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Old 10-30-2015, 04:05 AM   #1
Icelander
 
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Default [Martial Arts] Aquatic Styles: Sahuagin (Shark Men)

I'm designing a style for sahuagin of the Forgotten Realms, who are similar to the shark men of Yrth. I have the Pyramid on Underwater Adventuring and GURPS Martial Arts: Yrth Fighting Styles.

This particular style uses only claws and teeth. It is the personal style of a sahuagin Baron who is smaller and weaker than his peers, a serious weakness in a society where rank is determined through duels with tooth and claw. He is, however, more intelligent and savvy and through skill and practice has been able to defeat any challengers.

I can represent some of it through using Karate instead of Brawling, with an appropriate Perk, which gives him higher damage for his ST. I was wondering what else I could add.

Is Judo worthless underwater, with Wrestling doing everything it can usefully do, but better?

What are good Techniques and Perks for intelligent duelling with tooth and claw?
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Old 10-30-2015, 04:17 AM   #2
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Default Re: [Martial Arts] Aquatic Styles: Sahuagin (Shark Men)

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Originally Posted by Icelander View Post
I'm designing a style for sahuagin of the Forgotten Realms, who are similar to the shark men of Yrth. I have the Pyramid on Underwater Adventuring and GURPS Martial Arts: Yrth Fighting Styles.

This particular style uses only claws and teeth. It is the personal style of a sahuagin Baron who is smaller and weaker than his peers, a serious weakness in a society where rank is determined through duels with tooth and claw. He is, however, more intelligent and savvy and through skill and practice has been able to defeat any challengers.

I can represent some of it through using Karate instead of Brawling, with an appropriate Perk, which gives him higher damage for his ST. I was wondering what else I could add.

Is Judo worthless underwater, with Wrestling doing everything it can usefully do, but better?

What are good Techniques and Perks for intelligent duelling with tooth and claw?
Feint / Ruse, especially based off IQ.

I think Judo and wrestling moves that involve leveraging an opponents weight against them and falling/throwing would be pretty useless underwater.

But I would give him say technique mastery in locks and holds to help his lower ST against Higher ST opponents. Because I'm guessing a sahuagin with a broken arm or leg suddenly has a tough time maintaining position in an aquatic environment.

sahuagin have tails as well as legs and arms IIRC, maybe allow tail breaks for similar effect

If he does go with a weapon then go with armed grappling and joint / limb locks and breaks.


Combos, because he's going to have to get in and pull his move off before he gets caught by an opponent with a higher ST

Allow him TM on Break free as well to help with this if needed, and maybe some extra CP to escape opponents grappling with their bites and claws


If sahuagin don't already have it allow him Flexibility as an advantage based off his style (same rationale for the CP above)

Oh and Pressure points / Pressure secrets are always good for little guys facing big guys, especially if you tie it into the "when developing his unique style he used his greater intellect learning the weak spots of his opponents in order to use them against them" rationale

(this last one also riff's of the "punching sharks in the nose" mythology!)

EDIT: sorry this stuff may have already been mentioned in the Yrth fighting styles, I don't have access to that where I'm posting from.

Last edited by Tomsdad; 10-30-2015 at 04:52 AM.
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Old 10-30-2015, 05:05 AM   #3
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Default Re: [Martial Arts] Aquatic Styles: Sahuagin (Shark Men)

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Feint / Ruse, especially based off IQ.
Oh, yes! His IQ is 17*, by far his highest Attribute.

Baron Ak'Zuma remembers in exacting details almost three centuries of underwater history and has a truly vast, if fragmentary, knowledge of surface ways, history, politics and warfare for those three centuries. Anyone expecting to treat with an unsophisticated bloodthirsty savage will be unpleasantly surprised... though not at any lack of thirst for blood.

*In setting, sahuagin are extremely intelligent, albeit alien and violently opposed to social change, medicine, most magic use and trade. This, combined with an environment that makes it very hard for them to match the technological advances of their less intelligent neighbours on the surface, has sufficed to keep them as hunters and raiders, though ones with a very regimented society conductive to the efficient deployment of military forces.

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I think Judo and wrestling moves that involve leveraging an opponents weight against them and falling/throwing would be pretty useless underwater.
Agreed.

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Originally Posted by Tomsdad View Post
But I would give him say technique mastery in locks and holds to help his lower ST against Higher ST opponents. Because I'm guessing a sahuagin with a broken arm or leg suddenly has a tough time maintaining position in an aquatic environment.

sahuagin have tails as well as legs and arms IIRC, maybe allow tail breaks for similar effect
This argues for a very high Wrestling skill. Sumo Wrestling and Judo both seem contraindicated.

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If he does go with a weapon then go with armed grappling and joint / limb locks and breaks.
Since any dominance challenge has to be unarmed by the ancient sahuagin code, weapons would only be useful in hunting or warfare against non-sahuagin. I imagine he learned them in his youth, but once he had become more lethal than any sahuagin his size with red tooth and claw, he stopped bothering with them.

As an aside, Ak'Zuma is a wereshark. Unfortunately for him, taking shark or hybrid form is forbidden in a dominance challenge, which forces him to keep relying on the martial art style he developed while still a normal sahuagin. On the other hand, unfortunately for any non-sahuagin enemies Ak'Zuma should develop, ripping them to pieces while in shark or hybrid for is a perfectly honourable thing for a sahuagin Baron with the Blessing of Sekolah* to do on the hunt or in war.

*The notoriously fierce and ruthless shark god of the sahuagin.

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Combos, because he's going to have to get in and pull his move off before he gets caught by an opponent with a higher ST
Very true. I've given him Extra Attack 1, to represent superior coordination of all limbs and bite attacks, and I expect he'll make heavy use of Rapid Strike to make multiple attacks.

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Allow him TM on Break free as well to help with this if needed, and maybe some extra CP to escape opponents grappling with their bites and claws

If sahuagin don't already have it allow him Flexibility as an advantage based off his style (same rationale for the CP above)
Flexibility is a good point. As is Break Free.

The obvious counter to a skillful 'little guy'* is to grapple him with clawed arms and legs and tear him to pieces with bites. Ak'Zuma needs to be able to counter that, even if his challenger should happen to be one of the rare mutant four-armed sahuagin.

*Baron Ak'Zuma is 6'4" and weighs 250 lbs., with GURPS ST 20. He is small by the standards of the rulers of his race, who are generally centuries old and never stop growing. A typical Baron is well over seven feet and has ST 22-23. By age, Ak'Zuma should be able to challenge a sahuagin Prince for his position. Princes are 8'4"+ and have ST 25+.

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Oh and Pressure points / Pressure secrets are always good for little guys facing big guys, especially if you tie it into the "when developing his unique style he used his greater intellect learing the weak spots of his oponents in order to use them against them" rationale
Good point. He will certainly have his own version of Pressure Points and mysterious secret five point kill moves that work on sahuagin (and maybe other races).

On the other hand, if you already have Sharp Claws for both hands and feet, what does the Pressure Secrets skill really give you in a game-mechanical sense?
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Old 10-30-2015, 06:14 AM   #4
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Default Re: [Martial Arts] Aquatic Styles: Sahuagin (Shark Men)

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On the other hand, if you already have Sharp Claws for both hands and feet, what does the Pressure Secrets skill really give you in a game-mechanical sense?
The ability to target Vitals for a x3 Wounding Multiplier? Cutting is at most x2, and then only against limbs (which have a cap on the injury you can inflict) or the neck (which has a higher penalty to hit than the Vitals), making normal attacks useful for crippling an opponent, but Pressure Secrets strikes far more effective for raw damage, especially if you purchase the technique that permits buying off the additional penalty to hit.

EDIT: That said, with Lethal Kick and Lethal Strike allow an individual to target the Vitals for that same Wounding Multiplier without Pressure Secrets.
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Old 10-30-2015, 06:39 AM   #5
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Default Re: [Martial Arts] Aquatic Styles: Sahuagin (Shark Men)

When I was studying for Lifesaving merit badge (required for Eagle Scout by the BSA), we spent a few days on underwater judo. This is a safety measure, because a drowning person in a state of full panic can and will try to climb you out of the water, whether it makes sense or not, unless you subdue them. I'm way better at leveraging another person in water than out, and somebody who had actual points in grappling skills instead of just a lack of a familiarity penalty to their DX would be even more so with the same training.

I'd give the style being described here Judo and Wrestling in GURPS terms, as well as Karate with the option of the Biting Mastery Perk available immediately instead of subject to normal limits as it will be core to the style. Techniques are probably fairly minimal; the philosophy is that you just grapple, maneuver, (optional: apply locks, possibly break limbs), and then bite the problem until it goes away.
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Old 10-30-2015, 06:54 AM   #6
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Default Re: [Martial Arts] Aquatic Styles: Sahuagin (Shark Men)

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Originally Posted by Icelander View Post
...
This argues for a very high Wrestling skill. Sumo Wrestling and Judo both seem contraindicated.


Since any dominance challenge has to be unarmed by the ancient sahuagin code, weapons would only be useful in hunting or warfare against non-sahuagin. I imagine he learned them in his youth, but once he had become more lethal than any sahuagin his size with red tooth and claw, he stopped bothering with them.

Aha if this is mainly about dominance challenges, than I think breaking limbs is especially appropriate as you get to humiliate / dominate your opponent, and they get to live and continue to serve in their correct position (well once they heal).

Also I'm guessing a lack of mobility in sahuagin society comes with some extra shame, and is clear indicator that the fight is over and you have lost.


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On the other hand, if you already have Sharp Claws for both hands and feet, what does the Pressure Secrets skill really give you in a game-mechanical sense?

well Pressure points allows you access to all kinds of potentially fight winning moves that don't require raw strength to pull off. e.g IQ based stuns, paralysed limbs, being blinded (although in this case I say it was blocking what ever sense was most appropriate) stopping you breathing (or in this case gill function).

Pressure secrets is as states is potentially unbalanced! It doubles the effectiveness of locks and holds, it doubles your damage and allows you to go for vitals! (I'd think carefully about how Cutting sharp teeth/claws stack with this last one though) But either even at the most conservative reading to turns your cutting teeth and claws into impaling teeth and claws!

What I can't remember is do teeth and claws count are unarmed attacks for the terms of this advantage?

I'd argue that as far as sahuagin who often wield weapons are concerned they are and I'd also their use especially if you went with that more conservative reading PS replaces the cutting bonus. Especially as your using Karate/Judo to attack off and not brawling further distinguishing this chap from the usual sahuagin brawler using sheer muscle and ferocity

Other than that Baron Ak'Zuma sounds a pretty cool and brutal character /NPC!

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Old 10-30-2015, 01:34 PM   #7
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Default Re: [Martial Arts] Aquatic Styles: Sahuagin (Shark Men)

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Aha if this is mainly about dominance challenges, than I think breaking limbs is especially appropriate as you get to humiliate / dominate your opponent, and they get to live and continue to serve in their correct position (well once they heal).

Also I'm guessing a lack of mobility in sahuagin society comes with some extra shame, and is clear indicator that the fight is over and you have lost.
Actually, dominance challenge might be a slight misnomer. It's a formal contest between two dominant males for leadership, yes, but it's not fought to elicit a show of submission from the loser. It is always to the death, by ancient sahuagin law, itself a natural outgrowth of the lovely sahuagin philosophy of life.*

Sahuagin society is in fact so regimented by ancient strictures that such formal dominance duels are very rare. They mostly occur when a potential challenger, who will have been watched for decades** by the current holder of the rank he is challenging for, has grown big and fierce enough to consider himself able to face his liege lord in a duel to the death. Often, that will occur when such a leader starts to demonstrate mental weakness and/or has taken a wound which impairs him slightly.***

*In their view, all failure is weakness and the weak do not deserve to live.
**As well as exposed to all dangers that a sahuagin leader can legitimately expose a subordinate to, in the hopes that a challenge might be averted. Unfortunately for sahuagin leaders, they each have many subordinates, traditionally nine honour guards and from nine to 20 sub-leaders for the higher ranks than Chieftain (human equivalent for an unpronouncable sahuagin term). And while it's within acceptable norms to engineer the death of a particularly vicious rival or two, such as a mutant four-armed one, a sahuagin Price or King who continually got all his Barons killed before they grew enough to challenge him would come to be considered a race traitor, blasphemer and coward soon enough, leading to a revolution by public feeding frenzy.
***If it's a genuine crippling wound, other sahuagin would probably just kill and eat him by unspoken consent, without the need for a formal challenge.


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well Pressure points allows you access to all kinds of potentially fight winning moves that don't require raw strength to pull off. e.g IQ based stuns, paralysed limbs, being blinded (although in this case I say it was blocking what ever sense was most appropriate) stopping you breathing (or in this case gill function).
Agreed. Those are all good reasons to improve Pressure Points.

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Pressure secrets is as states is potentially unbalanced! It doubles the effectiveness of locks and holds, it doubles your damage and allows you to go for vitals! (I'd think carefully about how Cutting sharp teeth/claws stack with this last one though) But either even at the most conservative reading to turns your cutting teeth and claws into impaling teeth and claws!
Which is a nice option, but one that can be duplicated by a single Technique, if he only wants to do it with his front claws.

The damage does not double, as I recall. Impaling does more injury than crushing or even cutting to the torso, but it does the same injury against limbs as crushing and less than cutting.

I think Technical Grappling had some text on Pressure Secrets used with locks. Doubled effectiveness sounds unbalancing, but some improvement would justify investment in the skill for our good Baron.

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What I can't remember is do teeth and claws count are unarmed attacks for the terms of this advantage?
I'm guessing they do.

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I'd argue that as far as sahuagin who often wield weapons are concerned they are and I'd also their use especially if you went with that more conservative reading PS replaces the cutting bonus. Especially as your using Karate/Judo to attack off and not brawling further distinguishing this chap from the usual sahuagin brawler using sheer muscle and ferocity
Just so.

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Other than that Baron Ak'Zuma sounds a pretty cool and brutal character /NPC!
He was a more or less random encounter. A few sessions ago, when some of the PCs and their men swam into the harbour of Shussel, a city in enemy hands, as a prelude to the amphibious assault that would finally seize that city, I mentioned that there were groups of sahuagin watching them, but not interfering in any way.

In the last session I GM-ed, a long time after the PCs had seen those sahuagin (a whole big battle and several smaller ones ago), one PC and his flight of combat mages were out flying escort on a wing of tasloi (small goblinesque creatures) mounted on giant albatrosses and dropping crossbow bolts on the enemy army outside their captured city. After escorting the albatrosses over the enemy army and away, the PC and his men encountered some opposition, probably summoned by priests on the ground in response to flying enemies. The PC and flight of mages were forced to retreat some miles from the harbour of Shussel, out to sea, in order to escape a flight of divine servitors of an enemy god, intent on bringing them the holy light. After being caught by teleporting angels, the PC and his loyal allies ended up in the drink. Lacking flight magic to get back, they are now floating around waiting for a rescue that might take some time, as the rest of the friendly forces are a bit preoccupied defending the newly seized city from the field army outside the walls.

The small group of fliers, who have formed a small raft of their bodies and what remains of the dragonwings that allowed them to fly, saw shark men swimming around in the depths under them, observing them curiously. Before the sahuagin had decided that snacks that were delivered by airdrop were safe to eat, the PC leading the downed flight used a magical messaging conch to tell the sahuagin that he was a powerful wizard who wished to speak with their leader on a matter very much to his advantage.

As their leader happened to be close by, observing these new humans who were fighting his hated enemy, the Mulhorandi, he was in a position to swim over and learn what this delusionally arrogant pre-dinner wanted to speak about. And so, I had to name and detail a leader of the local sahuagin. Random* rolling for ability scores indicated incredible IQ**, so the rest of the character kind of grew from that data point.

After discovering that the local sahuagin probably were not subject to the new King of Kurrimal, after a nearby underwater eruption destroyed the former kingdom of Aleaxtis and its king some four years ago, I decided that I'd make this super-intelligent sahuagin an interesting independent Baron. As in, why would the most intelligent sahuagin of his generation (or perhaps many generations), be content to lead an independent band outside the new borders and not play some political role instead? Sahuagin barons have to be big enough to be potential Royal Guards or royal lieutenants and it would seem to offer much more scope for that sort of intelligence to be helping to rule tens of thousands of sahuagin warriors than to lead a band of maybe 200.

My speculations and some dice rolling led me to decide that this Baron should be an unusually powerful one, but that he had some problem, curse or defect that had prevented him from having challenged his Prince or King in the normal fashion, even before that King and several Princes were turned to bubbles of underwater steam. As weresharkdom is regarded as a blessing in sahuagin society, but a mixed blessing, in that it stops growth and leads to death within 200 years of infection (sahuagin live very long, most Kings are 600+ years old), it seemed perfect. Baron Ak'Zuma has less than a century to live and he will not grow any bigger. And he has no Prince or King to challenge, anyway, as his lands are now located on the other side of some desolated lava ocean floor and occasional flare-up of poisonous chemicals from the new sahuagin kingdom of Kurrimal. So if he wants to leave any kind of legacy, it can't be through normal sahuagin channels.

*Well, within a range that I consider plausible, based on what has already been established about the character, such as position, training, etc.
**First thing I rolled for, as I needed to see if the unseen, offscreen leader of the sahuagin was likely to be curious or simply growl and wonder why no one was eating the delivered dinner yet.
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Old 10-30-2015, 01:52 PM   #8
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Default Re: [Martial Arts] Aquatic Styles: Sahuagin (Shark Men)

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I'd give the style being described here Judo and Wrestling in GURPS terms, as well as Karate with the option of the Biting Mastery Perk available immediately instead of subject to normal limits as it will be core to the style. Techniques are probably fairly minimal; the philosophy is that you just grapple, maneuver, (optional: apply locks, possibly break limbs), and then bite the problem until it goes away.
In game terms, when would you use Judo instead of Wrestling when fighting underwater?

Aside from better defences, which are moot because Karate can be used for defences anyway, Judo has two advantages over Wrestling that I can see. You can use Judo Throw, Sweep* and Trip without taking specific Perks for each of them. In a setting where being knocked down or otherwise rendered prone seems pretty meaningless, how does that work?

Is there anything that I am missing that would make Judo game-mechanically relevant to a character with Karate and Wrestling underwater?

*I think this defaults to Wrestling anyway as of Technical Grappling, but at a higher penalty than for Judo.
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Old 10-31-2015, 07:48 AM   #9
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Default Re: [Martial Arts] Aquatic Styles: Sahuagin (Shark Men)

Judo allows better capabilities for moving other people around in general, with Judo Throw and Sacrifice Throw, which presumably retain their stunning effect even if there is nothing solid to throw the target into because this is not contradicted by RAW as far as I can tell (plus throwing into objects to deal damage, into other characters to inconvenience two people in a single action, etc), and provides all the defensive capabilities of Karate to a Judo+Wrestling specialist with a minimal Karate focus (I like some variation among stylists; YMMV). Also, the realistic technique Evade and the cinematic technique Binding both seem especially useful underwater IMHO and default to Judo but not Wrestling. Wrestling, on the other hand, provides the grappling ST bonus and some techniques that Judo doesn't, so I think a strong case can be made for all of the above with differing foci among individual practitioners and/or sub-schools.
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Old 10-31-2015, 08:58 AM   #10
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Default Re: [Martial Arts] Aquatic Styles: Sahuagin (Shark Men)

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Judo allows better capabilities for moving other people around in general, with Judo Throw and Sacrifice Throw, which presumably retain their stunning effect even if there is nothing solid to throw the target into because this is not contradicted by RAW as far as I can tell
GURPS Martial Arts: Yrth Fighting Styles p. 22:

"Attacks and techniques that depend on gravity, such as
throws and trips, have limited or no effect underwater; the
GM must adjudicate as required
."

This is a RAW justification for reducing the effectiveness of Judo Throw and Sacrifice Throw underwater. I'm not necessarily arguing that it should be useless, but I do think that it's not realistic or plausible for it to have the same effects in water as on land. So I'm discussing the matter with forumites, in preparation for the next session, where it's probable I should have to adjudicate just such a question.

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(plus throwing into objects to deal damage, into other characters to inconvenience two people in a single action, etc),
That, however, I see as a valid use of throws underwater. On the other hand, mechanically speaking, should we try to model these as Judo Throws instead of uses of Wrestling that include Throws from Locks, Shoving People Around or even Pickup (followed by a throw using Throwing or Throwing Art skill)?

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and provides all the defensive capabilities of Karate to a Judo+Wrestling specialist with a minimal Karate focus (I like some variation among stylists; YMMV).
Clawing and biting is a core skill among sahuagin. Grappling is a complement to the use of their natural weapons. Most of them use Brawling for these natural weapons, it is true, but I find it very strange to imagine a sahuagin who learns Karate, but is not good at striking.

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Also, the realistic technique Evade and the cinematic technique Binding both seem especially useful underwater IMHO and default to Judo but not Wrestling.
Very good points. Evade does default to Aquabatics, which seems extremely useful for a smaller combatant facing larger ones in water, but Binding does not. And sahuagin certainly use nets in combat and bind captives.

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Wrestling, on the other hand, provides the grappling ST bonus and some techniques that Judo doesn't, so I think a strong case can be made for all of the above with differing foci among individual practitioners and/or sub-schools.
Baron Ak'Zuma developed his personal style and for most of his lifetime has not been prepared to teach it.* As he grew older and knew that he would not live another century, he might have reconsidered this view, at least insofar as it applied to sahuagin who would not grow enough within a century to challenge him.

I'd guess that he might have begun considered teaching the younger among his Baronial Guard the style a some fifteen years ago. Four years ago there was a major upheaval which resulted in the Prince and King above Baron Ak'Zuma dying and him being cut-off from wider sahuagin society. I haven't decided whether he came to a decision to teach his style more widely after that. Finally, some six months ago he would have seen that even teaching all his warriors, including the remaining four of the Baronial Guard, would not really imperil him materially, at least not more than other, more immediate threats.

So we'll say that while there are emerging apprentices in the style and maybe four or five journeymen, for now, Baron Ak'Zuma is the only true master. So, in essence, there is only one school and he is teaching it.

His style is tailored to allow him to defeat larger and stronger sahuagin in a formal 'unarmed'** duel to the death. It's not focused on fighting more than one foe at a time, it includes no use of weapons, nets or ropes and it involves leaving a dead foe and an alive and uncrippled Baron Ak'Zuma.

It would seem that Karate + Wrestling was an excellent foundation of such a style. The Bite Mastery Perk is a core component and other necessary Perks include Skill Adaptation (Brawling techniques default to Karate). That allows Baron Ak'Zuma to do everything with Karate that his fellow sahuagin do with Brawling.

I thought about including Judo, but I still haven't found a lot of uses for it in a game-mechanical sense. Granted, Evade is one vital use. Are there others?

*Because it's meant to allow him to defeat his subordinates in ritual duels to the death when they become large enough to threathen him.
**I.e. using only their claws and teeth.
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