Feng Shui - Five Fu Combinations


Five Fu Combinations

The only starting archetype with five fu schticks is the Old Master. Most of the combinations are only useful with high Martial Arts and very high Chi.

Combinations will be referred to either by the top power, if it is the focus, or by a new (silly) name which gives some clue as to the purpose of the combination.

The Anti-Magic and Anti-Arcanowave paths are included because they have value outside of the juncture if 5 schticks are devoted to them and other conditions are met.

The FAQ says that Old Masters do not do +6 damage with bare handed attacks if they are using Fu powers. As you will see from my comments below, this ruling causes Old Masters to use weapons a lot more. I like Old Masters to be as terrifying as possible, since they are forced to have a 4 body, have no choice of skills and have only Leadership as a useful non-combat non-info skill. Therefore my house rules give Old Masters +6 damage with bare handed attacks, if the Fu power says anything like "do a martial arts attack", or "+n to your damage". If the Fu power says "STR+n" damage, the unique Schtick does not apply. I do not agree with the FAQ that the Dragon Style powers are not useful to Old Masters - even without +6 damage, Wing of the Crane or Signature Weapons, the Dragon schticks are very useful for taking down large numbers of mooks.

There are three sections. The first section contains combinations that are not affected by strength. The next section is for schticks that are better with more strength, although weapons (especially signature weapons) can make up the difference. Old Masters in these paths should work toward Wing of the Crane and Signature Weapon. Martial Artists may want to start with 3 schticks in these paths and work toward them with experience. The final section is devoted to Wing of the Crane combinations which make the Old Master about as effective as a Martial Artist in doing damage in campaigns without the +6 damage, and somewhat more effective if the +6 damage is allowed.

Many of these combinations are so powerful they will allow an Old Master to take down named characters in a couple of shots. Don't allow an Old Master in your game if you are not prepared for this to happen. Be aware that any PC with a 22-30 exp points and 7-10 Fu can do pretty awful things with these Five Fu combinations. Coil of the Snake, Water Sword, Point Blockage and the Wing of the Crane/Flying Windmill Kick combination are the most likely to reduce your Named character to the status of a Mook. Beak of the Crane is even worse in a team situation, and requires only 1 Chi/Fu and either 3 Fu schticks or 15 exp.

Strength Independent Combinations

These combinations never use a bare handed martial arts attack, so the Unique Schtick of the Old Master never matters. Only the Invincible Water Sword technique uses strength combined with a Fu power, and the Water Sword by definition can not be a bare handed attack.

ArcanoFu

"Arcanowave Gear harmful? Nonsense. If those BuroMil fools had practiced proper Kung Fu, there would have been no need for Monkeys and Abominations."

This path is only useful if you have friends that use Arcanowave devices. Ideally you will get your own AI/O port in the future. This path not only removes all penalties for use of AW devices, it gets AV bonuses from failures! If you fail a No Medicine Roll, you can then use the Wandering Cow to up your AV for a second roll, the AV increase equals the amount of the failure, so the second attempt is almost guaranteed. Any mutation you clear from your friend, and from yourself (failed No Medicine, for example), is converted to a special Chi pool that is in addition to your normal Chi. Finally, if someone actually mutates, you can fix it.

If the Old Master gets arcanogear, he is just as immune to mutation as an abomination, and can sometimes get Chi and AV bonuses from screwing up with his gear. Old Masters have 10 magic, so even with no skill their Arcanowave Device skill is 7 - more than enough to use many useful devices.

The Little Doctor

"You have Guts young warrior. But I have the stronger Kung Fu"

This combination is ideal for a teacher type Old Master. You heal at 16 AV, can provide your students with extra Chi if they don't have enough for their Fu schticks and have a very nasty attack. The Shadowfist power is mostly Chrome, but there may be situations where it is worth sacrificing a point of Chi to weaken an opponent enough so that your teammates can also fight him. It will also make enemy martial artists very reluctant to fight the Old Master at all.

Be careful using Healing Chi in combat. If you take damage, any wounds are a negative modifier to the healing roll. 10 shots is a very long time to be passively dodging.

While all of the above is nice, what makes this combination work is Point Blockage. If you hit an opponent with a martial arts attack, you make a Chi vs Chi or Kung Fu test and use the outcome to determine the number of shots that person is paralyzed. While the person can try to break out if attacked, he is unlikely to beat the Old Master's Chi of 10. In most cases, the Old Master (and any friends) can pound on the paralyzed opponent versus a dodge value of zero. This means the Old Master can snap shot with an 11 AV, doing an average of 21 damage versus toughness each shot that the victim is paralyzed.

A nice side effect of Point Blockage is that if the Master has rolled an outcome of 5+ against a Mook, he can decide that the Mook is paralyzed for an hour or so, assuming the GM agrees with the concept.

Point Blockage can also be used to take down Mooks with very high action values, because only a success is needed to paralyze, not success+5. Once paralyzed, anyone can take the Mook out. Ask your GM if you can attack multiple opponents with Point Blockage at the usual penalties

Shadowfist has much the same effect, but because of the permanent cost in Chi, it should only be used when Point Blockage just is not doing the job. Note that the Chi cost in Shadowfist is only paid if you succeed, so it can be used against very high Chi or Kung Fu opponents without risk - just keep trying until you get a good roll

Rigorous Discipline

"Did you see that Master! I must have jumped 20 meters!"

Inner Strength is useless to an Old Master, except to share with Gift of the Storm, since her Fu and Magic ratings are the same. Eye of the Storm heals spell effects, and Gift of the Storm allows you to heal spell effects on other people.

The point of this combination is to take two other Fu schticks and give them to teammates. I like defensive schticks best, since it is a waste to have your 16 AV Old Master spending 3 shots to improve your 13 AV Everyday Hero's punch. Something like Willow Step or Natural Order, however, is useful for anyone. The Storm Reverses (X Chi, 1 shot, reverse spell, X=magic rating of spellcaster) is useful in high magic areas, since you can reflect a spell on you or any of your teammates once a sequence. Otherwise look in the Single and Double Fu combinations for something that is both helpful to the Old Master and useful for his teammates.

Strength Requiring Combinations

These combinations are stronger if the Old Master can use his +6 damage bonus with Fu powers. If in a campaign where that is not allowed, carry weapons, preferably a signature weapon (+6-+7 damage)).

Drunken Master

"I just need a little nip to get the Chi flowing"

Drunken stance trades drinking penalties for a shot cost penalty for maintaining a continuous action. It has also provides the benefits of Eye of the Snake, and will sometimes prevent attacks. It requires only 1 Chi, so it can be learned by anyone who bought up chi a little. Given the severe drinking penalties in Feng Shui, this one can be valuable if you like to knock back a few. (My drinking house rules are different than Feng Shui's)

A House Rule of mine is that the first schtick can be used on almost any skill (driving, guns, medicine), and additional schticks can be bought for overcoming penalties for additional skills. However, you still have to do something strange to indicate that you are channeling Chi with your fu powers. .

Old Masters require only 2 drinks in the last half hour to get the benefit of the Drunken Fist, Wily Stupor and Aberrant Spasm. Because of the Shot Cost penalties Drunken Stance causes, do Spasmodic Leap first, to prevent ranged attacks, then go into Drunken Stance to do the fighting, using the middle 3 schticks as required. Drunken Fist is not much use if the Old Master can not use his Fu powers in combination with his +6 damage bonus. If in a campaign that limits the +6 damage bonus, just use Wily Stupor and Aberrant Spasm.

Drunken Masters slow everything down. The Drunken Master will take a lot of shot penalties, but so will her opponents.

In my campaign, the only local Drunken Master is a surgeon (Old Master with 16 medicine, instead of 16 martial arts), who learned Drunken Style to keep his job at the Sacred Heart Hospital. His martial arts is about 10, and he takes full drinking penalties while using it - even so he is a very hard target for gun-slingers because of the Spasmodic Leap, which is based only on Perception versus the number of drinks in the last 6 hours. The hospital staff never allow visitors to his operating theater because he weaves drunkenly over the patients as he operates. As long as he is in stance, however, his hands never waver.

Hydra Strike

"Ok, I'll take the twelve on the left, and you take the one on the right."

Eye of the Snake and Slither of the Snake provide a little defense, but will not normally be used unless in full retreat. Strike of the Snake is best used as a mobility enhancer, allowing a 3 shot acrobatic move in 1 shot. If the character is an Old Master and the +6 damage is allowed with Fu Powers, another useful Fu power can be chosen instead of Signature Weapon. Strong martial artists or Old Masters without the +6 bonus will want Signature Weapon, because the Coil of the Snake is so good, you will not want to spend Chi on anything else.

Coil of the snake allows you to attack in X shots before your next action, without affecting when your next legal action will occur and has a shot cost of zero. Clever Masters will roll initiative, wait until the shot before their first action and attack X times, until they either run out of Chi or run out of opponents within arm's reach (or weapon range, or thrown weapon range). This power means 10 free attacks for an Old Master, most of them at the top of the sequence, leaving many shots to move around and dodge, or just attack normally.

This combination will normally allow more attacks than Torrent of Fury, allows defensive maneuvers and allows multiple attacks on a single opponent. Unlike Flying Windmill Kick and Torrent of Fury, you can miss and attack again. You can also do it in enclosed spaces, unlike Flying Windmill Kick.

Because they get so many extra attacks, the Old Master can use his 4 points in attributes on Mind rather than Reflexes. It is really nice to have Leadership 11, Info Eastern Philosophy 16, and all other info skills at very high levels. 10 Strength Martial Artists with 8 Fu might want 3 levels of Snake, just so they can buy into this path quickly. They can use the Strike of the Snake to make up for the low Reflexes until they achieve the Coil.

Invincible Water Sword

This one needs a rules clarification, it is way too powerful.

"Do not fight him. He is a master of the Invincible Water Sword. There is no defense."

The leaps are useful because the Old Master is slow. Don't bother to use the Flying Sword, the Old Master does not have enough Body to make it worth while.

Water sword as written would drop the dodge of everyone the Old Master attacks by 10 until the end of the sequence. This means that the Old Master can attack every shot at an effective +5 to his AV, and if he has trouble hitting, can always slow down and go with a +8 for 2 shots or +10 for 3 shots. Not to mention that he can take out an average of 8 mooks a shot. All this for only 1 shot time spent doing a display maneuver.

I see two ways to errata this. One way is to limit the effect to one opponent per sequence. This is my solution - the Master of Water Sword is unbeatable against one opponent, but gets no benefit against anyone else unless he has enough Chi to do the display maneuver against a different opponent. There is no defense against Water Sword except a really good Offensive maneuver like Coil of the Snake, Beak of the Crane, Point Blockage or Flying Windmill Kick. I kind of like this effect, so this is the House Rule for Water Sword in my campaign.

Another way to errata it is to be picky about the wording. It lowers the Dodge AV, but not the Parry AV. So it effectively reduces the defensive AV of all opponents to the Parry AV. If an opponent can not reasonably parry a sword, they lose. Gun oriented characters suffer, but not as badly as the single opponent in my House Rule. I think this is less cinematic than my house rule, but it is closer to the wording in the book, so it pleases the rules lawyer in me.

This one benefits from Signature Weapon, whether the character is an Old Master or not.

Potter Technique

"Choose your attack carefully, for if you attack you make yourself vulnerable."

This technique is named for a Champions character in the Before Breakfast universe who had a damage shield based on martial arts - if you hit him, he would hurt you. This combination is a little passive for an Action Hero, but makes for a good GMC or for a nice chrome surprise for a PC. Mr. Potter (referred to by his students as Potter Sensei) was a Berkeley shopkeeper who looked completely harmless unless you attacked him.

Don't use Claw of the Tiger with an Old Master. Whether or not the +6 bonus is allowed, the Old Master will do less damage with this attack than with his bare hands or with a weapon knife sized or larger.

Tiger Stance and Unyielding Tiger Stance can be used with any Martial Arts attack, ie with weapons or with the Old Master's unique schtick in campaigns that allow the +6 damage to apply to Fu powers. I am not a fan of schticks that require the character to take damage, which is why Tiger stance is not in the 2 Fu Schtick listings.

The way to use this power is: get into hand to hand combat. If someone attacks you, first use Unyielding Tiger Stance. If your opponent hit you (and survived the first attack), use Tiger stance, because the follow up attack has half the Chi cost. If the Old Master does not get +6 damage with Fu powers, replace Unyielding Tiger Stance with Signature Weapon.

Use Natural Order when facing gun attacks that you respect. Use Backlash of the Turtle when hit to encourage the gunman to engage you in Hand to Hand.

The Unseen Master

"A 20 million dollar security system and you idiots just let the old man walk right in!"

This one is pretty obvious. Give yourself a -Chi (-10 for old Masters) perception penalty and then use attacks that ignore toughness when people don't perceive you. Like most offensive powers, this one is better if the GM allows the +6 Old Master damage bonus with Fu powers. Without it, use the Blade of Darkness (do effectively -3 damage in exchange for ignoring toughness, or save up and buy a signature weapon or Wing of the Crane. Note that due to the huge perception penalty your victim may be at zero dodge and his friends may be unaware of the Master even as they watch their friend being clobbered.

Wing of the Crane Combinations

The following combinations take the Wing of the Crane and combine it with other useful attacking Fu powers. If the GM allows +6 damage, damage for the Old Master is 16. Otherwise damage for the Old Master with a kick is 12, and with weapons can go as high as 14 (sword). Because the Old Master has access to Wing of the Crane, he gets to be stronger than almost all of the Young Punks. Most paths would benefit from a Signature Weapon.

Cloud Dragon Stance

"Age makes Dragons stronger and wiser."

The Level 1 Dragon (Bite of the Dragon) fu power does +2 damage for 2 Chi. While it does work with weapons, this is nothing to get excited about. In general Signature Weapon, Fire Strike and Hands Without Shadow are better level 1 powers and are cheaper in Chi cost. Breath of the Dragon, however, is worth two schticks by itself. You get +3 AV for 3 Chi. Getting 1 AV per chi is a bargain, and allows the following useful effects:

Using Claw of the Dragon requires a lot of Chi, and is not worth it against a named character, unless the victim is near impairment or death checks. Against Mooks, however, it is really effective. Assuming a 16 martial arts versus 8 AV mooks, you can try to take out 3 a turn at 13AV, and have a good chance of succeeding. If using Breath of the Dragon, you can take out 6 with the same roll. If you roll poorly, though you just knock 6 mooks around. If you have Claw of the Dragon, you can spend the 5 Chi to finish them off, since +4 to the outcome will overcome the bad roll and turn the mooks into hash. Against Mooks, you only need an 8 to "succeed". and fulfill the condition of the Claw. If you feel really lucky, you can go for 10 mooks from the start, counting on the Breath and Claw combination to overcome the -9 AV penalty. If you roll poorly you are out only the 3 Chi for the Breath, since you don't have to commit to the Claw until you roll the attack.

The Crane Stance provides some defense, but only if the Old Master has a higher agility than his opponent. The Wing of the Crane provides the damage needed to take down Named characters. If the Old Master does not get +6 with Fu powers, wield a +3 or +4 damage weapon and save up for a Signature Weapon.

Flying Tiger Stance

"None shall Pass!"

Don't use Claw of the Tiger with an Old Master. Whether or not the +6 bonus is allowed, the Old Master will do less damage with this attack than with his bare hands or with a weapon knife sized or larger.

Tiger Stance and Unyielding Tiger Stance can be used with any Martial Arts attack, ie with weapons or with the Old Master's unique schtick in campaigns that allow the +6 damage to apply to Fu powers. I am not a fan of schticks that require the character to take damage, which is why Tiger stance is not in the 2 Fu Schtick listings.

The way to use this power is: get into hand to hand combat. If someone attacks you, first use Unyielding Tiger Stance. If your opponent hit you (and survived the first attack), use Tiger stance, because the follow up attack has half the Chi cost. This one looks really good if your character is good with both guns and martial arts - blaze away and if anyone tries to slug you take them down with the knife in the other hand. It also combines well with the Fox Power Mockery, or with a character who is good at insulting the opposition.

Use Crane Stance when you get in over your head and Wing of the Crane to provide powerful martial arts attacks against Named opponents. See also Potter Technique. This is the weakest of the Crane combinations, but it is a way to use Tiger when Old Masters don't get the +6 damage bonus with Fu powers.

Whirling Crane

"You think I am old and feeble do you? Well, face my Flying Windmill Kick, asshole!"

Old masters move slowly, so the Prodigious Leap helps them to get aroung. Flying Windmill Kick is powerful but has several drawbacks. It is slow, if the opponent active dodges it loses a lot of effectiveness. The GM may rule it not possible when there is not enough room to maneuver (low ceilings)

All drawbacks aside, with a 16 AV and (using Wing of the Crane) either 12 or 16 damage, the Old Master with Whirling Crane has the potential to take out anyone. This Flying Windmill Kick is especially effective when combined with any teammate who can cause impairment (scrappy kid, agony grenade, vile spew, damage, darkness powers, etc).

Crane Stance is useful, but not as good as Fox's retreat or Willow Step. Make sure your Old Master has a 9 reflexes when going this route.

When Flying Windmill Kick is not appropriate or not possible, use Beak of the Crane. If you pin an opponent, his dodge is ZERO. This means that your 8 AV mooks with 9 damage knives/guns will do an average of 17 damage vs toughness each time they attack until the victim dies or breaks free. If the Beak is used with named allies, it is even worse. Most people can't break free from a 16 AV with a 5-10 strength. Note that both the Flying Windmill Kick and the Beak of the Crane work very well in combination with a Scrappy Kid student.

This combination is very well rounded and makes a better quick-pick schtick for the Old Master than the one provided in the rule book.(and matches the flavor text provided in the rules)

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Five Fu Combinations / Flick Inc / © Copyright 1996 Brad Solberg
Last modified: January 31, 1997 / brad@flick.com