Combining Tianxia martial art styles with Jadepunk

Tianxia Blood, Silk and Jade is a martial arts action game produced using the Fate Core system from Evil Hat Publishing, I bought a PDF of it recently when it was mentioned by Lloyd Collins (JarlDM) in a Google Hangout; as with most wuxia related Fate purchases my first thought in buying the game was ‘How can I use this in my currently running Jadepunk game?”

If you’re interested in the Jadepunk game you can find videos of all the sessions here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLMlEyLAkrE__EfHHAfYIIekLdh4qwJxOK and my review of the system here: https://youtu.be/aMiWg_zTlfg

Unfortunately we were down a player in our last session (due to RL circumstances beyond control) and I didn’t want to continue the main plot with a character missing so I decided to run a flashback, asking the players what element of the setting they’d potentially like to find more about; it was suggested that, since in the present day of the setting we’re approaching the time when the Four Winds martial arts tournament is being held, that perhaps a flashback to a previous tournament might be interesting.
Since we were doing a tournament where a number of bouts would take place, but I didn’t want them to drag on, I decided first of all to use the excellent Jadepunk duelling system which allows quick one-on-one combats to be held using a slightly tweaked version of the contest system in Fate Core, but I really wanted the different martial arts styles and techniques to stand out from each other. While virtually flipping through the PDF of Tianxia I discovered the section on martial arts.
Essentially in Tianxia each character creates a martial arts style by pairing an element with a body substyle so you might have Forest Monkey, Stone Dragon or Lightning Tiger for example; each of these substyles offers a description of how the style looks and gives three Stunts for each of them (so 6 in total for a complete style) as well as a final secret technique that a practitionner can only master once they have all of the other Stunts in their technique.
This is a nice simple way of creating difference between martial arts techniques so I used in the game system and it worked quite well, although I had to make a few tweaks on the fly to get it to work (especially since they weren’t designed to work within the contest framework of Jadepunk’s duelling system).
Below are some suggestions for using Tianxia’s system in Jadepunk, and also notes on using them in a duel:
Element Substyles
 

Forest: A technique where the martial artist adapts to their surrounding and uses it to their advantage.

    • Forest Hides the Beast: A tie in a melee based defence action grants no boost to your attacker.
    • Forest Opens its Paths: If you use explorer to overcome and 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 of environment based advantage in a melee attack count as having +2 harmful if the attack is successful (or you gain +2 shifts to your degree of success if in a duel).

Ghost: This style relies on focusing internal energies and flowing effortlessly from attack to defence.

    • Exalted Ghost Body: Gains +2 protective when not attacking that combat turn; in a duel if you use the +2 protective from this technique then you only gain 1 victory and may not succeed with style.
    • Ghost Haunts the Shadow: Gains a +2 on scoundrel rolls to create an advantage based on moving silently or remaining unseen.
    • Ghost Strikes the Spirit: Ignores 1 point of protection when making a melee attack, and adds an additional +1 shift of harmful to a successful attack against a foe who has less martial arts based stunts than you.

Iron: Practitioners of this style make themselves hard and unyielding, taking and resisting enemy blows.

Iron Cleaves the Stone: Ignore 2 points of protection when making an attack to inflict physical stress.

Flesh Breaks on Iron: When you defend against a melee attack with style, you may inflict a 2 shift hit on your opponent instead of taking a boost. In a duel, if you defend with style then your opponent takes a 2 shift hit, in addition to any victories they offset using stress/consequences.

Iron Body, Iron Mind: +2 bonus to create advantages related to resisting or coping with pain, intimidation or fear.

Lightning: Cultivating both speed and power to overcome your enemy.

  • Lightning cross the sky: When you succeed with style on a melee attack you may move 1 zone in addition to gaining a boost, if someone tries to stop this movement you gain a +2 to overcome.
  • Lightning splits the tree: When you succeed with style on a melee attack you may remove an invocation on an existing advantage affecting you, instead of taking a boost.
  • Lightning strikes without pause: You gain a +2 bonus when determining intiative.

Stone: Deliberate and uncompromising action focusing on making the most of the artists natural abilities.

  • Mountain does not fall: You gain a +2 bonus to defend against attempts to create an advantage based on unbalacing, pushing, tripping or knocking over the defender. If an opponents technique allows them to automatically create such an advantage with free invocations then they gain one less free invocation.
  • Stone resists the blow: You gain 2 protection against any physical attack you are aware of.
  • If you defend with style you may remove your first stress box or convert another stress box to 1 lower rather than taking a boost.

Storm: Fluid and unpredictable, masters of the storm styles move quickly between attack and defence to keep their opponents off guard.

    • 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 Fighter or Explorer roll with a +2 bonus to create an advantage based on controlling or redirecting momentum.
    • Storm flows around mountain: If a target uses a full defence in combat against you, gain +2 bonus to your next attack against them (whether their defence succeeds or not).

 

 
Body Substyles
 

Crane: Using fluid movement, misdirection and swift movement to overcome their foes.

    • Crane hides in reeds: Add +2 protection when using full defence to defend yourself in combat.
    • Crane sleeps standing: +2 bonus when overcoming physical obstacles by on physical obstruction or poor footing.
    • Crane stuns the carp: If you succeed on a melee attack with style, you may create a stunned advantage on the target with a free invocation instead of taking a boost.

Dragon: Dragon styles focus on a balance of speed and power, borrowing strikes from other techniques; practitioners develop a hissing breathing technique.

    • Dragon rules the fields: When you succeed with style on an attack, gain a boost with a +3 bonus instead of the usual +2.
    • Dragon rules the heavens: Use Fighter instead of Explorer for rolls involving entering zones or preventing others from doing so. If both Fighter and Explorer skills are equal, or Explorer is higher, then gain a +2 bonus instead.
    • Dragon sleeps in the mist: When you succeed with style on a defence you may reduce the the result by 1 to gain +2 protection rating against the next attack in the scene that strikes you, in addition to the normal boost. In a duel you may reduce the number of victories gained by 1 in order to gain +2 on your roll in the next round.

Monkey: A collection of unconventional acrobatic styles.

    • Monkey grabs the peach: Add +2 harmful to an attack where you invoke a consequence that the defender has.
    • Monkey dances in moonlight: When succeeding on a defence with style, you may create a distracting movements advantage with a free invocation instead of the normal boost.
    • Monkey rolls away: When invoking an aspect or advantage during a defence roll, gain +2 protection rating against the attack if it succeeds.

Pheonix: Focus on balance, agility and re-directing the force of an opponents attack.

    • Pheonix beats its wings: If you defend with style you may gain an off balance advantage with a free invocation instead of a boost.
    • Pheonix calls to the heavens: Once per session you may reduce physical stress taken by 2 shifts. If this technique is used in a dual then you may nullify up to two victories scored in a round without actually taking a moderate or severe consequence.
    • Pheonix laughs at the sun: If you succeed at an overcome roll using Explorer or Fighter with style, you may create a situation aspect with a free invocation instead of taking the normal boost.

Serpent: Masters of the serpent style are known for being fast, efficient and ruthless.

    • Serpent bites the hand: If you gain shifts on defence you can sacrifice your action next turn to immediately inflict an attack on your opponent using the shift value of your defense as the attack result.
    • Serpent strikes first: Gains a +2 bonus when initiative is determined.
    • Serpent strikes twice: +2 bonus to rolls to create advantages based on disorientation, distraction or unbalancing against opponents that you have already inflicted stress on in this combat.

Tiger: Tiger styles are about power, ferocity and inflicting maximum damage to your opponent.

    • Tiger moves with purpose: Move at least 1 zone and make an Explorer attack or make an Explorer attack on a target that has just moved into your zone, add +2 shifts to any damage you inflict with this attack.
    • Tiger rends the flesh: When you tie on a roll using Fighter for defense you can inflict a +2 point shift physical attack instead of taking a boost.
    • Tiger rules the jungle: You gain +2 bonus to overcome aspects and advantages based on provocation or psychological manipulation.
This list in no-where near exhaustive, there are additional techniques listed in Tianxia including the mastery level techniques and secret/lost martial arts styles, I highly recommend you give it a look if you’re after some additional ideas for a high action martial arts RPG; the rules are (with a little tweaking) compatible with Fate Core/Accelerated games and I would expect most other games using the rules system as a base.

Jade-xalted: Sample assets

Below are some sample assets built using the system described in earlier posts.
* * *
White Jade Warstrider (Device)

Cost: 3 refresh
Features

  • Harmful – +2 shifts of damage on attack (up to a max of shifts scored on attack roll)
  • Protective – reduces shift value of successful attack by 2
  • Sturdy – has 2 stress boxes
  • Jade construction – +1 to rolls when used by a terrestrial exalt, may activate the ‘blessed by the elements’ aspect at will.

Flaws
  • Demanding – requires a scene of preparation and a great (+4) sorceror roll to activate the warstrider.

Warstriders are ancient suits of magitech armour from the First Age, designed to not only protect the wearer inside their enormous armoured hides but also to increase their strength and prowess, only scant few function in the present and these require extensive maintenance (normally in the form of barely understood annointing ceremonies) to continue running.
* * *
Door-Evading Technique (technique)
Cost: 3 refresh
Features
  • Exceptional
Flaws
  • Consuming
At the cost of a fate point the user of this technique may completely bypass one inanimate obstacle (such as a door for example) that impedes movement between zones.
* * *
Beastman warband (allies)
Cost: 2 refresh
Features
  • Professional x 2 – Warrior +2, Assassin +1. 
  • Resilient – Ally gains a mild consequence slot.
  • Sturdy – Gains an additional 1 stress box.
  • Numerous x 3 – 8 total allies. 
Flaws
Troubling (“Hunted and despised in civilised lands.”)
Having lurked on the fringes of civilisation for so long, many Lunar Exalted have bred half beast-like offspring and are served by their savage children.
* * *
These are just three examples of assets that can be quickly created with the Jadepunk style method of handling assets once you are familiar with the system, it is flexible but provides enough structure to enable you jump straight in and start designing.

Jade-xalted: Assets

This section refers heavily to the excellent Jadepunk game, no challenge is intended to any copyrights and I have attempted to omit any rules specifically featured in the book – you will probably need a copy of Jadepunk to make use of this, but I would advise you to pick up a copy anyway as it is an excellent book.
ASSETS IN JADE-XALTED HACK

Assets

Step One: Asset Type

Ally: Helpful NPC assocate, sidekick, contact or secret society.
Device: A weapon, tool, or other piece of equipment including items made from the magical materials.
Technique: Personal capabilities either gained from special training, knowledge or as a result of the exaltation.
Step Two: Function/Guiding Aspect
Allies and Devices come with an aspect describing it’s function as per the rules in Jadepunk, it can be invoked or compelled as with any other aspect, but it tends to be more focussed on the role that the ally or device plays in the character’s life.
Technique assets don’t have function aspects, they are connected to one of the characters existed aspects (called it’s ‘guiding aspect’) as detailed in the Jadepunk rules.
Step Three: Features & Flaws
These function as per the rules in Jadepunk, each point of refresh you spent on an asset gives it two features, each asset also comes with one flaw. More flaws may be taken to give an asset additional features on a one-to-one basis.
Full rules for this can be found in the Jadepunk book however there are a few additional  list of features and flaws differ, they can be found below.
Ally Features
When you spend a point of refresh to create an Ally, in addition to any other features, they start with one application of Professional, Resilient and Sturdy for free.
  • Aspect
  • Resilient
  • Numerous
  • Professional
  • Sturdy
  • Independent
  • Talented

Device Features
The function aspect of a device featuring one or more of the magical materials must make reference to each material.
  • Aspect
  • Harmful
  • Jade construction
  • Moonsilver construction
  • Orichalcum construction
  • Protective
  • Starmetal construction
  • Soulsteel construction
  • Exceptional
  • Numerous
  • Flexible
  • Focus
  • Sturdy

Techniques
No technique can have the troubling flaw.
  • Exceptional
  • Harmful
  • Flexible
  • Protective
  • Focus
  • Sorcery

Step Four: Determine Refresh cost
Determine asset cost as listed in the Jadepunk book.
Feature Descriptions
As listed in the Jadepunk rulebook (with the following additions):
  • Jade construction: See magical materials section for details.
  • Moonsilver construction: See magical materials section for details.
  • Orichalcum construction: See magical materials section for details.
  • Sorcery (counts as two features, asset starts with consuming feature, many only be applied to a technique): Allows a technique to be perform over distance as long as the character possesses something taken from the location or something of significance to the person that they wish to affect; if the target is within the same zone then the technique can be performed at range without the requirement of the component.
  • Soulsteel construction: See magical materials section for details.
  • Starmetal construction: See magical materials section for details.

Flaw Descriptions
As listed in the Jadepunk rulebook.
Gaining and Improving Assets
Functions as per the Jadepunk rulebook.

The Magical Materials
The five magical materials below are easily enchanted by those with the right knowledge and each one resonates with a different type of Exalted.
Please note: In order to have an item made of a magical material (or several) a feature must be taken (it must be taken once for each magical material involved in the item construction).
  • Orichalcum: Gold purified by the Sun, Orichalcum is noted for making equipment which is good at everything. Orichalcum artifacts are used by Solar Exalted.
  • Moonsilver: Moonsilver is silver touched by Luna, and lends some of Luna’s protean nature to the material. Moonsilver is considered sacred by Lunar Exalted.
  • Starmetal: Rarer than all other materials, because the Sidereal Exalted must predict where this congealed essence of dead Gods will fall. Starmetal shines with the nature of the Five Maidens and warps fate slightly as part of its basic nature.
  • Jade: Commonest of all the Magical Materials, and used to make the weapons and armor of the Terrestrial Exalted. Jade comes in five colors, one for each Aspect.
  • Soulsteel: Comprised of the bodies of ghosts and scrapings from the Mouth of the Void in Stygia, soulsteel mutters and moans with the pain of the spirits trapped within. This horrifying black material is the trademark of the Abyssal Exalted.

An item made from one of the magical materials will function especially well in the hands of the type of Exalted that it was intended for (adding an additional +1 to any rolls made using the device, if a device does not use a roll but increases or reduces shift values then it increases/reduces it by an additional +1). This bonus only becomes active when the device is in the possession of the appropriate type of exalted.
In addition, the correct type of exalted may (at will activate the following effect):
  • Orichalcum: Device sheds light, bestowing a ‘light of the Unconquered Sun’ aspect on the wielder.
  • Moonsilver: Gives the owner the ‘master of disguise’ aspect.
  • Starmetal: Bestows the aspect ‘touched by fate’ on the owner.
  • Jade: Bestows the aspect ‘blessed by the elements’ as appropriate on the owner.
  • Soulsteel: Device sheds darkness, bestowing a ‘shrouded in darkness’ aspect on the owner.
  • Aspects gained from carrying items of the appropriate magical material can be turned on and off at will as long as the exalt still possesses an item of the appropriate material.

Jade-xalted: Finishing touches to character creation

Refresh
Refresh functions as per the rules in Jadepunk, however, the levels of refresh that people start with differ slightly.

  • Mortals and equivalents begin with 5 refresh.
  • Terrestrial Exalted begin with 7 refresh.
  • Celestial Exalted (Solar, Lunar, Abyssal and Sidereals) begin with 10 refresh.

Refresh is reduced by purchasing assets, you may not reduce your refresh below one.
Assets
Assets are purchased in a similar fashion to those listed in the Jadepunk rules, there will be additional options available to represent exalted charms and how the construction of magi-tech style items differs between Exalted and Jadepunk, these will be covered in more detail in a later post.

Stress and Consequences
Every character begins with three stress boxes and three consequences (mild, moderate and severe); these function as per the rules in Jadepunk.