Wuxia Fighting Arts: Cloud-Ascending Ladder

This one is a weird little experiment. It’s not exactly a fighting art – more fighting art-adjacent. It doesn’t really have a form, for instance, though I’ve made it essentially a jumping/running skill.

Cloud-Ascending Ladder

Lightness skills are among the most commonly practiced techniques in the Circle of Warriors, conferring the ability to leap great distances, run across water or even climb smoke.Wudang Sect is known for the grace and poise of its Cloud-Ascending Ladder, which teaches the practitioner to flow with the wind. Like most Lightness skills, Cloud-Ascending Ladder is not a fighting art in and of itself, though its applications in martial conflict are limitless.

Cloud-Ascending Ladder is a skill for running and leaping great distances both horizontally and vertically.

Exponent Form Skill Actions
2 Leap Cloud-Ascending Ladder grants the Avoid action.
Techniques Instruction Ob Physical/Phil. Ob Practical Ob
Fleet Like a Deer Instruction Ob 1 Speed Ob 2 CAL Ob 2
Pristine Snow Instruction Ob 2 Speed Ob 3 CAL Ob 2
Fog Upon the Waters Instruction Ob 3 Speed Ob 4 CAL Ob 3
Cloud-Hanging Rope Instruction Ob 3 Speed Ob 5 CAL Ob 4
Heavenly Horse Flying Leap Instruction Ob 4 Speed Ob 6 CAL Ob 5
Dance Upon the Clouds Instruction Ob 5 Speed Ob 7 CAL Ob 6
  • Fleet Like Deer: As novices train Cloud-Ascending Ladder, they learn to make their bodies lighter and propel themselves forward at prodigious speeds.
    • Increase Stride by 1. You may use Cloud-Ascending Ladder in place of Speed in Range & Cover, Fight, and chases.
  • Pristine Snow: In spring, summer and autumn, novices train Cloud-Ascending Ladder by running on the tips of blades of grass (including bamboo) without bending them. The first true test comes with the first snow, when they must prove they can run atop the powder without disturbing its pristine serenity.
    • You do not suffer obstacle penalties for running through difficult terrain like rough undergrowth, icy surfaces or broken ground. You can run across snow without breaking the crust (though you’ll still sink if you stop moving).
  • Fog Upon the Waters: As the lightness skill becomes second nature, the practitioner learns to use the surface tension of water to run upon.
    • You can now run across water, though you’ll still sink if you stop. Even with the Pristine Snow technique, white/rough water counts as unstable ground and confers a +1 to +2 Ob penalty to all actions.
    • You can climb rapids with Speed and/or Climbing tests.
  • Cloud-Hanging Rope: Your lightness has become such that you can run up sheer surfaces and even cling to walls with but the slightest tension in the muscles of your fingers or the balls of your feet.
    • Use Cloud-Ascending Ladder in place of the Climbing skill. You can now cling to walls and run upon them as if they were horizontal surfaces.
    • Gain +1D to tests when able to utilize walls and ceilings for advantage.
  • Heavenly Horse Flying Leap: As practitioners gain mastery of the Cloud-Ascending Ladder, their speed begins to rival that of the heavenly horses of Ferghana. You may now make long, flying leaps and come safely to earth between them.
    • Increase your Stride by 4.
    • If distance is important, test Cloud-Ascending Ladder. You may leap 10 paces in any direction per success.
    • You may use this technique to fall safely from great heights.
  • Dancing Upon Clouds: A true master of the Cloud-Ascending Ladder can seemingly fly!
    • You can now run upon and leap from smoke, rain drops and fog.
    • You no longer suffer obstacle penalties when running on white/rough water.
2 Likes

So powerful!
I would swap the order of FLD and CHR.

Also, there are no weapon forms?

Does Heavenly Horse Flying Leap stack with Fleet Like Deer (i.e. overall Stride +5)?

Fair. And correct, no weapon forms. Lightness skills are usually learned separately from fighting skills. Some arts, like Shadow Catching, combine them, but that’s unusual.

Yes, that’s my intent anyway. A human with this skill should reach Stride 13.

1 Like

Revised as per @luke 's suggestions.

Cloud-Ascending Ladder

Lightness skills are among the most commonly practiced techniques in the Circle of Warriors, conferring the ability to leap great distances, run across water or even climb smoke.Wudang Sect is known for the grace and poise of its Cloud-Ascending Ladder, which teaches the practitioner to flow with the wind. Like most Lightness skills, Cloud-Ascending Ladder is not a fighting art in and of itself, though its applications in martial conflict are limitless.

Cloud-Ascending Ladder is a skill for running and leaping great distances both horizontally and vertically.

Exponent Form Skill Actions
2 Leap Cloud-Ascending Ladder grants the Avoid action.
Techniques Instruction Ob Physical/Phil. Ob Practical Ob
Cloud-Hanging Rope Instruction Ob 1 Taiji Ob 2 CAL Ob 2
Pristine Snow Instruction Ob 2 Taiji Ob 3 CAL Ob 2
Fog Upon the Waters Instruction Ob 3 Taiji Ob 4 CAL Ob 3
Fleet Like a Deer Instruction Ob 3 Taiji Ob 5 CAL Ob 4
Heavenly Horse Flying Leap Instruction Ob 4 Taiji Ob 6 CAL Ob 5
Dance Upon the Clouds Instruction Ob 5 Taiji Ob 7 CAL Ob 6
  • Cloud-Hanging Rope: Your lightness has become such that you can run up sheer surfaces and even cling to walls with but the slightest tension in the muscles of your fingers or the balls of your feet.

    • Use Cloud-Ascending Ladder in place of the Climbing skill. You can now cling to walls and run upon them as if they were horizontal surfaces.
    • Gain +1D to tests when able to utilize walls and ceilings for advantage.
  • Pristine Snow: In spring, summer and autumn, novices train Cloud-Ascending Ladder by running on the tips of blades of grass (including bamboo) without bending them. The first true test comes with the first snow, when they must prove they can run atop the powder without disturbing its pristine serenity.

    • You do not suffer obstacle penalties for running through difficult terrain like rough undergrowth, icy surfaces or broken ground. You can run across snow without breaking the crust (though you’ll still sink if you stop moving).
  • Fog Upon the Waters: As the lightness skill becomes second nature, the practitioner learns to use the surface tension of water to run upon.

    • You can now run across water, though you’ll still sink if you stop. Even with the Pristine Snow technique, white/rough water counts as unstable ground and confers a +1 to +2 Ob penalty to all actions.
    • You can climb rapids with Cloud-Ascending Ladder tests.
  • Fleet Like Deer: As novices train Cloud-Ascending Ladder, they learn to make their bodies lighter and propel themselves forward at prodigious speeds.

    • Increase Stride by 1. You may use Cloud-Ascending Ladder in place of Speed in Range & Cover, Fight, and chases.
  • Heavenly Horse Flying Leap: As practitioners gain mastery of the Cloud-Ascending Ladder, their speed begins to rival that of the heavenly horses of Ferghana. You may now make long, flying leaps and come safely to earth between them.

    • Increase your Stride by 4.
    • If distance is important, test Cloud-Ascending Ladder. You may leap 10 paces in any direction per success.
    • You may use this technique to fall safely from great heights.
  • Dancing Upon Clouds: A true master of the Cloud-Ascending Ladder can seemingly fly!

    • You can now run upon and leap from smoke, rain drops and fog.
    • You no longer suffer obstacle penalties when running on white/rough water.
1 Like

This may be diving way too deep, but I revised the art to use a new skill, Taiji, for the philosophical test. I’ve detailed the skill below, along with a pretty wild cultivation flaw that you can develop if you make a mistake while training the Cloud-Ascending Ladder.

Skill: Taiji (Will/Per). Taiji is a philosophy skill. Taiji is the supreme principle from which existence flows. Through movement, the supreme ultimate generates yang; when yang reaches its limit, it becomes tranquil and generates yin, which reaches its limit and returns to movement. Movement and tranquility, in alternation, become each the source of the other. By the transformations of yang and the union of yin, the five elements of water, fire, wood, metal and earth are born. Each element promotes to another element (wood promotes to fire, fire promotes to earth, earth promotes to metal, metal promotes to water, water promotes to wood). Likewise, each element controls another element: wood controls earth, earth controls water, water controls fire, fire controls metal, metal controls wood. Diffused, they create harmony. A person can find harmony by living the principles of compassion, moderation and humility and by surrounding oneself with the five elements in the correct configurations and proportions.

Wood governs anger, benevolence, physical health and new beginnings. Fire governs joy, propriety, and luck. Earth governs contemplation, fidelity and folly. Metal governs grief, righteousness and languor. Water governs fear, balance and stasis.

Obstacles: Ascertaining the metaphysical substance of an object, herb, animal or natural formation, Ob 2. Ordering one’s surroundings to promote harmony among the elements and yourself, Ob 3. Divining the originating principle behind a passion, emotion or physical condition, Ob 4. Understanding how one’s behavior and posture prevent the attainment of wu wei (effortless action or oneness with all), Ob 5. Attaining a temporary state of wu wei, Ob 6. Reaching enlightenment, Ob 10.

FoRKs: Doctrine, Meditation

Skill Type: School of Thought

Tools: No.

Flaw: Major Yang Weakness: Vampirism. Taiji is at the heart of the Cloud-Ascending Ladder. Speed and movement is generated through the motive force of yang, which the practitioner must transform into lightness and gentleness through the tranquility of yin. Cultivation flaws born of errors while developing the Cloud-Ascending Ladder can be particularly terrible. This flaw is one such example.

  • Your yin devours your yang like a black hole, causing your body to become cold and sluggish over time until you become incapacitated.
  • To combat this, you must drink hot, fresh blood once each day, draining the donor dry. The blood need not come from a human, but it must come from a living, warm-blooded creature that is at least the size of a goat or small child…
  • Exerting yourself by using a lightness skill (including Cloud-Ascending Ladder) drains your yang rapidly. Once you use a lightness technique in a fight or range and cover, your yang begins to drain. After 1 exchange in fight or 1 action in range and cover, your speed is taxed by 1 for each additional exchange (fight) or action (R&C).
    • If your speed is reduced to zero in this manner, you fall into torpor and can only be roused if someone provides you a victim (or a potential victim comes within your reach; in this case you may make one test to grab them and drink despite your incapacitation).
    • If you are not incapacitated at the end of the conflict, you must drink blood within one scene or fall into torpor.
    • Once in torpor, you can survive hours equal to your Health before you die.
    • Drinking hot, fresh blood immediately restores all your lost speed.
  • Healing this flaw requires an Ob 7 Taiji test. Failing this test can have disastrous consequences.
4 Likes

Ok, this is a space I really want to get into - Fighting Arts without the Fighting.

I love these, but the question is bugging me:
Why do you want to handle this with an Art and not Traits? I think it’s cleaner this way, but I don’t know if I could say why.

Traits are great, but they’re awarded, not learned. That’s ideal for some settings. This approach is best suited for a setting where characters proactively seek out teachers or martial manuals and train to unlock new abilities. It plays well with skills, advancement, practice, etc.

Since teachers are also associated often associated with factions, it also plays well with the Factions rules from the Anthology. You could have the Orthodox factions (Wudang, Shaolin, Emei, Kunlun, etc.) vs. the “Heterodox” factions (Ming Cult, Heavenly Eagle Cult, etc.), vs. the Mongols (Yuan Empire), for example.

It’s not a superior approach to traits, just a different one that’s suited to different types of stories.

4 Likes

Arts are also good for giving these traits (in the general sense) breadth and depth. Traits (in the game-term sense) seem to be better suited to straight up, you-get-this-thing traits (in the general sense again). Could you imagine if every technique required a trait vote?

Also that’s kind of bullshit. Corruption and Faith, for instance, are traits with a bunch of depth and breadth. Is it bullshit enough for me to not send this post? I guess not.

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That is the specific bullshit that prompted the original question. so there’s that.

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I love this art I’ve been playing around with a skill for awhile that would allow for a person to preform contortion and acrobatics without having to resort to rolling stats. Now I’m thinking maybe I should make it an art instead. Though maybe something less supernatural than this since my campaign is more grounded then the tone of most Wuxia.