Tian Xia Kung Fu
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Learning a Kung Fu style
Cost: One Refresh.
- Choose your Kung Fu style by meshing one Element substyle and one Body substyle (see below for both); e.g., Stone + Monkey = "Stone Monkey Style." Your style has six techniques - three from each substyle.
- You gain the style's Form (e.g., "Stone Monkey Form," though you can rename it something better). See below for rules.
- You also gain one of the style's techniques.
Improving a Kung Fu style
- Trade one Refresh to learn two techniques (both kung fu, or if you know a mystical ability, you may do one kung fu and one mystical).
- Trade one stunt to learn one technique.
- Once you know all six style techniques, you may trade the Refresh from a major milestone to master that style and learn its secret technique; see pp. 78-80 for details. See here for the list of secret techniques.
You may also spend another Refresh to learn another Kung Fu style, per the rules above, whether you've mastered your existing one or not. There is no limit to how many you can know. (If you plan on mastering multiple styles, though, it's smart to make sure they overlap; that way, you don't have to learn as many techniques.)
A style's Form is a special aspect, reflecting the strengths and weaknesses of that style. You can use skills to Create an Advantage on it, invoke it with a Fate Point, compel it to have something go wrong in a fight, and so on.
However, unlike normal aspects, a Form can also build up free invocations in two ways:
- When facing opponents who are all lower Jianghu rank than you, your Form gains one free invocation at the beginning of the fight.
- When you make a martial arts attack which succeeds but ends up inflicting no stress (because it tied, due to an Armor Rating, etc.), instead of gaining a boost, your Form gains one free invocation. You didn't harm them, but you built momentum, positioned yourself well, etc.
If you have multiple Forms, choose one to get the free invocation when a situation above happens. See here for a description of each form.
Arms and Armor
Most weapons in Tianxia are only as good as the people using them. As such, gear does not provide Weapon Ratings and Armor Ratings; instead, this comes directly from kung fu techniques. Players are encouraged to choose weapons which fit the flavor of their PCs, from swords and staves to bizarre martial arts weapons like the meteor hammer or three-sectioned staff. This also means they can have fun using improvised weapons or mundane objects without worrying they are limiting their effectiveness. Those who wish to tie their skill to a specific type of weapon should consider the [Weapon] Master stunt. Equipment which is truly exceptional, like master-crafted ancestral swords, can be an aspect, a stunt, or both; if a stunt is chosen, it does not stack with [Weapon] Master.
Alternate Names: Bamboo, Hidden, Clouded, Wood
Forest substyles seek to adapt to their environment, using their surroundings as a weapon and shield. Practitioners understand their surroundings are not obstacles, but opportunities. Like their namesakes, Forest stylists integrate and work in harmony with their environment to resist, survive, and prosper.
- Forest Hides the Beast: A tie on a Fight- or Athletics-based defense action grants no boost to your attacker.
- Forest Opens Its Paths: If you use Athletics to overcome an obstacle with style, you may turn the obstacle into an advantage with a free invocation instead of taking a boost.
- Leaves Like Razors: When invoking a situation aspect or environment-based advantage in a Fight attack, you add +2 Weapon Rating to that attack.
Alternate Names: Spirit, Heaven
Ghost styles focus on cultivating internal energies and subtle movements that are deceptively swift and effective when used in combat. They become an empty place in the universe that is difficult to predict and perceive. The stylist’s own Chi energy is used to fuel most attacks and defenses, and weaknesses in an opponent’s spirit are capitalized upon at every opportunity. Ghost stylists rely on random, subtle shifts to move effortlessly from attack to defense, making them unpredictable and adaptable.
- Exalted Ghost Body: When using Full Defense, you do not use up an invocation to use Chi Armor if the attack against you still succeeds.
- Ghost Haunts the Shadow: You may use Chi instead of Stealth (or get +2 to Stealth, if better) to create an advantage based on moving silently or remaining unseen.
- Ghost Strikes the Spirit: Ignore 1 point of Armor when making Fight attacks and add +1 Weapon Rating to any Fight attack against opponents with a lower Chi skill than the attacker.
Alternative Names: Brass, Copper, Gold, Silver, Steel
Iron styles focus on being unyielding on both attack and defense. Stylists cultivate their bodies and minds to resist trauma and deliver punishing attacks. Even on defense, many practitioners can be dangerous. Iron styles are favored by soldiers, bandits, and mercenaries for their aggressive nature and harsh but straightforward training methods.
- Iron Cleaves the Stone: Ignore 2 points of Armor when making an attack to inflict physical stress.
- Flesh Breaks on Iron: When you defend against a Fight attack with style, you may inflict 2 shift hit instead of taking a boost on your attacker.
- Iron Body, Iron Mind: +2 bonus to create an advantages relating to resisting or coping with pain, intimidation, or fear.
Alternative Names: Burning, Fire, Flame, Sun
Lightning stylists believe speed is supreme both in attack and defense. Quick reactions allow avoidance or decisive resolution of dangerous conflicts; this is often the difference between controlling the battlefield and just being a participant on it. Of course, speed is useless without power, and so practitioners of Lightning substyles try to cultivate both.
- Lightning Crosses the Sky: When you succeed with style on a Fight attack, you may move 1 zone in addition to gaining a boost. If someone or something tries to stop this movement, gain a +2 to rolls to overcome.
- Lightning Splits the Tree: When you succeed with style on a Fight attack, you may remove an invocation on an existing advantage affecting you instead of taking a boost.
- Lightning Strikes Without Pause: Gain a +2 bonus to Notice (or other skill) used when determining turn order.
Alternative Name: Earth, Mountain, Rock, Unmoving
Stone styles focus on deliberate, uncompromising actions based on solid foundation movements and core philosophies. Unlike Iron, Stone seeks not to re-forge a stylist into a living weapon but instead refine what gifts are already there. Defenses are the primary focus in all Stone styles and even the most aggressive Stone practitioners use defenses that allow them to outlast and overcome foes.
- Mountain Does Not Fall: You get a +2 bonus to defend against attempts to create an advantage based on unbalancing, pushing, tripping, or knocking over the defender. If a technique from an opponent instead allows them to create such an advantage with free invocations, one less free invocation is granted though the advantage is still created.
- Stone Resists the Blow: You gain 2 Armor against any physical attack you are aware of.
- Stone Weathers the Storm: If you defend with style, you may remove your physical 1 stress box or convert another physical stress box to 1 lower instead of taking a boost.
Alternative Names: Flowing, Moon, Sea, Water
Storm styles embrace fluidity and adaptation. Just like their namesake, their movements and techniques change and flow around obstacles to cause surprising devastation to targets. Storm practitioners seek to be unpredictable, retreating just before an attack or attacking as part of a defense.
- Storm Shakes the Foundation: When creating an advantage, you may trade free invocations to remove free invocations from another character’s advantage.
- Storm Rumbles in Distance: Make a Fight or Athletics roll with a +2 bonus to create an advantage based on controlling or redirecting momentum. If you move at least 1 zone as part of this action, or your opponent has moved at least 1 zone as part of their last action, gain a +3 bonus instead.
- Storm Flows Around Mountain: If a target uses Full Defense in combat against you, gain a +2 bonus to your next attack against them. You gain this bonus regardless of whether their Full Defense succeeds or not.
Alternate Names: Heron, Stork, White Crane
Crane styles focus on fluid movements, misdirection, and redirection of an opponent’s movements. Sweeping blocks and counterstrikes combinations, throws, and graceful and precise strikes to vulnerable areas define Crane styles in combat. Like their namesakes, Crane stylists rely on swift counterstrikes, strong defense, and allowing opponent’s to rush to action and thus reveal their vulnerabilities.
- Crane Hides in Reeds: Add an additional +2 bonus when using Full Defense to defend yourself in combat. If used to defend others, gain 2 Armor Rating instead.
- Crane Sleeps Standing: +2 bonus when Overcoming physical obstacles based on physical obstruction or poor footing.
- Crane Stuns the Carp: If you succeed on a Fight attack with style, you may create a Stunned advantage on a target with a free invocation instead of taking a boost.
Alternate Names: Drake, Lung, Quilin
Dragon styles focus on a balance of power and speed, versatility and simplicity. Strong attacks, solid stances, and sudden evasion are the trademarks of a Dragon style. Dragon styles borrow from other fighting arts more than other styles, with practitioners using Tiger-like claws or Serpent-like shifts and rapid jabs. Some Dragon stylists develop a breathing technique that sounds like a hissing serpent and is said to greatly increase their Chi flow; it also can greatly unnerve an opponent.
- Dragon Rules the Fields: When you succeed with style on an attack, gain a boost, with a +3 bonus instead of the usual +2, without reducing the value of your attack.
- Dragon Rules the Heavens: Use Chi or Fight (selected when you take this Technique) instead of Athletics in rolls involving entering zones or preventing others from doing so. Alternatively, use Athletics but at +2 if that would be better.
- Dragon Sleeps in Mist: When you succeed with style on a defense, you may reduce the result by 1 to gain 2 Armor Rating against the next attack in the scene that strikes you in addition to the normal boost.
Alternative Names: Cat, Panther
A mix of grace and power, the Leopard is not as fast as the serpent or as strong as the tiger, but they strike a deadly balance between the two. The Leopard stylist focuses on striking opponents where they are vulnerable, evading strong attacks and countering weak ones, and maneuvering to attack from positions that seem guarded or safe. Practitioners of Leopard styles favor quick kicks, rapid advances and retreats, feints, and strikes to soft or sensitive areas. Many barehanded blows in Leopard styles use the fabled “Leopard Fist”, a closed hand striking Technique where the fingers are curled over with the second knuckle, forming the paw-like shape. Claw-like variants of this blow are also common. Practitioners favor rigorous physical conditioning, especially that which balances muscle power and agility. Despite their speed and power, Leopard stylists are very patient fighters, waiting for the right target and opportunity to finish a foe.
- Leopard Fears No One: Gain +1 Defense bonus when Defending against Attack, Overcome an Obstacle, or Create an Advantage actions based on fear or intimidation.
- Leopard Bites the Throat: If the character succeeds with style on a Fight Attack, they can add a +2 Weapon Rating to the current Attack. However, doing so means they forgo the option to reduce shifts by 1 to gain a boost.
- Leopard Waits in Shadow: When making a Fight Attack action, gain a +1 bonus and +1 Weapon Rating if the character’s action last turn was not an Attack. Free normal Defend actions do not count for determining their last action, but Full Defense does.
Alternate Names: Baboon, Ape
A collection of unconventional, acrobatic styles, Monkey styles are based on acrobatic evasions, quick strikes, and distracting movements and even animal-like noises designed to disorient and frustrate opponents. Stylists move quickly and erratically on attack and defense, with rolls and leaps flowing into dodges, punches, and kicks. Striking vulnerable points on a target is emphasized, as is turning or rolling away from blows to protect one’s own vital areas.
- Monkey Grabs the Peach: Add +2 Weapon Rating to an attack where you also invoke a consequence the defender has.
- Monkey Dances in Moonlight: When succeeding on a defense with style, you may create a Distracting Movements advantage with a free invocation instead of taking a boost.
- Monkey Rolls Away: When invoking an aspect or advantage during a defense roll, gain 2 Armor Rating against the attack if it succeeds.
Alternate Names: Firebird, Peacock, Rooster
Phoenix styles focus on balance, agility, redirecting an opponent’s attack, quick recoveries and counterattacks. Leg sweeps, pushes, nerve strikes, and other such maneuvers keep an opponent off balance and unable to attack effectively. Circular movements are common in both attack and defense. The earliest Phoenix styles were mostly practiced by women, though today there are many male Phoenix stylists as well.
- Phoenix Beats its Wings: If you defend with style, you may gain an Off Balance advantage on the target, with a free invocation instead of a boost.
- Phoenix Calls to Heaven: You may use Chi instead of Physique to determine extra stress boxes and consequences. If this would not result in an improvement (because Chi isn't significantly higher than Physique), you may instead reduce physical stress taken by 2 shifts once per session.
- Phoenix Laughs at the Sun: If you succeed at an Overcome roll using Athletics or Fight with style, you may create a situation aspect with a free invocation instead of taking a boost.
Alternate Names: Cobra, Snake, Viper
Like the animal they emulate, Serpent stylists are often admired for their speed, efficiency, and formidable nature while simultaneously being feared and despised for their ruthless lethality. Focusing on speed and strikes to vulnerable areas, Serpent practitioners use rapid jabs, open handed blows, and quick kicks to disable and destroy their foes. Relying on speed and avoidance for defense, they prefer dodging, slipping, weaving, and feinting until they can find an opening to strike.
- Serpent Bites the Hand: If you gain shifts on a defense, you can sacrifice your action next turn to immediately inflict an attack on your opponent using the shift value of your defense as your attack result.
- Serpent Strikes First: Use Athletics or Fight (pick one when Technique is chosen) to determine turn order instead of Notice in combat. Alternatively, use Notice but at +2, if that would be better.
- Serpent Strikes Twice: +2 bonus to Deceive rolls to create an advantage based on disorientation, distraction, or unbalancing against opponents you have already inflicted stress on this combat.
Alternate Names: King Tiger, Lion, White Tiger
Tiger styles are about power, ferocity, and damage, both inflicting and resisting. The “Tiger Claw” strike is universal among all Tiger styles, though powerful kicks, punches, and hard blocks that can themselves damage foes are the weapons of the Tiger. These moves are usually linear, relying on speed and power to batter through defenses. Practitioners of this style keep themselves in peak physical condition and incorporate their prowess into their attack and defense.
- Tiger Moves With Purpose: Move at least 1 zone and make an attack using Athletics or make an Athletics attack on a target that just moved into your zone on their last action. Add 2 shifts to any stress you deal with this attack.
- Tiger Rends the Flesh: When you tie on an attack using Fight for defense you can inflict a 2 point shift physical attack instead of taking a boost.
- Tiger Rules the Jungle: You may use Physique or Provoke (selected when you select this Technique) instead of Will to defend against Provoke attacks. If the chosen skill does not exceed Will, gain a 2 Armor Rating against Provoke attacks instead.
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