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Old 06-02-2021, 12:15 PM   #1
Michael Thayne
 
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Default Opinions on cinematic martial arts skills?

There's been a lot of debate over GURPS Magic, with complaints that it seems to have never really been "4e-ified" the way say the psionics system has. But somewhat surprisingly, I've never seen similar arguments about cinematic martial arts skills (i.e. skills with TbaM as a prerequisite, which is basically all cinematic skills except Computer Hacking and the various skills aimed at fantasy bards). Because let's face it they have some odd features.

Four of the skills in question—Breaking Blow, Flying Leap, Power Blow, and Zen Archery—have a whopping -10 penalty to use instantaneously, and require 32 seconds of concentration to use with no penalty. This doesn't actually seem very "cinematic", unless perhaps those 32 seconds are being used for a flashback or vision involving the martial artist's mentor. Arguably, this gets even stranger if you use an Unusual Training perk to take a supposedly more limited and realistic version of one of these skills, since I'm pretty sure students of karate showing off board breaking gain nothing from pausing for 32 seconds in between strikes. And the possibility of buying these skills (particularly Power Blow) is, if not exactly unbalanced, then at least something that occupies an odd place in the space of player options, since it's arguably the best way to build a "budget brick" in a low-end supers game.

Then there's the issue of what D&D players call MAD or Multi-Attribute Dependency. It's odd to think that a wuxia hero might be able to reliably use Light Walk and Lizard Climb (both DX-based skills) but struggle with Flying Leap, even when using the optional rules on Martial Arts p. 129, because Flying Leap is IQ-based. Similarly, if your character concept is first and foremost "cinematically stealthy", it becomes awfully inconvenient that while Light Walk is DX-based, Invisibility Art is IQ-based. If your concept calls for little in the way of IQ-based skills with the exception of Blind Fighting, you might wonder why you don't just buy Dark Vision, Vibration Sense, or even Sonar. Other posters might be able to generate more examples. Published Talents help somewhat with this, but they don't feel like a complete solution.

Part of me is tempted to come up with replace them with powers wholesale, as suggested in the "Chi Sorcery" article in Pyramid #3/105. But when I try to put myself in a player's shoes, I worry about players being unsatisfied with replacements. Thoughts? Who's had good experiences playing with these skills, either as a play or GM?
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Old 06-02-2021, 12:41 PM   #2
Varyon
 
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Default Re: Opinions on cinematic martial arts skills?

Dislike of how bizarre these skills (which I usually classify under the umbrella of "esoteric skills") seem to be in application was part of my inspiration of replacing them as part of my Different Take on Imbuements. Needless to say, I'm not a fan of them, and would rather see them replaced with Advantages and/or Techniques of existing skills (as in the linked thread).
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Old 06-02-2021, 02:50 PM   #3
Michael Thayne
 
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Default Re: Opinions on cinematic martial arts skills?

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Originally Posted by Varyon View Post
Dislike of how bizarre these skills (which I usually classify under the umbrella of "esoteric skills") seem to be in application was part of my inspiration of replacing them as part of my Different Take on Imbuements. Needless to say, I'm not a fan of them, and would rather see them replaced with Advantages and/or Techniques of existing skills (as in the linked thread).
While this certainly makes sense as a replacement for things like Breaking Blow, Pressure Points, and Pressure Secrets, I'm not sure it's a general solution to the problem.
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Old 06-02-2021, 07:23 PM   #4
malloyd
 
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Default Re: Opinions on cinematic martial arts skills?

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Originally Posted by Michael Thayne View Post
Part of me is tempted to come up with replace them with powers wholesale, as suggested in the "Chi Sorcery" article in Pyramid #3/105.
These things are stuck as skills for historical reasons, because 3e all but forbade learnable advantages, and at least when they were added didn't offer any for less than 5 points, and had no real way to link one to a skill, or anything else that was reasonably improvable and thus would give you some sort of learning progression or sense of characters having different effective levels.

If I were building them now, I'd probably write a lot of them as Cinematic Option or Unique Technique perks. I've never much liked most of them, and in my experience players don't love them either - sometimes because the mechanics are clunky, but more often because they don't really work - as in they fail to model the cool cinematic thing very well, not in the fail the roll too often sense, though sometimes those are interconnected (I'm glaring at you Invisibility Art...).
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Old 06-02-2021, 08:58 PM   #5
Fred Brackin
 
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Default Re: Opinions on cinematic martial arts skills?

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I've never much liked most of them, and in my experience players don't love them either - sometimes because the mechanics are clunky, but more often because they don't really work -.
I'm having trouble thinking of a wuxia/anime setting where Gurps' 1 FP/use obsession works. Pretty much anyone who can leap with superhuman ability does a _lot_ of it.

That's just for Flying Leap but at least getting 3x the jumping dstance is useful. Even if you can get Breaking Blow to work it isn't.

Just to remove the need for anyone else to mention there is an option in Martial Arts to get rid of the FP cost for Flying Leap but it lowers distance to 2x.
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Old 06-02-2021, 09:59 PM   #6
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Default Re: Opinions on cinematic martial arts skills?

Most of them would be much better if they were given the Psionic Powers treatment, converted into an advantage package with a controlling skill. GURPS Wuxia would be a cool supplement if it took a full replacement and expansion route with these skills.
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Old 06-02-2021, 10:48 PM   #7
David Johnston2
 
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Default Re: Opinions on cinematic martial arts skills?

Hey without cinematic martial arts skills I wouldn't have had my fifth way to make a superarcher:

Stormbow: Innate attack with alternate attacks (Stunning attack, burning attack, knockback attack, area effect deafening attack)

Able Archer: Gadgets

Elfshot: Sorcery

Silver Arrow: Imbuement

Zen Bowman: Cinematic martial arts.
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Old 06-03-2021, 06:37 AM   #8
Arcanjo7Sagi
 
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Default Re: Opinions on cinematic martial arts skills?

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Originally Posted by Tyneras View Post
Most of them would be much better if they were given the Psionic Powers treatment, converted into an advantage package with a controlling skill. GURPS Wuxia would be a cool supplement if it took a full replacement and expansion route with these skills.
The problem for me with this line of argument is that it would turn GURPS into something like D&D 4E: everyone does the same things, just change the fluff. Nothing is really unique.

But I understand the complaint: you need to have both DX and high IQ for certain character types to work (like ninjas). You can try Talents, yes, but for some, the problem will remain. Not to mention the part that is a very different mechanic from the normal rest of the system.
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Old 06-03-2021, 07:12 AM   #9
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Default Re: Opinions on cinematic martial arts skills?

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Originally Posted by Michael Thayne View Post
While this certainly makes sense as a replacement for things like Breaking Blow, Pressure Points, and Pressure Secrets, I'm not sure it's a general solution to the problem.
At least some of the others can be done, but it's admittedly a lot clunkier than "take a penalty to the attack roll and pay some FP, get an added effect." In the linked thread, I have the Lizard Climb Technique replace the skill of the same name and Vanish replace Invisibility Art, and Flying Leap could be done in a similar fashion to Sprint - rather than have Running skill used to emulate Enhanced Move, you use Jumping skill used to emulate Super Jump. Light Walk is a lot more finicky - perhaps it defaults to the lower of Acrobatics and Stealth, but I'm not sure what Advantage it would emulate... perhaps an extremely-Limited version of Walk on Air?
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Old 06-03-2021, 07:22 AM   #10
JulianLW
 
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Default Re: Opinions on cinematic martial arts skills?

I like that the cinematic skills give a different mechanic for achieving low-scale superheroic feats, but at a pretty high price. Lots of character concepts depend on having two different attributes at somewhat high levels. I think there have been a number of threads, for example, about the importance of high Will (in addition to high ST and DX) to accurately model characters like Conan.

If there was one fix I think would help the cinematic skills work better in a game, however, I think it would be more targeted talents such as Diestro from Dungeon Fantasy. Paying 30 CP for Trained By a Master and then 15/level for Chi Talent is a pretty steep hill to climb. Instead, you might just let a player pick the 5 or 6 cinematic skills she wants her ninja/xia/super archer/iron fist to do and make a 5/level talent and let her buy it up to 6, as in Dungeon Fantasy. After that, pay the extra 4/level to get really fast at delivering the x3 ST smackdown - and buy up FP to be able to do it more than a few times a fight....

That said, there are a couple of cinematic skills that seem a little pointless, especially compared to Imbuement versions of the same trick.... But Imbuement has a pretty high buy-in cost, too....
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