The Solution To The Martial Arts Problem

I’ve been thinking about how to make martial arts more accessible, but also gated- considering some are powerful enough that you would designate your whole build around it from the beginning of the game.

I was considering the idea of making the manuals far more common- putting them in libraries, as possible drops in houses, as drops in fitness basements, drops in gyms in mansions, and in fitness gyms- but also changing the way in which they are learned to a proficiency or series of proficiencies.

The only thing you get from reading the manual is access to the martial art (beginner) practice. This allows you to access a third of the martial art’s skills- assuming you also have the required melee or unarmed. Possibly once beginner is mastered you can also train (intermediate).

I think the (advanced) tier of a martial art should be only able to be taught to you by an NPC or learned through trial and error of fighting using it- something all of these tiers could be unlocked through after reading the manual and getting access to the most basic understanding of the martial art in question.

The downsides are that this would take a lot longer to learn, but the upside is that you’d have more access to a martial art later in the game and they would follow player progression a bit more steadily. Additionally it’s a bit more realistic to be able to read about the basics of a martial art in a handful of other places than a semi-rare building. Plenty of martial arts texts can be found in the local library.

This would mean that the traits at the creation screen would become more like backgrounds either taking you to intermediate of even advanced- implying you worked to become a blackbelt before the apocalypse.

Finally, instead of calling it (beginner) (intermediate) (advanced) it could follow the belt system or something more appropriate for each martial art.

What do you guys think of this? Thank you for coming to my Ted talk.

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I don’t think Martial Arts should be accessible via manuals/books at all, period.

It would be nice to have an NPC that would teach you certain martial arts, but it should be limited to “a handful” of tricks, at the very best.

If the game is still to remain based in realism (while we disregard all the paranormal and multidimensional stuff that’s going on), learning any sort of Martial Arts takes years. In game, it’s something that a player character would need at least 3 or 4 seasons to reach an intermediate stage of if they didn’t start with the proficiency/skill from their “pre-cataclysm” life.

Of course for the “ancient” things (like the Barbarian thing for example) where it’s unlikely someone in New England knows of, you could potentially learn one or two skills from reading a book, but that’s about it. Although this also raises the question of how many people in New England actually know the variety of martial arts that the game offers for a player to choose - and this is probably a bit of data that won’t be easy to find. How many people in New England (real life) know Pankration or Medieval Swords mastery, two “martial arts” that were never a thing in the USA to begin with?

All of what I said, of course, if we base everything out of reality and discard fun entirely. Having the choice as to how you want to play the game should the be priority, but I am just a player, so take it with a grain of salt I suppose.

I read “knowing the all the tricks available in the martial art” as reading the basic kata and becoming familiar with it via trial and error. Each of the martial arts is 5-6 moves and some basic blocks. Which if that’s taken 1:1 that’s a very limited understanding of a martial art.

It seems more like reading a manual is picking up some tips and tricks for the basics and ideas on the more advanced techniques and then learning the muscle memory to complete them. This becomes immediately unrealistic when you have 5 in unarmed and 5 in melee and you learn a new martial art and suddenly master it after reading a handful of techniques.

I agree though, learning a martial art should take longer and should be something the player focuses on through use, practice, and strength training. This can be modeled in the proficiency system better, I think. Additionally- these may benefit from milestones if it’s possible to implement. Something like killing a hulk unarmed using a style built to take down larger opponents, killing a bio-operator with a style that is more about skill or dexterity, killing a blackbear using a barbarian-focused style. This would also add a quest element that may benefit progression.

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Martial arts could need proficiencies, like opening locks I.e.
That way they could be progressively trained

Absolutely. That’s definitely the basis for what I’m suggesting.

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From my experience with martial arts it would probably be possible to learn a martial arts or something close enough to it if the manual was detailed enough. You just have to try the techniques on some opponents (living or undead) enough times untill you can do them. You also have to keep in mind that the basics of most martial arts are the same with regards to footwork, dodging and having basic coordination. Tbese are things that a experienced fighter like your survivor has already learned though experience.

Learning it on your own would probably require you to practise on your own for a while before knowing the techniques enough to try them on an opponent. Then you practice them enought in actual combat until you can pull them off regularly.

I’m a little bit for the proficiency system. As someone who has been practicing different types of martial arts since I was little I’ll put in my two cents on the subject.

Martial arts doesn’t take years to learn, it takes years to fully master.
Mastery is a shaky subject because in what way do we consider you to be a master?
You know all the karate kata? You’re the best taekwondo gold medalist in the world? You’re a 10-dan kendo master? You’re the champion MMA fighter in your weight class?

Speaking from experience you can learn a martial art, at least being proficient in the basics within a week. After learning the basics, you continuously practice, refine your techniques, get your body used to the techniques and find out what works for you and what you need work on.

The problem is training the technique in an improper way, or having no way of being able to train certain moves without a willing participant.
There’s also a difference between practical and theoretical combat experience.

One can know the basics of say, kendo, and apply that baseline knowledge to murdering zombies, or a 3-Dan master can apply their experience in practicing in a dojo to murdering zombies but they would obviously be ahead of just some person who read a book and practiced a bit before going outside and chopping heads off.

The real main difference between the two is the starting point of their familiarity with being kinesthetically aware of their weapon and body.
When I first started kendo it was really awkward to swing a bokken around, but after a couple days I really got the hang of how to properly hold, swing and apply my prior experience of swinging and utilizing my entire body in the motion because I already learned what it felt like to do so when I was practicing boxing and learning how to throw a cross.
Someone who just started would need to first go through the learning hoops of properly using the full extent of their body, and that can only really be done by practice and knowing what to look for. This can be extended toward other fighting styles that are similar in nature, like FEMA and Kendo, or Muay Thai and kickboxing.
A self taught person in the situation of CDDA doesn’t have the luxury of having an instructor or mentor to practice with either.

There’s also the matter of different styles of unarmed combat as well as the different situations to use it. Is it grappling or striking?
If you’re striking, do you use knees and elbows? What kind of stance are you using? Are kicks allowed? How do you punch?
If you’re grappling, what’s your stance? Is it submission based or based on throws? Is your opponent clothed, standing, or crouching?
There’s also considerations on how striking is easier to learn and practice than throws or other grappling techniques that aren’t just redirections you find in aikido.

Honestly as someone who played the game since circa 2013, aka since 0.A, the martial art system has been nice but almost always situational. What really frustrates me was that passives couldn’t be used on other martial art styles even though they should be universal. If you learned ukemi techniques from judo you should be able to apply them if you’re getting launched by a zombie hulk if you were in a Muay Thai stance.
CDDA needs a more dynamic system in my opinion, and honestly letting the player pick and choose their own mixed martial art style or build it themselves like in Absolver would be really cool.
There’s a lot more going on about this, but as it stands the complexity of adding this would need a lot of work in order for martial arts to be improved, which I doubt the team or any volunteer would want to take up.

Your post intrigued me and left me wondering about a possible fix to the martial arts system.

Firstly I’ll say my knowledge of martial arts extends out to roughly zero. I know there are numerous types/styles and some are much more aggressive but that’s about where my real world knowledge ends. The idea that multiple techniques are fairly universal from one style to the next, a basic punch is a punch and moving your head out of range is a dodge (I’m assuming) made me wonder if an in-game solution might look something like the following:

During char creation, instead of choosing ninjitsu or tiger style or the hit you in the shoulder and your bowels fall out style, you could choose a generic “Martial Combat” option. If you’re not making a fighting type, don’t choose it and your character could still fight with brawling or no style, possibly even being quite good just brawling.

If you -do- choose the Martial Combat option, perhaps you pick a beginning style that would be the foundation of your fighting abilities, but through practice or actual use in fighting, your character would have the chance to randomly branch & learn a technique from another style.

For example, your survivor is punching, kicking and chopping away at a zombie and because of the situation, maybe they have to stand a little differently or throw a kick differently because of how the zombie moved. This proved to be effective even though it isn’t how their base style normally does it. Poof, your survivor began to learn the stomp the toenail until their arm falls off technique from whatever style normally associates with it.

Over the course of your character’s story, they would start out with certain moves but with few to no trainers to work with, adaptability would slowly lead them into a blended style that incorporates certain moves/skills from across the spectrum of martial arts styles… sort of like how Neo began mixing styles in The Matrix (minus the metal spike into the back of your head obviously).

Again, this is just my notion on how the current system could be reimplemented, and I haven’t the slightest clue how to code it, but just my thoughts on the matter. Thoughts? Suggestions? Comments?

Isn’t general ability at throwing a punch and dodging a punch already represented via unarmed and dodging?

I was thinking more of a way to choose your own martial art techniques and have passives run across the board or be generalized when you do specific techniques, like having a variety of flavor text appear depending on whether your opponent is larger than you or not, and varying between say, a high kick versus a low roundhouse or a stomp or knee.
There’s also the issue of what kind of stance you’ll take. Will you have an open stance like in taekwondo or will you be more squared off like in Muay Thai? Will you crouch low like freestyle wrestling?
Best thing I can think of is to allow a player to modify the brawling style (and still get it at level 2) into a custom style that picks different techniques, stances and whatnot from all the styles they know.
That way for instance they can go use a stun from one martial art, use a move from another style that does bonus damage against stunned or downed enemies, and then have a crit from another.
For example, boxing upper cut for stun, Krav Maga bone breaker, and scorpion kung fu stinger kick with an open taekwondo-like side stance for better dodge and movement.

This might sound heretical, but what if the martial arts as we know it now where you need to choose what MA you’ll be using to fight is just did away with? I may be stupid in thinking this, but I feel like making the techniques tied to proficiency instead of an MA category would be much more fluid, it would probably make a character OP, someday, but that would be after much hard work since the Proficiency system is tied to doing things more than anything.

In addition, it might actually enable NPCs to use martial arts, that would be really cool in my opinion.

If the game is still to remain based in realism

Bear in mind that there is a tension between “making something vaguely resemble the effort it would take in real life” and “having something that could reasonably be used by people who have no desire to press buttons for hours just to be able to punch slightly better”. It’s the same tension we resolve by allowing people to jury-rig laser weapons without an engineering degree, a multimillion dollar fab unit, and a full production team of hundreds of people.

I’d also like to add a move towards proficiencies could be useful for the skill rust issue. Here’s an example of the problem:

My PC knows Krav Maga. I have 4 unarmed. While using a combat knife I increase piercing weapons- not unarmed. My unarmed rusts over time even though I’m using the skill. I get worse at using the combat knife with Krav Maga despite doing it frequently just because it doesn’t level the right thing.

This is the case for every “armed” martial art that doesn’t rely primarily on Melee for its skills.