Sunday, June 27, 2021

Δ Discipline Redux

This is based on my old troublesome Discipline delta tree.


Anyone can learn the disciplines. All it takes, fittingly, is discipline.

Each discipline has requirements: complete the requirements, and you can perform the discipline. Requirements are in italics.

These disciplines are numbered: you must have all disciplines from the previous rank to learn a discipline of the next. Other than that, no requirements: any class, any level, any person.


(0) Meditation
Every day, meditate for ten minutes at one of the following times: sunrise, sunset, high noon, or midnight. If you fail to do this, you cannot use any other disciplines until you do.
You can feel every inch of your body in sharper focus and greater detail. With a moment, you can regulate your breathing from any variations. If you spend a minute focusing on your breathing, you can soothe your mind to an even calm.

(1) Limber
Spend an hour every day practicing calisthenics in complete silence. If you speak or make other noise, begin again.
You know how to do all of the basic athletic and acrobatic moves required of you: climbs, rolls, vaults, leaps, hurdles, handstands, handsprings, somersaults, flips, and so on. You can't do them perfectly every time, but you know the foundations. 

(2) Strikes
Find somewhere stony and barren, where no plants grow. Spend a full day meditating there in silence, from your chosen meditation time all the way to that same chosen meditation time.
Provided you have meditated today, you can strike with your hands, feet, elbows, and knees with the power and might of clubs and stones—and you can do it without breaking your bones. 

While clubs and stones are not as strong as axes and arrows, they are certainly stronger than ordinary fists.

(2) Weave
Wear nothing but threadbare rags: no shoes, no gloves, no proper clothing. Just wraps and shifts and robes, enough to provide for decency's necessities.
If you keep your hands in front of you and regulate your breathing, you can avoid the strikes and blows from a single foe.  If you move your hands (like to hit them), or if your breathing gets out of whack (like to sprint away), or if you can't see them, this doesn't work. But: keep your hands up, keep breathing, and keep your eyes on them, and they can never hit you.

This doesn't work against multiple foes. It also doesn't work against non-physical-attack-ish attacks, like dragon's breath or magic lightning.

(2) Concentration
Meditate with your eyes closed. Adorn yourself in at least a couple tattoos, scars, or brands.
While you meditate, your mind cannot be unduly influenced: charms, possessions, and their similar ilk cannot affect you. 

So long as you meditate at least an hour per day, the long-term damaging effects of loneliness, isolation, and routine cannot effect you. 

(3) Rest
Sleep on uncompromising stone or wood or earth, and carry a pebble in each of your pockets.
You can meditate and sleep anywhere—atop sharp sticks, on jagged rocks, in bitter snow, half-submerged in stagnant water, and the like—like it was a soft feather pillow.

You decide exactly when you want to fall asleep, how long you want to sleep for, whether you can be roused from your sleep, and whether or not you wish to dream.

(3) Fall
Find a mountaintop where you can see nothing higher. Meditate there for a full day, from chosen time to chosen time.
If you fall and shed some external piece of clothing as you land—like a cloak, hat, scarf, sash, and so on—you suffer no harm from the fall, regardless of height.

(3) Leap
Touch solid earth with bare skin, or touch something permanently affixed to solid earth, like a tree.
With a length of something loose and light in your hands—a scarf, a whip, a rope, and so on—you can leap as far and as high as a mountain lion. Critically, though, you only travel as fast as a normal human jump; this might leave you in the air for several seconds. 

(4) Haste
Using only your bare hands, chase after and catch a squirrel, a hawk, and a carp.
With empty hands and bare feet, you can run as fast as a horse canters. For every ten minutes you've spent meditating today, you can run for an hour without growing over-tired. 

(4) Throws
Carry a pack at least half-full of rocks.
If you hit someone with a kick or punch and have two limbs squarely planted on the ground, you can launch them backwards. If they're small, they get launched far; if they're large, it's not quite as much distance.

(4) Tranquility
Touch no metal. Wood, stone, and bone are fine, as is metal wrapped in leather or cloth, but you cannot touch metal with bare skin.
While meditating and unarmed, you appear harmless; foes will be put off-guard, and enemies hunting for you will likely not mark you down as anyone of import. It takes someone of great will and passion to attack a person harmlessly meditating.

(5) Balance
Spend an entire day with only your hands touching the ground, never your feet.
As long as one hand or foot is touching a solid surface, you never lose your balance. You might sway and bob and tilt, but you'll never fall over. This includes handstands, meditative poses, odd martial maneuvers, and that kind of thing. 

That said, if something hits you hard enough to literally lift you off the ground, this probably won't work.

(5) Coordination
Shave all the hair off the top of your head. Adorn yourself in at least a few scars, tattoos, or brands.
While your breath is held, you always know exactly how close to you everything is, and if it's moving, how close it will be. This means, for example, you know precisely where a falling raindrop will land on you, or where an enemy's arrow-point will pierce your body.

With difficulty, you can move to avoid or interact with such moving objects: brush arrows to redirect their course, catch enemy blades mid-swing, or avoid oncoming falling raindrops.

(5) Empath
Do not speak.
If you observe a living thing for fifty of their heartbeats, you can feel their basic emotions: anger, fear, joy, hunger, and so on. If you touch them, skin to skin, this only takes three heartbeats.

This lasts as long as you can hear them and you do not speak. You can feel the emotions of multiple living things at once.

(6) Iron Hand
Forge a weapon with your own two hands. Then, hang it on a wall within easy reach, and never use it.
When you wield a weapon, you can feel every inch of it as if it was the skin on your hand; just as you do not have to think to ball your fist or take a step, you do not have to think to cut or thrust with the weapon. 

As long as you aren't holding up something else with the weapon, it is as if the weapon is an empty hand. This works for Weave, Haste, Balance, and so on. 

If the weapon intentionally leaves your hand, you can still feel it until you lose control: for example, if you toss a club in the air and then catch it, you feel it for the duration; if you toss a club in the air and let it fall, you feel it until you no longer could have caught it. 

(6) Whirlwind
Hold your breath for ten consecutive minutes.
While your breath is held: when others strike, you strike twice; if a foe misses you, you can strike them instantaneously; you can draw and stow your weapons in a flicker of an eye.

(6) Prediction
Blindfold yourself, unable to see.
When you speak someone's true name, you know exactly what they're going to do, moments before they do it: where they'll strike, where they'll move, how they'll next maneuver. If you name someone new, your predictions transfer.

(7) Awareness
Engage in no vices.
Your senses no longer require their organs to function: you can see with your eyes closed, hear with ears muffled, smell with your nose filled, taste with your tongue gagged, and feel with your skin numbed.

(7) Truth
Omit nothing relevant. Spread no rumors. Tell no lies. 
If you can detect a person in any way, you know when they're lying, when they're hiding something, and when they're going to betray you.

If they meditate with you for an hour, you can compel them to tell you the truth.

(7) Paralyze
Spend a full day without moving a muscle. A full chosen-time-cycle where, other than your breath, you may not move. If you move, begin again.
When you strike a foe, you can choose to inflict no harm. If you strike them in this way once for every sense they have (for most creatures, this is five), you can paralyze them, leaving their body rigid and their muscles locked. 

They remain paralyzed for fifty heartbeats (your heart, not theirs). If you begin meditating during that minute, they stay paralyzed for as long as you meditate.

(8) Synchrony
Wear no finery, indulge no pleasures, possess no wealth.
Every hour you spend meditating feeds you like a full meal, and refreshes you like sleeping for two hours. If you spend six hours of a day meditating, you do not age that day.

(8) Improvise
Choose a weapon: it must never leave your side, it must be used in your meditations, and you must never fight with it.
You master a weapon. Once mastered, you can wield any item at all similar in place of it. For example, once you have a mastered the sword, you can wield a stick with the same power and efficacy as a blade of the finest steel.

(8) Quiver
Only one foot may touch the ground at a time.
With your eyes closed and your breath held, you can Weave against as many opponents as you have limbs. 

With Iron Hand, you can increase this number beyond your natural four (if you can juggle weapons, this number can get very high indeed).

(9) Emptiness
You must stand atop a cricket, an ant, a beetle, a fly, and a preying mantis, each in turn, without crushing any of them. If any of them are harmed, begin again.
At your choosing, you can compel your body to weigh as little as an insect, but maintain the strength and size of your regular form. This means you can leap huge distances, run up walls, walk across the surface of water, glide on a strong wind, balance atop thin reeds, and otherwise remain near-weightless. 

Whenever you choose, you can return to your normal weight.

(9) Rend
Kill no living thing: not animals, not plants, not people. 
When you strike a foe, you can choose to inflict no harm. If you strike them in this way once for every year they have been alive, and are not struck once in turn, you mark them.

Within a year and a day of a foe being marked, you can, with a twitch of your finger, cause their spirit to leave their body. 

After rending a foe in this way, you can never perform this discipline again.

(9) Wisdom
Meditate for one hour for a year and a day.
Once per month, while in meditation, you learn the true answer to any one question you might have.

(10) Mastery
Learn every other discipline, and meditate for a decade.
You can fly.


The original Discipline had serious issues because it involved mountains and mountains of "do X task for Y amount of time"—people rightfully joked that it would take a spreadsheet to keep track of all. 

This redux solves that by essentially making any previous ability that followed that system into a modal ability: if you perform some specific task or follow a specific rule, you get the perk. Otherwise, you don't. 

This does lead to a slightly odd scenario where actually unlocking abilities is very straightforward—the challenge is then in maintaining them. You'll have to spend some time before an encounter thinking through which of your abilities you want to active and when.

The other big change I made is that now you have to have all three Disciplines from a rank before you go to the next one. I did this because 1) each level has about one non-modal ability (e.g. complete a task, get a permanent benefit) and it helps to slow the otherwise-possibly-rapid bursts through the modal ranks, and 2) because I feel like Discipline is about proving yourself every step of the way; pyromancy or whatever can be more loose and fluid, but here, you gotta put in the work to reap the benefits.

But yeah. There are still some "complete a one-day task" requirements and a couple later ones that involve very long stretches of time, but I hope this version of Discipline is much more usable.


  1. If you were one of the people who offered fixes or suggestions for the original Discipline, do let me know what you think of this one.

  2. Absolutely fantastic work! I can really feel the focus and dedication that the player and character would both have to possess in order to get the most out of these.

    I feel like the one-day tasks feel good, they are something that you have to prepare for and research, and the one-day stipulation isn't the onerous part.

  3. Rend doesn't feel super useful. If I strike somebody once for every year they've been alive, they'll probably be dead anyway. If I can do it without getting hit once, they're probably not much of a threat. If I get one use period, anyone who I could hypothetically use this on probably wouldn't be worth it. Otherwise, these are some pretty quality Deltas. Gets the monk life across pretty well.

    1. agreed, make it once per decade (rounded to taste) and it fixes the glaring issues