artists who have learned a style's basics (its skills) do tend to specialize in a few favorite moves.

However, a martial artist who wishes to improve more than a couple of techniques for a skill is better off raising the skill. He'll need a lot of time and points to improve his skill to the point where his default with a technique equals a specialist's level . . . but when he's done, he'll be a formidable foe. This, too, is realistic. In the long term, a well-rounded fighter will be more successful, because he'll have more tools in his toolbox.

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