I feel really bad, I said I’d announce the winner of the Swords & Wizardry Appreciation Day Contest on May 10, and while I chose the winner, I didn’t go public with it right away.
It honestly was difficult to choose between them. Fabio’s had the benefit of simplicity of application, in that each lesson had specific and easily managed effects, and his approach of applying the martial arts rules from the classic Oriental Adventures is remarkably effective and extensible. A broad range of martial arts schools can be generated from this framework quickly and easily. Admittedly, we never got around to figuring out how someone studying two overlapping martial arts would work, but I suspect it’s something of an edge case anyway — deep mastery in two schools get prohibitively expensive.
Todd’s is not quite as easily adjudicated, but isn’t too bad because the lesson benefits are expressed using standard mechanisms. However, it covers a broader range of effects and offers more combat options in play.
Ultimately, I had to go with Todd’s Dazzling Duelist. Fabio’s Kung Fu was good, and the framework suggested potentially very useful for constructing more; I really appreciate the thought that went into the School he submitted. However, as much as the Kung Fu presented is mechanically useful, I have to admit that the Dazzling Duelist had me immediately picturing how it might look in play. For me, that’s very important.
I’m almost glad Fabio didn’t dip into some of the funkier maneuvers in Oriental Adventures. That would have made it really hard.