Penned by Gygax himself Oriental Adventures brought “Martial Arts” to AD&D, and each style had associated special maneuvers not unlike the powers of 4e. There was always something about making up characters in 4e, especially picking powers, that I found strangely familiar. It wasn’t until I flipped open my old copy of Oriental Adventures that it came flooding back to me of the first time I flipped this book open. We spent many months steeped in the mythos of the far east, making martial arts characters (and monsters!) and having wild kung fu action around the table.
Martial Arts special maneuvers have all the hallmark of modern powers. Most take the place of a standard weapon attack, or replace a “melee basic” in 4e terms. There are some great ones, like Flying Kick and Choke Hold, and no one could ever forget dreaded Eagle Claw. These attack powers were full of great flavor, and most did something exceptional, besides damaging the opponent. Some attacks stunned or knocked an opponent prone, or lowered their defenses. The effects in most cases are identical to 4e effects.
Not all the special maneuvers were only for combat. Levitation and meditation, for example. There was a centralized pool of special maneuvers, which fell into broad categories, like kicks, punches, movement, etc, and each “style” would take a few from each category. Very simple and elegant, and it allowed for endless combination of martial arts styles, which it provided rules for creating. I know this because one of my best friends Chris Stevens immediately began converting every known martial arts style into AD&D, then began creating his own. For all I know he resides in a dojo now, but it all started here on page 101 of Oriental Adventures…5e, you could learn something by cracking open Oriental Adventures. Never underestimate the genius of Gary Gygax.
(Incidentally, this book was edited by the inestimable Steve Winter, who still worked on D&D up until a few months ago!)