Once upon a time, in the Dark Days of 1984, from the hellish pits of parody, there rose the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. All too soon those same pits convulsed, even their horrific depths unable to hold the warped entities that parodies of parodies had spawned – birthing the Adolescent Radioactive Black Belt Hamsters, Adult Thermonuclear Samurai Elephants, and more.
And yes, at the time I picked up a few of those titles; the local game store also sold comic books and I couldn’t resist the absurd titles of the first (and sometimes only) issues. They weren’t really worth READING – but just holding the proof that someone would actually publish such a thing was worth the small cost. After all, I STILL find amusement in the thought that I actually own those things today – nearly thirty years later. It’s not easy to stretch a couple of bucks into thirty years of occasional smiles.
And then someone took it semi-seriously; in 1985 there arose Panda Khan – the leader of a tribe of Mutated Giant Martial Artist Pandas a thousand years in the future. Today, of course, the World of Warcraft has the Pandaren, you can find mystic panda martial artists in Jadeclaw, and you even see them in movies, such as the euphonious Kung-Fu Panda.
So, OK: here we go, as a special request – and as an illustration of how to use the Witchcraft system to build characters with low-level powers – here is a Martial Artist Panda build. Straw hat optional.
Heng Xia (Constant Sunrise)
1’st level Mutant Panda Mystic Martial Artist (ECL 2).
The quiet village nestles in a mountain valley, surrounded by terraces who’s flowing waters nourish bamboo forests and rustling gardens. Scattered across the area and among the peaks are many much stranger facilities – caverns of whirling wooden dummies, flaming cauldrons, uneven posts, thundering waterfalls, glaciers to meditate on, labyrinths of traps, gardens of weird herbs, and the materials for training in a thousand obscure styles. Here gather students from many lands, would-be heroes, adventurers, and masters seeking obscure lore – for here the inhabitants have a birthright out of legend, an inherent ability to intuitively master even the most obscure of martial arts.
Still, in every generation, a few talented youngsters wish to become adventurer’s themselves, rather than farming, teaching, and cultivating inner serenity and power.
Heng Xia is the latest such youngster to venture out into the wider world – cheerful, friendly, enthusiastic, and more than a bit innocent and overconfident in his skills. Still, surely he can find a few more experienced adventurers who can use his skills in their battles against the forces of evil.
Mutant Panda Racial Modifiers (63 CP/+1 ECL).
- +2 Strength, Specialized/they’re bulky, rare, terribly easy to identify, and rather conspicuous (6 CP).
- +2 Constitution, Corrupted/they do not get this bonus if they don’t stick to a diet of at least 98% vegetables, the great majority of it bamboo. If they fail to do so, they lose the bonus until they’ve spent at least a week on their proper diet again (8 CP).
- Natural Weapons/1d4 Claws or Bite (3 CP). OK, that’s not very high – although their racial martial skills can certainly help out – but honestly, Pandas are not the most effective attackers out there. There are Panda attacks – mostly when people climb in with them or try to hug or handle them – but they’re generally a lot less damaging than attacks by other bears.
- Defender/Natural Armor Variant, Specialized for Double Effect / Cannot use Medium or Heavy Armor since it causes problems with their fur (and with the fact that they may need to eliminate feces up to forty times a day, a fact which will not be discussed further) (6 CP).
- Adept: Pays half cost for Climb, Tumble and their choice of two Martial Art skills. (6 CP). In settings with condensed skill lists, substitute appropriately.
- Fast Learner, Specialized in Skills for Double Effect, Corrupted/points automatically go to keeping their Racial Adept skills at maximum out (4 CP). Yes, this means that Mutant Pandas are inherently master martial artists.
- +3 Racial Bonus to each Racial Adept Skill (6 CP after Adept).
- Occult Sense/Low-Light Vision (6 CP).
- Naturally Focused Chi (Witchcraft III): Specialized and Corrupted/they must maintain a strict code of honor (as approved by the game master), train regularly, and maintain their personal disciplines to keep their natural powers focused and usable, all powers must be set up as “martial arts” effects – usually specialized in particular applications. These limitations do NOT apply to further purchases of Witchcraft abilities (6 CP).
- Rite of Chi with +4 Bonus Uses, Specialized in recovering Power only (6 CP).
- One Racial Bonus Feat of Choice (6 CP).
Basic Witchcraft (“Chi”) Abilities: While the Witchcraft powers are racial abilities, the selection of abilities, and their exact expressions (since specialization is requried) are up to the individual character. Since basic Witchcraft abilities are extremely versatile, this offers our mutant pandas access to a tremendous variety of “legendary martial arts techniques” – even if no individual panda will have access to more than a dozen out of those hundreds of possibilities. Secondarily, Witchcraft provides a good deal of power at low levels, but develops very slowly thereafter – leveling the usual level-based power curve considerably.
In this case our Panda Mystic has chosen to develop…
- C’hi Focus/Healing specialized in Self-Healing for Double Effect.
- Light Foot/Hand of Shadows Specialized for Double Effect – allows running up walls, breaking falls, short dashes over water, tremendous leaps, and impossible acrobatics,
- Vital Strikes/Elfshot Specialized for Double Effect, only to add special effects to melee attacks, although this allows a DC 15 Will save to resist.
- Serenity of Spirit/The Adamant Will, Specialized in Resisting Mental Control for Half Cost.
- Breath Control/Hyloka, Specialized in Personal Effects for Half Power Cost.
- Shattering Strike/Infliction, specialized for double effect/requires a physical attack to focus it. Will DC 15 to half the effect.
- Vanishing Stance/Shadowweave Specialized for Half Cost in Augmenting Stealth.
Racial Bonus Feat: Fast Learner, Specialized in Warcraft for Double Effect (6 CP).
Basic Attributes (32 Point Buy): Str 12 (14), Con 12 (14), Dex 14, Int 16, Wis 10, Cha 14
Available Character Points: 48 (L1 base) +10 (Disadvantages of choice) +2 (Duties) +6 (L1 Bonus Feat) = 66 CP.
Basic Abilities (36 CP):
- +2 BAB, Specialized in Melee for Double Effect (+4) (12 -8/Fast Learner = 4 CP).
- 1D12 Hit Die at L1 (8 CP). (14 HP).
- Proficient with Light Armor (3), Simple and Monk Weapons (9 CP).
- +6 Skill Points (6 CP). At level one, this will give him a total of 18, plus his automaticly-maximized racial skills. With a second instance of Adept (below), this will allow him an additional six maximized skills with two points left over.
- +2 Reflex (6 CP).
Special Abilities (30 CP).
- Witchcraft Pacts: Duties and Taboos, adding Leaping Fire and Bones of Iron (-).
- Adept (choice of four skills to buy for half cost) (6 CP). Sadly, since I don’t know what kind of campaign this character was meant for, I really don’t know what kind of skills to get him – or even what martial arts to pick for his racial arts (although I think I’d recommend one with good melee defenses – perhaps the Wind Dance Style – and one with some esoteric abilities such as Ghost Breaking Technique. If the player opts for a third style, something strong in healing or the more esoteric powers might be a good choice.
- Reflex Training/may use witchcraft to aid other actions as a part of those actions (6 CP).
- Luck with +4 Bonus Uses, Specialized in Saves (6 CP).
- +3d6 Power (6 CP). This gives him a total of (3d6+14 Power) with which to power his “C’hi Techniques”.
- Augmented Bonus/Adds Int Mod to Martial Arts skills (6 CP). This won’t make him one of the greatest martial arts experts in history – but it’s not at all bad.
Heng Xia isn’t exactly a powerhouse of destruction – but he is (like most witchcraft-using low level characters) far more versatile than most second level types are and would be a considerable asset to the vast majority of low-level parties.
- Skin of Stone, Man of Straw; Encounters Beneath the Eclipse. (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- Eclipse – The Questionable Inner Fire (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- Do You Believe in Antimagic? from Intelligence Check (alzrius.wordpress.com)
- D20 Failure Modes VI: Suffering Peasantry Batman! (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- [Emergence Campaign] D20 Failure Modes, Part III — Surviving the Unthinkable (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- d20 Failure Modes VII – Optimus Crime (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- d20 Failure Modes VIII – The Apollo Mission and the Old School (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- [Emergence Campaign] D20 Failure Modes, Part II — Eliminating Rocket Tag (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- Rock Your Body from Intelligence Check (alzrius.wordpress.com)
- Inherent Spells, Spell Conversion and the Pointlessly Awesome! (ruscumag.wordpress.com)