Skill Stunts and Epic Skill Stunts IV – Martial Arts Skills

Only The Sword Of No Sword Is Sharp Enough To Cut Nothing.

-Kensho, by Dennis Schmidt

Supernatural Stunts for the Martial Arts are actually surprisingly limited. That’s because d20 is a game of heroes who surpass all normal limits, fight legendary monsters, and routinely wield the powers of classical deities already – and the Eclipse Martial Arts skills reflect that. Even without adding in special modifiers, an Eclipse Martial Art can make the users skin tough enough to turn daggers, let him or her shatter massive steel doors, punch for as much damage as a sniping rifle inflicts, fight while blinded, sense the approach of enemies, and attack several enemies at once. They can even let you strike ghosts, turn your skin into heavy armor, run on water, attack at range, bypass armor, block huge explosions, briefly move so fast that you cannot be seen, or wield flame, lightning, or some other energy. You can even combine those tricks to launch balls of fire or some such.

True, a martial art usually won’t do all of that at once unless you’re very VERY good – but if you Specialize and Corrupt it for Increased Effect (and perhaps buy a little Mana to boost it with) you can drastically upgrade those powers. I’d throw in a bit of Witchcraft too, so as to be able to shrug off mental attacks and poisons, use various hypersenses, and add even more tricks – invisibility, blinding flashes, running up the walls, and plenty more – but that’s not a very big expense either.

That doesn’t really leave as much territory for Stunts as you might expect at first glance. Still, I can think of a few…

  • DC 10 (normally no stunt required):
    • Clear Intent: You may make it obvious that you are combat-trained and intend to fight all-out if you must. While this works only if you are sincerely intending to fight if you need to (otherwise you are bluffing, and need to use the appropriate skill for that), many people and animals would much prefer to avoid a serious fight and are likely to back off or negotiate. Using this ability is a free action.
    • Focused Stance: Trained combatants normally try to defend themselves – but they take some risks, because if you never attack an opponent can just keep coming until you slip up. They pay attention to their opponent, but spare a little to look out for people coming to help him or her unless they’re VERY sure that no one will be. They try to balance a multitude of competing factors to maximize their odds. But sometimes… you don’t care. You focus entirely on crushing your opponent, or on evading long enough for your own help to arrive, or on protecting the guy defusing the bomb because otherwise you are ALL dead. Back in first edition you just announced this sort of thing and let the game master give you some modifiers. Third edition tried to get away from that sort of thing – but here you are; it’s back. DC 10 scores you – say – a +2 to attacks and damage versus a single opponent at the price of a -4 to your AC versus all opponents. Or lets you give up attacks in favor of an +2 AC bonus per attack given up. Or lets you twist to take a blow in the place of the guy you’re standing over guarding. At DC 25 you can double both the positive and negative effects. In general, however, this will always hurt a little more than it helps – and the more extreme your attempt, the more it will hurt. In a special situation, however, it may be well worth it. Altering your stance is a free action.
    • Seize The Opening: You may attempt a Disarm, Dirty Trick, or Trip maneuver against a creature of similar size and build without provoking an Attack of Opportunity if this check succeeds. The check is considered to be a part of the attack.
  • DC 15 (May or may not require a stunt):
    • The Hidden Way: You may teach combat skills without revealing that you are doing so – hiding your teachings as simple chores and peasant labors, employing weapons that double as farm tools, and otherwise showing the most oppressed of people how to defend themselves under the very nose of a repressive regime. In general, this requires at least one week per skill point imparted.
    • Breaking Strike: Your strike inflicts double damage, but it is nonlethal. At DC 25 you may opt to inflict double normal lethal damage to an object, at DC 30 you may inflict double normal damage to any target, at DC 60 you inflict triple damage and cause lethal or nonlethal damage as you wish, and at DC 100 you inflict quadruple damage and may divide it between lethal and nonlethal damage as you wish.
    • Inward Serenity: Various martial arts place a differing emphasis on control, discipline, calm, and meditation – but all of them attempt to build a harmony of mind and body. Up to (Wis Mod + 1, 1 minimum) times daily you may substitute a Martial Arts check for a Will Save.
  • DC 20:
    • Adrenal Burst: You may activate the equivalent of a Personal Haste spell (The Practical Enchanter). At DC 40 this becomes equivalent to a Boundless Energy spell (Also from TPE), and at DC 75 it becomes equivalent to a True Haste spell (TPE again). Unfortunately, this does not reduce the negative side effects of the True Haste effect. This is a swift action, but cannot be attempted more than three times per day.
    • Flashback: You may recall a useful technique from your memory, temporarily adding it to your own selection of martial techniques without regard for the usual limitations. At DC 20 you may add a Basic Ability, at DC 30 an Advanced or Master Ability, and at DC 50 an Occult Technique. At DC 60 you may add an additional Basic Ability, at DC 75 an additional Basic, Advanced, or Master technique, and at DC 100 two additional martial techniques of any type. This lasts for one minute, but only one such use may be activated in any one ten minute period. Activating this ability is a standard action, but you may apply +10 DC to take it as a Move Action and +20 DC to take it as a Swift Action.
    • Seize The Day: You may attempt a Disarm, Dirty Trick, or Trip maneuver in place of one of your normal attacks without provoking an Attack of Opportunity. This must, however, be made with a weapon or unarmed attack appropriate to your martial art. This ability is activated as a part of the attack.
  • DC 25:
    • Hurricane Throw: You may sacrifice damage from your attack or attacks this round to force any opponent no more than one size category larger than you to move one space of your choice per eight points of damage given up. They do not provoke attacks of opportunity for this movement, but will require a DC 15 Reflex save to avoid falling prone in their new space. If you simply wish to move someone, you may waive any leftover damage and reduce the DC for the Reflex Save to 10. This ability is activated as a swift action to modify an attack.
    • Iron Fist: You may give your martial arts weapon or unarmed strikes a total effective bonus of +2 (+3 at DC 40, +4 at DC 60, and +5 at DC 100 for (Con Mod +1, 1 Minimum) minutes. All but +1 of these may be invested in special weapon powers, these stack with dissimilar weapon powers, otherwise the highest bonus takes priority as usual This ability is activated as a standard action, but may be activated as a move action at +10 DC or a swift action at +20 DC. .
    • Spiders Weave: You force an adjacent target to concentrate on you lest they be struck. For the next 1d4+1 rounds (or until you stop focusing on them) if the target attacks anyone else, whether normally or by an Attack of Opportunity, you get to make an Attack of Opportunity on them. This ability is activated as a swift action.
  • DC 30:
    • Anything Goes: One of your attacks may be a Trip attempt (made with the equivalent of Improved and Greater Trip), a Dirty Trick attempt (made with the equivalent of Improved Dirty Trick, Greater Dirty Trick, and Dirty Trick Master), or a Disarm attempt (made the equivalent of Improved, Ranged, and Greater Disarm).
    • Avoidance Kata: Martial Arts almost invariably teach movement – the art of evading attacks on pure reflex, based on little more than a wisp of intuition. Up to (Int Mod + 1, 1 Minimum) times per day you may substitute a Martial Arts check for a Reflex Save.
    • Chi Drain: As a standard action the user may make a touch attack to drain a portion of the targets energies. This can render a victim who fails to save Sickened or Exhausted at DC 30, emulate Vampiric Touch or Dispel Magic at DC 40, emulate Psychic Drain or Mystic Drain (like Psychic Drain, but drains one spell level worth of magic per caster level) at DC 50, cause Enervation at DC 75, and duplicate Steal Life at DC 100. Adding +10 to the DC allows you to determine the victims true age and species, as well as the level of any martial arts skills they may have and how many hit points they currently have.
  • DC 35:
    • Breath Of Chi Lung: Up to (Wis Mod + 3, 3 Minimum) times per day (but no more than once every ten minutes) you may expend an immediate action and roll to tap into the areas dynamic chi flows, gathering their energy to fuel your abilities – gaining 6 (DC 35), 10 (DC 50), or 12 (DC 75) extra “phantom constitution points” to spend on Occult Martial Techniques. At DC 40 you also get to reduce the “constitution” cost of using an Occult Technique or Combination of Occult Techniques by 1 point, to a minimum of 1. At DC 60 the costs are reduced by two (although the minimum remains one), and at DC 100 the costs are reduced by three, to a minimum of one. The resistance, and any unused bonus “constitution” points, disappear when the ten minutes are up.
    • Noted Master: You may support yourself at an Average lifestyle through teaching without having to track the time spent on it (it is presumed to be a part of your own training routine). In addition, your students will gladly act as aides, run errands, tell you about suspicious strangers, and cover up things for you. If you are seriously harmed or killed they will probably start a martial arts movie style revenge plot on your behalf. Sustaining this requires a check once per week.
    • Startling Maneuver: In place of one of your attacks you may roll your martial arts skill against an opponents (Sense Motive + 10). On a success you may take a 5′ step and said opponent is considered flat-footed against your next attack (two attacks at DC 50, three at DC 75).
  • DC 40:
    • Hidden Strike: You may make an attack without it being apparent as an attack. At DC 50 you also may make it as a touch attack. At DC 60 you may also delay the effects for up to one day. At DC 75 you may trigger the effects when you desire at a range of up to ten miles. At DC 100 you may make the effects contingent on some action of the targets, such as “if you betray me”.
    • Inward Harmony: If you spend at least a week in an area you may inspire up to (Charisma x 10) of the locals without them even realizing it. As long as you remain in the area to inspire and guide them, they each gain +1 Positive Level (+2 at DC 50 and +3 at DC 100) and the equivalent of up to (your Int Mod) bonus skill points in this martial art. If you remain in an area for a season or more, this counts as Unique Training. And yes, this is a wonderful excuse for the old “everyone you meet is unreasonably tough and knows martial arts” routine.
    • Mind Over Body: To fight properly you must regulate your body – controlling your breathing, husbanding your reserves, overcoming pain and fatigue, and avoiding exhausting yourself in a wild rush of adrenalin. Up to (Cha Mod + 1, 1 Minimum) times per day you may call upon that self-control to substitute a Martial Arts check for a Fortitude Save, or to grant yourself temporary hit points equal to your check, or to throw off the effects of poison or fatigue/exhaustion.
  • DC 50:
    • Chi Breaker: Add a Bestow Curse effect to one of your attacks as a swift action. At DC 100 you can add a Greater Bestow Curse effect instead.
    • One For All: As a free action you may shout (unspecified) advice and directions; as long as your companions have been with you for at least a week and indicate a willingness to listen they gain the benefits of (Int Mod +2, 2 Minimum) Techniques from this martial arts style. At Int 16 you might, for example, give them +3 to AC (Defenses III), +1 to Attacks (Attack I), and Mobility – if those happen to be among your techniques.
    • Storm Of Blows: Instead of your normal attack sequence you may make a single attack with effectively targets every desired target within 5′ (DC 50), 10′ (DC 60), 15′ (DC 75), or 20′ (DC 100) feet. If a special technique is applied, it need only be paid for once but affects each target that is successfully struck. As a minor variant you may add you may target a cone with a length of twice the indicated radius.
  • DC 60:
    • Dragons Claw Strike: As a standard action you may use your martial arts skill to substitute for Intimidation in an attempt to demoralize an opponent – although you can target one additional opponent at the same time for each +5 you add to the DC of your check.
    • Golden Bell Technique: You may emulate the Emergency Force Sphere spell. At DC 75 you may increase the radius to 10 feet, and at DC 100 to 15 feet.
    • Thousand Pound Stance: You may set your feet as an immediate action. As long as you are standing on the ground, until you voluntarily change your position you may use your Martial Arts skill to resist any physical effect or impact which would make you move. This covers effects ranging from a Bull Rush on up to being struck by a train. You may also ignore the next (check result / 2) points of damage you would normally take during this period. If this negates the damage from an attack it will also negate the effects of poisons, wounding weapons, and similar augmentations.
  • DC 75:
    • Dance Of Eternity: You may emulate the Heavenly Wild Puppet Technique spell. At DC 100 the “casting time” may be reduced to three rounds.
    • Legacy: You may pass on up to one-half of the character points you have invested in the martial art being used (including those invested in auxiliary powers) to someone else. This is treated as them acquiring a Template. You may do so through training, through “transferring your Chi”, or through leaving some sort of manuscript or instructions (which will always be destroyed somehow after a single successor acquires its power). Optionally, if no appropriate successor is at hand and you do not wish to leave a manuscript, you may bestow your Chi on an animal, changing it into a member of your race in the process.
    • Meridian Atemi: You may duplicate the effects of the Breath Of Life spell. At DC 100 you may duplicate the effects of Mythic Breath Of Life.
  • DC 100:
    • Hybrid Style: You may add parts of other martial arts that you know to this one for the rest of the day, increasing the number of martial abilities effectively granted by your style by 50%, rounded down. These may not more than double the normal limits, so going past 1d12 damage simply increases it to 2d12.
    • Shockwave: Your martial attack strikes every appropriate target within sixty feet. Note that you can use this in conjunction with attacks that target objects (such as Breaking) to destroy walls, doors, and equipment without harming living creatures.
    • Mirror Of Yama: As an immediate action you may redirect any one attack, spell, or psionic effect that either targets you or includes you in its area of effect at any appropriate target within it’s remaining range from you. Thus a normal melee attack with no reach must be redirected to an adjacent target while a Fireball that could have traveled another sixty feet could be redirected to any area within sixty feet.

These martial arts stunts are primarily set up as modifiers to the Martial Arts rather than abilities in themselves. That’s partially to keep them generic, and hence applicable to any and all martial art skills, and partially to add more interest to high level martial arts – allowing the user to mix and match modifiers to build the effects that he or she wants. You want to breathe out a paralyzing mist? Combine the Occult Techniques of Paralyze and One Finger and an area effect option and there you go. Would you prefer a mighty bioelectric sphere? The Occult Techniques of Wrath and Focused Blow with the Shockwave modifier can easily inflict four times your normal attack damage (which can be pretty hefty) in a wide radius. Or you could emit a blast of Chi that tripped everyone nearby. Or any of thousands of other combinations. It’s a rather limited field of magic, but this essentially makes you a semi-freeform martial caster.

It’s also worth noting that this list comes perilously close to “too good” – and can easily cross that line if combined with martial arts that have been Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect. While it’s reasonable enough for your super-focused martial artist to dominate small-scale combat the way that a Wizard dominates spell research, a lot more games rely on small-scale combat for excitement than rely on spell research – hence this may break your game. Exercise caution!

Epic Stunts:

  • Ghosting Technique (Research Level 4, DC 26): You move so quickly that you generate afterimages equivalent to Greater Mirror Image. You may maintain this effect for 3d6 minutes, generating more images even if all of them were destroyed in a previous round.
  • Racing Cheetah Strike (Research Level 5, DC 30): Move to any location within extreme (800 feet plus 80 feet per level) range, become hasted for 3d6 rounds, and make a full attack..
  • Storm Of Throws (Research Level 6, DC 34): Hurling blades, rocks, or raw force you Inflict 1d8/Level, to a maximum of 15d8 damage, to every target within a sixty foot cone.
  • Spell Shattering Palm (Research Level 7, DC 38): You strike acts as per Mage’s Disjunction.
  • Adamant Body Meditation (Research Level 8, DC 42): As per Iron Body.
  • Thunder Hammer Strike (Research Level 9, DC 46): Your touch attack can hurl an opponent up to 600 feet away, The impact at the end will inflict 30d6 damage, although a successful reflex save halves both the distance and the damage.
  • The Pebble From My Hand (Research Level 10, DC 50): For the next one minute each of your attacks also counts as a Disarm or Steal attempt, although this does not provoke an attack of opportunity. You automatically know what you can try to take and may attempt to take backpacks, rings, clothing, pieces of armor, backpacks, and similar items that are not normally valid targets, albeit at a -20.
  • Vanishing Evasion (Research Level 10, DC 50): When hit by something that you REALLY would rather not be this spell triggers itself even if the effect would have killed you; Whatever ir was hit some sort of illusion or stand in; you are (were) somewhere else within medium range.
  • Cometary Impact (Research Level 11, DC 54): The user may ascend several thousand feet, creating a takeoff shockwave which causes 8d6 damage in a 20′ radius and descend on any 40′ radius within long range, creating a Str 40 pressure wave that will attempt to force anyone there prone and still, and impacting to cause (Check / 2)d6 damage within that area – although there is a choice of lethal or nonlethal damage.
  • Thunder Chalice Draught (Research Level 11, DC 54): You may tap into the universal energy, restoring and amplifying your Chi reserves. Gain 24 Chi / “phantom” constitution points with which to power your martial abilities. While any above your normal reserves will dissipate in twenty-four hours this will top up your reserves (if any).
  • Elemental Heart Apocalypse Ascension (Research Level 12, DC 58): The elemental energies of Chi blossom around you, taking form from the Chi Lung – the Dragon of Energy – which coils within the heart of each great martial artist. You are surrounded by the form of a dragon of compatible alignment of up to CR 18 – essentially “wearing a dragon suit” and gaining access to its various abilities. This lasts for up to one minute per level or until the “suit” is destroyed.
  • Scarlet Ribbon Dance (Research Level 12, DC 58): The user gains a +25 Dodge Bonus versus Ranged Attacks. Whenever this bonus causes an attack on the user to miss he or she may expend and AoO to redirect it at any valid target within 20′.
  • Eruption Trance (Research Level 13, DC 62): With a moment of meditation you split away fragments of your chi to form into mighty constructs of living force. This creates 1d4+1 ninth level Psychic Constructs, which may remain for one minute per level of the caster.
  • Inner Thunder (Research Level 14, DC 66): As per the 14’th level Inner Thunder spell in Eclipse.
  • Battle Of Tartarus, Hecatonchire Mastery (Research Level 15, DC 70): You may strike with a hundred limbs, sharing your mastery of a martial art and your base attack bonus with up to (Cha x 3) others who accept your leadership. This lasts for up to one hour or until the end of the fight, whichever comes first.
  • Avalanche Charge (Research Level 16, DC 74): Move up to five times your normal movement, automatically smashing through any obstacles in your path, including Antimagic Fields, Walls of Force, small mountains, and similar “impenetrable” barriers. Everything within a 20′ radius of any point along your route can be dealt up to 20d6 damage at the user’s option. If the route leads “through” a creature, it will be carried along until you drop it off or your movement ends.
  • Soulforge Zanpakuto (Research Level 17, DC 74): You summon forth a customized weapon with a total bonus of +12, including up to +9 in special abilities. You may further sacrifice treasure to the weapon to cause it to assume the qualities of a particular material and whatever level of built-in intelligence and minor powers you can afford up to a maximum of 50,000 GP in priced special powers or materials and 200,000 GP worth of abilities as an intelligent item. Once designed or so upgraded the choices the user has made are, however, permanent. It remains for ten minutes per use of this effect.
  • Doom Slash Summoning Jitsu (Research Level 18, DC 82): You may break or cut open the boundaries between the dimensions. Once per round for three rounds you may open a Gate (as per the spell) as an immediate action. Unlike most gates, if you choose to open one under a sea or some such you may allow whatever lies beyond the gate to pour through it. Since the opening is an immediate action this may also be used to shunt attacks and such away.
  • Dark Chain Of The Underworld Seven Seal Jitsu (Research Level 20, DC 90): Whenever you kill something with a soul but of less than divine status you may opt to employ this spell; to bind it’s spirit to you. Thereafter you may call it forth as it was in life, either sending it on a single mission lasting up to twenty-four hours or calling on it for up to three services lasting up to ten minutes each. Unfortunately, no more than seven spirits may be bound to the user at any one time.

5 Responses

  1. Where can I find the ‘breath of life’ and ‘mythic breath of life’ spells?

  2. […] Stunts/Martial Arts (zenigata ryu) (6 CP). […]

  3. […] Part IV: Martial Arts Skills. Stunts with Eclipse’s Martial Arts skills. […]

  4. […] Part IV: Martial Arts Skills. Stunts with Eclipse’s Martial Arts skills. […]

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