Pyramid #3/61: Fusion Styles of Ytarria

In Pyramid #3/61: The Way of the Warrior, we see a very, very focused set of articles: six articles plus +Steven Marsh‘s intro and Random Thought Table, contributed by five authors . . . and the lead article was co-authored!

That being said, this one was interesting. “How about a theme issue,” said Steven. BAM! And stuff rolled in. Lots and lots of it. The fact that we have two Martial Arts Designer’s Notes articles in here – long ones – only highlights the fun that is the other six.

This is the second issue I’ve done an article-by-article review on, and yes, that might have something to do with my having two pieces in it. Still, it’s very good, and very on-topic for me. So, here we go.

You can find my commentary on the first articles, More Power to Dungeon Warriors, Takedown Sequences, and The Devil’s Fist in previous posts.

Fusion Styles of Ytarria ( David Thomas Moore)
Once again, this issue contains support for a recently released GURPS product, this time GURPS Martial Arts: Yrth Fighting Styles
While this is sort of in the nature of a Designer’s Notes type article, that part of it takes all of one sentence for David to cover: he loves Banestorm as a setting, has played games set it in often, and has written about Ytarrian martial arts in the past. So when a Banestorm-related item showed up on the wish-list, he screamed and leaped.
His first thought was to include non-human martial arts, and the playtest discussion on the SJG author’s forum was filled with discussion of “what would an elf martial art look like, when for an immortal or near-immortal being, “dabbling” might mean ‘I only spent 100 years studying the sword.”
So you’ve got all kinds of non-human arts in the main book. What does this mean for the article? he includes six styles that are born of the interesting and ahistorical mix of peoples and cultures found on Yrth as a result of the Banestorm.
In this review, I’ll say a short bit about each style. Fair warning, though: despite writing a book on martial arts myself, I’m not huge into styles. I see their utility, and as +David Pulver so ably demonstrated in the previously reviewed article, The Devil’s Fist, a well-presented style, with history and the more-human, less game-mechanical elements highlighted instead of the usual “N points in Ass-Kicking” focus, can really enhance a character’s background and the player’s immersion.

Cardien Saif-and-Buckler School
 This is a straight-up and well balanced sword-and-buckler fencing style, but focusing on the light Hazi scimitar, the saif. 
The style gives fighting advice as well – what kinds of maneuvers are favored by practitioners, and lists an interesting combination of Attack, Defensive Attack, and (Long) attacks, which seem very appropriate for a fencing-based style.
Defence Boxing

This one represents a style that grew up to counter another style, in this case the Orcish martial art Smasha. A brutal style, in training and execution, all of the skills are the traditional stand-up stuff when it comes to GURPS. Boxing and Brawling to allow effective use of all limbs and bits of improvised nastiness, plus Judo for the more-mobile parries and retreats, plus an ability to throw and utilize Disarming to ensure that a foe doesn’t have the advantages that weapons bring. 
Combined with a focus on mobility and swing-based or enhanced-damage techniques (Wrenches and stomps), this is not a style designed to make you popular or pretty. It may, however, keep you alive.
Your choice.
Goblin Swordplay

I find this style interesting, as it’s effectively an offshoot of another style in the book, called Harmony. But with an entirely different twist.
For the small-statured Goblin race, this is a shortsword-and-wrestling style, and I notice David really likes to include Brawling in his style’s technique lists. Can’t blame him.
This one is straight-forward, with an array of techniques suited to the sword and close-in fighting, and some interesting surprises for foes if the GM lets you take cinematic skills.

This style, if you’ll forgive the shameless plug, would be way, way better using the rules in Technical Grappling, and even more so using the optional Destabilizing Strike included in this very issue (#3/61, p. 18).

Even so, this is a complete martial art, with striking via Karate and grappling via both Judo and Sumo Wrestling, which makes it unusual for actually including this skill, which is often overlooked.

It focuses on strength, which is cool, and would make a nice novel addition to any character whose background could include it and who also is very strong. Judo is almost certainly in there because of the emphasis on Sweep, though Wrestling and Sumo Wrestling, both with their ST bonuses (and again, even more so using TG) would be better. Actually, thinking about it, Wrestling would have been a better choice for everything but dealing with weapons – but the style is explicitly listed as a fusion of Te and the native art, and Te was built around dealing with enweaponed people while unarmed. Te also has a monster Technique list, so if one can read this style and think “kitchen sink Technique list,” it is also worth bearing in mind that Te is one of the candidates listed as a good “Ultimate Style” (Martial Arts, p. 144) and so it’s expected to have a lot of coolness to it. As such, Kicizapi does not disappoint.

Nomad Chain Fighting

This one’s interesting if only because it’s so very odd. Chain and entangling weapons are not usually a go-to for GURPS players – but as was pointed out in the TG playtest, they should be.

You can grapple from a distance, inflict a follow-on crushing attack, and because the basic attack mode isn’t penalized, Kusari skill neatly dodges the usual -4 to base skill for throwing an entangle. You only need to worry about the location penalties.

Since you can also entangle a weapon with it, it makes for a powerful way to deal with those with long reach. The fusion comes in by combining the Kusari skill with Brawling, Wrestling, and Knife, which makes this a very ugly style, and that’s meant in the nicest possible way. Not mentioned would be carrying several kusari, perhaps some with blades at the end, some not, so you could entangle a weapon, either disarming or rendering it harder to use, drop that one, and re-engage at a closer range with a new chain, entangling the legs, going for a takedown, and then finishing with the knife.


This is a cross of Silat and Savate, which makes it a dangerous pairing of entirely unusual martial arts. This art, with its blend of punches, kicks, and knife techniques, plus a body of spells, makes for a potent mix.

Highly aggressive and highly dangerous, this fusion style is not just a fusion of martial arts moves, but a nice fusion of religions and cultures as well, as the Hindu and Christian elements are mixed in a nifty jambalaya here.

Parting Shot

David was probably right to cut these, since we all must bow to the Gods of Wordcount, but he was also right to seek to have them published. This article spends perhaps a half-moment on the “how did this book come about?” part of a Designer’s Notes entry, and focuses entirely and usefully on the outtakes.

This makes for a great stand-alone article, and it asks the question, and answers it repeatedly, “what would happen if styles X and Y, which never met in the real world, were to encounter each other, and be taught side-by-side.”

It’s a good read.

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