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Old 07-23-2022, 09:34 AM   #1
Michael Thayne
 
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Default [Dungeon Fantasy] Non-East Asian inspirations for Martial Artists (and Ninja)

Dungeon Fantasy Martial Artists are a bit of an odd man out. The other "core" professions all have roots in fantasy fiction and RPGs primarily (if loosely) based off Medieval Europe. The Martial Artist, on the other hand, has its roots in Chinese and Japanese martial arts. Sure, the barbarian template also represents an exotic foreigner—but often one from a mere few hundred miles away, as opposed to several thousand miles away. So I'm wondering about historical precedents for something that could justify using the mechanics of the Martial Artist without feeling so out of place. One thing that comes to mind, oddly, is to portray them as a sort of cinematic version of ancient Olympic athletes. But it might be that people know of other historical precedents. Thoughts?
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Old 07-23-2022, 09:38 AM   #2
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Default Re: [Dungeon Fantasy] Non-East Asian inspirations for Martial Artists (and Ninja)

I remember coming across a Youtube video of two guys demonstrating a medieval European unarmed combat style called......Twirch Ringen? I'm sure someone who deals with the subject more then me can remember the right name.

There's also Pankration, the Ancient Greek wrestling art.
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Old 07-23-2022, 09:55 AM   #3
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Default Re: [Dungeon Fantasy] Non-East Asian inspirations for Martial Artists (and Ninja)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Thayne View Post
Dungeon Fantasy Martial Artists are a bit of an odd man out. The other "core" professions all have roots in fantasy fiction and RPGs primarily (if loosely) based off Medieval Europe. The Martial Artist, on the other hand, has its roots in Chinese and Japanese martial arts.
It comes from OD&D and AD&D1e Monks, who first appeared in Blackmoor in 1975. They were inspired by the Kung Fu TV series, which started in 1972, and more or less created the image of oriental martial arts in western popular culture.
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Old 07-23-2022, 10:11 AM   #4
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Default Re: [Dungeon Fantasy] Non-East Asian inspirations for Martial Artists (and Ninja)

Do you need a historical analog?

In the European middle ages, the Catholic church suppressed all kinds of mysticism. No church, no supression. So, you could just move a neo-berzerker into a more spiritual role. Or if the Celts endured, it's not unlikely they would have developed something similar.

The pressures which created unarmed fighting techniques were the banning of weapons for commoners. Anywhere that's sustained, people will invent.

But if you're in full-on DF, just add handwavium.
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Old 07-23-2022, 11:17 AM   #5
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Default Re: [Dungeon Fantasy] Non-East Asian inspirations for Martial Artists (and Ninja)

What are we meaning by "martial arts"? Because Western Europe had a martial arts tradition every bit as rich as the East - there are multiple societies specifically dedicated to researching and recreating the martial arts of the European Middle Ages and Renaissance - and, I think, one that is Viking themed, although whether that is a themed invention or historical research is unknown to me.
If we mean unarmed combat - sadly sportification and the arrival of Eastern styles had probably meant that European Freestyle and anything resembling true Pankration have disappeared into MMA, but in reality, that's what happens to unarmed combat skills: the MMA exponents have more or less proven that Eastern style fossilization doesn't help.
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Old 07-23-2022, 12:07 PM   #6
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Default Re: [Dungeon Fantasy] Non-East Asian inspirations for Martial Artists (and Ninja)

I think I've related this before, but: When I started gaming with D&D, my local gaming group simply wasn't familiar with "monk" in the sense of Shaolin Temple monk. We pictured the monk class as tonsured, monastic, European monks. Who, for some reason, had weird powers and weapons. We really didn't ask why; it was D&D.

But to address the OP: As others have said, there's no shortage of martial arts styles, techniques, legendary abilities, etc. all over the world. Martial Arts does a pretty great job of surveying non-East Asian fighting, complete with weird cinematic skills and crazy weapons. You can assume that advanced practitioners of some of these can tap into the universal power of chi, even if their "chi" goes by a different name, is understood through different traditions, is honed through different rituals, and yields a different set of disciplines.

The results might not be very historical, but they could be fun. (Especially a secret order of Euro monks, drawing on chi but through some philosophical lens of Gnosticism, Hermeticism, or whatever.)

(Question for all: In historical belief systems outside of Asia, what might might be the closest equivalents to the "chi" of the Far East or the "prana" of Hinduism?)
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Old 07-23-2022, 12:24 PM   #7
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Default Re: [Dungeon Fantasy] Non-East Asian inspirations for Martial Artists (and Ninja)

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Question for all: In historical belief systems outside of Asia, what might might be the closest equivalents to the "chi" of the Far East or the "prana" of Hinduism?)
In Classical Greece it was called Pneuma, and Christian mystics carried that term across Europe later on. In Arabic the word is Baraka, and in Hebrew Ruach. All the terms listed literally mean "breath" except baraka which means blessing. I don't recalls any other names offhand, but you won't go far wrong usually by looking for the local term for meditative breathing.
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Old 07-23-2022, 12:25 PM   #8
Michael Thayne
 
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Default Re: [Dungeon Fantasy] Non-East Asian inspirations for Martial Artists (and Ninja)

Quote:
Originally Posted by SilvercatMoonpaw View Post
I remember coming across a Youtube video of two guys demonstrating a medieval European unarmed combat style called......Twirch Ringen? I'm sure someone who deals with the subject more then me can remember the right name.

There's also Pankration, the Ancient Greek wrestling art.
Pankration crossed my mind as potentially helpful here—though I don't know that feel-wise it suits "cinematic" or "chi" abilities that go beyond just being really strong.

Quote:
Originally Posted by johndallman View Post
It comes from OD&D and AD&D1e Monks, who first appeared in Blackmoor in 1975. They were inspired by the Kung Fu TV series, which started in 1972, and more or less created the image of oriental martial arts in western popular culture.
I was vaguely aware that Monks had been in D&D since 1st edition, but didn't know the details. Thanks for the history lesson!

Quote:
Originally Posted by khorboth View Post
Do you need a historical analog?

In the European middle ages, the Catholic church suppressed all kinds of mysticism. No church, no supression. So, you could just move a neo-berzerker into a more spiritual role. Or if the Celts endured, it's not unlikely they would have developed something similar.

The pressures which created unarmed fighting techniques were the banning of weapons for commoners. Anywhere that's sustained, people will invent.

But if you're in full-on DF, just add handwavium.
Dungeon Fantasy martial artists don't have to fight unarmed, though all have at least a couple points in Judo and Karate. I'm more concerned about the mystical side of things. While I guess you don't strictly "need" a historical precedent, ideas on alternate flavorings would be nice.

Quote:
Originally Posted by The Colonel View Post
What are we meaning by "martial arts"? Because Western Europe had a martial arts tradition every bit as rich as the East - there are multiple societies specifically dedicated to researching and recreating the martial arts of the European Middle Ages and Renaissance - and, I think, one that is Viking themed, although whether that is a themed invention or historical research is unknown to me.
If we mean unarmed combat - sadly sportification and the arrival of Eastern styles had probably meant that European Freestyle and anything resembling true Pankration have disappeared into MMA, but in reality, that's what happens to unarmed combat skills: the MMA exponents have more or less proven that Eastern style fossilization doesn't help.
By "martial arts" I mean the Martial Artist template in Dungeon Fantasy, complete with both cinematic skills and a specific interpretation of chi-abilities-as-powers.
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Old 07-23-2022, 02:57 PM   #9
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Default Re: [Dungeon Fantasy] Non-East Asian inspirations for Martial Artists (and Ninja)

One of the more unusual things Martial Artists get in Dungeon Fantasy specifically is Enhanced Move at either level 0.5 or level 1. Would be interesting to find some good examples of legendary heroes described as being "swift as a hawk" or similar.
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Old 07-23-2022, 05:34 PM   #10
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Default Re: [Dungeon Fantasy] Non-East Asian inspirations for Martial Artists (and Ninja)

I'd be very tempted to look into something along the lines of Ancient Greek Pankration or Indian Wrestling.

Savate is also interesting, although anachronistic in more realistic settings - but this is DF! DF is not realistic! Savateurs unite!
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