A very solid work. Mr. Rice has certainly done his homework. The various styles listed here allow every martial artist character to be unique. A virtual Must Have if you want to run a tournament-style adventure (Blood Sport, The Quest). My biggest issue is an editing error: the mastery list for Professional Wrestling isn’t listed with the other styles. I also have some concerns that the Bad-Assed Barroom Brawler class and the School of Hard Knocks fighting style might be too powerful. The other issues I have with this book are matters of style; I’m not saying that the book is “wrong,” just that I would have done things differently. I would have included Hard Kick 1-3, Jump Kick, and Flying Kick in at least one of the Karate styles. Maybe this was deliberately not done in an effort to “balance” the styles. Many feats offer a competence bonus to defense based on various abilities. I’ll briefly comment on those. Analytical Combat (bonus based on Intelligence): I get this. If you can figure out what your opponent will do, you’ll be ready for it. Banter (bonus based on Charisma): Basically, constantly talking in order to annoy and distract your opponent. Fits the way some action movie heroes fight. I’d allow it, but make players role play the banter to get the bonus. Brute (bonus based on Strength): You’re big and muscle-bound, so a lot of blows bounce off you. I understand the logic, but wonder if some sort of Damage Reduction (perhaps limited to unarmed attacks and attacks with blunt weapons) would have been a better way to portray this ability. High Pain Threshold (bonus based on Constitution): basically a character is hit (a lot) during training and learns to ignore the pain. Some real-world martial artists train this way, so I understand the logic behind this feat, but (as with Brute) wonder if Damage Reduction might not have been better than a competence bonus. Poise (bonus based on Wisdom): This just seems too far fetched for me. In addition, many styles have their attack rolls modified by abilities other than strength. I’m OK with modifying rolls by Dexterity, but feel that modifying rolls by Wisdom (Aikido) or Charisma (Lucha Libre) is a bit far fetched. Maybe this was done to make non-physical abilities more useful in combat. If so, do we really need to? After all, big muscles won’t help a character pass a Chemistry test, and agility won’t help a character doing research on the net. I liked the Beam Sword Fencing styles, but noticed that in order to emulate the fighting styles of some Jedi Knights; a character would need feats from all three styles. Still, this can be easily fixed by creating a combination style. I would have called the Wuxia ability “Wire Fu”. Other KI Feats I would have liked to have seen included: 1) Boomerang Blade: Throw your weapon at an opponent, and hit or miss, it returns to you at the end of the round. 2) A Wire Fu ability that allows a character to run part way up a wall, do a flip, and land behind an opponent. 3) Iron-Arm Block: allows characters to block melee weapons without taking minimum damage on a successful block. 4) An ability that allows characters to deflect or catch arrows and thrown missile (like “Grasshopper” of Kung Fu Fame. 5) An ability that allows a character armed with a sword (or other melee weapon) to deflect bullets. Maybe a supplement focusing on Ki abilities would be a good idea. All in all, this book is still a solid work, and I highly recommend it.
[4 of 5 Stars!]