Sunday, October 20, 2019

Wiki Showcase: Sefelka Sonostra, the Fell Form as Martial Arts Power-Up

When it came to the Non-Maradonian Forms, the Furious Form or the Fell Form came in dead last with zero points, matching the Swift Form in the Snap Poll for martial arts they personally would use as PCs.  Like the Swift Form, I suspect this is because most players see it as a background form: something an NPC would take, rather than themselves.  Where the Swift Form is iconic for the Maradonian Duelist, the Fell Form is iconic of the Ranathim Satemo of the Umbral Rim.

The Fell Form has been with us since Iteration 4 when I first put together martial arts.  Originally, I called it "Rim Force Swordsmanship," as I saw it as the way "Rim Knights" might fight.  Since then, I've given them "the Bastard Form," and when I wrote Domen Sonostrum, the Cult of the Lord of Rage.  Since then, I've increasingly pictured this as a "Ranathim" style, this very distinct form unique to the Umbral Rim.

My original inspiration for the form was, of course, the way Ahsoka Tano fights.  Her reverse grip lightsabers and her acrobatics and her kicks created a very distinct and visually pleasing style.  Like Count Dooku or Yoda, it represented a form you could point to and say "That's a specific way of fighting." Of course, in Star Wars, it actually isn't (she evidently mingles some elements of Shien, or Form V, with Ataru, or Form IV), but I can make it so.

While building the style, though, I found it really profited from certain elements.  I originally considered giving it Brawl (it was, after all, originally a street style) and giving the Destructive Form Karate, but the Destructive Form turned into the "form of being really strong," while the various elements of the Fell Form, from its acrobatics to its stealth, really made it something more DX-based.  Furthermore, a lot of its elements really profited from Karate: reverse grip let the practitioner use force swords in Close Combat at no attack penalty, and less of a defense penalty if they used karate, and if we're going to emphasize close combat strikes to stun and disorient our opponents, then kicks and sweeps make sense.  The net result is a style that turns every aspect of the fighter into a weapon: his feet, his fists, his blades, even his head!  I liked that niche, and an interesting variation on the Fell Form would be to replace the +2 Force Sword in the Master level with +2 Karate.  I'm not sure how many players would go for it, but with the Reverse Grip, it could be lethal!

As it became less of a street style and more "Taijutsu with Force Swords," I began to think of it as an assassin's style, and to more strongly associate it with the Ranathim.  So, naturally, I drew a connection between the association of the style with a "rage cult," and Form VII's (Juyo's) association with anger.  Why not give them a bonus when angry? I patterned it on Passionate Psi which is, itself, patterned on Drunken Fighting (though Drunken Fighting really requires you to accept penalties to everything else; it's not a free +2 to fighting; I've added something similar to Raging Warrior and I will add something similar to Passionate Psi). The result is a very "Sith Assassin" style, which fits the Ranathim nicely.

Finally, I shifted the original "Fell Frenzy" into a secret.  It may or may not be "secret," but All-Out Attacks are usually a bad idea in a force sword duel, so I've couched it in a lot of cautionary notes and given it some special powers that make it a "berserker's art."

If you're cribbing notes for a Star Wars conversion, note that this form might provide ideas for Form V, the Shien variant, Form III (Ataru) and Form VII (Juyo; you're on your own figuring out how to get Raging Warrior to work with the light side and make Vapaad); it doesn't really fit any single, specific Star Wars form.

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