Saturday, June 27, 2009

DINO-PIRATES Characters: Kana

Our next character for review is the native shamaness, Kana. A more complex character mechanically than our previously featured tank, Chen, Kana has a couple of supernatural powers, makes use of what we call a "philosophy", and has some interesting directions to go in.

Kana is an adept, with her focus on managing animals, in particular the big showcase animals of DINO-PIRATES OF NINJA ISLAND, the dinosaurs. While she can work effectively with any sorts of animals, she's taken a couple of feats to zero in on the big beasts. The concept is a young woman from the jungle with the uncanny ability to befriend and command dangerous beasts. She's got serious presence and is hard to flummox.

Let's review how she's put together. Ahem.

To start with, she's a Native. That gives her the bonus skills of Notice and Survival, which will play nice with the Wisdom we want to give her, and for bonus feats she gets Exotic Weapon Training and Trailblazer.

When choosing her attributes, we're going to give her a big honking +4 on Charisma, and +1 on Wisdom and a +1 on Constitution. She's unlikely to get into much combat but the Constitution gives her a bit of survivability, and the Wisdom will help out with Notice and Survival, her bonus skills (and skills that play well into her concept). Since we see her as someone who can get to the truth easily, we're going to give her Sense Motive as well, so the Wisdom plays well.

Combat-wise she's not very effective, with no bonuses whatsoever at first level. Anyone who takes a swing at her has a pretty good chance of connecting, so she's going to want to stay out of combat as much as possible.

Her skills play off her feat of Animal Empathy -- that feat lets her use Handle Animal as Diplomacy, AND lets her use Bluff and Gather Information with animals. So obviously she takes those three, and as mentioned above she's also going to take Sense Motive to get more use out of that Wisdom point.

She's going to be reasonably effective with that Animal Empathy; her +8 on Handle Animal means she'll almost always be able to, for example, convince a deinonychus to do what she wants (4th level animal, +1 Wisdom = Difficulty 15). A T-Rex is going to be tougher -- 18th level and +2 Wisdom makes for a Difficulty of 30. Might want to wait on walking into a T-Rex nest for a few levels, there, Kana.

Of course, if her skills fail her, she's got her supernatural powers. With the philosophy of Shamanism she gets a bonus rank on both Beast Link and Dominate, and a T-Rex only gets a +8 Will save, so with a Power save Difficulty of 17, that's not looking quite so crazy. Because she doesn't have Mind Touch, only Beast Link, her Dominate power can only be used against animals, which is exactly what we want. That Wisdom comes in handy here again, helping Kana with those pesky Resilience checks.

Her feat choices are pretty obvious: Shamanism requires a Power Focus choice -- the rules say it has to be a natural location, but the relatively narrow choice of "Dinos" is a reasonable substitute here (she'll take a penalty on Resilience saves whenever she's not using her powers against dinosaurs). We can imagine Kana comes from a nation that worships dinosaur spirits, perhaps, and elaborate totem poles with snarling raptors and triceratops heads rising up in front of the tribal houses. Since she gets Exotic Weapon Training for free, we choose "chakram", since it can end up being pretty effective as a ranged weapon. It's possible Kana will take the Chakram Tricks feat down the road and turn into a Xena-esque figure, commanding dinosaurs and sending out whirling, ricocheting disks of death in all directions.

Or perhaps not. Depending on how the campaign goes, Kana might remain a straight-up Adept, building her array of powers, or she might take a few levels in either Expert or Generalist, expanding her skill and feat selection. If the chakram works out, a Sneak Attack or some such feat might be appropriate. She could also work on getting more out of her "face" skills, using feats like Fascinate or Suggestion against dinosaurs. That sounds like fun. But of course the Adept list includes Familiar, and it seems very in character for Kana to end up with a faithful tiny dino companion.

Anyway, that's Kana, the dino-commanding jungle girl with the really cool hat. Stay tuned for more DINO-PIRATES sample characters over the coming weeks.