The people of Uttarakuru are in some ways just as advanced than we are, and in others a lot less so. Uttarakuru can be said to be quite high magic, because practically everyone has their own kind of magic in a sense. Due to the Prana, or the breath of life inside every Uttaran person, it is possible for even the average person to survive a bullet or break a rock with a good punch, albeit with great luck on their part. For an adventuring character, this is a mark of great skill rather than great luck.
In Uttarakuru, the characters’ power cards represent their skills and abilities in four different kinds of Uttaran fighting styles. I don’t want to make it seem like the combat is the only focus of the game – but I do want the combat to be enjoyable! And it requires a lot of effort to get it just the way you want it. I think the mechanics I’ve come up with manage to capture the flavor I want.
You can look at the Power cards I’ll be discussing in this dropbox document.
In Uttarakuru, most people grow up knowing something of martial arts. It’s a common sport and a way for kids to exercise and learn some good lessons. Disciplines teach every village kid some patience, humility, restraint and sportsmanship, as well as being just plain fun and vigorous activity. Most people in Uttarakuru can throw a pretty mean punch or kick as a result. However, those who really master Disciplines know that raw power isn’t the end of it. The body’s health and potential, skillfully channeled into the martial forms, can perform incredible feats. Through the build-up and use of Prana, martial artists in Uttarakuru keep up with and even surpass the magic users and the fancy rifled arms of the soldiers.
Disciplines are all melee attacks making use of melee weapons. The “unarmed” equivalent is the use of the Claw Gauntlet, a traditional weapon of the Iomadi, who use it to emulate the powerful natural arms of the great animal spirits they venerate (and whose markings they bear). Disciplines differ from other styles by building up counters of Calm or Fury, channeling their Prana in certain specific ways through certain practiced moves for specific effects.
The two major fighting styles, Praying Mantis and Striking Hornet, use the counters differently. Praying Mantis is more about trickiness, defense and conditions, while Striking Hornet is about movement and lots of damage. In the preview you see two different Praying Mantis disciplines. The Basic discipline builds up counters based off either hitting the enemy, or a specific condition under the Graze if you miss. These counters are then spent on more advanced moves. Generally, Disciplines perform good moves at a cheaper cost than other Fighting Styles. But they have to work a bit more to build up the counters necessary to unleash those moves. Disciplines also inflict lesser buffs and debuffs than other styles, generally, but have their own quirky abilities, such as turning enemy size and other advantages against them.
Disciplines are generally the only powers that care about the enemy’s Size or use it in any way. Some Disciplines only function on Armored or Large enemies (often breaking that armor or using that size against it) while others have special bonuses against specific kinds of enemies. However they’re all-around useful.
Uttarakuru has a schizophrenic base of knowledge and technology. While most people are devout polytheists with a particularly rural mindset, they still have plenty of guns and strange technology, and the military powers of the world have pushed the arts of warfare beyond just standing in ranks fighting with swords. The manyfold threats, many supernatural, that hide from the Uttarans in dark corners of the world require a combined approach and intelligent plotting. As such, a sword has a place at the hip of every soldier – but many reach first for the gun, despite a mild distrust of it.
Tactics are unique in that they’re the only power set in which none of the cards require any build up whatsoever. Every tactic can be used without the building of resources, albeit the effect will be weaker. However, they can achieve greater effects by using resources. The Tactics resource is called Opportunity. By using basic, bread and butter techniques proven by centuries worth of legendary battles, a Tactics-user spots or creates moments of vulnerability to exploit the full potential of his or her powers. Tactics don’t have broad differences like the two styles, but there’s two common sets of tactics: tactics that build things, creating Pioneer Objects such as sandbag cover and trenches, or even deployable traps, and tactics where Grenadiers simply strike or shoot the enemy until it goes down. Tactics are the only power set that works with Uttaran high technology known as Auto-Gear. While in an Auto-Carrier mecha or a Landship tank, you can only use Tactics with its weapons.
When the cataclysmic Rudras swept away the Last World, the Earth sang a healing song from which the many Devas, the Uttaran’s hierarchy of lesser and greater living gods, were born. From the Devas, the Uttarans learned to wield Prana, the breath of life, as a Voice to manipulate the world’s energies through Song. Uttaran divine magic exists in the form of Hymns, songs about concepts, stories and themes that have religious power among the Uttarans. Singing of these things help the religious Oblate to draw out his or her Prana and to manifest the Voice of the Devas. Everybody knows these songs, and probably everyone has sang some of them, but only certain special people can sing them in the Voice.
Hymnody works slowly, but builds up. Given time it will sweep over your enemies. The Verses only rarely ask you to roll for a Hit or Graze, though the weaker Choruses do. They just happen – the song is inevitable. While you are committed to a Hymn, each action advances the song to a higher stage with greater abilities than the last. However, you cannot use other powers while Committed to a Hymn – you’ll have to work between your Verse and Chorus, unless you have earned the ability to use other powers alongside your songs (Oblates can use Disciplines with them, and Seraphim Paladins can use Tactics). In addition, if you switch to a different song, you lose the Verses you accumulated in the last, and must begin singing anew.
Hymnody is also unique in that Oblates tend to make the best and most consistent use of their entire turn (Setup and Action), though they are often rooted to one spot and vulnerable to enemies.
A constant search for knowledge characterizes many of the elite Uttaran factions, but none more so than the Arcane Academies. Though most of the colleges teach philosophy, science, mathematics, culture and theology in equal measures, every college entrant and alumnus is also a magician of some varying degree. Uttarans discovered Rote Magic by adopting methods uncovered from Last World Remnants. In the Last World, people would learn powerful formulas and words, and they cast limited spells with them, so powerful that they would erase the knowledge of the spell from the person’s mind.
Though Uttarans find it impossible to cast the Ancient Magic of the Last World, they have their own magic using sort of the same concept. Rote Magic functions by concentrating a person’s Prana into a Charge, a visible Aura which can then be tapped for other effects. Charge Rotes create counters of a specific element necessary for whatever the caster wishes to do next. Then, Discharge powers essentially brute force the Aura against the environment to generate a reaction. By blasting more Prana of a specific Charge at the target, the Rotes become more powerful. However more concentration is needed to produce the greatest effects. While a caster is building up Charges, his or her thick Aura serves as some measure of protection.
Rote Magic is unique in that it is elemental where the other styles are mostly not. Just like Disciplines sometimes care about Size or Armor, Rotes always care about some kind of elemental charge, and some Rotes can have new reactions if they strike in environments or against enemies that have a specific elemental aura. Rote magic not only mixes elements with the environment sometimes, but some powers also work best off Hybrid reactions, where the Caster builds up different combinations of elemental Charges to achieve the maximum effect. A fully charged Rote Magic attack is often the most powerful type of attack that will be launched in that combat – but can you spend several rounds charging for it?
Rote Magic is the most scarce of the powers, with only certain characters having the schooling and mental fortitude necessary to wield it. It is also completely incompatible with Hymnody – no character has both.