Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Martial Arts in OA

...is it me, or does this shit need some serious re-working? If the tables speak true, why would anyone ever bother using a weapon? You can easily make a martial arts style that attacks twice a round for 1d8 damage and gives you AC equivalent to studded leather. Unless, of course, you are playing with the weapon type vs. AC rules, because I'm fairly sure bare handed attacks get a nasty penalty to hit any type of armor.
In all likelihood, since I never play with weapon type vs. AC mods, I will adjust the damage of martial arts down by one point each and say that the total damage rounds down, so that the only way to do 1d8 is to take a purely offensive hard style. (Since even a striking hard/soft combo style would only net you a 7)

Another thing to think about, however, is that I don't think you can do martial arts in armor... and those high offensive styles are going to leave the fighter with an AC of 7-8. (Unless he's using a soft style, in which case he's going to have high AC but do very low damage and have only one attack per round, the horror.

Yes another thing to consider is that, unless I missed something, only monks and some kensai start out with martial arts... monks it is obviously built into their class, and kensai can specifically choose a martial art as their weapon of choice. The only other rules about martial arts, from what I read, involve a long and arduous process of courting a master, plus the willingness to drop proficiency slots, which don't come around that often.

Perhaps martial arts rock so hard because your chances of learning them are fairly slim.

If anyone out there has played with the OA martial arts rules as written, please feel free to leave feedback. This isn't going to become an issue anytime soon, but I like to have my house rules for a game nailed down before I ever run it.


  1. Do you mean Oriental Adventures (OA)? I am none too familiar with the martial arts system in OA, but the battlefield purpose of martial arts is to obtain a replacement weapon as quickly as possible, so I will hazard to say it shouldn't be better than being armed.

  2. Martial arts have always kicked ass!

    I haven't read the section thoroughly in years but I do remember some of the balancing systems I've seen in other books or hackmaster... can't remember where.

    Aside from monks (and probably martial arts kensai) in hackmaster, using martial arts against armed enemies gives the enemy a free attack BEFORE the martial artist strikes, the martial artist hits at a -4 penalty, and yeah, you can't wear armor and use martial arts (or you use the same penalty as with the punching/wrestling chart). Also, unless you are using IRON FIST or EAGLE'S CLAW you do 1/4 real damage the other 3/4 is subdual only. But, just to reiterate, monks were exempt from all of the above limitations.

    Personally, I LOVE monks and martial arts and kensai for that matter. The proficiency cost to have all the great moves is very prohibitive to anyone wanting to have a life beyond martial arts. But who would want that.

    Also I recal something about needing perception... or Power w/o perception is spiritually useless and therefor of no value. Can't remember.

  3. @Matthew: Yes, you are correct... I meant to say OA and have edited accordingly.

    I do have some limited martial arts training (about a year, and still training) We operate under the assumption that you do not have a weapon and you aren't going to get to one. Of course, my sifu discourages us from fighting someone who is armed if at all possible, (fighting in general, but I'm sure you get my meaning) so your observation is probably pretty spot on, at least in terms of real life or realistic combat.

    @Raven- Good points, all. I remember the -4/first attack rule from 2nd Edition AD&D, but I'm not sure it's in first...I'll have to check. I also think that OA martial arts are supposed to work like "regular" AD&D1 melee combat. At least, nothing makes any reference to the ponderous "pummeling" formula in the AD&D1 DMG.

    In addition to monks, I would rule that kensai who specialize in a given style are likewise exempt from associated penalties of unarmed vs. armed combat.

    ...of course, there's no way I'd let a PC start off with a custom martial art style anyway. (Not to say they couldn't develop one later on) I just finished playing through Jade Empire so I've got a lot of style ideas running through my head.

    And how could I forget about Power/Perception? Remember, perception is the key to unlocking the intangible power of blowing people's heads up. Er, I mean, the intangible power of the spirit.

  4. I've run two OA campaigns in my life, and in both we never got into the martial arts too much. Samurai, Kensai, etc. were just too much about the swords to get down n' dirty with their mitts.

  5. Alright for one if ou look in the books it lists styles abilities i.e. iron fist, for example that states through rigours trainning and toughning excerises the monks hands have becom like steel. Granted they are nothing compaired to a sword per say, none the less...i feel it rather silly one should have to train to learn to fight with something he has had all his life. Now lets keep in mind this is a fantasy adventure game, tring to make it more realistic is deffeating the purpose of the game in general. Also....never ever forget the number one rule. The only one that should ever matter.


    People have lost focus of the dms job as the ref, and have to depened on the murky texts left around. It was ment to but unclear to allow for wiggle room based upon the dms choice....these are all questions you need to take up with the dm. Other Dms may allow you to play with that char in their games.

    All in all, if you are the dm it is your call. Do not allow players to second guess you because of some text....they are not set in stone rules...again just guidlines. x.x; ohie i hate explaining that to people.

    Just talk it over with your dm...having played and run my own settings....i have found several conflicting rules and add-ins. I hope this resolves your issues. if your the dm it is your call...if the players do not like it...-shrugs- perhaps they need to rethink the first page of the players or dmg....forgot the book its out of but it does state that.