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There is nothing “natural” about the Abyssal Exalted—but like all other Exalted, they find that when they apply their Essence to fisticuffs, wrestling and other forms of unarmed combat, certain Charms spontaneously appear. Abyssal martial artists do not fight like their Solar counterparts, with noble simplicity and straightforward blows. Rather, their natural art focuses on cruelty and overkill. It’s a style for bloody-handed thugs who want to terrify their foes and leave a trail of corpses behind them. Deathknights with a particularly demented sense of irony sometimes call these Charms “Abyssal Hero Style,” in mocking comparison with the Lunar, Solar and Terrestrial Hero Styles practiced by other Exalted. Those Deathlords who remember the highly formalized martial arts schools of the First Age call it Dark Messiah Style. Most deathknights don’t call it anything at all—it’s just unarmed combat for Abyssals.


Anyone who can learn Celestial martial arts can learn Dark Messiah Style. They find it a fixed tree of Charms, and cannot create new Charms in the style. Only Abyssals and Deathlords can devise such new Charms.

Weapons and Armor: As in Solar Hero Style, the form weapons of this style are the cestus, fighting gauntlet, khatar, tiger claws, razor harness and their artifact equivalents. Practitioners can also use improvised weapons—any convenient, sturdy object with a maximum Accuracy of -3 and Rate of 2, such as an unattuned daiklave, a coffin-lid or a corpse.

Ravaging Blow

Cost: 2m; Mins: Martial Arts 2, Essence 2;
Type: Supplemental
Keywords: Combo-OK
Duration: Instant
Prerequisite Charms: None

Abyssal martial artists strike where it hurts most. This Charm enhances an unarmed attack (other than a grapple). If the attack roll succeeds, extra successes count double for determining raw damage. If the Exalt has Dark Messiah Form active, Ravaging Blow also adds one to the attack’s minimum damage.

Foe-Blinding Jab
Cost: 3m; Mins: Martial Arts 3, Essence 2;
Type: Supplemental
Keywords: Combo-OK, Crippling
Duration: Instant
Prerequisite Charms: Ravaging Blow

The deathknight jabs his fingers or a form weapon at his opponent’s eyes. This Charm supplements an unarmed attack. If the attack would inflict two or more levels of damage, Foe-Blinding Jab reduces that damage to a single level but inflicts a Crippling effect that blinds one eye (see Exalted, p. 152). Repeated use of this Charm causes full blindness. Exalted and similarly resilient beings heal this trauma with a day of rest. Mortals cannot naturally heal such maiming. If the Abyssal wishes, he can inflict blindness for only a few minutes by applying pressure or throwing a handful of dirt rather than gouging. In this case, the Crippling effect takes place as long as the attack hits, but the strike inflicts no damage.

Dead Man's Grasp

Cost: 1m/action; Mins: Martial Arts 2, Essence 2;
Type: Supplemental
Keywords: Combo-OK
Duration: Until Released
Prerequisite Charms: None

Abyssal warriors crush their foes with the unnatural strength of the risen dead. This Charm supplements a grapple attack. The contested roll to control the clinch plays out as normal… but the deathknight inflicts lethal damage. What’s more, the raw damage of his clinch increases by one for each subsequent action the character maintains control of the grapple, to a maximum of the character’s Martial Arts rating. The Charm ends and the damage bonus resets to +0 if the Abyssal stops spending Essence and squeezing to deal damage.

Inescapable Iron Grasp

Cost: 5m; Mins: Martial Arts 3, Essence 2;
Type: Supplemental
Keywords: Combo-OK
Duration: Until released
Prerequisite Charms: Dead Man’s Grasp

The Chosen of the Void can hold their victims in death’s own grip. This Charm supplements a grapple attack. As the deathknight and his foe struggle to control the grapple, the dice pool for the victim takes an internal penalty equal to the number of actions for which the Abyssal has already controlled the grapple. What’s more, as long as the Abyssal controls the grapple, his victim cannot breathe. In a long struggle, the rules for holding breath (see Exalted, p. 130) could even come into play. The (Stamina + Resistance) roll to resist asphyxiation is always difficulty 3. More immediately, the victim cannot cry out or make any other sound in the Abyssal’s grip.


Dark Messiah Form

Cost: 6m; Mins: Martial Arts 4, Essence 2;
Type: Simple (Speed 5)
Keywords: Form-type
Duration: One scene
Prerequisite Charms: Foe-Blinding Jab, Inescapable Iron Grip

While the Abyssal performs the kata to assume Dark Messiah Form, she concentrates on every pain the world ever inflicted on her. Farewell ethics, it’s time for bloody, brutal payback!

While using this Charm, all the character’s unarmed attacks inflict piercing damage (if they didn’t already). The martial artist can make an unarmed Martial Arts parry against ranged and lethal attacks without a stunt. What’s more, Dark Messiah Form eliminates multiple-action penalties for the first (Martial Arts ÷ 2, rounded up) actions in a flurry. At Martial Arts 5, an Abyssal can punch three times in a flurry with no penalty at all. Any actions after the penalty-free number, however, take the same penalties as if this Charm had not been active. As a final benefit, a Dark Messiah stylist can attune to soulsteel form weapons (if he couldn’t before) and gain all the motes stripped from a target by such weapons. The amoral ferocity of Dark Messiah Form comes at a price, though. While using the form, characters cannot channel their Virtues.

Bone-Shattering Blow

Cost: 1m or 3m, 1wp; Mins: Martial Arts 4, Essence 3;
Type: Reflexive (Step 10)
Keywords: Combo-OK, Crippling
Duration: Instant
Prerequisite Charms: Dark Messiah Form

This Charm imbues an Abyssal’s attacks with horrible, crushing force, enabling her to break bones, dislocate joints and pulp organs with casual savagery. If the character inflicts two or more levels of damage with an unarmed attack, he may reflexively activate this Charm to reduce the attack’s damage to only a single level of lethal damage but inflict one amputation disability (see Exalted, p. 152). Because the target organ or limb is mangled beyond use rather than actually severed, Exalted victims (and others with similar healing) can recover from the Crippling effect by spending a day resting, though they cannot heal any other wounds or other damage while regenerating this way. This Charm normally costs three motes and one Willpower to activate, but it costs only one mote if the victim is a mortal extra.

Grievous Agony Attack

Cost: 4m; Mins: Martial Arts 4, Essence 3;
Type: Supplemental
Keywords: Combo-OK, Crippling
Duration: Instant
Prerequisite Charms: Dark Messiah Form

The Abyssal strikes hard with a knee to the groin, or some equally “dirty” tactic, and inflicts debilitating pain. (The attack can be as specific as a called shot, but it incurs no called-shot penalty.) If the target suffers any damage from this attack, he immediately drops prone and shifts to Inactive status (see Exalted, p. 143), though he remains conscious (and usually writhes or screams). This state lasts only five ticks, but the lingering pain from the Charm imposes a -1 internal penalty (a wound penalty) to all non-reflexive actions for the rest of the scene.

Illustrative Overkill Technique

Cost: — (3m, 1wp); Mins: Martial Arts 5, Essence 3;
Type: Permanent
Keywords: Emotion, Obvious
Duration: Instant
Prerequisite Charms: Grievous Agony Attack

Just killing an enemy is boring. Killing an enemy so brutally that every witness finds her heart and limbs numbed with terror… now that’s satisfying. An Abyssal may invoke this Charm reflexively in Step Ten of attack resolution by spending three motes and one Willpower whenever he kills or mortally wounds an opponent with an unarmed attack. As a base effect, the Charm enables the deathknight to kill his victim in whatever horrific manner the player finds appropriate, whether tearing the foe in half, punching into her abdomen and pulling out handfuls of viscera or worse.

Every enemy or neutral character who can witness this execution and has a Dodge MDV less than the Abyssal’s (Martial arts + Essence) must pay one Willpower or be overwhelmed with horror as an unnatural Emotion effect. While afflicted with this fear and revulsion, characters suf- fer an internal penalty equal to the Abyssal’s Essence rating to all non-reflexive actions for the rest of the scene. They cannot, however, be made to spend more Willpower or suffer further penalties through repeated use of Illustrative Overkill Technique. If it needs to be said, use of this Charm invariably prompts Morale checks in mortals, who tend to run screaming or fall to their knees retching.

Lashing Tempest Palm

Cost: 3m; Mins: Martial Arts 5, Essence 3; Type: Reflexive
Keywords: Combo-OK, Mirror (Crashing Wave Throw; Exalted, p. 243)
Duration: Instant
Prerequisite Charms: Dark Messiah Form

The deathknight releases an opponent from a clinch by striking her with a brutal open-handed blow, hurling her away with the force of a maelstrom.

Void Avatar Prana

Cost: 1wp (+1m); Mins: Martial Arts 5, Essence 4;
Type: Simple (Speed 1, DV -1)
Keywords: Obvious
Duration: Instant
Prerequisite Charms: Bone-Shattering Blow, Illustrative Overkill Technique, Lashing Tempest Palm

A master of the Dark Messiah Style attunes her body, mind and Essence so perfectly to Oblivion that she becomes a conduit for its dread power to strike down any who lay hands upon her. A Dark Messiah stylist activates this Charm immediately after assuming Dark Messiah Form (effectively, making assuming the form a Speed 6 action that costs an additional Willpower point).

While using Void Avatar Prana, the martial artist can reflexively spend one mote in response to any attack, or when she makes an attack. For a moment, her anima surrounds her in dark necrotic fire while her body becomes a black silhouette. This effect supplies a perfect block against any attack, even attacks that are normally unblockable. What’s more, anyone who touches the Abyssal at that moment (whether casual contact, held in a grapple or making a hand-to-hand attack) suffers unsoakable lethal damage equal to the Abyssal’s Essence score. The character can also activate Void Avatar Prana at the moment of making her own hand-to-hand at- tack and add this damage if her attack succeeds. Finally, the Abyssal’s anima flashes totemic for that moment, with the usual effects on onlookers’ Morale (see p. 101) given by all totemic Abyssal auras. In fact, if a non-Abyssal learned and used this Charm, his own anima would momentarily flare with the same effects as if he were an Abyssal.

This Charm carries one of the Four Flaws of Abyssal Invulnerability.

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