Friday, October 18, 2019

OSR: Fighting Man Secret Techniques 2: Fist Art Edition

So I came up with some more Secret Techniques for my Fighting Men.  And to save myself the formatting and editing needed for one of my longer posts, I decided to split the post into sections, with the Fist Arts in this one and the the Weapon Arts in the other.  I also decided to do this because coming up with Weapon Arts is harder than coming up with cool new types of magical kung fu, in my opinion.

                                                   from Grappler Baki

Heracles Handbook

The Heracles Handbook is only a school in the technical sense.  It has no hierarchy, no central organization, nor even a dedicated community of people.  It tends to only be practiced by violent loners or social misfits.  Most don't know of its existence, but the effects of it are seen by all who encounter one of its adherents.  It all starts with a book.  The book details a series of mental exercises, a dietary plan and a training regiment.  The exercises are difficult, the dietary plan is strict and expensive to follow and the training regiment is absolutely brutal.  Most, upon seeing one of these things, set the book down and disregard it.  But if you follow the instructions within and do them properly, you will begin undergoing changes.  You will find yourself putting on incredible amounts of muscles, your senses improving and your ability to endure pain increasing.  You will be transformed into a paragon of strength, an astounding physical specimen.  This insane strength is how the readers of the Handbook fight- unless they were warriors before, which most aren't, they fight savagely but somewhat ineptly.  They are strong and fast and tough, so in most cases, they win.  When you can break a man's hand by crushing your fist and throw him through a wall, skill doesn't usually matter.
Novice: "There are two types of Strength- that of the mind and that of the body."  Your STR is boosted to 15, unless it is already higher.  Your unarmed Strikes do 1d6+STR damage.

Journeyman:  "If you see an opportunity, seize it and do not let it go."  Your STR goes up by 1 point.  If you grapple someone, you can do 1d6 damage to them per round, as long as you use your action to keep grappling with them.

Expert:  "The giants pay no attention to the smallfolk."  Your STR goes up by 1 point.  You can grapple up to 2 creatures at once, as long as neither has a higher STR score than you.

Master:  "In all ages, the strong have ruled.  For you, the decision is simple.  What side are you on?"  Your STR goes up by 1 point.  If you have grappled someone, you can throw them if they cannot defeat you in a contest of STR.  When someone is thrown by you, they fly a number of feet equal to your STR modifier*10, unless they hit something.  If they hit something they take 1d6 damage per 10' thrown.  If they hit someone, they take half damage and the other person takes the other half.

Serpent's Style

The Serpent's Style has a million different names and a dozen regional variations, but it has always remained at its heart, the Serpent's Style.  The true origins of this school have been lost to history, but most adherents believe that the original style was created by the half-mythic Prince of Killers, the first ruler of the Assassin Nation.  The Prince supposedly got the idea from a combination of watching Priests ritually purifying themselves to speak to the Gods and how snakes hunted.  These studies eventually led to the Prince inventing a martial style based around using stealth, sensing an opponent's chi and detecting their weaknesses, then striking with overwhelming force.  And even if that story isn't true, the Serpent's Style is undoubtably real and highly effective, so much so that it spread to many lands, with hired killers all across the world practicing this Fist Art. 

Novice:  "Even in the darkness, the serpent is not fooled."  Your unarmed strikes do 1d6 damage.  You also gain the ability to sense the chi of others.  You gain a bonus equal to the levels of technique you have in the Serpent's Style to detecting people who are observing you, following you or nearby.  You also have an X-in-6 chance of detecting unseen opponents and being able to avoid a surprise round.  For example, if you are a Journeyman in the Serpent's Style and are about to enter a seemingly empty room, but unbeknowest to you, there are two Kobolds with acid flasks hiding under the couch, you have a 2-in-6 chance of detecting the Kobolds' presences before you enter.

Journeyman:  "The serpent is not hardy, so it makes its strikes count."  If you hit someone who is surprised by you with an unarmed strike, you do an additional +1d6 damage.

Expert:  "There is a reason why men do not tread confidently in the dark."  As an action, you can hide your chi.  This gives you a +X bonus to stealth rolls, where X is equal to the levels of technique you have in the Serpent's Style.

Master:  "If you can only make one attack, make it count."  As an action, you can study a creature for a certain amount of time.  Once this time has elapsed, that creature is forced to make a saving throw.  On a failed save, the creature's weakness is revealed to you.  Referees should give the creature being observed certain penalties, based on how obvious the weakspot is or how long the creature is observed.  For example, it would only take a minute or two to find out that the old war veteran who uses a cane has a weak hip, but it might take days to learn that the Dragon has a magical dagger stuck into its armpit that irritates it.  If you find this weakpoint and you successfully strike it, the target creature suffers a penalty equal to their weakspot.  To return to the previous example, the war veteran could fall down and lose a turn, while the Dragon could take a large amount of damage as you rip the magic dagger out of its flesh, reopening that wound.  If your Referee cannot decide, they can roll on the table below.

What happened?

1- The creature must immediately save or die.  If this option doesn't make any sense, reroll.
2- The creature is knocked prone and any attacks against it by non-prone attackers get a +4 bonus to attack.
3- The creature takes double damage as if it was surprised.  This damage stacks with the usual surprise damage.
4- The creatures must save or lose its next action due to being stunned, immense pain or some other reason. 

Way of the Mountain

The Sisters of Sri Hu Peak are among the hardiest people in all the world.  This all-female order of holy women dedicated themselves to taking spoiled daughters, bastard girls and infertile women and turning them into respectable, pious ladies who could serve the Gods with proper devotion.  However, they began having problems almost immediately.  Since they were a new order and not respected, they were attacked and robbed several times.  To try and combat this, they ordered all the sisters to get rid of anything valuable and give it to the poor, so that no one would attack them.  This did stop the robbers, but it did not prevent the suitors and the kidnappers from attempting to rescue or kidnap sisters from the order's compound.  The order retreated to Sri Hu Peak, but this was only a temporary solution, as some criminals and rough men still came up the mountain- and these ones were far more determined than the ones who attempted to attack the order when it was in the lowlands.  Finally, after one of the order's founding sisters was attacked by a band of unscrupulous adventurers, the order set itself to creating a martial style to suit their order and training their sisters in it.  Eventually, after consulting dozens of experts and experimenting for many months, the rudiments of a style began to form.  The Way of the Mountain is a primarily defensive style, training its adherents how to redirect the force of an enemy's blows and to use an opponent's strength against them. 

Novice:  "The Mountains seem static, but that is only because you are not heavy enough to disturb them."  Your unarmed strikes do 1d8 damage.  You can parry 1 attack per round, reducing its damage by 1d8. 

Journeyman:  "Cling to your opponent like a babe to its mother's breast and he will have difficulty."  If you parry an attack and reduce the damage to zero, you can grapple the person who made it.  This grappling does not require an additional check.

Expert:  "Stones are not dead, but sleeping.  Listen closely and you can hear them humming the music of the Earth."  You can parry 1d10 damage.  If you reduce the damage if an attack to zero, you can force that enemy to save.  On a failed save, you can disable one one of the opponent's limbs, dislocating it.  To put it back into its place requires an action and occasionally, help from another creature.

Master:  "An avalanche is never expected."  When attacked, once per round, you may ignore and opponent's attack roll and roll your parry die.  If your parry die exceeds his damage roll, your opponent takes the damage you rolled on your parry die as you preemptively attack them. 

Monkey's Fist

While traditionalists insist that this style was invented by a traveling naturalist who studied the hunting tactics of monkey-rats, most of the reformed branch of this school believe the Monkey's Fist was a series of techniques developed by brawlers and street level enforcers in the soggy, steaming cities of the North, where smuggling and syndicates are a way of life.  The Monkey's Fist reflects these humble origins, along with a criminal enforcer's contempt for honor or fair play.  Monkey's Fist is a style based around weakening an opponent's counter attack and is best used when you have back-up, as after you weaken an opponent's position, your allies can immediately rush them.  That being said, don't underestimate a lone Monkey's Fist user.

Novice:  "Dancing and fighting have many similarities.  The first?  Mind your footing."  Your unarmed strikes do 1d6+STR.  You also learn how to make an attack called a leg sweep, which does no damage on a hit but instead knocks an opponent prone.

Journeyman:  "It is better to win in 10 safe moves than two risky ones."  As an action, you can throw a punch at someone that does half damage and forces the target to save.  On a failed save, the target is rattled and gets -1d6 to their next attack.

Expert:  "In a fight, as in life, never be afraid to let someone else take the lead."  You may take an action to take a defensive stance.  If an opponent attacks you while you have taken this stance, you may grapple the opponent if he successfully hits you, or if he misses, trip him up and knock him prone.  In the case where he hits you, you still take damage as per normal.

Master:  "A fighter is only as strong as his biggest weakness."  As an action, you can throw a punch that if it hits, forces someone to save.  On a failure, this punch paralyzes the creature, forcing it to save of pass out.  Creatures with an AC of 15 or over or natural armor get a +4 bonus to this saving throw.


The Thunderhead Fist Art is a killing school.  It teaches its adherents how to focus their chi and then release it in explosive bursts, letting them move with frightening speed, darting across the battlefield to crush their enemies beneath rapier-swift, blindingly precise blows.  It is a scary and spectacular sight, watching so many thinking, breathing creatures be reduced to broken shells in between breaths.  This is the ugly truth of the school, but the adherents of Thunderhead are taught not to think about it that way.  Their masters make sure to inform all the students that there is no difference between wielding a sword and training the body, except that you can be deprived of a sword, but only death can deprive you of your body.  They also emphasize that the Thunderhead school can be used to protect people as well and that all the students are free agents, who do not sacrifice their moral agency when they agreed to come here.  Sometimes, the students can even believe it.  The Thunderhead school flourishes in regions wracked by conflict, war or disorder.  It tends to stagnate or even wither in peaceful lands.   

Novice:  "There is no such thing as distance."  Your unarmed strikes do 1d6 damage.  You also gain a resource called a Lighting Point: you start with 1.  You may spend this lightning point at the beginning of any combat to act before any other creature, unless a creature there has preternatural speed.  You recover Lightning Points by killing a creature of at least 1 HD with your bare hands.

Journeyman:  "Your flesh will try to limit you, do not permit this intrusion."  You gain 1 additional Lightning Point.  If you spend 1 Lightning Point, you can reroll the damage you rolled on any successful attack.

Expert:  "The fish's scales protect him from others of his kind, but do nothing against the eagle's talons."  You gain 1 additional Lightning Point.  If you spend 1 Lightning Point, you may subtract your damage roll from an opponent's attack or defense roll, to enable you to hit them better or avoid being hit.

Master:  "The Mamba can bite an enemy up to seven times, even though once can be fatal."  You gain 1 additional Lightning Point.  If you spend 1 Lightning Point, you may make an additional attack this turn.

Drunken Boxing

This discipline is another with unclear origins.  It is usually taught by lone, wandering masters who have no fixed addresses.  And most of these masters credit their master with teaching them, but few know who taught their masters and none know who their master's master was.  True origins aside, Drunken Boxing is a perfectly respectable school, though its adherents do their best to conceal this fact.  Drunken Boxing is the concealed dagger of the Fist Arts, its adherents counting on being underestimated as common fools or drunkards.  This can mean that if you are aware of Drunken Boxing, you can deprive them of that crucial edge.  However, don't underestimate them, Drunken Boxing is still capable of working if both fighter and opponent are stone cold sober.

Novice:  "Never pretend to be stronger than you are."  Your unarmed strikes do 1d6+STR damage.  You can also, as an action, assume a rolling, stumbling gait that gives you a +X bonus to AC, where X is your level of knowledge in Drunken Boxing.  This AC bonus lasts until your next action. 

Journeyman:  "You can only defend against an approach you see coming."  As an action, you can dodge past or under someone, as long as it is physically possible.

Expert:  "Steel is harder than clay, yet when fired, steel melts and clay becomes stronger."  Once per round, you can blunt damage by rolling with a punch or a blow, reducing it by 1d6+CON damage.  You can only do this against a blow that does sharp, bludgeoning or some other type of damage that could be reduced by allowing it to wash over you.  Referee's discretion applies. 

Master:  "The fool assumes nothing can hurt him, the wise that all can."  As an action, you can make a special unarmed strike that does 2d6+STR damage, but has a -1d6 penalty to attack.

Kua Toa Karate

The Kua Toa are a race of mad priests and sane cultists from the depths of the Blue World.  They are also one of the few species of intelligent, aquatic creatures who can also live on land.  As such, in ages past they ruled over many island nations and river deltas.  This was long ago and many of the cultural artifacts left behind have been so assimilated into those previously conquered cultures that the true origin of these customs has been forgotten.  The one exception is that is their martial arts.  Kua Toa Karate is a pale shadow of the Kua Toa's true Fist Art.  Yet even despite that, it is still a fearsome Art.  Kua Toa Karate is an art that has been heavily modified for use above water and as such, it has necessarily changed.  It is now an Art focused on defense and counter attacks.  This is a task that it does very well, though its lack of strong offensive techniques and foreign origin is often a source of embarrassment for its adherents.

Novice:  "Fight on your own terms and you will never be outmaneuvered."  Your unarmed strikes do 1d8 damage.  You also take no penalty for using your unarmed strikes underwater.

Journeyman:  "If Heaven chose to give you eyes, you might as well use them."  If you take an action to watch an opponent, you get a +X bonus to your next defense roll to avoid that opponent's next attack, where X is your COG (or WIS) modifier.  If you are underwater, this bonus doubles.

Expert:  "The predator watches twice as hard as his prey."  When you use the Journeyman ability to watch an opponent, if je misses when he makes an attack against you, you may immediately make an attack against that creature.

Master:  "Choose the ground upon which you fight and your victory will never be in question."  You can throw a punch that releases a wave of chi that blows away all fluids with 1d8*10'.  Underwater this creates a pocket of air that lasts for 1d6 rounds and above water this creates a vacuum that lasts for the same amount of time.  This wave of chi also blows away Oozes, as well as Water and Air Elementals.  You may only use this ability once per day.

Way of the Hermit

The Way of the Hermit is an ancient Art, originally created to combat the enemies of life.  It is an Art that works by teachings its adherents how to store the power of the Sun in their bodies and then, in a single, dazzling rush to unleash it. This power is known to its practitioners as the Ripple, or Hamon.  Against the living, Hamon will melt flesh like tallow and induce terrible pain, but against the Undead, the true power of Hamon is revealed.  Hamon utterly destroys the Undead, burning their bodies to dust with a mere touch.  For this reason, some of the most capable Witch-Hunters in the world are not Wizards, but Hamon Masters- who are capable of reducing even the most powerful of corpse-warriors to dust with a single punch.

Novice:  "My heart resonates, heat enough to burn, my blood's beat is razor sharp!"  Your unarmed strikes do 1d6 damage.  You start with 1 Hamon Dice.  You may spend 1 Hamon Die to do +1d6 sunlight damage to any creature you hit.  Against Undead or creatures vulnerable to sunlight, this does an additional +1d6 damage, so the bonus damage is +2d6.  You recover Hamon Dice by being in sunlight for up to 1 hour.

Journeyman:  "The last thing I need right now is listening to trash like you, let alone being touched by you. But if you want to embrace me, feel free to try… as long as you don’t mind a painful demise."  You get 1 additional Hamon Dice.  You can send Hamon Ripples through an object or creature without harming that creature or object.

Expert:  "True I knocked the air from his lungs, but he'll thank me for it later."  You get 1 additional Hamon Die.  You can heal a creature up to 2d6 FS or 1d6 HP by spending an equivalent number of Hamon Dice.

Master:  "Impossible? We did a lot of impossible things on this journey. I’m tired of hearing that things are impossible or useless. Those words mean nothing to us."  You get 1 additional Hamon Die.  You may jellify up to 1 square foot of water for 1 minute or until you release it.  This temporarily changes the water to a consistency similar to rubber.  You may use this to walk on water, stop water from flowing, or anything else your Referee agrees to.  If you jellify the water in someone's blood stream this causes them to save or die because of the heart attack this can cause.

                                        from The Strange Talent of Luthor Strode


  1. Really enjoying this series! You've made "fighters, but fun" for the OSR and I appreciate that.

    I particularly like Monkey's Fist's expert move. I love things that happen on a miss. "Nothing happens" is boring.

    How long to visualize the AC bonus from Novice Drunken Boxing lasting? Just a turn?

    1. I appreciate the compliment! Thank you for that and for pointing out an oversight of mine. I'd say the AC bonus from Drunken Boxing's Novice move lasts 1 round, until your next turn.

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