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Exalted does not allow the use of Martial Arts and other attack abilities such as brawl, melee, etc. (E3, p. 426). The rules say:

In short—Martial Arts Charms are not compatible with Brawl, or any other combat Ability, unless they explicitly state otherwise. A bare-handed attack cannot benefit from both the maiming precision of Snake style’s Crippling Pressure-Point Strike and the devastating force of the Heaven Thunder Hammer; wielding twin blades in the katas of Steel Devil style is entirely unlike the pragmatic fundamentals of the Melee Ability.

Most of this is obvious. You could not for instance make a strike that was enhanced both by Ferocious Jab (E3, p. 274) and Striking Fury Claws (E3, p. 431) at the same time.

But at the limits it gets confusing. Can a Tiger Stylist with a high brawl use Striking Fury Claws to supplement an attack but then use the Brawl charm Wind and Stones Defense (E3, p. 274) reflexively when attacked by another foe before the Stylist's next turn?

Can you use any Brawl Charms at all with a Martial Arts Form active?

In other words, what are the limits on combining Martial Arts with brawl, melee, archery, and thrown?

  • Are they so distinct that you basically have to pick one or the other for a battle and be locked in?
  • Or are they compatible enough that you can use both as long as you don't supplement the same particular attack with both
  • Or is the answer somewhere in between?
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I, unfortunately, cannot give you an absolutely concrete answer here--but let's expand out on the rules a little for greater context. But the short version is, I believe the rules indicate your second bullet is the right answer. "You cannot supplement the same action with more than one type of Combat Charm."

"Combining" Charms

For this, let's reference the base rules on Charms, starting at ex3 page 252. Particularly on the types of Charm you can combine--a Supplemental Charm

Supplemental Charms can generally only benefit rolls using the Ability they're listed under, unless otherwise stated. A character may use as many supplemental Charms as she desires during a round, so long as she is taking valid actions for them to enhance.

The rules on Martial Arts appear to be an expansion on this. If you make an Unarmed Attack and apply a Martial Arts Charm to it, that attack is no longer a valid action for--say--Brawl charms to enhance. If you use the Single Point Shining into the Void Charm "Void-Slicing Wind" that Simple Charm cannot benefit from Melee supplemental charms.

The most likely explanation here is that this is specifically about combining Charms, mixing together Simple and Supplemental.

So if you take a Non-Martial Arts Action, you can use Non-Martial Arts Charms--and a Reflexive Action is distinct from your Simple Actions used to attack.

Form Charms

The general standing rule, which was stated in the Supplemental Charms section above, is that Charms only benefit their listed ability unless otherwise stated.

So if you activate Tiger Form, this is a Martial Arts Charm. It does not say it offers a benefit to Brawl, so it doesn't. But nowhere in the book does it say that using incompatible Charms shut off any other sustained Charms. You can light up persistent Melee Charms, but they don't benefit your Brawl--but they don't shut off either.

So, you would maintain the form, but the form offers you no benefit when you're not using martial arts.

If it uses the general rule, why is it called out separately?

Because Martial Arts is weird. Single Point is a sword style, which feels like it should cross over with Melee. Black Claw is purely unarmed, which feels like it should cross over with Brawl. Righteous Devil uses not-guns, which feels like it should cross over with Archery.

So it makes sense that they'd need to specifically call out that "No, Martial Arts only works with Martial Arts, but it can work with other Martial Arts, as long as you've got compatible arms and armor."

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks. I'm completely persuaded by your reasoning. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 4, 2023 at 22:08

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