Martial Arts With Real Variety - Steamscapes: Asia Teaser #2

I will begin this week's teaser with a quote from Chapter 4 of Steamscapes: Asia -

Martial arts already exist in Savage Worlds. There are Edges and maneuvers that can model many of the things you might want to do as a fighter, and the concept of Trappings allows you to describe the effect in any way that might be appropriate to your character. The rules listed in this chapter are intended to supplement those existing systems to both expand the options available to the player and also to focus on developing individualized styles of combat.

I want to talk a little bit about what it means for fighting styles to be "individualized."

In the practice of playing Savage Worlds, I have found a certain sameness with the kinds of Edges towards which people gravitate, particularly if they are building hand-to-hand fighters. They always start with the damage (Martial Arts, Brawler) and then start adding on the maneuvers (Two-Fisted, Sweep, First Strike, Counterattack). Maybe Fleet-Footed gets thrown in there if we are playing in a heavily ranged-combat setting. There may be some minor variations to this, but by late Seasoned or early Veteran, most focused hand-to-hand combatants look pretty similar. Now, as we indicated in the quote, the Trappings can do a lot to vary the flavor of these fighters, but the core is very similar. This means that they don't necessarily feel different to the players.

So what if we could make different fighting styles that work and feel dramatically different?

For one thing, this would be exciting and interesting to the players. It would offer actual mechanical choice in character advancement beyond just trying to figure out which Edge is better. For another, it would add flavor to the story. Different characters could be distinguished by their fighting style. Once we get into the idea that martial arts are not all the same, we can respect the many different national and cultural origins of these martial arts, and a character's choice of style could say something about that character's background.

This is what we have done.

Rather than talk about the specifics of how, I will just go ahead and show you. For those of you who were not at Gen Con and have not seen the link for this free preview, here it is. This is the current version of all of Chapter 4, complete with martial arts rules, new weapons, and a lot of other goodies. The link below will take you to a limited-time download coupon on DriveThruRPG. Make sure you grab it now, as this coupon will expire on September 1st!

Chapter 4 Preview


-Fairman Rogers