Friday, June 30, 2017

How Do Your Warriors Prepare?

The whistle of steel was loud in the courtyard. Korak flowed from strike, to guard, and back again, the heavy blade whirling in his grip. Every movement was precise, the muscles flexing and thrusting with singular, focused purpose. Once the army of phantoms around him was slain, he let out a slow breath, and relaxed his stance.

"Why do you practice every day?" Phineas asked from the bench.

"Why do you take a whetstone to your blade?" Korak replied.

"So it stays sharp," Phineas said.

Korak nodded, took a firm grip on his sword, and went through the form again.

Practice makes permanent.

What Do Your Warriors Do To Get Ready?

Mechanically speaking, we're used to the spellcasters needing to go through a morning routine to get their mojo flowing. Wizards have to spend an hour with their spell book, memorizing the magic they plan to use that day. Clerics and druids have to pray, going through whatever rituals they have to be granted their divine powers. Bards have to tune up, and sorcerers have to go through a 15-minute routine to get into the right frame of mind to access their powers.

But what about your bruisers, enforcers, swordsmen, and spear fighters? Do they do anything?

Mechanically, no. By the rules, fighters, barbarians, rangers, slayers, monks, brawlers, and all the other martial classes can be woken up in the middle of the night, and they're ready to rock. That's one of the inherent advantages of those classes.

Say when.
But since you have the time to wait for the spellcasters to limber up anyway, why not ask how the martial characters keep in fighting form?

As a for instance, does the brawler wake up early, and go through a warm-up routine? Planks, push-ups, shadow boxing, and maybe some pull-ups on a tree branch? Does the fighter spar with the ranger, the two of them ducking and weaving as they swing practice swords, or just stout sticks instead of steel? Does the barbarian take a certain number of swings with his ax every morning, first with the right hand, then the left, re-acquainting his grip with the weapon now that he's awake? Does the monk go through a series of yoga poses to awaken her ki, and ensure that her body is in proper, working order?

As I mentioned in What Does Your Spell Preparation Look Like?, the way your character prepares says something about them. Are you measured, going through routine to wake up the muscle memory you spent a lifetime imbuing into your body? Or do you prefer simulated combat, sparring against an opponent, or your shadow, as a way to trick your instincts in order to stay sharp? Do you warm-up in armor, or do you limber up before you put on the full weight of your gear? Or are you one of those people who rolls out of bed, tosses their hair out of their eyes, and relies on your lifetime of experience to see you through the next challenge?

It might not be a huge part of your character, and it might fade into the background in time. But it is worth thinking about what your martial character's preparation says about them, and what those who watch will learn about the way they were trained.

That's all for this week's Fluff post. Hopefully you all enjoyed it, and it got the gears grinding in your heads. If you want to make sure you don't miss any of my updates, then follow me on Facebook, Tumblr, and Twitter. Lastly, if you'd like to help keep this blog going, stop by The Literary Mercenary's Patreon page to become a patron today. All I ask is $1 a month to help me keep creating content, and in return you'll get both my gratitude, and a lot of sweet gaming swag as a thank you.


  1. My character always train in the morning when he can even he gains nothing from it. Also look after his gear before he sleeps. As a frontline combatant, he really needs to gear up. However, his party members needs the resource to survive, so he sucks it up and just train to make up for the lack of efficient equipments. He turns out doing quite well. He use every single of his equipment to the fullest when every they can even if they are none magical, because he trains with them all the time. While his party members got to the point where they forgot they even have the magical items and failed to use them. So the fluff of being prepared is actually quite helpful, reminds yourself what options you have.

  2. It all depends on the character.

    My monk does tai-chi while glaring balefully at the rest of the group (she's an elf monk-magus, so she rested for four, spent an hour memorizing, then was on watch for three hours, and these bozos need an extra hour to get ready) - MAD means no charisma for her.

    My Maenad (Archaeologist / Dragon Disciple / Arcane Savant, specializing in Sonic Spells and Acetic Acid) drinks heavily while the others prep (you have your 'appropriate frame of mind', I have mine).

    My middle aged mercenary tends his gear and tries to warm up without winding himself; his endurance isn't what it once was.

    My Sasha picks out her clothes and makes sure everything is Just So.

    My Mojo-Mage (Steel Hound Sleuth / Mysterious Stranger / Musketeer) is one of only two stealthy guys in the group, so he makes sure all his shiny / gaudy clothing bits are covered up, makes sure his metal is covered with leather or cloth so it doesn't clank or rattle, checks his leather to be sure it's supple and won't creak, and makes sure his guns are loaded and all his reloads are dry and ready to fire.

    It's all about the character, and the more it says about the character's personality, the better.