The distinction between magic and expertise has always been blurred. Masters of the Martial Arts, of Herbalism, of Metallurgy, and of many other fields have often been reputed to possess supernatural powers.
In a realm of magic that dividing line may not exist at all.
The child’s eyes were haunted. If they were windows to his soul, they opened onto a vista consumed by fire and war – the same fires which had left him orphaned and alone.
The priests who cared for the orphans were kindly enough, but the could not restore what had been taken. They tried, at least to offer a future – teaching the children whatever they could of the skills they knew. Most eventually took to the simple pursuits which were always in demand, and took up careers as Carpenters, Bakers, Millers, or any of a hundred other common professions. A few became scholars, priests, or even mages in their turn.
Young Kelelawar had shown a talent for the Martial Arts, and had practiced them earnestly – at first as a distraction, later with grim purpose; he would never again be helpless in the face of violence, whether weapons were forbidden or not. Finding the child adamant, despite all attempts to lead him into some more practical field, the priests bowed to the inevitable and gave him extra lessons – as long as he kept up reasonably well in his other subjects.
Kelelawar was thirteen and running an errand when he took a shortcut through the alleys and ran across a pair of thugs menacing a young woman and her two small children. Large, armed, and dressed in studded leather, the two easily shrugged off an attack by an outraged child, tossing him aside with stunning force – but the hidden depths of the Stone Mountain Style responded to his hand and blood dripping on the ground, striking down one thug with an erupting pillar-spear of earth and stone. As the second swung his blade, the Drifting Spider Style guided it gently astray – and the Venomous Spider’s Bite left him convulsing on the ground.
The young woman gasped out her thanks – and clutched her children and fled for busier and safer streets. Young adventurers were little safer to be around than criminals, even if they were being benevolent at the moment.
The nearby river accepted two more bodies with barely a ripple. It was used to it; the wars had glutted it with flesh more than once. The thugs anonymously-donated purses sufficed to make life a little easier for the younger children for more than a month.
It took three more years of training before Kelelawar could reliably call on the hidden depths of the arts – but now he knew that he had the potential, the ability to go beyond the normal limits of mortal skill, and that he needed only practice.
Today most of his skills reach beyond the normal limits – and Kelelawar has taken to haunting the streets, becoming a whispered figure of fear to the petty criminals of the city. Someday, perhaps, his reach will extend to the greater criminals – the creatures (he will not call them men) who plot wars and spread carnage in search of profit and advantage. Until that day – if it should ever come – he will do what he can with what he has.
Kelelawar is pretty much purely skill-based – and that alone turns a lot of d20 assumptions on their heads. In d20, skills peak early; they’re very useful before the DC’s get too high – but by level six or seven the spells and powers that can replace many of them are pretty routinely available. Knock, Levitate, Suggestion, Jump… the list goes on. Just as importantly, skills tend to increase linearly; Kelelawar has already got several of the best bonuses for his skills – so he can expect to raise his attribute bonuses a point or two, and add another +13 skill points to his major skills, by level twenty. That will take him from +23 to around +40. Since he’s using his skills to power his special abilities… at level four he’s got almost half of all the power he’s ever going to have as far as his main abilities are concerned. Yes, he can raise the limits of the “spell effects” he can generate – but that will become increasingly hard to justify as the effect levels go up and will drain his reserves even faster. For the moment he’s very powerful. If he wants to remain at all relevant, however, he’s going to have to start branching out fairly soon – most likely along a rogue-style path.
Kelelawar, Nemesis of the Underworld
Level Four Vigilante Hero
Human: +1 Bonus Feat, Fast Learner, Specialized in Skills for Half Cost (3 CP)
Pathfinder Package Deal (+2 bonus to Intelligence)
Available Character Points: 120 (L4 Base) +10 (Disadvantages) +8 (Duties) +24 (Human, L0, L1, and L3 Bonus Feats) = 162 CP
Basic Attributes; Str 14, Int 20 (22), Wis 14, Con 15, Dex 16 (18), Cha 13 (5d6 Keep 3, +1 for level to Int).
Basic Abilities (83 CP):
- Hit Dice: 1d12 (12, 8 CP) + 3d8 (6, 8, 7, 12 CP) + 2d6 (at 6, 6, from Magic) = 69 HP.
- BAB: +3 (18 CP) +3 (Specialized and Corrupted/only with unarmed attacks, 6 CP).
- Base Saves: Reflex +6 (18 CP), Fortitude +4 (12 CP), Will +2 (6 CP).
- Proficient with Light Armor (3 CP).
- Initiative +4 (Dex)
- Armor Class: 10 (Base) +4 (Dex) +3 (+1 Leather Armor) +4 (Shield) = 21
Kelelawar’s combat abilities vary a good deal with what form he’s currently using; if it’s the Stone Mountain style he’ll have a potentially MUCH higher AC and a good deal of damage reduction – but little offence. If it’s Mercurial Tiger, it’s pretty much the other way around.
Special Abilities (79 CP):
- Immunity/The normal limits of Martial Arts Skills: (Very Common, Severe, Minor, Corrupted / such effects must be powered by the expenditure of either (effect spell level + 1) points of mana or a similar number of ranks from the relevant skill (add +1 for an Swift Action or use during an Attack of Opportunity, +2 for an Immediate Action). No skill may be reduced below +0 in this fashion,. Expended skill ranks will return after a days rest, effective casting level equals character level): Kelelawar can produce a wide variety of supernatural “martial arts” effects approximating spells of up to level three. Unfortunately, such effects must be in-theme for the martial art skill so employed. Thus the Tiger Style can be used for feats of strength, sprouting or upgrading claws, to make great leaps, to roll with and negate massive blows, to survive falls, to see in the dark, and for other cat-style effects. The Godfire Palm Style offers control of Fire and rapid movement, but few other options. (8 CP).
- Immunity/Being restricted to the standard skill list. Kelelawar may use the Condensed skill list, and it’s magical benefits, even it is not normally in use in the campaign, and may use Occult Skills without having to buy them individually (Very Common, Major, Major, 15 CP).
As usual with natural-law immunities, these are fairly fundamental game-changers; Kelelawar is basically redefining the skill system as a magical system of it’s very own. The way this is set up though, it’s very draining to use – which will go a long ways towards keeping things under control.
- Adept x 2 (12 CP). Learns Acrobatics, Athletics, Espionage, Dream-Binding, and his initial four martial arts (Stone Mountain, Drifting Spider, Mercurial Tiger, and Northern Stormwind Styles) at half cost.
- Fast Learner specialized in Skills for +2 SP/Level (6 CP).
- Upgrade Human Fast Learner to Double Effect (+2 SP/Level, 3 CP).
- Augmented Bonus: Adds his (Int Mod) to his Martial Arts Skills (6 CP).
- Innate Enchantment (11,000 GP Value / 12 CP): Mostly Spell Level One x Caster Level One x 2000 GP Unlimited Use Use-Activated x,7 Personal Only where applicable.
- +2 Int
- +2 Dex
- +2 Competence Bonus to All Skills
- Immortal Vigor I, +(12 + 2 x Con Mod) HP.
- Inspiring Word: +1 Morale bonus to attacks, checks, damage, and saves.
- Rugged Metabolism (Fast Healing I – for 18 Rounds – 2/Day, Relieve Illness 1/Day, Relieve Poison 1/Day, and Lesser Restoration 1/Day. From the Hedge Wizardry list on this site and The Practical Enchanter).
- Golden Armor/Force Shield I: +4 Shield Bonus to AC.
- Tough as Nails: Convert the first five points of damage he’d normally sustain from any attack to nonlethal damage.
- Occult Ritual, Specialized in Investigation and Demonology (3 CP).
Kelelawar isn’t big on demonology – but banishments, exorcisms, and demon-banes are often handy. And sometimes… you just have to use whatever tool you can.
Skill Points: 14 (CP Spent) +42 (Int) +28 (Fast Learner) = 84 SP.
- Acrobatics: +17 (7 (3) SP + 3 Pathfinder + 2 Comp +1 Morale + 4 Dex). 3d4 damage for a wild stunt.
- Arcana: +19 (7 SP + 3 Pathfinder + 2 Comp + 1 Morale + 6 Int). Knows three minor rituals:
- Athletics: +17 (7 (3) SP + 3 Pathfinder + 2 Comp +1 Morale + 2 Str +3 Synergy). 3d4 damage for a wild stunt.
- Local Knowledge: +19 (7 SP + 3 Pathfinder + 2 Comp +1 Morale +6 Int )
- Perception: +15 (7 SP + 3 Pathfinder + 2 Comp + 1 Morale + 2 Wis)
- Persuasion: +14 (7 SP + 3 Pathfinder + 2 Comp + 1 Morale + 1 Cha). May use a level one Enchantment/Charm effect once per day through his words alone.
- Socialize: +14 (7 SP + 3 Pathfinder + 2 Comp + 1 Morale + 1 Cha). Has five useful contacts.
- Stealth: +19 (7 SP + 3 Pathfinder + 2 Comp + 1 Morale + 4 Dex +2 Cloak). Has the equivalent of a Handy Haversack.
- Thievery: +17 (7 SP + 3 Pathfinder + 2 Comp + 1 Morale + 4 Dex). May be used as a free action up to four times per day.
- Espionage: +14 (7 (3) SP + 3 Pathfinder + 2 Comp + 1 Morale + 1 Cha). These points may be spent on Connections and Preparations as per the Political Positions rules.
- Dream-Binding: +14 (7 (3) SP + 3 Pathfinder + 2 Comp + 1 Morale + 1 Cha).
- Foresight: +19 (7 SP + 3 Pathfinder + 2 Comp + 1 Morale + 6 Int). This is commonly used in conjunction with his Dream-Binding or Gadgetry skills to simply produce the items that he happens to need at the moment.
- Gadgetry +14 (4 SP + 3 Pathfinder +2 Comp + 1 Morale +4 Dex (Tinkerer Variant)). Self-rewinding spring-loaded sleeve grapnel (2), Smoke Pellets (1), Concealing Cloak (+2 Stealth, 2), Intimidating Mask (+2 to such rolls, 1), Repeating Heavy Crossbow (6 shots, 2), Alchemical Bolt Magazines (six shots each Alchemists Fire, Tanglefoot, Thunderstone, and Sunrods, 4), Flash Pellets, “Superglue”, two left for use with Foresight.
Martial Arts Styles:
- Drifting Spider +23 (7 (3) SP + 3 Pathfinder + 2 Comp + 1 Morale +6 Int + 4 Dex )
- Mercurial Tiger +23 (7 (3) SP + 3 Pathfinder + 2 Comp + 1 Morale +6 Int + 4 Dex)
- Northern Stormwind +23 (7 (3) SP + 3 Pathfinder + 2 Comp + 1 Morale +6 Int + 4 Dex)
- Stone Mountain: +21 (7 (3) SP + 3 Pathfinder + 2 Comp + 1 Morale +6 Int + 2 Con)
Drifting Spider Style (Dex)
The Drifting Spider stylist shifts with the wind, letting the force of an opponent’s own blows send him whirling away from danger – and lashing out with lightning speed and precision when an opening presents itself, focusing always on acrobatic maneuvers and double finger strikes to vulnerable vital points. The Spider Style is at it’s best when an opponent can be entangled, entrapped, or distracted; then the Venomous Spiders Bite – blows that strike vital points to disrupt the very life force of an opponent – can swiftly bring down even the most formidable opponents.
- Requires: Weapon Focus (Unarmed Strike) or equivalent point-buy, Acrobatics total 4+.
- Basic Techniques: Attack 1, Defenses 4, Power 1, Strike, Synergy/Acrobatics (Yes, this does include swinging around), Synergy/Athletics (including climbing and briefly “running up the walls”), and Synergy/Stealth
- Advanced and Master Techniques: Instant Stand, Sneak Attack II (2d6), and Dodge.
- Occult Techniques: Inner Strength, Light Foot, Serpent Strike, and Vanishing.
Known Techniques (12): Strike, Defenses 4, Synergy/Athletics, Instant Stand, Sneak Attack 2, Inner Strength, Light Foot, Vanishing,
Mercurial Tiger Style:
The Mercurial Tiger Stylist knows that the only true defense is striking down your opponents before they can strike you down, and so flows and whirls in constant attack – leaping into battle and lashing out with powerful, destructive, raking, blows. That may mean accepting a few, weak, strikes from those who do not understand the lessons of the tiger – but the Mercurial Tiger knows how to withstand adversity, to survive perhaps bloodied but unbowed. The style favors a wide, low, stance and is filled with feats of raw power – smashing opponents weapons, shattering stone, hurling opponents about, meeting power with power, and breaking bone.
- Requires: Str and Dex 14+
- Basic Techniques: Strike, Power 4, Toughness 2, Synergy/Survival, and Synergy/Athletics.
- Advanced and Master Techniques: Breaking, Combat Reflexes, Mighty Blow, and Sunder.
- Occult Techniques: Focused Blow, Inner Strength, Ki Block, and Ki Focus (Strength).
Known Techniques (12): Strike, Power 4, Synergy/Athletics, Breaking, Combat Reflexes, Mighty Blow, Sunder, Inner Strength, Ki Block.
Northern Stormwind Style:
The core of this art is the subtle Katas of the Winds – mystical gestures and stances which channel and focus the very currents of the air, lashing them against opponents like blades, hurling stunning blasts of air, and lending speed and sureness to arrows. A master may move like a wisp of wind, sense what disturbs the air about him, and can even become a very avatar of the storm – to the point of commanding the very air to withdraw from a victims lungs or lashing out with wind and lightning.
- Requires: Arcana total of +5 or more, Weapon Focus (Unarmed Strike) or equivalent point-buy.
- Basic Techniques: Strike, Attack 3, Power 3, Defenses 2, Synergy/Perception, and Synergy/Stealth.
- Advanced and Master Techniques: Improved Trip, Rapid Shot, Reach, and Weapon Kata (Bow).
- Occult Techniques: Inner Strength, One Finger, Ki Focus (Dexterity), and Wrath (Lightning).
Known Techniques (12): Strike, Attack 2, Power 2, Synergy/Perception, Improved Trip, Reach, Inner Strength, One Finger, Ki Focus/Dexterity, and Touch Strike.
Stone Mountain Style:
The strength of the earth flows through you, what touches upon the earth touches you, for all things are rooted ultimately in the earth – and the heart of the earth is stone. From stone is forged the peaks of mountains and the foundations of the seas. To master the Stone Mountain style is to master the earth itself. It’s strikes are slow but nigh-irresistible, it’s low stances withstand attack, and it allows the force of opponents blows to pass into the earth. Advanced practitioners can tap into the flow of geomantic energies, manipulating their own life force and the very forces of the earth. (And yes, this is an “Earthbending” style).
- Requires: Weapon Focus/Unarmed Combat or equivalent point-buy.
- Basic Techniques: Strike, Toughness 4, Defense 3, Synergy/Athletics, and Synergy/Heal.
- Advanced and Master Techniques: Blind-Fight, Combat Expertise, Mighty Blow, and Mind Like Moon.
- Occult Techniques: Healing Hand, Inner Strength, Iron Skin, and Resist Pain.
Known Techniques (11): Toughness 4, Defense 2, Combat Expertise, Mind Like Moon, Inner Strength, Iron Skin, and Resist Pain.
Basically what you have here is Batman with a stronger emphasis on mystical martial arts powers, an Exalted-style Sidereal Martial Artist, or a Champions-style mystic superhero. Kelelawar is never going to reach the truly godlike heights of power d20 makes possible, but he should fit in quite comfortably in his niche.