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Old 07-12-2018, 07:43 AM   #1
Icelander
 
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Default Rakshasa Martial Arts

In a fantasy game featuring the D&D version of the Rakshasa, I want to feature distinct martial art styles for these proud, but predatory beings, who live among humans under a veil of illusion.

I want to base these on the martial arts of the Indian sub-continent, both real and mythic. Mythologically, of course, archery would be most important, but as the PCs will be encountering the rakshasa in a city, wearing the shapes of human merchants, priests and other people unlikely to be wearing full war panoply, I feel comfortable assuming that close-quarter combat is the most likely scenario.

My rakshasa may assume any human shape, but in their natural form, they have the reversed hands and animal heads of the modern conception of rakshasa. Most rakshasa have tiger heads, but some have the heads of other great cats, apes, monkeys, Asian black bears, crocodiles, snakes, elephants or mantises. Multi-headed rakshasa may exist, but would be among the most powerful of their race.

Most rakshasa tend toward cruelty, viciousness, haughtiness, arrogance and pride, but they may also display a surprisingly strong adherence to a species of twisted honour. They may deceive, steal and murder to their heart's content while assuming the shapes of humans and living in luxury as the mortal they replaced, but when dealing with other rakshasa or opponents powerful enough to know their true nature, rakshasa nobles are punctilious about speaking no direct untruths, keeping their word once given and adhering to a warrior code. Essentially, they are a supernatural caricature of a fierce warrior aristocracy, ruthless, decadent and uncaring for lesser sorts, but capable of honourable behaviour when dealing with something approaching their peers.

I'll need to detail at least three distinct styles or at least variations of a broader style. I'm thinking that most rakshasa, certainly the vast majority of those whose natural form is tiger-headed, favour slashing and ripping foes their fearsome claws or something that resembles a tiger's claws, such as the bagh-nakh.

Wrestling holds, joint locks and pins are viewed as less impressive than slashing blows or raking with claws. While modern rakshasa are not as completely ignorant of wrestling as Ravana was when he was effortlessly subdued by Vali/Bali, King of the Vanara, they definitely favour countering holds over applying them. Those who focus less on brawn and skill at arms and more on magic might omit any study of malla-yuddha from their martial education, while no rakshasa would be untrained in the use of his claws or of human weapons like knives and swords.

The first fighting style is for Ak'Chazar rakshasa, nobles who resemble slender anthropomorphic albino tigers and are masters of necromantic magic. I'm thinking they favour an elegant tulwar saber and a live hand for casting spells. Deathtouch is likely to be a popular attack spell, probably following a feint with the sword.

The second style is for Naztharune rakshasas, spies and assassins whose natural form resembles anthropomorphic black leopards or very slender black tigers. I imagine that they enjoy cutting throats with their claws, bagh-nakhs and knives. Naztharune rakshasa are not spellcasters, but enjoy an affinity with shadows and stealth that is supernatural in its efficiency. They are also extremely agile and possess superhuman hand-eye-coordination (DX 16+). The specific style I'm going for will feature two long knives or short swords, maybe katars.

For a third style, this would be for a rakshasa rathi, a professional warrior of the noble caste, the rakshasa equivalent of a knight. He'd be schooled in all weapons and techniques, but this one would favour the use of a sword in one hand and heavy steel gauntlet ending in claw-like blades on the other. He'd use the gauntlet as a buckler, for parrying, and in-built would be protrusions to catch enemy weapons, as on a sai or parrying dagger. Offensively, the gauntlet would work like a Bladed Hand (MA p. 226).

I'd welcome any suggestions or comments.

Some of the things I'm especially wondering are:

1) Would a technique analogous with Exotic Hand Strike work with Claws?

2) What skills, Perks or techniques best represent extensive training to counter grappling or to use it as the prelude to a close-quarter strike, but leaving the martial artist less capable than a dedicated wrestler with holds, locks and maneuvering for position and leverage in grapples?

3) Does the GURPS skill Judo make sense for an Indian-esque martial art? Neither Kalaripayit nor Malla-yuddha (Indian Wrestling) have it in their write-ups in GURPS Martial Arts, even as an Optional Skill, but India is huge and has many martial arts that aren't written up in GURPS. Would any real-world Indian style use what GURPS calls Judo?

4) Does anyone have suggestions from Indian myth for skills or techniques that would be particularly appropriate for rakshasa martial artists?
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Old 07-12-2018, 08:03 AM   #2
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Default Re: Rakshasa Martial Arts

Just a small note, only partially relevant: When I ran my campaign set on the Pearl Bright Ocean from GURPS Cabal, the rakshasa character had the Kalaripayit style from GURPS Martial Arts. You've probably already looked at this, but if you haven't, it may give you ideas.
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Old 07-12-2018, 06:50 PM   #3
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Default Re: Rakshasa Martial Arts

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Originally Posted by Icelander View Post
In a fantasy game featuring the D&D version of the Rakshasa, I want to feature distinct martial art styles for these proud, but predatory beings, who live among humans under a veil of illusion.

I want to base these on the martial arts of the Indian sub-continent, both real and mythic. Mythologically, of course, archery would be most important, but as the PCs will be encountering the rakshasa in a city, wearing the shapes of human merchants, priests and other people unlikely to be wearing full war panoply, I feel comfortable assuming that close-quarter combat is the most likely scenario.

My rakshasa may assume any human shape, but in their natural form, they have the reversed hands and animal heads of the modern conception of rakshasa. Most rakshasa have tiger heads, but some have the heads of other great cats, apes, monkeys, Asian black bears, crocodiles, snakes, elephants or mantises. Multi-headed rakshasa may exist, but would be among the most powerful of their race.

Most rakshasa tend toward cruelty, viciousness, haughtiness, arrogance and pride, but they may also display a surprisingly strong adherence to a species of twisted honour. They may deceive, steal and murder to their heart's content while assuming the shapes of humans and living in luxury as the mortal they replaced, but when dealing with other rakshasa or opponents powerful enough to know their true nature, rakshasa nobles are punctilious about speaking no direct untruths, keeping their word once given and adhering to a warrior code. Essentially, they are a supernatural caricature of a fierce warrior aristocracy, ruthless, decadent and uncaring for lesser sorts, but capable of honourable behaviour when dealing with something approaching their peers.

I'll need to detail at least three distinct styles or at least variations of a broader style. I'm thinking that most rakshasa, certainly the vast majority of those whose natural form is tiger-headed, favour slashing and ripping foes their fearsome claws or something that resembles a tiger's claws, such as the bagh-nakh.

Wrestling holds, joint locks and pins are viewed as less impressive than slashing blows or raking with claws. While modern rakshasa are not as completely ignorant of wrestling as Ravana was when he was effortlessly subdued by Vali/Bali, King of the Vanara, they definitely favour countering holds over applying them. Those who focus less on brawn and skill at arms and more on magic might omit any study of malla-yuddha from their martial education, while no rakshasa would be untrained in the use of his claws or of human weapons like knives and swords.

The first fighting style is for Ak'Chazar rakshasa, nobles who resemble slender anthropomorphic albino tigers and are masters of necromantic magic. I'm thinking they favour an elegant tulwar saber and a live hand for casting spells. Deathtouch is likely to be a popular attack spell, probably following a feint with the sword.

The second style is for Naztharune rakshasas, spies and assassins whose natural form resembles anthropomorphic black leopards or very slender black tigers. I imagine that they enjoy cutting throats with their claws, bagh-nakhs and knives. Naztharune rakshasa are not spellcasters, but enjoy an affinity with shadows and stealth that is supernatural in its efficiency. They are also extremely agile and possess superhuman hand-eye-coordination (DX 16+). The specific style I'm going for will feature two long knives or short swords, maybe katars.

For a third style, this would be for a rakshasa rathi, a professional warrior of the noble caste, the rakshasa equivalent of a knight. He'd be schooled in all weapons and techniques, but this one would favour the use of a sword in one hand and heavy steel gauntlet ending in claw-like blades on the other. He'd use the gauntlet as a buckler, for parrying, and in-built would be protrusions to catch enemy weapons, as on a sai or parrying dagger. Offensively, the gauntlet would work like a Bladed Hand (MA p. 226).

I'd welcome any suggestions or comments.

Some of the things I'm especially wondering are:

1) Would a technique analogous with Exotic Hand Strike work with Claws?

2) What skills, Perks or techniques best represent extensive training to counter grappling or to use it as the prelude to a close-quarter strike, but leaving the martial artist less capable than a dedicated wrestler with holds, locks and maneuvering for position and leverage in grapples?

3) Does the GURPS skill Judo make sense for an Indian-esque martial art? Neither Kalaripayit nor Malla-yuddha (Indian Wrestling) have it in their write-ups in GURPS Martial Arts, even as an Optional Skill, but India is huge and has many martial arts that aren't written up in GURPS. Would any real-world Indian style use what GURPS calls Judo?

4) Does anyone have suggestions from Indian myth for skills or techniques that would be particularly appropriate for rakshasa martial artists?
So basically Rakshasa are Rajput fairies?
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Old 07-12-2018, 07:40 PM   #4
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Default Re: Rakshasa Martial Arts

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Originally Posted by jason taylor View Post
So basically Rakshasa are Rajput fairies?
That's about the size of it.
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Old 07-13-2018, 03:03 AM   #5
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Default Re: Rakshasa Martial Arts

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Just a small note, only partially relevant: When I ran my campaign set on the Pearl Bright Ocean from GURPS Cabal, the rakshasa character had the Kalaripayit style from GURPS Martial Arts. You've probably already looked at this, but if you haven't, it may give you ideas.
Indeed, I did look at Kalaripayattu, but with the space constraints in GURPS Martial Arts, there's not a whole lot of detail on the way each individual armed and unarmed aspect of the art works. There aren't really any notes on how a stylist fights with the different batons, with sword and shield or how the other weapon skills are combined with each other.

Not to mention that Kalaripayattu is one martial art style from a whole subcontinent. It's suitable for Kerala and parts of Tamil Nadu, but Indian śastra-vidyā is a much broader field.

What I want to emulate are fictional and mythological depictions of Indian martial arts, such as those from the Mahabharata and Rāmāyaṇa, but also the characters of Rana Sanga, the Rajput king, and Raghunath Rao, the Panther of Maharashtra, the Wind of the Great Country, the Shield of the Deccan, both of David Drake's and Eric Flint's Belisarius series.
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Old 07-13-2018, 05:20 PM   #6
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Default Eye-Rake technique with Claws or Bagh-Nakh

GURPS Martial Arts p. 72 lists the Eye-Rake technique. As human hands do not actually have effective Claws, the technique does not actual damage except on a Critical Hit.

If the same kind of raking attack to the eyes is made by a character with the Claws Advantage or using a bagh-nakh inside his palm to rake with, how would one write that up as a technique?

It should do the usual damage for Claws or the bagh-nakh, but should also have a chance of blinding, as with the normal Eye-Rake technique. Would it be unbalanced to allow it the same chance of blinding as the normal technique, but doing full damage?
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Old 07-14-2018, 10:56 AM   #7
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Default Indian Swords

For a ST 23 rakshasa rathi (knight), I want an iconic-looking Indian sword for him to use alongside his clawed gauntlet. I'd like something that looks like the khanda, but not having a point at all sounds like a sub-optimal choice for a weapon meant for actual combat use.

The patissa is another choice, but suffers from a similar problem.

I was considering the kirash.

Is there any Indian sword that would have GURPS stats in line with a Greatsword with Reach 1 or a heavy Broadsword?
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Old 07-24-2018, 02:11 AM   #8
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Default Re: Rakshasa Martial Arts

For the Naztharune rakshasa, which makes more sense, to use two shortswords, two katars or one of each?

Game mechanically, there are interesting benefits to using a Large Katar and a Shortsword together, with the shortsword in a regular grip useful for parrying and the katar in its weird grip for high damage attacks.

Is there any real world style using two katars or a katar with another, parrying weapon?

I'm having trouble visualising using katars in a two-weapon style, but maybe that's because I can only imagine a few limitated motions with something held like a katar.
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Old 07-25-2018, 06:53 AM   #9
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Default Rakshasa Throwing Weapons

The Chakram in GURPS Low-Tech p. 77 appears to be a large diameter, heavy version of the weapon. I'm looking for a version that is more easily carried by a stealthy bodyguard or assassin, concealed under clothes. There seem to have been such weapons, referred to as chakri, which were sometimes worn as bracelets.

According to Googling, Chakram were usually 5-12 inches in diameter. Extant examples that fall in the middle range of the size range, i.e. 8-11 inches, seem to range from 160-280 grams in weight, which is about 0.3-0.6 lbs. That means that a 1.5 lbs. Chakram, like the one listed in Low-Tech, is probably a very thick 12+ inch diameter one, designed for heavy-duty warfare and monster slaying.

I noted in my Googling that brass chakrams were cast in a very aerodynamic shape, which the period methods of constructions did not allow for steel chakrams. As a result, brass chakram fly about twice as far as steel ones. I suppose that this could be reflected by allowing a special Fine modifier that doubles Range for Chakrams, Airfoil (+3 CF), but note that this requires Bronze (+3 CF) at lower TLs and if available for steel chakram at post-TL4, will be at least +9 CF.

What I'm wondering about if what sizes seem like good cut-off points for lighter, less damaging Chakrams?

For something that does thr cut and has Range x3/x5, should it be ca 5" in diamater and weigh 0.5 lbs.? Or more like 8" in diameter and 1 lbs.?

What about thr-1 cut and Range x2/x3? How small and light could such chakri be?
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Old 07-25-2018, 04:21 PM   #10
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Default Re: Rakshasa Throwing Weapons

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The Chakram in GURPS Low-Tech p. 77 appears to be a large diameter, heavy version of the weapon. I'm looking for a version that is more easily carried by a stealthy bodyguard or assassin, concealed under clothes. There seem to have been such weapons, referred to as chakri, which were sometimes worn as bracelets.
I'd just use that stats for shuriken.
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