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Martial Artistry in Martial Power

The monk was traditionally seen as THE martial artist class of D&D and indeed you can see in its earliest incarnations the beginings of martial power as it eventually manifest more broadly in 4th edition Martial Power source. The martial classes are very much the 4e Martial Artists, with elaborate interesting abilities that push the edges into the legendary and in that regards the players handbook has 4 of them and in combination with martial practices, these techniques can bring the Martial Artist back to the martial power source.

Unarmed/Unarmored Competence

In combat these 4 martial classes are notoriously dependent on arms and armor arguably realistic but for many heros too much so and for certain flavored games far too realistic. Most arcane/divine classes have items but they are more icing on the cake which is their own ability. Lancelot and Beowulf and others stories exhibit not only are the best of Martial kind not dependent on magic items but rather the items they use are indeed for them mere icing on the cake. See Chronicles of Thomas Covenant for a fantasy world with unarmed / unarmored martial artists without a general world flavor set in the flavor of the far east, Ancient Celtic legends and some movies portraying your favorite barbarians feature similarly less armor dependent characters. Hence you may find value in these rules even if you are not explicitly shooting for a setting like Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon or ones where “everyone” is a monk.

Martial Techniques

These are a "new" concept for a 4e Game and a component which will be included in my Martial Power III. They are at some level an extension of Grand Master Training and include direct analogs to various weaponry and armor and enchantments which enhance them (some techniques also emulate other magic items and do not require focus) I am working to get these and the practices so they work within the Offline builder via CBLoader (not as items or enchantments on items but rather similarly to how practices are acquired). For me flavor is important as is having things work in Character Builder. (so even though you can generally reflavor your war hammers as fists, it's much nicer if you can learn a technique called Herculean Fists).

Some techniques go beyond what might be enabled with even rampant reflavoring of current magic items, examples of this include the evasion techniques which introduce new armor types. Additionally these rules bring some structure to the flavor that isnt entirely free form nor constrained in the same fashion as item slots.

Martial Techniques by default require the same feat as for gaining Martial Practices (Now called Martial Artistry). This limit is however for most techniques more about flavor than balance.

Supplemental rules include Karma Points and Martial Focus and Superiority Feats.

Karma Points

Advanced Techniques Cost in Karma is as per a magic item in gold of the same level. (more mundane ones which cost similar to analogous weaponry or armor in karma) See More on Karma

A Few Relevant Practices.

*Martial Mastery/Art of the Sensei -- insight →Forge Weapon/Armor (Create Inherent Weaponry/Defense Abilities) and Create Martial Grandmaster Training. As a development practice those who learn it are reimbursed in Karma points.

*Oath of Independence / Riddle of Steel --Athletics , Endurance → Disenchant (Destroy magic item - converts to Karma Points). Learning this focus earns one an increase in your Martial Focus.

Basic Techniques

(analogs to normal equipment)

Aggressive techniques used in attacks

Most aggressive martial techniques can be swapped out using a minor action.

  • *Knife Hand Strike (Dagger needs replacement trait for light thrown)
  • Circular Knife hand and Spin Kicks (Analogous to a Battleaxe - versatile)
  • Lunging Knife hand (Rapier)
  • Elbow Smash or Jab(short sword or hammer?)
  • *Flying Kick (Glaive)
  • *Flying Spin Kick (Halberd)
  • Spin Kick (Greataxe)
  • Herculean or Hammer Fists --> Stamping/Jump Kick (Warhammer)
  • Lunge Knuckle Punch /Lunging Kick (Longsword)
  • Lunge Punch and Roundhouse Kick (Broad Sword)
  • Lunging Finger jab / Toe Kick (Spear?)
  • Finger Jab (Counts as a pick or dagger) - high crit? Core technique in Jit Kun Do?
  • Karate Strikes ( very versatile strength oriented art) mechanically a khopesh both kicks and hand strikes and spin moves and can be combined with deflections.
  • Scissor Strike - include kicks and leg/arm breakers and scissor hand attacks etc... it could be brutal two handed (Great axe - but using Superior Deadliness Feat becomes brutal like the executioner's axe)


can be swapped out or dropped using a minor action.

  • Deflection
  • Sweeping Block

Basic Evasions / Wearing of Woad / Martial Tattoos

these may take as long as 5 minutes of meditation or drawing or tracing time to attain the mental state and are lost if you are knocked unconscious. They are analogous to using leather or hide armor.

  • Reflexive (Int or Dex) + 2 , quick thinking or nervous response.
  • Focused Reflexive (Int or Dex) + 3 (-1 on checks)
  • Zen (Wis or Cha) + 2, deception / perception
  • Focused Zen (Wis or Cha) + 3 (-1 on checks)

Superiority Feats

These are largely replacements for the vaguely distinguished superior weaponry and allow us to not have vaguely superior techniques, without completely prohibiting them. A superiority feat is not tied to a specific technique or weapon and can itself be swapped out as minor action. Only one superiority feat can be applied at a time to a given weapon or technique. A technique which is currently affected by these feats count as a superior weapon or technique.

  • Superior Proficiency while wielding any weapon or martial strike that is not a superior weapon you may increase the proficiency bonus by 1
  • Superior Prowess while wielding any weapon or martial strike that is not a superior weapon you may increase the dice size by 1.
  • Superior Defense while wielding any offhand weapon/martial technique that is not a superior weapon increase your effective armor class by 1.
  • Deadly Superiority while wielding any weapon or martial strike that is not a superior weapon and not high crit it gains the property of high crit.
  • Brutal Superiority while wielding any weapon or martial strike that is not a superior weapon you may increase or set brutality to 2 or increase property by+ 1

Gaining Martial Focus

Martial Focus is gained as one learns Martial Techniques in addition to that gained upon taking the Oath of Independence or Learning the riddle of steel. For each of the following increase your Maximum Martial Focus by 1.

  • first Aggressive Technique

  • The first Evasion/Defensive Technique

  • The Second Aggressive Technique or a Blocking Technique.

  • The first Technique requiring Focus or learning the Practice "Oath of Independence/Riddle of Steel"

Readying a Technique

most techniques require readying (typically a minor action), there are limits as to how many total one can have readied. But unless the DM is very generous you are unlikely to reach those limits (10). Techniques with a focus requirement are however far more burdensome and generally one can only have 3 or 4 of these readied.

Complex techniques

These techniques involve multiple effects may take more actions to ready - and more than 1 focus.

Technique Ranks

Most techniques requiring focus may have as many as 6 ranks (a new rank available every 5 levels)

Technique and Magic Item Interactions

Some techniques may interact positively or negatively with magic items or other equipment (those requiring focus are analogous to the primary slot item enchantments), possessing an item may may make learning a technique easier or having an item donned may allow one to ready the technique with fewer actions. Or readying a technique may suppress other items or be unusable while the item is worn. (flavor text) Heated Blood for instance is said to damage you if are wearing magical armor as it turns the heat inward. Generally speaking technique bonuses do not stack with item bonuses.

Superior Evasions

These may take as long as 10 minutes of meditation or drawing or tracing time to attain the mental state and are lost if you are knocked unconscious. They are analogous to using leather or hide armor but draw on resources very integral to the majority martial Classes they may involve more advanced blocking and cost a feat to gain

  • Chi (Str or Con) + 2, deflecting with might (or life force or wild instinctive movement)
  • Focused Chi (Str or Con) + 3 (-1 on checks)

Advanced Techniques

Blood Control - your mastery over the blood flow of your body inures you to what might be critical harm if you are prepared at the moment of injury.

Giant Slayer if you are focused you can pick out the vulnerability of larger targets

Limber Joints (escape artistry) incompatible with physical armor

Sparking Strike - typically done with normal/non-magical weaponry rather than unarmed techniques. The sparks are often from metal splintering on the edges of the weapon - A greater charge can be released daily

Heated Blood - inspired by Cu Chulainn. Throughout the course of battle your body builds up inner heat after a protracted battle you may need bathed in copious amounts of cool water to make you safe for allies and human company.

When you are bloodied, you gain an aura of radiant heat. Any creature that starts its turn adjacent to you takes 2 fire damage. Technique requires focus - though technically what it does is forces out another item that takes focus .. rather like the brain overheating inducing loss of a minor action for a round and de-rezzing 1 technique using focus til the condition ends.

flavor - This technique is said to damage you if are wearing magical armor as it turns the heat inward (perhaps this only occurs if the magic armor has an enchantment).

The first rank is available at level 13. / focus 1

Allowing the beast to rise (aka Anger Mismanagement)

This technique allows one to access certain resources and abilities normally walled off by pain and fear and rage. Additionally your default critical hits are d8 per rank with this and critical hits while bloodied are d12. Once per encounter using minor action you count as bloodied for all purposes until the end of next turn. This technique is popular with Dragonborn, Shifters and some Orcs although any who have abilities triggered by bloodied conditions may find it useful.

The first rank is available at level 3. / focus 1

Awesome Physique

You may use your strength instead of charisma for diplomacy. This often involves in minor acts of impressive physical prowess (but can also include showing off your sinuous bulges at the right moment -- this latter may require you to not be wearing body obscuring things like most armor and some clothes even)

level 6, 1800 karma

Disarming Flourish

You may use your Strength or Dex in place of charisma, with intimidation for the standard in combat usage of intimidation. Using this technique your incredible display of prowess disarms your enemy (for those not using weapons this is a figurative disarm or those with weapons or implements it can be literal) and drives them into defeat. Your ability to communicate with the enemy has no impact on this check.

level 6, 1800 karma

Note in a world with many magic items that cling to hand or leap back to hand perhaps this ability is seen as quaint and old fashioned among the elites.

Humble Elocution

This technique is technically open to many (not just martial types) and is not actually that popular often due to personality reasons nor is it necessary that natural to most though some rogues really find it very potent alah Loki. This is a self deprecating verbal technique where humility becomes an ingratiating factor it can be sincere or deceptive and may be done in blatant fashion as part of humor.

The technique confers a technique bonus equal to your rank in it for both Diplomacy and Deception skills. Additionally Daily you may choose to re-roll a Diplomacy or Deception attempt using the second even if it is lower.

the rank 1 version is available at level 3.

This technique requires 1 focus

Perfected Disarm

If your Intimidate Battlefield Submission Power Fails to fully defeat your adversary, your astounding technique remains far from pointless. If your enemy is armed with a weapon or implement it is knocked to their feet - they spend an opportunity action to drop prone rearming themselves (but they are now prone) similarly an unarmed enemy is bowled over by your display and unable to respond to opportunities.

Trigger : your initimidate check to demand submission in combat fails.

Effet: Your enemy loses an opportunity action and is prone.

Karma 4200 , 1 focus and 1 preparation

Salmon Leap

It' relies on surprise as its pretty easy to hit a back that has been spun to you even when done with the grace of a leaping salmon, never the less I swear he must rip tendons in order to dive that far yet he manages often enough never the less.

You gain +2 technique bonus to athletic checks for jumping.

Encounter Power: Effect you jump to a square within 10 squares of you this jump does not provoke opportunity attacks.

Running On Spear Tips

You have reached beyond the limits and your enemies weapons do not impede your passage when they would most wish otherwise. Rushing directly on them they brace themselves expecting to bite deep but you run on their hafts and blades with acrobatic finesse and leave them impotently dumbfounded and occasionally that even involves movement right over their heads.

When you charge none of your movement as part of the charge provoke opportunity attacks.

Daily Power: Move Action. Shift 3 squares. This shift can move through enemies' spaces, though you must end your move in a legal space.

requires 1 focus. (2 preparations)

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