Here are some sample weapon styles that illustrate how the weapon styles work. While these sample weapon styles draw inspiration from historical weapon systems, they are only approximate models of the historical systems. For the historical evolution of weapon styles, see Section 2.0.
The format of the each weapon style example is as follows:
• Name of Weapon Style
• Whether the weapon style is B asic or Advanced, followed by the total style points used to create the weapon style (in brackets,"").
• A description of the weapon style's origins and history follows this information. Also included are some of the more common combat techniques that the style uses.
• A list of skills that a character will probably want to develop along with this weapon style. These skills are not "required" but will probably be desired to take full advantage of the style.
• A breakdown of the abilities and costs for the weapon style (costs are shown in brackets, ""). These abilities are listed as "Core" because they define the style and should be used with all power levels.
8.3.1 • JAPANESE WEAPON STYLES
Japanese weapon fighting systems were highly developed throughout the history of this small island nation. As a result, the style points ranges for Japanese weapon styles may be changed from the original ranges given for the skills in Section 8.1.
Optional Rule [Core]: When designing Japanese weapon styles, Basic Weapon Styles range from 0 to 35 style points and Advanced Weapon Styles range from 36 to 45 style points.
Bo-jutsu (Quarterstaff) Basic Weapon Style [30 style points] Description—This weapon style specializes in the use of the staff as a weapon. The wooden staff, while inelegant compared to the sword, was nevertheless an effective weapon in combat and could not be neglected by the bushi (warrior class) in feudal Japan. The standard length of staff for training was the six foot staff that was also known as the rokushaku-bo.
While the art of bo-jutsu focuses on tactics that can be used to subdue an aggressive swordsman, it is also useful against other types of weapons. The training concentrates on methods of blocking, parrying, and thrusting against an opponent. The wielder is also taught to use the longer range of his weapon to keep foes at bay and to prevent foes from closing the range to a point where the staff becomes ineffective.
Formal training in the use of the staff as a weapon was taught in over three hundred different traditions in feudal Japan. For more information on the historical development of the Japanese martial arts, see Section 2.4 Recommended Skills—Bo (Quarterstaff) weapon skill Weapon Style Abilities [Core]—Bo (Quarterstaff) melee attack [5 points]; +2 bonus to initiative [10 points]; All-around defense [15 points]
Iai-jutsu (Sword) Advanced Weapon Style [55 style points] Description—Iai-jutsu is the Japanese art of sword fighting that seeks to perfect the single deadly stroke of a sword. The essence of this system is the focus on lightning speed and unwavering accuracy with the single goal of cutting down an enemy with one stroke. Much of the training involves defensive maneuvers to protect the adept from unexpected attack. Unlike many other Japanese martial arts, much of the training for this style is done as a solo exercise. Because this style seeks to prepare the wielder to react to unexpected attacks, much of the training begins from a low crouching position to simulate combat that starts from a sitting position.
There are four distinct areas of emphasis in the art of iai-jutsu. The first is the nukitsuke, or draw; the second is the kiritsuke, or cutting action; the third is the chiburi, or removal of blood from the blade; and the fourth is the noto, or return of the blade to the scabbard.
This discipline teaches the swordsman to evade multiple attacks from the front, side, and rear. The adept of this weapon style spends several hours each day practicing his draws and attacks with his blade. A central goal of this style is to reach a state of meditative awareness in which the adept can react instantly to any attack. Over four hundred formal traditions taught the art of iai-jutsu in feudal Japan. See Section 2.4 for more information on the historical development of Japanese martial arts. Recommended Skills—Katana weapon skill, Quickdraw, Meditation, Alertness, Sense Ambush, Adrenal Defense Weapon Style Abilities [Core]—Lesser Adrenal Defense [10 points]; Katana melee attack [5 points]; Reduce fumble range by 3 (to minimum fumble range of 01-02) [15 points]; +10 bonus to Quickdraw maneuvers [10 points]; All-around defense [15 points]
Ken-jutsu (Sword) Advanced Weapon Style [60 style points] Description—Ken-jutsu is the Japanese art of offensive sword fighting. In feudal Japan, the slightest error in combat with a skilled opponent meant death. To survive in a sword fight to the death, the Japanese warrior codified and practiced many strikes and counters that he might encounter in a duel. After time, these techniques were standardized and incorporated into a growing canon of swordmanship. Most individual schools of ken-jutsu practiced a policy of secrecy regarding their attacking techniques to preserve an advantage over their competitors. The result of this practice was that individual swordsmen seeking to improve their skills would travel from school to school in feudal Japan, fighting with other students and learning what new techniques they could in the case of a defeat.
Ken-jutsu is an extremely deadly and focused fighting style. Techniques in ken-jutsu involve cutting (kiri) and thrusting (tsuri). Like most Japanese martial arts, training was always done in natural terrain against opponents to mimic combat conditions.
Some ken-jutsu styles taught two-sword combat. At the height of the warring states period in Japan, there were over seventeen hundred distinct styles of ken-jutsu. See Section 2.4 for more information on the development of Japanese martial arts. Recommended Skills—Katana weapon skill, Meditation
Weapon Style Abilities [Core]—Katana melee attack [5 points]; All-around attack [ 15 points]; +2 bonus to initiative [ 10 points]; +2 to all critical rolls inflicted [30 points]
Kusarigama-jutsu (Sickle and Chain) Advanced Weapon Style [35 style points] Description—The kusarigama is several weapons in one. It is at once a bladed weapon, a stick weapon, and a flail. The user of a kusari-gama can slash or cut the enemy with his blade, entangle him with his chain, club him with his hardwood handle, and strike him with the iron weight at the end of the chain. The use of this weapon required expert skill and patience to overcome better-armed opponents. The most important skill taught is the ensnaring or maki technique. The wielder was taught to entangle his opponent at the moment of his attack. The versatility of this dangerous weapon required extensive training and practice to learn properly. See Section 2.4 for more information on the development of Japanese martial arts. Recommended Skills—Kursarigama weapon skill, Disarm Foe
Weapon Style Abilities [Core]—Kusari-gama melee attack [5 points]; +15 bonus to Disarm Foe (lH-edged) attempts [10 points]; Reduce kusari-gama fumble range by 3 (to minimum fumble range of 01 -02) [ 10 points]; +2 bonus to initiative [10 points]
Kyu-jutsu (Long Bow) Advanced Weapon Style [35 style points] Description—Kyu-jutsu is the Japanese art of bowmanship. The longbow has long had an important place in Japanese history. At the end of the tenth century, Masatsugo Zensho formalized techniques for the bow and arrow. The dai-kyu or traditional bow used by Japanese archers possessed an asymmetrical shape; up to two-thirds of the bow's length was above the archer's left hand. The bow itself was made of a combination of wood and bamboo toughened by fire treatment. The bow's great length required several men to string it successfully. Three- and four-men bows were the most common type of bows used by archers. The arrows used by Japanese archers while of a uniform three feet in length, possessed several different types of heads depending on their use. Some arrows made noise as they flew and were used to either terrorize the enemy or as signals. Other arrows were specifically designed to penetrate armor or to cut through cords.
The yugamae, or correct posture, was of the utmost importance in the battlefield effectiveness of the Japanese bowman. The bowman was trained to unify with his target and his bow to release his arrows with the maximum accuracy. The mechanical movements of reloading the bow and drawing the bow were formalized and practiced often so that they became unconscious actions of the bowman. In addition, the archer was trained in sustained long distance shooting to pin enemy forces down.
See Section 2.4 for more information on the development of the Japanese martial arts. Recommended Skills—Dai-kyu missile weapon skill, Meditation
Weapon Style Abilities [Core]—Dai-kyu missile attack [5 points]; Reduce dai-kyu range penalties by 10 [10 points]; Reduce dai-kyu reloading time by 20% [20 points]
Naginata-jutsu (Halberd) Basic Weapon Style [20 style points] Description—In Japan, the naginata (similar to a halberd) became an effective weapon against mounted or unmounted foes in the hands of an expert. In open terrain, the naginata was an excellent weapon because its reach allowed the warrior to keep his foe at bay while at the same time launching attacks against him. In combat, the wielder of the naginata used short slashes and circular movements to harry and attack his foe. As with most Japanese weapon systems, training with the naginata was on open terrain to simulate battlefield conditions. However in wooded or close terrain, the naginata became much less useful. See Section 2.4 for more information on the development of Japanese martial arts. Recommended Skills—Naginata weapon skill Weapon Style Abilities [Core]—Naginata melee attack [5 points]; +4 bonus to initiative [15 points]
Shuriken-jutsu (Throwing Weapons) Basic Weapon Style [25 style points] Description—This weapon style specializes in learning how to throw shuriken (Japanese throwing weapons) accurately and quickly at a target. This weapon style incorporates special throwing techniques to ensure more accurate results. Shuriken range in appearance from iron bolts that can be thrown for greater range and penetration to the familiar bladed star that can be thrown for a greater chance to hit the target.
This weapon style also covers the techniques for readying a shuriken secretly for a quick attack against an unsuspecting opponent. The wielder uses his own body to shield the preparation of the weapon, until his foe is within range and then he unleashes with a deadly attack. The master of shuriken-jutsu is taught to throw quickly and accurately at the vulnerable parts of the body rarely covered by armor: the face and neck.
Typically this weapon style is taught as part of training in the art of the ninja (the ninja were spies and assassins in feudal Japan). For more information on the historical development of the Japanese martial arts, refer to Section 2.4.
Recommended Skills—Thrown Shuriken weapon skill,
Missile Deflecting, Quickdraw Weapon Style Abilities [Core]—Shuriken thrown attack [5 points]; Reduced shuriken range penalties by 10 [10 points]; +10 bonus to Quickdraw maneuvers [10 points]
So-jutsu (Spear) Basic Weapon Style [30 style points] Description—The yari or spear is one of the oldest weapons used in Japan and figures prominently in the religious and cultural traditions of Japan. The spear did not initially come into wide favor with the bushi, or professional warrior since they associated the sword and ken-jutsu with their rank and station in life. However, the warrior-priests of Japan known as so-hei embraced the weapon and developed sophisticated techniques using the spear.
The warrior using the yari, or spear, trained to become skilled with his thrusts (tsuki) and in maintaining the correct combat distance for the effective use of the spear. The spear was used from the ground or horseback in most cases. A benefit of the training in the use of the spear was that the warrior became very skilled in anticipating tactics of his foes and in closing the engagement distance so that he could use his primary weapon (usually a sword).
Only after the Muromachi period in feudal Japan was the spear welcomed by the bushi class and taught formally in schools. Some four hundred formal traditions taught the use of the spear by the end of Japan's feudal era. See Section 2.4 for more information on the development of Japanese martial arts. Recommended Skills—Yari weapon skill, Feint, Adrenal Defense
Weapon Style Abilities [Core]—Lesser Adrenal Defense [10 points]; Yari melee attack [5 points]; +10 bonus to Feint maneuvers [5 points]; +2 bonus to initiative [10 points]
Sample Weapon Styles
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