Building on Tradition

One of the projects I’ve been meaning to attend to is updating the Fighting Styles for La Verdadera Destreza from the Blessed and Damned (B&D) sourcebook.  One of the players in my home game has acquired the tradition, so there is purpose to this.  While the Rites and Relics book that’s just around the corner should take care of updating a lot of the Prayer rites from the previous edition of WH, official updates for the Fighting Traditions look to be a lot farther off.

As I’ve mentioned before, my first real introduction to swashbuckling roleplaying was 7th Sea, which I still love with the passion of 1,000 suns, warts and all.  So I’m hardly unbiased when I start delving into these things.  The task of updating a set of fighting styles really drives home one of the most frustrating aspects of WH Fighting Traditions: they are basically a tiered collection of Talents (think Feat Trees for you d20 fans) built around a theme.  This makes the devilishly tricky to balance against one another.  Compare this to 7th Sea’s Swordsman Styles, which granted three core special abilities at Apprentice, Journeyman and Master level, each very broad in application.  It also makes new Traditions much harder to design as there are fewer niches to fill.

Fighting styles not only have to be viewed in context with one another, but with the whole host of available Talents.  This makes duplication and redundancy a real issue.  There is also something very zen about the 3-2-1 structure of the core fighting traditions (3 Basic styles, 2 greater, 1 heroic).  Once B&D is accounted for, they are expanded to 7-5-3, and the lack of focus seems to muck things up.  I’m all for giving players more options, but options for the sake of having them often leads to trouble.  To my thinking, players are better served with fewer, focused choices rather than a vast menu of lukewarm choices, most of which no one will take anyway.

An interesting project would be to strip down the Fighting Traditions to fit more in the mold of 7th Sea’s swordsman styles.  This would make them easier to design, balance against one another, qualify for and master.  It might also encourage players to study multiple traditions, since instead of 500 SP to truly “master” a tradition, they might be looking at 300 SP.  That might also balance them – cost wise – against the Sorcerous Traditions.  If I had higher character or even player turnover in my game, I might consider doing just that.  But that seems like a lot of work for just one player (who, for the record, doesn’t have an issue with the RAW).

And this doesn’t even touch on the issues of actual conversion.  Exactly how many variations of Reason-as-bonus and Avoidance bonuses does a Fighting Tradition really need to support?

So what I’m settling on is a way to expand the options available without muddying the waters.  I like the idea of keeping to a tiered approach and think it can be expanded to 5-3-1 fairly easily.  That allows me to combine some effects at the lower tiers and ignore the ones at the utmost tier (which, in the case of La Verdadera Destreza, are pretty milquetoast).

One of the cardinal rules I’m working from is that these talents should be broadly applicable and useful as possible.  So, while it’s core, Circle of Blood will be getting an amendment to make it worthwhile against Minions (who make up 80% of the opponents in WH).  Given that the style requires a 3d wager (the steepest level of wager in the game), here are a couple of the options I’m considering:

Against minions, a swordsman employing this style may…

  • reroll any 1s.
  • reroll any results equal to or less than his weapon skill rank.
  • reroll all dice results of 3 or less.

The second roll stands, no further rerolls are permitted.

I’m feeling very partial to option 3, but I’m open to suggestions.

I’m a big fan of the simplified “powers” for villains (the Hellfire or Hexcraft power vs the Rite).  It would be very cool to create some quick abbreviated Fighting Tradition talents for baddies.  Going back to what I was saying before about 1 broad ability per rank, a villain could have a Master [Fighting Tradition] talent and that gives them a single broad ability built against the theme of the tradition.  It sure would keep that list of talents down and make the GM’s job easier.  THAT is a project worth undertaking, I think.


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