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 Post subject: Alternate Weapons School Rules
PostPosted: Fri Jan 07, 2011 7:19 am 
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Well, it's happened. Like a great dam that existed in the collective consciousness of my gaming group bursting at the seams, our thoughts turn after a full year to that white binder with the rules for the semi-Conan based TROS RPG I've been lugging around. By consensus, we'll be setting the campaign in semi-historical Edo Japan, where tales like Yojimbo and Seven Samurai can take place.

We've decided on a "rival sword schools in Kyoto" setting, which got me looking at the weapons school rules again. My diagnosis: a person with a Sword and Shield has no identifiable difference than a person using the Templar School, and that is a problem to me. Yes, a player running a Templar character will know the difference, but an NPC using the school will most likely go unnoticed.

For this campaign, I want rival Kenjutsu schools with personality, where the followers of Kashima Shin-ryu are identifiably different fighters than those who are self-taught. Where the Kurou family has a secret technique passed down to its sons when they are of age, and the Matsuri Ninja can be identified by how they hold their sword, whereas Samurai usually hold their swords another way.

I'll try to be as general as possible, because there's no reason this couldn't be applied to other settings as well. Keep in mind I'm only semi familiar with historical schools of combat, so I'm thinking more along the lines of game mechanics.

Weapons School Proficiency
So the first step on your way to learning the secret techniques of your choice weapons school is putting your proficiency points into the weapon as usual. When you do so, you identify your school with that weapon - for example, instead of putting 5 points into Longsword/Greatsword proficiency, now you might put it into the Longsword/Greatsword (Deutsche Fechtschule).

Defaulting works the same as without a school, however you only gain the benefit of the school if you actually have proficiency with the weapon and have designated the school as your choice for that weapon. In the above case, our Prof 5 Longsword/Greatsword (Deutsche Fechtschule) user would have Wrestling Prof 1 by default, but would have to spend the points to gain Wrestling (Kampfringen).

Depending on your campaign, you may define your schools in either broad or specific context. For example, Longsword/Greatsword (Deutsche Fechtschule) might not exist, but Longsword/Greatsword (Liechtenauer School) might instead.

When you have a proficiency with a specific school, you gain access to that school's techniques as long as you are using that proficiency. If you learn another school's techniques, you must declare which one you are using at the start of combat, but you may change in the middle of it, altering your combat pool accordingly.

Similar combat schools default at -2, so someone with Prof 5 Longsword/Greatsword (Liechtenauer School) could spend points to get Longsword/Greatsword (Fiore dei Liberi School), and change between the two when in combat. The special techniques of other schools are not learned until the learner has improved that school's proficiency level to the level of their highest school.

In order to gain proficiency in a weapon school, you must have access to someone who has the school at a proficiency already. Whether this means an instructor or a wandering hermit is up to you and your Seneschal. Roleplaying your training is highly encouraged.

Weapon School Techniques
When fighting within your weapon school, you gain bonuses based on the techniques of that school. You usually gain access to the school's technique bonus at Proficiency 5. In general, these bonuses manifest in one of four ways:

-A +1 die bonus in situations that occur often.
-A +2 die bonus in situations that occur under your control.
-A +3 die bonus in situations that occur under your opponent's control.
-Access to a maneuver not on the proficiency's usual list, at +1 the usual activation cost. In this type, you gain access to the technique when you would usually gain access to the maneuver. You should also describe - in a way that makes sense - how you use a maneuver not intended for your weapon. For example, a great sword user might describe using the "hook" manuever as turning the sword upside-down in his hand (as with a murder stroke) and hooking the opponent's leg with their hilt guard.

Some examples:

-A +1 combat pool modifier whenever the user has the initiative.
-A -2 activation cost to disarm.
-A +3 combat pool bonus in the round after an opponent used a stop short.
-A kenjutsu user learning to wind and bind at activation cost 3. He describes this as stepping in and pressing on his opponent's sword to catch them off-guard - after all, most other katana users rarely do this if at all.

Weapon School Master Techniques
The masters of a school sometimes know techniques the lay students don't. When a student reaches Proficiency 10 in the school, he figures out how it's done. Master techniques are either separate from the school's normal bonus, or stack with it, as an improved version. Some example master techniques:

An additional +1 combat pool when the user has the initiative.
A -2 activation cost to the above kenjutsu user's wind and bind maneuver.
A +3 die bonus when your opponent makes a terrain roll.

As a general note, the bonus only applies for one round, with whether it applies or not determined at the top of the round.

Bonuses should always relate to the technique user, not apply a penalty to hit opponent. When a technique effects the TN of a maneuver or skill instead of the user's combat pool, it is at one less TN modification than the die pool bonus would have been. Okay, that sounds weird, so here's examples:

A -1 TN to the Duck & Weave maneuver. (equivalent of 2 die bonus)
A -2 TN to break free when your opponent attempts to lock. (equivalent of 3 die bonus)

Weapon School Secret Techniques
The secret technique is the defining ability of the masters of a school. It is closely guarded by its creators, and passed down only to the next few masters of the school. It can only be learned at Proficiency 15, and only then by the grace of someone who already knows the technique. Secret Techniques combine two aspects of a normal technique, and can only be used under specific circumstances. Example below:

Toyama-Ryu Iai: The user gains a +5 die pool bonus when he performs a quick draw on the same exchange his opponent attempts to steal initiative. This is made by combining a +2 die pool bonus for performing quick draw with a +3 die pool bonus for his opponent stealing initiative.

Self-Taught Warriors
Every school of combat has to have its inventor. The one who made it all and wrote it down to begin with. A character can be one of these, and define their own unique weapon style techniques using the guidelines above.

A character creating their own style gains techniques 2 proficiency levels later than one who is learning from someone else. Once a character develops a technique, he may teach the new school to anyone willing to learn - and willing to spend the points improving the new school proficiency, of course.

Expanded Skill: Style Analysis
In addition to the uses of Style Analysis outlined in the Core Rulebook, a fighter may analyze the style of a school to neutralize their opponent's techniques. By winning an opposed Per/Style Analysis v Agi/TN7, the analyzer can negate any of their opponent's techniques that they have observed at least once. This use of Style Analysis can be performed during a fight by spending 2 CP to make the roll. This use of Style Analysis, if failed, cannot be attempted again until the analyzer has seen the technique again.

If a character has negated a school's technique, they may improve their proficiency in that school until they learn the negated technique. They may not learn techniques they have not observed and negated.

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 Post subject: Re: Alternate Weapons School Rules
PostPosted: Fri Jan 07, 2011 10:22 pm 
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Squeejee wrote:
For this campaign, I want rival Kenjutsu schools with personality, where the followers of Kashima Shin-ryu are identifiably different fighters than those who are self-taught. Where the Kurou family has a secret technique passed down to its sons when they are of age, and the Matsuri Ninja can be identified by how they hold their sword, whereas Samurai usually hold their swords another way.

I'll try to be as general as possible, because there's no reason this couldn't be applied to other settings as well. Keep in mind I'm only semi familiar with historical schools of combat, so I'm thinking more along the lines of game mechanics.


I just wanted to say that I think that you are going about this the right way.

Weapon schools add colour to the game world -- and not much more. There are no special manoeuvres, no distinct game-mechanical advantages -- or disadvantages -- to belonging to one. It's just a different way of handling Proficiency progression from a mechanics perspective.

I wanted to develop -- but never got around to -- warrior/monk schools where their weapon manoeuvres included mystical capabilities. For example, draining an opponent's CP while defending. So I see no issue at all in your weapon schools giving game-mechanical benefits to particular stances, or weapon grips, or whatever as that allows them to channel energy in a way that their opponent cannot.

I'd also consider placing a restriction that you can't learn a new manoeuvre until it is taught -- even if you have the requisite Proficiency. I think it is stated in the rules somewhere but I'm guessing it gets glossed over in most games.

Regards,

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