Combat Master Report #11: Everybody was Kung-Fu Fighting...

  

Combat Master Report #11: Everybody was Kung-Fu Fighting...

...HU!... HAH!

Those loth-cats were fast as lightning!

lothcat

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As you might have guessed, this report will mostly focus on the Martial Arts Form (formerly known as Hand to Hand Guide) revamp. I will break down what we have changed, why it was changed, and how it will affect your existing and future Character Sheets.

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Martial Arts

kungfupanda

(No Wally, that’s the wrong “Po” and not even related to Star Wars.)

(Okay, fine. Here is Star Wars.)

swkungfu

Martial Arts Forms (2.0)

Martial Arts Forms 2.0 has been completed.

You can view the Wookipedia article here.

shadowfist

The templates were made by Alaris, and the awesome sketch-art featured for each form was done by Zehsaa! She will be finishing up the work, and they will be updated as she gets to them!

I’m really happy with how everything came out, as this started from me drawing something on a piece of paper and showing it to people. I’d like to thank everyone that had a hand in making this project possible. I will be highlighting the members who received merit awards for their work in the next section. For now, I will try and shed some light on the reason for the changes that were made, and the thought process behind the decisions.

Character Sheet Updates - Invalid Tag

With this change, a lot of Character Sheets are going to need to be updated.

To summarize how this works on the backend:

  1. Any Character Sheet with a form that has been removed will be marked as "Invalid". This can be easily remedied by creating a copy of you current sheet, and then updating the Martial Arts Form field with the drop-down selector.

  2. Any Character Sheet with a non-removed form will not see any changes and have already been updated with the new names. It is the responsibility of you, the members, to make sure the form you have selected still matches your Character's preference.

Design challenges and methodology

When working with the Martial Arts Forms, we had a slightly different challenge than the Lightsaber Forms article. With Lightsaber Forms, we adapted off of the larger Lightsaber Guide (that had recently been updated) and were basically just paring down and refining the information for members to have easy access to clear and detailed explanations of the forms themselves.

With Martial Arts Forms, we had the distinct challenge of not having any existing source material to really work off of. The previously published Hand to Hand Guide featured requirements that tied into our old character sheet system, and a lot of the material was either made up, or based on EU/non-canon material. Beyond that, most of the forms only had 1-2 paragraphs (if that) for their Wookipedia entries. With so little to work off, and a more easy reference with the cinematic canon (The Clone Wars, Rebels, Episodes 1-7) and the new novels/comics, we decided to try and simplify things where we could while creating as many ties to new canon material as possible.

On top of this, a lot of work had already gone into a Hand to Hand Guide revamp. This project was headed originally by the former Grand Master, and during the transition to a new Grand Master and new Voice, executive decisions were made to try and take a fresh look at how we handled Hand to Hand combat within our Character Sheet system.

The decision was to treat Hand to Hand similarly to how we handled Lightsaber Forms. I was fortunate enough to retain the services of Rhace (Mirus) and Arden, who were a big hand in helping convert the existing information from the previous Google Documentation to my new vision/outline. With their help, we created the first draft of the forms re-write. From there, we addressed a series of concerns and obstacles that we worked through.

Naming

Everyones knows my feeling on names, and how they have power. In this case, though, why change the names? After discussion with the Grand Master, the team agreed that some of the names could be made to tie more into the new Star Wars canon. We also wanted to simplify the selection process, and make the names easier to remember/relate. In the end, you’ll see that we actually only changed the names of 6 forms. The other 5 remained the same. We were able to compress the total list, and in doing so were able to find compromise. This effort was a tag-team effort from multiple members of the Brotherhood and was not just limited to the ACC/Voice staffs.

What I mean to say is, while some might not be super happy, this was a team-effort and involved a lot of discussion and compromise.

Real Life Martial Arts

I watch a lot of action movies. So, while I might not have any real-life training in Martial Arts, I have a pretty good idea about how they are used fictitiously :D. That said, you’ll notice that each Form relates to a real-life Martial Arts Form. The idea was for you, as writers, to be able to draw from an established style from the real-world as a reference for writing fictional combat with your characters. Since we don’t have a lot of Star Wars material to reference, we figured this was the best way to be helpful with getting an idea of how to write them.

Weapons Integration?

This came up a lot, and ultimately we decided to keep things simple. How you use your Martial Arts From in conjunction with your existing weapons is ultimately up to you. If you want it to be defined, you can create a Combat Aspect around it, but otherwise the Forms are simple ways of explaining and detailing the style behind your character’s Primary/Secondary Martial Arts forms.

Check out the Feats for creative ways that Weapons can be included into Martial Arts Forms as well.

New Forms, Same Forms, Removed Forms

I was going to try and break this down within the report itself using Markdown, but got frustrated quickly and decided to just make a Google Sheet instead. The following chart breaks down the changes made for the Martial Arts Forms. I also included a box that should shed a bit of light into my thought process in discussing and making decisions with the ACC/Voice Teams and the DGM/GM.

maexaplined

New Feats!

Like we did with Dun Moch and Trakata, we took some of the existing forms and workshopped them into Feats. These Feats can modify how Primary and Secondary Martial Arts Forms function.

Check out the new Feats on the Wiki here.

Future-Proofing

So, I know not everyone is going to be super excited or pleased with how much we changed. Can’t make everyone happy. However, this project has had input from members all across the club, from varying units and varying teams. On the whole, feedback has been positive, but let me know if you have questions or concerns in the comments below linked to the Discourse forums!

The good news is, at the very least, that the Martial Arts Forms have been set up to be easily revisable for the future. As with most things in our CS System, the DB will adapt to new things introduced into Star Wars canon. With that in mind, when we find out more information in a novel, or a comic, or the new films, we will do our best to retroactively update and tweak our existing documentation. Future CMs or Voices will have an easy way of editing the really cool templates that were created without having to reinvent a wheel.

My hope is that all of these changes will make writing unarmed combat for your characters easier in not just the ACC, but across the board in your fictions and Run-Ons and other ventures!

New EXAM!

Member Adem Bol'era worked with me to create a new Martial Arts: Forms Studies exam. Special thanks to Adem for working under my self-imposed deadline and executing swiftly. Marcus and I went in and finalized the admin, and you can check it out HERE in the Combat Writing halls of the Shadow Academy.

This is a brand new exam. If you took the old Hand to Hand exam, it will not count towards this. That said, please let us know what you think of the new exam! Any feedback, typos, notes, send them to: [Log in to view e-mail addresses], [Log in to view e-mail addresses], and [Log in to view e-mail addresses] so we can take a look.

Recognition

Everyone that has done project work for me, as Combat Master, has been awarded and taken care of.

Atra Ventus -- Awarded a Grand Cross for his work as my right hand man. ACC Judge, P:Voice, Atra does it all and I don’t think I’d have been able to keep things running as smoothly as I have without his assistance.


Alethia Archenksova -- Awarded a Grand Cross for being awesome, but more specifically from my angle a great Judge and helpful contributor to various ACC projects.


A’lora Kituri -- Awarded a Steel Cross for his lead project work on the new Venues.


Rhace Tarrin -- Awarded a Steel Cross for his work on Martial Arts Forms 2.0.


Arden Karn -- Awarded a Anteian Cross for his work on Martial Arts Forms 2.0.


Korroth -- Awarded a Dark Cross for Wikipedia article clean up, editing, and other improvemens to ACC documentaiton including the Martial Arts Forms and Lightsaber Forms pages.


K’tana -- Awarded a Dark Cross for her work helping proofread and edit the Venues 2.5 documents.


I’m including this section in my report for a few reasons. One, I think that recognition for work is the most important part of being a producing member of the Brotherhood. Second, I want to remind everyone that if I rope you into doing work for me (as Combat Master) I will do everything in my power to make sure your efforts are rewarded. This can mean handing out individual merits (like with Korroth and K’tana’s DC’s) for the completion of small but important tasks, or it could mean that I work with your respective Clan leadership to help elevate or support a bigger award (like Archen’s GC).

There is always work to be done. If you are looking for work, drop me a line and I will try my best to find something for you.

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Development Projects

Here is a quick snapshot of the other projects I am overseeing and working on:

  • NPC Examples Character Sheets (like Finn) -- Work in Progress
  • Non-Force User Disciplines -- Work In Progress
  • We have also set to working on a new Lightsaber Combat Guide -- Drafting Stages

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Journeyman Tourney

The Journeyman Tourney continues into the Semi-Finals. The final four are already in the heat of their battles, and will bring us one step closer to declaring the Journeyman Champion!

Check out the Semi-Finals newspost to follow the matches!

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NFUs and Lightsabers

So, a question popped up in the creation of the Lightsaber Combat Exam, and then got brought up this morning on Telegram in [DB Chat - Log in to view join link].

Question: How do we handle a Non-Force User wielding a Lightsaber?

We updated the documentation on the Lightsaber Forms and Lightsaber Codex pages to read as follows:

Despite being the weapons of Force users, Lightsabers are made available to all members of the Club, whether or not they are aligned to the dark side or the light. **As with any other weapon, Non-Force Users are able to wield the fabled weapon in combat with the following caveats:

  1. NFUs that choose to wield a Lightsaber in combat are restricted to their skill with Melee Weapon Skills (Bladed, Blunt). Having no training in Lightsaber Forms, and without access to the Force itself, their skills are limited to standard strikes and exchanges relative to their Melee Weapon Skills (1-5). It would be no different than wielding a glowing sword or stick that happens to cut through things. This would give a Non Force User a significant edge against other Non-Force Users, but will still ultimately fall short of a Jedi trained in Lightsaber Forms.

  2. Lightsaber Forms grant a Force User the ability to better use their unique weapon. The Forms and training in them adds philosophy, techniques, and a multitude of other advantages that lend an edge in combat with a lightsaber. This brings with it its own level of proficiency in wielding the weapon.

  3. Even for a Force User with no points in Lightsaber Forms, their proficiency will be limited without the training and techniques of a Lightsaber Form(s).

In layman terms, this means that if you are a Non-Force User with +4 in Bladed Weapons, and you pick up a lightsaber to wield as a weapon, you can use it effectively as if it were a glowy sword that cuts through most matter it meets. That said, you would still be limited to techniques that were designed for conventional bladed weapons such as daggers and swords. When matched up with a Force User who has training with Lightsabers and a respective Form(s), the Force User will probably hold an edge when combined with their supernatural ability to use things like Precognition and Amplification in conjunction with their Lightsaber.

banefail

A good example pops up when Cad Bane fights Obi-Wan and Vos during an episode of The Clone Wars. He manages to steal a lightsaber from Obi-Wan mid duel, is able to parry three times, but then is quickly disarmed by Obi-Wan, who we know throughout his career to be a very capable saber duelist.

prevmaul

At the same time, we see Pre Vizsla take on Darth Maul in single combat (The Clone Wars). Without giving away too much, Pre is a beast and fights like a boss but, he still ends up losing. This is a good case where a Force User had an upper-hand in the end based on their training with the weapon and the techniques that come with it. You can also discern that Precognition and Amplification play a part. Also keep in mind that Pre Vizsla is a pretty unique character, and would probably be considered an Elder+ in our Character Sheet system.

Beyond that, for a more recent example, you can look at the fight between Finn and Kylo Ren at the end of the Force Awakens.

While First Order troopers seem to be trained in all kinds of weaponry, Finn excelled in Blasters and prefers them above anything else. He is able to wield Luke’s lightsaber with enough skill to keep Ren busy for a while. In the end, even while injured, you can see the expertise and deftness in Kylo’s saber-technique.

As for how Rey is able to “defeat” him, that’s something we’re going to have to wait for Episode 8 to find out more about just who Rey is and IF she was trained as a youngling with lightsabers and was “remembering” how to use it. Hooray for subtext and fan theory!

Do You Want To Kill Some Jedi?

(They don’t have to be Jedi...okay bye.)

We’ve had a few conversations pop up in regards to NFUs fighting Force Users. Clearly, Force Users are revered and unique because of their latent space-magic abilities. General Grievous is a bad example, as he is a very unique creation within the Star Wars universe, but we do see A LOT of Non-Force Users kicking butt in Star Wars when matched up against Force Users. Cad Banefights off Obi-Wan and Vos at the same time, and of course Jango Fett dueling Obi Wan on Kamino to an impasse.

In these cases, you see the NFUs use technology, physics, the environment, and other tricks to help match up against a Force User. We can still use the items we do permit creatively and uniquely. Same goes for lightsaber-resistant materials. You can't have super-lightsaber resistant power-armor with a hundred-different utilities, but you can get some pretty cool items like alchemically treated Sith Daggers by advancing in certain societies, participating in certain activities, and earning special awards like sacs.

Meatbags

While KOTOR isn’t canon, it is still firmly rooted in Star Wars history and lore. And for the most part, HK-47 is scarily on point. Check out the video clip of HK-47 explaining how he would go about assassinating Jedi.

(Props to Kordath for sharing the video with me and reminding me how much I loved HK-47).

My favorite line is:

“Select grenades, sonic screemers, cluster rockets, and plasma charges. Mines are also effective, since Jedi will run to meet you in hand to hand combat. Silly Jedi.”

Taking away from this, he mentions overwhelming Jedi with superior numbers. He even coyly hints at being betrayed by their own soldiers (Order 66).

Kordath summed it pretty nicely:

Disorient, concussive weapons, sonics, anything that can throw them off balance. Distract, give them multiple targets, threaten something they'll want to protect. Disintegrate, if you're just gonna get one hit in, may as well make it count. Drain, every time a Force sensitive has to use powers, it will affect then over time, fatiguing the target, draw out the fight and have patience.”

In summary, you can use the 5 Ds when fighting Jedi: Disintegrate, Disorient, Distract, Drain, and... Disintegrate!

No matter how powerful the Force makes Force Users, they are still bound by the laws and principles of physics and their material bodies. Gravity can be just as deadly as Force Lighting. So, the next time you NFU’s feel intimidated by fighting Force Users, just remember HK-47 doesn’t make excuses. Neither should you. Be like HK-47, meatbags.

There’s a GIF For That!

Atra and I ran a fun little competition to generate some animated GIFs from the Character Sheet System. You can see the reuslts here, but congratulations to Xeipha, Vyr, and Zoron for coming in 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place respectively!

I wanted to share a few of the GIFs I liked, and point out where some of the other ones might lead to misconceptions of powers.

dualwieldpewpew

By: Xeipha

runandgun

By: Zoron

darthjarjar

Props to Yacks for highlighting Darth Jar Jars (alleged!) use of Amplification

I’m a very visual person, so while I’m very confident in the write-ups and descriptions we have for the CS mechanics, it’s always fun to pull visual references from SW media. Hopefully everyone had fun with this, but let me know what you guys thought.

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You can find an archive of my previous Combat Master reports HERE. These reports contain a lot of helpful information, so if you’re a new or returning member, I’d suggest leafing through them.

ACC Links

ACC Exams

I just wanted to add a quick update on the new ACC Match Extension policy I outlined in my last update.

The changes we implemented seem to be working to satisfaction. We have cut down on notifications on the admin end while giving members an easier way to communicate over match-extension times. We are also seeing fewer matches closing and needing to be re-opened, which helps keep the MAA from throwing shoes and other odds and ends at the ACC Staff. Thank you everyone for jumping on board with these changes so quickly. I am glad to see so many active battles making an effort to extend and then finish rather than time out.

Anyway, that’s all for now. Leave your thoughts or concerns in the comments below and I’ll do my best to answer them.

Thank you.

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