Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Wiki Showcase: the Serene Form as Martial Arts Power Up.

When I made my Snap Poll for my Patron's preferences for styles, the Serene Form came in third for non-Maradonian forms, though it did well in the Poll overall. I suspect the poll's results might have been misleading, because I know for a fact that several talkative patrons are very fond of the style (and at least one PC has used it), and perhaps if I held the poll today, it might do better.

I believe the Serene Form predates its inclusion as a Templar Form, and that I created it back in Iteration 4.  It has seen quite some updates since, turning it into a beautiful, ceremonial style that focuses on meditation, introspection and connection with communion.  This is because the style was inspired by Iajutsu and Iado, which are deeply tied to meditation in the cinematic tradition, for good reason, as it has a lot less sturm und drang than most fights, and thus artists who wish to depict it often front-load it with a great deal of introspection and anticipation.

Naturally, in Iteration 6, I saw it as a style associated with the Templars, because Iado's introspection and its willingness to draw it only at the last moment lend itself well to pacifism, especially Pacifism (Self-Defense Only), because you can avoid any violence until the last possible moment.  So, naturally, with Tinker Titan Rebel Spy, the Dark Communion-associated Imperial Knight took it.  His reasoning makes sense: Tyrants seek to intimidate, and this is a very intimidating style, one that exerts itself only when it intends to, like passing a sentence.  This actually fits nicely with Iajutsu's bad reputation for "Cross-roads cutting," and so I created the Way of the Void in this incarnation.  The inner peace of the True Communion form could be replaced with an inner emptiness of the Path of Death or the Void and turn it into a style that creates a bond between the user and murderousness itself. I was tempted to make it a three-fold path, but Dark Communion doesn't cultivate the selflessness necessary to really make this style work, so I shifted that idea to the Fell Form, which is known for its reckless rage.  The Imperial Knight's player, however, counters that while it's true that the Paths of the Rebellious Beast, the Beautiful Fool and the Hungry Beast don't cultivate that sort of self-control, the path of the Mystical Tyrant does, especially in its Cult of the Mystical Tyrant form.  It makes sense that Tyrants might use it, and use it form a deeper bond with their Path.  That does make sense; so far, I've justified the connection with Broken Communion using the fascination that the Mystical Tyrant has with Broken Communion, but I'd like to revisit it soon for a "third way."

The style focuses on defensiveness, in defeating your opponent with his own attacks.  This means we need to talk about Reflection, a concept I've been struggling with since I first began Psi-Wars, all the way in Iteration 1, thanks to the Force Buckler.  See, the Force Buckler lets you reflect attacks back to the Attacker with a DX roll.  My initial impulse was that this was "unfair," so I reduced it to an attack that you could make on your turn after being attacked.  Since then, I realized that this ability was basically just the Reflection enhancement to DR on a piece of equipment, which means GURPS totally allows "free attacks" with Reflection.  My my my!  My current thinking is to allow it with both Force Swords and Force Buckler; you can use Precognitive Defense as your roll (making levels higher than 16 useful and interesting), the Force Sword has a penalty to reflect this way, and I've added some new options, first an optional roll for those who dislike the idea of someone reflecting all attacks this way, and a new All-Out Defense option that lets you focus on Reflection for the whole turn, a trick we often see Jedi do.

In general, the style has been a study in Precognitive Defense.  I have a love-hate affair with precognitive parry and block.  First, they're one of those "extra" rolls that happen before all defenses.  For example, if you attack a Chambara Jedi, he might roll Acrobatics to see if he gets a +2, and then Precognitive Defense to see if he gets a +1, and then his actual parry value.  That's THREE ROLLS per attack.  Worse, there's no point in taking it above 16, as it never sees any penalties or bonuses; it works or it doesn't, and that's it.  So I've gone in and tried to simplify some things: we get a no-nuisance rolls option, so once you hit Master you can just assume you succeed at precognitive defense unless you're doing something crazy, and that thing might be precognitive reflection (by handing the DX roll off to Precognitive Defense, we get a reason for crazy high values), precognitive fast-draw (because some people hate waiting a turn before getting stuck in) or for better bonuses to your precognitive defense rolls.  I've also suggested folded Precognitive Defense rolls into Parry Missile rolls for certain situations. All in all, I hope it helps Precognitive Defense a bit.

Also, for those who get confused (the question comes up), Precognitive Defense replaces Precognitive Parry from GURPS Martial Arts, and Precognitive Block from Pyramid #3/9.

I built this style around how Obi-Wan fought in the original trilogy era.  We see it showcased in the Cantina scene, but there's also a pretty good moment with it in Star Wars: Rebels were Obi-Wan faces off against a returned Darth Maul.  Obviously, it primarily draws its inspiration from Iado, just as Obi-Wan himself does.  In principle, though, this style should be similar to Soresu, or Form III, if you just want to toss all of this into a GURPS Star Wars conversion, though Soresu seems more interested in Precognitive Reflection than in fast draws.

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