Saturday, July 18, 2009

DINO-PIRATES Characters: Shugo

At last, the ninja make an appearance. The DINO-PIRATES OF NINJA ISLAND setting includes four major character groups: Pirates (such as Chen), Natives (like Kana and Mbungo), Imperials (our friend Ming-Wa), and Ninjas, who have so far been unrepresented.

No longer: meet Shugo.

Raised within the fog-shrouded enclave of Ninja Island itself as part of the Gathering Cloud Clan, Shugo works to cloud men’s minds and conquer the enemies of all the clans through stealth and deception.

He is quiet, serious, and extraordinarily pessismistic for somebody who’s a ninja.

Shugo is the classic ninja: stealthy, skilled and deadly. Well, one day, maybe, he'll be deadly. Right now he's going to have to settle for two out of three. As our first example of the Generalist role, Shugo shows the wide range of this role with a broad array of skills, supernatural powers and the promise of real combat expertise.

His ability scores line him up with his powers more than anything, but a +4 Wisdom comes in handy in a number of skills, too. The +1 Dexterity gives him some advantage in combat, and a +2 Intelligence gives him an extensive Skills list. The -1 on Charisma just means Shugo is kind of shy.

His Will save is exceptionally high (as a Generalist he gets to choose his best save, which in this case is Wisdom), so Shugo's hard to enchant or confuzzle by magical means. A Toughness save of +0, though, is good incentive to stay out of combat, although that high Dodge (15, to be explained below), does mean he'll be hard to hit.

Now as a ninja, he gets the Escape Artist and Stealth skills for free, and as a first-level Generalist with a +2 Intelligence, he gets an additional 8 skills. He focuses on a few Wisdom-related ones (Concentration, Medicine and Notice), a few Intelligence ones (Disable Device, Knowledge and Search), and then Climb -- because ninjas need to be able to climb up walls. All these skills will give him plenty of opportunities to stunt and gain bonuses, so he's got more potential than it might at first seem.

Of course a ninja ought to be able to disappear practically at will, even a low-ranking one like Shugo, so he's used the Generalist's Ultimate Trait ability to that end. Where Warriors get the ability to shake off wounds, Experts the ability to suddenly understand skills they didn't before, and Adepts the ability to use sudden powers they hadn't considered before, Generalists get to pick ONE THING they can do really, really well. Whenever the character spends a Conviction point, they automatically receive a roll of 20 for that one thing. Shugo chooses Stealth for that -- which means that at any moment Shugo can guarantee a 26 Stealth check, which is pretty fantastic at first level.

Shugo can do even better than that with his supernatural powers, as we'll see. But first, we see he has the bonus feats for a ninja, Improved Strike and Ninja Weapon Training, and the additional feat Canny Dodge, which lets him apply either his Wisdom or his Intelligence to his Dodge. This is why Shugo is so hard to hit -- because he's always WATCHING.

Only three feats? Indeed, because as a Generalist, Shugo can choose from a limited number of powers. He takes Cloud Minds, Light Shaping and Phase. The first one allows him to just disappear from anyone of weak mind (those who fail a Will save, that is). Minions, watch out. The second allows him to, among other things, create a sudden darkness wherever he likes, or visual illusions or blurring. All very useful stuff. The last one allows him to literally walk through walls, so no prison can hold Shugo of the Gathering Cloud!

As a Generalist, Shugo won't advance in these powers all that quickly, and his available list is very restricted, but as his combat ability ramps up, with all those useful skills, there's no doubt Shugo is a capable character who as he rises in level, may become the most deadly member of the party.

His options for growth are limitless -- staying as a Generalist gives him access to Expert feats, like Sneak Attack, which seems like an obvious one to pick. Attack Focus on the ninja-to wouldn't go amiss, of course, nor would Defensive Roll to boost his Toughness save. He could take a level of Adept and choose the Supernatural Focus feat to really oomph up that Cloud Minds ability. There's a lot of ninja gear that could help amplify his natural skills — in particular a natty ninja suit to give him a bonus on that Stealth skill would come in handy. The many uses of his ninja-to won't go unused, either, one imagines.