Before I start, I wanted to say thanks, Scotsperson! It made me giggle that anyone would think the speechize any of my scripts. ^_^
Anyway, today, we are looking at another one of the major sets of tomes from RPGObjects: the Blood and Fists trilogy! I’ll be doing this review a bit differently than I have before; I’ll be looking over the rules in general by topic rather than a chapter-by-chapter summar as I normally do. It’s an attempt to have more opinions and less space-hogging. Oh, and sorry for this being late and no other review…I’ll make up for it with part two of this tomorrow and something special. I’ve just been sick lately.
Core Book Classes
First off, I’ll be giving a rundown of the new advanced classes from Blood and Fists itself. I mean, you had to expect them to be present, right?
Bad-Ass Barroom Brawler: Yes, I am serious, that is the name of the first advanced class. The BABB is like the unholy union of the Barbarian and Rogue, with a variant on sneak attack called Cheap Shot and rage at a certain amount per day, both progressing in power through the class levels. With the addition of a 1d12 (!) hit die progression and full Base Attack Bonus progression, this class is a nightmare in melee. Thankfully, the class’s piss-poor Will and Reflex saves and less than stellar Defense score balances it out so it doesn’t become game-breaking. As an aside, it is also one of the only classes in this book that doesn’t require a Style Feat (more on those later) to enter it.
Contemplative Master: The Contemplative Master is a classic “meditate and focus on your inner power”-style monk. All of her class abilities are masteries and feats that are connected to a specific martial arts style. This class has a poor hit die progression at 1d6, but makes up for it with a decent Base Attack Bonus, Reflex and Will saves, and Defense bonus. This is a class for those who want to be über-focused in a single martial arts style.
Martial Arts Master: This advanced class is essentially a partially flipped version of the Contemplative Master, with a better hit die progression (1d8), good Fortitude and Reflex saves instead of Reflex and Will, and…that’s pretty much it. There’s not much more to say.
Skills and Feats
The brunt of other new rules within Blood and Fists lays in the feats and new skill uses. The new skill uses include Concentration checks for meditation, Balance checks to avoid being tripped, and Sense Motive to predict attack; all are very useful and well thought-out as an addition to the d20 Modern rules set. The normal bonus feats are hit and miss…the biggest misses are the locale weapon proficiencies. This system cuts up archaic weapons by location, meaning that you have to take a different feat to be able to use a sword from China than, say, a sword from India. I made a rant on this idea before, and I won’t waste space on it again. The other major meat of these new feats are a new type called style feats. Style feats grant you access to more unarmed abilities, specific maneuvers (more on that soon, too), and gives you access to certain skills as class skills, as per occupations. From Aikido and Arnis to White Crane and Wing Chun, there are a total of 42 style feats, ranging in type from speedy ninjutsu to slow but steady sumo. The second of these larger sections would be maneuver feats; maneuver feats are directly tied to style feats (which they require in one form or another), and add more flexibility to how an attack works. There are a whole lot of maneuver feats (over 80, but I didn’t keep an exact count), including such feats as Flying Kick and Zen Archery. Finally, there are ki feats, mystical feats that focus on the inner power of the body and mind. Ki, style, and maneuver feats are all well-presented, although I wouldn’t have minded a bit more variety.
The Kitchen Sink
Miscellaneous items fill the rest of the book. One would be the martial arts masteries, mentioned in the Contemplative and Martial Arts Master advanced classes from earlier. They are essentially talents…nothin more, nothing less. They’re alright, but nothing truly special. The weapons and campaign setting ideas….ehh, both chapters are examples of where Blood and Fists takes a back seat to Martial Arts Mayhem. So yeah, there you have the basics, so we can get into looking at the supplemental material for the next part.
At its core, Blood and Fists is a martial arts movie in d20 form. RPGObjects did a lot of work on this, from what I can tell, and it shows. There are some spots where the book drops the ball, but…it’s really not dropping the ball. It’s more like the Game Mechanics had the bigger ball in the end. Nonetheless, this is a very welcome title to have present. 9/10.