Thursday, July 9, 2009

The Monk, The Martial Artist..They are just Warriors

Now the title they are just warriors implies that somehow a warrior is something measly. A Warrior is more than someone who waddles along in armour swinging a sword, and a monk is not averse to wielding weapons, in fact monks are heavily trained in using weapons. Likewise any warrior worth his salt has a lot of training in unarmed combat.

Part of the disconnect I can put down due to the emergent myth that the western world did not have its own slew of elaborate martial arts or that the eastern world had some form of ancient techniques unknown to the world. Both of which are bunk.

In fact both draw heavily from the same original combat teachings, Greece. When the Hellenistic world expanded it brought Greek obsession with the perfect body, wrestling and unarmed combat with it. The Shaolin Monks for instance have Hercules as their patron saint, Hercules goes as far off as Japan in is shrine guarding duties. Meanwhile Roman cults to Hercules spread him throughout their empire in the western world.

From a more practical standpoint, no one who's livelihood depends on people trying to kill you is likely to turn down training in different styles of combat if its available. Both in reality and popular media, many people are masters of many different styles of fighting, some we would very clearly classify as "warrior" and not monk.

On a game standpoint, who wouldn't like their Scottish Highlander to be able to travel to the far side of the world, learn Kung-Fu (including the "five fingers of death") and return stronger than before to defeat his rivals? (and please, no high kicking in kilts)

How does this work in Piecemeal?

Well to start with I'm going to point out that as I loved 70's Kung Fu movies, and my regular gaming group has a MMA semi-pro in it. The style of martial arts this simulates is less of "the matrix" and far closer to what the troll and flame mentions.

As a warrior advances in levels, he gains 'Body Mastery'. Body Mastery is numeric value that can be spend round by round on either physical ability checks or "Combat Maneuvers". Combat Maneuvers work on a "trigger" basis, if Condition X happens the warrior can spend the mastery to activate Maneuver "Y". An example would be the maneuver "Riposte", if the warrior manages to parry exceedingly well, he can spend a single mastery point and immediately launch a free attack.

There are numerous different "Combat Maneuvers" from simple ones like "Bear Hug" to complicated ones dealing with nerve strikes to cinematic ones like "Throw the gun!". Learning new maneuvers is part of a warrior's impetus to adventure. To learn more maneuvers a warrior must either find a teacher (the quick way), lost ancient training manuals (the hard way) or have been exposed to the maneuver (ie, it was used on the warrior) and spend time training alone to try and recreate it (the slow way).

Why is this good?

1.) It removes artificial distinctions between Monks and Fighters
2.) It gives warriors the same opportunity for non-level advancement as other classes
3.) It provides an impetus for adventure (plot hooks in a story game)
4.) It adds a lot of spice and uniqueness to combat
5.) Warriors are no longer the 'boring' class.

Yes this is a bit of a lengthy more rambling posts, and its not one as easy to quickly plug and play, but like Wizardly Magic and Priest Miracles this is one of the major overhauls that I find most rewarding.


  1. Are we talking about oodles of Manoeuvres, as in the Hero System (eg., Champions)?

  2. I throw in a few dozen, with a fairly simple framework so people can easily invent their own to fit their world,setting or trope. While there may be an urge to "learn 'em all", its set up that such is an unlikely occurance (though a really OCD player may choose to learn a vast number and have what most would consider too many options, no one has to learn any)

  3. I'm interested in seeing more of this, in the future. :)