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Your fave martial arts for a dragon-blood?

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  • Your fave martial arts for a dragon-blood?

    I'm working through the background of a new DB character who I plan to make a martial artist/sorcerer (which I know probably isn't ideal but hey, it sounds cool and he's a Mnemon). I'd be interested in which MA's people have enjoyed, in particular what about the MA's fluff appeals to you and what you have enjoyed mechanically in play (I don't want to be hopelessly weak, but the mechanics coming together in a fun way is more important).

    Any Immaculate Style would certainly make sense given his background, and the few "reviews" I've seen here suggest they are pretty solid this edition (and are particularly handy for DBs), but if other styles make sense I'm open to it, especially with language about Mnemons seeking out esoteric knowledge, etc. I haven't settled on an Aspect yet - Air likely fits his personality best but I do find that smacking people up close is part of the satisfaction I get from MA. It seems like Air Style is pretty ranged combat focused?

    Let me know what you have enjoyed about the MA styles, especially if you have had a chance to try them with DBs!

  • #2
    I haven't gotten to play a DB yet in 3e, so I can't give you any direct experience, but I can give you some notes on options and synergies to look at and see if they work for you.

    One of the things about being a sorcerer is that you can do a lot of different things with Spells and Workings. Deciding which spells you want to use in combat is important. Also, as a DB, Sorcery requires that you pick up four other Occult charms, so you'll probably only be able to start with charms from one style.

    For the purposes of Martial Arts, the two main spells that you can use with an MA style are Invulnerable Skin of Bronze and Wood Dragon's Claw. Everything else is either a noncombat spell, a support spell that can be used while practicing either any MA style or none of them, or it's a direct attack spell.

    So, for the purposes of MA, ISoB counts as medium armor and WDC counts as Tiger Claws. Which means we want to look at the styles which allow for those things:

    The styles that allow Medium Armor
    Single Point
    White Reaper
    Righteous Devil
    Steel Devil
    Earth Dragon
    Fire Dragon
    Water Dragon

    Styles that allow Tiger Claws
    Tiger
    Ebon Shadow
    Black Claw (allows claw strikes, but not tiger claws, so this is debatable. Check with your ST)
    Water Dragon

    Now, I'm not going to saw that you should definitely choose Water Dragon Style. If your ST is willing to accept custom spells, it's pretty easy to argue that WDC is precedent for a wide range of spells that basically summon a temporary artifact, and even if they don't, you can still be a Sorcerer/Martial Artist without ever learning those two spells. You can get a Virtuous Guardian of Flame to watch your back while you dish out damage or switch out a palm strike with a bite from your Devil Maw and so on. And maybe you don't want to have your skin constantly made of bronze.

    But, there is that synergy there, so it's an option.
    Last edited by BrilliantRain; 02-10-2019, 02:26 AM.


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    • #3
      BrilliantRain made some great points, but allow me to add a few others. I'll give them little titles to make the reading easier. I don't have a ton of experiences with DBs in actual campaigns, although I've run some test combats/short sessions with them. I DO have a lot of experience with 3e though.


      Style that Fits Personality

      So a big part of MA, especially in Exalted, is finding a style that matches how your character thinks, their personality. Martial arts is often a spiritual journey, as well as a physical one, and as your character grows and learns their understanding of themselves deepens. For that, if your character is a more typical Air dragon, inquisitive, intelligent, flexible, elusive, I'd say Air Dragon, Snake, Crane, or maybe Dreaming Pearl. What I think you might find the most fun is really leaning into that sense of self discovery and enlightenment.

      In each of the styles in the core and the DB book there's a nice description about what the practitioners are like, and, I think, an even better description in how the mechanics work. The aggressive ferocity of a Tiger stylist ripping the throat from an opponent, or the calm teachings of a Crane Sifu as she sends a foe skidding across the floor.

      That doesn't necessarily mean you HAVE to pick a style that matches your character's personality, of course. One cool story you could tell is a pacifist scholar learning to become sombody with power and to take initiative. To do that they might decide that they will learn Fire Dragon, and internalize the burning anger, and control it. Or possibly Righteous Devil, finally completing work on a new firewand, and decided that now, at last, with a weapon they can use properly, justice will be enforced.

      Air Dragon Might Be Good

      I'll give a defense of Air Dragon here as well, even though its form weapon is a chakram. I wouldn't say the style is actually focused on ranged combat, exactly. It has a really strong charm combo to disengage from foes, it has a few ranged attacks at high essence, and it has the ability to attack from longer range with a chakram. The first of those is just useful in any case, you might want to retreat from one foe if you're hurt, or you might need to leap out of the melee to dash at an enemy archer that's giving your group trouble. Perhaps disengage to cast sorcery even? There are also kind of ranged attacks at Essence 3-4 that allow you to hurl lighting from your fists or launch a tornado, but those always have other effects. The lightning fist one for example lets you strike an opponent in the chest and send a bolt of lightning right through their armor.

      As for the chakram, it's not really required, nothing in the style needs it to work, or works better with it. For instance the disengage charm, if you're in Air Aura, lets you disengage to safety outside the melee ball, aim, and then next turn charge in and get free attack dice. Helps to land decisive attacks. Even if you felt you needed an artifact weapon, the chakram's best range band is close, and there is absolutely nothing stopping you from just holding one in your hand and slashing with it. Along with your fists/feet of course for good stunt material.

      The other thing the style does though, is dodge, stealth and athletics, so you might want to consider that. Cloud Treading Method lets you run across the tips of leaves, water and smoke, and there's a whole slew of stealth charms. If you really don't enjoy the idea of sneaking around or vanishing from a scene like batman, then it might not be the best. On the other hand you can dash up a staircase of falling leaves into the treetops so that's cool.

      Dodge can be quite useful to have, you'll already have a good parry defense, but in the case of unblockable attacks it gives you an edge. On the other hand that's another ability that you might not like or want to have.

      Visceral Styles

      If you really like the up close fist-to-face style of MA though, there are other options. If you go with one of these though I encourage you to take the same outlook of "What are the teachings of this style, and how will it affect my character?". Another thing to consider is for out of aspect immaculate charms, your aura is possible to get into, but also not as easy to hold on to. I might even consider changing aspects, because really any aspect can have any personality. Below I'll cover the 5 styles that I think most fit in with a sorcerer and their connection to the world of spirits and the occult.

      Earth Dragon is a great style for just feeling powerful. It's great on smash attacks, and really no matter how much damage you deal knocking somebody on their ass makes you feel like a tank. On the other hand the style relies very heavily on high strength and stamina, and if your character isn't already very physical that's going to be hard to come by. Not impossible certainly, you can devote quite a lot of bonus points to it off the chargen, but it's hard for sure. If you do this I suggest burning at least 8 BP into it to get it equal to your primary attribute slot.

      Fire Dragon doesn't have that problem as much, also it doesn't have Air Dragon's problem of wanting dodge. It is however really aggressive, both in fluff and crunch. It really wants to win join battle, it really wants to attack a lot, it wants to attack enemies with lower initiative and end them. Then again, that's a really fun way to play.

      Water Dragon is the closest, ideologically, to Air, so you've got that going for you. Also as Brilliant Rain mentioned the sorcery synergy with it is great. It really loves Aura though, like maybe more than any other style, so I'd really consider being a Water dragon for this one. Otherwise anything bad about it is just things that other styles do that it doesn't.

      Wood Dragon is interesting, especially for an occultist because it's probably the most esoteric of the styles. It messes with your opponent's soul the most, it lets you magically heal people instantaneously. It doesn't really have a lot of smack to it, outside just attacking people though. There's no really solid Earth Dragon destruction or Air Dragon hurling somebody 50 feet away with a gust of wind.

      Golden Jannisary is another good one for an occultist. It's even more focused on fighting dark spirits than the Immaculate styles, which is saying something. This one might be better as a style that you pick up later though, as depending on the campaign it might even be TOO focused on fighting Creatures of Darkness, and you won't get any elemental synergy out of it.



      Without knowing more about the character that's kind of all I can say on the matter for now though.

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      • #4
        One of my favorites is earth dragon but thats cause I built a super tiny mnemon girl using it. She had Faiths Pillar. Absolute sweetheart. Wasnt the most accurate (base pool of 8 to start) but man when she hit she almost always caused a crash. (Average of 30 raw damage) it was quite fun.

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        • #5
          All of the styles are pretty decent, except steel devil. However, for a dragon-blooded to do well with martial arts you really need an immaculate style.

          Also, in this edition dragon blooded get hurt by mixing immaculate styles. So generally you go into a dragon style then pop your aura to get non-mastery access from your other styles.

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          • #6
            The best option for a dragon-blooded martial artist/sorcerer is, to the surprise of nobody, Single Point Shining Into the Void Style.

            For a terrestrial practicioner, SP style seems heavily restricted at first glance - you need to pay a point of Willpower every time you want to attack twice, after all. However, you only need to pay this surcharge when you actually attack twice. This means you can shape sorcery to your heart's content while whacking people with your killstick with no problems, effectively gaining the full action economy benefit of being a Single Point stylist while still being bound by the Terrestrial keyword. It's great.


            Evocations for the demonic tattoos gained from the Pact with Mara sorcerous initiation || Pyre-Kindler (Soulsteel and Red Jade Grimscythe, Artifact 3) || Tenebrous Descent (Stormcaller's Black Jade Reaver Daiklave cousin, Artifact 5)
            Advice for running the corebook shikari antagonists

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            • #7
              Originally posted by aluminiumtrioxid View Post
              The best option for a dragon-blooded martial artist/sorcerer is, to the surprise of nobody, Single Point Shining Into the Void Style.

              For a terrestrial practicioner, SP style seems heavily restricted at first glance - you need to pay a point of Willpower every time you want to attack twice, after all. However, you only need to pay this surcharge when you actually attack twice. This means you can shape sorcery to your heart's content while whacking people with your killstick with no problems, effectively gaining the full action economy benefit of being a Single Point stylist while still being bound by the Terrestrial keyword. It's great.
              I'm pretty sure you can't do that. A shaping action counts as attacking. Just because the plain text doesn't explicitly say it doesn't mean you can get away with it.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Epimetheus View Post

                I'm pretty sure you can't do that. A shaping action counts as attacking. Just because the plain text doesn't explicitly say it doesn't mean you can get away with it.
                Actually, you totally can. You can command troops, shape sorcery, use a simple charm to make an attack using a different ability, it's all allowed. It is extremely powerful. You can even use your sword to do gambits while you do other stuff with your actual action. You could also take a full defense action with your turn and still attack.

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                • #9
                  Checking the book, Shape Sorcery is a combat action, but it's not specifically defined as an attack. And Single Point form specifies a lot of things you can't do with the Sword's action, but it doesn't limit your normal action. And for Terrestrials it does seem like you can perform an attack with the sword and another action with your normal action without paying WP.

                  Personally, I'd tend to require a stunt if you were, say, performing field medicine on a wounded friend in addition to attacking another person, but Shaping Sorcery doesn't really have a defined look to it, so it's probably ok. I'd definitely grab Virtuous Guardian of Flame as your control spell if you went in this direction though, just to double down.


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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by DrLoveMonkey View Post

                    Actually, you totally can. You can command troops, shape sorcery, use a simple charm to make an attack using a different ability, it's all allowed. It is extremely powerful. You can even use your sword to do gambits while you do other stuff with your actual action. You could also take a full defense action with your turn and still attack.
                    I think that's a very loose interpertation that doesn't fit the style and in fact abuses the spirit of it. The point of the style is that you can attack twice. Not that you can cheat two of any action. This is once again something that's only allowable due to the syntax used which just spreads confusion. I'll ask.
                    Last edited by Epimetheus; 02-11-2019, 08:29 AM.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Epimetheus View Post

                      I think that's a very loose interpertation that doesn't fit the style and in fact abuses the spirit of it. The point of the style is that you can attack twice. Not that you can cheat two of any action. This is once again something that's only allowable due to the syntax used which just spreads confusion. I'll ask.
                      I fully agree. When it came out I recall somebody asking and a dev clarifying that indeed that wasn’t the original intent, but also that it was perfectly okay.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by DrLoveMonkey View Post

                        I fully agree. When it came out I recall somebody asking and a dev clarifying that indeed that wasn’t the original intent, but also that it was perfectly okay.
                        Turns out it's okay despite the fact that it's even more gamebreaking than normal.

                        Back to the topic, I'd argue the point of Martial arts are to get out of your comfort zone. I'd also look at what native charms you want to use. If you want to use dodge it might help to combine it with the aura heavy charms of specific immaculate styles. I would also priortize the immaculate style in question simply because it's a stepping stone to broader use.

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                        • #13
                          I know this is for DBs, but my current character is a Dawn Solar MA Supernal (first ever Dawn in any edition of Exalted; normally I play Eclipses), and I took Golden Janissary and White Reaper. They both allow spears as a form weapon.

                          White Reaper is like Earth Dragon Style, though, in that it really rewards high Strength. It might be something you could look into. As others have mentioned, Golden Janissary is _very_ focused, but very good at that focus. White Reaper is a bit more general, in at least its focus is a little broader.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Ulthwithian View Post
                            I know this is for DBs, but my current character is a Dawn Solar MA Supernal (first ever Dawn in any edition of Exalted; normally I play Eclipses), and I took Golden Janissary and White Reaper. They both allow spears as a form weapon.

                            White Reaper is like Earth Dragon Style, though, in that it really rewards high Strength. It might be something you could look into. As others have mentioned, Golden Janissary is _very_ focused, but very good at that focus. White Reaper is a bit more general, in at least its focus is a little broader.
                            How has it been against single opponents?


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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by BrilliantRain View Post

                              How has it been against single opponents?
                              Against single opponents, I feel like I'm doing well enough. You don't get a lot of riders, but the Charms seem 'good enough'. I'm certainly not as strong as a Melee character who's sunk that much investment into combat, but I didn't want to go the quite-so-usual Dawn route. As I said, though, this is my first time playing a real 'combat wombat' so I'm not sure I have much of a basis for comparison.

                              We're also really early in the game so not much of an opinion to be formed. Also new players, etc. Just wanted to give another perspective, but I unfortunately don't have much data. My best 'moment' so far was against a Size 3 War Ghost Legion... when I used Ghost-Eating Technique and stripped off Size, Storyteller ruled they couldn't reform for numbers against that damage. Of course, that's at the confluence of the two styles, so...

                              For comparison, there is also a Melee Night caste who has a good alpha strike but isn't as good long term, a Twilight who doesn't do much in combat, and an Eclipse bowman mounted on a Tyrant Lizard familiar (named Mr. Cuddles). I can keep you posted if we ever get back to that game...

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