Friday, January 10, 2020

Cross-Post: The Reaver's Hand as Power-Ups

I've been a backer for Christoper Rice's (of Ravens and Pennies fame) patreon for quite awhile, at varying degrees of commitment, for a long time.  A lot of Rice's material has made it into Psi-Wars, from Keleni Stickfighting (Ishen Denshin, from his pyramid article, Mind and Body) and the Dead Art (Thanatokinesis, from his article, Necro-Psi) as well as likely others that don't spring immediately to mind.  He's not an explicit collaborator, but I borrow so much of his stuff that I sometimes think of him as one.

At some point, he saw fit to show me a preview of what became his Mind and Body martial art follow-ups, to give feedback.  This was quite some time ago, so I went hunting for my notes on it, but could not find them.  Nonetheless, I remember I was busy so I only really had time to discuss one, which was the Reaver's Hand, and I discussed it because I found it so profoundly engrossing and inspiring.  It was, and remains, a martial art that I could see integrated into Psi-Wars (though I'm never sure how to integrate his patreon material into my game, as I don't want to reprint it, but I can't very well point to a pyramid article somewhere either), especially as an assassination technique for the Ranathim death cult.

To honor its release, I've written a version of the Reaver's Hand as an upgrade set (with Chris's permission).  Now, as with all upgrade sets, I've taken some poetic license with it; in particular, I've focused on Steal Life as the primary psychic ability of the style, with Detect Life and the Reaver's Hand relegated to exercise and super-cool secret, respectively. I'm not covering the full scope of the style, and while you will doubtless get a sense of what the style is like, if you truly want to understand it (I will reprint no rules), you'll need to go get the original article itself, which you can do right now by becoming a backer.  It will cost you $2 (two dollars!) to gain access to, so if this interests you,  you'll have to make the sacrifice of an overpriced latte this month, but I think its worth it and, who knows, maybe you'll stick around and read more of his stuff.  Poke around and see if you like what he has.

The Reaver's Hand as Power-Up Set

The Reaver's Hand -- Student

20 points
Prerequisite: Steal Life 2

The Reaver Student learns the basic strikes and grapples of the Reaver's Hand, but most critically, he learns the signature "Devouring Hands" technique to combat that allows him to follow up a strike with a post-grapple technique; this grants the martial artist his most distinctive combat technique, as well as teaching him the importance of initiating and maintaining contact with his opponent, to allow them to Steal Life as much as possible.

Perks: Style Familiarity (The Reaver’s Hand) [1], Special Set-up (Post-grapple actions can take-place after karate strike) [1]

Skills: Karate DX+1 [8], Steal Life IQ-1 [2], Wrestling DX+2 [8]

The Reaver's Hand -- Adept

20 points
Prerequisite: The Reaver's Hand -- Student

The Reaver's Hand centers itself on grapples, locks and holds, and while any student can initiate a post-grapple action with a basic strike, the more experienced adept learns to better leverage their opponent and control the fight, especially if they can apply superior strength. The Reaver's Hand also often emphasizes turning defense into offense, and Adepts learn to be better with defense.

Advantages: Enhanced Parry (Unarmed) [5]

Perks: Power Grappler [1]

Skills: improve Karate to DX+3 [16] for 8 points, Steal Life to IQ [4] for 2 points, and Wrestling to DX+3 [12] for 4 points.

The Reaver's Hand -- Master

20 points
Prerequisite: The Reaver's Hand -- Adept

The Master of the Reaver's Hand emphasizes the already supernatural quality of their power.  Their strikes gain an additional potency, and when they seize an opponent, they can turn their vampiric abilities against the very fabric of their opponent's being, which has the net effect of being very painful (and thus better controlling the fight) and leaving very little evidence of their victory behind, in case they seek to avoid the attention of law enforcement.

Perks: Dust to Dust (Steal Life) [1], Psychic Strike (Psychic Vampirism) [1]

Skills: improve Karate to DX+5 [24] for 8 points, and Wrestling to DX+5 [20] for 8 points.

Techniques: Dolorous Drain (H) Steal Life-3 [2]

The Reaver's Hand -- Moves

Banshee's Noose

5 points
Prerequisite: The Reaver's Hand -- Student, Trained by a Master

One of the flashier moves of the Reaver's Hand, this tends to be reserved for the most experienced of practitioners.  To perform the move, the character must make a "Flying" Move and Attack.  After moving their full distance, the character jumps (roll DX or Jumping, both at +1) and if successful, may attempt to grapple their opponent's head with their legs.  If they succeed (roll Wrestling+1 to hit), the combination of their increased movement with the greater strength of their lower body allows them to apply a +4, rather than a +2, to the next post-grapple action they make after completing this move.  If the character misses, they are prone after this attack.  They may defend at -2 (in addition to any prone penalties), and may not retreat.

Perks: Trademark Move (Banshee's Noose) [1]

Techniques: Flying Lower-Body Head Grapple (H) Wrestling+0 [4]

Bite the Hand

5 points
Prerequisite: The Reaver's Hand -- Student

Those who watch the Reaver's Hand in combat think it follows something similar to the concept of the "Way of the Intercepting Fist," but it combines quick parries with quick counterstrikes and the use of all limbs to suddenly turn an opponent's attack against them.  Bite the Hand teaches the Reaver the "Bite the Hand" Trademark Move, it also teaches the character to Armlock at Wrestling+2, and to Counterattack with Karate at +0.

Trademark Move (Bite the Hand): After successfully parrying an attack with Karate, while you have two free hands, make an immediate Dual Weapon (Karate) Counter Attack against the Arm; roll Karate-5 to hit; your opponent defends at -3 (-2 if he has Dual Weapon Defense); if successful, inflict karate punch damage to the arm, and immediately follow-up with a Deceptive Dual Weapon (Wrestling) Arm Lock; roll Wrestling-5; your opponent defends at -3 (-2 if he has Dual Weapon Defense or Style Familiarity (Reaver's Hand), -1 if he has both). If you succeed, your opponent is in an arm lock.

This signature move synergizes with the Devouring Hand (Advanced); if the character has this additional move, improve the Karate roll to Karate-1 and the Wrestling roll to Wrestling-2.

Perks: Trademark Move (Bite the Hand) [1]

Techniques: Techniques: Armlock (A) Wrestling+2 [1]; Counterattack (Karate) (H) Karate+0 [3];

The Devouring Hand, Advanced

5 points
Prerequisite: The Reaver's Hand -- Student, Trained by a Master

One of the most remarkable tricks of the Reaver's Hand is the Devouring Hand: the ability to follow up a strike with a post-grapple move, such as an arm-lock, a take-down, a wrench or a neck snap.  Some practitioners deepen their understanding of this and learn to coordinate their wrestling techniques with their karate strikes: as one hand strikes, the other immediately moves into position to take advantage of the moment of vulnerability to allow them to perform a post-grapple action.

Rather than make a Karate Strike, the character can make a Dual Weapon attack: the first ils a Karate Strike at Karate+0, and the second is a Wrestling action (typically any post-grappling action) at Wrestling-1.  This requires both hands be free and the target suffers -1 to defend against both attacks (unless they have Dual Weapon Defense)

Techniques: Dual Weapon Attack (H) Karate+0 [3], Dual Weapon Attack (H) Wrestling-1 [2];

From the Grave

5 points
Prerequisite: The Reaver's Hand -- Student

As a style with a strong focus on grappling, practitioners of the Reaver's Hand need to accept that their fights will often take them to the ground. They learn a body of techniques that allow them to fight while prone and to control their opponent better if both of them are on the ground.  "From the Grave" also instructs the student in a powerful technique sure to bring both themselves and their opponent to the ground, which involves using their legs to grapple their opponent's legs.

Perks: Ground Guard [1]

Techniques: Ground Fighting (H) Wrestling+0 [3]; Scissors Hold (H) Wrestling-1 [1];

Pride Falleth

5 points
Prerequisite: The Reaver's Hand -- Student

This move teaches the Pride Falleth trademark move, as well as how to perform a Leg Grapple at Wrestling +3, and a Leg Lock at +4.

Trademark Move (Pride Falleth): After successfully defending against a kick with a wrestling parry, make a Deceptive Grapple for the leg. Roll Wrestling+0 to hit; your opponent dodges at -2 (and may not parry or block).  If you succeed, on your next turn, you may attempt a Leg Lock.  Targets with Rapid Retraction (Kicks) or Style Familiarity (the Reaver's Hand) defend at +1 while characters with both defend at +2.

Perks: Trademark Move (Pride Falleth) [1]
Techniques: Leg Grapple (H) Wrestling+3 [2]; Leg Lock (A) Wrestling+4 [2]

Strike of the Poltergeist

5 points
Prerequisite: The Reaver's Hand -- Student, Trained by a Master

One of the most remarkable signatures of a master of the form, the Strike of the Poltergeist teaches the Reaver a move that allows him to punch his opponent in such a way that he snaps his target's neck, typically leaving them with their heads on backwards, as though they had been momentarily possessed.  This also teaches the Reaver how to snap necks at ST+3.

Trademark Move (Strike of the Poltergeist): Make a Committed (Strong) Rapid Strike Attack at the head; Roll Karate-7 to hit.  Your opponent defends normally.  Inflict karate punch damage+1 in damage.  Immediately initiate a Neck Snap at half ST+2; roll a quick contest of (half ST)+2 vs the higher of your target's ST or HT; on a success, inflict sw+1 cr damage with the normal 1.5 multiplier against the neck.

Perks: Trademark Move (Strike of the Poltergeist) [1]

Techniques: Neck Snap (H) ST+3 [4];

The Reaver's Hand -- Exercises


10 points
Prerequisite: The Reaver's Hand -- Student

Once a psychic vampire with Steal Life has fully healed (and recharged his FP), he can no longer profit from using Steal Life.  With a Bloodpool, however, he learns to "supercharge" his life force.  Once his HP has been healed, additional Steal Life can instead restore a "Vitality Reserve," spare hit points above and beyond his normal HP, up to 15 points worth.  The character also learns to use HP as FP for the purposes of psychic powers: he can spend HP in place of FP when activating techniques, or when using Extra Effort.

Advantages: Vitality Reserve (Regenerates with Steal Life Only -70%) 15 [9]

Perk: Special Option (May spend HP in place of FP on psionic powers) [1]


20 points
Prerequisite: The Reaver's Hand -- Student, Detect Life 1+, Trained by a Master

Those who learn the Reaver's Hand often learn how to Detect Life.  The Bloodsight exercise formalizes that education, helping the student manifest their detection ability as a sort of sight, teaching them to focus more closely on what they detect, allowing them to see the flows of life within a person. This gives them a deep understanding of something similar to chi, which they can disrupt, or restore, with surprising facility.  What the Reaver's Hand takes, it can also restore.

Characters who learn this gain, in addition to an understanding of how to use their Detect Life ability, the ability to perform a chi-style form of Esoteric Medicine, and the Pressure Point skill, as well as how to make pressure point strikes at Karate+0. Bloodsight also emphasizes how to stabilize an mortally wounded patient with esoteric medicine (such as when, for example, they have been struck by the True Reaver's Hand), which they can do at Esoteric Medicine+4.

At the GM's discretion, they might waive the Trained by a Master prerequisite on the argument that Detect Life is sufficient to allow access to the Pressure Point skill.  Furthermore, the GM should consider allowing the Detect Life ability to operate as a superior complementary bonus to Esoteric Medicine for the purposes of diagnosing ailments that have to do with blocked "life flows," as the character has a psychic sense of where life flows within the patient; thus a successful roll applies a +2, while a critical success applies a +4.

Skills: Detect Life (H) IQ [4]; Esoteric Medicine (H) Per [4]; Pressure Points (H) IQ+1 [8];

Techniques: Esoteric Stabilization (A) Esoteric Medicine+4 [2]; Pressure Point Strike (H) Karate+0 [2]; 

The Reaver's Hand -- Secrets

The True Reaver's Hand

The character learns the ultimate secret of the Reaver's Hand: to kill with but a touch or a glance.  In addition to training the character in the Reaver's Hand power, the character learns to turn the target to mere dust with their power, and to kill them instantly with a little extra effort, as opposed to merely mortally wounding them, thus leaving a window open to rescue them.

Perks: Secret Knowledge (Reaver’s Hand) [1]; Dust to Dust (Reaver’s Hand) [1]

Skills: Reaver’s Hand (H) Will+1 [8]

Techniques: Instant Death (H) Reaver's Hand-1 [4]

Notes on the Reaver's Hand

The signature perk of the style, as per its description, is the Special Set-up that allows the character to use post-grapple moves after a Karate strike. This is quite an innovation, but it took me awhile to wrap my head around it.  I came to the conclusion that a strike made with this setup is not a grapple, does not inflict the effects of a grapple, and does not apply the -4 DX.  It does, however, allow you to perform a "follow up" move that normally requires a grapple.  For example, Neck Snap requires you to grapple the head.  So, if you strike the head with this set-up, you can immediately attempt a Neck Snap on the next turn, as though you had grappled it on the previous turn.  I think the window only lasts for that one turn (you neck snap or you don't), because the target isn't actually grappled.  It's a bit like how with an Arm Lock, you can apply it if you've grappled the arm OR if you did a judo parry last turn.  Well, this set-up means every time you read "If you grappled your opponent," mentally add "Or struck him with your Karate skill last turn" to it.  Critically, and explicitly, this allows a single use of the Steal Life power after a successful Karate strike!

The following traits are noted in the article:
  • Detect Life
  • Dolorous Drain
  • Dust to Dust
  • Instant Death
  • Reaver’s Hand
Psychic Strikes is found in Pyramid #3/69 in the article "Mind and Body"

Esoteric Stabilization is a hypothetical technique for stabilizing a target who has been mortally wounded (see B424), except it is performed with Esoteric Medicine rather than Surgery.  At the GM's discretion, this might only work against certain supernatural attacks that inflict mortal wounds, such as the Reaver's Hand.

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