Suggestion: Martial Arts and Weapons

I think we can all agree that Mike Tyson would be MORE dangerous with a knife than not. Even if he’s never experienced using one before the moment he decided to aim it your way. He’s still going to be moving well, blocking well and using that empty hand of his.

Or that Musashi historically could out-swordfight you with an oar from his boat.

To that effect, I’d recommend moving away from ‘martial arts weapons’ vs ‘non-martial arts weapons’ as they are now. I’ll explain.

Bare Hands, fist-weapons and those that define a style (Fencing, Silat, Niten Ichi-Ryu) have access to all of the techniques. (With the caveat weapon based martial arts should care much, much less about what weapon you’re using. A crowbar isn’t a bokken, but you wouldn’t be clueless in how to use it like one.)

Anything you can wield in one hand still lets you mix in arm / leg blocks, specific set-ups and dodges, movement related abilities, clinches, trips, throws, kicks, etc. Anything you could imagine a practitioner pulling off with one arm free and the other less so. Maybe lower the weight of them going off, and over-ride certain attack-techniques with just those inherent to the held weapon.

Anything that’s taking up BOTH your hands is much more limiting. Movement options, dodges and certain fake outs / set ups might still work. At this point you’re pretty much brawling if you don’t know your way around what you’re swinging at someone.

Miyamoto Musashi and Mike Tyson had high melee skills and excellent stats, and could easily drop back to brawling mid-fight to do something like you’ve described. They would be very good at that and it would be very effective. Musashi probably knew Jiujutsu, Iaido, Kenjutsu, and maybe some other stuff. He didn’t just sit there in Niten all day.

You can’t box with a knife because the boxing attacks are punches. You go to punch school and learn punching, and you do that with your fists. You can only get the benefit of doing the punches when you’re punching, with your fists.

Martial arts aren’t intended to be something you turn on and leave on all the time. You’re supposed to be switching as the situation dictates. That they introduce a level of thinking and strategy into an otherwise simple roguelike combat system is what makes them fun. On my last run for instance I used a quarterstaff and silat for rank and file zombies, then I’d switch to brawling and QS for very tough enemies. If I needed to use a gun I’d go to Taekwondo and if I was playing defensively (IE running away or trying to regain stamina) I would drop my weapon and use Aikido. It would be stupid if somehow Silat was the key for every lock and could be used with every weapon.

This aspect could be improved upon by giving the player acces to certain moves if you know the right martial arts and/or high enough skill. These moves would be things that have some tactical value in a fight. From very basic things like pushing (to throwing for super strong mutant or cyborg) a enemy away from you or into something hazardous to being skilled enough to trip up a opponent or experienced enough not to bother punching a skeleton but try bashing it’s head into the wall or pavement instead.

Martial arts already have that. Even brawling has that.

As far as I’m aware there isn’t any way to manually activate any spicific technique of a martial arts. It seems like it is just up to chance if a technique triggers or if the contitions for it to trigger arize during melee. So if you want to push a zombie into a pit you can’t do so manually but just have to hope that the appropriate technique or attack activates.

You’re not supposed to be able use a specific technique on command. What would be the point if you could just stop thrust with every weapon in the game? Triggers do arise during melee or unarmed but sometimes you need a step-up for that. For example, Niten needs you to stand still and wait a turn in order to get its buffs so you can do a massive crit, and you lose those bonuses the moment you start to move. On the contrary, you get a bonus to dodge if you move while using boxing.

Using Niten techniques with a crowbar or similar weapon makes zero sense. The crowbar is very front-heavy while katanas and the like are pretty well balanced, they’re focused on cutting or slicing vital areas to do damage. If you’re worried about your martial arts skills not carrying over to sub-optimal or different weapons, what about “pretending” that those skills carry over with your stats. For example, you can’t jab properly with a knife in your hand, but you can pretend that you dodge using a boxing stance because your actual dodge skill is high.

You can’t control the crowbar as well as you could with a sword and even if you could use different martial art techniques and bind them to your keys, what would be the point of using anything else if you can just mash one button and use the ultimate technique for a corresponding martial art? There would be no balance in the game if you can just train until level 5 and spam a key bind to launch nothing but scorpion kick or stop thrust for example.

In any case, if you want any of these suggestions to be made I suggest that you take the time out of your day and make it yourself, I’m sure the devs would love that you remade their martial art system so other players could have the choice of using your mod or the default. If you can’t do that, don’t expect the devs and contributors to immediately drop whatever they’re working on and work on your suggestion, since what you’re proposing is big and would take a lot of time to implement.

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IIRC there’s also the fact that many high-tier martial arts skills trigger on criticals; if your melee/weapon/unarmed skill is high enough there’s a chance that you’ll simple mow down hordes of zombies quite easily. In a late late-game character I basically used a naginata and Silat to clear those pesky park/garden hordes with ease. Didn’t even have to look if/which techniques were triggering.
There’s also the “realism” aspect of martial arts - I (fortunately) never have had to brawl in my life, but it’d make sense that full complete rational planning goes out of the window, especially in a mass brawl. Some incomplete rationality is possible, but not chess-level “he’s going to get close enough in .5s for me to go full tomoe nage on his ass” rationality. Even though in game mechanics time stops for the player, diegetically for the character the fight is ongoing; the “randomness” weighed by skill represent/simulate the PC’s ability to “sense” openings and opportunities for the techniques and their ability to react fast to them.

In a more propositive note, one could - with time and patience - turn all martial arts into “magic” schools, using Magiclysm’s system, with the “techniques” as spells, a stamina cost (or other “focus” sort of point-cost) and success chance based on how much one trained them. I’m not going to take this project, since I have neither time nor will to do so, but it’s an idea to make the player able to activate skills “on-demand”.
I personally think it’d make mass combat a borefest, too long to be enjoyable, and very munchkin-like, but It could make it possible to make an “Arena/Kumite” mode, haha.

To clarify, the core of this suggestion wasn’t to be able to use X move from Y martial art on demand. (As I agree that outside of a controlled setting, you do what you can / when you can.)

The thought was to address what I see as a bit of gamey-ness, in that PCs lose access to certain techniques that they honestly shouldn’t just from having the wrong weapon in their hands.

Brawling is a nice stopgap, and a great milestone for people who didn’t pick a fighting system at creation / loot the right dojos. But, to a degree, most martial arts should have a bit of ‘brawling’ baked in.

My response was more to spicyshadow’s comment, the “ability to push” one; as for cross-using MA techniques, I think the “gaminess” aspect of having brawling as the only alternative for doing so is acceptable, weighed against the “gaminess” of having weapon-based MAs able to use most weapons and unarmed techniques activating with one-handed weapons or things like that.
My problem with this “wider” applicability of MAs is that many of their techniques involve whole-body movements - or at least “limb + hips” movement, and interfering with that by adding weight and/or pointy/blady bits that one’d have to watch out for would make them much less effective; also in armed MAs there’s the point Rot made, weight and balance are important factors for many weapon techniques to the point that they’re not wholely interchangeable.
I think that’d made many buffs viable over the board, but not specific techniques; either that or adding some buffs to brawling owing to high levels in unarmed, simulating extra dodge/block attempts from various techniques; this would make high-level brawling somewhat like a Jeet Kune Do thing, I guess.

I suppose an alternative would be to have brawling pick up bits and pieces of the other martial arts you’ve learned. Seeing as it is the self-taught martial art vs. the others being established systems.

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