Trope-a-Day: Blood Sport

Blood Sport: This, obviously, gets much easier when you have noetic backup technology to ensure that you don’t run out of people quite as fast as you otherwise might. Even so, in the Empire and other civilized polities, this is usually limited to martial arts competitions where death is mostly accidental, and minor outgrowths of duelling culture.

Elsewhere, some downright horrifying examples also exist thanks to the export versions of the tech… but what can you do? Barbarians gonna barbar.

Trope-a-Day: Lady of War

Lady of War: Inasmuch as the martial arts are part of the educational curriculum for both sexes in the Empire, this is something of an archetype; certainly the archetype for female members of the sentinel darëssef.  (With the stipulation that grace and reserve – and an elegant fighting style – are also qualities expected of the equivalent male of the species.  See Cultured Warrior, specifically, and any number of cultural tropes in general.)

Trope-a-Day: Fantastic Fighting Styles

Fantastic Fighting Style: Quite a few.

The common characteristic of almost all of them, it should be noted, given the Imperial sensibilities towards casual violence, is that almost all of them are militantly unsuitable for “social” fighting. There are sparring forms, but still.  These are killing arts, even the ones taught for self-defense, and no-one pretends differently.

Starting with the most common and simply named of them, we begin with Legionary armatura, the official fighting style of the Imperial Legions. As such, of course, it is an aggressive, offense-oriented style focused on efficacious, efficient maiming and killing, designed to be very good at utilizing weaknesses and very ungentlemanly, by which I mean appallingly Combat Pragmatic, moves – the distillation of literally millennia of dirty tricks.

Given the aforementioned Imperial sensibilities towards casual violence, it should also not surprise anyone that it’s the source of the basic forms taught to everyone for self-defense – it being considered that amateurs can’t afford to muck about with the more complex arts the constabulary use for capture and restraint, and should save their damn lives by putting their attacker down now.

It also has some other specialized offshoots, such as Military Zero-G – which is a combination of the armatura with freefighting, a martial art specifically designed for microgravity, and indeed with optimized forms for those clades which find four arms a much better option than having legs under such circumstances – and Piston-Driven Fist Form, which is Legionary armatura revised for use by people wearing a half-ton of powered combat exoskeleton, to name the most notable.

Other well-known arts, apart from freefighting, include the Dance of Fang and Claw (a natural-weapons-focused style for quadrupeds with sharp claws and sharper teeth); Moonlight and Shadows Form (a style emphasizing silence, invisibility, and subtlety, favored by spies and assassins); Elegant Twin-Blade Warrior Style (for duelists, who need to look rather sharper at the kill than Legionary armatura permits); Silken Courtesan Style (the defensive art of the courtier and courtesan, concentrating on grace, improvised weapons, countering assassin techniques, and staying alive while unarmored; see also Waif-Fu); and Synthetic Heroism Methodology (kung-fu specifically optimized for robots).

But even this merely scratches the surface. A culture which believes that even unfortunate necessities must be done well, and with beauty, develops – shall we say – a lot of martial arts…

Trope-a-Day: Waif-Fu

Waif-Fu: Some of the Empire’s Fantastic Fighting Styles (coming tomorrow) are like this – particularly those like, say, Silken Courtesan Style, which was intended for the courtier or courtesan required to fight when out of armor and with only opportunistic weapons (and which does include over 200 ways to inflict death and maiming through skillful use of a silk or paper fan, so…), but by no means all of them are.

(It is also somewhat subverted inasmuch as while there are a lot of eldrae who, apart from height, look the part, it’s not the quantity of muscle tissue that counts, so much as the quality.  They may be slender, but they are disproportionately strong – and if they happen to be ex-Legion with the various military-basic upgrades, that may be “ties knots in metal bars for practice” strong.)