Thursday, July 30, 2009

Galaxy sky 2: Electric Bugaloo

I found the artist's homepage, who did the galaxy in the sky painting. Turns out he's updated the concept. This is a smallish thumbnail, but it's the best he's got. On the edge of a sea shortly after sunset.

Nice, huh?


Monday, July 27, 2009

Homebrew: galaxy sky and skull moon?

I've always been a guy who's imagination is sparked by vivid images. There's an image that's been in my head for over twenty years now, after first seeing it in a children's book about astronomy... when I was a child, appropriately enough. After looking for years for this book, the artist, or an online version of this picture, I stumbled across a good condition copy of the book in a used bookstore a coupla years ago, completely by accident. I scanned the one image in question, and I'll be posting it shortly, but my question is: if you were to integrate this image into your fantasy setting, what would you do with it?

Clearly, the image is a view from a planet outside of a large spiral galaxy more or less like the Milky Way. Perhaps the planet belongs to a solar system in a satellite minor galaxy, like one of the Magellanic Clouds, or perhaps it's merely a rogue star traveling through space completely on its own, yet close enough to a large spiral that on some evenings, when the moon is below the horizon or new, allowing for little light pollution in the sky, the spiral arms of a giant whirlpool galaxy fills the night sky.

Contrary to what you sometimes see in the movies, it's absurd to suggest you could actually see this rotating; the Milky Way, for example, has a radius of approximately 50,000 light years. The speed at which the outer arms would have to be moving in order to show visible rotation to someone outside is absolutely staggering... not to mention physically impossible. That doesn't mean that this would necessarily be a welcome sight in the sky. I imagine that folks would see this like the whirlpool that it resembles; they would fear the galaxy in the sky, and see it as evidence of the inevitable destruction of their world, it's final days to be sucked into the Void.

Anyway, I'm asking directly; any other ideas? Please post 'em!

Meanwhile, I've got another idea for a sign in the sky. Our own moon, at least on the side that's visible to Earth (the moon is tidally locked, so we only ever see one side of the moon... but you already knew that, I'm sure) is covered with the remnants of vast, prehistoric lava flows. These lava flows stand out as darker gray "seas", or maria against the silvery color of the rest of the moon. If you look at the full moon long enough, and have a little imagination, you might be able to think that you see images in the pattern of the maria. This is the so-called man in the moon.

But what if it wasn't a question of being imaginative? What if the pattern of the moon's "seas" made a very obvious design that anyone could see and interpret? And what if this pattern were a symbol of death?

This picture was posted on the Paizo blog (or somewhere on Paizo anyway; I did a google image search to find it) is what I mean; a fantasy moon that looks like a gigantic silvery skull. What would happen in such a world when the moon is full?

Another direct question: any ideas? I kinda imagine what the ancient druids and later medieval peasants thought Halloween was; a night when spirits ran unfettered through the night, could be not just a yearly event, but a monthly one. The full moon is the night of the undead. But, that's a bit obvious. Any better notions? Post 'em!

I should offer some kind of prize to the person with the best ideas here or something, because otherwise I probably won't get any comments, but y'know what? I'm really cheap. So I'm not gonna. But seriously; please post your ideas here.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

DPoNI Characters: Victoria

Last week we met Shugo the disappearing ninja. This week we at last we meet a full-on DINO-PIRATE: Victoria!

Victoria has been part of the crew of the “Black Lady” for several years now, but feels it’s time to strike out on her own, explore the world, and maybe one day find a crew and a ship of her own.

Or just have a really good time. Either way.


Victoria is a DINO-PIRATE -- in particular, she's part of the Raptor clan of DINO-PIRATES. See, the DINO-PIRATES all take their names from various dinosaurs. There's not much actual organization to these groups; not like the ninja clans, which have all their ninja rules and ninja traditions and what not. The DINO-PIRATES aren't that interested in tradition and rules anyway. So Victoria is a Raptor DINO-PIRATE, so if she meets other Raptors (possibly there's a secret handshake), she'll probably help them out if they, say, get into a fight (pirates: fighting a lot).

Anyway, as a character build, Victoria is another Warrior like Chen, but unlike that worthy fellow, Victoria is more of a swashbuckler than a tank. She's nimble, with her +4 Dexterity, and charming, with her +2 Charisma, and not all that bright, with her -1 Intelligence. We'll see why the investment in Charisma pays off for Victoria below.

Dexterity of course is important because it powers both her attack bonus and her Dodge, meaning she's going to connect a lot more often than she's going to get connected with. It also combines with her Improved Initiative feat to give her a +8 on Initiative, meaning she's almost always going to get the drop on others. She's fast, is Victoria.

She'll need to be, since the absence of a Toughness bonus means any blows that do connect can hurt her seriously. Victoria doesn't want to stand toe-to-toe with big bruisers and dish out -- she needs to jump and bounce around the battlefield.

Which her skills will definitely help her out with. She gets Acrobatics and Bluff as bonus skills for being a Raptor DINO-PIRATE, and to that she adds another four plus her Intelligence -- which adds up to three. She takes Diplomacy since it builds off her Charisma (and we want her to be very charming), Jump for obvious reasons, and Knowledge (sea lore) since after all, she IS a pirate (plus her low Intelligence makes her especially bad at it, and we like the idea of Victoria confidently getting her shipmates lost time and again). Acrobatics, Jump and Bluff are all great candidates for combat stunts, and shipboard fights will probably allow a Knowledge (sea lore) stunt here and there, too. Despite so few skills, we're certain Victoria will get a lot of use out of them.

Her feats are pretty straightforward, too. As a Raptor DINO-PIRATE she gets Improved Acrobatic Charge and Lucky, both of which go great with her build (high Acrobatics and Charisma), and as a Warrior she gets Martial Weapon Training. That leaves her with three choices -- she picks Improved Initiative and Reckless Abandon (which allows her to add that high Charisma to her Dodge), and finally Reknown, which gives her a bonus to Reputation.

Reputation is a special quality of DINO-PIRATES OF NINJA ISLAND characters that provides them with a bonus on their interaction skills -- but can also render them vulnerable to people who know them a little TOO well. In any encounter, Victoria can make a Reputation check. If successful, she adds her Reputation score to her Bluff and Diplomacy checks (because everyone's so impressed with this famous pirate lady in their midst). Of course, if she fails her check she takes a penalty on those checks since everyone's all "we've never heard of you, self-important pirate lady." As characters adventure, they can gain Reputation awards just like Wealth awards, and so a character's Reputation fluctuates just like Wealth does. For a first-level character, Victoria is reasonably well-known -- most first-level characters have a Reputation of 0.

Victoria's future (assuming she has one), is most likely going to stay with straight Warrior levels. If something wacky happens there might be some Generalist or Adept, but with that limited Intelligence she won't get all that much use out of Expert levels. She'll probably want to take some Attack Focus/Specialization feats to amp up her skill with one or the other of her weapons (and she'll probably want to get a masterwork weapon as well). Maneuver Finesse would get more use out of that Dexterity, and Improved Critical is always a good choice for anyone with a rapier. Move-By Action would also be handy for staying out of trouble. With lots of choices for feinting, stunting and generally leaping about, along with a potent combat ability, Victoria's got an exciting future ahead of her. If not a long one.

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.

Friday, July 17, 2009

D&D Shoe Competition!

Wizards of the Coast and RYZ are holding a D&D-themed shoe design contest. There are lots of amazing entires, and this is where I try and pimp my designs (such as "Red Dragon", which you can see to the left). You can see them all in my contest portfolio page: http://ryzwear.com/portfolio/ClaudioPozas .

In order to vote, you have to register at RYZ (which is free!). You can then assign your notes to each shoe design (marked by the number of "ticks" you assign, from 1 ("No Way") to 5 ("Love") or Pass ("No Opinion").

So run, don't walk, to the RYZ website and cast your vote! Help me, Obi-Wan, you're my only hope!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

DINO-PIRATES Characters: Ming-Wa

We looked at one type of adept two weeks ago: Kana, She Who Talks To Dinosaurs. This week we're taking a look at someone a little more direct in their application of magic to problem: Imperial Sorceress Ming-Wa.

Ming-Wa's an escapee from one of the fearsome eunuch sorcerers now ruling the great Empire to the north. The magic she learned from her terrible master is unsubtle and potent. Her build is an interesting one, pointing out some of the big differences between this game and other games you might be more familiar with.

Ming-Wa learned the art of Imperial Sorcery as the protegee of one of the East Chamber’s feared eunuch sorcerers. When her master turned on her, Ming-Wa had to flee into the lawless depths of the Dino-Pirate Islands. Her contempt for the rogues who now surround her wars with her desire to find a home.

Her ability choices are not what you'd expect in an Intelligence-based adept — while she has the requisite high Intelligence, she's also put into Charisma, Constitution and Dexterity, at the cost of a point of Strength. We built up her Dexterity because her primary power is going to rely on her attack roll, so some help here is going to be necessary. Her Charisma is really due to her concept (she's an imperious and contemptuous aristocrat), but it's helped to make this character a fun one to play with lots of options even at first level.

With only one level in Adept, Ming-Wa is not very formidable in combat. She's pretty easy to hit and isn't likely to land many blows herself. Even if she does, she's not likely to do much damage. However, her Constitution gives her an above-average Toughness save, so she needn't run for cover at the first sign of a punch-up. And as we'll see, she can actually be quite useful in such affairs.

Her skill choice is wide due to her high Intelligence. In addition to the bonus skills of Intimidate and Concentration she gets for being Imperial, she selects Bluff and Gather Information in order to play off her high Charisma (which Intimidate does likewise), and then she picks up an array of Intelligence-based skills: Disable Device (surprising but helpful — maybe this is how she escaped her Imperial master), Knowledge (history), Knowledge (supernatural) (necessary for anyone pursuing Imperial Sorcery), and Search. A few ranks in Notice never went astray, just to finish the whole thing off.

Such a broad array of skills gives Ming-Wa ample opportunities for stunting, making her more formidable than she appears. Coming up with stunts around Bluff and Intimidate is easy, and with a little creative thought things like Concentration, Disable Device and Knowledge can all get in on the fun. I'd like to see somebody come up with a way to stunt off Gather Information, I have to say.

In addition, both Bluff and Intimidate can be used to feint in combat, which makes Ming-Wa an effective support combatant. She can set up bad guys, leave them vulnerable, and then let her more combat-oriented friends polish them off.

Ming-Wa's weapon helps her out with this tactic — it has the masterwork property "Flashy". In DINO-PIRATES OF NINJA ISLAND, masterwork weapons can have benefits other than bonuses to attack. A masterwork weapon can have the Flashy property, which means it is tasseled or has noisy rings or whatnot on it, so that when used for feinting, it supplies a +2 bonus to the skill check involved. This gives Ming-Wa a whopping +11 on a feint attempt with her Intimidate -- not many 1st-level enemies will be able to avoid being flat-footed for a round. If she's got a friend with Sneak Attack it's going to be a bad day for the bad guys.

It really speaks to Ming-Wa's personality, too — she just dazzles them, and then lets others handle the tedious business of actually killing them to death.

As an Imperial, Ming-Wa gets the Great Fortitude and Tireless feats for free. She adds Skill Focus (Intimidate) for obvious reasons, and then takes Supernatural Focus on her core power, Wind Shaping. This is why her Power ranks and other numbers have two values -- the higher number applies to Wind Shaping only, because of the bonus granted by Supernatural Focus. To that power she adds Elemental Blast, so she can knock out bad guys with blasts of air, in addition to just creating hurricanes. Wind Shaping promises to be helpful in all sorts of situations, especially in a pirate-themed game where sailing might just feature strongly.

She needs to make a ranged attack to use the Elemental Blast, which will continue to be her weak point. Two ways for her to compensate for that are to either start taking some Warrior levels to boost her combat bonus, or to take the Widen Power feat and dispense with the attack roll altogether. She'll probably want to continue to max out her Intimidate, Bluff and Knowledge skills, but depending on how the game goes that Disable Device skill might become a focus -- she might pick up the Manipulate Object power so she can use it at a distance (even though it's not a canonical Imperial Sorcery power).

She uses her Knowledge (history) skill as her Professional skill, meaning each level she gains she makes a check with that skill to see if her Wealth increases. We imagine Ming-Wa assessing artifacts or researching useful bits of information -- sort of a mercenary librarian, if you will. Regardless, this is a character with a lot of potential directions to go in, and with her Virtue and Vice of "Fearless" and "Arrogant", she's sure to get into no end of trouble, no matter where she goes.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

A possible outline for SHIPWRECKED ON THE ISLAND OF DEATH

For my own home games, I don't "write" adventures per se, but I do often have at least a rough outline of what I think is likely to happen. Here's a very rough outline of what I see this potential SHIPWRECKED ON THE ISLAND OF DEATH adventure looking like.

To be honest with you, I'm not quite sure how to fit all of the DINO-PIRATES elements in. A true DINO-PIRATES OF NINJA ISLAND adventure should always have:

1. Dinosaurs
2. Pirates
3. Ninjas
4. Robots
5. Monkeys

So, I'm going to assume, as grafted on as it may feel, that the PCs have a monkey with them. A little, cute, monkey, albeit one with long teeth and a pirate hat. They also have a robot with them. They don't know what it is, or how it works, but they brought it with them in the hold of their ship. When they get washed up on the ISLAND OF DEATH, this robot gets struck by lightning, falls into the saltwater bay, and comes to life. At the start of the adventure, it's missing. The PCs don't know what happened to it, but assume it's lying a good 50 yards or more underwater just offshore.

Anyways, here's the outline. The outline function on blogger isn't the best, so forgive the formatting:

  • We start en media res after the ship has already crashed on the offshore reef, the PCs have loaded a lifeboat, and made their way to the sandy beach. It's stormy, windy and rainy, and the PCs are the only survivors (that they know of) of an entire small fleet of ships that made up the Yamamiya (no relationship to the ABBA song "Mamma Mia" except that it rhymes) ninja clan. PCs don't necessarily have to be ninjas, of course. A ninja clan has a number of hangers-on and other "civilian" accessories too. Allow the PCs some time to assess the situation, and figure out what to do. Potential ideas are:

  • Explore the jungle a bit (could result in an encounter with wild dinosaurs, saber-tooths, or other big nasty predatory animals.)

  • Head back to the ship for anything you can salvage.

  • Start building a fire or a shelter or something.

  • Climb a coconut tree. They may be hungry, after all.

  • Get drunk.

  • Let them figure out what to do, though, and adjudicate something interesting accordingly.

  • At night, a party of natives who watched their arrival sneak into their makeshift camp and attack. Fight a bunch of natives off. Try not to get kidnapped.

  • It's possible (but hopefully not likely) that your PCs will not follow up on this and attempt to assess the threat of the island as a whole. If they just sit on the beach, now would be a good time for a pirate ship to show up, possibly also blown off course in the same storm that wrecked them, but looking for a place to stash some loot. They can either fight pirates (if they're spotted) or watch them and see where they bury their treasure otherwise. The pirate ship is not seaworthy after traveling through the storm, so taking their ship and getting back to civilization isn't really an option. Yet. Otherwise, you've got a journey through the jungle to find the native village. It shouldn't be hard to find. There's drums beating and bonfires blazing, and all that jazz. Jungle journeys include 1) crossing crocodile infested rivers, 2) giant snakes, bugs, and carnivorous plants, 3) dinosaurs. This is a smallish island. You may want to dispense with the T. rexes and go for smaller dinosaurs. A sneaky flock of Comsognathus, or some other dinosaur that you wouldn't think would be dangerous except that there's a lot of them and they're, well, very sneaky, would be good.

  • Assuming at some point the PCs go in search of the native village that launched the attack, well, it's not just a village. This is a ritual site, a heiau temple built of black volcanic rock, hibiscus bark woven together, and banyan wood. The islanders don't really live on this island per se, they just come here for religious observances. Which include, most prominantly human sacrifice. They're in the middle of sacrificing folks as the PCs approach, as a matter of fact.

  • It's most likely that the PCs and the natives become aware of each other. Handle accordingly. There could be a big battle, a negotiation, a big party as they're all welcomed together, etc. Give the PCs their head and see what they do. Regardless, things start to happen that cause their efforts to spiral out of control. Notably:

  • The robot. Remember that guy? He's turned into a murder machine, and he shows up and starts killing. Yes, we rely on unlikely coincidences in timing to make this thing happen. What of it?

  • An eruption. The natives believe that this is a sign of displeasure because their rituals were interrupted. Be that as it may, you now have to deal with earthquakes and lava flows. Oops. Don't fall in the lava. You'll die, no save.

  • Volcanic eruptions and earthquakes cause all kinds of problems. You've already got the killer robot, probably hostile natives, and how you've got dinosaur stampedes running through the camp. The pirate ship, off-shore (which should have shown up by now regardless of whether or not the PCs waited on the beach to see it) is swamped by turbulent seas caused by the earthquake. So now you've got pirates.

  • How does this all come to a head? Ideally, the PC's are able to survive the islanders, the dinosaurs, the killer robot, the lava and the pirates. They may be able to take the pirates treasure. They should be able to find a navigator either amongst the pirate survivors or the natives that can help them find their way home. They can steal a pirate ship or native outrigger canoe and make their way off the island. I dunno. I'm not thinking too far ahead here.
Anyway, I whipped up that outline in about ten minutes. It's pretty rough, and could use a great deal of polish, but it's at heart a workable outline. Any ideas for improving it? Post 'em!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Islands

I just got back from an extended second honeymoon in Hawaii, and since then I've been absolutely fascinated with Polynesia. The geology of it, the original settling, the various Polynesian cultures and their recent expansion... I'm mesmerized by all of it right now. I like the idea of having an element of that history and geology in the DINO-PIRATES setting. If DINO-PIRATES geographically resembles, at least vaguely, the East Indies, then why wouldn't you have a more extended eastern area, out in the ocean, where volcanic activity caused by oceanic crust traveling over magma hotspots, has created isolated chains of islands farther afield? And if you had it, what would be out there?

This is where you can introduce another classic adventure story element into the setting; the "Robinson Crusoe" story. What if a fleeing ninja clan was blown off course? Starving and dying of thirst, a tiny remnant of them crashed on a reef just offshore from a seemingly paradisical island with a smoldering volcano in the background, and lush tropical rainforest around it. Rebuilding in this apparent paradise, they find that maybe it's not so paradisical after all... unique dinosaur-like monsters that developed in isolation prowl the jungle, tattooed natives in outrigger canoes ply the waters looking for human sacrifices, and occasionally, you find that a far-flung pirate ship makes contact because they've got a stash hidden somewhere on the island that they want to protect.

It's not much of a stretch from DINO-PIRATES as it already stands, just a slightly different take that relies on relative isolation from the rest of the setting. So, that gives us the premise for SHIPWRECKED ON THE ISLAND OF DEATH, an adventure that we should be writing right now.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

DINO-PIRATES Characters: Mbungo

The mighty hunter Mbungo comes from the deep jungle, but unlike Kana he is not superstitious or possessed of strange powers. Such abilities as Mbungo has he has learned through his own skill and hard work. As his description notes:

Mbungo knows the ways of the jungle, and can track and follow the beasts that dwell within. He isn’t the strongest, but he is nimble. He loves to show off his skills, but doesn’t always recognize when he’s outmatched.

Mbungo is a pretty simple example of an Expert character in DINO-PIRATES OF NINJA ISLAND. The odd thing about his build is his relatively low Intelligence. Normally an Expert will want a high Intelligence to take full advantage of the large number of skill ranks they get, but Mbungo's concept is a more physical one. He's got high modifiers in Acrobatics and Stealth, but is likewise killer in such varied skills as Medicine, Notice, Sense Motive and Survival. Mbungo comes in handy all over the place.

His highest ability score is his Dexterity, giving him the nimbleness to survive in combat even if he can't dish out large amounts of damage. A boost to his Constitution will help him stay alive, too. And a high Wisdom gives some of those key skills a boost, even if it comes at the penalty of a Charisma of -1. Mbungo is ill at ease in social situations, obviously.

As an Expert he gets to choose his "good" saving throw, and again working against apparent advantage, Mbungo chooses Fortitude. His Dexterity and Wisdom give him high numbers on Reflex and Will already, and Mbungo is more about withstanding pain than avoiding it. Kinda fits with his "Over-Confident" Vice.

Speaking of which, we haven't talked about these before. Every DINO-PIRATES character has a Virtue and Vice. These come into play as a means of regaining spent Conviction points. Any time a character does something that puts them at a disadvantage in order to live up to either their Vice or their Virtue, they can receive a Conviction point. Over-Confident is a great vice, especially for a character like Mbungo whose ability to get in over his head is un-matched. His Generous Virtue likewise can afford much hilarity if played up well.

Mbungo's skills reflect a life lived outdoors and alone. Obviously his big strengths are the Dex-based skills like Acrobatics and Stealth, but Wisdom skills are also potent. Medicine will come in handy and a high Notice can help a party out of trouble. Sense Motive may seem out of place, but Mbungo's ability to size up strangers has probably helped him out many times in the past. The Combat Evaluate use of that skill in particular can come in handy, especially for someone as adept at hiding from enemies as Mbungo. Acrobatics can be used to feint, and all of these skills give Mbungo tons of options for Stunting his rolls.

Mbungo's feat selection is eclectic, providing a variety of potential paths forward as he gains levels. Dodge Focus and Track are practically no-brainers, and he gets Exotic Weapon Training and Trailblazer for free as a Native. He chooses the Wrist Knife as his Exotic Weapon -- a nutty sort of choice, perhaps, but handy if unexpectedly grappled. Favored Opponent (Animals) makes him especially potent in the wilderness, and you're never sorry you took Evasion.

What's the future look like for Mbungo? A number of possibilities. Strictly advancing in Expert would allow him to expand and build up his skills array, making for a potent Stunting character who can find ways to do just about anything. Some Sneak Attack, Hide in Plain Sight and Skill Focus (Stealth) can come in handy. That Wrist Knife would prove effective if he were to take Improved Strike, since its damage can be combined with that feat. Taking a few levels in Warrior's not crazy talk, either -- with Mbungo's killer Dexterity he could become a real combat monster. A better melee weapon would be a good move there along with Attack Specialization to improve his damage.

So there's a look at a unique take on the Expert role in DINO-PIRATES OF NINJA ISLAND. Mbungo is an adaptable character, at his best in the wilderness, perhaps, but certain to prove useful no matter what the challenge.