Chapter 12: Martial School - Character Creation and Advancement Rules

In the following pages, you will find a full write up of the different martial schools available to players in Dark Passages. Each martial school has five levels, and each school has one attack skill and one defense skill per level (10 combat maneuvers total available per school, 5 attack skills and 5 defense skills). Once you have chosen the primary school you wish your character to practice, you should choose either the level one attack skill or the level one defense skill from your chosen school and add 1 use of that skill to your character sheet. This first martial skill is included in your initiation cost, representing your new teacher's first lesson. Additional levels of each skill must be purchased separately. You may purchase up to a total of five attacks and five defenses per level, potentially having access to a total of 25 attack options and 25 defense options as a Grand Master if you max out every skill at every level. Per combat session, you may use up to 5 attack skills and up to 5 defense skills (up to 10 total combat maneuvers, 5a/5d max) in any combination. All available combat maneuvers reset after 10 minutes of rest (which can include time spent healing from wounds).

Ranks and Advancement

Martial School Ranks: Initiate, Apprentice, Devotee, Master, Grand Master
(by comparison, Guild Ranks: Novice, Apprentice, Journeyman, Master, Grand Master)


After you have access to at least three uses of the attack skill and three uses of the defense skill in your current level, you may purchase your advancement to the next level of that school. Your advancement cost covers one use of the attack skill or one use of the defense skill in the next level of your school, which you "learn" during your advancement test. Anyone can teach another practitioner new skills, but you must be of the same or higher rank in the school to instruct another, and must have the skill yourself in order to teach it. To elevate another practitioner, you must be at least one rank higher in the school in order to test them for advancement to become your equal. For example, a Devotee (rank 3) can teach a skill to anyone of rank 3 or lower, but can only elevate someone from 0 to 1 (Initiation of a new practitioner), 1 to 2 (advancement from Initiate to Apprentice), or 2 to 3 (advancement from Apprentice to Devotee, thus making his student his equal).


Advancement testing can be done in many ways, and is left to to discretion of the teacher, with the exception of going to the rank of Grand Master, which is traditionally set and kept very secretive by the Grand Masters' Council of each school. Usually, there is a moral or ethical lesson to be learned that directly relates to the school's beliefs and philosophies, as well as the physical instruction and demonstration of the new skill being taught and learned.


Being a high-ranking member and advancing through a martial school is more than just a means to an end. Martial school practitioners consider themselves artists, in a sense, and take their schools' philosophies and teachings very seriously. Their training is more than just a tool for surviving a battle, it is a way of life, and a code of ethics to guide them along their path. Each school has its own origins, and its own distinct beliefs and philosophies regarding battle, death, and honor. Failing to uphold the code and traditions of one's school may lead to that individual's Expulsion. If a practitioner observes or hears tell of a serious breach of conduct, they may notify the nearest Grand Master, who will investigate the claims of both sides and determine if honor was lost in the situation. If a higher ranking practitioner knowingly ignores such a breach, they, too, are held accountable, should it be discovered. Generally, it is frowned upon for students to question their masters, however if the breach is serious enough, the Grand Master will at least take the claim into consideration, regardless of the rank of the reporting party.


Expulsion from a martial school simply means that the individual is henceforth banned from receiving any further training within that school until they can prove themselves worthy of continuance by redeeming themselves in the eyes of the Grand Masters' Council. Any training received up to that point is considered to have been justly earned, and, thus, still usable by the practitioner without penalty. Such Expulsions are rare, as minor infractions are generally dealt with by the assignment of small punishment quests or the public performance of menial or humiliating tasks, however they are taken very seriously by all practitioners when the Grand Masters' Council passes down word of such events. Harboring an Expelled Practitioner, or training them in any way, can lead to one's own Expulsion. Being expelled is a great dishonor, and all privileges must be re-earned.

Being a Practitioner of Multiple Martial Schools

The "10-maneuver 5a/5d max" rule applies changes a bit when one takes on another Martial School. For each additional school, the per combat maximum number of attacks and defenses rises by 1. For example, if you were, an initiate in 3 separate martial schools, you could potentially have up to 7 attacks and/or 7 defenses per combat session (5 from the initial school, plus an additional use for each of the secondary schools). These attacks and defenses can be mixed for any martial skills you know, though you must still be in form for a school to choose to use its abilities. For this reason, being an initiate of multiple schools is more expensive (see chart and details below), and potential teachers who are made aware of such martial greed are generally reluctant to aid the student's endeavors. A student who desires a broad spectrum of power at low levels is widely viewed by higher ranking individuals as having a lack of focus or lack of loyalty. Thus, they are not considered a student worthy of further teaching until they can prove themselves, which often means devoting themselves to one school long enough to learn, appreciate, and follow its philosophies and moral codes.


For this reason, you may not raise a rank in an additional martial school higher than your rank in your primary school. In order to become an initiate into a second school, you must first attain the rank of Apprentice (level 2) in your primary school. You must demonstrate your dedication and prove that you are willing to see your endeavors through before anyone else will give you a chance. To do otherwise shows a lack of commitment, and no teacher worth his salt will take you on until you prove that perception to be wrong. Likewise, in order to become initiated into a tertiary school, you would have to attain level 3 in your primary, and then attain level 2 in your secondary, and so forth. If you really wish to spend the time and points, you could theoretically become a Grand Master (level 5) in several different schools. Also, when choosing multiple schools, you must be careful that their ethical codes and philosophies mesh well together to avoid personal internal conflicts. If you are beginning play with multiple schools, please explain in your character background history how and why your character chose such a difficult path.

Changing Your Primary School

If your character has a life-changing event, takes serious offense to a higher up, or has an adverse moral or ethical issue to a specific aspect of their martial school that comes about through in-play circumstances, each player will be permitted to change their primary school once. Once you become a Devotee (level 3) in your chosen school, you may not change your primary designation, however an initiate or apprentice may decide that a school is not truly meshing with their personality. An example might be a Maerisian youth who was forced into the army at a young age, and is suddenly exposed to, say, the Frontiersman school. In an act of revolt against his parents, he changes schools, finally becoming a master of his own fate instead of simply following orders. Whatever the reason, the choice must be somehow justified in play, but it does not require plot approval unless you have initially choosen Pyralian Warrior as your primary school.

Cost per Rank and Level

Base cost for Initiation into one's primary school is 10 points, so if your cultural bonus is a 1/2 cost buy-in, you will pay 5 points for level one with one use of either the attack or defense skill. After that all costs go up as normal for uses, ranks, etc. Buy-in costs to additional schools go up by 5 points per level. The costs for skills within the levels are the same number of points as the level they are from. New characters are not able to start higher than level 3 in any martial school, and may only begin play as a practitioner of a maximum of 2 schools without Plot approval.

Advancement and Skill Level Costs

Level in your School     

Advancement Cost Per Level  


10 EXP


15 EXP


20 EXP


25 EXP


30 EXP


When buying into your next rank, you will receive one Skill included in this purchase.  You must fulfill all prerequisite requirements, and purchase the new rank BEFORE a teacher can teach you.  You are unable to use these abilities in play until you have been trained.

Level in your School     

Individual Skill Costs Per Level












You can also choose to take more than one martial school.  EXP costs are as follows:


Advancement Cost Per Level  

Individual Skill Costs Per Level


10 / 15 / 20 / 25 / 30

1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5


15 / 20 / 25 / 30 / 35

1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5


20 / 25 / 30 / 35 / 40

1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5


25 / 30 / 35 / 40 / 45

1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5


30 / 35 / 40 / 45 / 50

1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5

Sample Math

1st School:

Level 1 = 10 points minimum investment
Level 2 = 30 points minimum (10 for Level 1 + 5 points for level 1-3a/3d skill stack + 15 for Level 2 Advancement)
Level 3 = 60 points minimum (30 for Level 2 + 10 points for level 2-3a/3d skill stack + 20 for Level 3 Advancement)
Level 4 = 100 points minimum (60 for Level 3 + 15 points for level 3-3a/3d skill stack + 25 for Level 4 Advancement)
Level 5 = 150 points minimum (100 for Level 4 + 20 points for level 4-3a/3d skill stack + 30 for Level 5 Advancement)
to max everything, 5 attacks/5 defenses @ all 5 levels, top of your school = 235 points


2nd School:

Level 1 = 15 points minimum investment
actual minimum cost = 45 points (level 2 minimum cost in 1st school + level 1 minimum cost in 2nd school = 30 + 15)
Level 2 = 40 points (15 for Level 1 + 5 points for level 1-3a/3d skill stack + 20 points for Level 2 Advancement)
actual minimum cost = 100 points (level 3 minimum cost in 1st school + level 2 minimum cost in 2nd school = 60 + 40)
Level 3 = 75 points (40 for Level 2 + 10 points for level 2-3a/3d skill stack + 25 points for Level 3 Advancement)
actual minimum cost = 175 points (level 4 minimum cost in 1st school + level 3 minimum cost in 2nd school = 100 + 75)
Level 4 = 120 points (75 for Level 3 + 15 points for level 3-3a/3d skill stack + 30 points for Level 4 Advancement)
actual minimum cost = 270 points (level 5 minimum cost in 1st school + level 4 minimum cost in 2nd school = 150 + 120)
Level 5 = 155 points (100 for Level 4 + 20 points for level 3-3a/3d skill stack + 35 points for Level 5 Advancement)
actual minimum cost = 305 points (level 5 minimum cost in 1st school + level 4 minimum cost in 2nd school = 150 + 155)
to max everything, 5 attacks/5 defenses @ all 5 available levels, top of your 2nd school = 495 points

The Martial Schools

Below you will find the detailed write-ups of each of the well-known Martial Schools, including their abilities, philosophies, and histories. Please note that each school has several favored weapon styles to choose from, and most have a favored weapon material listed as well. What favored weapon means is that the practitioner must be using the type of weapon that he or she has trained with in order to call any martial skills that involve the blade making contact with a physical item (opponent/weapon/ground/etc), such as a damaging Vital Strike, parry, falldown, etc. Those skills will be listed as combat skills in their description sections. What favored material means is that the practitioner must have a piece of the material(s) listed on them in order to use non-combat skills, such as sidestep effect or mind-effecting skills. The general practice is to have your weapons made of the preferred material, so as to easily summon the energies of your school, however a broken weapon, piece of jewelry, lump of gemstone, etc will suffice in a pinch. The mythos behind this phenomenon differs from school to school, however, much like the innate abilities of each material, the true source of their power remains a mystery. Many theories exist, some scientific, some supernatural, but no one is truly certain as to the whys and wherefores, they just know it works, and thus, it is taken by most as simply a matter of faith.


Use of Preferred Weapon is REQUIRED to use any abilities in that particular martial school. If you lose your weapon in play, you will be unable to call abilities from your martial school until you retrieve your weapon type. Use of Preferred Weapons materials have additional effects based on the material. Players cannot start with these items at Character Creation without the Heirloom Item Advantage.


Note: Some martial skills mimic other skills and abilities, such as sidestep, falldown, knockout, fear, etc. Combat skill taglines should be called as you swing or engage your weapon. Non-combat skill taglines should be called as you are in motion (moving, pointing, etc).


Descriptions may be clarified if someone asks in play, but effects that mimic Martial School abilities will always give the base effect as the last word of the Tagline for ease of interpretation.