Eclipse d20 – Tricorder Combat And The Valio Arts

And next up, it’s a few more of the odder Martial Arts that have come up:

Tricorder Combat

A good deal of Star Trek technology operates on the Informational Level – where things like Space, Time, and Structure are merely a bunch of values. That’s why the Star Trek Warp Drive only requires a great deal of energy rather than the mass-energy of major planets, how Transporters can split people into good and evil versions, how the Holodeck can create matter, and how Tricorders can extract all kinds of information about creatures, objects, and areas without all kinds of intrusive and damaging probing. They all work at least partially on the informational level.

Tricorders (and larger starship sensor arrays) in particular are computers as well as scanning systems. And even on the informational level… the Observer interacts with the things Observed. That doesn’t usually mean much on the macroscopic level – but information is always a set of quantum values.

Tricorders act to pull truly alien creatures and forces – things from other dimensions with their own natural laws – into a common frame of reference. They do not FIND mysterious weaknesses that no one else has found in eons. Truly talented tricorder operators impose their own ideas onto the targets informational structure. They CREATE those weaknesses. They make the incomprehensible mundane. They impose their technobabble on the madness beyond the edge of reality, and make it so. In their own way… Tricorders and Ships Sensors are more destructive weapons than mere Phasers and Photon Torpedoes; they can destroy what something WAS rather than just blowing it up.

Tricorder Combat (Cha Based, Optionally Wis Based):

Spock stared hard at his tricorder, as if by sheer will he might force it to tell him the answer to his questions.

-Janet Kagan, Uhura’s Song

The fine art of Tricorder “Combat” is to maintain your own reality while overwriting the targets – rather than letting IT influence yours. A Tricorder is a powerful informational weapon – generally giving the user a substantial advantage unless he or she is up against a powerful informational creature such as “Q”. or the Star Trek universes various other semi-omnipotent informational beings. A highly skilled operator can, however, improve on that advantage even further, wielding their scanning device with exceptional skill.

Even if it looks like they’re doing nothing but fiddling with knobs while their Tricorder makes warbling noises.

  • Requires: Proficiency in Information Combat, a Tricorder or Ships Sensor Bank, Mana 4+, Engineering (Star Trek) 6+.
  • Basic Techniques: Power 3, Toughness (Informational) 4, Defenses (Informational) 2, Attack 3.
  • Advanced Techniques: Prone Combat, Rapid Shot, Reflex Training with +4 Bonus Uses (Seven/Day total) (Specialized in using the Tricorder. Can either make an extra informational attack or have the Tricorder out and scanning an event whether or not there is time to do so), and Vulcan Lore (Augmented Bonus: Adds (Cha Mod) to (Int Mod) for Int-Based Skill Purposes, Specialized for Double Effect / only applies to Knowledge Skill Checks).
  • Occult Techniques: Emergency Power Reserve (Inner Strength I and II), Charging Mode (Rite of Chi, (Rite of Chi with +4 Bonus Uses, Corrupted for Increased Effect (Can be used to restore Emergency Power / Inner Strength), Specialized for Reduced Cost / Only to restore Emergency Power Reserve), and Reconstructive Imaging (Healing Hand, Specialized for Increased Effect / Requires several minutes, but can also be used to repair items and informational damage, requires minor physical manipulation as well – the Tricorder “just tells you just what to do to fix things”),

OK, I already used the “restore inner strength” trick in another style – but it fits I think.

Tricorder Combat is pretty unreasonable. After all, you could potentially wind up with two opponents staring at little boxes instead of each other while they try to technobabble each other into defeat.

Well, to be honest, that does kind of sound like Star Trek. I suppose that – if you already have a Star Trek Engineer or Scientific type running around bending the universe with technobabble, they might as well have a way to be good with it. After all, this is the universe where a starship that had been sucked into a black hole escaped because the sensor system operator found a “crack in the event horizon”. Given that, I really can’t say that much of ANYTHING is unreasonable in a Star Trek universe.

“That’s not how this works! That’s not how ANY of this works!” – Actual Scientists and Engineers.

“Who Cares?” – Scotty

The Valio Arts (Dex Based):

Both the Force and the Codex give their practitioners a massive edge in combat. The physical enhancements are bad enough, but both abilities offer forms of combat precognition – one by sensing the flow of events and decisions, one by surveying “nearby” timelines that happen to be a few moments ahead. That can make it near-impossible for a normal fighter to stand up to even a weak wielder of either power. Those with the right Force or Codex Monotalents and certain nonhumans might hone their strength, speed, and precision to the point where even knowing that they are going to do is of little help in stopping them, but appropriate Monotalents are rare – and such dedication coupled with inhuman potential is even rarer.

That, of course, was unacceptable to bodyguards and military organizations across the galaxy.

But there is a counter to Precognition that’s available to ordinary folk.

Chaos. And the brain is a system capable of amplifying Chaos up from the quantum level. What use precognition when the next move might be any of a thousand maneuvers and has yet to be determined? What use telepathy when even the target has no plan and is running entirely on muscle memory and random impulses?

The Valio Arts do not use predictable kata, or seek the optimum maneuver to strike at a foe, or drill a small selection of maneuvers to perfection – for in the face of foresight, such things are only traps. The Arts focus on having a wide variety of reasonably-appropriate maneuvers and trying to make the selection of any specific maneuver truly random.

It works to some extent. It is pretty good at frustrating precognitive fighters – but that ability comes at a price. That price is usually hidden by the fact that only the fiercest, and most dedicated, fighters bother to study an art so specialized and intense – but the Valio Arts aren’t actually all that good against normal fighters, who don’t find fighting without precognition at all disadvantageous and who normally have well-practiced and fairly well optimized routines for attack and defense.

And all of those routines are much more polished than any of the hundred moves a Valio fighter might use. The Valio Arts are still much better than fighting untrained, but a serious fighter will study other forms as well.

  • Requires: Natural Weapons (1d4 minimum, whether inherent or by training), BAB 4+, at least one Martial Weapon Proficency (Melee), and proficiency with Light Armor or better.
  • Basic Techniques: Defenses 2, Power 2, Attack 2. Synergy/+2 to rolls involving a knowledge of the Force or Codex.
    Specialized Basic Techniques: Double Effect/Only versus Force and Codex Users: Defenses 1, Attack 1, Toughness 2.
  • Advanced and Master Techniques: Weapon Kata (Any Favored), Mind Like Moon, Combat Reflexes, and Mind Of Chaos (Immunity / Psychic and Magical Combat Senses, Opponent Intuition Bonuses, and Similar – Uncommon, Minor, Major (3 CP), plus +1 BAB Specialized / Only versus Force and Codex Users (3 CP),
  • Occult Techniques (Variant): While the Valio Arts offer no actual Occult Techniques, the immense variety of moves does allow users to add additional instances of Weapon Kata in lieu of occult techniques.

The Valio Arts are very useful against any fighter who relies extensively on occult combat senses at middling levels, and are nicely versatile at high levels where they work with many different weapons – but they never offer the raw power, or occult techniques, of many other arts. They’re still pretty good in Star Wars, where opponents using the Force or Codex are fairly common, where even elite troops are rarely particularly good (the old “Stormtroopers cannot hit the broad side of a barn” problem), and where only notable single figures are important in combat.

Overall, serious d20 combatants will probably want several more specialized styles to use, but high-level dabblers might well find something like the Valio Arts useful – at least if they focus their techniques against something that comes up more often than “Force and/or Codex users”.

3 Responses

  1. […] Tricorder Combat and the Vailo Arts – Two martial arts from Star Trek and Star Wars respectively […]

  2. Hm…
    An informational combat martial art makes me wonder if you could take a version of versatility for informational combat as part of a martial art – the anime duel in which they stand there staring at each menacingly as they monologue about how they’ve ‘seen through there technique’ reads as a valid part of a martial art in some more cinematic games.
    Heck, you could probably implement something like…
    Questing Sage (Occult ritual / specialized / only for informational combat, but may treat observations and theories of weaknesses as if they were ritual components) and have a natural set up for a versatile and plotty system of getting informational combat more abstractly.
    I suppose you could also build the tricorder with pulse and heart of the dragon and subsume the technological functions into the generalized divinatory spellcasting ability for much the same effect.

    • Well, that one hadn’t yet occurred to me – but if you are proficient with informational weaponry, there’s no reason why you couldn’t use Weapon Kata or a variant on Versatility to swap between doing normal and informational damage with your style.

      That could get pretty interesting really. Is your master swordsman unable to injure his opponent due to massive Damage Reduction or something? Switch to the (almost undefended!) Informational level, and define a few gaps in said opponents defenses. Thus some of those cheap martial arts movies where the target is immune to all attacks that do not target a particular spot or something and the hero has to keep on probing until he “finds” the secret and can strike down the overconfident villain.

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