Saturday, January 8, 2022

The Isles of Heaven and her Swordsmen

 Tengoku Islands, the isles of heaven.


770 islands are ruled by the Demon King, Emperor Zaro. 7 more are said to have been lost in the cataclysm which destroyed Good Xi and ushered in the reign of Zaro. The demon and his lords’ consumption place a nearly unbearable burden on the cities, fishing villages, and pastoral tribes under their thumb.


Ninety nine years ago, the warriors of the land waged war on the lords of Emperor Zaro. The demonic lieutenants fell and heroes once again arose in the land, ready for their fateful moments on the world stage. Diverse skills and arts of war and fighting they employed. This time one would hold the key to victory over the Demon King.


He arrived by lightning. Each noble warrior fell by his hand. All brutalized on the bare stone brow of the mother mountain, Amten. One after the other, they were thrown headless like a goat from the lofty peak and dashed on the rocks below.


Emperor Zaro came down the mountain, eleven new skulls in his collection, and punished those who dared to send a champion against him. Villages were razed, fighting schools were plunged beneath the pitious wave. His rule was enforced by a new batch of demonic lieutenants.


Two hundred years ago, three hundred years ago, the story repeated itself much the same, but they say the heroes were greater then. This time, however, is auspicious. This tournament will mark seven times one hundred years since that which bound evil was destroyed and the reign of Zaro began. This time they say one will hold the key to victory over the Demon King.



WAY OF THE SWORD - To master the sword is to master yourself, to master yourself is to master the world.


Attack rolls exist to see if you can hit someone with your sword. In your case, there is no question. If your swordsmanship is greater than theirs, if they’re close enough, you can hit them. If your swordsmanship is lesser and life is vain in your eyes, you can try anyway. Your skill in swordsmanship can be determined by looking at your headbands. If relative skill is still unclear, determine it by a staring contest.


A giant with a spiked club may have no skill in swordsmanship, but can likely kick your ass. A dragon may well be very skilled in swordsmanship, they wield five swords per hand.


IMMORTAL TECHNIQUES - Swordsmanship allows mastery of the greatest weapons and abilities invented by Ur-Kind. When man struggled to find purchase in the world, the first tool crafted was the sword. This was a terrible age as those with the first tool spread bloody death wantonly. It was mastery of the immortal techniques that allowed those with purity of purpose and discipline to order the chaos and bring civilization forth out of bloodshed. Thus wrote the sages.

The Immortal Techniques are the brush strokes of the gods inked with blood. Traditionally, they start from an aggressive stance with a sheathed sword, however some swordsmen advance beyond this in their skill. Techniques are designed to end a fight immediately and decisively. They cannot be performed at less than complete conviction. They are not tools for children or the faint of heart. When a technique is used, its headband must be wet by the blood or kiss of an enemy before using it again.


HEADBANDS - A technique is not understood until it is written. The strokes of the master, not merely the words, embue the script with meaning. The proof of the mastery is affirmed after each showing. The headband is dipped in the blood of the slain or wet with the kiss of the defeated enemy as validation.


The Immortal Techniques are written by great sword masters on long thin strips of cotton called HEADBANDS which are worn by those who follow the way of the sword. A headband may be worn when a technique is mastered. This is done by training or by seeing the technique used before acquiring it. A headband takes an inventory slot and allows the use of its technique.


When swordsmen meet for a practice bout, often headbands are on the line. When they clash at risk of death, the winner takes all. Any techniques seen by the victor can be worn and used immediately, otherwise they must be studied and practiced and rewritten by the victor to be useful. It is an insult to the victor to lose a bout without using your best technique.



SWORDSMAN - THE WAY OF THE SWORD

What’s a goon to a goblin? No mere swinger of swords can claim to be a swordsman. You have devoted a lifetime to your SWORDSMANSHIP. You have mastered an IMMORTAL TECHNIQUE whose merit and place in history is described in your HEADBAND for all to see.


One with greater SWORDSMANSHIP can always strike someone of lesser skill. No attack roll is needed. This applies to immortal techniques as well. 


IMMORTAL TECHNIQUES are the brush strokes of the gods inked with blood. If a technique is seen by a swordsman, then they may use it if they acquire and wear the linked headband. When a technique is used, the headband must be wet by the blood or the kiss of an enemy before it is used again.


HEADBANDS describe each of the immortal techniques a swordsman knows and by looking at them swordsmen can tell who has the greater skill. They are often acquired by killing their owner. A swordsman may add [headbands] to any check involving their sword. Each takes an inventory slot.


The techniques (several adapted from Attnam):

  1. Shadows Playing Tricks 

In battle or under immediate danger your senses focus to a fine point. Under these conditions you can see as an eagle with thermal vision, hear as a dog with an ear piece, feel as though with whiskers etc.

Worn by an imp in the employment of the demon Decay To Forest.


  1. 36 Chambers of Defense 

Swing your sword in immaculate defense. Roll your weapon damage + [headbands]. Damage from the next attack in swordreach is reduced by this amount. You can use this preemptively or as a reaction if you have not performed a maneuver. A swordsman has a chance to bypass this defense if they’ve seen the move before.

A warrior known as Old Dirty Bastard has kept this technique hidden for the last twenty odd years, but rumor of its use has crept up recently.


  1. 37th Chamber 

Your blade moves with such speed you can deflect bullets or anything slower. As a maneuver, roll your weapon damage. Damage from the next ranged attack passing through swordreach is reduced by this amount. It is deflected back at the attacker if the damage is reduced to zero.

In the possession of the Wizard of Sekigahara. This technique has saved her life on numerous occasions.


  1. IMMORTAL TECHNIQUE OF TENNO XI

If you are the target of a spell that has a physical manifestation (fireball, rpg, poison cloud), you may attempt to deflect it back at the caster. Roll your weapon damage, if your sum is greater than that of the spell, it is deflected.

Used by Good Xi to banish the last sorceress queen and usher in relative peace. All other techniques bear its namesake for this reason.


  1. WESTERN ULTIMATE TECHNIQUE ANNIHILATES GOOD 

If your enemy has not seen you use the Wutang Sword technique, you may add [headband] d6 to your next damage roll against them. If they have heard a first hand account, you may add [headband] to your next damage roll.

The unofficial ranking amongst the sages who study the immortal techniques indicates the Wutang Sword Technique is amongst the best.


  1. EIGHT HUNDRED AND EIGHT CUTS

Split weapon + [headband] damage among creatures in melee range in any way you want. A swordsman who has seen this technique can exempt themselves from this damage.

The Oniborn ronin, Bu Lu created this technique to take advantage of his unique anatomy. He laments that he has never had to land all 808 cuts.


  1. CUT FROM AGES PAST BROUGHT FORWARD

If your enemy has not seen this technique used before this battle, you may make an attack against them from range. If they have, you must make an attack roll to hit them regardless of your swordsmanship. This may hit up to [headband] targets in a line.

The demon Ender Dest is one of the oldest of Emperor Zaro’s lieutenants. Records of his use of this technique date back centuries, always with disastrous outcomes for the martial heroes who challenged him.


  1. NAME TWO SWORDS HOLD TWO SWORDS

You stash [headband] weapons Elsewhere, where they remain in stasis until you will one of them to appear in your hand.

Records indicate that this technique was used frequently during the preparatory period before the last tournament, but the trail ends with an account of the death of Hands Alight, the pupil of the technique’s originator.



  1. THE UNKNOWABLE STYLE FLOWS FROM WITHIN

Skip a turn to clear your mind and begin to strike from within without form or precedent. For the encounter, increase your weapon damage along this scale [headband] times. If your enemy has seen you use this technique increase it once.

1d4 -> 1d6 -> 1d8 -> 1d10 -> 2d6 -> 2d8 -> 2d10 -> 3d8 -> 3d10 -> 4d10

Become unpredictable, strike from your subconscious mind, let your moves flow out of your individual essence. Even the most masterful opponent will fall from a strike that has no history or reference. The moves created from your own individual unique essence may surprise even you.


  1. NOTORIOUS BLADE OF IL GON

At 1 [headband] you may cut immaterial spirits.

At 2 [headbands] you may give the appearance of cutting until close inspection.

At 3 [headbands] you can attack a possessing spirit without harming the host. 

At 4 [headbands] you may cut souls without harming the body.

Used to slay the nether-monk Neon Ninja whose last words were, “But you just look like an afro headed coward! Come to think of it, I can't even take a warrior with such stupid hair seriously!”


  1. STYLE OF REAL MASTERS OF CUTTING

You can cut materials harder than your sword. Ignore any hardness, damage reduction, or resistances of materials you cut.

At 1 [headband], you can cut wood as easily as flesh. 

At 2 [headbands], you may cut through stone with ease. 

At 3 [headbands], you may cut metal. Adamantine splits like wood. 

At 4 [headbands], you may attempt to destroy artifacts, magical materials, or enchanted items.

Held by a well respected stone mason in the City of Shale. Hadowaku has used this technique for half a century and has had a hand in constructing many impressive structures in the city.


  1. RAPID EXPLANATION OF SWORDSMANSHIP

Skipping a turn in preparation, you can perform [headbands] bonus attacks on your next turn. If you forgo all but one of those attacks, you may unsheathe your weapon, attack and sheathe it again so fast all creatures fail to notice you even moved. If a swordsman has seen this technique before, they may notice you as the cutter and you are limited to two attacks against them.

Tutor Duanweg, as she is called, is notoriously willing to accept challengers if they will pay her tab.


  1. AN EYE FOR SWORDSMANSHIP

When you see a single technique used by a swordsman with you as the target, you count as having seen all their techniques.

Miyamoto, known the greatest swordsman born between ages. Despite being born early century after the last tournament, he has made a reputation for excellence in his style and analysis of opponents.



More, courtesy of discord friends!

1. Garzhnov, the Undying Blade (Sylvanas_iii)

The greatest troll swordsman ever to live, Garzhnov fights with sword in one hand and bladelike claws in the other. Frequently expects foes to underestimate his wits due to his trollish nature. Often takes students, who can practice their blows on him.

Secret technique: Reckless Cleave. Allows you to attack about 5 feet beyond your normal reach and gain +1 attack per round, though all attacks must be against different targets. This technique also leaves you wide open to the attacks of anything that happens to survive.


2. Blind Don's Percipient Counter (Random)

Learned from a beggar who claims to have once been the master thief, rake, duellist and revolutionary Don Schiavona. Allows the practitioner to make blocks and parries regardless of whether they are conscious of their attacker's presence, or indeed conscious at all. Street children make a game of throwing things at Blind Don and watching him swat their pebbles out of the air with his walking stick in between snores.


3. Hans Duelle's Twofold Stroke (Shifty)

The philosopher-prince Hans Duelle perfected a style of quantum swordfighting that revolves around freeing the self from commitment, flowing with the winds of fate. It takes deep meditation to achieve the necessary focus, but the results are undeniable - every strike finds its mark.

You can choose to lose initiative. If you do, you can make an attack roll before choosing what to do this round. If you attack, use the roll you just made for the first one; if you don't like the roll, do something else.

4. Azerath the Drunkard's Ten-Cup Dodge (Fifth)

Azerath is known for her faultless swordswomanship, but even more so for her legendary proficiency in drinking contests. It is far more likely to encounter her in a tavern or bar than in a contest of blades or on the field of battle, and she takes advantage of this. This secret technique can be utilized in the instant before a blow lands to remind the universe that, wouldn't it be more likely that she's at a bar instead? That would be more consistent with her narrative. The universe agrees, and the practitioner is no longer where they were, as in fact they never had been there, but are instead ten cups deep and drunkenly explaining the duel to an uninterested barman.


5. Moota’s Wind Treachery (The FirstGokun)

Named for the well-fed and well-spoken vizier of the third prince. The practitioner cuts the air from beneath their feet, allowing them to jump thrice without touching the ground.


6. Havma’s Cutting Quill (The FirstGokun)

Named for the strategist-slash-warrior-poet who burned Point Prefect to the ground. The practitioner can write messages with a weapon and blood as easily as with quill and ink, on canvases of paper, stone, or flesh.


2 comments:

  1. What an incredible vibe you've got going on here. So down for this! There was a rule in a system I read a long time ago, I can't remember where, but it goes something like this: "Instead of rolling initiative, whoever says they draw their sword first, goes first. Drawing your sword is an act of violence and can be incredibly disrespectful/cowardly." Hence, you'll have all these swordsmen having tea and discussing The War, until something breaks down and it all goes Hectic.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for your comment! I like this a lot. I usually leave initiative rolling for after the first mover makes a move. I really like the social dynamic though! drawing first may indeed be the act of a coward!

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The Isles of Heaven and her Swordsmen

  Tengoku Islands, the isles of heaven. 770 islands are ruled by the Demon King, Emperor Zaro. 7 more are said to have been lost in the cata...