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Basic Martial Arts Skills

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Introduction

A list of basis unarmed combat skills is given on this page. The table below gives a brief overview of the skills, subdivided into several categories.

  Wrestling Punching Vital Area Tumbling Defense Throwing Kicking
Easy Arm Lock Punch Pain Touch Fall Block Tackle Kick
  Break Lock     Instant Stand Feint    
  Escape Lock     Leap      
  Leg Lock            
  Bear Hug            
               
Average Head Lock Head Punch Incapacitating Touch Evade Disarm Hurl Circle Kick
    Flurry Stunning Touch   Ironskin    
               
Hard   Crushing Blow Paralyzing Touch   Missile Deflection Great Throw Backward Kick
          Sticking Touch    

 

Arm Lock

Skill Points: 1
Prerequisites: Str 13
Body Parts: A,L,L or A,A,L
Difficulty: Easy
Initiative Modifier: 6
Ability: THAC0
Base Damage: 1

With this move the martial artist takes hold of an arm or similar appendage and locks it into place, applying pressure to cause harm to the victim and prevent the victim from breaking the hold. An arm lock can be maintained from round to round and base damage cumulates.

Backward Kick

Skill Points: 1
Prerequisites: Kick, Dex 13
Body Parts: L,L
Difficulty: Hard
Initiative Modifier: 4
Ability:    THAC0
Base Damage: 2

This type of kick is difficult to master. The martial artist attacks a creature directly behind him, either kicking his foot over and behind his own head or lashing out straight backward. He does not have to turn around and face his attacker.

Bear Hug

Skill Points: 2
Prerequisites: Str 13
Body Parts: A,A,L
Difficulty: Easy
Initiative Modifier: 10
Ability:    THAC0
Base Damage: 1d4

The martial artist encircles his opponents’ torso with both arms and applies pressure in order to cause harm to the victim and prevent the victim from breaking the hold. A bear hug can be maintained from round to round and base damage cumulates.

Block

Skill Points: 1
Prerequisites: None
Body Parts: A, L
Difficulty: Easy
Ability: THAC0
Initiative Modifier: N/A
Base Damage: N/A

By concentrating on his defense and anticipating an opponents movement, the martial artist tries to make himself more difficult to hit. There is no initiative modifier as the martial artist is waiting on initiative. The martial artists opponent roll first, determining the armor class hit. The martial artist then rolls to hit this armor class. If this second to hit roll is made, his armor class is lowered by four places. Note that this might still be insufficient to succesfully block the attack and prevent the damage. For example: Menimer the fighter is attacking Zaruk the martial artist with a bastard sword. Zaruk declares that he is blocking. Menimer strikes and hits armor class 2. Zaruk roll his attack, and he hits AC -3; the block has succeeded. Zaruk is unarmored however, and is AC 10, so the block lowers his AC to 6, not enough to avoid being hurt by Menimer’s blow, so Zaruk is still damaged despite his succesful block.

Break Lock

Skill Points: 0
Prerequisites: None
Body Parts: -
Difficulty: Easy
Ability: Strength
Initiative Modifier: 6
Base Damage: N/A

This basic skill is used by someone to break free from any lock or hold applied to him. In order to break free the victim applies all his strength against his opponent. Both combatants make a strength check. If both succeed, then the one who succeeds by the smallest margins wins the contest. If both fail, the one who fails by the largest margin loses. If one strength check succeeds while the other fails, the one who succeeds wins the strength contest.

Circle Kick

Skill Points: 1
Prerequisites: Dex 13
Body Parts: L,L
Difficulty: Average
Ability: THAC0
Initiative Modifier: 6
Base Damage: 1d4+1

With this dramatic kick, the martial artists builds up power and momentum by spinning a complete circle before landing the kick. If succesful the kick does 1d4+1 base damage, this increases to 1d6+1 if steel-lined shoes are used.

Crushing Blow

Skill Points: 2
Prerequisites: Str 13
Body Parts: A
Difficulty: Hard
Ability: THAC0
Initiative Modifier: 10
Base Damage: 1d6

Through physical exercise and concentration the character is able to shatter or break hard objects with a blow of his hand. This includes wood, ceramics and masonry but not metal. The character can break " of wood and " of stone per level. The DM can modify this vased on the shape, hardness and age of the object. If used against a living target, the crushing blow delivers 1d6 damage and causes some permanent damage if a saving throw versus death magic is failed. The effect of this permanent damage is a -1 on to hit and skill rolls, physical ability checks and armor class. The damage can only be removed by magical means (such as a cure light wounds spell).

Disarm

Skill Points: 2
Prerequisites: None
Body Parts: A,A,L
Difficulty: Average
Ability: THAC0
Initiative Modifier: 10
Base Damage: N/A

With this skill the martial artist trains himself in disloding weapons from his opponents grasp. If the move is succesful, his opponents weapon is beaten from his graps. If the opponent holds his weapon with two hands instead of one, then the skill difficulty becomes hard.

Escape Lock

Skill Points: 1
Prerequisites: None
Body Parts: A or L
Difficulty: Easy
Initiative Modifier: 3
Ability: THAC0
Base Damage: N/A

Instead of just using muscle to escape an opponents lock, this skill also learns the martial artist how to use balance, sudden movements and subtle pressure to escape an opponent’s hold. If the to hit roll succeeds, the martial artist has broken free of his opponent’s hold. Any extra skill levels the opponent has in his lock are applied as penalties to this roll.

Evade

Skill Points: 2
Prerequisites: Leap
Body Parts: L,L
Difficulty: Average
Ability: Dexterity
Initiative Modifier: N/A
Base Damage: N/A

Through alertness and training of the reflexes, the martial artists with this skill can try to evade attacks directed at him. This is similar to the Block skill but concentrates on avoiding any contact with the opponents instead of countering them. Evasion counts as the only action of that round, and cannot be combined with additional attacks or other offensive skills. A character makes a skill check for each attack directed against him that round and when succeeds he adds a +4 bonus to his armor class against that attack. In addition he receives a +4 bonus when saving against special attacks that can be evaded, such as breath weapons, rays, bolts and similar attacks. Evasion is unlike fleeing in that it keeps you close to your opponents and keeps putting them under pressure while at the same time avoiding their attacks.

Fall

Skill Points: 1
Prerequisites: None
Body Parts: -
Difficulty: Easy
Ability: Dexterity
Initiative Modifier: N/A
Base Damage: N/A

The martial artist possessing this skill has learned to fall correctly. He learns to fall and roll, taking the impact of the fall on the safest areas of his body. On a succesful skill check, the martial artists suffers only half damage from falls of 60 feet or less. This skill is used passively, and does not count towards the maximum number of attacks or skill executions made in a single round.

Feint

Skill Points: 1
Prerequisites: None
Body Parts: N/A
Difficulty: Special
Ability: Dexterity
Initiative Modifier: N/A
Base Damage: N/A

Through subtle body movements the martial artist tries to distract his opponent and tries to hide his real intentions. Alone, this skill cannot be used offensively, but it can be used to mislead opponents in other ways. A character may feint jumping towards the right, and move left instead, or feint grabbing an item but drawing a dagger instead. When used alone, a feint counts as an easy skill. If used in combination with other maneuvers, it increases the initiative modifier of the other skill by +3 and negates a succesful Block. If a Feint is combined with other martial arts maneuvres, the difficulty of those maneuvres is not increased as result of the addition of the Feint. So a Feinting Punch is still an Easy skill.

Flurry

Skill Points: 2
Prerequisites: None
Body Parts: A,A,L
Difficulty: Average
Ability: THAC0
Initiative Modifier: 6
Base Damage: 1

By delivering a rapid succesion of perfectly timed and varied punches, the martial artists hopes to confuse and stun his opponent, in addition to causing him damage. The target of a succesful attack must save versus paralysation or he is so stunned from the flurry that he loses his next attack. Flurry is that requires finesse and not brute strength, so metal gauntlets do not increase the damage, and it is impossible to use this skill when employing a cestus.

Great Throw

Skill Points: 1
Prerequisites: None
Body Parts: A,A,L,L
Difficulty: Hard
Ability: THAC0
Initative Modifier: 10
Base Damage: 1d6

Using leverage and his opponents’ momentum, the martial artist is able to throw his enemy a great distance. If the victim is stationary, the martial artist can throw him 1d6 feet + 1 foot per 3 levels. If the victim is charging the martial artist, the distance thrown increase to 1d6+6 feet + 1 foot per 3 levels. If the skill is executed succesfully, the victim must save versus paralysation or be so stunned that he loses his next attack (or action).

Head Lock

Skill Points: 1
Prerequisites: None
Body Parts: A,A or L,L
Difficulty: Average
Initiative Modifier: 8
Ability: THAC0
Base Damage: 2

This maneuver is also known as the Choke Hold, when using it the martial artist locks his arms or legs around the victim’s head, applying constant pressure to cause harm to the victim or suffocate him. This hold can be maintained from round to round and base damage cumulates. Each round that a victim is held in a head lock he has a cumulative chance of going unconscious equal to the martial artists level plus 5% for each extra skill level the martial artist possesses, minus the victim’s constitution score and the victim's level.

Head Punch

Skill Points: 1
Prerequisites: Punch
Body Parts: A
Difficulty: Average
Ability: THAC0
Initative Modifier: 8
Base Damage: 1

This skill allows the martial artist to specifically target the victims head, in hopes of knocking him unconscious. Uppercuts and similar shots belong to this category. If the attack succeeds, there is a percentage chance equal to 10% + the martial artists’ level plus 3 times the damage done, minus the victim’s level and minus his constitution to strike the target unconscious = (10 + lvl + 3xdmg - lvl - Con) in %.

Hurl

Skill Points: 1
Prerequisites: None
Body Parts: A,A,L,L
Difficulty: Average
Ability: THAC0
Initative Modifier: 10
Base Damage: 1d4

This skill relies a great deal on strength, and less on leverage. The martial artist attempts to pick up an opponent and throw him to the ground 1d4 feet away. In addition to the damage inflicted, the victim is now prone.

Incapacitating Touch

Skill Points: 2
Prerequisites: Pain Touch
Body Parts: A
Difficulty: Average
Ability: THAC0
Initiative Modifier: 8
Base Damage: 0

By gripping the victim appropriately, pushing the right nerve ends and twisting the right joints, the martial artist can temporary render one arm, leg or similar appendage useless. The move causes no damage, but the victim cannot use the affected appendage for the next 1d6 attacks (or actions) unless the victim saves versus PPDM. The affected appendage is not totally incapacitated by this move, it misses strength, speed and coordination. A character with one incapacitated leg can still stand, walk and run at jog speed, but not run, jump or similar feats. A character with two incapacitated legs will fall. A character with an incapcitated arm can still hold things, but cannot grip or wield them with strength or coordination - making attack impossible.

Instant Stand

Skill Points: 1
Prerequisites: None
Body Parts: L
Difficulty: Easy
Ability: Dexterity
Initiative Modifier: N/A
Base Damage: N/A

The martial artist who has mastered this skill has learned to gain his feet quickly either by rolling up to a standing position or using an acrobatic jump. The check is made at the beginning of each round that the martial artist is prone. If the check succeeds, the martial artists has regained his feet without losing an action, if not, it takes him one action or attack to get up.

Ironskin

Skill Points: 2
Prerequisites: None
Body Parts: -
Difficulty: Average
Ability: Strength
Initiative Modifier: N/A
Base Damage: N/A

Rigorous physical training has toughened the martial artists’ muscles to the point where he can harden them like iron. Whenever an attack is directed at the martial artist, he must make a strength check (at -3 to the roll; the difficulty is average). If he succeeds, his armor class is lowered by 2 for purposes of that attack only. This skill is used passively, and does not count towards the maximum number of attacks or skill executions made in a single round.

Kick

Skill Points: 1
Prerequisites: None
Body Parts: L
Difficulty: Easy
Ability: THAC0
Initiative Modifier: 4
Base Damage: 2

The art of kicking is not as easy to master as punching, but true masters of the art can cause more damage with their feet than they can with their hands, however. Martial artists that use their feet to attack cannot wear heavy boots, although they can line their shoes with steel, increasing the base damage from 2 to 1d4. It is not possible to use this skill in combination with armor, although it can be used in combination with magical protection such as bracers of defense, rings of protection and armor spells.

Leap

Skill Points: 1
Prerequisites: None
Body Parts: L,L
Difficulty: Easy
Ability: Strength + Dexterity
Initiative Modifier: 3
Base Damage: N/A

This skill allows the martial artist to perform extraordinary feats of springing and leaping. From a standing start the character can spring four feet into the air and up to nine feet forward. He can also flip in mid-air to change his facing or perform similar acrobatics. When using a running start he can jump an additional 1d6 feet into the air or 3d4 feet forward. A check has only to be made when the character performs acrobatics at the limit of his ability, or in the midst of a tense situation such as combat.

Leg Lock

Skill Points: 1
Prerequisites: None
Body Parts: A,A or L,L
Difficulty: Easy
Initiative Modifier: 6
Ability: THAC0
Base Damage: 1

With this move the martial artist takes hold of an leg or similar appendage and locks it into place, applying pressure to cause harm to the victim and prevent the victim from breaking the hold. A victim with one or two legs is immobilized for the duration of the lock. A leg lock can be maintained from round to round and base damage cumulates.

Missile Deflection

Skill Points: 2
Prerequisites: Leap, Evade
Body Parts: A,L,L
Difficulty: Hard
Initiative Modifier: N/A
Ability: Dexterity
Base Damage: N/A

Relying on the speed of his reflexes and nimble footwork, the martial artist is able to avoid nonmagical missile attacks (including magical arrows and bolts). This ability is constant, although the martial artist must be aware of the attack. The character is allowed a dexterity check against each attack. If succesful, the character has dodged the missile.

Pain Touch

Skill Points: 1
Prerequisites: None
Body Parts: A
Difficulty: Easy
Ability: THAC0
Initiative Modifier: 6
Base Damage: 0

Simply by pressing his finger against specific points of the body, the martial artist can cause great pain in his victim. It causes no damage, but if the to hit roll is succesful, the victim feels as if he is on fire. Thereafter he will be -2 to hit, saves, ability checks and armor class for the next 1d2 attacks (or actions).

Paralyzing Touch

Skill Points: 2
Prerequisites: Incapacitating Touch
Body Parts: A
Difficulty: Hard
Ability: THAC0
Initiative Modifier: 10
Base Damage: 0

By placing pressure on specific nerve junctions, the martial artist can paralyze the victim, making him unable to move for 2d4 rounds. The victim is allowed a saving throw versus paralysation to avoid this effect. No damage is done in any case.

Punch

Skill Points: 0
Prerequisites: None
Body Parts: A
Difficulty: Easy
Ability: THAC0
Initiative Modifier: 6
Base Damage: 1

Everyone knows this basic skill. The basic punch includes hooks, rabbit punches, jabs, elbows and similar blows. All are designed to cause harm to the victim by hitting him with force. Steel gauntlets raise the base damage to 1d4. Cesti make the damage permanent.

Sticking Touch

Skill Points: 2
Prerequisites: Pain Touch
Body Parts: A
Difficulty: Hard
Ability: THAC0
Initiative Modifier: 6
Base Damage: N/A

The martial artist with this skill is so attuned his sense of touch that even by lightly placing his hand on another he can cause it to follow their every move. After making a to hit roll, the character has placed himself into close contact with his opponent. As long as the character remains in contact, he gains +2 on all subsequent to hit or skill rolls and his armor class improves by 2, since he is able to feel the impending move of his opponent before it happens. This also means that he cannot be tricked by feints. The hold can be broken by the opponent moving in a way or at a speed unattainble by the martial artist, or by the usual methods of breaking a lock or hold.

Stunning Touch

Skill Points: 2
Prerequisites: Pain Touch
Body Parts: A
Difficulty: Average
Ability: THAC0
Initiative Modifier: 8
Base Damage: 0

With a light slap of his fingers in the correct place, the martial artist can stun and daze his opponents. The move causes no damage, but if a succesful to hit roll is made, the victim is allowed a saving throw versus paralysation. If this is failed, the victim is stunned for the next 1d4 rounds. If stunned he is unable to take any coherent action and is -4 on armor class.

Tackle

Skill Points: 1
Prerequisites: None
Body Parts: A,A or L,L
Difficulty: Easy
Initiative Modifier: 8
Ability: THAC0
Base Damage: N/A

The martial artist has trained to bring his opponent off balance and get him of his feet by sweeping his legs or diving for his knees. If the to hit roll is succesful the opponent is brought into a prone position, but no damage is incurred.

Back to Unarmed Combat Rules

A few samples of combination unarmed combat skills is given on this page.


Blocking Arm Lock

Skill Points: 1
Prerequisites: Arm Lock, Block
Body Parts: A,A,L or A,L,L
Difficulty: Average
Initiative Modifier: -
Base Damage: 1

This is a combination skill. The martial artist waits for his opponents move and tries to block it while simaltaneously trying to take his opponent's arm into an arm lock. Note that it is possible for the the blocking to fail while the arm lock succeeds. Only one roll is made to determine success or failure for both, however.

Double Arm Lock

Skill Points: 1
Prerequisites: Arm Lock
Body Parts: A,A,L or A,L,L
Difficulty: Average
Initiative Modifier: 6
Base Damage: 1

This is a combination skill. It combines two Arm Lock maneuvres to enable the martial arts to lock both arms of an opponent.

Counter "X" Lock

Skill Points: 1
Prerequisites: Escape Lock; see below
Body Parts: see below
Difficulty: Hard
Initiative Modifier: See below
Ability: THAC0
Base Damage: special

This is a combination skill. It combines the Escape Lock and an any lock skill of Easy difficulty (such as Arm Lock, Leg Lock or Bear Hug). The largest initiative modifier is used.

Flying Kick

Skill Points: 1
Prerequisites: Leap; Kick
Body Parts: L,L
Difficulty: Average
Ability: THAC0 (Strength+Dexterity)
Initiative Modifier: 4
Base Damage: 2

This is a combination skill. It combines the Leap and Kick maneuvres. If the leap is very long (see Leap) a strength+dexterity check must also succeed in order to execute the maneuvre.

Incapacitating Circle Kick

Skill Points: 1
Prerequisites: Incapacitating Touch; Circle Kick
Body Parts: L,L
Difficulty: Formidable
Ability: THAC0
Initiative Modifier: 8
Base Damage: 1d4+1

This is a combination skill. It combines the incapacitating touch and circle kick skills.

Leg Sweep

Skill Points: 1
Prerequisites: Tackle, Kick
Body Parts: L,L
Difficulty: Average
Ability: THAC0
Initiative Modifier: 8
Base Damage: 2

This is a combination skill. It combines the tackle and kick skills. The martial artist used a hard kick to sweep the legs from under his opponent, damaging him and dropping him to the ground.

Package

Skill Points: 1
Prerequisites: Arm Lock; Leg Lock
Body Parts: A,A,L,L
Difficulty: Hard
Ability: THAC0
Initiative Modifier: 6
Base Damage: 1

This is a combination skill. It combines two Arm Lock and a Leg Lock maneuvre. It is useful to prevent an opponent from using an free arm and immobilzing him at the same time.

Pain Punch

Skill Points: 1
Prerequisites: Pain Touch, Punch
Body Parts: A
Difficulty: Average
Ability: THAC0
Initiative Modifier: 6
Base Damage: 1

This is a combination skill. With this maneuver, the martial artist expertly punches his opponents in sensitive places, causing him pain and damage.

Piledriver

Skill Points: 1
Prerequisites: Head Lock; Hurl
Body Parts: A,A,L,L
Difficulty: Formidable
Ability: THAC0
Initiative Modifier: 10
Base Damage: 1d4

This is a combination skill. With this highly skilled maneuver, the martial artist lifts up his opponent, locks his opponents head between his knees and then drops himself to the ground, drilling his opponent’s head into the floor while choking him.

Weapon Catch

Skill Points: 1
Prerequisites: Block; Disarm
Body Parts: A,L,L
Difficulty: Hard
Ability: THAC0
Initiative Modifier: N/A
Base Damage: N/A

This is a combination skill. With this highly dangerous maneuver, the martial artist attempts to intercept an opponents weapon with his bare hands, not only blocking the attack, but also trying to grab the weapon. Similar to the Block maneuver, there is no initiative modifier as the martial artist is waiting on initiative. The martial artists’ opponent roll first, determining the armor class hit. The martial artist then rolls to hit this armor class. If this second to hit roll is made, his armor class is lowered by four places and the martial artist has succesfully grabbed the weapon. Note that this might still be insufficient to succesfully block the attack and prevent the damage - placing your hands in the path of a sword can be a dangerous business. The martial artists’ opponent can try to break free as if breaking a lock, or he can just drop his weapon and draw another. If he tries to break free and loses such a contest, however, the martial artist disarms him.

Back to Unarmed Combat Rules

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