View Full Version : "Visceral" Martial Arts Ruleset (Homebrew)

2009-03-02, 03:47 PM
Behold, the feeble armchair-rulemaking of someone who's utterly incompetent at applying rulesets.

I was mentally sort of working on a martial-arts ruleset. It wouldn't be d20, but it would try to incorporate some of that sense of customization.

The ruleset would encourage using hand-to-hand and martial arts weapons. Firearms would be available, but they would be balanced so as not to give them an advantage over melee fighters. Overall, the setting would simulate every mindless fighting movie ever made, from Kill Bill to The Matrix.

One problem I see with martial arts in a d20 setting, and what few other settings I've experienced, is that it seems very disconnected somehow. You throw a die, see if it hits, roll damage and then let the other person take his turn. None of the exciting back-and-forth of cinematic combat.

The easiest way I can think of to bring this visceral feel to a dice game is to have rolls of d6s represent actual melee blows.

Off the top of my head: two monks of different levels are scrapping. One of them, a lower level character, has three attacks per round. The other has four.

They both cast a single d6. Before throwing, they must declare "strike" or "defend". The lowest level character must declare first. If they declare "strike", their roll (which is probably modified by other factors) is subtracted from the enemy's health. If they declare "defend", their total is subtracted from any future damage done to them.

This repeats itself for each attack the combatants get per round. If one combatant has more attacks than the other, they get to choose whether to use it as an additional "defend" at the beginning of the round or to use it as an additional "attack" at the end of the round.

That would be the core mechanic of the system. Obviously, there'd be many other rules dependent on class progression--disciplines that allowed for an extra attack per round, or a passive DR, etc.

Some other random ideas:

There'd be a "focus" stat that allowed characters to make an extra attack in X number of rounds per day, where X is a number somehow related to the stat.
Focusing on weapons should give higher damage output, while focusing on martial arts would allow more versatility. There should be situations where all but the most focused of either discipline would choose on over the other.
There should be a couple settings attached to the ruleset (modern, Asian, fantasy, etc.) but none of them should affect the actual rules.
No other dice but d6s should be called for.

That's the basic premise. Feel free to come in with suggestions, ideas for mechanics, or criticisms. Not only am I pretty terrible at rules, I'm also damn ill, so this isn't exactly a polished product.

Baron Corm
2009-03-02, 08:44 PM
How is "doing it at the same time, but the lower level character has to declare first" that much different from "doing it one after another, with the higher initiative character going first"? It's not really the "same time" at all. There is no way to do it in real time without basing something off of the actual reactive capabilities of your players, aka having a real fight or a computer-simulated one. The damage as damage reduction mechanic doesn't really change this.

I think the main thing making combat cinematic is the descriptive dialogue of the player and the DM, describing their actions as more than just "I roll for damage". Something else that you have to consider that makes combat less cinematic is the fact that you have other party members stealing spotlight away from you. If everyone doesn't feel special, you have a problem. But if everyone in a 4-PC party feels special, they're only going to feel 1/4 as special as The Bride.

2009-03-02, 08:51 PM
flyingpoo: You actually missed what I was saying. They do roll the dice at the same time, but the lower level character declares strike/defend first.

Besides, while description can do wonders, the combat mechanics feel more like epic sword-battle combat than fast-paced back-and-forth fistfighting.

Also, I reject the idea that having other players means your combat is less cinematic. The Lord of the Rings, Big Trouble in Little China, even The Matrix all had groups of people on either side fighting at once.