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Chapter 3 - Weapon Proficiencies

Martial Arts

These rules are primarily based on the information from the Oriental Adventure sourcebook, and the Complete Ninja Handbook. Several modifications have been made to bring them up to date with second edition rules and my own rules.

In the lands of Kara Tur, the Martial Arts are a style of combat that never developed significantly in the Western world. It is perhaps one of the most unique features of this land; the development of the body into a useful weapon, capable of defeating opponents supposedly better armed and armored than the unarmed fighter. The unarmed fighter uses his entire body: his hands, feet, legs, arms, head - any part can be turned into a weapon. To achieve this skill, he must undergo rigorous training. This training requires great physical and mental discipline to master the styles and maneuvers required for martial arts. The unarmed fighter must learn to anticipate actions, harden his body, block out pain, and summon energies from deep within himself. This is not easy and requires a deep commitment on the part of the character.

There are several reasons why the martial arts have been developed to such a high degree within this society. Part of it is the philosophy and outlook of the people. Found throughout all the lands is a belief in the forces of nature. These forces are not just abstract concepts, they surround the character and charge everything about him with hidden energies. Nor is the character a passive observer of these forces. He is part of them, just as they are part of him. Therefore, he too can draw upon these forces and use them. Furthermore, he strives to live in harmony with these forces, perhaps appeasing them with offerings and prayers or learning to commune and understand them. But before he can do this, he must learn, develop, and harmonize the forces within himself. By doing so, he is able to live at peace with the natural forces. While tools can be effective in changing the face of nature, they are outside this harmony; they intrude upon it. Understanding one's own body and its capabilities is thus one factor leading to the development of unarmed fighting skills.

Several religious beliefs espouse the idea that this world is a passing thing, that with time, everything will change. As such, material possessions have little real worth or value; they are not permanent. Devout followers of these beliefs try to divest themselves of the desire for the material world, since these are impediments to ultimate perfection. Only the inner qualities of a man are permanent and positively known. Reliance upon a tool such as a weapon is reliance upon the material world. Only by knowing themselves and their own value can they achieve perfection. Thus they learn and develop their own abilities to understand themselves.

There are other, more pressing social reasons for the development of unarmed fighting. The Oriental society is not like the other societies of the world. Where the Peasant of another land always keeps and feels entitled to keep a sword or weapon, it is not unusual in the lands of the Far East for severe edicts to be passed restricting the ownership of such weapons. This is particularly true in conquered lands and in notoriously troublesome provinces. Punishments could be quite severe, including torture and execution. Given these restraints, commoners often had to find other ways to defend themselves.

In time, these skills became widely practiced and honorable. Efforts were made to regularize the styles and training practices. Careful study of scientific principles and religious concepts followed. Unarmed fighting became an art which if practiced diligently and correctly could guide the student to self-perfection.

With the spread of martial arts skill, every land developed its own styles.The fighter had to learn to counter weapons favored in the local area and studied the natural styles of the beasts of his land. Each style was further divided by the masters was taught it. Each developed his own particular moves and methods and two masters of the same style could easily fight in entirely different forms. Thus, there grew a vast proliferation of methods of martial arts. Some might favor use of the feet while others might rely on evasion or throws and so forth. Arguments and challenges over which style was better became quite common, as fighters of different schools sought to establish the supremacy of their claim. These were often spectator events, with hundreds of interested onlookers.

At the lowest level, the martial arts train the fighter in the use of his body. The primary goal is to train the fighter so that he can avoid being hurt. However, different masters espouse different ways of reaching this goal. Some styles are mainly defensive, diverting or avoiding the attack. Other styles are more aggressive, their masters believing that attacking is the best way to protect oneself. Others demand the fighter learn and master many different weapons to understand their use.

Unarmed combat uses many different techniques, depending mainly on the style learned. Forms include punches, blocks, kicks, pushes, throws, holds, locks, and dodges - a near infinite variety of moves. Unarmed combat is also a misnomer. Students are often expected to learn how to handle common and unusual weapons. However, using many of these weapons effectively requires the same discipline and training as the unarmed or open-hand forms and so their use is only taught as part of a particular martial arts style. To give a peasant a tui-fu and expect him to fight with it effectively is foolish, but in the hands of a master of martial arts it can become a deadly weapon.

The following section covers how martial arts skills are learned and used in combat. Some of the styles described are historical, but as noted above, there can be hundreds of different styles, so a part of these rules describe how to create different and unique styles as befits the campaign.

The martial arts given here are designed to fit within the rules the game. Players should not expect a detailed listing of every type of combat move, thrust, or parry that combine to make a complete style. Styles are defined by their effects within the rules: number of attacks, damage, armor class, principal attack form, and allowed weapons. As characters rise in levels, they may also learn a number of specialized maneuvers inherent to a style. However, such powers only come with dedication and training.

Learning Martial Arts

In some ways, learning a martial arts skill is like learning any other proficiency. The character must have a proficiency slot available to spend on the particular martial arts style he wishes to learn. However, learning martial art is much more difficult than learning other disciplines, so there are a few more requirements when mastering a martial art.

The character must first find a master to study under. Masters are the teachers of the martial arts. They can be anyone and can be found anywhere. The peasant in the field may also be a master of martial arts. The hermit in the hills may pass his time learning and developing his own style. The master may be a bushi skilled in these techniques who travels countryside teaching others. He may be a professional teacher who opens a school in a city or village. He may be a famous samurai, willing pass his skills onto others. A priest in a temple may teach his followers as part of their religious training.

Master is an honorary title, not a character class. Students refer to their teacher as master. Unarmed fighters who have gained a reputation are respectfully called master. A wanderer may enter a town proclaiming himself to be a master. The title is not a measure of the skill or level! There are brilliant masters whose names and deeds are well-known. There are skilled masters, able to teach all but the most difficult feats. There are mediocre masters, just good enough to teach the basics. And there are incompetent masters who hide their poor skills behind the imposing sounding title. As characters study, they learn the true qualities of the master they have chosen.

Finding a master is not necessarily an easy task. Many masters regard their skills as valuable secrets to be taught to only a select few. Many a style has disappeared because the master refused to reveal his art. Often they do not advertise or even display their skill. They feel that to do so would be proud and boastful, characteristics that are undesirable in a master (and incidentally may incur the wrath of the gods). For many, the ultimate goal of their training is to avoid having to use it. Others feel their art can only be learned in the most tranquil and secluded surroundings, deep in mountain forests and the like. Such men seldom appear in civilized lands.

Politics are another reason masters can be hard to find. Conquered peoples are often forbidden to learn or practice their arts lest they become troublesome and rebellious. Powerful temples (often the center of such training) may be destroyed by nervous emperors, warlords, or daimyos. The master and his students are forced to scatter with the winds and many disappear without a trace. In such cases, they may join or form secret societies, clandestinely meeting on rare occasions to train.

Not all masters are such recluses or the skills of martial arts would long since have died away. A large town or city may have a school run by a master. His skill might be well-known and potential students might travel great distances to study under him. As characters adventure they will undoubtedly hear of some of these schools or may even learn of one of the more secretive masters of martial arts.

Even after finding a master, the character is not guaranteed the chance to train. Masters are notoriously finicky about who they take as a student. The character untrained in martial arts must first present himself to the master with, he hopes, the proper humble and respectful attitude. At this time the character has a 10% chance of being accepted outright. More often than not, the master will dismiss the applicant politely. Now the character must begin courting the master, trying to gain his favor. He must return to the master, bearing some small gift or offering. If this pleases the master (and the character's behavior is still properly respectful), the chance of acceptance is increased by 10%. The character can continue this round of visits until he is either accepted or he offends the master. Once the latter occurs the master will never accept the character as his student.

If the character already has some martial arts skill, he can challenge the master to a fight. This challenge is automatically accepted. A time and place is arranged and the master decides if he or one of his current students will fight the challenging character. If the character is not well-known for his skill, a student is automatically assigned to accept the challenge. This is customary and is not considered an insult to the character. Challenges can be fought to subdue or fought to the death. In most cases, the former is preferred since it spares unnecessary killing. However, the death of an opponent in a challenge is not considered a crime and the victor is seldom punished. Challenges are open to spectators and large crowds may gather to see the outcome. If the character wins the challenge; the master automatically accepts him as a student (although he may actually hope to learn from his pupil). If the character loses the challenge, he can leave and return at a later date when he has gained more skill, or he can humbly beg to be accepted. Such entreaties are particularly effective when the master has disposed of the challenger with humiliating ease.

Once a character has been accepted by a master, he must remain and study under him for at least one month. At the end of this time, the character spends one proficiency slot and gains the basics of the style--the Armor Class, number of attacks, and damage. He does not gain any of the special maneuvers or weapons that may be taught by the style. At this point, the character does not need to remain with the master constantly. He is free to travel and adventure. He must practice his style for at least one hour a day and must spend six hours per week working with his master. Characters who do not fulfill this obligation cannot add more special maneuvers and weapons.

To learn the special maneuvers and weapons of a particular style, the character must spend additional proficiency slots. For each proficiency slot expended, the character can add one special maneuver or weapon from the style. This does not mean the character just suddenly knows how to do it, but assumes that he has been practicing prior to gaining the maneuver or weapon proficiency. No more than two proficiency slots can be expended per level. When a character has learned all the knowledge the master knows, there is no point for him to study under the master. The character can now go off in search of another master--one who knows more about the style or one who teaches a different style.


Under these rules, the martial arts are classified by six different characteristics: number of attacks, damage, armor class, principal attack form, special maneuvers, and weapons allowed. When grouped together, these elements form a style. There can be as many styles as there are possible combinations of these elements. Each style is different and must be learned separately. Styles are often given descriptive or poetic names, based on how the style works, its appearance when used, or the source of inspiration. There are animal names (Snake, Monkey, Tiger, etc.), poetic names (Eight Drunken Fairies), and descriptive names (Empty Hand, Springing Legs, Eight Fists, etc.). Each identifies a particular style. In addition, styles are further identified by their use. Some are highly defensive, relying on the inner power of the user to overcome the opponent; others are aggressive, stressing form and channeled power in hard and sudden attacks. The following chart lists some common styles.

Number of Attacks functions in the same manner as it does for normal combat. When using martial arts, the number of attacks is added to the characters number of attacks for the round, when fighting unarmed. This will differ from the number of attacks with weapons. Damage is the die that is rolled to determine the effect of a hit. Defensive styles generally do low damage; offensive styles have the opposite effect.

Armor Class is a measure of the degree of protection the character gains when using the style. This protection comes from the character's training which may allow him to avoid, deflect, or withstand blows.

Principal Attack Form is the part or parts of the body most often used in the style. So long as the character has the listed body part free he can continue to make effective attacks. Karate emphasizes the fist, so the character can attack even though his legs may be held. Other styles use the legs, elbows, torso, etc.

Special Maneuvers are the secrets of the art, secrets that allow fantastic feats, but are difficult to learn. These include things such as Backward Kick, Sticking Touch, Great Throw. Ironskin, and other normally impossible abilities. These maneuvers are described in the final section of this chapter.

Weapons Allowed may be used in combination with the special maneuvers of the style. For example, if a karate practitioner knows the iron fist maneuver and has knowledge of kama use he can perform the iron fist maneuver with his kama. It costs one weapon slot to learn to use one entire tight group of allowed weapons with the special maneuvers of the style. The character must still spend a weapon slot to become proficient with the various weapons.

Creating a Style

In addition to using the common styles already listed, styles can be created. These styles are taught by various NPC masters. A style is created by choosing the general characteristics of the style and then selecting values, terms, and abilities from the lists given in the text.

The first decision is whether the style is hard, soft, or a combination of the two. Hard styles emphasize the use of the muscles and bones for power. They usually use very direct movements and are generally offensive, stressing the attack. Soft styles rely more on the inner power of the character to provide the necessary energy, although they too require conditioning of the muscles. Their movements are much more fluid and circular and are generally considered more defensive. These movements divert the attacker, using his own force against him, and making an attack only after the enemy has committed himself. The training is more mentally oriented, showing the student how to focus and use his inner power. Styles that combine both hard and soft attempt to use the best practices from each. Circular and gentle defensive movements are combined with swift and direct attacks. Physical training is balanced with psychic training. All styles can make use of a number of unusual weapons.

Next, choose the principal method of the style, the fighting method most commonly used in the style. When a character attacks, he more often than not uses the principal method of the style. Each principal method describes the most common means of attack; those with kicking method use many kicks, those with throwing rely on grappling and leverage, etc. However, every style incorporates moves from other methods, since reliance on a single form would certainly mean defeat.

Martial Arts Style Combinations
Form# AT modAC modDmg mod
Principal MethodDmg ModPrincipal Attack
Vital Area2Hand/Foot
WeaponBy weaponHand/Arm

Multiple Styles and Combining Styles

Player characters can learn more than one style of martial arts at a time; however, this requires more than one master, available proficiency slots, and dedication on the part of the player character. When fighting, the character must choose which particular style he will use for that round. He gains all the abilities of that style, but none from the other styles he knows. Likewise only the special maneuvers of that style can be used, unless they are constantly in effect. The character is allowed to change styles from melee round to melee round.

After a player character has gained proficiency in two or more styles and has learned all he can from those masters, he can create his own unique style. To create a unique style, the character combines those elements of each style as he desires. He could use the Armor Class of one style combined with the number of attacks and damage of another. All the maneuvers he has learned from each style can be combined in the new single style. He can also instruct others in this new style as if he were a master.

Armed and Armored Opponents

A character can perform an unarmed attack on his base initiative if he doesn’t have to move to reach his target, or he can make a half move action to close for combat. If the unarmed attack is against an opponent that is threatening him, he allows his armed opponent an immediate attack of opportunity. The armed attacker gains a +4 bonus to his attack and damage roll against the unarmed attacker.

When a martial artist attacks an opponent who is wielding a weapon, he suffers penalties based on the opponents weapon length.

Penalty to hit

Not all martial arts skills are entirely effective against armored opponents. The following chart shows the penalties against various types of armor. If a maneuver is not listed, or an armor type is not listed, there is no penalty for the attack.

 Leather, Studded Leather,
Padded, Hide,
Monsters AC 7 or better
All Chain & Mail,
Full Plate,
Field Plate
Circle Kick-1-3
Flying Kick-1-2-3
Backward Kick-1-3
Choke Hold-2-3-5
Locking Block-1-1-1
Concentrated Push-1-2
Sticking Touch+1+2
Iron Fist-2
Crushing Blow-1-2-3
Eagle Claw-2-3-4
Great Throw-1-2-4
Vital Area   
Pain Touch-3-4-5
Stunning Touch-2-4-4
Paralyzing Touch-2-3-4
Distance Death-2-3
Steel Cloth-1-3-5

Stunning and Incapacitating

In addition to the basic abilities and the special maneuvers associated with a martial arts style, all styles have a chance of stunning or incapacitating a man-sized opponent. Whenever the martial arts fighter rolls an unmodified 20 on his to hit roll, the victim must make a saving throw vs. paralyzation. If the saving throw is successful, the victim is not stunned or incapacitated (although he does take normal damage from the attack). If the saving throw fails, the victim is either incapacitated or stunned. Compare the hit dice or level of the victim to the die roll of the saving throw. If the number rolled is less than or equal to the hit dice or level of the target, the victim is stunned for 1d6 melee rounds. If the number is greater than this, the victim is incapacitated for 1-3 hours.

A character attacks a lizard man with martial arts and scores a 20. A saving throw roll is made and 2 is rolled on the die. This is equal to the 2+1 dice of the lizard man, so it is stunned for 1d6 rounds. If the die roll had been 6, the creature would have been incapacitated for 1-3 hours. Creatures with a +4 or greater on their hit dice are treated as having one extra die for this calculation.

Hit Locations

Player’s who like to visualize where their character’s blows are landing can use the following table. Each time the character makes an attack, he rolls to see where he hit, based on the style used. The hit location does not affect the damage or effect of the attack, it is for visualization only.

MovementN/A15Upper Arm
Strike2d6+613Lower Arm
Vital Area2d6+610-11Chest/Back
  6Upper Leg
  4Lower Leg

Special Maneuvers

Special maneuvers are actions and abilities that require intensive study and skill to learn. In return, they give the user greater-than-normal results and can be used to great effect. Some maneuvers are actions that the character can attempt during the course of a fight (Flying Kick, One Finger, etc.). Others are constant abilities that once learned are always in effect (Ironskin, Blind Fighting, etc.).

Combat maneuvers are risky in that failure often leaves the character in an exposed or dangerous position. A combat maneuver costs the character one or more of his attacks for the melee round. A movement maneuver counts as movement, preventing the character from making any attacks that round (unless otherwise noted). All maneuvers are organized according to the principal method of use.

Different types of slots may be used to select each method. Kick, Strike, and Weapon methods can only be selected with Weapon slots. Lock, Movement, Push, and Throw methods may be selected with either Weapon or Non-Weapon slots. Intelligence, Weapon, or Non-Weapon slots may be used to choose Block, Vital Area, or Mental and Physical Training methods.

Principal Method Effects


  1. Basic Parry
  2. Parry All
  3. Grappling Block
  4. Arrow Parry


  1. Circle Kick
  2. Flying Kick
  3. Backward Kick


  1. Choke Hold
  2. Locking Block
  3. Incapactitaor
  4. Immobilizing


  1. Feint
  2. Prone Fighting
  3. Immovability
  4. Leap
  5. Speed
  6. Slow Resistance


  1. Concentrated Push
  2. Sticking Touch
  3. One Finger Push


  1. Iron Fist
  2. Crushing Blow
  3. Eagle Claw


  1. Fall
  2. Instant Stand
  3. Hurl
  4. Great Throw

Vital Area

  1. Pain Touch
  2. Stunning Touch
  3. Paralyzing Touch
  4. Distance Death


  1. Weapon Catch
  2. Weapon Breaker
  3. Steel Cloth

Mental & Physical Training

  1. Meditation
  2. All-Around Sight
  3. Mental Resistance
  4. Ch’i Attacks
  5. Blind Fighting
  6. Ironskin
  7. Leviation

Principal Methods Descriptions


Basic Parry: The basic parry maneuver prevents melee attacks from hitting the martial artist. It does not work against missile attacks. A character can perform the basic parry if he has not used both his martial arts attacks for that round. Even if his opponent has initiative, the martial artist can announce that he's using one of his attacks to parry. The martial artist rolls an attack against his opponent, taking into account all normal adjustments to his opponent's AC and the "Unarmed vs. Armor" conditions.

If the attack hits, the martial artist has parried the first blow struck at him this round by his opponent.

When the Attack Roll Fails: The incoming attack hits.

Weapons Allowed: Any. Characters using sai or jitte weapons receive a +2 bonus to hit with the basic parry maneuver.

Parry All: The parry all maneuver is a more advanced form of the basic parry. It requires two of the character's attacks for the round (the total number of attacks for most characters). With this expenditure, the martial artist gets to roll a block against every melee attack aimed at her this round, so long as she is aware of the attacks. She makes a separate attack roll against each oncoming blow.

When the Attack Roll Fails: The opponent's blow hits.

Weapons Allowed: Any. Characters using sai or jitte weapons receive a +2 bonus to hit with the parry all maneuver.

Grappling Block: With this advanced maneuver, the martial artist parries an incoming weapon attack and is able to grab the weapon, making it harder for the attacker to use it against him. If the martial artist is unarmed, the grappling block requires both his hands to perform; if he is armed, it requires his weapon hand.

The grappling block takes one of the martial artist's attacks, just like the basic parry. If it is successful, the martial artist and the attacker both have a grip on the weapon. The grip is never a dangerous one for the martial artist. For example, the grappling block allows the unarmed martial artist to clap the blade of a sword-wielding opponent between his palms, preventing it from striking. In order to strike the martial artist with the weapon, the attacker must get it free. To do this, the attacker rolls 1d20 and compares the number rolled to his Strength score. If the attacker succeeds in his Strength check, he recovers his weapon. If he loses his roll by 4 or more, he loses his weapon (it is now in the martial artist's hand). Any other result leaves the two combatants still grappling for the weapon. The attacker may make as many Strength checks per round as he has attacks available, and can release the weapon voluntarily at any time. The martial artist can make further attacks on his opponent with a +2 to his chance to hit, if the grappling block maneuver has left his principal body part free to make the attack.

For example, if he used a chain to catch his opponent's attack, and his principal attack method is the kick, he can attack with a leg. But if he used a two-handed sword to catch his opponent's attack and his principal attack method is a fist strike, he has no hands free to attack. Additionally, any other character making an attack against either of the two combatants grappling for the weapon gets +2 to hit.

When the Attack Roll Fails: The martial artist has managed to foul his own weapon on that of his opponent. If his opponent can then make a normal attack roll against him—requiring no time and not costing him an attack—the opponent yanks his weapon free, leaving the character disarmed.

Weapons Allowed: Any. Characters using chain or rope weapons receive a +2 bonus to hit with the grappling block maneuver.

Arrow Parry: With this maneuver, the martial artist is able to parry thrown and missile weapons. This maneuver requires two attacks for the round and applies to all attacks that the martial artist is aware of.

When the Attack Roll Fails: The weapon strikes the martial artist.

Weapons Allowed: Any. Characters using shields receive a +2 bonus to hit with the arrow parry maneuver.


Circle Kick: In this dramatic kick, the attack builds up power and momentum by spinning in a complete circle before landing the kick (usually on the side of the head or body). If successful (a normal to hit roll), the kick does twice normal damage. If unsuccessful, the character loses the next attack he is normally allowed as he tries to recover his balance.

Flying Kick: This spectacular kick requires at least five feet of running ace.The character leaps high into the air and lands with a powerful kick to the head (or head height for larger than man-sized creatures). If the kick connects, the character does triple normal damage. If unsuccessful, the character falls to the ground adjacent to the intended target and must spend a round getting back to his feet (unless he also has Prone Fighting or instant Stand).

Backward Kick: This seemingly innocuous kick is extremely difficult to master. The character attempts a normal attack at any creature directly behind him, either kicking his foot over and behind his own head or lashing out straight backward. He does not have to turn around and face his attacker. The kick does normal damage, but a failed attempt has no ill effects.


Locking is the art of gripping an opponent in such a way that prevents him from acting, twisting an arm so the joint is locked, applying pressure choke off breathing and blood flow, etc.

Choke Hold: This maneuver teaches the correct way of applying pressure to render an opponent unconscious. To initiate a choke hold, the martial artist must make a successful attack roll. For the maneuver to work as intended, the martial artist must maintain the choke hold until the end of the next melee round. During that time he can take no other action and cannot attack again; he is entirely occupied in gripping and holding his opponent. The opponent can attempt to escape by making a successful attack roll with a –2 penalty. The escape attempt can be tried as many times as the opponent has attacks for the round.

If the opponent fails to escape, he falls unconscious at the end of that round and remains unconscious for 1d3 rounds. During the time the choke hold is in effect, the opponent cannot cry out for help or cast spells requiring verbal components.

Locking Block This action can be attempted instead of a normal attack. It can be used against unarmed fighters or attackers using melee weapons.

The martial artist makes a normal attack roll. If successful, the attacker has trapped her opponent's weapon, arm, or leg in a scissors arm-lock; the trapped element cannot be used to make attacks. In addition, so long as the opponent is so trapped, the attacker can make other attacks (using the feet only) with a +4 to her chance to hit. The opponent can break the lock by expending an attack and making a normal attack roll for success. This attempt to break free does no damage. The locking block maneuver also causes no damage.

When the Attack Roll Fails: When used against an unarmed opponent, an unsuccessful locking block causes no ill effects except for the loss of an attack. However, when used against a weapon, an unsuccessful locking block results in damage to the martial artist: In attempting to make the block, the character is hit by the weapon. She takes normal damage for the weapon, not modified by the Strength bonus of the weapon wielder.

Weapons Allowed: medium blades, oriental blades, short blades, chain weapons, rope weapons, lash weapons, axes, clubbing weapons, flails, karate weapons, picks, sickles, staves, and spears tight groups. Characters using sai or jitte weapons receive a +2 bonus to hit with the locking block maneuver.

Incapacitator: By gripping the opponent and twisting his joints, the martial artist can render one finger, arm, or leg useless for 24 hours and cause 1d4 hp damage in addition to his normal martial arts damage.

If the incapacitator's attack roll is successful, the maneuver does the damage noted above and the opponent must make a saving throw vs. paralyzation. If he fails the saving throw, the appropriate limb is rendered useless. If he makes the saving throw, the damage remains but there is no paralysis.

Application of a cure wounds or remove paralysis spell will eliminate the paralyzing effects of this attack.

Immobiliring: With one hand the martial artist grips and holds an opponent in such a way that the opponent cannot take any action. The martial artist is still able to make attacks (using either his feet or his other hand), and even apply an immobilizing lock on another opponent. A successful attack roll must be made to initiate the immobilization, but the attack does no damage.

Immobilized characters can attempt to escape by spending a melee attack to break the hold. However, the chance of success is modified by –6 to the die roll.

When the Attack Roll Fails: The martial artist suffers a –4 modifier on his next attack.


This method requires training to control and position the martial artist's own body—posture, stance, and reflexes. From this method, students learn the importance of speed, sudden changes of direction, and footwork. It is seldom very offensive, but when combined with other styles creates a dangerous and deadly fighter.

Feint: The martial artist begins an attack in one direction and at the last moment changes it to another direction. Or he begins an attack but does not follow through, in order to draw his opponent off balance or make the opponent commit to a futile defense. The martial artist makes a regular attack but adds the feint, which costs an extra attack and gives him a +3 to hit.

When the Attack Roll Fails: The martial artist's attack does not hit, but he suffers no other ill effects.

Weapons Allowed: Any.

Prone Fighting: Prepared for any circumstance, the martial artist who knows this special maneuver is able to fight effectively even sitting, kneeling, prone, or supine. This special maneuver requires no time and is always in effect; it applies any time the character is knocked from her feet or falls down. However, the character can perform no other special maneuver (except instant stand) when on the ground. She can still use her weapons and the basic damage from her martial arts style, and suffers no Armor Class penalty for being on the ground.

A character without this skill who fights from the ground is easier to hit than a standing character. Attacks against a kneeling character receive a +1 to hit; against a sitting character, +2 to hit; against a character who is flat on the ground, +4 to hit. The character who is down suffers equivalent penalties to hit when attacking someone who is standing: –1 to hit if the attacker is kneeling, –2 if he is sitting, –4 if he is lying flat. The character who knows prone fighting suffers none of these penalties.

Weapons Allowed: Any. Fighters are even trained to use two-handed and long weapons effectively from positions on the ground.

Immovability: By carefully positioning his feet and learning to tenseand relax various muscles, the character can avoid being knocked, lifted, or thrown off his feet. Any time these would occur, the character is automatically allowed a saving throw vs. paralyzation. If the save is successful, the character remains where he is.

Missile Deflection: Relying on the speed of his reflexes and the nimbleness of his footwork, the character is sometimes able to avoid non-magical missile attacks (including magical arrows and bolts). This ability is constant although the character must be aware of the attack. The character is allowed a saving throw vs. paralyzation against each attack. If the save is successful, the character has dodged the missile; if not, the missile hits normally.

Leap: The character is able to perform extraordinary feats of springing and leaping by channeling his inner power, mentally making himself as light as a feather. From a standing start the character can spring four feet into the air and three feet forward plus one foot for each level of the character. He can also flip in mid-air to automatically change his facing. Springs do not take an entire melee round, costing instead only one attack allowed during the round. Thus a character could flip over an opponent, land behind him, and execute an attack from the rear with his next melee attack. From a running start, the character can spring eight feet upward and ten feet forward plus one foot for each level of the character. The character must have at least 10 feet of running space for springing. In both cases, the character must make a normal to hit roll to see if he lands safely. If the roil is made, the leap or spring is successful. If the roll is failed, the character makes the leap but falls to the ground upon landing.

Speed: The character has developed lightning-fast reflexes and powerful muscles mainly by concentrating and learning how his body controls its movements. The character gains twice the normal amount of melee attacks he is normally allowed (both with the martial arts and normal combat) and moves at double the normal combat movement rate (only). The increase in movement rate does not apply to normal movement nor can the movement speed be maintained for more than five rounds. This special maneuver is difficult and tiring. It can only be done once per day and can only be maintained for five rounds. At the end of this time, the character must rest for 1-3 rounds.

Slow Resistance: Having developed his body and disciplined his mind, the character is automatically immune to slow effects.


Pushing is a soft form of combat, primarily protective in nature it relies on the character's understanding of the forces of motion. The opponent's own force is turned against him, deflecting his attack, throwing him off balance, or knocking him backward with a single touch. Learning this art takes great mental discipline but does not require great strength.

Concentrated Push: The character focuses his inner energy into his hands, giving him great results even from a gentle push. On a successful to hit roll the opponent is knocked back one foot per level of the character. If the distance is greater than three feet, the victim must make a successful saving throw versus paralyzation to remain on his feet. If the victim hits a solid object, he suffers damage as if he had fallen the same distance. Note that those with immovability can resist being knocked back. If the Concentrated Push attack is unsuccessful, all attacks made against the character for the remainder of the round have a + 2 on their chance to hit.

Sticking touch: The character has so attuned his sense of touch that even by lightly placing his hand on another he can cause it to follow their every move. A normal to hit roll must be made and the touch does no damage. However, so long as the character remains in contact, he gains + 2 on all subsequent to hit rolls and his armor class improves by 2, since he is able to feel the impending move of his opponent before it happens. The touch can only be broken by the opponent moving in away or at a speed beyond the abilities of the character. Thus, if the opponent had the Leap maneuver he could use this to break contact. However, if both knew this maneuver, the character could automatically choose to leap at the same time as his opponent, keeping his contact unbroken.

One Finger: This skill requires long and difficult practice. It is said that the student first learns to push a heavy bell with the touch of a single finger. He concentrates then on touching it lighter and lighter while making the bell swing even more. Finally, he reaches the point where he can make the bell move without actually touching it. His inner power extends from his finger and pushes the bell. At this point he has mastered One Finger. One Finger gives the character the power of Concentrated Push without having to touch the target. The character simply concentrates and points his finger at the victim. The range is equal to one foot per character level. One Finger requires great concentration and is the only action that can be taken in the melee round regardless of the number of attacks the character has. A normal to hit roll must be made. If successful, the victim is affected as if hit by a Concentrated Push. If unsuccessful, the attack misses and has no effect.


Iron Fist: Through various toughening exercises, the character has hardened his hands so much so that they feel like steel. The character does ld10 points of damage on each attack, if his principal body part used is the hands. If the principal body part is not the hands, the character does ld10 points of damage on one attack per melee round.

Crushing Blow: The character is able to shatter or break hard objects with a blow of his hand. This includes wood, ceramics and masonry but not metal. The character can break 1/2 " of wood or 1/4 " of brittle stone per level. The DM can modify this based on the shape, hardness, and age of the object. If used against a living target, the character causes normal damage plus hit points equal to half his experience level (rounded down); Strength damage bonuses do not apply.

The crushing blow requires great concentration and is the only action the character can take in a round regardless of the number of attacks normally allowed. In all cases a normal attack roll must be made. The DM must determine the number needed to hit a stationary object (assigning AC based on its hardness).

When the Attack Roll Fails: If the martial artist attempts to strike a hard object (such as stone) and the attack roll fails, he seriously injures his hand, suffering damage equal to what he would do on a normal attack. The hand is unusable for 24 hours, even if healed before that time has elapsed.

Weapons Allowed: None.

Eagle Claw: Through physical exercise and concentration, the martial artist can summon immense crushing strength into his hands. On a successful attack roll, he can shatter objects (snap spear shafts, crush stones, etc.), crush metal items, and cause 1d8 hp damage (plus damage bonuses for Strength) per attack. This ability requires great concentration and is the only action the character can take during the round.


Fall: The first maneuver any student of this styie learns Is how to fail correctly. He learns to fall and roll, taking the impact of the fall on the safest areas of his body. Once learned this maneuver is constantly in effect. Thereafter, the character suffers only half normal damage from any fall (if she is conscious and able to move).

Instant Stand: After learning to fall, the student learns how to gain her feet quickly, either by rolling up to a standing position or using an acrobatic jump. Normally, one round is required for a character to gain her feet, but a character knowing this maneuver can regain her feet automatically instead of making an attack. She may then perform other actions in the round if she has attacks available.

Hurl: This type of throw relies a great deal on strength and less on leverage. The martial artist can attempt to pick up an opponent and throw him to the ground 1d4 feet away. The attack adds 1d4 hp to the basic damage of the martial arts style. The attacker must make a successful attack roll for the hurl maneuver to work. The attacker loses all remaining attacks for the round and automatically loses initiative for the next round if the attempt fails.

GreatThrow: Using leverage and his opponent's momentum, the martial artist is able to throw his enemy a great distance. The character must make a normal attack roll. If the opponent is stationary, the character can throw him 1 foot per experience level of the martial artist. If the opponent is charging, the distance thrown is 6 feet plus 1 foot per experience level of the martial artist. The opponent suffers double normal damage for the martial arts style.

When the Attack Roll Fails: The opponent counters the move and knocks the martial artist off his feet; the character automatically loses initiative the next round.

Vital Area

This method relies on a blow for effect, much like a strike or kick. However, the strength of the blow is not as important as the location where it lands. The vital area method teaches the martial artist where and how to strike at the weak spots on his opponent's body—throat, ears, foot, nerve points, and other places. Because the training requires a knowledge of anatomy, the special maneuvers listed can be used against only human and humanoid opponents, unless the practitioner has bought a non-weapon proficiency related to the anatomy of a category of monsters (dragons, equines, etc.).

Pain Touch: Simply be pressing his finger against specific points of the body, the martial artist can cause great pain in his opponent. This can be done in place of a normal attack. The touch causes no damage, but if the attack roll is successful, the opponent feels as though he were on fire. Thereafter, he will suffer a –2 penalty to attack rolls and a +2 penalty to his AC. The effect lasts for 1d3 rounds.

Stunning Touch: With a light slap of the fingers in the correct place, the martial artist can stun and daze her opponent. This can be done in place of a normal attack and causes no damage. The attacker must make a normal attack roll. If the attack is successful, the opponent is allowed a saving throw vs. paralyzation. The opponent who fails to save is stunned for 1d4 rounds, unable to take any action.

Paralyzing Touch: By placing pressure on specific nerve junctions, the martial artist can paralyze her opponent, leaving him unable to move for 2d4 rounds. The character must make a normal attack roll, but the attack does no other damage. The opponent is allowed a saving throw vs. paralyzation at a –2 penalty.

Distance Death: Also known as the dim mak attack or "death touch," this ultimate skill of the vital area method requires great practice and concentration. To learn this maneuver, the martial artist must practice at a pool of water, driving his finger at the surface without touching it. As he does so, he concentrates on his ch'i power, trying to extend it from his fingertip. When he can hear the echo of his thrust rebound from the water, he has mastered the maneuver.

Distance Death requires great concentration and is the only action the character can take during the melee round. It has a range of one foot per level of the character. With it the character can choose to apply the effects of Pain, Stunning, or Paralyzing Touch or he can choose to do three times his normal damage on the attack. If Pain is chosen, the victim is not allowed a saving throw; for Stunning the saving throw is -2 on the die roll. In all cases a normal to hit roll must be made.


The martial arts often include training in a number of standard and unusual weapons. The training with standard weapons is very much like that which other warriors receive and is covered elsewhere in these rules. However, there are several weapons unique to the martial arts; weapons that cannot be used effectively without training in the moves and positions associated with the martial arts. The maneuvers given below can only be applied when using those weapons that are noted as being exclusive to practitioners of the martial arts.

Weapon Catch: All weapons are routinely used to block and parry an opponent. The Weapon Catch maneuver teaches the character how to use the special martial arts weapons to catch and lock his opponent's weapon In place. Here weapon includes not just melee weapons but also the arms and legs of an unarmed opponent. A Weapon Catch is made in place of a normal attack and a to hit roll must be made. If successful, the character has caught the opponent's attack with his weapon and has locked it in place. The opponent cannot use that weapon to fight with. Furthermore, the character can make further attacks on the opponent with a + 2 on his chance to hit, if he has the correct principal body part free to make the attack. The opponent can break the catch by either dropping his weapon or spending a melee attack to attempt to break free. If he attempts the latter, he must make a normal to hit roll to succeed. If the Weapon Catch attempt fails, the character has managed to foul his own weapon on that of the opponent's. With a quick twist the opponent pulls the character's weapon from his grasp, leaving the character disarmed.

Weapon Breaker: Just as martial arts weapons are designed to catch weapons, they are also capable of breaking them. Indeed, students are often taught this art as it gives them an advantage in combat. The breaking action is a swift blow or twist with the weapon. It can only be used against melee weapons, not unarmed fighters. The character can also use this maneuver when fighting with the bo stick against a sword. A normal to hit roll must be made. If successful, the opponent's weapon must save vs. crushing blow or be broken. If the to hit roll fails or the save is made, the maneuver fails. This maneuver does no damage.

Steel Cloth: With this maneuver, the character need never be without a weapon. Taking a 6 to 10 foot piece of cloth, the character whirls and snaps it tight; while keeping it in constant motion, giving it the rigidity of a spear. The cloth is treated as a spear; if it is 6–8 feet, it is a normal spear; above 8 feet, it is a long spear. Note that the steel cloth cannot be thrown. The instant it leaves the attacker's hands, it becomes a normal piece of cloth. This maneuver is automatic, no die roll is made for success. Weapons Allowed: One 6–10 foot length of cloth, or rope weapons tight group.

Mental and Physical Training

These maneuvers are gained by the character in the course of training and reflect his superb control over mind and body. They do not belong to the categories of principal methods as they can be learned by practitioners of any method or style.

Meditation: This ability allows the martial artist to enter a mental state in which he can focus and regain his energies. For each hour the character spends in uninterrupted meditation, he gets as much rest as two hours of sleep. While meditating, the character is oblivious to hunger, thirst, heat, and cold (but he can still take damage from heat- and cold-based attacks). He remains conscious and aware of his surroundings, and suffers no penalties on surprise or initiative die rolls. Shukenja and Kensai, who already have this ability, do not need to spend a proficiency to gain this maneuver.

All-around Sight: The character's training makes him more attuned to his immediate surroundings. He is able to detect opponents on all sides of him, provided they are not invisible. The character can never be struck from behind or suffer a penalty from a back attack. This maneuver is constantly in effect.

Ch'i Attacks: With this ability, the martial artist summons his ch'i (life force energy) and can use unarmed martial arts attacks to hit monsters that could otherwise be hit only by magic. This ability is constantly in effect.

XP LevelCharacter Hits As A
1–4magical weapon
5–9+1 magical weapon
10–14+2 magical weapon
15–19+3 magical weapon
20+4 magical weapon

Mental Resistance: The mental exercises and ordeals of the character's training have toughened and strengthened his will. He receives a + 2 on all saving throws against mental attacks including charm, illusion, and hold spells. This maneuver is constantly in effect.

Blind Fighting: Under his master's guidance, the character has trained for long periods while wearing a blindfold or in darkened rooms. This has given the character the ability to detect his foes with his other senses. The character suffers only a -1 penalty when fighting in darkness, when blinded, or when faced by invisible opponents. However, any of these in combination with a silence spell render the character effectively blind again. This maneuver is constantly in effect.

Ironskin: Rigorous physical training has toughened the character's muscles to the point where he can harden them like iron. The armor class of the character is improved by 2, but only when he is not wearing any other type of armor.

Levitation: This is perhaps the rarest of all the martial arts maneuvers, since it requires the utmost of concentration and mental discipline. Daily the character practices at making his body feel lighter, using his mental power to negate his own weight. Finally, the character succeeds in overcoming all his weight. At this point he can levitate for a number of rounds equal to her experience level. This maneuver requires one turn of concentration before it can be done. Thereafter the character can move up, down or sideways at five feet per round. He can take no actions while levitating and if his concentration is broken, he falls to the ground.

Common Martial Arts Styles
Name# of AttacksDamageAC ModifierPrincipal AttackSpecial ManeuversWeapons Allowed (Tight Groups)
Aikijutsu+11 pt-3BodyLock 1,2,3 Block 1,2,3,4 Movement 1,3 Throw 1,2,3,4 Mental 1,2,3,4,5Staves, Fencing Blades, Oriental Blades, Medium Blades
Atemi+11D4-1Hand/FootBlock 1,2 Movement 1 Push 3 Strike 1 Vital Area 1,2,3Clubbing Weapons, Staves
Jujutsu+11D2-2BodyLock 1,2,3,4 Throw 1,2,3,4 Movement 1,3 Vital Area 1,2 Mental 1,2,3Fencing Blades, Oriental Blades, Medium Blades
Karate+11D4-1HandStrike 1,2,3 Kick 1 Block 1,2 Movement 1 Mental 1,4Karate Weapons
Kung Fu+11D3-2HandLock 1Strike 1,2Kick 2Block 1,2,3,4Mental 4,6Any Tight Group of Melee Weapons
Ninjutsu+11D2-2LegsKick 1,3 Lock 1,3 Movement 1,2,4 Strike 1 Throw 1,2 Block 1,2,4 Mental 2,4Short Blades, Oriental Blades, Chain Weapons, Rope Weapons
Sumo+11D2-2HandLock 2 Movement 3 Punch 1,2 Throw 1,3 Block 1None
Tae Kwon Do+11D4-1FootKick 1,2,3 Strike 1 Throw 4 Block 1,2 Movement 4Medium Blades, Staves, Clubbing Weapons