The Crane Style keeps an opponent at a distance, baffling attacks with gentle deflection and evasion while launching sharply focused strikes at vital points and sweeping an opponents legs out from under them. Balance reigns supreme within the Crane Style; the more forceful an opponent, the more they will throw themselves off balance and leave themselves open when their mighty blows fail to land. Faced with multiple opponents a Crane Stylist will retreat, or move so as to force them to approach one at a time. Failing that, they will focus on defense, striking out at vulnerable points when opponents interfere with each other and leave themselves open to attack. It’s special maneuvers focus on deflecting or redirecting attacks against themselves and others, providing warnings, confusing the senses, manipulating the wind, movement, and precision strikes.
For the condensed Crane Form we simply assume that the user is going to have an appropriate set of Excellencies, a decent skill level, and Unconquered Martial Arts Perfection taken as many times as he or she can manage it.
It’s worth nothing that, with the expanded excellencies and de-emphasis on charm trees, that package – all by itself – makes a character using it a powerful supernatural martial artist, capable of a wide variety of feats. Learning a Style can provide some useful boosts – especially for the Sidereal Exalted, who can master Form Charms – but you don’t have to have one. It’s also worth noting that, by default, any martial arts weapon can be used with any style. Most styles will be associated with a particular weapon or set of weapons, but variants abound. Similarly, you can use a styles maneuvers without using the form charm or while using a different form entirely.
The unique elements of the Crane Style proper consist of six charms:
- Crane Mastery: Crane Cloud Kick, Iron Finger Strike, Crane Takes Flight, Graceful Crane Stance, Baffling Wing Sweep. Each maneuver may be invoked once per day to add +2d to an appropriate stunt.
- Mysteries of the Crane I (Ess 2): Crane Fist (“Claws”, 1), Vagrant Wind Stance (“Tiny”, 2. As a martial arts talent, this has no negative effects).
- Mysteries of the Crane II (Ess 3): Longevity (1), Elegant Crane Foot (Tail, 1, +2 Athletics), Lore of the Wild Crane (Feathers, +1 Survival, +1B/+1L Soak). Now according to the book, Longevity doesn’t work on Exalts. Personally, I’d say that it does – but who’s going to notice?
- Mysteries of the Crane III: Focused Chi (Huge, 2), Ambidexterity (1).
- Initiate of the Crane: The user gets a choice of being able to use any one maneuver one extra time during a fight or of getting (Essence – 2) total extra maneuver uses per day.
- Crane Form +3 Compassion Channels, Emulates the Wings of the Crane.
Wings of the Crane: Artifact III (Power 5, Utility 4, Plot Impact 2, Script Immunity 1 = Rating-***). 6x Class-B Powers, 4x Class-A Powers. The virtual version requires no attunement, although the real artifact requires the commitment of five motes.
- 4 x Class-A: A Feather in the Wind. The user may spend 2 motes to…
- Be knocked back up to (20 x Ess) feet by an attack in a graceful drifting tumble. This doesn’t negate the damage, but it does break flurries.
- Leap up to (20 x Ess) feet.
- Land safely, and on their feet, after a fall of any length.
- Erect a Ward against Missiles (15 Successes).
- While Wards are easily countered, it takes a moment – so this will still allow the user to deflect a mighty barrage of projectiles or shrug off a swarm of mortal archers.
- 6 x Class-B:
- Graceful Crane Stance (of course): The user automatically succeeds on Athletics checks to keep his or her balance and may stand securely on any surface at least as strong and wide as a strand of silk.
- Call Of The Crane: The user’s words are equivalent to whatever mundane weapons and armor he or she needs at the moment – and allows their use as stunt fodder.
- +2 Dex
- +2 App
- +4 Athletics
- +4 Martial Arts
The Crane Styles is not a particularly powerful offensive style – but it’s reasonably effective in combat and pretty good defensively. Given Exalted’s strong stress on not being hit, it’s a reasonably common choice.