Two centuries ago, a performing troupe of dancers and acrobats fell under persecution. To protect themselves as they traveled, they developed a unique brand of combat that emphasized their athleticism and grew naturally out of their dances. The form proved effective and popular, and now the Long Arm has schools throughout Khorvaire's major cities. Its practitioners favor the quarterstaff and can take Weapon Focus (quarterstaff) as their bonus feat at 2nd or 6th level. The school's tradition of performance persists, and its uniform includes bright colors and flowing scarves. Its martial moves are impressive, involving spins, leaps, and flips. Those who follow the Long Arm take Weapon Focus (quarterstaff) and Two-Weapon Fighting, and focus their skill ranks in Perform and Tumble.
Sudden Willow Strike
Your monastic training allows great precision with your quarterstaff. You can lash out swiftly and strike foes in vulnerable areas, stunning them.
This feat is taught and practiced by members of the Long Arm monastic tradition.
Prerequisites: Dex 13, Wis 13, Improved Unarmed Strike, Stunning Fist, Weapon Focus (quarterstaff).
Benefit: You can use your Stunning Fist feat with quarterstaff attacks.
Normal: You can use Stunning Fist only with unarmed attacks,
DC 20: The Long Arm school of martial arts evolved from a group of travelling performers.
Knowledge (nobility and royalty)
DC 25: The Long Arm has close ties to House Phiarlan and House Thuranni.
DC 20: Long Arm monks wield black quarterstaffs. Their combat style is flashy and impressive.
History and Traditions of the Order
The Long Arm
"Remember the flame that burned the innocent."
Most think that the Long Arm gained their name from their ability to seem quite inocuous before springing into a devastating strike with their trademark quarterstaff that they wield like an extension of their own arm, and this is quite true. However it also refers to the extent of their influence across the five nations due to their nomadic nature.
The Willow Path is the philosophy specific to the order and focuses specifically on the use of the quarterstaff. It implies flexibility in both combat and society and as initiates progress along the path they learn to become as the willow, standing firm on the earth, supple in the wind and reflecting upon oneself in the mirrored lake.
They are an order of entertainers, spies and on occasion assassins. The Long Arm are a reasonably secretive order, their "Hostels" often disguised as simple bunk-houses for the poor and needy, and obviously many entertainers fall into this category. Due to the often nomadic nature of the initiates of this order these "Hostels" are rarely filled with monks, they instead provide services for the city's needy.
History Of the Long Arm
A tale by Darien Windsong
- Disciple of the Word
"It was over 200 years ago when the "The Salix Spectacle" first gathered, although they did not travel by that name then, they were called "Willow's Carnival" back then. They travelled the length and breadth of Khorvaire performing their amazing acrobatic feats, dazzling spectators with their wonderful acts and terrifying them with their strange side-shows. It was one of these side-shows that would change the path of the carnival forever."
"Willow Greymane was a wonderfully visionary woman with a heart that was warmer than the fires of Fernia. She employed the lost, the lonely and the abandonned giving each and all a sense of purpose. This was a trait few have even today especially when you consider that many of her acts would be considered too risky to hire these days. One of her most popular acts in those days was a werewolf called Loret Belmar, a man who Willow was particularly fond of, who went by the stage-name "Mad-Howl". He would lock himself in a silver gilded cage before drawing back the curtain to gaze upon the moon, terrifying onllokers with his macabre transformation. There were also many shifters working for her in those days, all treated as equals and cared for just as she would care for her children."
"Then came the dark times. While no one knows how lycanthropy began, most know of the purge that almost brought it to an end. Around 800 YK, the power of the curse began to grow. The scholars of Aundair sought an answer in planar conjunctions or the influence of unknown fiends, while deep in the Eldeen Reaches shifter moonspeakers bemoaned the growing power of the unseen moon. Evil lycanthropes - always the most numerous of the shapeshifters - became even more vicious, and many good and neutral lycanthropes were corrupted and drawn down to the darkness. Afflicted lycanthropes gained the ability to pass the curse to their own victims, allowing lycanthropy to spread with terrifying speed. By the early years of the ninth century, packs of werewolves were roaming across western Khorvaire and wererats had established warrens beneath the greatest cities of the age. Farmers lived in fear of wolves that walked like humans. What was once a superstition used to frighten children was now horrifying reality. The Church of the Silver Flame declared ALL changers to be anathema and waged a war against the lycanthropes, they began to purge the land of all those suspected of carrying the disease."
"It was during these dark days that "Willows Carnival" was travelling through Thrane, the home of the Flame, at the time Thrane was neck deep in the fervour of the Silver Flame, and of course they did not take kindly to anyone harbouring fugitives of their God's laws. So they declared the carnival and all of it's employees to be infidels and a danger to Khorvaire. They hunted the carnival relentlessly. Willow moved her carnival through secluded territories, always with an eye to the horizon and an ear to the ground. Scattered villages became their havens for a few days at most, until word of the Silver Templars caught their ears, then they would move on. Each time the carnival fled the Templars would follow, their scouts gradually reducing the carnival's numbers until they were little more than a band of outlaws. In the following years persecution was all that Willow and her companions knew but they learned to grow and adapt to their new situation, and when Mad-Howl was eventually killed by the pious Silver Flame warriors she urged her followers to take up arms with deadly discipline and focus and take the fight to the Flame. Her grief was channeled through the darkened wood of her quarterstaff. As the years passed Willow continued to collect the waifs and strays of society, teaching them the same path of discipline she had learned and some fifty years after the first attacks the carnival was reformed as the religious fervour of the purging began to wane."
"The weapon that Willow alway prefered was the quarterstaff, it was the tool of her trade, her dance routines involved spins and kicks that incorporated the flexible yet strong wooden pole. As a result most of her combat teachings revolved around this simple weapon, she always scorched the wood to a pitch black before laquering it with the intent of hardening the wood, and in later times it would come to represent the fires of the purging making her stronger."
"As the years passed and Willow grew old she renamed the carnival "The Salix Spectacle" and asked that all initiates of her discipline carry a black staff of willow that they will alway remember the suffering caused by the narrow mind. She died a proud and happy woman aware of what she had achieved and hopeful that her philosophy would be continued."
"As the decades passed her disciples carried her tradition in their hearts and the carnival continued to travel the land. Not all who joined the circus wished to follow a martial path and so they simply continued their employment as entertainers. However the Willow Path was a powerful discipline and many still wanted to practise the arts. In order to differentiate between the two mind-sets the disciples of the Willow Path began to call themselves the Long Arm. Their passion fuelled by the injustices that the Silver Flame infilcted upon the people of Khorvaire. They knew that the key to their survival was not only a strong arm but also an informed mind and so they began to focus on gathering allies, information and news with each stop the carnival made. Soon the order had intergrated themselves into some of the finest courts and noble venues in Khorvaire, their arms stretched from north to south, east to west and they gathered friends and knowledge wherever they performed."
In time the entertainers guilds of Houses Phiarlan and Thuranni began to take notice of the order, utilising their unique blend of performance and combat prowess in order to infiltrate courtly functions or private parties and deal with enemies of the House, or fulfil contracts.
Now, some 200 years after the crafting of the first blackened quaterstaff the order is somewhat different, although the lifestyle is similar and the teachings have changed little, the purpose of the order has become warped and twisted by the influence of the dragonmarked Houses.
The Long Arm as an Organisation
The initiates of the order tend to be relaxed and easy going with a remarkable ability to party, gods and arcane mysteries are not a concern to the order in general, although an individual may still honour a deity or dabble in the mystic arts. An initiate seeks to become one with the ethos of living life to the full, seeking extreme highs and enjoying all the fruits that Eberron has to offer. Emotionally they tend to experience the highs and lows of life with equal relish, revelling in the glory of victory or breathing in the sweet pain of loss. However an initiate alway remains on his guard and focused to his task regardless of how inebriated he may seem to others. They are taught to accept the differences of others and understand that everyone seeks something different in life.
To learn the ways of the order the initiate must have abandonned all ties to any specific place, they must be gregarious when the need arises and most importantly they need to have some kind of people skills, or performance art form. Travellers, circus performers, vagabonds, charlatans, orphans and opportunists are all good choices for the order to initiate, but above all each must show some sense of discipline and direction in their decadence.
A student of the Willow Path carries the title of Wanderer. On completion of his training, the monk takes the title of Discple of the Willow or Disciple of the Word depending on whether his primary focus is combat or espionage.
Wanderers are generally 1st-level monks.
To attain the title of Disciple of Willow a character must be a 2nd-level monk or 1st-level monk/1st-level rogue with 5 ranks of Jump and Tumble
To attain the title of Disciple of the Word a character must be a 2nd-level monk or 1st-level monk/1st-level bard with 5 ranks of Diplomacy and Perform.
Desicions of the order are made by a single elders who holds the title Grand Master of the Dancing Willow. The Grandmaster has a circle of advisors and is considered to be most benevolent.
The Long Arm have spread across Khorvaire over the past two centuries, and the Disciples of the Word have eyes hidden in many of the great cities of the Five Nations. Any major city may contain a Long Arm monastery, or "Hostels" as they prefer to call them. They tend to be simple affairs that charge a few copper for a safe nights sleep to any traveller or needy person. They tend to have names that reflect their association to the entertainer's profession , such as "The Dancers Den" or "Face-paint and Fabric", while others wish to keep their association obscured and choose names relative to their location such as "Joy Street Hostel" or "The Five-Piers Bunk-House".
Due to the nature of trust, these Hostels can not always operate openly and as such they tend to follow a similar layout. They almost always have a communal bunk-room for guests, and several small rooms for the initiates. Every Hostel has a dojo that is only open to initiates, in the more discreet Hostels this room is hidden away behind a secret door, in others it is simply locked.
The initiates are expected to perform duties as requested but the master of the House tends to take care of most duties himself. These buildings are occasionally funded by either House Phiaran or Thuranni as the order itself is not a wealthy one, although this funding is almost always covert.
The Salix Spectacle
However, only one true monastery exists: Travelling across the face of Khorvaire a circus carnival known as "The Salix Spectacle". The procession itself is the monastery. Everything is taught within the great tents that are pitched each week or so and on the road the initiates train with the masters, learning the disciplines of the Willow Path. The route that the carnival takes deviates little from year to year and the Grand Master of the Dancing Willow has final desicion on every aspect of the circus.
They have dozens upon dozens of employees, performers, and initiates, they also have one of Khorvaires largest travelling menageries with animals ranging from the everyday to the magnificent and exotic.
Once a year they meet up with the "Carnival of Shadows" of House Phiarlan and several other large travelling circuses and they descend upon a major city in Khorvaire for a week long period of festivities that is known as "The Long Dance". This festival is usually during the last week of Rhaan.
The majority of the Long Arm initiates divide their character levels between bard* (or rogue) and monk, using the Monastic Training feat. Others follow the pure monastic path and some revel in the entertainment value that an illusionist can provide. The Long Arm rely on wit and charm, using their charisma to distract an opponent before launching into a devastating attack. Traditional feats include the following: Monastic Training (Rogue or Bard), Skill Focus (Perform), Stunning Fist, Weapon focus (Quarterstaff) and Sudden Willow Strike. Monastic skill training focuses on Diplomacy, Jump, Knowledge (local), Perform and Tumble; Bluff, Disguise, and Gather Information are also considered to be important talents.
*Bards of the Long Arm tradition must be lawful, their gathering of knowledge and tales MUST be precise as they consider themselves to be the keepers of the Tradition. The entire philosophy of the Long Arm's discipline rests upon their shoulders, so a flighty mind is not accepted.
Knowledge (local) and Knowledge (history) are class skills for Long Arm monks. These take the place of Knowledge (arcana) and Knowledge (religion).