The Acrobat trade is a useful one indeed. It lies at the heart of the feats of derring-do witnessed in the film exploits of the various characters portrayed by Errol Flynn and his actor rivals. It has been largely integrated into the considerations made in designing the rules for combat and tactical play.
Hieronymous Mercurialis’ work, the “De Arte Gymnastica” (1569), was based on a careful study of the Greek classics and signaled a revival of the Greek gymnastics, largely forgotten except insofar as that which was remembered and continued to be practiced down through the years for the amusement and entertainment of audiences by the community of itinerant Players presented under the Social Trades.
In the period of the game, the skills of the acrobats and the acrobats themselves will be relegated to the more than questionable company of vagabonds and ruffians, teaching sword masters, and Players, disowned by the Church as rootless and lordless. Unlike most of those trades, the Acrobat’s skills are in displaying prowess in control and execution of physical feats for the entertainment of others, not what he can do with a musical instrument, or by the amusing antics to which he may train an animal. His skill is in timing and control and especially balance in performing acrobatic maneuvers, sometimes under particularly dangerous circumstances, for the entertainment and appreciation of audiences
The basic skills of the Acrobat encompass all the arts of the Tumbler, covering all tumbling maneuvers from simple rolls (forward or back-) and cartwheels, round-offs, handstands, walking on hands, handsprings, standing somersaults (forwards, backwards, and/or with a half or full twist), and so on. In order to increase his speed and momentum to achieve greater height in a maneuver (when that is desirable), the Tumbler can go from a run and leap or a run and bounce off a springboard and increase the height achieved if another Acrobat is stationed to receive him, to catch him and help propel and direct his path of travel, adding either 1/4 STR, 1/2 STR, 3/4 STR or full STR in feet to the height achieved and the distance covered according to the portion of his ENC that the acrobat being assisted comprises for him.
It also extends to cultivating the aspect of Balance and the Aerial application of the Tumbler’s skills, and through their association with the Players and the mutual importance of weight, balance, and timing in Juggling and their own trade, an opportunity to learn to Juggle, as well.
The Balance aspect involves the perfecting of the character’s sense of balance for walking tightropes, ledges, cat-walks, and any other narrow surface requiring a good sense of balance to tread. It includes as well the ability to maintain balance on unstable objects such as a ball, commonly compounded with juggling in performances, or on a see-saw, or on a see-saw on top of a ball, and any tumbling-type exercise attempted on those or similar surfaces.
Those characters cultivating the Balance aspect will also develop a stance and physical poise always ready to compensate on a moment’s notice for changes in footing. Any DV penalties to physical skills that are levied due to the shifting, pitching, rolling, sliding or otherwise unstable surfaces on which he labors (not restricted to those on which he normally performs) will be reduced by his Acrobat SL. Eventually, his skill will off-set most penalties entirely.
The Aerial aspect encompasses still-rings and trapeze maneuvers and all moves and maneuvers attempted in free-fall/flight, somersaults, rolls, and twists in mid-air, such as those done upon the springboard or while cliff-diving or on trampoline (or the closest medieval equivalent the character can find). This category also encompasses maneuvers attempted while suspended, whether from single, parallel, or uneven bars, as well as such things as traveling across monkey-bars in a hand to hand fashion, giant swings around a bar (should space permit) and pivots to change facing, as well as timing momentum to stall at the top of a swing, or to change the direction of swing, and so on. The aerial skill is required to master the art of the high-diver, making fancy timed moves in diving from heights. The Swim skill is also required if the character is to use Aerial skills in cliff-diving, as opposed to a high-wire or trapeze artist diving into a safety net at the end of an act or into the safety of a co-star’s arms.
Any character being attacked while performing an acrobatic move in a tactical situation will be considered to be Evading (see Chapter 4. Tactical Rules & Combat of Part III. The Rules of the Game). This is the advantage to bouncing about from place to place with a series of handsprings, cartwheels, or some such in a combat situation, though others might insist it is simply showing off.
The Acrobat character will receive a bonus to his BP’s, WND, and FTG score due to his skill, as explained in Step 9. of Chapter 1. of Part I. The Acrobat character will also be granted a (1 per 4 TR’s) bonus to his Dodge DV.
An additional benefit of purchasing the Acrobat skill is the bonus to the character’s jump and leaping scores due to the rigorous gymnastic training and the accompanying increases in the character’s limberness and sense of balance and timing. All Acrobat skilled characters will gain an additional (TR) inches to their leap and running leap distances. They will receive a (1in. per 4 TR’s) bonus to their jump heights, to a maximum bonus of (STR ÷ 4) inches.
The Acrobat trade depends on and aids the character in cultivating a fine sense of balance and acute sense of timing, both of which are essential in the art of Juggling, which is also practiced by many wandering Acrobats who work alongside Players of all sorts as a means for diversifying their portfolio of related entertainment skills to broaden their appeal to a crowd.
IF the Juggler specialty skill is taken, it will be tracked separately by SL and SP’s, like any other trade skill.
The Juggler skill will NOT be available to those characters who take this trade as a Petty Skill. Juggler will be allowed as a Petty Skill to be taken in its own right, if desired.
The att. mod. for any feat of Acrobatics will be based upon the character’s AGL.
The DV for exercising this skill will depend upon the move that the character is trying to make and what he wants to accomplish with it. The base DV for simple tumbling will be (distance to be covered in the maneuver) divided by (character height), or divided by (height ÷ 2) for handsprings or simple tumbling backwards, or divided by (height ÷ 4) for back-handsprings.
The checks for these maneuvers will be made for every (character height x TR) amount of distance covered, the DV accumulating at a rate of 1 per check, 2 per check, or 4 per check for simple tumbling, handsprings or tumbling backwards, or back-handsprings, respectively. Changing the type of maneuver in mid-cavort will do nothing but change the rate at which the DV accumulates.
Standing flips and walk-overs will have a base DV equal to the character’s (STA ÷ 4), plus (1/4 STA) if done backwards, plus the same again for every half-twist incorporated.
Punctuating the distance-covering moves above with these moves or any like them will start the DV for further distance-covering moves over again at one (1).
The character’s AV for handspring (back- or forward) and flip dI00 checks will be increased by the speed of his movement in mph, but only for those movements.
The speed, force and momentum build over the course of a series of handsprings, so that at the end a dismount of some kind is always made to spend that force, during which the height that can be achieved with them will increase by a number of feet equal to the base DV for the handsprings.
The base DV for walking a beam/wire or “other narrow surface requiring a good sense of balance to tread” will be 1 per inch that the beam/wire is less than [(character height ÷ 2) – (AGL inches)]. Once it gets down to (character height ÷ 4) or narrower, the DV will be assessed at 2 per inch. If atop a ball, the diameter of the sphere will be judged by the same standard as the width of a beam, and [(character height) – (AGL inches)] for the length of a see-saw. To this will be added 1 per full mph of speed the character is attempting to move.
The character will require a successful check to pass safely across the beam/wire for every (AGL ÷ 4) x (SL) feet.
The DV for acrobatic movements attempted while ON a beam or wire, combining the abilities of the trade with the specific skill, will be equal to the normal DV for the maneuver attempted on I, plus the DV for narrowness of footing and speed described above.
The DV will also be raised by 1 point for every [(HRT ÷ 4) + (TR)] feet above the ground that the character performs an Acrobatic move.
When the character is using an acrobatic move for an attack in combat, such as a cart-wheeling or round-off kick, a somersaulting overhead Move-By, or whathaveyou (creativity is encouraged). The character’s TR as an Acrobat OR Brawler SL will be substituted for a Weapon SL, whichever is greater. Whichever is used for the primary component of the AV, the other skill will provide a bonus based on it
For example, for a character whose Acrobat TR is 15 and whose Brawler SL is 10, the TR 15 would be plugged into the AV at full value, and the Brawler SL would provide a (1 per 4 SL’s) bonus of 3. If the reverse were true, the Brawler SL of 15 would be plugged into the AV at full value and the TR 10 of his Acrobat trade would provide a (1 per 4 TR’s) bonus of 3.
If a character is using an Acrobatic maneuver to strike with a formal weapon other than his body, the attack AV will be limited to no greater than his Acrobat AV, if the Acrobat TR is lower (as applicable).
There will be a million possible variations on the themes mentioned here that players of Acrobat characters may want to try. The GM should be reasonable and apply the DV’s that have been explained as even-handedly as he may. The GM should be careful with the DV’s for Aerial maneuvers made in the course of dismounting from swinging on a (fixed) bar, that the character have at least 6in. of clearance for his swinging in the first place, and that he have at least (height x 2) or (DV feet) from the bar to the ground in which to land, whichever is greater, to a maximum requirement of (height x 4).
For the rest, the GM will have to improvise according to these examples as best he can.