It is very important to determine a character's role within the campaign. The ideas presented in this section do not target how to use the rules or skills to your best advantage when creating a character who uses martial arts. Rather, they concentrate on creating good character concepts that will be fun to play campaign. Here are some sample character concepts for martial artists. They are meant to serve as inspiration for player characters as well as non-player characters (NPCs).
The Healer When you first started training in the martial arts, you were interested in learning how to make yourself more powerful. Finally after years of training, you have reached one of the highest levels of accomplishment in your chosen martial art. However, you no longer have the desire to fight others to prove your strength and power. The more you learned about the natural functions of the body and how to heal it, the more fascinated you became. Your master recognized your interest and began to teach you the deeper secrets of the body. Your calm and unruffled demeanor hides a great martial arts talent, but you are more interested in avoiding combat than showing your prowess.
Quote: "I am sorry I had to do that to you but you would not listen. Sit still and I will get some medicine to fix your arm—at least it is a clean break. Whoever taught you to lunge with a knife in that manner? "
The healer is an interesting type of character concept to play. It couples the aggressive nature of the martial arts skills presented in this companion with an enlightened restraint. This character concept allows for a lot of fun role playing opportunities. Interestingly enough, traditionally skilled martial arts masters were also the local doctors of their communities due to their advanced knowledge of the body.
Since you were little you have always been afraid of others and confrontation. Admitting your fear to yourself, you then set out to become the best fighter you could possibly become. You never act in a manner to give offense, even though your martial arts skills are very advanced. If you are forced to defend yourself, you attack without mercy until your foes have fallen. Most of your opponents do not last long, victims of both your skill and their overconfidence.
Quote: "<whap, whap, thump... thud> Now do you realize that you should have just taken my money and left me alone?"
The coward is a challenging type of character concept to play. In most cases, it is not a suitable character concept for players, as they will be constantly seeking danger throughout the campaign. As a NPC, this character concept comes into its own and can be a very intriguing addition to the campaign. Having the players trying to maneuver the immensely more skilled but cowardly NPC into helping them fulfill a quest can lead to many exciting role playing sessions.
The Young Student You have just finished several years of apprenticeship with a demanding master. You have decided to set out to see the world and to use your martial arts skills. You are confident in your abilities, but your confidence is tempered by the memory of how easily your master can still defeat you.
Quote: " Well I had to follow my master around for three years before he would teach me anything. I'd better be good by now."
The young student is a typical character concept for martial arts. Since most starting characters will be just learning the more advanced martial arts, this character concept fits in well with the level of skill of the character. This is a very flexible character concept with many possible variations. Anyone choosing this character concept should ask themselves several questions: Did the young student part on good terms with his master? Why is the student deciding to leave the shelter of his tutor now? Were there other students of the master training with him? Did the student get along with them or was there a bitter conflict? These and similar questions will help establish a strong character background.
The Young Master You are a child prodigy of martial arts. You have trained in the martial arts since you were born and have gained great fame as a child martial artist. Now that you are an adult, you have become an accredited master of your particular style over the objections of some who cry that you are too young. You strive to be respectful to your fellow masters, but someone always seems willing to test your "mastery."
Quote: "The young reed bends with the wind, the old tree breaks under the strain."
The young master is an interesting character concept for martial artists. The player who wishes to use this concept for their character must be willing to invest either background options or development points to make sure that a high level of proficiency in the martial arts is obtained. Like some of the other character concepts presented already, this concept carries within it the seeds for campaign ideas and plots. Perhaps the other older masters of his martial arts style wish to humiliate the character, or they seek to use his youthful naivete for their own ends. In either case, some interesting gaming sessions could be generated from this concept.
The Street Performer You are a skilled showman or perhaps a martial artist down on his luck. Whatever the case, you make your living by demonstrating your martial arts talents in the streets. If you are skilled, the spectators throw you money. You soon learned that the demonstration of the more showy maneuvers of your style gained greater wealth than other more effective maneuvers. As a result you tend to fight in a showy or flashy way that is disdained by some purists but is still very effective.
Quote: "Allow me demonstrate my humble skills. You will be witness to the first time this daring feat has been attempted since the tragic death of my former master many years ago. "
The street performer is a very interesting character concept for martial artists. The character gets to use his martial arts skills and display his prowess in an arena other than combat. The player should describe what his character is doing to earn his money as a performer, because it can lead to interesting role playing and character development. Players who choose to follow this character concept should also probably receive a more flamboyant description of their character's combat actions during gaming sessions. Interesting plots can develop from this character concept. Perhaps the character wishes to be respected as a traditional martial artist after a time. What must he do to earn the respect of the other masters? Another option could be the existence of a Performers Guild that has secret connections to other organizations and its own shadowy motives. This concept should generate a lot of player interaction within the party as the various players role-play their reactions to the street performer's talents.
You are the inheritor of a secret style of martial arts. Perhaps it is a style taught by your family or a secret society. You have sworn never to reveal it to outsiders. As a result, you have studied another more common type of martial arts to use in public places. Your secret mastery means that you can never claim the respect and accolades due to a master of the martial arts, but it is a small price to pay for the knowledge you have gained.
Quote: "Now we that are finally alone, I can unleash my Shooting Stars Fist technique ? I hope you will be able to appreciate my mastery before you die."
The secretive master is an interesting character concept for martial artists. This character concept may appeal to players who like to have a secret agenda or players who like starting out with the deck stacked against them. It is also can create interesting NPCs for long-term campaigns. This concept allows for a lot of plot development that can be shared between the player and the Gamemaster as they decide why the weapon style or martial arts style is being kept secret. Perhaps it is secret because it is associated with an organization or group of people thought long dead that was once a threat to the established order. Or maybe the style is a secret art of a powerful organization; to accidentally reveal its secrets publicly would result in death for the offender. In any case, this concept lends itself to long-term plot threads as the Gamemaster reveals the reasons behind the secrecy of this martial art. It is important that this concept be honored if a player wishes to develop this type of character. If the Gamemaster does not have the time or the inspiration to weave this plot line into the ongoing campaign, the player is better off using a different character concept.
You have never listened to the words of your master, who always cautioned you to act with restraint and respect. You know that you are the best and you are not afraid to prove it. Those who will not fight you are cowards who fear the public humiliation of being defeated in public. You are a master at provoking a fight, when you wish, to prove your mastery in the martial arts.
Quote: " Your style is as pathetic and weak as you are yourself. I am young and strong and my martial arts skills are superior to yours. If you admit that your skills are inferior to mine, I will not fight you since I was always taught to respect my elders. Well, I await your answer, old man!"
The headstrong showoff is a very dynamic character concept for martial artists. This concept, if chosen by a character, will most likely propel the entire player group careening from one misadventure to another. The headstrong showoff is like a bull trapped in a china closet. If a Gamemaster is running a tightly scripted campaign, this is probably not a wise concept to encourage characters to play. This concept will keep the group involved in the thick of things and the Gamemaster on his toes. An interesting variant to play on this character concept is the showoff who finally realizes that he is not the best. How does the character react to this realization? Does he feel fear, shame, acceptance, anger, etc., and does he change his outlook on life or continue on the same path?
Part II Sections 11.5 Your Role
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