Kung Fu

edited April 2008 in Story Games
I have been absolutely sucked into the new Immortal Iron Fist and eagerly await the second trade. It reminds me of all that is awesome about martial arts guys running around kicking ass, and that makes me think of games.

The problem is, my experience with martial arts in games has gone one of four ways:

* Martial Arts are an interesting one off, enough to support one martial artist in a game, but really no more .
* Martial Arts builds like superpowers, but the different color for mechanically identical characters grows tiresome, because I want some crunch with my punching and kicking goodness.
* The game writer really loves his RL Martial arts, and the MA section is the same conversation I quietly try to slip away from in RL
* The game is Exalted, in which case the martial arts are neat, but are crushed under the weight of Exalted. Weapons of the Gods kind of falls into this bucket too but less so.

So with all that, WOTG is my strongest contender, but it's non-martial arts stuff and it's weapon-centric model both kind of produce a 'meh' reaction, so I toss the question out there. If I want an Iron Fist game, which is to say mildly superheroic over the top fight-centric action, what should I look at?

-Rob D.

Comments

  • Brand and I wrote a martial arts hack for Trollbabe. I don't know if it hits enough of your buttons.
  • Have you looked at Feng Shui?
  • Immortal Iron Fist is a brilliant modernization of the pseudo-Asiany pulp genre. I wrote a post a while back about how all martial arts games suck. Honestly, if I was gonna play something like Iron Fist, my first instinct would be to hack Spirit of the Century a bit. Pulp is pulp, even pseudo-Asiany pulp.
  • Posted By: orklordHave you looked at Feng Shui?
    I have, and the problem was that in practice it felt a little bit too much like an improvement on the first case. It could support a small number of martial artists, but only within the context of also supporting gunmen, sorcerers, monstersm tech and critters.

    (Which is _awesome_, by the way, but not quite where my brain is at the moment)

    -Rob D.
  • Posted By: Dave CleaverBrand and I wrote amartial arts hack for Trollbabe. I don't know if it hits enough of your buttons.
    Hot! I'll check it out!

    -Rob D.
  • Posted By: Jonathan WaltonImmortal Iron Fistis a brilliant modernization of the pseudo-Asiany pulp genre. I wrote a post a while back about howall martial arts games suck. Honestly, if I was gonna play something likeIron Fist, my first instinct would be to hackSpirit of the Centurya bit. Pulp is pulp, even pseudo-Asiany pulp.
    The sad thing is your assessment of MA games really echoes some thoughts I've been having about fighting genres in general, and I've got no compelling argument for why it's not true. So bleh. But hope springs eternal, though I will laugh and laugh and laugh at myself if I end up hacking SOTC for it, for reasons that may or may not have any logic to them.

    -Rob D.
  • Along the same lines as Feng Shui, check out Spycraft and the martial arts supplement for it. I think you could have a game with all martial artists there.

    Also, Blood and Fists, if you like d20, though I suppose if you don't, Spycraft is a bad suggestion too. The Martial Arts Mayhem supplements are also good goofy fun.
  • why not use a supers system to cover the hoopy stuff, I have sucessfully used PDQ the system behind Truth and Justice to run a really neat Wuxia game

    you could also check out Qin the warring states , has a nice neat light system that handles the Wuxia genre quite well
  • edited April 2008
    Posted By: LarryUh,Wushu?
    ...doesn't provide the requested crunch...
    Posted By: AuthorRob DonoghueI want some crunch with my punching and kicking goodness.
    My advice: replace the conflict resolution system of some other game with rounds of Virtua Fighter, Soul Caliber, Guilty Gear, or whatever else your crew prefers. Maybe a different fighting game for each class of conflicts. So, Dogs: you escalate from Tekken to Guilty Gear to Virtua Fighter to Super Street Fighter II Turbo. Or something.

    I give terrible advice.
  • I'm tempted to recommend my Thrash game, which is a relatively traditional RPG for fighting game style martial arts, but it desperately needs some testing and revising. It's relatively crunchy, but not overwhelmingly so (and unlike the older versions, not pointlessly so). Finding the right compromise between having enough detail to do neat stuff and being simple enough to go smoothly is tricky, and I erred more on the side of Street Fighter nonsense, basically treating combat like a tabletop game more than anything.

    When I ran a long campaign with Thrash 1.8, story-wise the result was like a low-powered superheroes game with more quasi-Asian flavor (and manga craziness with psychic dragons, elemental ninjas, and genetically engineered bunny girls).
  • There was a game, a while ago, called "Final Stand" which struck me as really good. I wonder if it's still around.
    The link here still works! http://www.rpg.net/reviews/archive/9/9913.phtml
  • We've been playing a game based on the "Tournament Capital Cities of Heaven" storyline from the recent issues of the Immortal Iron Fist. We're using a slightly modified version of Panty Explosion. If you're interested, you can read about it here. The reason it works is because it's not a system that tries to emulate martial arts at all. Instead, we're using the game to build a story where awesome tournament style combat is just one of several types of conflict. Panty Explosions best Friend/Rival descriptive conflict system is working really well for us.
  • There was just a big thread on this over at RPGnet. There were several recommendations for GURPS Martial Arts, which I subsequently ordered (not the least of which, for research related to Tokyo Rain. I'm not a GURPS fan, but I'm hoping the treatment will give me some ideas. I'll let you know how it is.
  • Also, if you can find info about it, Rich Forest has a playing-card based fighting game that operates in real time, which is a pretty damn cool idea. Like, you frantically search through your hand for the next punch / block / kick to play and try to throw it down before the other guy beats you. It's like Jungle Speed combat. Pretty cool.
  • Posted By: Jonathan WaltonAlso, if you can find info about it, Rich Forest has a playing-card based fighting game that operates in real time, which is a pretty damn cool idea. Like, you frantically search through your hand for the next punch / block / kick to play and try to throw it down before the other guy beats you. It's like Jungle Speed combat. Pretty cool.
    That sounds nifty! Anybody got a link? Rich?
  • edited April 2008
    Ninjas and Superspies by Palladium. Tons of crunch, a book full of different martial arts styles. I ran some pretty fun games using it, and the characters all felt very unique due to the differences in fighting styles and special moves.

    Of course, it is Palladium system, and I might get beat down for even suggesting such a thing.

    ME

    Edit: The game really doesn't shine until you add in Mystic China, which gives it a little more super--powered feel and a ton of cool ideas and new styles.
  • Oh, and there is Thrash by Ewen Cluney which attempts to emulate Street Fighter. That actually seems to dodge all of your concerns pretty nicely.

    And, it suddenly strikes me, you could probably do a one-for-one hack of Riddle of Steel swapping medieval components for MA ones.
  • I'll echo a couple of suggestions.

    I've always liked Thrash, though we didn't end up playing it because we were already playing Street Fighter: The Storytelling Game on a weekly basis at the time I stumbled across it. We did shamelessly cannibalize cool ideas from it, of course.

    I'm going to go ahead and suggest Street Fighter if you can find a copy, even though it's long out of print. It was way ahead of its time as a cleaned up implementation of the Storyteller System that greatly reduced handling time while simultaneously adding a little tactical fun. It isn't perfect, and its flaws are fairly well known (in particular, the disproportionate effectiveness of building a fast grappler). It does fit a lot of what I hear you saying in the first post, though, Rob, and I think it avoids the problems you're looking to avoid as well. So I'll mention it all the same. It was later cannibalized by White Wolf when they made World of Darkness: Combat, but the two do not play alike in any meaningful way. WoD: Combat had to remain compatible with the core Storyteller System, which had the effect of reversing or removing most of the improvements that SF:tSG had made to the system. Don't let anyone tell you they're interchangeable.

    I have some rough analyses of aspects of Street Fighter on an old web page, and it's apparently still there, five years later! The internet. It remembers.

    The analyses of aspects of the original Street Fighter game are here.
    A (mostly still up-to-date) version of our rules interpretations and house rules is here. (Warning: most of the files on the "house rules" page are pdfs.)

    Also, to follow up on Ben's post, we did play Final Stand once in my home group and we had a lot of fun with it. But we were (and are) so satisfied with Street Fighter that it remains our default game for martial arts action adventure.

    I do have a mess of notes on my card based system (the one that Jonathan mentioned). I love Jonathan's description of it. I don't have a comprehensible write up that would be of much use to anyone outside my own game group or people who I've already talked about it with in person. But I actually have some time off this weekend, so I'll see if I can put together a 24 hour version of the game. It's a nice excuse to knock the notes into shape, anyway, and maybe it'll get me warmed up for game chef.

    Rich
  • edited April 2008
    Rich's game-in-progress is called Fist of the Assassin, but I'm not sure if a draft exists anywhere. I can't even find the pictures of Rich and Ben playing it in Hong Kong. He talks about some of the basic concepts in this thread.

    CROSS-POSTED. Thanks, Rich.
  • HERO has a very crunchy MA system out of the box, with ultimate Martial Artist doing all kinds of work for you, on special "powered" moves and/or unique Talents. it's highly granular rounds (12 seconds, with from 2 to 12 actions) plus a certain give and take for each maneuver (+Off = -Def, or might do self damage, etc) gives it some serious tactical interest. Throw in situational modifiers and pluses for various positional advantages, and it gets very rollicking.

    It is, however, SSSSSSSSLLLLLLLLLLLLLLOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOWWWWWWWWWWWWW, if you're looking for quick and dirty action so you can get back to the story. I've seen five in-game minutes of combat take a couple of real-time hours, with high-Speed characters and several participants. But, hey... you want crunch, it takes time.

    Then again... I bet you could hack DitV into something rather cool for MA play. Your character's "martial art" would emerge from how and why you invoke your various Traits like "iron fist" or "supple as water" or "feet of earth" or "forest-fire's speed"... hmmm......
  • What about Beast Hunters? Just replace the beast hunt with Tournaments or Duals and Tatoos with Styles. That way you go out into the world and defeat other martial artists to learn new techniques?

    - C
  • Man rich, that game sounds really fun
  • Colin, I also thought of hacking Beast Hunters. And there is Anima Prime, (kind of a BH 2.0) which is probably a perfect fit.
  • Posted By: John HarperColin, I also thought of hacking Beast Hunters. And there isAnima Prime, (kind of a BH 2.0) which is probably a perfect fit.
    Anima Prime looks shiny, I will have to give that a good look over.
  • What about Contenders? Could that work?
  • Contenders seems like a good, er, Contender. I'd definitely like to try Contenders Ong Bak some time.

    Fireborn has very interesting martial arts built into the combat system. I've not got to try it in play, but it reads well.

    But the best Martial Arts system I ever played was the old Steve Jackson micrograme Kung Fu 2100. It desperately wants to be expanded into a role playing game.
  • Posted By: Paul T.What about Contenders? Could that work?
    Not really here, I think. I played it twice, and the stories it would produce aren't really all that in line with the Kung Fu genre. Also, there's not all that much integrated strategy that would work in a non-boxing/tourney fight.

    -Andy
  • Posted By: John HarperColin, I also thought of hacking Beast Hunters. And there isAnima Prime, (kind of a BH 2.0) which is probably a perfect fit.
    This makes me happy.
  • Posted By: AndyPosted By: Paul T.What about Contenders? Could that work?
    Not really here, I think. I played it twice, and the stories it would produce aren't really all that in line with the Kung Fu genre. Also, there's not all that much integrated strategy that would work in a non-boxing/tourney fight.

    -Andy

    Connection: ailing master Sken
    Hope: My expertise in handsome lotus style yield a cure to master's illness
    Fear: The wicked thorns school burn down our dojo

    Integrated strategy - do I bring the Pain to win the fight though it compromises my overall goal???

    Yeah Contenders works really well for any kind of organised fighting tale.
    Not so good for random martial artists wandering the world meeting various beasties and that - y'know roleplaying game fare.

    Also I have nearly all the Streetfighter books, I love it - it's a horrendous system. Still the best White Wolf game ever though.

    Jose
  • Contenders: YES.

    We are so doing the Ong Bak game, Wil. Someday.
  • Posted By: Rob DonoghueSo with all that, WOTG is my strongest contender, but it's non-martial arts stuff and it's weapon-centric model both kind of produce a 'meh' reaction, so I toss the question out there. If I want an Iron Fist game, which is to say mildly superheroic over the top fight-centric action, what should I look at?
    Here's how I'd do that: I'd use D&D.

    I'd start the characters at level 7-10ish. Everyone started at first level, as a Monk. No Alignment; use d20 Modern Allegiances instead.

    Then I'd turn a whole crapload of "base classes" into prestige classes with entry requirements. Some of the warrior types stuff from the psionics handbook, with refigured powers lists, treating these as "chi-users", with entry around level 2-3. I'd also strap in the Tome of Battle classes, but put requirements for entry around levels 4-5. Maybe a few others; I'd scout the books and grab as needed.

    Once I had all of that laid out nice and neat, I'd run character creation in a SotC-esque way, with each "level gain" as a phase, and use the process to build world backstory, unresolved conflicts, all that horribly useful non-crunch.

    This may not be at all to your taste. But there ya go.
  • Posted By: Levi KornelsenPosted By: Rob DonoghueSo with all that, WOTG is my strongest contender, but it's non-martial arts stuff and it's weapon-centric model both kind of produce a 'meh' reaction, so I toss the question out there. If I want an Iron Fist game, which is to say mildly superheroic over the top fight-centric action, what should I look at?
    Here's how I'd do that:I'd use D&D.

    I'd start the characters at level 7-10ish. Everyone started at first level, as a Monk. No Alignment; use d20 Modern Allegiances instead.

    Then I'd turn a whole crapload of "base classes" into prestige classes with entry requirements. Some of the warrior types stuff from the psionics handbook, with refigured powers lists, treating these as "chi-users", with entry around level 2-3. I'd also strap in the Tome of Battle classes, but put requirements for entry around levels 4-5. Maybe a few others; I'd scout the books and grab as needed.

    Once I had all of that laid out nice and neat, I'd run character creation in a SotC-esque way, with each "level gain" as a phase, and use the process to build world backstory, unresolved conflicts, all that horribly useful non-crunch.

    This may not be at all to your taste. But there ya go.

    You could achieve something somewhat similar to this with the gestalt character classes from Unearthed Arcana for 3.X, it would just be Monk mixed with X.
  • edited April 2008
    Rob, thank you.

    Thanks to this thread, I went out and got read Immortal Iron Fist. That's good stuff. (Yes, I know, I'm out of the loop when it comes to comics.)

    Also, I got a rough draft "micro-game" version of Fist of the Assassin written. So that's cool. Jonathan, thanks for mentioning it, and thank you Jamey and Kevin for showing interest. It got me to dust off some notes and actually write something up.

    There's a pdf copy here, for anyone who's interested. Rob, I don't know if it's the sort of thing you're looking for -- right now it isn't even a complete RPG, more of a combat game. But it might be worth mining for ideas.

    Rich
  • Awesometastic, Rich. Now I can run both Mist-Robed Gate and Fist of the Assassin at Story Games Boston. Sounds like a Vicious Combo to me.
  • Many thanks to folks. Numerous PDFs and links yoinked! Plus, you'tr welcome Rich. It's the kind of sickness I'm happy to spread!

    -Rob D.
  • Posted By: jake richmondWe've been playing a game based on the "Tournament Capital Cities of Heaven" storyline from the recent issues of the Immortal Iron Fist. We're using a slightly modified version of Panty Explosion. If you're interested, you can read about ithere. The reason it works is because it's not a system that tries to emulate martial arts at all. Instead, we're using the game to build a story where awesome tournament style combat is just one of several types of conflict. Panty Explosions best Friend/Rival descriptive conflict system is working really well for us.
    Actually, I think you're selling the game sort in a way-or rather, you didn't quite highlight aspects that might appeal to Rob in his quest. So I'm gonna help you. :)

    The system we're using actually employs elements from Classroom Deathmatch as well. Fighters have a pool of dice in each of five elements: Fire (Aggression), Earth (Stability), Air (Speed), Water (Adaptability), and Chi. When you declare your gonzo Kun Fu attack, you describe it and your general intent, and spend dice from the applicable pool, hoping to roll a success on one of those dice. One player not engaged in the duel narrates success, the other narrates failure, incorporating the original intent plus whatever detail they desire. Fighters also have a list of Techniques (Burning Dove Chop! Inverse Scorpion Lunge!) that they can use up to roll a higher die size.

    A fight is over when one of three things occurs: 1) A fighter runs out of dice and is utterly defeated, 2) a fighter is low on dice or has some other reason) and concedes, or 3) the players all feel, from the narration of a success or failure, that a fight is done. A winning fighter gains a higher base die size, and a loser drops to a lower die size. Combatants roll Chi to see how many dice they recover (you don't get them all back!).

    I like it because it allows a good deal of strategy (What Element to roll? How many dice to I spend? When to use a Technique? Do I go all out and be exhausted for my next fight?) while maintaining broad narrative flexibility for over the top Martial Arts MadnessTM. I think it could even be tweaked a bit, like weaknesses to certain elements, and the like. I'm not sure if it fits your personal barometer for requisite crunch, Rob, but it's been lots of fun for us.

    Peace,
    -Joel
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