Off the grid: Pressing Strike

Off the grid: Pressing Strike

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Since the release of 4e, I’ve been toying with the idea of flavoring classes with kung-fu. Maybe it was because I just really wanted to play a monk or perhaps I read way too many Louis Cha novels, but I’ve made several characters in an attempt to get as close as possible to a monk without actually having to be a monk.

Surprisingly enough, the class that I find best plays like a martial arts hero is the barbarian. Once you accept the idea that a rage isn’t a blind fury, but a refined application of emotion and mind over matter, the barbarian starts to look less like a berserker and more like a disciplined warrior.

Pressing Strike

“Kzalit’ka’mar!” The Gith shouted into the alien mountains. His voice returned to him on the echo. He felt good to hear his full name in his own tongue. He had almost forgotten how it sounded. Kzalit cupped his hands and shouted again with all his might. The mountain rang with the sound.

The echo was interrupted by a long whine. Kzalit whirled behind him to see the hound displeased.

“What is it, dog? Are you upset because I have a name and you don’t?” Kzalit addressed the dog in Gith. The animal looked up, its eyes held large and its ears poised low. It looked very pathetic.

The echo was still bouncing between the stones until it was merely an unintelligible, low rumble. The dog whined again then got up abruptly and started to run back down the path. Kzalit didn’t have long to ponder why as the rumble became louder.

Turning his head, Kzalit found himself nearly face to face with a large boulder tumbling down the slope. Fear, regret, anger, surprise and countless other sensations whipped about in the martial artist’s green head. Kzalit didn’t succumb to it, but instead acknowledged them and recognized the accelerated heartbeat and frenzied thoughts for what they were, adrenaline.

Time seemed to slow as the emotions spun his mind. The progress of the boulder became excruciating and the lag between thought and motion unbearable. But Kzalit’s body obeyed his commands and dropped low, his legs flung out and his torso twisted. The boulder struck the ground in front of him and the Gith slid under it with no room to spare.

Coming up behind the stone, Kzalit struck it with his palm and the boulder cracked and broke apart, continuing into the valley in small rolling pieces. He watched them disappear into the trees and brush. When they were gone, he continued to stare into the void, waiting for his heart to slow down.

Eventually the hound came back up the path. It sat beside Kzalit for a second or two before placing its paw on his leg. The Gith reached down and scratched the animal’s head.

“You are right, dog. You do not need a name. Names just cause trouble.”

After realizing he is in trouble, Kzalit uses Pressing Strike, which lets him shift up to 2 squares through enemy spaces prior to the attack. In this situation, the GM allows Kzalit to treat the boulder as an enemy and move “through” it with kung-fu bad-assery before smashing it to smithereens.

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About the Author

I started Dungeon Mastering with secondhand AD&D materials in 1996 and have run a vast number of D20 campaigns, from cliche' medieval adventures in a kingdom made of Lego bricks to fighting zombies and the mob in the mid 1930s. I try to make the gaming experience as enjoyable, fast-paced, and easy to play as humanly possible.