Nimble Steel Style

Nimble Steel Style [Celestial Martial Art]

As the Primordial War ended and the First Age began, swordsmanship became steadily more sport than an actual art of war. Freed of the necessity of constant battle against impossible odds, and free to lead the best equipped troops in the world in any case, the skills of personal combat, though still valued, became an entertainment more than an actual vital skill. However, one of the Chosen of the Sun, her name lost to history, did not wish to see the art she’d used to defend Creation become a diverting pastime for increasingly complacent nobles. She reasoned that now in a time of peace, the Exalted should focus on honing their skills to meld æsthetics and lethality into a harmonious whole to be better prepared for the next great threat… and so she set out to do just that.

Several schools of sword-based Martial Arts had already been developed, but they were narrow and almost monomaniacally focused. The nameless genius brought them all together, creating her own, unique style of swordsmanship, as effective for duels as it was on the battlefield. She tested it against the Raksha, against the Dragon Kings, and against the greatest champions of the Exalted host. And when she was satisfied with it, she began to teach to those whom she deemed worthy, whether Celestial or Terrestrial. Thus was the Nimble Steel Style born. Some speculate that the name of its founder was, indeed, Nimble Steel, and that the style is named in her honor.

Nimble Steel Style is a swordsman’s art, focusing on using two swords instead of one. Like its founder intended, it mixes grace and lethality into a truly spectacular whole, each duel the Martial Artist engages in as much a work of art as a deadly contest. Students of the Art learn through rigorous katas and endless repetition to find the smallest chink in an opponent's armor, to strike like lightning while letting their enemy’s blade slide off their own. In the Second Age, it is mostly practiced by a few returned Solars, and some puissant Dragon-Blooded enthusiasts in both the Realm and Lookshy. The style is popular in Autochtonia where it is known as Luminous Blade Style, due to its focus on precision and its strictly codified katas, and a few Abyssals also find its æsthetic approach to death intriguing.

Sobriquet:

Practitioners of Nimble Steel style are referred to, and refer to themselves, as Nimble Blades, in honor of the style and its presumed founder.

Required skills:

Being focused on sword, all students of this style are required to cultivate at least three dots of Melee.

Form Weapons:

Paired straight, slashing, or short swords and artifact equivalents. The Martial Artist suffers no off-hand penalty for using these weapons paired, and may choose to use a combination of form-weapons if she so desires, though the most common combination apart from clean pairs is a slashing or straight sword and a short sword.

Armor:

Nimble Steel Style may be used in armor up to medium weight.

Charms:

Honed Duelist’s Senses

Cost: 3m; Mins: Martial Arts 2, Essence 2;
Type: Supplemental
Keywords: Combo-OK
Duration: Instant
Prerequisite Charms: None

Thanks to her arduous training and lightning reaction, the duelist is always ready for combat, able to react to an outbreak of violence with a fluid, sublime ease that leaves her opponents looking like clumsy dullards.

The Martial Artist may spend essence to gain a number of successes on Join Battle equal to her Essence, and automatically readies her weapons, without needing to spend an action on it.

Mercurial Fencer’s Lunge

Cost: 2m; Mins: Martial Arts 3, Essence 2;
Type: Simple
Keywords: Combo-basic
Duration: Instant
Prerequisite Charms: Honed Duelist’s Senses

To one fighting a Nimble Blade, making even the slightest mistake in one's defence is a lethal mistake, as the Blade will exploit any opening with pin-point and deadly accuracy. Not even wearing armor is enough to fully protect oneself against a lunge from a Martial Artist using this style, as they find even the smallest flaw without error.

When activating this charm, the Nimble Blade adds a number of dice equal to her Essence to the base damage of her attack before subtracting the opponent’s soak. Furthermore, the attack counts as having the Piercing tag.

Graceful Deflection Kata

Cost: 3m; Mins: Martial Arts 3, Essence 2;
Type: Reflexive
Keywords: Combo-OK
Duration: Instant
Prerequisite Charms: Honed Duelist’s Senses

There are those who say that wielding two blades sacrifices defense i favor of damage. The Nimble Steel practitioner begs to differ. As her opponents attack, she moves in an intricate pattern of flashing, gleaming steel,, intercepting her enemies weapons before they can strike home.

This charm ignores penalties to Parry DV, and allows the Martial Artist to use her full Parry DV against all her current attackers, even if she is completely surrounded.

Nimble Steel Form

Cost: 5m; Mins: Martial Arts 4, Essence 2;
Type: Form-Type
Keywords: Combo-basic
Duration: One Scene
Prerequisite Charms: Mercurial Fencer’s Lunge, Graceful Deflection Kata

Standing ready, the Nimble Blade raises her swords in salute then flicks them down in twin graceful arcs of shimmering steel, their tips almost brushing the ground, before falling into a final pose as she adopts the Nimble Steel Form. Unlike other form-charms, Nimble Steel form is somewhat mutable, as detailed below.

On activating the Charm, the Martial Artist adds half her permanent essence, rounded down, to her weapons Accuracy for the rest of the Scene. Furthermore, she gains access to three distinct Stances that modify the Form-Charm, and work as prerequisites for further Charms in the Style. When she activates the Charm for the first time in a fight, she also chooses freely which stance She enters. She may reflexively switch her stance to gain new bonuses for two motes, but cannot ‘chain’ stance-shifts together in the same action. The Nimble Blade must wait until her next action to change stance again. In addition to their other benefits, Stances also reduce the cost of their dependant charms by one mote.

Crippling Blade Stance

The Crippling Blade Stance is focused on humbling and wounding the opponent, whether their body or their pride. Adopting this stance gives the Martial Artist an arrogant swagger, and all her actions shows her contempt for her opponents’ skill.

The Crippling Blade Stance grants the Nimble Blade one success against any target suffering a DV penalty not resulting from one of the target's own action. This success is checked for and recorded in Step 1, even though it is applied in step 4.

Reaping Blade Stance

As the name suggests, the Reaping Blade Stance is a killer’s stance, aimed at inflicting lethally precise strikes to the enemy, asking and giving no quarter. Assuming this stance has the Martial Artist lean forward aggressively, her eyes intent on every weak point in her enemy’s defence.

The Reaping Blade Stance reduces weapon speed by one (to a minimum of three), and adds a further +1 Accuracy to the weapons she wields.

Warding Blade Stance:

Developed to defend oneself and others against multiple enemies, the Warding Blade Stance is a defensive stance, weathering a storm of blows. Falling into this stance, the Nimble Blade reverses her grip on one of her swords, to better interpose it between herself and an attack.

The Warding Blade Stance allows the Martial Artist to add the Defence rating of both weapons directly to parry DV, without halving them.

Crippling Blade Stance Charms:

Searing Blades Technique

Cost: 2m +1m/action; Mins: Martial Arts 4, Essence 2;
Type: Supplemental
Keywords: Combo-OK, Obvious, Crippling
Duration: [Essence] Actions
Prerequisite Charms: Nimble Steel Form - Crippling Stance

Charging her blades with Essence appropriate to her Exaltation, the Martial Artist strikes out with both weapons. On a successful hit, in addition to doing damage, the Essence coursing through her blades blast through her opponents Gates of Virtue, searing his very soul. Her enemy adds the Martial Artists Permanent Essence as an extra Internal Penalty for [Martial Artists Essence] Actions, +1 action per extra mote spent on this Charm. The Nimble Blade may spend a number of motes up to his Permanent Essence to extend the duration of the penalty.

Hubris-Punishing Slash

Cost: 3m; Mins: Martial Arts 5, Essence 3;
Type: Supplemental
Keywords: Combo-OK, Crippling
Duration: Instant
Prerequisite Charms: Searing Blades Technique

Anyone going up against a Nimble Blade displays their hubris for all the world to see. Instead of killing them for their presumption, however, the Blade strikes at her opponents pride in a humbling display of puissance, using the flat of her blades.

Attacks supplemented by this charm Inflicts Bashing damage. If the attack inflicts at least one level of damage, the Martial Artist may invoke a secondary effect depending on her target. She may aim for her opponent's hands or arms to disarm him, his face to impose a -2 external penalty to his actions due to blood in his eyes or disorientation for Martial Artists [Essence] actions, or strike at his legs to knock him prone until his next action.

Reaping Blade Stance Charms:

Graceful Steel Assault

Cost: 4m; Mins: Martial Arts 4, Essence 2;
Type: Supplemental
Keywords: Combo-OK, Obvious
Duration: One Flurry
Prerequisite Charms: Nimble Steel Form

Driven by a cold need to defeat her opponent, the Nimble Blade sizes him up for a brief instant, her senses taking in everything about him and analyzing it for any weakness. Then she erupts into action, launching a series of blinding attacks that batter at his defenses in a withering assault of glittering metal.

This Charm enhances a flurry. When activated, the Martial Artist drops the speed of her flurry by one (to a minimum of 3), and increases the Rate of her weapons by one.

Twin-Tailed Comet Attack

Cost: 5m; Mins: Melee 5, Essence 3;
Type: Reflexive (Step 1)
Keywords: Combo-OK
Duration: Instant
Prerequisite Charms: Graceful Steel Assault

Her entire mind focusing on the defeat of her opponent, the Nimble Blade brings both of her weapons to bear on her target, driving them into and through his defenses in a single, savage attack, twisting her blades to gouge deep and terrible wounds in his body..

When activating this Charm, the Martial Artist makes a single attack roll, adding the damage-bonus from both her weapons. In addition, she reduces the soak-value of her opponents armor, (i.e. non-natural soak), by her rating in the Martial Arts ability. Both weapons must have the Piercing and/or Thrust tag for this to work. Whether gained from Charms or naturally is immaterial.

Warding Blade Stance Charms:

Sword-as-Shield Technique

Cost: 4m; Mins: Martial Arts 3, Essence 2;
Type: Simple (Speed 5, -0 DV)
Keywords: Combo-Basic
Duration: One scene
Prerequisite Charms: Nimble Steel Form

Sometimes an adversary will not be content with a clean fight, resorting to dishonorable tactics. Other times, the Nimble Blade might find that her opponent is stronger than she suspected, or be fighting to defend another. That is where this Technique comes in. Even when pressed on all sides, the Nimble Blade moves to effortlessly interpose her weapon between herself and the attacks of her opponents… Or to ward away blows from another.

When activated, this Charm adds half of the Nimble Blade’s Martial Arts ability, round up, to her Parry DV. She also gains one ‘free’ Defend Other action that may be used to protect any of her allies within her [Permanent Essence] yards.

Indomitable Riposte Method

Cost: 6m, 1wp; Mins: Martial Arts 5, Essence 3;
Type: Reflexive (Step 2)
Keywords: Combo-OK, Counterattack
Duration: One scene/Special
Prerequisite Charms: Sword-as-Shield Technique

As her opponents press in on her, the Nimble Blade takes a low stance, her reversed blade held diagonally across her body as she stomps the ground with her foot, steeling herself against any attack and preparing herself to deal out deadly retribution to any who would dare test her defenses..

For the rest of the scene or until she activates another Stance, when the Nimble Blade successfully applies her Parry DV against an attack, she may choose to execute a counterattack with full her Martial Arts pool. If, for some reason, the Nimble Blade is without a weapon, she may use unarmed, however parrying attacks that inflict Lethal damage requires a stunt.

Heaven-and-Earth Strike [Capstone]

Cost: 7m, 1wp; Mins: Martial Arts 5, Essence 4;
Type: Supplemental
Keywords: Combo-OK, Obvious, Overdrive, Crippling
Duration: Instant
Prerequisite Charms: Indomitable Riposte Method, Twin-Tailed Comet Attack, Hubris-punishing Slash

The pinnacle of the Nimble Steel style, this attack takes many forms, but in general they all achieve the same result. In a dazzling display of skill, the Nimble Blade seems to blur as she moves, her weapons only seen as after-images, if that, as she leaps at her foe, catching him flat-footed by sheer speed.

When activated, the attack supplemented by this Charm counts as undetected. Furthermore, for every health-level of damage inflicted, the Nimble Blade regains one mote of Essence, which is added to an Overdrive pool that can only be used to fuel Martial Arts Charms. This Overdrive pool has a maximum capacity of 10 motes. Lastly, if the attack inflicts three or more health-levels, she also automatically cripples her target. As the ultimate attack of Nimble Steel style, this charm does not benefit from mote-reduction from stances.