Jade Reclamation

Game Master Helix Missionary

A divine heir. A conspiracy against the empire. A Throne of Jade ripe for the taking.


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For thousands of years, Minkai has been ruled by the Imperial Families: five clans given divine mandate to rule by the Goddess Shizuru. Even under the Teikoku Shogunate, the rulers of the Empire of Dawn were of that same blood, and for the past thousand years all Emperors have been of those clans. But darkness has come to the land, foul spirits pervading the realm and tearing apart the ancient traditions that have guided Minkai and her people. The mysterious and deadly oni of the Five Storms have engineered a plot to bring down the Imperial Families, slaughtering all of their blood and instating their own puppet ruler upon the Jade Throne.

But one clan, realizing the danger to come, escaped. Into the north they fled, through the Forest of Spirits, and across the Crown of the World. Pursued by the vicious oni, they shed their ancestral holdings, their wealth, even their name. But while they could hide for a time, it was not enough. The Five Storms and their assassins chased them across the world, and one by one, the clan's members fell. In a last, desperate hope, an infant was hidden with the family's loyal retainers. They fled to the land of Varisia, while the ships bearing the rest of the clan were lost before they arrived.

Now, years later, that child is the last true ruler of Minkai, the last to have the divine mandate of Shizuru flow in their blood. They do not know their past, nor could they imagine their future. For destiny is at hand, and it is time for the rightful heir to reclaim the Jade Throne.

About the Game:
This is planned to be a more or less full run of the Jade Regent Adventure Path, re-imagined into a solo game experience focused on your PC as the scion in question. Things will be altered and twisted; encounters will be redesigned, enemies and their motivations rewritten, entire sections of content added, removed, or turned sideways until only tangentially recognizable. If you've played this campaign in the past, that's not a reason to avoid playing it here; it will be a very different experience from start to finish.

Why Jade Regent? This is probably my personal favorite AP from Paizo, and the one with which I'm most familiar. There are a lot of fantastic themes and moments in this campaign, and the overarching concept of destiny is something that I think shines particularly well here. I also love the element of the journey, which plays out more fully in this than any other published campaign I know of, and the arc of traveling from Varisia--the prototypical Western European adventuring grounds--to Minkai--the archetypal fantasy-pastiche of Feudal Japan--is wonderful if highlighted and used to its fullest.

Why solo? I've thought about running a solo game for some time, and my instinct has always drawn me back to Jade Regent as a perfect baseline. One of the problems with the original campaign, in my opinion, is the lack of agency and feel of an escort quest for the party: they're the heroes of the campaign, yes, but an NPC is the heir. I understand very well why that dynamic needs to be in place for your typical game with a full party--but in a solo game, it can go right out the window! And what more iconic story for a single hero than vanquishing an evil villain to reclaim their birthright to the throne?

Why recruiting? I have a friend (kamenhero25) who's already interested in this, but I'm confident I could run this game for two people--because it will be personalized, and things will play out differently for each character. And I'd like to give back to this community and offer an open recruitment for anyone who's interested in this. I'd love to take everyone if I could, but I will suffice to take anyone.

How many people/How long will recruitment run? I'm looking for one person beyond my friend; I don't want to even get hopes up by giving the possibility of running the game for more than that, because unless there are two exceptional submissions, it's not happening. As far as a timeline, I don't have a set one in mind; it's likely this will remain open for at least a week, but in all honesty, I'll probably just cut it off once I find the right character.

Submissions:
Note: Parts are listed in order of their importance to me.

PART I: THE CHARACTER
No, this doesn't mean the mechanical build of the character (see Part II). This is the character: who they are, what they're like, their hopes, their dreams, their fears. Some of this is defined by the core aspects of this campaign, as follows:

-Your character is the sole remaining scion of one of Minkai's Imperial Families. There are five to choose from, loosely defined in flavor (see the Campaign Traits below). You might choose a family because you envision your character as embodying the typical personality traits or beliefs of that clan; you might choose one to contrast those stereotypes and be a new kind of ruler. (I'd hope you won't choose one merely for the mechanical benefits.) However they view that fact, the divine blood of the Emperor flows through their veins, and theirs alone.

This is set in stone; it is a core component to the basic concept of this game. Your parents passed away when you were very young, leaving you to be raised by family friends (in actuality, your family's closest retainers). Barring truly exceptional writing and reasoning, if you present a character who doesn't fit this role, you will be turned down immediately.

-Your character is not aware of the above fact. In their flight from Minkai, your character's family--and their retainers--changed their names, sold their valuables, and generally did all they could to hide their identities. The timeline of the original campaign can feel a tad iffy in any case, but in this game the plot against the Imperial Families has been very long in the planning, and has slowly been executed over the course of generations. Your family has been running for many years, drawing further into secrecy to avoid death at their enemies' hands. This is all to say that you have certainly been brought up with Minkaian (and other Tien) culture, taught and trained as a noble would be--but the truth of your heritage was kept from you. Don't worry! You'll find it out soon enough.

This rule can bend, but not break; it is probably more reasonable for your character to suspect a deep family secret than to live in blissful ignorance. They may even have an inkling of the truth, or have overheard a whispered conversation, or come across a hidden artifact or memento of days long gone. You may even know your family's true name--although you've almost certainly been instructed not to use it lightly. But at the start of the game, your character is not aware that they are a destined and rightful ruler of the Jade Throne.

-Your character lives in (and likely grew up in) Sandpoint. The seaside town in Varisia has certainly seen more than its share of calamity and chaos over the years; assume that its canonical background (including the burning of the cathedral and Jervis Stoot's murders) took place, but that the other APs set in Varisia did not. But it is home to your character, as well as their oldest friend, Ameiko Kaijitsu, whose own parents practically raised you in their inn, the Rusty Dragon. Sandpoint will not be home for much longer, and may well not feel like home to your character--but it is where they currently reside, and where they know the people they call friends and family.

This rule is malleable; it is quite possible your character has lived elsewhere in Varisia, or perhaps even in one of its neighboring nations. They may have attended a boarding school in Magnimar or Korvosa; it's even possible (if unlikely) that they've dwelt with one of the nomadic caravans. Whatever the case, though, Lonjiku and Atsuii Kaijitsu and their daughter Ameiko have been constants in your character's life, bringing them up to respect their traditions and be a just and upright individual (as best as possible, anyway).

Beyond these points, however, you are free to characterize your submission as you like, and in whatever medium you prefer. The Ten-Minute Background is a good starting point if you're unsure of where to go, but I strongly encourage other options as well. Give me a writing sample of an impactful scene from their life; give me an image you feel captures your character's appearance and demeanor; give me a theme song that would play to showcase their personality. There are no limits to what you give me beyond those you set for yourself, although generally speaking, the more, the better. This is, after all, my highest priority, by a large factor over the other two. A solo game in a written format will rely much more heavily on characterization and roleplaying than how big your numbers can go.

PART II--MECHANICS
Part of me felt like I should use a different system for this game, one more purely narrative-focused and -driven, but it is, after all, a Pathfinder Adventure Path--and with some tweaking, the system can work well for the story I'm hoping we'll create.

System and Books: Pathfinder 1st Edition. All Paizo products are fair game to choose from; I generally refer to the Archives of Nethys, so if it's on there, it's an option. Please refrain from asking about 2nd Edition--requests will be ignored.
--Third Party: Some third party materials are available, if they are accessible by me, upon request. A popular highlight worth mentioning is the Spheres of Might system, which I allow (including related classes, feats, and so on). I'm less familiar with the related Spheres of Power system and find it less potentially suited to this game, but you may certainly request it.

Starting Level: 3rd. You are not, in all likelihood, a particularly accomplished adventurer at the start of the game, but you are very well-trained and capable.

Ability Scores: 20 points to spend on a point-for-point basis (i.e., a score of 14 costs 4, a score of 16 costs 6); no scores below 8 or above 18 after racial modifiers. Your mental ability scores should be at least 10 each, preferably higher. This is not a game to dump any of them, and you have enough points to get reasonable scores elsewhere without making a sacrifice; neither should you be a one-trick pony, no matter how good the trick.
--Leveling Up: At 4th level, and every 4 levels thereafter, you will be able to add a +1 bonus to two ability scores (instead of one). You cannot apply both points to one score.

Races: As a blood scion of an Imperial Family, at least one of your parents had to be a human. This means the following races are available for this game: Human, Half-Elf, Half-Orc, Aasimar, Dhampir, Ifrit, Oread, Suli, Sylph, Tiefling, Undine. Be aware that the further from a human in appearance you stray, the more difficult your time will be upon reaching Minkai. (This is not a warning against such a choice, merely a warning about it.) The various racial features to "pass as human" are strongly encouraged.

Classes: Gestalt. Between your classes, you should represent training and competence (if not skill) in some manner of traditional Tien culture; how you accomplish this is up to you, and I am open to working together to make a concept work. All Paizo-published classes and archetypes are available, and I am potentially willing to bend rules if a racial archetype fits your concept but not your race.

HP: Use maximum for your hit dice so far. As you level up, you will roll and/or take half+1, but for now you can use the extra durability... just in case.

Feats: We'll be using the popular Elephant in the Room Feat Tax house rules. If this impacts your build--e.g., you would receive a bonus feat that has been replaced or removed--let me know and we'll work something out.
--Bonus Feat: You receive a free feat at 1st level; this must be a "skill feat" (i.e., one of the feats that boosts one or two skills, a la Alertness or Skill Focus) or a racial feat for your race. You will receive an additional feat of this type at 5th, 11th, and 15th level as well.

Skills: We'll also be using the popular Background Skills optional rule, so you gain an additional 2 points to spend on those at every level. Artistry is in play, Lore is not; don't overlook the usefulness of some of these skills in this campaign, and bear in mind the sort of skills someone raised as a foreign noble might possess.

Traits: You may take two traits, plus a Campaign Trait from the list below. You are allowed to take a Drawback for an additional trait, but be warned I will use it in the campaign; no free rides.

Wealth: 1,000 gp, plus a masterwork weapon of your choice (most probably your family's chosen weapon). We're using the Automatic Bonus Progression rules, so don't worry about not being able to afford magic items. They're rare and special here. Spend your money on fun, useful, and thematic mundane equipment.

Alternate/Optional/House Rules In Play, Now or Later (Subject to change)
Automatic Bonus Progression at level+2, with small changes (Pathfinder Unchained)
Background Skills (Pathfinder Unchained)
Caravans (Jade Regent Adventure Path)
Elephant in the Room Feat Tax Rules
Various Intrigue Systems (Ultimate Intrigue)

PART III--PERSONAL TOUCHES
This is where you as a player can reach out to me with ideas you'd like to see for a personalized, solo experience. In particular, if you have any things you'd love to see (or not see) in this game, let me know! I'm interested in playing with the tropes and motifs potentially available here, and there are a number of tones we could go for.

Want this to be a gritty political tale of vicious intrigue? Let's do it. Prefer the high adventure and classical romance of a more traditional samurai story? Awesome. Want to go full-out shonen anime on this? It might take some work, but I'm willing to try if you bring enough energy and roleplaying meat to the table.

This part of your submission is the least necessary for me, and can even be ignored entirely if your character and their mechanics do a good summary of what you're looking for. I'm mostly including it on the list to let you know that I'm happy to work with you to make this a great game for both of us--so long as you uphold your end of the RPG bargain.

Campaign Traits:
Amatatsu Scion: The Amatatsu were known for their cunning and adventurous spirits, producing many explorers, traders, and reformers throughout the centuries. Amatatsu Aganhei was perhaps the most intrepid traveler in Golarion's history, finding the Path that connects Avistan to Tian Xia across the Crown of the World. That same adventurous blood flows in your veins, and the tradition of exploration has been instilled in you from birth. You have also been trained in the classical swordsmanship of your clan, wielding the razor-sharp katana.
You have a +1 trait bonus to Knowledge (geography) and Survival checks, and both are considered class skills for you. In addition, you are proficient with the katana, and may treat it as having the monk property.

Higashiyama Scion: The Higashiyama were well-respected and honorable to the core, deeply devoted to the worship of Shizuru and the pursuit of knowledge. Throughout the ages they have produced great scholars, including Higashiyama Tensin, who revolutionized academia with the invention of a printing press. The blood of wisdom has been passed to you, who must now hold a torch of knowledge to these dark times. You have also been trained in your clan's archery methods, letting instinct guide the arrows from your daikyu.
You have a +1 trait bonus to Knowledge (religion) and Linguistics checks, and both are considered class skills for you. In addition, you are proficient with the longbow, and once per day, you may ignore concealment on a single ranged attack with that weapon.

Shojinawa Scion: The Shojinawa were once revered as grand traditionalists and pious rulers, a family known for faithful ancestral worship and great public works. With time, though, they grew decadent, and rumors of madness and dark magic plagued their name; Shojinawa Fundo was respected and feared for his sorcerous power. Still, you have inherited the blood of ancient days, and the crafty nature which brought down your clan name may enable you to return it to glory. You have also been taught to wield the powerful and versatile methods of the yari in the style of your clan.
You have a +1 trait bonus to Knowledge (history) and Bluff checks, and both are considered class skills for you. In addition, you are proficient with shortspears, spears, and longspears, and may treat them as having the monk property.

Sugimatu Scion: The Sugimatu were a well-loved family, peacemakers and diplomats who kept in touch with the needs of the people. They have produced some of the most prosperous and beloved rulers in all of Minkai's history, including Sugimatu Izumi, the Empress of Pleasant Rains, who presided over a golden age of peace and plenty. That same nature is your inheritance, and with luck, you will once more guide Minkai from war to order. You have also been tutored in the elegant styles of the naginata, the traditional weapon of the clan.
You have a +1 trait bonus to Knowledge (local) and Diplomacy checks, and both are considered class skills for you. In addition, you are proficient with the naginata, and may treat it as having the monk property.

Teikoku Scion: The Teikoku were the most powerful and traditional of the Imperial Families, and have held rule over Minkai for more years than any other family. Teikoku Hideyaki led the families in their earliest years of divine mandate from Shizuru, and helped to establish the Teikoku Shogunate that would rule the nation for centuries. His same imperious blood is your birthright, and you have been raised with the commanding mien of a traditional noble. You are also a skilled wielder of the nodachi, a fearsome blade synonymous with the Teikoku name.
You have a +1 trait bonus to Knowledge (nobility) and Intimidate checks, and both are considered class skills for you. In addition, you are proficient with the nodachi, and may treat it as having the reach property.

If you have any questions, comments, concerns, or the like, please let me know! And please send them here, not via PM, because a question you have may well lead to an answer someone else needs.


Dotting in. Very interested. I'll work up a character for this, but I have a few build/concepts already.


I'm super interested. It might mean rereading Shogun and rewatching some Kurasawa, but very interested. Which is to say, I would be more looking for the high adventure classic romance angle.

One critical question is what you're expecting in terms of post frequency?

Also, will the caravan rules come into play? It doesn't affect me much either way, just another question I thought of seconds before hitting submit, lol.


Background:
Thwack! Click!

The sounds of wooden swordplay echoed in the crisp spring air. It was dawn, yet Masahiko wished the sun would dash across the sky. A stripe of shadow flashed across the brightness.

”Boy, if your head isn’t in this, it won’t be on your shoulders long out there!”

Takeshi had nearly given the young man a good slash to his collar, but his instructor hoped his words cut deeper than the practice weapons. He was a good man, having been like a father to the orphan. Like three fathers, truth be told. Masahiko came from a family of merchants, but he’d had his suspicions as he matured. It always seemed “his family” was just a mother and father – no aunts, uncles, grandparents, or cousins. The surrogates who raised him had a stronger interest in his personal growth – endless lessons in words, sums, and swords. Yet never spells.

The middle-aged man came at him full force, this time making a thrust. Masa parried it, disengaging from the fight.

”I’m still here. You’ll have to do better than that!” he baited. Though his tone was playful, it was a ploy to get the tutor off his back. He likes to see me challenge him. Just enough, anyway.

Gazing back toward Sandpoint proper, Takeshi looked back to Masa. ”Later, perhaps. Rei is due in with the fish early today. Go help her.” He took a look at his sparring partner. ”It’s your safety I’m worried about. Distractions like that don’t do well with the bandit problems we’ve been having…”

The lectures were always the same. Takeshi thinks everything is out to kill me, Rei believes I can’t hold onto a copper longer than a cup of wine, and Makoto believes people will read twenty different meaning out of two questions I ask! The seemingly endless levels of mastery he had to show his adoptive family was stressful at times. However, this stress didn’t stifle his independent development entirely. Masa swung by the inn before heading to the piers.

”There you are! You know, Takeshi says – “

” – I shouldn’t start the day without food in my belly. I know, by Gozreh’s beard, it’s an echo in here,” grumbled Masahiko, completing Ameiko’s reminder. The two were best friends, which also meant they knew (and loved) getting under each other’s skin when they could.

She smirked. ”Your mother said to remind you to help her unload the fish.”

”She’s not my mom, but yeah, that’s what I’m doing. Takeshi’s right though…” and so it was the two had a quick breakfast together. Rei and Takeshi were married, and though they did treat Masahiko like their child, the readily admitted he wasn’t. For some reason, the Kaijitsu daughter liked to poke at that fact from time to time. Her parents – Lonjiku and Atsuii – never seemed to broach the subject though.

Walking to the dock was a relief; Masa let his thoughts wander. A beautiful woman… long, smooth hair with a wise gaze. She looked down at him, smiling mildly. Something was sad about her eyes though. They moistened. She pressed him to her chest…

And then the vision passed.

For weeks, the young errand-runner had this vision in slowly developing clarity. He could probably pick her out of a crowd if need be, but he’d no idea who she was. Though he felt some connection to her, Masahiko couldn’t recall ever meeting her in his life. He always left the experience feeling bittersweet but couldn’t determine why, and when he thought of talking about it with others, something held him make. Maybe they’d just say I have my head in the clouds like usual…

While it was true Masa was a daydreamer at times, his surrogate family had honed him into a productive instrument. The four of them ran a fishing operation and smithy. The Kaijitsus had a standing order for much of the catch, and with the threats of highwaymen on the roads, armaments were in demand. Life was livable. Young Masa had learned a great deal, perhaps without even realizing it, of how merchants haggled, employees slacked, and revenues dispersed. Maybe my parents were rich and they think I’m due some inheritance. We probably would’ve seen it by now though.

He didn’t know how close he was in the speculations he had about his mysterious parents, for his family refused to talk about them, but he had other riches in mind right now.

On the boat with Rei was a young fisherman named Haruka. There’s someone of value to me. Strong, jovial – he treated Masa like a person, not a pack mule. He gave the pieceworker a pat on the back. ”Big catch today! Hope you’ve got the time to haul it.”

”Oh, he’s got the time. Both to haul ‘em and skin ‘em.” Rei was quick to cull the conversation between the two. She didn’t seem to think Haruka was a good influence, saying Masahiko could do better. What’s wrong with having a friend? It’s not like he’s a thief or anything…

The three worked, and while Rei wasn’t around them, the two would banter and joke with each other. Haruka had been attempting to catch the interest of Ameiko for a while, but he’d been unsuccessful. The conversation occasionally turned, as it now did, to prodding of why Masa didn’t try to court her. True, he was in good shape and was told often he was charming, but his family had forbid him from having relationships. We can’t support any runts, and we don’t want to cast the dice on that. Probably out of rebelliousness alone, he went after a girl years back, and they found out about it. He had twice the work and half the food for a month.

Thinking about this problem dampened his day. Despite the constant contact he had with those close to him, Masahiko often felt an intense loneliness, a pit inside of him. He usually dwelled on the depressing thoughts alone, but if they were particularly bad, he’d go to the cathedral. Perhaps its rebuilding was a parallel of what he needed to do with his psyche, or perhaps it was just a safe space to think, but he felt just a bit better there. Father Zantus was present, as usual.

The old man smiled. ”What troubles you, my child?”

Masa shrugged. ”I just need to think for a while.”

The clergyman nodded and gave Masahiko his space. He’s nice, doesn’t suffocate me like my family. He sat back in a pew, gazed upward at the ceiling. Perhaps it was the labor from the morning or the crestfallen development throughout the day, but Masa must have drifted into a daydream, for he saw the woman again.

Who are you?

His wondering was not met with an answer, and she wore the same expression on her countenance. This time though, her mouth opened as if to say something, and there was a light coming from within her mouth. Masa attempted to lean forward but found he could not move his head. He reached up with an arm, trying to control anything in the vision. The woman’s jaw kept opening wider and wider, unnaturally so, like a snake’s. Unnerving as it was, he steeled himself to concentrate on the light and redoubled his efforts to move his hand. Like the breaking of a dam, he felt energy surge forward, and his hand moved, grabbing the wispy, glowing orb as her face dissipated around it…
… and Father Zantus’s appeared, along with the surroundings of the cathedral once again.

”Masahiko? You dozed-off…”

The young man looked at his outstretched hand, unclenching it. For a split second, he thought he saw a corona of light dissipate. A strange feeling bubbled within him. Warmth, energy … did the gods hear my prayers?

Jetissoning a half-baked good-bye to the priest, he ran back toward the inn, but a surprise lay in store for him: Rei, Takeshi, and Makoto sat at one side of a table, yet not a soul was in the building otherwise. There was a single chair opposite them.

”Sit,” ordered Takeshi.

Shakily, Masahiko complied. ”Wh – What is this?”

Makoto’s face was stone. ”A new beginning. And hopefully not a quick end.”

Directly following the excerpt above, Masahiko would learn some bits of information that would lead him on the trail to his ancestry. It is quite possible the woman in the vision is his mother, magic has been eschewed because it was his family’s downfall, and secrecy has been kept as long as is prudent. While not fully-revealing of his past, the surrogate family is willing to divulge basics, aspects they see as necessary for the focused development of their secret scion. Tales of the Amatatsu and the lands of Tian Xia would be recounted to him, though never directly placing Masa’s import in plain view. However, the retainers didn’t account for every detail. The young man has a hidden potential just now beginning to come into its own. It is one they don’t care for, that power, along with his desire to make his own choices, will cause him to clash with his surrogates.

Let me know if you feel the above concepts are workable.

Mechanically, I must say I prefer Spheres of War – and Power – to Pathfinder without them. I feel they lower the power discrepancy between martial and magical, and they let one have a more organic character development. While I’m not looking to develop Masahiko as a high-caster (more the opposite), some options I’d consider for him may be Paladin or Ranger which have some casting; I’d prefer it not to be Vancian, but it’s not a deal-breaker. Role-wise, the protagonist would have a focus on protection, healing, and teamwork – his drive to form emotional bonds with others is a core component of what I’d look to explore with him.

Style wise, I prefer more intrigue, less combat, and lots of description. Maybe not Walden-level, but I find characters and settings which are deep in dimension often have the most meaningful impact with changes – good or ill – which befall them.

It should also be said while I am familiar with the general premise, I haven’t played through Jade Regent before – though I’ve wanted to. The storyline will be an unspoiled narrative to me which you can modify as suits your needs.

Some questions I have for you: Do you feel comfortable roleplaying characters the PC will develop attachments to – and sever them as appropriate? How light vs. dark do you expect the campaign to be? Regarding combat, do you prefer theater of the mind or maps (and, as an extension, do you see large groups being problematic)? And last, but certainly not least, what is your opinion of the platypus?

Please let me know any concerns you have with the character idea as is. I’m looking forward to hearing from you and hopeful we can craft a story together!


Very interested to convert this character, which started in a fast-dying Jade regent game last year.
It's a katana-wielding paladin, so would already fit as an Amatatsu Scion.


I'm about halfway through the backstory between my Inquisitor / Slayer of the Sugimatu family. Might take the rest of the weekend though in order to try and get as much detail down as I can.


Y'know, I'm usually intimidated by solo-games, but this just too damn cool of an idea for me to turn down. Consider this my dotting. I'm currently thinking either ninja+sorcerer or magus+samurai, but I definitely want to do a half-orc. As for my preferred tone, probably a 50/50 split of shonen and samurai romance.


Alright, first check-in and I'm glad to see interest so far! I try to separate my responses with bold headers indicating what they're about, or spoilers if they're specifically longer feedback for someone, but everyone can (and should) look everywhere.

Re: Post Frequency: In an ideal world, we all get to focus on our passions and spend our energy on those. In the real world, lots of other stuff happens and gets in the way. I'm a GM who prefers a well-thought-out, meaningful, quality post, rather than a quick check-in or hasty dice drop. Depending on how schedules line up and how free we both are, I'd shoot for at least a post a day, and one over the weekend, as the fastest rate here. I'd expect something more like a post every other day on average, dipping lower than that if need be, but hopefully never more than a day or two going by without movement.

dickie: We are indeed using the caravan rules, as mentioned under the optional rules in Mechanics.

Michelle Williams:
On a general level, I like the backstory. Choosing to offer it as a key moment or moments through a writing/RP sample is very smart, and the writing is of good quality. However, I think one of my own ideas for this game may have gotten muddled in my writing, and so I'd suggest checking out the header below for more details and clarification on that. Short version, and suggested change for you, is that the Kaijitsus are your surrogate family. You could easily substitute in Lonjiku for Takeshi and Atsuii for Rei, and even keep those two characters as family friends you work for, if you like.

I definitely agree on Spheres of Might--they not only lend to increasing some of the power level for martials, they give them much-needed versatility and growth options. The system also expands some fighting styles and makes them more viable, or even allows for new ones--I myself have made a warrior who fights with a tower shield using it. I'm not as familiar with Spheres of Power, so I'd have to brush up, but I think it would be fine. I will mention, though, that focusing on teamwork as a core mechanical aspect for the character may not necessarily be the best option--you'll have allies with some frequency, perhaps, but you'll also stand alone in many cases.

The style notes sound good to me--that's the point of a solo written game, in my opinion. There certainly will be combat, but probably not as much as a standard game. Glad to know you're unfamiliar with Jade Regent's storyline, although it's not a hard qualifier.

Finally, to answer your questions...
I'm certainly comfortable with roleplaying NPCs and their relationships to the PC, as I think that's something the GM ought to do in any game. Severing them as need comes is also well within my wheelhouse, as it's good to keep in mind that NPCs are people, too. They can be firm friends and allies, but mistreat them and they will eventually change their ways.

Light versus dark depends a bit on the player and their character, but generally I'd see this as somewhere in the middle. Jade Regent is very similar to your classic epic tale: it's a hero's journey across the world to reclaim their birthright and restore peace and justice to an empire ruled by wicked spirits. To me, that means there will be plenty of light points of high adventure and heroic romance, but also dark threats, intrigue, and vicious monsters. The oni in particular are corrupt, decadent, and utterly inhuman: they will be monsters well and true.

I generally use theater of the mind for combat, as I find maps both difficult to use well on PbP, and slower in execution. I do my best to explain the situation in a more abstract manner, and generally lean in favor of the player/s if there's a question about something I haven't described. Large groups shouldn't be too much of a problem--PbP is very nice for having to roll lots of dice, since you don't have to wait for me to roll ten attacks in real time.

I think the platypus is proof that not only is there intelligent design, but that it enjoys something strong from time to time. Were I to meet a platypus in real life, I suspect I'd get the same gut feeling of wrongness as when I lock eyes with a large reptile.

Clarification on Facts of Life: Looking back at the first post, I realize I missed out on really describing a point for your character, possibly because I wanted to keep things short and sweet and to three points. That said, this is a fourth that ties into the point already about living in Sandpoint (which remains malleable).

Your character was raised by the Kaijitsus. Not-so-secretly out of character, they are what remains of the faithful retainers for your clan, all three of them talented and capable. Ameiko is almost certainly your elder by at least a few years, and Lonjiku and Atsuii are therefore old enough to be your parents (although they have never pretended they are, and likely explained your parents' deaths as a terrible accident, or even left it as an ominous secret). This means that their family's backstory is vastly different here; all three are alive and well, Lonjiku isn't a rat bastard (well, at least he shouldn't be, unless you really want that to be part of your character's story), and they collectively own and operate the Rusty Dragon Inn. Throughout your life, they have brought you up; you've learned almost everything you know (and certainly everything Minkaian or Tien) from them. Lonjiku is like a father, stern and demanding but also loving and protective. Atsuii is like a mother, much the same, honestly. Ameiko is like an older sister: she has probably teased you and helped get you both into mischief, but she's also fiercely loyal and ultimately responsible for your well-being.

I strongly recommend incorporating this into your backstory and showcasing your relationship with each of them, even if you just want to tack on small paragraphs describing it. You can personalize these characters and make them your own, to some extent--I have ideas of how to use them, and how I would play them, but this is also your game, and I'd like you to customize things if you like. Make one parent brusque and stern, the other pleasant and outgoing; make Ameiko hold you at a further distance for whatever reason; hell, even keep her older brother and sister around, or invent a new sibling or cousin. I'd even say you can go so far as killing off either Lonjiku or Atsuii--although I'd like at least one of them to be alive as an older voice of reason to start things out.

Tai Kaijitsu: I've no issues with reusing older concepts, so long as they are fully re-imagined and fleshed out for this game. If I feel a character isn't really made for this, I'm much less likely to accept it. So, for example, right now, that's a big meh from me on the character--but, I also suspect you haven't actually converted him yet, so no worries there! :)

Everyone else, concepts sound fun but I like to wait until there's a bit more or a specific question or detail to comment on before speaking my piece. Hopefully this post, and future ones, will help to clarify intent and make things work. I'm not looking to shoehorn people into my thoughts for this game, but I do want to make sure we're all on the same page at the start of things!


So my concept is a dex based phantom blade spiritualist/stalker vigilante Amatatsu Scion. I'd like to play a high fantasy/intrigue shonen type story.

I feel this blend gives a chance to have an in character gm/player conversation (via the phantom weapon's thoughts) while touching on ancestry obligation/worship. Also the unarmed stike of a harbored phantom plays well as being a martial artist.

As far a style I tend to favor shorter posts with a high frequency with some longer more expository posts mixed in. I'll put together a 10 minute background sometime this weekend.


GM:
Thanks for your detailed response!

I'll take your suggestion to heart with the Kaijitsus; I was of the impression you wanted them to be separate from the retainers until I saw your point above. Takeshi and Rei will swap out for them, but those two and their arrangement will still exist. They'll get some names not from the East, however, as they didn't come from there.

Mechanically, I asked about theater of the mind as some classes do well with that while others don't. Though I didn't plan on making a booby-trap specialist in Masahiko, it will be something I keep in mind if chosen when selecting talents.

Spheres of Power is simple to understand since you've looked at Spheres of Might. Each sphere is a different specialty of magic, and each comes with core ability which is weak for a character's power level but can be used at will. To do more potent or different actions, talents must be taken (just like SoM) and spell points must be spent. These points refresh at the start of each day like spell slots do, but I like to think of them as mana, for different abilities have different costs. The reason I prefer this system is a character who specializes in, say, weather magic actually feels like a weather mage. With magic as is, a wizard can be a defensive specialist until 11th level when he learns disintegrate, and out of the blue, he's just as talented at it. Not so with SoP.

Regarding teamwork, I asked as in spheres of might, beastmastery is one of the options. Having Masahiko in touch with the natural world, feeling the drive to explore it, pushing him to trek to new places might world well for the setting. Personality-wise, the creatures could give him some emotional buttressing in hard times, and while no platypus, they might give him hope of something beyond the common flesh and bone from which they're composed. The shield sphere is also something I'd be looking at for him, and it has a good number of talents which function well with others. He wouldn't (likely) be a rampaging zealot, so I figured he might acquire a few contacts, associates, work with arms for hire, etc., so such features might find
good use anyway - even if the story is predominantly one where he is alone.

With the switch regarding the Kaijitsus, please let me know what else you'd like from me lore/personality-wise. I can hammer-out the mechanics from this point, I think.


This sounds interesting. Tooling around with the idea of a magic swordfighter but things are still in flux. Question about Bladebound Magus, how does that work with the Automatic Bonus Progression? Is the blade separate or do you have to choose the blade as a magic weapon to attune with?


As promised here's a 10 minute background :)

Wai'ju Kaijitsu:

CORE CONCEPTS:
1. Katana wielding swordsman who blends magic and finesse to overcome his lack of strength.
2. Explorer and hunter interested in ancient ruins, and natural wonders.
3. Deeply loyal to his family honor.
4. Guided by his phantom mentor/sword who is the spirit of the last emperor from his family.
5. Reluctant to lead/command, but has to assume the mantel of leadership.
6. Does not naturally feel comfortable with people, but has been trained to overcome this weakness.
7. Has a kind heart and wants to do what is best, but not sure always what the right path is.

APPEARANCE
Wai'ju is of average height, has golden brown skin, and has straight dark brown hair that he wears in a short ponytail at the nape of his neck. His most distinctive features are big golden eyes and a large hooked nose reminiscent of an eagles beak. He is generally quiet around strangers, but can be quite witty when he is around friends.

GOALS:
Character Goals
1. Bring honor to his family's name
2. Explore the world

Player Goals
1. Improve my my writing of internal thoughts to improve character development.
2. Explore the conflict of personal preference vs familial and cultural expectations.

SECRETS:
Character's Secrets
1. Frustrated by his foster family's silence on where he is from, Wai'ju has been quietly inquiring, while disguised, around town and has gone as far as Manimar in his search for answers. He has not been successful, but worries what will happen if his family were to find out.
2. Wai'ju conmetes in an illegal gladiatorial ring in Manimar. No one is supposed to die (the organizers don't want any trouble). Wai'ju competes there masked and under the stage name of "the Raven." If is family we to find out they would be mortified.

Secrets Kept from Character
1. The origin of his phantom, Wai'ju does not know that he was the emperor, only that he is an ancestor
2. Wai'ju does not know who his parents were, just that they passed away when he was a baby and that he was left with the Kaijitsus. He also does not know that he has divine blood in his veins. (I leave how this came to be up to the GM :) )

PERSONAL TIES
1. Amieko Kaijitsu; his best friend and foster sister. They talk frequently about seeing the world together. Wai'ju is amazed by how easily Amieko interacts with people. He loves to sit and listen to her play her samisen.
2. Lonjiku Kaijitsu; was the closest thing to a father that Wai'ju has. Lonjiku demanded that Wai'ju learn his famil]'s culture and to participate in managing the family's business. At the same time nothing that Wai'ju did seemed to satisfy him. Lonjiku's oppressive expectations often drive Wai'ju to spend time in the wilds near Sandpoint to avoid his foster father.
3. Atsuii Kaijitsu; foster mother and mentor. Her kindness is a major part of why Wai'ju hasn't left Sandpoint with one of the caravans. Where her husband has been dismissive of Wai'ju Atsuii has contantly encouraged him and told him that great things were in store for him.
4. Koya Mvashti; Wai'ju doesn't get on well with most people, but Koya has been a person that he gravitated towards. He spent many hours listening to her as a child telling of the wonders of the world. Her mentorship instilled in Wai'ju a lust to explore and a love for her goddess Desna.
5. Sandru Vihski; rival. Sandru takes Amiko away frquenlty and while he is not as bad as his brother Jubrayl, Wai'ju worries that his association with Amieko casts a shadow on the family's honor.

MEMORIES
1. Once a caravan guard made fun of Wai'ju's nose, and when he wouldn't take back the things he said Wai'ju fought him. Without meaning to Wai'ju nearly killed the man. Furstracted, alconfused and ashamed Wai'ju retreated into the wilds for several weeks. Long enough for the man to have left town. It was during this time that Wai'ju came to realize the voice he sometimes heard in his head wasn't his imagination, but was one of his ancestors come to guide and aid him.
2. The pride that filled his breast the first time he beat Lonjiku when sparring and the old man had been forced to give a grudging acknowledgement of Wia'ju's skill.
3. Once, while spending time in the forest near Sandpoint he saw a family beset by 3 goblins. He dispatched them quickly with his trusty longbow. The honor that he brought to his name and the good that he did that day made Wai'ju want to do more to help those around him.

BUILD
- Spiritualist(Phantom Blade)/Vigilante(Stalker)
- Stats; 13, 18, 12, 12, 16, 8
- Amatatsu Scion
- Garuda Blooded aaismar with traits that would make him seem like a normal human. The only exception is that he does have darkvision
- Covers healing, damage, and skills.
- Most combat will probably be melee focusing on spell striking debuffs
- Despite a low charisma, the vigilante social talents and traits offset a lot of the his failings allowing for an interesting take for an intrigue adventure

WRITING SAMPLE

Wai'ju spends a few more minutes going over his bag before leaving. In his worn leather backpack hidden beneath food for a week and a change of clothes lies his costume, a loose silk shirt, leather breaches, and a mask all midnight black. I need to get on the road soon or I won't get there in time. He thinks to himself. Again he hears the familiar voice of (insert name) You really must stop doing this. One of these times someone is going to realize who you are. Shaking his head Wai'ju mentally responds, Hardan's promised double for this fight. Besides, I'm not going to get caught. No one would suspect me.

Closing the door behind him Wai'ju is startled by Amieko who gives him a curious look. "Where are you off to?"

Caught off guard Wai'ju stumbles through his reply. "No where... Well I'm going out, you know for a... a trip."

"I see, want some company?" Amieko asks smoothly.

"No! Uh no, I just want some time alone."

"Ok fine" Amieko laughs "just stay safe. Wouldn't want you coming back all bruises cause you 'fell down a mountain' again."

"Of course!" Wai'ju says as he hurries away.

She doesn't believe you (insert name) tells him as he makes it to the front door of the Kaijitsu home. I know, but she'd never guess what I am doing.

Moving quickly Wai'ju makes it to the edge of town in a few minutes where he starts along the route road. The whole time trying to ignore the worry that he's putting his family's honor at risk for so little.


Dotting for interest. I'm initially thinking about a tiefling kineticist/tbd - the "tiefling" bit being 'what if the scion didn't escape the oni untouched?'


I'm interested. And I'm just back from my first ever trip to Japan (Hokkaido), so I'm really interested in playing Jade Regent with a feudal Japan twist.

PART I: Kojima Hanako (name meaning "small island flower child") is a penniless young lady who dons rainbow flowers and a simple robe, and worships her goddess by bringing beauty to the world. She has a strong sense of justice, a generous heart, and not-so-secretly hopes to one day befriend a fairy.

_

PART II: I'm thinking Dragon Scale Monk, Human, and if Vow of Poverty is allowed, I'd like that. I never played with VoP before, but I think unarmed classes aren't in high need of items, and I like the idea of a character who doesn't crave loot. It also means your friend gets all the gold, except maybe a few bucks Hanako can donate to a temple or orphanage or whatever.

Mechanically, I'll focus on strength (because Dragon Style), dex (Acrobatics) and charisma (Perform: Dance). The fighting style will focus on kicks and trips. Elephant in the Room allows some classes to take Greater Trip early on, and Monk is one such class.

I don't like rolling for random HP, so I'll gladly accept half+1 from Lv.4 on, and keep boosting str and probably charisma.

On the fluff side, I'm considering Childhood Crush (Ameiko) as the campaign trait, but am willing to change that if that goes against your friend's plan.

On crunch, if I link to any of my current games you'll know how I am in battle. I like playing offense and protecting the party, though I'm usually NOT the toughest character, constitutionally speaking.

EDIT: after reading about the unchained monk, I'm leaning toward unchained just for Style Strike! I love the various kick attacks, and I will pick one of the kicks every time!

_

PART III: I like the idea of samurai story w/ romance or a fun anime-like adventure. Less so on gritty, but not against that.

I tend to check in on this site daily, so I should be good on posting rate. I try to be conversational with both PCs and NPCs, so with a party of two there won't be confusion over who I'm taking to.

On another note, if you do allow Vow of Poverty and being in love with a female NPC who one day returns Hanako's feelings, that will make for a very untraditional heir to the throne!

_

Backstory to come. I need to take my daughters to a pool party, but wanted to post my interest for now.

PS: Ignore current profile until further notice, and this is not a converted character aside from me using a character name I've used before. I came here specifically looking for a Jade Regent game, so the character I'm making is specifically for Jade Regent.


Glad to see more new faces in the thread.

Michelle Williams:
Yeah, I realized looking back that I hadn't actually made that clear in the original post. No worries there, and I'm absolutely fine with keeping another family of folks in the backstory--it says something about the Kaijitsus that they'd encourage you to help out with some "common folk" in their work.

As I said for theater of the mind, I tend to lean in favor of the player, particularly if they're trying to set up something fun. If you want to do booby traps, do traps! Just let me know when we get to that point, where they're rigged, what they're trying to accomplish.

Having now taken a slightly deeper look at Spheres of Power, it definitely makes sense to me, and I'm fine with it. I'd have to really plunge in to see if I prefer it to standard spellcasting, but I think I may... in any case, consider it greenlit for this. And the teamwork-related elements you mention from Spheres of Might seem fine as well, I've got no problems with any of that. The story won't necessarily be about your character alone, but I imagine several--even all--of the climactic boss fights and some other battles will have him standing on his own as the destined hero. Just wanted to give you the heads-up in case you were planning for a very teamwork-oriented build.

As for lore and personality, it's really up to you. Your backstory sample gives me a solid concept of Masahiko's personality, his relationship with the Kaijitsus (and a touch of their personalities as well), and a couple of unique hooks and references to his upbringing. If anything, building out some relationships, even just through a paragraph apiece, with some other NPCs would be fine. You can use the fisher family you already created, but also feel free to use the standard caravan NPCs from Jade Regent: Sandru Vhiski, Koya Mvashti, and/or Shalelu Androsana. You may know some, all, or none of them; I leave that up to you.

Corrik Re: Bladebound Magus: Bladebound with ABP is definitely... tricky. In a way it does what the ABP is doing: shifts the onus of generic +X weapons from purchases to being part of your character. That said, I definitely wouldn't want to punish an archetype with the system, especially one as interesting as the Bladebound. So here's what I'm thinking: You can choose something other than the black blade as your attuned weapon, with no special systems required. If you do attune to the black blade, the +X enhancement bonus can never go higher than the normal limit per your magus level. Additional enhancements instead convert into magical properties of the blade, e.g., flaming, keen, and so on. This does mean that, combined with your magus arcane pool, you could really pump a lot of power into the weapon... but you can eventually do that anyway, so I'm not too concerned.

baggageboy:
As a primary note, it sounds like you and I have different posting style preferences. That's not to say you're in the wrong or shouldn't apply here or anything. In all honesty, it's more of a warning that this may not be the game for you, because I'm simply not that kind of GM. I can all but guarantee there will be occasions when I don't post for a day or two, and I'm leaning towards a very expository and detailed sort of tone for this game.

That said, moving into your background...

Your core concepts are interesting, but a little all over the place and even a tad self-contradictory with other elements of the background. You say he's deeply loyal to his family honor, and yet you yourself note--in character, nonetheless!--that he's risking it for very small reasons. You also mention his "lack of strength," while having a Strength of 13, which is above average (if not incredibly so). Reluctance to command is potentially interesting to work with, but being uncomfortable with people--and having a Charisma of 8--is going to hurt.

As a side note on that, I know you say the vigilante talents will help with that, but really only so much, and I'm a GM who believes that ability scores should matter. You can get lots of bonuses to Diplomacy, and that'll help when you speak your mind, but having a negative Charisma means that, inherently, your character is not a very charismatic person. They may have a way with words, they might be able to turn up the charm when the time comes, but that 8 means that they don't have presence, they don't immediately inspire confidence or hope, and they probably even come across as a bit on the plain, awkward, or even creepy side. Again, this isn't to say that you're in the wrong to do this--but it's definitely not something I'd advise. (And I did put in the mechanics section that all mental ability scores should be at least 10.)

The goals are... fine, but not really special. Again, bringing honor to his family's name seems to contradict what he's doing so far; if your point is for him to grow that's all well and good, but I'd incorporate that more directly into the character, because right now he just seems confused and directionless.

The secrets are another sticky point for me. Inquiring around about your past is one thing, and while Sandpoint is a small town where news travels fast ("You know, Wai'ju stopped by the other day and was asking about family records..."), I'm willing to believe he could be discreet enough the Kaijitsus wouldn't know. Traveling to Magnimar to participate in an illegal gladiator ring (which personally seems silly if there's no killing, since Magnimar has well-known, legal nonlethal gladiator fights) is another thing altogether, though. Yes, being a vigilante means nobody would recognize you in the fight without a really good Perception or Sense Motive check--but that doesn't explain the multiple days of travel it takes to get there and back. At the very least, Ameiko would insist on traveling with you to Magnimar. I'd even suggest having her be in on the secret, as that means you have someone to help you keep things from mom and pop.

And as for not knowing who your parents were and how you got to Sandpoint, that's... kind of the point of the campaign. Thanks for leaving up to me what I already need to do ;)

Overall, the basic concept is fine, but I'd definitely suggest some revisions and rethinking. Clean some stuff up, narrow the focus, make it believable, make it work! I like a lot of what I'm seeing here--I hadn't even thought about the potential of a vigilante for this, but the idea of it is intriguing to me--so I'd love to see what some polish can do.

Sbodd: Sounds fine, although being an oni-touched will... definitely cause some interesting reactions in Minkai. Also has some unfortunate implications about the family history, but nothing I'm not willing to explore.

Hanako:
I'm going to say no to Vow of Poverty for this game, if only because we're using the Automatic Bonus Progression, which vastly negates the penalties of not having gear. If I did allow it, I'd definitely reduce the benefits to... probably 1 ki point per 5 levels. Feel free to roleplay someone who isn't that interested in mundane wealth, though.

As for... basically everything else, though, I'd suggest taking another, deeper look at my build rules. This is far from your standard Jade Regent game, and a lot of what you've put forward either doesn't apply here (the campaign trait), or suggests you should read over that again (single class, giving loot to friends). Nothing wrong with the basic idea or enthusiasm, though!


I should apply, lol!


I've been quite intrigued by this recruitment since I saw it pop up yesterday. I've never before considered a solo game, but I think I might be up for it. Never read or played Jade Regent, but I very much like the fantasy-Japanese setting. Currently reading the Usagi Yojimbo comics. :) Consider this a tentative declaration of interest, and let me see if I can flesh out the character over the next couple of days. Here's what I have so far:

Rough draft, character concept and background:

Type of game: High adventure, with a focus on character development.
Core concept: A once-moody boy, who is very in-tune with his surroundings, receiving sensations both from nature and from object with strong provenance. To curb his rebellious tendencies (and possibly to prepare him for his fate?), Lonjiku tried to school him in the ways of the samurai, incomplete as that would be in Varisia.

Rough background: He used to get quite angry with the Kaijitsu's, because they weren't his real parents. He could tell they were lying too, or at least not telling him the whole truth. (Ameiko’s role in this still to be decided). He’s always had a strong moral sense as well, which frequently got him into fights around Sandpoint.
Because of this rebellious nature, Lonjiku and Atsuii were hesitant to tell him even more (which might have been a point of contention between them). A pivotal moment came when he found out an object in the house connected to his past (a weapon, of maybe something simple like a piece of jewelry or a baby blanket). He didn’t know how he knew, but he was instantly certain that this was connected to his family, and that (something something, dependent on how much we’d like him to realize already). With the cat mostly out of the bag, Lonjiiku began training him in the ways of a Minkaian samurai, even though he warned that it could only go so far. The teachings have paid off, and he has grown more even-tempered over the years, finding purpose in the samurai code. Still, it feels incomplete. Also, those teachings do not tell him what to think about the sensations that he gets. (Undecided how much he knows about the occultist side. He could be completely clueless at the moment, or maybe Atsuii has been able to point him to some of the animism that might underlie his talent. Maybe he’s too embarrassed to even tell anyone, making it his secret to share with others later.)

Mechanics: Naturalist Occultist / Brawling Blademaster Samurai (Ronin order).
Note: The occultist was actually the basis of the character concept, since it seems to fit in with the development of uncovering one's heritage and destiny. The naturalist archetype fit in perfectly with the Kami spirit theme of Minkai.
In-character goals: Join an actual Samurai order (or establish one himself, in his wildest dreams), learn about the impressions that he gets, learn the secret of his ancestry.

If you would, any feedback on the concept is appreciated.


Response for GM:
Thank you for the feedback. I'll try to address some of your concerns.

First up the differences in gamplay style. This is ok. I welcome the challenge. It will be a growing experience for me. Crafting longer more expository and detailed posts is something that I am working on. I can be patient in waiting for responses though. I'm in several other games, so I'm checking in anyways :)

As far as the background goes I do agree it could use some tightening up. I didn't realize that Mangimar had legal non-lethal gladiatorial contests, given those exist that's where Wai'ju would compete given the opportunity. The whole premise of the fights was to find a good reason for him to have a vigilante alter ego. I did warm to the idea through. It's even better if they could be legal. Amieko could be in on the secret. She is a close friend to Wai'ju so that would be appropriate.

Yes, Wai'ju is conflicted in his goals. On one hand he's been raised to bring honor to his family and he does feel that's important. On the other hand he personally would rather have little to do with most people and just go exploring. I thought the internal conflict would be fun to explore, but maybe not?

Addressing his ability scores and him having an 8 in charisma. I'm totally fine with him having a lack of presence and being generally awkward. It fits with why he generally doesn't like people. Strength wise, I know technically 13 is above average, but if you take the encombrence table seriously (I know not everyone does) then a medium load for a character with 13 is really pretty low still when a chain shirt is 20lbs and katana 6lbs it doesn't leave much room barring magic. Also, for a warrior, slightly above the average peasant shouldn't be something to be excited about.

Let me know if any of this addresses any of your concerns I'll spend some time this weekend to think over some of the changes. Thanks again for the consideration :)


This seems very interesting. Tight competition, but should I find time, I can hopefully come up with something interesting and unique (my golden rule of PBP: any character must utilize the unique setup/build rules to the max).


Pathfinder Adventure, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

This looks cool!


I’ve never played Jade Reagent and this sounds like a blast! I am thinking about an Aasimar Scaled Fist Monk/Eldritch Scion Magus. Let me see if I can put together an interesting background and character concept.


Ah... Gestalt is a new word for me. Thanks for the feedback. Based on that, here are two immediate changes to my submission:

Gestalt Class:
• Unchained Monk (Scaled Fist) — charisma-based monk!
• Sorceress (Unicorn Bloodline) — sorceress with healing spells!

Campaign Trait:
• Sugimatu Scion — naginata as monk weapon!

___

Honestly, I was thinking about quite a few second classes, but sorceress seems like the most fun, and I'm playing a charismatic character anyway.

I'd consider Arcane Bloodline instead of Unicorn, if improved familiar alignments could be disregarded.

I still owe a backstory. Haven't forgotten... just put a lot of time into picking a second class. My favorite nonmagic option was Rogue (Acrobat).


Pathfinder Adventure, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I am leaning towards Warrior Poet Samurai + either Bard or Sorcerer. Sorcerer is probably the more *powerful* option, but Bard gets so much versatility that would be useful in a solo campaign. Probably human... But I would need to look at the list more closely.

Essentially, he (or she; haven't decided yet) longs to return to his own culture and has sought to learn as much about it as possible. He feels out of place in Varisia, no matter how much Ameiko does to try to make him feel at home.

Teikoku Scion, because it fits well enough and reach Nodachi sounds cool.

Competition looks stiff!

GenCon is coming up this week. Will you be closing recruitment during or extending until after? I will be pretty busy this week with preparing, packing, traveling, con-ing, etc.


Hanako is kinda young. Let's say late teens for now, and back story is maybe a year before game-start should I be so lucky.

PS: You may want to read the glossary before reading the story.

Stats and Such:
Gender: Female
Race: Human (Tien)
Class: Unchained Monk (Scaled Fist) & Sorceress (Unicorn Bloodline)

Traits:
• Sugimatu Scion (campaign)
• Muscle of the Society (combat)
• Artist of Battle in All Forms: (exemplar) Trip & Grapple
• Overprotective (drawback)
• Broken, not Beaten (combat)

Stats:
• Str 18
• Dex 16
• Con 10
• Int 12
• Wis 10
• Cha 16

Feats:
• Dragon Style (Lv.1 scaled fist bonus)
• IUS (monk class)
• Eschew Mat'l (sorceress class)
• Combat Reflexes (Lv.1)
• Vicious Stomp (Lv.1 human)
• Intimidating Prowess (Lv.1 +skill)
• Greater Grapple (Lv.2 monk)
• Fury's Fall (Lv.3)

Skills:
• Climb
• Swim
• Acro
• Know: Local
• Sense Motive
• Diplomacy
• Intimidate
• Artistry: Origami (bkg)
• Perform: Dance (bkg)

Known Spells:
• Lv.0: Grasp, Light, Mage Hand, Mending, Prestidigitation
• Lv.1: Ant Haul, Mage Armor, Songbird + Bloodline: CLW

Back Story: 'The Shiny New Dragon':

"Ow," Hanako whimpers. "Please be careful. I do not wish to have a shiny bald spot like father."

"Then keep still," Ameiko replies as she carefully slides two sticks from Hanako's long hair. "How did you manage to tangle a pair of chopsticks on your head, anyway?"

"I was trying to make one of those samurai man-buns, Oneesan."

"What man would put chopsticks in his hair, Imouto?"

"A hungry one."

The 'big sister' finally manages to slide the chopsticks out of Hanako's hair.

"Hanako, there are plenty of men in the common room with chopsticks, yet they hunger."

Hanako bows. "Hai. Arigato gozaimasu."

And she promptly heads to the Rusty Dragon's common room to serve men who are apparently not so much hungry as they are thirsty. When Ameiko balances a tray of uncorked sake bottles on Hanako's hand, she moves gracefully between tables.

She serves the drinks by hand until there is one left. That one, she wills into the air via her Mage Hand spell.

The customer is not impressed. Impatiently, he snatches the drink from midair—not realizing that the moment his fingertip caresses the hovering bottle, Hanako's spell is broken. The bottle drops—shatters on the table!—dousing the customer with hot sake and broken ceramic!

He stands. He shouts in the girl's face, "What's with this damn kid?!" His accusatory finger darts into Hanako's personal bubble.

She crouches into a cat stance and recalls Father's lesson: Go for the knee first.

Hanako's kick connects with a satisfying crack! Her opponent's shout—

"Wh'the fuuuuu—?!"

—is cut off by the girl's leg sweep.

And complete the One-Two-Three-Kick combination with a Vicious Stomp.

"Yame!"

Hanako freezes at the sound of her sister's command, her bare, calloused foot mere inches from the fallen man's gritted teeth.

He shoves Hanako's leg out of the way, brushing himself off as the girl stumbles back.

"This how your dad taught you how to treat customers? Seems the Rusty Dragon's named for its service, which is beyond rusty if y'ask me. Y'oughtta change the name to the Sh*tty Dragon."

If the man was about to laugh at his own joke or spit on Hanako's yakuta, the world will never know. For he simply clams up the moment Lonjiku steps into view, thumb on the tsuba of his sheathed katana.

He says calmly, "With your permission, I will keep the name of my inn in exchange for a grilled beef on the house."

"Fine. The girl's overreaction can slide. But why didn't she just hand me the damn drink like a normal waitress?"

Lonjiku replies, "You cursed her out two days ago. You told her never again to touch your drink."

"She picked her nose!"

"Surely she was merely scratching it."

"No, Father," Hanako confesses, "I really was picking it. I had a... um... cliffhanger ending. But I washed..."

A soft touch on the shoulder prompts Hanako to shut up. It is Atsuii's hand.

"Come, daughter..."

Atsuii leads Hanako outside, and places a masterwork naginata in her hands.

"You are a better fighter than you are a waitress. I will punish your mistake by training you hard."

She says this with a smile, and when Hanako drops to her knees and bows, she can't hide her ear-to-ear grin.

"Onegai shimasu!"

Glossary: Japanese to English:

• oneesan = big sister
• imouto = little sister
• hai = yes
• arigato gozaimasu = thank you very much
• yame = stop
• yakuta = long dress tied at the waist
• tsuba = katana's guard piece where blade meets hilt
• onegai shimasu = please teach me


A couple more thoughts:
• If picked, I might consider Arcane Bloodline even if you would not handwave the Improved Familiar alignment-compatibility requirement. The regular familiar I had in mind is Flowered Lattice, meaning Hanako's hair would be adorned with flowers of various colors, like those I saw in the fields of Furano. Her name means 'flower child,' so a flower-themed familiar's the way to go, even if it doesn't really do anything besides shed petals.

• Also, I edited the story (offline) so the customer yells at Ameiko rather than Hanako. I try to work in actual in-game abilities, so if not for the editing window slamming shut as I took my morning walk, you'd see Hanako fights because of her Overprotective nature.

Anyway, enough overthinking for now. Hopefully my submission is notably less flawed now that I know what a Gestalt Class is! ...and why having a crush on Ameiko is so wrong! I had only read the OP when I first responded. Adoptive family—got it! I don't actually know if the innkeeper parents should be martial artists, but I figured they already keep secrets and *someone* had to train Hanako. The naginata is a woman's weapon, hence Atsuii's role in the training.


I'm still writing up a proper backstory but here's Crunch + Writing Sample for now. I'm sorry for the former left - I had a short scene in mind and it just took longer than expected to write it up. Feel free to let me know GM if there is anything you want me to explain or even add / include either in Crunch / Sample / Backstory etc.

Writing Sample:

The road to Magnimar was dusty – as always. Rei was well used to it by now though, having traveled along the well-worn caravan path from Sandpoint to Magnimar once a month with her foster family, the Kaijitsus. The excuse for the whole family making the journey each month was to stock up on any supplies, but Rei and Ameiko would frequently use the trip to get into mischief. A larger city meant endless opportunities to get into trouble – something Rei was already well experienced with. Lonjiku also apparently used the trip to learn ‘any news’ although Rei privately suspected that Lonjiku also appreciated the opportunity to enjoy the private drink at the Fang. The family often lodged at the inn when staying for a day or so being rather cheap and affordable. Due to its proximity to the docks, on the first few visits to the city Rei had often gazed at the ships travelling to exotic lands and wistfully thought of adventures but it wasn’t really to be.

Rei was jolted out of her musings by Ameiko digging an elbow into her side. “Daydreaming already are we sister? We haven’t even arrived at Triodea yet…or were you thinking of the Rose and Rake this time?”

Rei poked her tongue out at her sister in response, but otherwise made no comment. Truthfully, the comment had accidentally hurt more than Ameiko had probably intended. Rei loved the theaters in Magnimar. She didn’t often get the opportunities to watch a full show, but even observing a practice session was enough to hold her interest. Some people loved the theater for its song, or even dance, but for Rei it was the story – usually something fanciful or interesting that allowed her to escape into a different life. She loved the actors that could put on a mask or costume and be someone else entirely – anyone else. Lonjiku, Atsuii and Ameiko were lovely, and Rei was grateful for them looking after her after her parents had passed away – but she didn’t want their lifestyle. She didn’t want to be managing a tavern, working hard but keeping her head down, she wanted to be out in the world, to be someone of consequence. Once, Rei had told her mother that she wanted to be a famous opera singer when she grew up and had never forgotten Atsuii’s reaction – eyes wide with shock she had remarked in an uncharacteristically stern voice to ignore such ‘fanciful’ notions. Rei had slammed her bedroom door shut and refused to come out until Lonjiku broke the stalemate, telling Rei that her biological mother had had theatre ambitions as well before her untimely death – thus bringing up the occupation was only reopening an old wound. Rei had accepted the offer of reconciliation but Lonjiku’s explanation hadn’t convinced her – it had been fear she had seen in Atsuii’s eyes rather than sorrow.

Rei pushes the slightly negative thoughts and memories out of her head. The sun was shining, and it would do no good dwelling on such things. The Kaijitsu family had taken her in freely and accepted her without question, even though it meant an extra mouth to feed. Rei wasn’t stupid, and while she felt disappointed in being discouraged to pursue her preferred occupation, it was nothing compared to the gratitude and respect she felt towards them for looking after her. She smiled at Lonjiku and Atsuii, before making her eyes round. “May I go exploring with sister now? I worry about Ameiko’s natural sense of direction if she was off on her own” she quips, ignoring Ameiko’s eye-roll. Lonjiku grunts in response while Atsuii gives a soft smile “Very well, but don’t be too long. Your father and I don’t want to have to send out a search party”.

Delighted at the response, Rei vaults out of the caravan dashing through the streets as Ameiko follows suit, before Rei flashes Ameiko a mischievous look “Last one to the Triodea has to do the others chores for a week.” She grins before dashing down a side street.
Sidestepping obstacles in the street and dodging crowds, Rei suddenly comes to a complete stop, breathing hard as she spots Old Man Grey, a stooped older gentleman struggling across the street with a cane. Rei knew that the man’s name probably wasn’t actually Grey but she hadn’t really had an opportunity to ask the old man, only spotting him occasionally during her rare visits to the city. Sighing slightly, and accepting the likely loss to her sister, Rei walks over and places a slim hand on the man’s shoulder. “Let me help you sir” she offers, letting the older gentleman lean on her slightly as she assists him.
“Ah! Its…Rei isn’t it?” the old man asks, eyes sparkling. ”You don’t have to do this” he remarks apologetically as Rei steers him across before letting him sit on a nearby bench, the exertion clearly leaving him a little short of breath. “It’s quite alright, it costs nothing to respect your elders” Rei remarks, a little formally, remembering that it had been something that Lonjiku and Atsuii had drummed into her from an early age. Your elders had the knowledge and wisdom that the younger generation lacked and could frequently learn from, and Rei had always taken that lesson to heart – after all, you had to be wise, or maybe lucky to make it to old age anyway.

“I’m not keeping you from a pressing engagement, you were in a hurry yes?” Grey remarks curiously, while Rei flashes a guilty look. “Well…I was err…trying to win a race”. Grey laughs for a moment before giving Rei a quick pat on the back “I won’t keep you any longer than, I should be fine from here on out. Run along now child”. Giving Grey an earnest smile, Rei dashes off once again. She doesn’t hold out too much hope but if Ameiko had taken a wrong turn, perhaps she might be able to make up the distance. Flying around a corner, Rei almost collides with a man in a dark cloak who had suddenly stepped out in the middle of the street. Trying to avoid the impact, Rei spins into a wall and is able to just avoid knocking the man over. She grunts a little at the near miss and looks up ready to apologize.

“My my, don’t we appear to be in a hurry” the man remarks in a smooth voice, looking Rei up and down with one calculating look. Up close, Rei could see that the man was also well armed, a long, slightly curved blade at his hip. It wasn’t the weapon that concerned Rei – it was his eyes, an exceptionally dark shade, almost black. Rei felt something profoundly wrong about him that made her feel like shrinking back but she just didn’t entirely put her finger on what it was that was making her feel this way. It was merely a vibe, a feeling. At the man’s question she nods awkwardly but otherwise makes no further comment.

“No manners either hmm? That’s a lapse in etiquette and upbringing if ever I saw one” the man continues almost to himself, before noticing Rei trying to edge away and holding up a hand apologetically. “Forgive me I do believe I’m frightening you. That is not my intention, but I have traveled far and perhaps I’m a little travel worn. Perhaps you could help me yes? Then you can I can quickly part ways?” Considering the offer, Rei hesitates slightly before nodding her head again in silent agreement – anything to get away from this slightly awkward encounter. “What is it do you need sir?” she asks, trying to inject a little bit of politeness in her tone.

“Ah good, we have found our manners again. Most excellent” the man titters to himself before clearing his throat again, continuing to speak in an irritatingly smooth voice. “I was actually visiting a friend actually, but this city is rather large, and I seemed to have mislaid the address. You wouldn’t know anyone with the name Sugimatu by any chance would you? Perhaps where they might live?” the man asks, dark eyes watching her intently.

Rei shoots the man a confused look, half relieved at the simple request, half satisfied that she would be unable to help this man. ”I’m sorry, but I don’t think I can direct you to anyone by that name. I don’t know who that is,” she remarks honestly before hesitating again. “May I go now?”

The man regards Rei with a long look before nodding slightly “Yes, I can see that you genuinely don’t know anyone by that name. Most interesting and of course you may go. Just one more thing though, might I be able to get your name please? It’s always polite to get the names of the people you need who have tried to help you. It builds respect. Case in point, my name is Kite. Your full name would be…?"
Whatever his name was, it wasn’t Kite it just didn’t…fit, Rei reflected, while she tried to decide how to answer the man. It wasn’t that she had an objection to give out her name, it was just that she didn’t want this person to know who was she. He was creepy, she decided but she didn’t know the correct way to turn the man down without prolonging the conversation. Reluctantly, she decided to give him what he wanted, she opened her mouth and…

“REI” a voice rang out. Dusty and rough sounding, Rei swiveled around, half startled before realizing that Old Man Grey had been the one shouting after her. Puffing a little, and swinging a long on his cane, the man paused for a moment, taking a quick breath. “It’s good that I found you, your father is requesting your assistance. Something about the housework not being finished?” Grateful for the excuse, albeit a little puzzled, as to her knowledge Grey had never met Lonjiku or Atsuii before, Rei nods her head enthusiastically. “I’m sorry, I got held up by this man who was asking about someone called Sugimatu” she responds, gesturing at the man standing right in front of her. For his part, the man flashed an injured look, while somehow managing to look mocking at the same time. “I apologize for bothering this young woman, but she did look a helpful sort. Besides, she reminds me a little bit of my…daughter”. Rei screwed up her face in little in response. Whatever the man had meant to say, daughter hadn’t been the intention. It had been the hesitation, the briefest pause that had given it away. It was an excuse, nothing more. Rei knew a lot about excuses, having used them numerous times whenever she and Ameiko had gotten up to mischief. “Well I’m not your daughter, my father’s dead” she hisses angrily accidentally revealing a little bit of personal information she normally wouldn’t have revealed in the heat of the moment. She wanted to withdraw that statement two seconds later when she spotted the sharp flicker of interest in the man’s eyes, genuine interest.

Really, how fascinating. I thought your father was looking for you?” the man responds, but he is barely able to get the words out before Rei snaps back in response, irritation giving her a temporary courage boost to stand up to this man. “That would be my adopted father, genius. Don’t you dare insinuate that I’m a liar” she responds, angry enough now to take a step towards the man who still looked unruffled at the angry tone. “Enough” Grey cuts in, and Rei picks up a hint of worry in his voice. It’s this, more than anything that calms her down out of her rage. “As I’m sure Rei might have already told you, there is no-one here by that name. I suggest that you leave and put your name to better use somewhere else” the old man challenges, leaning heavily on his walking stick as he did so, while regarding the man with an even glare. “My apologies, I’ll take my leave then” the dark eyed man remarks, after a long moment, his eyes never leaving Rei’s face, something she found incredibly unnerving.

Without a further word, the man departs, slipping into the crowd and vanishing. Rei watches him go, before jumping slightly as Grey claps a hand on her shoulder. “You best be moving on girl, and maybe stay clear of that man. I don’t know if you actually have any homework to do, but being around family is always best”. Rei nods again in agreement “Thank you for rescuing me” she replies softly before heading deeper into the streets. Grey was right, but Rei hasn’t going to leave Ameiko waiting at the theatre alone waiting for her, not when that creep was roaming the streets. She wove deeper into the crowd, looking back over her shoulder as she did so, and almost froze. The man with the dark eyes was behind her, picking his way through the streets in a slow, unhurried manner. Anxious, Rei took a random left turn down a street, and then a right turn, on both occasions the man matched her movements, still trailing by a couple of meters, but picking up the pace gradually. Fear flooding through her, Rei took a couple more random turns down a side street before cursing slightly. When she had last been there the streets had been clear but now it appeared work was being done on a nearby building, the alleyway she had been hoping to take a shortcut through was blocked. Knowing it was too late to retrace her steps, Rei ducked into the alley anyway, crouching down as low as she could. She could hear the crunching noise of the man’s boots making through the gravel as he approached, almost paralyzed with fear in her small hiding spot, Rei placed her hands over her eyes in an almost childlike mimicry of Hide and Seek, something she had always excelled at when she was younger. Ameiko had never been able to find her and Rei found herself wishing with all her might that the same would happen here.

Crunch. Crunch. Crunch. Rei could hear the footsteps being made, almost as if the man was being deliberate about it, delighting in her terror. Rei hunched tighter before…silence. Ears straining, Rei listened hard but couldn’t hear anything. She opened her eyes, peeking out between her fingers…

…and almost died of terror. The man was right there, looking right at her! Rei opened her mouth to scream, or cry out, but no words were coming out of her month she was paralyzed, unable to move, when suddenly the man’s face changed. It turned quizzical. His eyes left Rei’s face and flicked deeper into the alley. He took a brief step deeper into the alley, before shrugging his shoulders, turning, and leaving.

Rei waited a long time in the alley, certain that this was some sort of trick, still not sure how the man hadn’t spotting her. He had been looking right at her, eye to eye, but hadn’t seemed to register her presence. Taking a moment to calm her nerves, Rei cautiously made her way out of the alley and towards the Triodea where Ameiko was waiting. “There you are slowcoach, I thought you wanted to visit the theater, not audition” her sister greeted her, smiling as she did so, before immediately reading the distressed look on Rei’s face. “We are going back. Now” she orders, taking Rei’s hand and leading her back. In a daze, Rei let herself be shepherded down the streets by her sister, something she would have almost died from embarrassment about, but this time unable to resist or say a word. She doesn’t say anything as they arrive at the Fang and Ameiko makes a beeline straight for Atsuii who rushed over with a look of concern. “Rei, what happened?” she remarks, and it’s the concern in her voice that encourages Rei to break down almost in silent tears. She gets the words out, telling Atsuii the entire encounter while Ameiko looks on with worry – even guilt that she hadn’t been there. When it’s all finished, Atsuii gives a Rei a long hug before giving Ameiko a meaningful look that Rei barely managed to catch. “Ameiko, would you mind getting your father please, its urgent” she orders in an uncharacteristically sharp tone, before giving Rei a sad look “I think it’s time we had a chat…”

Rough Notes on Writing Sample:

So, I wrote this in case it helps 'trigger' the desire to leave in case that was helpful. Feel free to utterly disregard and treat this as just a writing sample though. In case it was unclear, It was Rei's inattention Blindness ability that effectively allowed her to hide. Strictly speaking its potentially a little unclear if it would have worked in that exact situation but hey - it makes for a good story. Also, the reason Rei refers to Ameiko as sister, Atsuii as Mother etc is that its being used as an honorific - Rei's basically saying 'I consider you true family regardless of biology". She she's really mad, she might say adopted mother/father/sister in a conversation, but such instances would be rare.

Crunch:

Rei
Female human investigator (cipher) 3/slayer 3/gestalt 3 (Pathfinder RPG Advanced Class Guide 30, 53, Pathfinder RPG Ultimate Intrigue 32)
CG Medium humanoid (human)
Init +4; Senses Perception +6
Aura nondetection (DC 14)
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Defense
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AC 15, touch 15, flat-footed 11 (+1 deflection, +4 Dex)
hp 36 (3d10+6)
Fort +6, Ref +8, Will +4
Defensive Abilities evasion, inattention blindness (1 targets max, 30 feet)
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Offense
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Speed 30 ft.
Melee +1 rapier +9 (1d6+5/18-20)
Special Attacks sneak attack +2d6, studied target +1 (1st, move action)
Investigator Spell-Like Abilities (CL 3rd; concentration +7)
Constant—nondetection
Investigator (Cipher) Extracts Prepared (CL 3rd; concentration +7)
1st—disguise self, fabricate disguise[UI], heightened awareness[ACG], shield
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Statistics
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Str 9, Dex 18, Con 14, Int 18, Wis 10, Cha 13
Base Atk +3; CMB +7 (+9 dirty trick, +9 disarm, +9 reposition, +9 steal, +9 trip); CMD 17 (19 vs. dirty trick, 19 vs. disarm, 19 vs. reposition, 19 vs. steal, 19 vs. trip)
Feats Accomplished Sneak Attacker, Agile Maneuvers, Combat Expertise, Deadly Aim, Deft Maneuvers, Fencing Grace[UI], Power Attack, Skill Focus (Disguise), Weapon Focus
Traits clever wordplay, cunning liar (any city), - custom trait -
Skills Bluff +10, Craft (alchemy) +4 (+7 to create alchemical items), Diplomacy +11, Disguise +10, Intimidate +7, Knowledge (arcana) +10, Knowledge (history) +10, Knowledge (local) +11, Knowledge (nature) +10, Knowledge (nobility) +10, Knowledge (planes) +10, Knowledge (religion) +10, Perception +6, Sense Motive +6, Stealth +10
Languages Common, Elven, Minkaian, Tien, Undercommon
SQ alchemy (alchemy crafting +3), finesse weapon attack attribute, inspiration (5/day), keen recollection, slayer talent (weapon training), track +1, unassuming
Other Gear rapier, investigator starting formula book
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Special Abilities
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Agile Maneuvers Use DEX instead of STR for CMB
Alchemy +3 (Su) +3 to Craft (Alchemy) to create alchemical items, can Id potions by touch.
Combat Expertise +/-1 Bonus to AC in exchange for an equal penalty to attack.
Deadly Aim -1/+2 Trade a penalty to ranged attacks for a bonus to ranged damage.
Deft Maneuvers You don't provoke attacks of opportunity when tripping.
Evasion (Ex) If succeed on Reflex save for half dam, take none instead.
Fencing Grace Use Dexterity on rapier damage rolls
Finesse Weapon Attack Attribute Finesse weapons use Dexterity on attack rolls.
Inattention Blindness (1 targets max, 30 feet, DC 17) (Su) Nearby creatures ignore your presence unless they succeed at a Perception check.
Inspiration (+1d6, 5/day) (Ex) Use 1 point, +1d6 to trained skill or ability check. Use 2 points, to add to attack or save.
Keen Recollection At 3rd level, an investigator can attempt all Knowledge skill checks untrained.
Power Attack -1/+2 You can subtract from your attack roll to add to your damage.
Sneak Attack +2d6 Attacks deal extra dam if flank foe or if foe is flat-footed.
Studied Target +1 (move action, 1 at a time) (Ex) Study foe as a Move action, gain +1 to att/dam & some skills vs. them.
Track +1 Add the listed bonus to Survival checks made to track.
Unassuming (Ex) Use inspiration on Disguise, Escape Artist, Knowledge (local), Sleight of Hand, and Stealth check without expending use
Weapon Focus (Light Blades) Choose one weapon group. You become better at using that type of weapon.
Prerequisites: base attack bonus +1.
Benefit: You gain a +1 bonus on all attack rolls you make using weapons from the selected group.

Notes on Crunch / Concept:

There is a lot of things I wanted to add, but unfortunately you only get so many skill points :(
Ideally, I'd prefer picking up Disable Device, Escape Artist and Sleight of Hand but it makes no sense for Rei to have these skills now (since opportunities to disable traps / pick locks / escape from bindings are pretty limited) so I'll pick them up later in the campaign (if selected) when I bump INT further. I really want to pick up an Artistry skill, but I couldn't find an existing category that was really relevant I guess I could do Playwriting or something theater related but it just seems a stretch and I dont know how relevant that would be to Tien culture. I'm really upset that I cannot weave her family weapon into her Crunch or Backstory (at present) but none of the weapons are finessable. I could go Strength based, but then I lose a bit out on Stealth which I feel should still be a useful skill if living under the radar. Still thinking this over, but if you have any ideas on that, I'm all ready for them.


GM Mowque: Feel free! I'm still sorry that I never got my character together for you. Seeing your games was one of the spurs for me finally doing this after thinking about it for so long, honestly.

Iff:
The core concept definitely feels fitting and solid--the Kaijitsus definitely wanted to train you to at least preserve the bloodline and traditions, if not to prepare you for your destiny (since they didn't know how long it would be before the time was right to return to Minkai). I like the feel of his early rebellion being cooled by the rigor and discipline of the samurai training, so that's definitely solid. Overall, my only real comment at the moment is that I'd like to see more.

Re: Animism, that's absolutely workable and I think it's a good hook to use. Atsuii (or Lonjiku, or even Ameiko) has likely told you a bit about kami and their role as spirit guardians, and how they inhabit the natural world.

baggageboy:
About everything you've said is fine, but take a look at the header below this spoiler--it's not directly directed at you, but something I usually like to say that I forgot to bring up thus far in recruitment.

The only other thing that concerns me is the comment that the premise of the fights is to have a reason for the vigilante identity. I'm... not entirely opposed to this way of thinking, but for a game this focused on character and narrative, I'd much prefer it go the other direction: How can the mechanics support the concept I've created? To that end, I'm willing to bend game rules a bit if needed. In your case, if you're interested in the abilities of the vigilante but not the dual identity, I'm happy to work with you to make that happen. (Even with the rules RAW, you can absolutely play a vigilante with all their abilities by just staying in your "social" persona all the time, and not caring if people put two and two together. I think I've seen this referred to as the Iron Man playstyle.)

NOTE FOR EVERYONE
Something I didn't link to in the original post is an old document I wrote up (under an old account on here, nonetheless) that I call my RPG Virtues and Vices. I didn't include it because, as I said, it's kind of old, and I'd like to go back and polish it up. But it did include a point that I'd like to capitalize on here, because it's particularly important for a solo game.

Build a character who will be the Scion of Minkai. Build a hero for this game. They can be an antihero--I didn't include alignment restrictions, in the end, because I wanted to leave things open for multiple paths. But they should be a hero nonetheless: someone willing to go above and beyond normal folk, to step out into the wider world, to interact with that world and the people in it, and to eventually lay their life and livelihood on the line for what they believe is right (whether that's justice, taking what's theirs, or seeking domination). It's tough enough to come up with ways to keep a reluctant hero hooked in a normal game; in a solo game, I really don't want to feel like I'm dragging teeth the entire time. Ideally, your character already wants to reclaim their family legacy, they just don't know the particulars yet. You can play around with exactly how much this is in play, but giving me a character who's got all that but isn't directly interested in it is giving me an NPC who can tag along with the party--i.e., the very thing this game is replacing.

Re: GenCon: Sorry if I come across as a jerk, but I'm not going, so I'm not really considering it in this. Recruitment will start closing when I feel I've found a great candidate, maybe two to pick between, and I'll announce a window then (probably a 24-48 hour one just so people do have time for last minute tweaks).

Hanako:
First, I'm gonna level with you. Please don't randomly interject Japanese into the writing. I get that it's fun, but not being a native speaker--and as I understand it, you aren't either--it feels a tad hackneyed and immediately breaks my immersion in the writing. Just say they're speaking Minkaian, because everyone within the narrative can understand it. I know most of those words already, they're not particularly unusual, and anything I don't know I can translate online. This is probably making me sound like a dick, but the experience and connotations I have with things like this are... really negative. (And it also doesn't make sense in character. Multilingual people tend to speak entirely in one language at a time, not add random tidbits here and there. That's something that's generally done in media, to the point that it's a fairly well-known trope.)

Beyond that, I don't really have an issue with the backstory scene. I definitely would like to know more about the relationships and the history, because I only get a very vague and general sense here, but the scene is fine.

I'm also happy to wave the Improved Familiar alignment locks; never really cared for them anyway, seeing as it's you, the caster, summoning them, the familiar. And there's great potential fun to be had in, for example, a good-aligned caster with a mischievous imp under their thumb.

As a final note, the parents are definitely trained warriors. The Kaijitsus are the retainers in the fluff blurb up top, so they certainly have the training to teach you. In fact, both would be skilled with the family weapon--naginatas of various types were used by both women and men, so Lonjiku would also be trained.

Viviana Masters:
Alright, I'm a big fan of the writing sample--no worries on length, as I think it's perfect for what you wanted to show. It's certainly giving me quite a bit to think about... I'm not sure how I feel about Five Storms agents being in Magnimar and actively searching, but I do know I'd like the campaign to start in Sandpoint. That said, it would only be a small change to the very end of your writeup: instead of having a talk in Magnimar, the Kaijitsus immediately head back home and we'd open the campaign with the return to Sandpoint and your talk there, or just after or before, perhaps. I'd need to think on it, but I believe the general sense of everything works very nicely.

As far as mechanics, I'm willing to bend rules to make things work. Off the top of my head, I'd be willing to give you 2 more skill points per level for investigator (I think the only reason they don't have 8+Int is to "keep rogues special," which at this point in my mind isn't a good reason for anything). As far as the weapons go, if you're not going monk, I'd be fine with the campaign trait instead letting you use it with Weapon Finesse. And I've also got no problems with the third-party feat Deadly Agility, since I don't think Dex to Damage has to be special either.

At this point, I'd love a bit more generalized info on your character's background. I get a good sense of their relationship with Ameiko from the story, but what about her family? Is she truly unaware of her burgeoning abilities, or has she trained them at all? Exactly how did she become an investigator/slayer rather than, well, anything else? These don't have to be super detailed hard answers, but a bit of thought and info goes a long way.


My replies to the notes.

The note to me: my bad! My wife usually refers to her sister by title when speaking English, but you're right. Better I just say 'Sister' and have the Ameiko refer to Hanako by name. In both Chinese and Japanese culture, younger sibs refer to older sibs by title.

That said, you're right I should write as if English subtitles to a foreign film rather than pepper in the few Japanese words I know.

.

As for Hanako's relationship with her adoptive family, I see them having tried to raise Hanako as a normal girl. She was just a child, hence the scene of her serving at the inn. Ameiko was just her fun, big sister.

But Hanako embraced her martial arts training. She wants justice, not only for her murdered parents. No child should lose their family as she did. So as her talents proved her a strong martial artist, her sense of justice became literally a religious calling. (Monks are religious, despite not being divine casters.)

.

Oh, and since you said you'll handwave the familiar's alignment, fair warning: diminutive sprite at Lv.5.

I'm still a maybe, so I may as well reveal the things that will tip the scale either way. She would fly in stealth mode, and I would put ranks in stealth for the sprite's sake. She won't be loosing inch-long arrows or doing anything else that would rightly prompt NPCs to brandish fly-swaggers.

_____

The note to everyone: point-by-numbered-point...

#1. This is the only game I'm applying to. If I don't get in, I may or may not try my luck with the next Jade Regent. I'm just back from a Hong Kong / Japan trip, I'm married into a Chinese family and have a history of Japanese martial arts. If I was disinterested I would either not have posted or I would politely bow out of recruitment.

Likewise, I take the encouragement in your reply to mean I have a chance, so I'm trying to give you the info you need to increase that chance.

.

#2. I do pour my heart and soul into a character, such that I'll tell you something I normally don't say to a GM up-front: perma-death means I'm out of the campaign. I'm not a sore loser—I never complain about dying, nor do I ask for special treatment or a break when my own recklessness does me in. I simply know that immersion is broken once I have to play a new character and forget all my first character knew.

.

#3. I always play the character first. Yes I optimize my best stat. It's because I know my weakness. If I choose a suboptimal build because I fear having an 18 makes me one of *those* players, that's dumb. I *am* one of those players to the extent I like my character being good at stuff.

But I do aim for likable, and always good-aligned and living up to it. Innocent NPCs are to be protected. Those who seem suspicious get the benefit of the doubt. I used to fall into the borderline-genocidal all-kobolds-are-bad player. Now so many GMs play up the innocent medusa, I just judge all NPCs by their actions. (A medusa going out of her way not to petrify me, for example.)

I despise playing the coward. Always the hero, or why fantasize? I mean for me. I have RP'er friends into the coward/villain/opportunist roles, and I respect it's their fun. Me? I'm steering clear of the gladiator game even though it's probably epic!

A point on the stats/RP connection: my INT, WIS and CHA stats help me decide on personality, impulsiveness, the drive to solve puzzles, crimes, etc.

.

#4. I don't dis my teammates. I will endanger myself for allies. My proudest moment in March was making an acro check to run across the hunched back of an enlarged PC ally as he grappled a wyvern. From there, I jumped over the wyvern, stomping its head mid-jump. The goal was to get between the wyvern and an NPC that my character befriended.

In the next round, I gave her a pep talk so she could shoot the bad guys while I took on the wyvern.

LINK, or it didn't happen?

.

#6. If you do click the link, you'll note that I posted the acro check after I had rolled attacks. This is because I wanted to make sure the GM would approve of my attempt.

.

#5. Positive and present, yes. The same link should show a mix of posting frequency and—well, I don't expect you to deeply read a game from page 43. But if you did, you'd see I try to respect other PCs' spotlight moments, and certainly, I happily accept hooks.

.

#7. History: I quit one game because there were times it took more than a week for someone to post. I felt like I was just staying to be polite, and decided to bow out politely. I tried to be the life of the game, but I can only play a dying game for so many months.

For me to leave mid-game, I would have to believe everyone is bored. I try to keep my character fun so the GM won't be bored. When GMs like my character, I keep the energy level high. I respond to other players in the hope I energize them, not wear them down.


Dotting. A lot of good ideas have been already been presented let’s see what I can come up with.


The Paizo Rat stopped me from editing. In fact, I meant to preview, not post.

Anyway, where I linked, the Vermilion Vixen is my character and the GM post before the acro check implicates that we talked over my GM-approved acrobatic stunt in the discussion thread. My relevant posts are the first two Vermilion Vixen posts on the linked page of a gameplay thread. (The GM posts before mine, including the first post on the page, provide additional context.)

The idea was to show rather than tell what kind of player I am. A risk-taker, bout one who tries not to cross that like between heroic and reckless. More than 50% of GMs would say I don't cross the line. More than 10%, maybe ~20%, think me reckless. But none do if we have that what-I'm-thinking conversation before I go and do something potentially perceived as crazy-in-a-bad-way.


(Oh God here we go…) So, this took me way longer than I thought it was going to, but I finally got my boy put together here. I’m very curious to her what you think GM Helix, because I feel like I’ve been staring at this for too long and now I’m seeing problems were there aren’t any or maybe there are and-...you get it.

To anticipate some comments/thoughts here, I intentionally didn’t go into any archetypes because I’m still a little green to Pathfinder and I’m still feeling out these classes, so it seems unwise to mix them up too much for the sake of my own sanity. Also yes, let’s address the 10 in Wisdom. This is 100% a characterization choice, as I’m leaning hard into the idea that he was largely isolated to the inn growing up, so he really has little-to-no broader world experience. I’ll get more into it in a second, but the general idea is that, as he levels up, I’ll start putting points into Wisdom to reflect his growing list of experiences (both good and bad).

Okay, enough stalling. Without further ado...

Shenzuka “Shen” Amatatsu (alias, Rauld Yarrow)

PART I - THE CHARACTER

(Rough) Background:
Shen’s birth was both a blessing and a curse. His mother, the lone survivor of the flight from Minkai, fell in love with a Varisian half-orc when she and her remaining retainers went into hiding in Sandpoint. Before he was born, Shen’s father left for parts unknown, and his mother would tragically die in childbirth. His mixed heritage may be a stain on his bloodline, but has been invaluable in disguising his true birthright. Thankfully though, he seems to take much more after his mother than his father. He has a passion for the beauty of nature, a fact often reflected in his artworks, and he finds some strange comfort in navigation. Most notably however, he is exceptionally adept with the katana.

Shen, however, does not know much about his mother, nor indeed anything about his true inheritance. He suspects there is some importance to his well-being, given the lengths the Kaijitsus have gone to keep him both protected and educated. He has been allowed to leave the grounds of the Rusty Dragon perhaps six or seven times in his entire life, being largely restricted to the interior of the building or its immediate surroundings. That is not to say that he has ben bored however. As he has grown he has received a rigorous education from both Lonjiku and Atsuii. Lonjiku has acted as his sensei, teaching him the ways of the samurai and the art of the katana. Atsuii meanwhile acts as his teacher, educating him on numerous topics and even on arcane magics.

Ameiko, however, is the one Shen holds the closest bond too. Unlike her parents, Ami (as he calls her) occasionally lets Shen get away from the endless sparring and lectures. She brings him paints and inks for his hobbies, listens to him recite poetry and play the flute (badly in the latter case), and has even on rare occasions let him help out around the inn. In short, she treats him much more like a younger brother, much more like family, than her parents ever have.

This is not to say that the elder Kaijitsus have been entirely strict with the young man however. They have also encouraged and fostered within him a love for the arts, especially traditional Tien techniques like haiku and calligraphy. He has shown great interest and piety towards the Minkaian religions, a fact that encourages hope that, despite his appearance, he may still be able to return to Minkai someday…


Personality:
Shen is an innocent soul, though more than a bit naive. The most he knows of the outside world is what he has read in books and seen on maps. While he has a passion for the beauty of nature, the most he’s personally seen of it is the few miles of countryside he’s managed to see when allowed to explore. As such, he can come off as incredibly thick-headed and inept to those who do not understand that his mental abilities lie more in study than application.

That being said, he is still incredibly pure-hearted, willing to aid just about anyone with anything, even if he’s sometimes more of a hindrance than a help. As per his samurai edicts, he refuses to take a thinking life unless absolutely necessary, and while he has never had to kill (yet), his prose proficiency will more than fulfill his sworn duty to memorialize. He is optimistic, and tries to see the best in everyone he meets. However, he is not openly friendly. The Kaijitsus have taught him to stay quiet and out of the way so as to not attract attention to himself, but on more than one occasion his overwhelming gregarious urge has caused him to have excited dialogues with assorted inn patrons.

The fact that they tell Shen to constantly stay hidden is a common conflict point between him and the Kaijitsus. Shen personally sees no point in hiding away, preferring much more to be open and friendly with everyone. He will lie about himself if asked to, but unless he sees a clear detriment to it, he will be honest to a fault. That being said, he respects his adoptive family and their ways enough to not bring this matter up often. It does still linger in his mind, as does his perpetual curiosity about the wider world…


Extra Bits:
A Few Thematically Appropriate Songs:
> “Ain’t it Fun” by Paramore . . . Theme music for whichever ne’er-do-well ruins Shen’s perfect world view first.
> “Birthday Party” by AJR . . . Roughly Shen’s mindset in a nutshell.
> “Go the Distance” by Roger Bart . . . This would absolutely be playing in the background as Shen left home for Tien.
> ”I’m Not Famous” by AJR . . . No specific thing for this one, but as a general theme song for Shen, I think this is a fair fit.
> “When Will My Life Begin?” by Mandy Moore . . . An approximation of Shen’s daily thought process.
Some Interesting Art:
> The picture that partially inspired Shen.
> The kind of art Shen loves.
> Something like what I think Shen’s katana looks like.

Example Writing: “First Meeting”:
The day began as every day began: in reverence.

Shen bowed to the shrine set in his bedroom wall, the candlelight causing the brass statuettes to shimmer in the early morning light. Reciting the verses as he always had, the young half-orc took a deep breath of sweet incense. ”<Honorable ancestors, please hear my prayer,>” he whispered in Tien.

”<It is my 14th birthday today, and my caretakers have promised me a great gift. They warn, however, that it is also a great responsibility. I...I have never been responsible for a gift before. The thought makes me anxious, it causes my hand to shake during practice. They will not say what my responsibility is, but Ami-uh, sorry, Ameiko, has whispered to me that it will be something that I must look after for the rest of my life. As much as I would deny it, I am...I am fearful. I do not know if I am ready for this task. Please, honorable ancestors, watch over me today. Guide me as I take this step in my journey. Let this day be one to celebrate, not to fear.>”

It was still another hour of meditation before he joined the Kaijitsus bellow, his favorite dishes arrayed on the simple wooden table and the seat of honor waiting for him. He managed a bashful smile as the three people who had watched over him welcome him. The meal was delicious, but marred by his persistent worry.

As usual, Ameiko was the first to notice his mood. ”Shen, are you alright? You’ve been playing with your rice for ten minutes now.”

The half-orc grunted in a non-committal fashion as he gently set the chopsticks aside. ”Yes, I am well. Simply...simply wondering. About my gift.”

All three of the innkeepers shared a knowing glance as Atsuii took his hand. ”Shen, do you remember our lessons from yesterday?”

He nodded with a puzzled expression. ”Yes, of course.”

”What was our etiquette lesson about?”

”How to properly ride a h-” His eyes went wide as it finally clicked for him. The past two weeks, he had noticed a trend towards equestrian topics; combat from horseback, proper grooming and care, etc. Suddenly it seemed so obvious.

Ameiko stifled a laugh at the young man’s dumbstruck expression.

”A-A horse!?”

”Nothing too expensive mind,” Lonijiku interjected, ”and you will be responsible for it. Feeding, training, and you’ll have to care for its saddle too.”

Shen was grinning from ear to ear. ”Yes! Yes, I will! When are we going to get it?! Did we already choose one!? Can I name it!?”

Atsuii and Ameiko chuckled as Lonijiku tried to hide a smile. The matron of the house gently pushed him back into his seat. ”We are going to pick one out today, after sparring, alright?”

He rapidly nodded as he began shoveling food into his mouth. In seconds he had wolfed down everything in front of him and had leapt to his feet. ”I’llbewaintinginthetraningyard!” he excitedly babbled as he rushed out of the room.

”Shenzuka!” the old retainer called after his pupil. ”<Stupid child! You were not excused!>”

- - -

The market square was like nothing Shen had ever seen before. Nor indeed smelled before.

He had on occasion helped a traveler board their steed in the inn’s stables, but the marketplace stables were far more vast and populated with many creatures, some of which he had never seen before. Lonijinku had threatened to take away his sketchbook after he’d stopped (without telling the others) to draw a beautiful creature with yellow fur and black spots all over his body. The woman who was selling it had called it a “leopard.” As soon as he was reunited with the Kaijitsus, he asked Atsuii if his next lesson could be about that large cat.

After two similar distractions, the group finally arrived at the horse stables proper. To any other purveyor of the marketplace, the equestrian offerings may have seemed unremarkable at best. To Shen, it was a marvel. It’s like our stables, but so much bigger! And look at all the different colors the horses are!

As he bounced on the balls of his feet, Atsuii tightened the plain brown scarf concealing the bottom half of his face. ”Now, what is your name, and why are we here?”

Shen rolled his eyes as he swallowed a sigh. ”My name is Rauld Yarrow, and we are here to buy a work horse for the inn.” He sputtered slightly as a bit of cotton caught on his tusk. ”...instructor, do we have to-?”

”YES, we must lie. You know the rules. So long as we are speaking in public, you are Rauld, understood?”

He nodded in resignation. ”Yes instructor...”

The stablemaster was kind enough, even if he did smell rather unpleasant. Shen had learned on his first trip out of the house that it was not, as it was with the Kaijitsus, a daily practice to bathe. Strangely, that did help him with keeping his scarf on while in public, as it thankfully took the edge off of more...pungent smells. After some brief pleasantries between Lonijinku and the middle-aged human, it was finally time.

There he stood, stalls lining each side of the long hall. Horses of all sorts and sizes peeked out, some bolder than others. In his hands, Shen tightly gripped his sketchbook. ”<Ancestors, guide me.>”

He stepped forward and took in each mount as he passed it. The first stood at the back of its pen, wheezing in anger as it dared Shen to approach. Well, it’s certainly not that one. The next was a dappled red mare who bucked as a stable hand touched her flank. Not that one either… The third nearly broke the door to its pen as he passed. And not that one…! And so it went for what felt like an hour. Horse after horse, none fitting quite what he wanted.

That is until he came to the very end of the stables.

In the back corner, separated from the others by a few empty stalls, was a black-and-white stallion with chocolate-brown eyes. He lay resting against the back wall of his pen, eyes following Shen curiously as the half-orc looked over the barrier at the majestic animal. ”Well...at least there’s nothing odd about you...visibly anyway...”

The stallion snorted indignantly.

Sighing and beginning to think that he wouldn’t be getting a horse today, Shen pulled out his sketchbook and took a moment to polish up his leopard sketch.

He looked back up to find the horse not three inches away, peering over the young man’s shoulder to look at the sketch.

”...huh. Are...do you like my drawing?”

To his great surprise, the hose leaned father forward and gently put its head on Shen’s shoulder, eyes locked on the sketchbook.

”...you do, don’t you!?”

Curious, he flipped a page back to a rough draft of the vista outside his window. The stallion nickered appreciatively.

Gently, Shen shifted the sketchpad out of his hands and cradled the horse’s massive head. ”I think...no, I know you’re the one.” Checking briefly to see if the stablemaster or his aides were in earshot, he leaned in and whispered: ”<Thank you kind ancestors...how do you like the name ‘Umaru?’>”

Umaru whinnied in approval.

PART II - MECHANICS

Shenzuka:
Male half-orc gestalt (*samurai*/magus) 3
LG Medium humanoid (human, orc)
Init +1; Senses darkvision 60ft, Perception +0
- - - - - - - - - -
DEFENSE
- - - - - - - - - -
AC 15, touch 11, flat-footed 14 (+4 armor, +1 Dex)
hp 36 (3d10+6)
Fort +5, Ref +3, Will +4 (+6 vs. charm/compulsion effects)
- - - - - - - - - -
OFFENSE
- - - - - - - - - -
Speed 30ft
Melee masterwork katana +9 (1d8+4) or
. . naginata +7 (1d8+4) or
. . dagger +7 (1d4+4)
Ranged composite longbow +4 (1d8), range 110ft or
. . dagger +7 (1d4), range 10ft
Special Attacks challenge (1/day), resolve (2/day), spell combat, spellstrike
Magus Spells Prepared (CL 3rd; concentration +5 (reroll at +9 1/day))
. . 0th (4 per prep) - detect magic, mage hand, ray of frost, spark
. . 1st (4 per day) - celestial healing, color spray, frostbite, sheild
- - - - - - - - - -
STATISTICS
- - - - - - - - - -
Str 18, Dex 13, Con 13, Int 14, Wis 10, Cha 14
Base Atk +3; CMB +7; CMD 18 (16 vs. dirty tricks)
Feats Athletic, Pass for Human, Weapon Focus (katana)
Traits Amatatsu scion, charming, child of two peoples, theoretical magician
Drawback naive
Skills Artistry (poetry) +8, Bluff +6 (+7 with sexual attraction), Climb +8*, Craft (calligraphy) +7, Craft (paintings) +7, Diplomacy +6 (+7 with sexual attraction), Handle Animal +6, Intimidate +8, Knowledge (arcana) +7, Knowledge (geography) +7, Knowledge (religion) +8, Perform (oratory) +6, Profession (innkeeper) +4, Ride +3*, Spellcraft +9, Survival +5, Swim +8*
*(-2 from armor)
Languages Common, Draconic, Giant, Minkaian, Orc, Tien, Varisian
SQ Amatatsu scion, arcane pool (3 points), athletic, challenge, charming, child of two peoples, concentrate, order (order of the songbird), pass for human, theoretical magician, versatile performance (Perform (oratory)), weapon expertise (katana), weapon focus (katana)
Combat Gear masterwork katana; Other Gear chain shirt, spell component pouch, spellbook (26/100 pages), composite longbow (40 arrows), dagger, artisan’s outfit, scarf, masterwork backpack, bedroll, belt pouch, book lariat, canteen, compass, field survival guide, ink (3 vials), inkpen, journal, paper (10 sheets), windup music box, trail rations (3 days), eyeglasses (reading glasses), common wind instrument (flute), 8cp, 17gp
Load: 71 / 116 lbs
- - - - - - - - - -
SPECIAL ABILITIES
- - - - - - - - - -
Arcane Pool (Su) here (3 points)
Challenge (Ex) here (1/day)
Concentrate (Ex) here
Mount (Ex) here (Umaru)
Order (Ex) here (Order of the Songbird)
Resolve (Ex) here (2/day)
Spell Combat (Ex) here
Spellstrike (Su) here
Versatile Performance (Ex) here (Perform (oratory))
Weapon Expertise (Ex) here (katana)
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
SPELLBOOK
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Pages: 26 / 100
0th acid splash, arcane mark, dancing lights, daze, detect fiendish presence, detect magic, disrupt undead, flare, ghost sound, grasp, light, mage hand, open/close, prestidigitation, ray of frost, read magic, spark
1st blade lash, burning hands, celestial healing, clarion call, color spray, frostbite, shield, shocking grasp, true strike

Umaru:
Male horse companion 3
N Large animal
Init +2; Senses low-light vision, scent; Perception +5
- - - - - - - - - -
DEFENSE
- - - - - - - - - -
AC 17, touch 11, flat-footed 15 (+6 natural armor, +2 Dex, -1 size)
hp 30 (3d8+6)
Fort +5, Ref +4 (evasion), Will +4 (+2 feat bonus)
- - - - - - - - - -
OFFENSE
- - - - - - - - - -
Speed 50ft
Melee bite +4 (1d4+3) and/or
. . hooves -2 (1d6+1)
- - - - - - - - - -
STATISTICS
- - - - - - - - - -
Str 17, Dex 14, Con 15, Int 2, Wis 12, Cha 6
Base Atk +2; CMB +6; CMD 18
Feats Iron Will, Light Armor Proficiency
Skills Perception +5, Survival +2, Swim, +7
SQ evasion, scent, tricks (come, work)
Combat Gear none; Other Gear bit and bridel, feed (10 days), riding saddle, saddlebags; Carried Gear naginata, silk kimono, efficient tent, grooming kit, hooded lantern, oil (3 flasks), silk rope (50ft), scroll box, trail rations (10 day), whetstone, tea ceremony set, artisan’s tools (calligraphy), artisan’s tools (paintings), climber’s kit, mapmaker’s kit, portrait book, tome of epics
Load: 215 / 516 lbs
- - - - - - - - - -
SPECIAL ABILITIES
- - - - - - - - - -
Evasion (Ex) here
Link (Ex) here
Share Spells (Ex) here

(If you catch any errors in my numbers crunch, please let me know and I’ll get things fixed right away.)

PART III - PERSONAL TOUCHES

About Me:
I have been an RPG player for 10+ years, but I’m relatively new to Pathfinder. I have played before, but that was a number of years ago, and that was back when it was just the first two books. That being said, I’m a quick learner and eager to get into a game.

As for this adventure path specifically, I have never played Jade Regent, but I am actually fairly well versed with Japanese and Asianic culture in general. I do not claim to be an expert, but I have had a long-standing dream vacation to Japan that I’ve been researching for forever, and I’ve actually taken a class on Eastern religions (which is what I was basing the ancestor prayers on [correct me if Minkai is different in that regard please]).

I try to post every day, but I’m currently just out of college, so I make no promises that my “promising career” won’t get in the way. Sorry. :/


Plans for the Future:
As I mentioned earlier, as he grows/levels up, I’m planning on putting points into Shen’s Wisdom pretty regularly. At the same time, I’m planning on building up his knowledge (geography) and survival to reflect him coming more and more into his ancestry. Also, I have a side-goal of getting him at least one rank in every knowledge skill to reflect his broad studies. Beyond that, I’m keeping things flexible so that I can adapt him to whatever comes up. I’ve learned from experience that sticking hard to a build plan is a good way to get your character killed. :T

Any feedback is wanted and appreciated. :)


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@Blue Symbiote,

About Japan:
Vacationing to Japan has been a dream of mine for a long time, and it finally came true a couple weeks ago! I highly recommend Hokkaido if you think you would prefer Japan's natural beauty as opposed to a big city like Tokyo.

My cousin's wife is from Tokyo, so I do happen to know climbing Mount Fuji is a thing you can do on a Tokyo trip. I guess there's sight-seeing and adventure no matter what part of Japan you go to, but anyway, my experience in Hokkaido was that people were generally extremely polite, everything was clean and orderly, and... I don't know how to explain the food. Everything is so simple, but I loved the food there.

Also, if you use Air B&B, you might get a place like this, with tatami floors and paper doors. I'll admit I totally geeked out when I saw the room.

Hope you get to Japan in the near future, and when it finally happens, you feel it was worth the wait!


華子: Hanako wrote:

@Blue Symbiote,

** spoiler omitted **

Super cool, thank you!

I’m planning more of a whirlwind tour of all the big spots, but Tokyo is going to be like an entire week of sightseeing. Definitely want to check out some temple gardens and kami shrines in person though.

...if I did get a tatami house, I feel like I’d be obligated to do it in Todoroki cosplay. CX

Unfortunately, it’s not gonna be anytime soon. I’m still taking flight from the college nest right now. Goal currently is just to get a stable enough income to find my own place to live. Also a dog. I need a dog.


Pathfinder Adventure, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I have two nights left to prep for gencon. I don't think I'll get a submission in time, but this campaign sounds great. Best of luck!


Michelle Williams from here with Masahiko in profile form. Please give it a look for critiquing. A number of links have been provided to relevant pages (especially for the spheres content).

Note inventory and animals aren't completed; if selected, they will be tailored to the details we discuss.

I’ve been giving some thought to how, if selected, I’d like to develop Masahiko. The gestalt rules for spheres stuff seems par for the course, though I have admittedly little experience with making gestalt characters; they always seemed overly capable, but maybe that’s good for a solo game! I’d be selecting incanter and conscript as the two classes, in no small part because this is a young man at the start of an epic journey – he’ll need to be flexible to navigate the perils to come. Masahiko will have charisma as his casting/practitioner modifiers to represent his consideration of conviviality and innate desire to befriend, and much of his skill distribution will be toward the social side of things. Spheres I expect he’ll heavily invest in are Beastmastery, Guardian, Life, Nature, Warleader, and Weather, though who knows what turns the road will bring.

Actually, looking at the dispositions toward spheres above, do you have any insight as to which of the five houses align with them most? I ask as charisma for a casting attribute generally is seen as magic being in the blood, so it might make sense to come form a house with those sorts of leanings. It is also the reason I made him a half-elf instead of a straight human. Maybe it doesn't matter as much, but you would know best!


This sounds very interesting. A question first though: would you also be ok with a kitsune? Those can after all be born from the union between a human and a kitsune.


Dot. I've been working on a Samurai (Warrior Poet)//Bard gestalt since i saw this. I'll see if I can get him finished in time.


2 people marked this as a favorite.

Time for today's check-in! I'm likely going to try and check in more frequently during the week here, to help make sure everything's going well and be more present as recruitment comes to a head. Just FYI, I suspect it will be closing down at the end of this week, because there are multiple good submissions already, but I'll make an official announcement before then.

Quick Note to All: I likely won't be going over mechanics in-depth until after I make my choice. This is partially for my own sanity (I don't want to audit ten characters only to use one), and mostly because the character and their personality is what I'm really looking for here. Apologies if that means you're not getting the feedback on mechanics that you'd like, but that's the way things will shake out for right now.

Blue Symbiote:
As a quick note, I wouldn't be inherently worried about being new to Pathfinder, but I will say that this may not be the best game for a relative beginner. The emphasis will be on the story, certainly, but combat and some other systems are going to be part of the game, and as an experienced GM who's used the system for years, I'm planning to use many of its intricacies to make the mechanical side at least half as interesting as the story. Again, let me emphasize this isn't me telling you no--but I am offering the warning, for lack of a better word.

The background is solid enough, and I like it. One note is that I intended for the parents to never make it to Sandpoint, instead being lost at sea on their own way to the town. However, if you want to keep the mother's place in Sandpoint and death in childbirth, I think I could potentially make it work. You've also presented a much stricter, more protective version of the Kaijitsus than I had in mind--but that's a good thing, not at all bad. I enjoy when players make me think about things in a new light or from an angle I hadn't considered.

I also appreciate the writeup scene, so nice job there. Definitely helps expand my sense of relationships and your life in Sandpoint.

Michelle Williams/Masahiko: Not sure on a clan for the spheres. Amatatsu certainly has links to things like Nature and Weather, but I'll admit I'd love to see people play one of the other four. Magic in the blood would immediately suggest Shojinawa, with their rumored links to dark magic or pacts of some kind, but it could easily be any of them (after all, the Imperious bloodline is a thing). In the end, though, it's really up to you.

Cuàn: I'm gonna say no to a kitsune on this one. To be completely honest I prefer my spirits capricious and otherworldly, so having them as a player race in general feels a tad odd to me. It would also raise a bunch of extra hoops to jump through for this game in particular.

Current Submissions As I See Them (let me know if I missed you):
Notes on things that need brushed up in italics.

Player Name--Character Name--Race/Classes--Campaign Trait--Submission Status

Michelle Williams--Masahiko--Half-Elf Conscript/Incanter--Undecided Trait--Mechanics mostly done, backstory to be updated

Ellioti--Tai Kaijitsu--Human Paladin/x--Undecided Trait--Generally needs updated for consideration

baggageboy--Wai'ju Kaijitsu--Aasimar Spiritualist/Vigilante--Amatatsu Scion--Would like to see more full mechanics, backstory presented (might be brushed up, player's call)

Iff--Unnamed Scion--Undecided Occultist/Samurai--Undecided Trait--Needs some mechanics, Rough background presented but would like more

Legendary Sidekick--Hanako--Human Monk/Sorcerer--Sugimatu Scion--Mechanics presented, Backstory scene presented, (Would like a bit more on relationships/general background if possible)

Viviana Masters--Rei--Human Investigator/Slayer--Undecided Trait--Mechanics mostly finished (may be updated), Backstory scene presented, (Would love more background)

Blue Symbiote--Shenzuka Amatatsu--Half-Orc Magus/Samurai--Amatatsu Scion--Mechanics finished, Backstory presented


As I wrote in my first post, I wasn’t sure yet whether I would apply to this recruitment. That always depends on how the character turns out when he’s finished, and whether I would like to play the character with long-term commitment. In this case, I've been making some serious steps in fleshing him out and I really like him. Would be most interested in playing this solo campaign. The stat block can be done later, but I wanted to share what I have so far. Presenting Higashiyama Nobuyuki (“Nobu”), in his own words:

In-character journal (long-ish):

Ameiko got me this diary. I do not have her way with words, but she says it’ll help. To put my thoughts to paper and to chronicle my life... I’m not sure who would be interested in that, but I suppose it couldn’t hurt. This way, I can practice my penmanship as well. Rather than write about the trivial affairs of the day, I will start by writing about my early life, here in Sandpoint.

--

I remember sitting on Atsuii’s knee. I still called her mother then. There was apple blossom all around us. Late spring, so I must not have turned six. Atsuii tended to my bruises, I’d gotten into a fight again... As she cautioned me to be safe in her soothing voice, I kept explaining that the older boys were bullying Krash again, just because he was a half-orc. Calling him stupid and an ogre, which I though was just mean. And that he's my best friend. They wouldn’t take it back, so I’d punched one of them in the face. And soon the five of us where all on the ground, a mess of flying fists and shoes. We were outnumbered and younger, but the two of us gave as well as we received.

--

I had just turned six when Lonjiku and Atsuii first sat me down to talk to me, about my parents. My real parents. I didn’t understand at first. Over the following months, the questions came, as I began to understand what this meant. I wasn’t their son by blood. Instead, my mother and father had been refugees from Tian Xia just as they, but had been less fortunate. Eventually, my confusion gave way to anger. As I began to understand what I had lost - without ever realizing - I began to blame them. I could tell that they were holding back, that even then they wouldn’t tell me what had actually happened. We had been such a happy family, the four of us, but that all seemed a lie to me back then.

--

They tried so hard, and they would never give up on me. One evening, Lonjiku again wanted to tell me stories of Minkai. He said it was important, and that my father would have wanted me to learn of my homeland. I stood and tossed the book aside, yelling at him. “If my father would have wanted me to learn, HE should have BEEN HERE to tell me! Not you!” My cheeks still burn with shame as I commit those angry words to paper. Lonjiku and Atsuii never deserved the trouble I gave them during that time. So much pain I caused them, so many years lost… (Dried tears stain the paper)

--

I was thirteen when I received my first set of charcoals. Ameiko got them for me, though she didn’t wrap them as a present and even denied putting them in my backpack. Which is exactly how she would do it. It was the most considerate thing she did for me (in a long line of kindnesses, which I could never repay). I had gone off into the woods again and found the charcoals and sheets of paper as I opened my backpack for something to eat. Without a desire to return to the inn and nothing better to do, I started drawing. And I haven’t stopped since. It’s not really good work, but I’m slowly getting better. And it helps me relax, being outside and just working the paper. It has also taught me to watch so much better. While drawing, I can look at a tree, and really see it. If I stop to think about it, I can almost imagine being the tree. I probably shouldn’t say things like that out loud, or they’ll think me mad. Or maybe it’s the Kami that Lonjiku told me about.

--

For my fifteenth birthday, Lonjiku and Atsuii told me they had a special gift. I was calmer by then, but still kept them (and my own history) at arm’s length. Lonjiku presented it to me with reverence, and a bit of apprehension. As I unwrapped the cloth, I had a wakizashi in very very old scabbard. I didn’t understand at first - I had never been interested in sword-fighting. Until it suddenly dawned on me that this must have belonged to my father. And to his mother before him, and so on. It had been in the family for generations. And I remember as clear as if it had just happened how certain I was of this: I could practically see my father and my grandmother holding it, although I have no actual idea of how they looked. What’s even stranger, is that I thought the hand guard looked odd. I’m not sure why I noticed this, but it didn’t seem to match. And I wondered whether it would have been replaced on purpose. That too, I could imagine as if I had been there when it had been done.
I looked up to see Lonjiku staring at me. He told me the weapon had been part of a set, but that the katana was lost at some time during the journey to Avistan. He was obviously anxious to see how I would react. He had probably expected a lot of things, but not that I would break down in tears and stand up to fall into his arms. Which is exactly what I did.

--

Receiving the sword was the first step to sealing the rift between Lonjiku and Atsuii, and me. I can understand why they wouldn’t have told me about it sooner, though. I still make time every day to think on my past, with the sword in my hands. Since then, I have spent more and more time with them to learn of Minkai. Atsuii has been training me with the longbow, in which she’s really good! She tells me I have a knack for it as well, even though it doesn’t interest me as swordfighting does. Lonjiku has introduced me to the way of the samurai, and the warrior’s code. There are no samurai orders here, but he has helped me draft my own code of honor. They still won’t tell me everything, I can feel it. But at least I’m learning about where I came from.

--

We practiced the katana today. I didn’t do very good. Although the wooden swords are well-balanced, they feel awkward in my hand. Too heavy. When Lonjiku tried to disarm me, I lost my grip. I saw the look of triumph in his eye and reacted without even thinking. My now-empty hand punched his flank, and I quickly swept his leg out from under him. He landed with a loud grunt. As he recovered, he opened his mouth and I knew he was going to admonish me over such low tactics, but then I saw his demeanor change. Something grim came over him, as if he didn’t want me to unlearn these tricks, despite what an honorable fight demands. Like I would need these skills. I helped him up and we went for a drink. Neither of us spoke of the incident.

Appearance:

Nobu is a lanky young adolescent. He’s tall for a Minkaian, standing just over six foot. He keeps his hair (dark and straight, as is common for his people) short with a sideways part. He’s clean-shaven, which takes him very little work at his age.
Even though he has been getting acquainted with his ancestry in recent years, Nobu still prefers Varisian clothing. If he’s not sparring, he’s mostly seen in practical trousers, a light-coloured shirt and one of his short coats in modest blue or green. He sometimes wears a traditional Varisian headband, which Ameiko says looks ridiculous. Some might say he wears it just to tease her, which he would shrug off without outright denying it.

Build notes (major choices and thoughts):

Human Gestalt Samurai (Brawling blademaster) / Occultist (Naturalist) 3
Alignment: LG
Stats: Str 13, Dex 17, Con 12, Int 14, Wis 14, Cha 12
Traits: Principled (faith), Civilized (social), Higashiyama Scion (campaign)
Skills: Focus on Artistry (drawing), Acrobatics, Diplomacy, Sense Motive, Perception. Dabble in other physical skills, Intimidate and knowledges.
Feats: Skills focus (Sense motive), (through Human alternative trait Focused study), Alertness (campaign bonus feat), Extra mental focus, Deft maneuvers
Fighting style will be wakizashi and unarmed, with some maneuvers thrown in. Nobu will rely on light weapons for finesse. Strength should be enough to do decent damage, especially with challenge thrown in. He has a longbow which he uses when necessary. In the future, he would hope to recover his ancestral katana, at which point he might retrain out of the brawling blademaster archetype: He can leave his streetfighting ways behind him at that point).

Samurai choices: Order of the Ronin. Tenets to be discussed. Something like: do not lie, stand up for the weak, fight with honor against those who deserve it.
Occultist class choices: Implements: Transmutation (heirloom wakizashi), Divination (personal journal), Conjuration (figurine of a gold dragon representing Shizuru). Focus powers: Future Gaze (from Divination implement, as augury). Spells: stabilize, guidance, mending, cure light wounds, heightened awareness, liberating command.
I’ve selected non-flashy powers and spells, obvious magic doesn’t fit my image of him. Nobu doesn’t think of himself as performing actual magic, he’s just realized how he can use the power in his items to do certain things. This might change in the future, as he becomes more comfortable with his powers and maybe finds a tutor. The transmutation powers look really awesome!


GameMaster Helix wrote:

As a quick note, I wouldn't be inherently worried about being new to Pathfinder, but I will say that this may not be the best game for a relative beginner. The emphasis will be on the story, certainly, but combat and some other systems are going to be part of the game, and as an experienced GM who's used the system for years, I'm planning to use many of its intricacies to make the mechanical side at least half as interesting as the story. Again, let me emphasize this isn't me telling you no--but I am offering the warning, for lack of a better word.

The background is solid enough, and I like it. One note is that I intended for the parents to never make it to Sandpoint, instead being lost at sea on their own way to the town. However, if you want to keep the mother's place in Sandpoint and death in childbirth, I think I could potentially make it work. You've also presented a much stricter, more protective version of the Kaijitsus than I had in mind--but that's a good thing, not at all bad. I enjoy when players make me think about things in a new light or from an angle I hadn't considered.

I also appreciate the writeup scene, so nice job there. Definitely helps expand my sense of relationships and your life in Sandpoint.

Warning heard and accepted. Like I said, I'm new to Pathfinder, but definitely not RPGs. I accept that I'm gonna need to learn fair bit, but I'm eager to do so, and thankfully I am a little familiar with another RPG that was based off of D&D3.5 (Star Wars d20 System) so not everything is alien. I simply ask that you have a little patience with me if I stumble a bit.

If you want to change the parental circumstances that's fine, but I do ask that their ethnicities stay the same so I can still keep the "Child of Two Peoples" trait reasonable. I will say I do prefer the lost at sea angle, because I'm a sucker for the surprise living parent reveal. I tried to seed that with Shen's half-orc father, but if you wanna do it with both parents I am not complaining. More drama potential = more story fun in my book.

As for the Kaijitsus, I figured they'd be more than a little paranoid after the whole "fleeing the country because holy s%+$ assassins" thing, so I combined that with some of my IRL freind's stories about growing up with his super-strict Korean parents. Glad you liked it! :3

*deep sigh of relief* That you for saying that. That story bit took so long and I kept feeling it was way to short, but I didn't want it to be too bloated either.


In a Strange Aeons campaign I joined recently, I was instructed to give five memories. Just flash-in-the-pan moments, but I'll try that here to give an idea of relationships.

Since there are only three NPCs in the family, I wrote one flash-fic for each. I also wrote a story for the familiar, though she won't show up in game as a Sprite until I get the Improved Familiar feat at Lv.5. The fifth story is just an edit of the backstory per your comment. I kept the content the same, however.

Mermaids (Ameiko):
With nothing but a loin cloth on, armed only with a stone knife, Hanako stares down at the water. It is clear, yet her sister has disappeared into the bottomless abyss.

Suddenly, a bubbly black and tan figure rises to the top. Ameiko emerges!—with an oyster shell in hand!

"Is there a pearl inside, Sister?"

Ameiko shrugs, "I'm thinking we should open the shells when we get home. Father can make oyster stew for his customers."

"Those loud men? Talk about putting pearls before swine."

"Father won't serve them a pearl if we actually find one! Now, are you gonna jump in with me or just stand there like a naked samurai?"

Hanako notices her thumb is rested in the 'hilt' of her stone knife, just the way Father holds his sheathed katana. Her cheeks flush pink at the accuracy of Ameiko's taunt, but Hanako will not let her Sister off so easily.

"Careful what you wish for, Sister—" Hanako jumps high into the air, hugging her knees as she plunges within two feet of where her sister treads water. "—cannon ball!"

Ameiko ducks under the predictable retaliation. Splashing and giggling ensues.


Suppressed (Sprite, Familiar @ Lv.5):
There is only the sound of a blade cutting through meat. Gasping. A woman shrieks. A man curses other men for cowards. Blades silence him too.

A tiny winged redhaired girl leads Hanako away. The redhead is so tiny, she fits into the toddler's hand.

"C'mon, Cutie," the diminutive creature says to the clumsy human. "Ye're me biggun's kid, ain't ye? Be real quiet, so the bad bigguns don't get ye."

Toddler Hanako is sad. Through her teary eyes, the rainbow winged fey is a blurry butterfly with a funny voice. She rings like a tiny bell when she talks.

"Someday, ye'll know yer Mommy's magic. I wanna save her, but she says I gotta save you." The fey passes on the spell Hanako's mother gave her: Reduce Person.

Suddenly a hole barely big enough for a cat becomes a cave toddler Hanako can flee into. To the child, the world simply has simply grown bigger. Even the fairy is bigger, almost up to the child's waist.

"They won't look for ye here. Just keep following. I know just where to take ye—to Mommy's best friend!"

Auntie Atsuii, Hanako thinks as she exclaims, "Annazooey!"


Dragon Punch (Lonjiku):
Sweat and tears form a pool on the tatami floor. Hanako is hugging that floor. It feels so good to just lie down.

"Father," Ameiko protests, "Hanako stands no chance against Sandru! Let me spar with her, I beg you."

"You would don kid gloves for your kid sister, and your love would shelter her from her true potential. Do not be fooled by Hanako's petite frame. She may appear fragile as a paper lantern, but the fire in her soul burns with the might of a dragon!"

Yes, Hanako realizes, I am the next true Dragon Master! No obnoxious boy can beat me and keep his teeth!

Her eyes lock on Sandru's. Hanako rises—fist first—into a leaping uppercut!

Sandru easily dodges, then grabs Hanako's arm and tosses her across the dojo like a rag doll.

Lonjiku sighs, then says to Ameiko, "Be her sparring partner for another month. But no holding back. She must be good enough to at least hit Sandru before I can teach her the secrets of the Scaled Fist."


Truth (Atsuii):
"Adopted?"

Hanako cries into the arms of her mother. Her adoptive mother.

Atsuii assures her that she loves her as she loves her own. And it's true, Hanako knows. She never felt 'less' important than Ameiko, 'less' loved. Knowing the truth does not change this.

Yet, the tears flow for a long time. Atsuii's arms and voice sooth her, and eventually Hanako is able to muster the words:

"How did they die, Mother?"

Atsuii offers an empathic smile at the way Hanako calls her Mother. She holds Hanako tight, and forewarns, "This will bring more tears, Sweetie."

"I know it will. Father always says 'the truth hurts.' I am not afraid of this pain."

Atsuii is. She swallows, and considers which piece of the truth is safe to tell...


The Shiny New Dragon (English Subtitles):
"Ow," Hanako whimpers. "Please be careful. I do not wish to have a shiny bald spot like father."

"Then keep still," Ameiko replies as she carefully slides two sticks from Hanako's long hair. "How did you manage to tangle a pair of chopsticks on your head, anyway?"

"I was trying to make one of those samurai man-buns, Sister."

"What man would put chopsticks in his hair, Hanako?"

"A hungry one."

The 'big sister' finally manages to slide the chopsticks out of Hanako's hair.

"Hanako, there are plenty of men in the common room with chopsticks, yet they hunger."

Hanako bows, then without a word, she promptly heads to the Rusty Dragon's common room to serve men who are apparently not so much hungry as they are thirsty. When Ameiko balances a tray of uncorked sake bottles on Hanako's hand, she moves gracefully between tables.

She serves the drinks by hand until there is one left. That one, she wills into the air via her Mage Hand spell.

The customer is not impressed. Impatiently, he snatches the drink from midair—not realizing that the moment his fingertip caresses the hovering bottle, Hanako's spell is broken. The bottle drops—shatters on the table!—dousing the customer with hot sake and broken ceramic!

He stands. He shouts in the her face, "What's with this damn kid?!" His accusatory finger darts into Hanako's personal bubble.

She crouches into a cat stance and recalls Father's lesson: Go for the knee first.

Hanako's kick connects with a satisfying crack! Her opponent's shout—

"Wh'the fuuuuu—?!"

—is cut off by the girl's leg sweep.

And complete the One-Two-Three-Kick combination with a Vicious Stomp.

"Stop!"

Hanako freezes at the sound of her sister's command, her bare, calloused foot mere inches from the fallen man's gritted teeth.

He shoves Hanako's leg out of the way, brushing himself off as the girl stumbles back.

"This how your dad taught you how to treat customers? Seems the Rusty Dragon's named for its service, which is beyond rusty if y'ask me. Y'oughtta change the name to the Sh*tty Dragon."

If the man was about to laugh at his own joke or spit on Hanako's dress the world will never know. For he simply clams up the moment Lonjiku steps into view, thumb on the hilt of his sheathed katana.

He says calmly, "With your permission, I will keep the name of my inn in exchange for a grilled beef on the house."

"Fine. The girl's overreaction can slide. But why didn't she just hand me the damn drink like a normal waitress?"

Lonjiku replies, "You cursed her out two days ago. You told her never again to touch your drink."

"She picked her nose!"

"Surely she was merely scratching it."

"No, Father," Hanako confesses, "I really was picking it. I had a... um... cliffhanger ending. But I washed..."

A soft touch on the shoulder prompts Hanako to shut up. It is Atsuii's hand.

"Come, daughter..."

Atsuii leads Hanako outside, and places a masterwork naginata in her hands.

"You are a better fighter than you are a waitress. I will punish your mistake by training you hard."

She says this with a smile, and when Hanako drops to her knees and bows, she can't hide her ear-to-ear grin.

...

Relationships Spelled Out:
• Ameiko = sister, playmate, BFF, she absolutely adores her kid sister and the feeling is mutual

• Sprite = protector, teaches Hanako her birth-mother's magic, starting as a wreath of flowers that grow from Hanako's hair

• Lonjiku = trainer of unarmed combat, sees potential in Hanako

• Atsuii = best friend of Hanako's mother, will reveal the full truth of Hanako's place in the world when the time is right


Fair warning this is a pretty big wall of text.

Response:

GM wrote:
The only other thing that concerns me is the comment that the premise of the fights is to have a reason for the vigilante identity. I'm... not entirely opposed to this way of thinking, but for a game this focused on character and narrative, I'd much prefer it go the other direction: How can the mechanics support the concept I've created? To that end, I'm willing to bend game rules a bit if needed. In your case, if you're interested in the abilities of the vigilante but not the dual identity, I'm happy to work with you to make that happen. (Even with the rules RAW, you can absolutely play a vigilante with all their abilities by just staying in your "social" persona all the time, and not caring if people put two and two together. I think I've seen this referred to as the Iron Man playstyle.)

I understand the concern. It's like you said in your virtues and vices your character is more than a collection of numbers on a white paper.

To me a good character is a jigsaw puzzle of both mechanics and "fluff." You should have a in character reason for every ability. When I start a character I usually have a general idea which informs the class choices and general mechanics choices, but then when I get into the details I want to have a reason that particular character has an ability beyond the fact that he is a given class. So character informs mechanics choices, which then creates mechanics than need to be given character.

For this campaign I wanted a character who could be very self sufficient, who didn't need to rely asuch on others as the usual character. I also wanted a class that fit the Asian themes of the campaign. That led me to spiritualist and phantom blade. Though to be fair I really do want to play a phantom blade.

Then because this is gestalt (which is something I'm not used to) I started looking for a companion class to cover the elements of a campaign where a sulfsuficient swordsman phantom blade falls short. There were several classes that would have worked, some better than vigilante, but is brought a mix of skill and social ability that worked, and the more I thought about it the more it just fit. One thing that I love about is is the vigilante class is perfect for a lone wolf intrigue type aspect of this game and story. (Disclosure I've never played Jade Regent only read the players guide and a brief outline of the campaign, I don't like spoilers and enjoy an organic story).

Anyways the vigilante class presented one mechanical aspect that I didn't know how to justify in the character of a small town young man which was the dual identity. After pondering on what conceivable reason a small town Sandpoint boy could have for a separate identity (while still being a hero not villan) I came up with the idea of the gladiatorial fights. I came to really like the idea and plan to work it into Wai'ju's background more.

As to whether to iron Man him or not that would depend on how the campaign unfolds. If we are doing more I knives in the dark type stuff he'll probably keep the identities separate to cover himself (think Zoro) if not then we'll iron Man is pretty freaking cool too.

GM wrote:

NOTE FOR EVERYONE 

Something I didn't link to in the original post is an old document I wrote up (under an old account on here, nonetheless) that I call my RPG Virtues and Vices. I didn't include it because, as I said, it's kind of old, and I'd like to go back and polish it up. But it did include a point that I'd like to capitalize on here, because it's particularly important for a solo game.

I agree with all of these and feel like I do a pretty good job of being a good player for my GM's.

GM wrote:
Build a character who will be the Scion of Minkai. Build a hero for this game.They can be an antihero--I didn't include alignment restrictions, in the end, because I wanted to leave things open for multiple paths. But they should be a hero nonetheless: someone willing to go above and beyond normal folk, to step out into the wider world, to interact with that world and the people in it, and to eventually lay their life and livelihood on the line for what they believe is right (whether that's justice, taking what's theirs, or seeking domination). It's tough enough to come up with ways to keep a reluctant hero hooked in a normal game; in a solo game, I really don't want to feel like I'm dragging teeth the entire time. Ideally, your character already wants to reclaim their family legacy, they just don't know the particulars yet. You can play around with exactly how much this is in play, but giving me a character who's got all that but isn't directly interested in it is giving me an NPC who can tag along with the party--i.e., the very thing this game is replacing.

This is something I want to strengthen in my submission for Wai'ju. To me every character good chacter has internal conflict. If they don't they're just not real. At the same time I envision Wai'ju pushing himself to go beyond what he's comfortable with because he wants to do what's right. Right for his family name and more importantly right for the people around him. He'd sacrifice his own wants to do what needs to be done to protect those he loves and those who can't protect themselves.

He'd be a classic hero in many ways, but especially if we deal with a lot of intrigue I'd love to explore whether ends justify means and how far will he go or not in compromising principles for the greater good.

Some other thoughts I wanted to share.

Why I'm in love with a phantom blade for this campaign:
- Thematically perfect for ancestor focus. Literally draws power from his heritage
- Provides an ancestoral guide which can act as a sounding board/foil. The personality can be under my control or the GM's, or both {though both is typically hard to do). Either way it's a great way to fill out a small cast.
- the Spiritualist base class is all about fighing ghosts and demons. That theme is perfect for this story
- Very versital. Definitely not a one trick pony.
- Mechanically strong action economy
- Good balance of spells, healing/damage/debuffs/utility
- Strong saves
- Good class skills

Why i'm in love with vigilante for this character
- Covertly overthrow the government while pretending to be a normal person better than other class.
- covers weakspots in social skills and skill points
- usually it's hard to be a lone wolf, vigilante is the perfect lone wolf and therefore perfect for a solo game

There are definitely stronger combinations of classes available, but this pairing gives a fascinating blend of skills and abilities while still being nearer to the believable level.

I'll be reposing an updated background in a day or two inline with our discussion.


I have a backstory, small section for personality / description, and response to GM. I should be *mostly* finished but please let me know if there is anything further you want to see GM (or something else explained developed further) and I'll get right on it.

EDIT this was longer than I intended again. Sorry, I know its not fun reading walls of text :/

Backstory:

Rei grew up under the care of the Kaijitsu family. Rei never really knew what happened to her mother and father – why they suddenly passed away or how exactly she came into the care of the Kaijitsus. As young children often do, Rei asked many questions on the topic, but neither Atsuii nor Lonjiku wold be drawn on the topic, saying that to bring it up would be bringing up old wounds. Rei took this to mean that the Kaijitsu family had been relatively close to her own family, and therefore explained the adoption that led to her being in the families care. Rei decided not to push the matter further, but did however make herself a firm promise that she would investigate her family tree at a later date, when she was outside the eye of the Kaijitsu family so that she could satisfy her own curiosity without causing distress.
Having so many questions about family, and not receiving concrete answers had a side effect – it imprinted a thirst for knowledge within Rei. She devoured books on as many topics as she could find, hoping to learn more or solve questions. In essence, the frustration of not knowing the answers to simple questions about her family fuelled a desire in Rei to always have the answers to as many questions as she could across a variety of subjects.

Unknown to Rei, this recent development greatly troubled the Kaijitsu family. Ideally, they wanted Rei to be ignorant of the truth they were shielding her from. On the other hand, straightford lies and deceit wouldn’t work – if Rei every found out her heritage, or they were forced to tell her – she would never be able to trust their advice after that fact. It was one thing to give vague statements or misleading answers that could be misinterpreted, but obvious untruths could cause problems down the road. Furthermore, Rei had shown a strong desire to be someone of significant, even pursuing an occupation that would put her into the public eye – the infamous Opera Singer argument she had held with Atsuii was just one such example, and Rei being in the public eye was exactly the opposite of what the Kaijitsu family had been fighting for. Therefore, a hasty meeting was held between Atsuii, Lonjiku and Ameiko to decide how to tackle the problem. It was eventually decided that instead of giving Rei free reign to persue what she wanted, each of them would take a specific facet of society and work with Rei towards mastery. They would direct and narrow Rei’s thirst for knowledge into topics that it was safe (or advised) for her to know.

Being a hard taskmaster, Lonjiku took the task of the physical acts. Running, lifting, chopping wood, combat and other similar tasks fell under his scope. Skilled in the knowledge of the samurai, Lonjiku also took over topics of honour and discipline as well as the art of answering challengers and navigating a duel.

Atsuii took over Rei’s schooling – an exceptionally difficult task giving Rei’s voraciousness on the topic. She also focused on tutoring Rei on the art of diplomacy, courtesy and respect. The ability to read a given situation and see peoples true motivations. Both Atsuii and Lonjiku were hard taskmasters and were harsh on failure. This wasn’t to say that praise, love and care wasn’t shown, but during Rei’s education, the gloves would come off. This wasn’t born out of cruelty, but because there was a third aspect they wanted Rei to adopt and it wasn’t something that Rei could learn from her parents and still maintain the required levels of obedience. So, as planned and predicted for, whenever Rei was bruised from Lonjuki’s combat training, or upset at a stinging rebuke from Atsuii after a failed answer, Rei would always turn to her sister Ameiko for a sympathetic ear.

Ameiko knew her role, always be by Rei’s side. Closest to Rei in age, it meant that she could understand and empathise with Rei far easier, and in building that trust could nudge Rei in a desired direction that Atsuii or Lonjiku wanted her to go. When Rei wanted to lash out, to rebel a bit, to disobey out of the strict education topics, Ameiko would always be there with something to teach her sister – always in the guise of creating mischief. Ameiko taught Rei how to lie, so she could bluff responses under Atsuii’s schooling. She taught Rei the art of disguise and silent stealth, to creep around unseen or undetected and avoid being given a particularly unpleasant household chore or task. She taught Rei that combat wasn’t sometimes about straightforward fighting and running into each other – sometimes the unexpected strike could be devastating. Sometimes a shift in footwork could lead to a trip attack, a loose hold on a weapon might open up a strike at the wrist to drop a weapon, or maybe a swift kick to the groin to temporarily impair an opponent.

In addition to the above, the family also committed to further activities that Rei had to learn to shoulder. Deciding that a possible ruler should learn respect, humility, empathy, Lonjiku and Atsuii insisted on Rei completing certain household tasks. The chores were everyday events that needed to be completed in any case, but the Kaijitsu family didn’t want Rei to ever be spoilt or entitled as a child. It meant that cooking, cleaning, waitressing, labour and - of course, the ever precious and symbolic tea ceremony - were all activities that needed to be taught and mastered by Rei. Atsuii would also use some of the household chores to drive home a social exercise she had been trying to teach Rei, such as perhaps persuading a customer at the tavern to purchase a slightly more expensive drink or predicting an order. The family did know the value of rest though, and one a month would visit Magnimar to stock up on tavern supplies, but also serving as an opportunity for Lonjiku and Atsuii to listen out for any news that might be significant or relevant as Sandpoint could occasionally be a little sheltered. The trip also ensured that Rei would be used to travel if it ever became necessary while giving Rei a much needed break from an intense schedule.

Initially Rei found things very hard, particularly combat. She hated standing in close quarters fighting toe to toe, blade to blade with Lonjiku, and his charge attacks were scarily fast. His sheer physical strength was overwhelming for Rei to stand up to. Eventually though, Rei understood the topic she was learning from each of her informal ‘teachers’ could be freely applied in different situations. She realised that by using Atsuii’s teachings on observations and ‘reading’ people, she could better predict how would move, react and fight therefore allowing her to strike more accurately and with harder force. She learnt that Lonjiku imposing and sometimes intimidating presence could be equally put to good use in what Atsuii was teaching her in social situations, influencing people to fall into line or to behave in a desired way.

As Rei developed progress, the Kaijitsu family found their own ways to reward the strides she was making. Lonjiku gave Rei a weapon that he said had been in her family generations – a naginata. Rei was overjoyed at the close but distant connection to her family, but also proud at the ease she was able to use it, as well as repel Lonjiku’s irritating charge attacks. Atsuii taught Rei the study of potions, poisons, and alchemy topics that had limited research compared with the study of magic. Rei exceled in the area, quickly mastering her own custom ‘potions’ she could use to gain an advantage in deception or combat. Seeking to repair the only bitter conversation Rei had had with her mother, Atsuii also taught Rei the ability to dance, or create certain dance steps, the ability to move quickly, effortlessly occasionally in an agile manner. For her part, Ameiko taught Rei how to best use the naginata family heirloom, teaching her a style that combined the ferociousness aggression that Lonjiku was looking for, with the grace and agility of the dancing steps Atsuii had taught Rei, combining them both into a fluent style that Rei adored.

In the end, with Rei finally learning to combine her education from her various tutors, the family grew closer together. Rei embraced her foster family, referring to them as true family members, mother, father and sister. She enjoyed the idea of taking on the various challenges set before her, and for their part, her foster family were pleased that they had not only contained Rei’s thirst for knowledge, but also giving her a vast background in particular skills that she would need to draw on at some point. Things would have continued their natural course, had not an unfortunate event happened on one trip to Magnimar…

Description and Personality:

Rei is a slim, dark haired, dark eyed human female of about average height. Time spent out of the sun has left her skin lightly tanned. She is a little lacking in pure body strength, but otherwise makes up for it with lithe grace and agility thanks to her combat training. Rei prefers to leave her hair long and unbound, stopping just below her shoulders. Rei dislikes wearing accessories such as any items of jewelry, or perfume for a variety of reasons. Traditionally such items are expensive and in short supply, but equally Rei doesn't personally place great stock in them - wearing them only if persuaded to or to achieve a particular goal or point.

Traditionally, Rei prefers close fitting garments, usually of dark coloring. This exasperates Atsuii a little bit, who feels Rei should expand her style, but Rei feels self conscious in a dress or gown and finds it too restricting. Likewise Rei shuns heavy armor - due to its weight, restrictions, and confining feeling. When forced into bright colors, Rei favors red, but otherwise tries to adopt black, brown, or greed, dull colors that allow her to easily blend into her surroundings the way Ameiko taught her.

In terms of personality, Rei is friendly, outgoing, curious. She tries to observe everything and study anyone she's in proximity with in a few quick glances, absorbing what information she can, before deciding how best to use it. She's always polite and respectful, and attempts to be thoughtful as well, trying to understand different opinion and attempting to reconcile differences. Atsuii (privately) thinks that she could be quite the capable diplomat, although she does fret that Rei can occasionally be a little naive.

If Rei has a vulnerability, a temper is probably her primary one. While she is prepared to be friendly and welcoming, she dislikes direct rudeness or intentional offence and frequently struggles to keep this in check. Atsuii has spent long hours working with Rei on this, and up to a point Rei can control it but if anything its served to teach Rei to hold grudges for slightly longer! Rei did occasionally channel her anger in combat, but Lonjiku has largely trained her out of this, encouraging her to use her sharp intellect to observe and study opponents while maintaining a calm demenour - teaching Rei that anger clouds the mind rather than clearing it. Rei has seen the sense of this and tried to remember that in social situations as well, but it is a slow process.

Notes on Backstory & Replies to GM above:

-So, the biggest challenge I had with Rei, was trying to find a way for her to have a reason for getting the skills she needed. SO I devised the above structure to ensure that Rei would be receptive to learning these topics without thinking 'wait, why am I being taught this'. I also had to juggle the task of a high intelligence character staying ignorant of her secret for as long as possible. I think I did ok but if something doesn't fit sing out.

-I was deliberately vague in the backstory and didn't mention specific class abilities by explicit name, but basically Studied Target was picked up from Atsuii, Sneak Attack by Ameiko, weapon training by Lonjiku, Inspiration from Atsuii etc.

-The specific thing I didn't mention was inattention blindness. I doubt it could actually be taught by any member of the Kaijitsu family since its a unique ability, so it makes sense as it developing subconsciously by Rei over time. The event in the alley was likely Rei's first intentional use and probably the trigger towards her developing this ability more and more as now aware of it. Interestingly, the ability has limited 'flavor' text, so it could actually be a bloodline or religious / divine / spiritual gift if it fit the focus of the campaign better and potentially opens up loopholes or interactions as desired. As of now, I'm treating it as a mental ability that Rei subconsciously 'unlocked' after picking up / learning the art of deception from Ameiko but it could easily be something else

-No worries about the chat happening in Sandpoint. it was probably my fault for being vague in the sample, but I still had Rei living down in Sandpoint 99.9% of the time - the visit to Magnimar happens roughly once every month or two and its more an excuse to pick up tavern supplies and catch up on news. I didn't want Five Storm agents anywhere near Sandpoint - little too close to comfort. That said, I did make assumptions about the Five Storms that they are actively searching (which might not actually be the case) so feel free to treat the writing sample as an alternative version of history or adjust as required. No worries!

-As for the bonuses - they are excellent. The extra skill points would let me get Craft (Alchemy) and Artisan (Choreography) which I feel are relevant. Even though I want to get Disable Device (and maybe Escape Artist + Sleight of Hand) early, I don't see any practical reason for Rei to have learnt / been trained on it yet which is why she has no ranks in the skill. That probably changes next level when I get an INT boost from ABP.

-Class Selection: I tried to stay away from mentioning "Slayer" and "Investigator" as class names in the backstory, simply because I didn't want to risk pigeonholing Rei into a particular occupation. Technically she isn't a "slayer" in that she isn't an assassin, or an 'investigator' in that she isn't a detective. I guess I could change the classes up but I didn't want to get too hung up on the class names and went with what felt right and what 'classes' work best for supporting both character and concept preferences. As for the training, I think I tried to cover every possible aspect within the Kaijitsu family as to who took control over what aspect (and why). This does though, lead rather nicely into my next point...

-Character Development. Things change significantly though when Rei learns her history. She's definitely going to be doing a lot of investigating, and (probably) doing a bit of slayer as well. She can be an assassin if she wants, she could though, equally just talk her way out of a given situation, or even have an honorable duel. She's being taught all of the above options in solving combat by a different member of the family. It also means that in difficult situations, she can engage and rp with individual family members as appropriate in area's where she feels they might be more knowledgeable. I could be more flexible on this though, after wanting to avoid pigeonholing myself - the last thing I want you to feel is pigeonholed with your NPCs. What I particularly want to get into with Rei is basically what asking herself what sort of ruler does she want to be? What is her preferred resolution with all the training she has had. What are the consequences? She might be wonderful and eliminating an assassin, but perhaps its smarter to approach the Ninja clan leader and buy them off - etc. Particularly keen to see how those sort of questions might be answered or developed.

-Just as a heads up, fully aware that there are (likely) caravan NPC's out there as well. I chose not to focus on them for the purposes of this backstory, as it made greater sense to focus on the scions as primarily influencing members on Rei. No objection with Rei interacting with the other NPC's in a caravan, I just didn't want to water anything down in an initial backstory.

-I wasn't able to find a great picture for inspiration. There's too many 'suggestive' pictures out there or tend they tend to be using heavy armor / medieval longsword blades all of which portray parts of Rei that are false. If you really want one, I could hunt around a bit more, but I haven't found something that perfectly matches (or isn't counter-intuitive to how I picture Rei).

-Trait Selection - This was italicized :( If it was unclear, I'm sorry, but it should be Sugimatu Scion - with your adjustments RE Weapon Finesse etc.


Well more frequent check-in didn't start yesterday, because I got busy with some things and then sacked out for about ten hours when I fell asleep. But I'm back now, so let's update!

Iff:
I appreciate the in-character journal as a presentation of background: it gives a good look at the character's inner thoughts and personality, as well as description of key events and their relationship with others. I also like what I'm seeing there. The only thing I'd note is that as a Higashiyama scion, your actual ancestral weapon would be a daikyu longbow, not a katana. That's not to say you can't have a wakizashi and be looking for its partner; just noting that it may not be as important or symbolic of the family as your background suggests.

Also, on the more mechanical side of things, I'm perfectly happy to let the katana be used with Weapon Finesse in this game. I get why it's not normally an option in the base game, but thematically it's very fitting here. Again, though, I'm not saying this to suggest you change--I like the idea of retraining later on to become a more "true" samurai wielding a daisho, rather than mixing a wakizashi with unarmed attacks (although that's also a neat concept for a fighting style).

Blue Symbiote: No worries on the parents' ethnicities, I'm fine with that.

Hanako: Fun little scenes, and thanks for the backstory update.

baggageboy:
That thought process for creating characters is very similar to my own, and sounds fine by me. I had a feeling that this case was an outlier from the rest of the process, not the least because I'll admit I've had similar issues with the vigilante (which is why I don't play it frequently, because it just doesn't fit most games even if it's a very fun class to tinker with). As far as whether the game would become more intrigue heavy and cloak-and-dagger, that depends a lot on the direction you could take things and the tone we mutually settle on; I have big plans for the Minkai section of the game (which will be much longer and more involved than in the base AP), and expect there to be a lot of social maneuvering, but what manner of maneuvers is ultimately up to the player.

I also appreciate wanting to have good character tension and internal conflict, because I think it does help drive an interesting personality for the hero, rendering them more believable and also more exciting. In the coming days of recruitment I'm interested to see what you do with the backstory to strengthen that conflict.

Viviana Masters:
Hey, I'm a writer, so I'm used to doing a lot of reading. And walls of text are only not fun when they're poorly written. Yours were quite pleasant to read and I definitely appreciate it. Gives me a very solid sense of Rei's upbringing, her relationships with the family, and how that's shaped her into who she is now. I particularly like the notes on combining lessons into different pools--very fitting for the interesting investigator/slayer combination (which I admit is one that I like a lot myself, with the emphasis on reading opponents for weaknesses in both physical and social combat).

Running down your response points as I feel necessary...
-I think you did fine with reconciling skills and background, as well as intelligence with ignorance of the family story. I think the key thing here is that Rei doesn't need to be--in fact, probably shouldn't be--entirely ignorant of the fact that something is up, which you included in the background; it's just that thus far, the Kaijitsus have stalwartly refused to talk about things in detail.

-Looking at the archetype, I agree that it's pretty vague on the fluff; I'd be inclined to say that Inattention Blindness is the result of the cipher being that skilled at knowing how to avoid attention, a combination of practiced stealth and mental acuity. To that end, I think it's perfectly fine for Rei to have developed it on her own organically after so many years of training in various fields. (As a note, I think it also wouldn't technically work the way it did in your backstory, but I'm happy to handwave that.)

-The backstory scene should be fine, it's just a touch different from what I had in mind. I like the ideas it's given me, though.

-In my mind, the character and their flavor comes first, and mechanics exist to inform that. Everything can and should be refluffed as necessary, so I'm perfectly happy with Rei being built as an investigator/slayer even if, within the fiction, she's really neither of those things. I think the development questions you pose are very good ones, and will form the crux of the campaign in its second half. And as far as NPCs, don't worry--I've ideas already, and Rei would quickly learn that each of them have more layers than they'd previously let on.

And finally, no worries on picture and trait. I mostly wanted to make sure Sugimatu was the trait you were interested in, and while character portraits are good fun, I don't require them.

Overall, I think you're good at this point!

And, while I suppose it's a bit late in the game to be switching things up, I'll make public a note I've referenced to one or two people.
The weapon side of campaign traits can be altered slightly if you like. Particularly for some of the melee weapons, I referenced them being monk weapons because I suspected there might be a high number of monk submissions for this game (somewhat rightly). That said, if that's an extra function that's useless to you, I'm happy to work up something else. An easy one that fits all three of those would be letting them work with Weapon Finesse, but if you have something else in mind, I'm happy to listen. And for all of them, if you like the clan's flavor but not that weapon for your character, we can try and work out an alternative.

I'm also going to officially announce:
RECRUITMENT FOR THIS GAME WILL END THE NIGHT OF FRIDAY, AUGUST 2ND. I don't like giving a hard deadline in hours and minutes, because I'm willing to be malleable with folks who are a touch late, but I will likely be up late Friday night anyway going over the final submissions, so try and get them in by then! My plan is to make a choice and finalize things with the player over the weekend and get things started by this time next week.


This campaign looks interesting, and so I’d like to throw my hat in the ring. The basic mechanics and backstory are below. I haven’t picked equipment or spells, but everything else should be there. Please let me know if I’m missing anything, if anything looks off to you, or if you just plain don’t like the concept.

Mechanics:

Ruka Yamamoto (Higashiyama Scion)
LG Female Human Oracle/Slayer (Guerilla) 3
Str 14, Dex 16, Con 12, Int 14, Wis 10, Cha 16

Special Abilities:

Spoiler:

Feats:
Fast Learner (Race bonus): Gain both +1 HP and +1 skill point when leveling in a favored class
Precise Shot (Level 1): No penalty for shooting into melee
Weapon Focus - Bows (Class bonus): +1 bonus on attack rolls with one weapon
Rapid Shot (Class bonus): Make one extra ranged attack
Improved Initiative (Level 3): +4 bonus on initiative checks

Traits:
Higashiyama Scion (Campaign): You have a +1 trait bonus to Knowledge (religion) and Linguistics checks, and both are considered class skills for you. In addition, you are proficient with the longbow, and once per day, you may ignore concealment on a single ranged attack with that weapon.
Beast Bond (Social): You gain a +1 bonus on Handle Animal checks and Ride checks. One of these skills (your choice) is always a class skill for you. (Handle Animal)
Principled (Faith): You take a –2 penalty on Bluff checks and gain a +2 trait bonus on saving throws against charm, compulsion, and emotion effects.
Varisian Wanderer: Choose one of the following skills: Perform (choose one type), Profession (fortuneteller), or Sleight of Hand. You gain a +1 trait bonus on this skill, and it is always a class skill for you. (Perform - Tea Ceremony)
Meticulous (Drawback): You take a –2 penalty on skill checks for skills with which you’re untrained.

Skills:
36 ranks total: 11/level (6 class, 2 int, 1 human, 2 background) +3 FCBs

+8 Artistry (Philosophy): (+3 class skill, +2 INT, +3 ranks)
+6 Climb: (+3 class skill, +2 STR, +1 rank)
+7 Craft (Calligraphy): (+3 class skill, +2 INT, +2 ranks)
+9 Diplomacy: (+3 class skill, +3 CHA, +3 ranks)
+10 Handle Animal: (+3 class skill, +1 trait, +3 CHA, +3 ranks)
+9 Intimidate: (+3 class skill, +3 CHA, +3 ranks)
+6 Knowledge (Geography): (+3 class skill, +2 INT, +1 rank)
+7 Knowledge (History): (+3 class skill, +2 INT, +2 ranks)
+7 Knowledge (Local): (+3 class skill, +2 INT, +2 ranks)
+6 Knowledge (Religion): (+3 class skill, +1 trait, +2 INT, +1 rank)
+6 Perception: (+3 class skill, +3 ranks)
+9 Perform (Tea ceremony): (+3 class skill, +1 trait, +3 CHA, +2 ranks)
+8 Ride: (+3 class skill, +1 trait, +3 DEX, +1 rank)
+6 Sense Motive: (+3 class skill, +3 ranks)
+9 Stealth: (+3 class skill, +3 DEX, +3 ranks)
+5 Survival: (+3 class skill, +2 ranks)
+6 Swim: (+3 class skill, +2 STR, +1 rank)

Class Features:

Spoiler:

Oracle Class Features: Mystery, Oracle’s Curse, Orisons, Revelations

Mystery - Battle

Chosen Revelations:
War Sight: Whenever you roll for initiative, you can roll twice and take either result.
Weapon’s Mastery (Longbow): Select one weapon with which you are proficient. You gain Weapon Focus with that weapon.

Curse - Elemental Imbalance (Fire): You wield an element’s might, but you are vulnerable to its opposite. If you select fire, you gain vulnerability to cold, cannot benefit from any cold resistance or immunity, and cannot cast spells with the cold or water descriptors.
As you advance in level, add the following spells to your oracle spells known based on your chosen element: burning hands (1st), scorching ray (5th), wall of fire (10th), contagious flame (15th).

(I feel I should note here that when picking her curse, I was playing with the flavor of the 'chosen one' theme of this campaign. Being chosen by Shizuru, goddess of the sun, it made sense that Ruka would have a special connection to fire and an aversion to cold. I am aware that this AP requires traveling through some arctic areas, and assume that being vulnerable to cold there is going to suck. I am okay with that. An oracle's curse should be an actual curse.)

Slayer Class Features: 1st Studied Target, Slayer Talent, Sneak Attack +1d6

Guerrilla Archetype Features: Strike First, Strike Last

Chosen Slayer Talents:
Ranger Combat Style (Archery): The slayer selects a ranger combat style (such as archery or two-weapon combat) and gains a combat feat from the first feat list of that style.

Favored Class - Oracle:
Levels 1-3: +1 HP and +1 Skill Point per level (Fast Learner Feat)

Character Background:

General background:
Spoiler:

Ruka Yamamoto doesn’t remember a time before her adoption by the Kaijitsus. She was still very young when Atsuii sat her down and carefully explained that her real parents had died in a shipwreck when she was just an infant. That was why she had a different surname, even though Atsuii, Lonjiku, and Ameiko were her family. Ruka accepted this with the typical resilience of young children. It was simply how life was.

As she grew older, she became more curious about her birth parents. What were they like? What hobbies had they enjoyed? Atsuii talked about her mother Ryoko’s grace when performing a tea ceremony, her careful calligraphy, the way she could command a room. Lonjiku talked about her father Matsu’s skill with the bow, his ability to read people at a glance, his extensive knowledge of history and philosophy. As she grew older, they began teaching her the same skills her birth parents had mastered.

As parents, the Kaijitsus were fairly lenient with their daughters. As teachers, they were far stricter. Ruka quickly learned that ”I’m tired” or ”I’m bored” would be met with a raised eyebrow and more work. Lonjiku was particularly unyielding when it came to archery. He’d have her and Ameiko hitting targets for hours, correcting their forms down to the smallest detail.

It wasn’t all lessons, of course. The Kaijitsus recognized that Ruka and Ameiko were children, and made sure to give them plenty of time to play. Together they climbed trees, chased each other around the town, and made up nonsensical games. But sometimes Ruka just needed some peace, and so she’d slip off by herself. She’d go to the stables, or even just sit alone in an empty field. Somewhere she could drink in the calm.

It was during one of those times that she met Shalelu Andosana and had her first lesson in shooting things other than paper targets. For Lonjiku archery was an art form. For Shalelu archery was how one killed things. Ruka learned from them both, and with their help she combined their teachings into her own style.

Nineteen now, Ruka works as a waitress at the Rusty Dragon. When not working, she’s either continuing her lessons with Lonjiku and Atsuii or hunting in the Tickwood with Shalelu. Occasionally her and Ameiko talk about heading off and seeking adventure while they’re young. So far no definitive plans have been made, but Ameiko in particular is growing restless. Perhaps a few years away from Sandpoint would do them both good.

Memory 1:

Spoiler:

”Hurry up!”

Ruka huffed, reaching for the next branch. ”I am! Your arms are longer than mine; it’s not my fault I can’t keep up.”

Ameiko’s face peeked out from the foliage above her. ”You’re just making excuses for being a slowpoke!”

Unable to think of a good response, Ruka settled for sticking her tongue out at her older sister. Ameiko laughed, then started climbing again.

This particular tree was one they’d never climbed before, as it was further away from the inn than they were usually allowed to go. But Lonjiku and Atusii were both busy today, meaning the girls had the whole afternoon free. No lessons, no chores, and no parents to tell them they were going too far.

”Just you wait,” Ruka grumbled under her breath. ”I’m going to get bigger than you eventually, and then you’ll be the slowpoke while I-”

Crack.

Ruka’s eyes shot upwards. She could just barely make out Ameiko, desperately reaching for a different branch.

She didn’t make it.

Ameiko plummeted with a scream, crashing into several more branches on the way down. There was a loud thud as she hit the ground. Then silence.

”Ameiko!” Ruka started scrambling back down, nearly falling herself in her haste. ”Ameiko, are you okay? Say something, this isn’t funny!”

Silence.

Ruka dropped the last few feet and immediately ran over to her sister. Ameiko was lying in a crumpled heap at the base of the tree. The rise and fall of her chest was the only visible movement.

”Ameiko! Ameiko, wake up!” Tears streamed down Ruka’s face as she fell to her knees next to her sister. ”Ameiko, what do I do, I don’t know what to do!” She wanted to run for help, but couldn’t bear to leave her sister like that. She was so still.

Touch her. Gently.

It wasn’t a voice, not exactly. More an...understanding. A realization that she did know what to do, she’d always known what to do, she just hadn’t known that she’d known.

She reached out, gently grasping Ameiko’s shoulder. Words suddenly appeared in her mind, and she said them without really knowing why. Only that they needed to be said. A soft warm light spread from her hands, covering Ameiko’s body. For a moment nothing happened.

Then Ameiko stirred, groaning. Her eyes blinked open. ”Ruka? What happened?”

Sobbing from relief this time, Ruka hugged her sister. ”You fell, you were hurt, you weren’t moving, I was so scared!”

Ameiko hugged her back, wincing slightly at the movement. ”It’s fine. I’m fine, just a little sore is all. Nothing a hot bath won’t cure. Let’s just go home, okay? And, uh, maybe don’t tell mom I fell? She’d get upset.”

But you weren’t fine. You weren’t fine at all.

Ruka shivered, then resolutely put the thought aside. She’d have time later to think about what had happened. But for now, Ameiko was fine. The two of them could go home together, and she’d never complain about a boring afternoon of lessons again.

”Okay.” Ruka sniffled and scrubbed her face with her shirt sleeve. ”Okay. Let’s go home.”

Memory 2:

Spoiler:

Patience.

A few ants crawled over Ruka’s skin. She didn’t move, not even a slight shift to brush them away.

Patience.

Her leg muscles cramped, protesting the position she’d been holding for hours. She ignored them with practiced ease.

Patience.

...There!

The boar she’d been hunting all day was finally in sight. It made its way through the forest, heading for the small pond nearby.

As she’d known it eventually would. The tracks around the pond suggested it came here often for water. The broken brush of the almost-invisible trail spoke to its normal path.

”Don’t try to track down where an animal is. Track down where it was. Animals form habits, just like people. Hunting is all about patience. Wait for them to come to you, and you’ll always catch your prey.”

‘Always’ may not have been true, not at Ruka’s current skill level. But this time, she’d at least succeeded in finding her prey.

Now it was time for the kill.

She took the composite longbow she was holding and stealthily nocked an arrow. She was downwind of course, helping conceal not only her scent but also any small noises that might otherwise have given her away. She drew back the string, following the boar, making sure her shot would be true.

”Whatever you hunt, kill it as swiftly and painlessly as possible.”

She released. The arrow flew through the air and buried itself in the boar’s eye. It was quite possibly the finest shot she’d ever made.

More importantly, it was a clean kill.

Ruka swung herself out of the tree she’d been sitting in, making her way to the corpse. She bowed once, respectfully. ”Thank you for the gift of your life.” She retrieved her arrow, then turned to see Shalelu walking up behind her.

The elf smiled slightly as she looked over the boar. ”Well done.” Neither the smile nor the praise was common, and Ruka couldn’t help the grin that formed on her own face at her mentor’s acknowledgement. ”Do you plan to butcher it here?”

Ruka glanced up at the darkening sky. ”It’s getting too late to do it today. I’ll carry it back to Marin’s. He’ll happily butcher it for me in exchange for some of the meat.”

”Very well then. Any idea when you’ll be hunting next?”

”Unfortunately no.” Ruka grimaced. ”Lonjiku wants me working more shifts at the inn, and Atsuii says I need to focus on my history lessons. It may be a while before I get back out to the Tickwood.”

Shalelu nodded, unsurprised. The Kaijitsus approved of Ruka using her archery skills for a practical purpose, but had always been clear that her other duties came first.

For today, she helped Ruka arrange the boar on her shoulders. Few would have thought the small woman capable of carrying such a beast, but they would have been wrong. Years of intense training, both with the Kaijitsus and with Shalelu, had ensured that strength was something Ruka had in abundance.

”Next time you have a free day, let me know. I believe we’ll begin working on mounted archery next.”

”Of course, master.” Ruka bowed again, slightly clumsily due to the weight of the boar. Shalelu had never asked for such formalities, but the Kaijitsus had ensured they were ingrained into her being. Teachers were to be treated with respect. Always.

”Farewell then. Until next time.”

”Until next time,” Ruka echoed. Shifting the boar into a more comfortable position, she began the long trek home.

Personality:

Spoiler:

Ruka is overall a very practical, patient woman. She does have a temper, (as more than one handsy patron can attest), but is capable of controlling it when necessary. She’s an introvert that feels more comfortable with animals than with most people. Despite this, she’s quite capable of channeling Atusii’s lessons and either smoothly negotiating with a difficult customer, or shutting them down with a single sharp word.

Ruka tries her best to be honorable at all times. While she can lie, she doesn’t like to, and avoids it whenever possible. She greatly respects her family, both adoptive and birth, and honors them as much as she can. The Kaijitsus also emphasized the importance of duty, and she has taken those lessons to heart.

On a subconscious level Ruka is always aware that she is not a Kaijitsu, and that leads her to feel insecure about her place in the family. She overcompensates for this by trying hard to be the best daughter she can. While this has been mostly a good thing so far, she would have a great deal of difficulty ever outright refusing an order from Lonjiku or Atsuii, even if they were telling her to do something she never would have otherwise.

Her practical nature also has its downsides. She’s meticulous to the point of perfectionism, seeing no point in doing anything if you’re not going to do it right. She also tends to be judgmental of actions she considers impulsive.


GM Helix, should I write up/do you want some more on Shen? I tried to get him done as fast as I could since I didn’t know when this was closing, but I can write some more up if you’d like me to. :)


Oh dear, Ever_Anon, you're here now! Competition just got tougher!

Best of luck to you and others! Thanks for the comments, GM! Even if I don't end up being the lucky one, I already feel like pushing me creatively here helped me in other areas including drawing.

LINK for Curious Peeps
(Drawn this morning: Hanako as a fairy and her red-headed Sprite familiar as a super-heroine. Background and dodged lasers to be drawn later.)

It looks like nothing else is required of me, so I'll just take a seat on some pins and needles for the next three days...


Okay. Here is my submission: Haruhiro Kaijitsu (Sugimatu), a Bard/Samurai (Warrior Poet). If you have any feedback, it's welcome. I did kind of wall of text you with the backstory - sorry about that.

Crunch:

Haruhiro Kaijitsu/Sugimatu
Male human (Tian-Min) bard 3//samurai (warrior poet) 3//gestalt 3
LN Medium humanoid (human)
Init +7; Senses Perception +7
Favored Class: Bard
FCB: +3 Skill Points
DEFENSE
AC 19, touch 19, flat-footed 12 (+1 armor, +3 Cha, +1 deflection, +3 Dex, +1 dodge); +3 vs AoO
HP 36 (3d10+6)
Fort +4, Ref +6, Will +4;
Special Defenses countersong, well-versed
OFFENSE
Speed 40 ft.
Melee masterwork naginata +7 (1d8+1/x4)
Melee cold iron light mace +6 (1d6+1)
Melee alchemical silver dagger +6 (1d4/19-20)
Ranged composite longbow (Str+1) +6 (1d8+1/x3)
Melee alchemical silver dagger +6 (1d4/19-20)
Special Attacks bardic performance (11 rounds/day, distraction, fascinate (DC 13), inspire courage +1), skirmisher’s challenge 1/day
Spells Known (CL 1st; Concentration +4)
1st-level (4/day) - anticipate peril, grease (DC 14), remove fear, saving finale
0-level - daze, detect magic, light, mage hand, mending, spark
STATISTICS
Str 13, Dex 17, Con 12, Int 12, Wis 12, Cha 16
Base Atk +3; CMB +6; CMD 17
Traits Artisan (Craft (calligraphy)), Ichimeiyo Champion, Sugimatu Scion
Feats Dodge, (Improved Feint/Deft Maneuvers), Improved Initiative, Prodigy (Perform (dance, oratory)), Toughness
Skills Acrobatics +9 (VP), Climb +7, Craft (calligraphy)* +9, Diplomacy +10, Fly +9 (VP), Knowledge (arcana) +6, Knowledge (dungeoneering) +6, Knowledge (engineering) +6, Knowledge (geography) +6, Knowledge (history)* +6, Knowledge (local) +7, Knowledge (nature) +6, Knowledge (nobility)* +6, Knowledge (planes) +6, Knowledge (religion) +6, Linguistics +7, Perception +7, Perform (dance)* +9, Perform (oratory)* +9, Perform (wind)* +7, Sense Motive +7, Spellcraft +7, Stealth +7, Survival +6, Swim +5
*- denotes background skill
VP- denotes versatile performance
Languages Common, Elven, Minkaian, Sylvan, Tien, Varisian
SQ bardic knowledge, cantrips, dancer’s grace, flourish (Exodus of Jinin, Petals on the Wind), graceful warrior, order of the warrior, order ability (Honor In All Things 1/day), versatile performance (Dance)
ABP armor attunement (clothes) +1, deflection +1, resistance +1, weapon attunement (naginata) +1
Combat Gear 2 potions of cure light wounds Gear sleeves of many garments, masterwork bard's kit (masterwork backpack, bedroll, belt pouch, darkwood shakuhachi, flint and steel, ink, inkpen, iron pot, journal, mess kit, mirror, rope, soap, torches (10), trail rations (5 days), waterskin), spell component pouch, climber's kit, masterwork calligraphy tools, 2 potions of cure light wounds, 20 sticks incense, shaving kit, climber's kit, 13 gp

Backstory:

Haruhiro doesn’t know the particulars of his birth. His adoptive parents, Lonjiku and Atsuii Kaijitsu, never made any pretense about hiding the fact that they were not his birth parents. In fact, once they felt he was old enough, they sat him down and told him they were not his birth parents, but rather family friends who had agreed to take him in and raise him prior to their deaths. They told him that they had died of sickness in a harsh winter, and it had been fortunate that he hasn’t caught it, as it surely would have claimed him much more quickly than it did them. Having never known them, Haruhiro never felt particularly sad about the loss. After all, you can’t miss what you’ve never known.

All things considered, the Kaijitsus were good parents. They were a very formal family, despite running an inn frequented by adventurers, and very regimented. Once he was old enough to help out, Haruhiro would be up at dawn to clean the stables. Then, after breakfast, Atsuii would give him lessons in reading, writing, arithmetic, or Minkaian culture. He learned calligraphy, the importance of the tea ceremony, traditional Minkaian dances - all sorts of things related to the family’s past. Then came lunchtime, and the afternoon was spent doing more chores around the inn. Haruhiro did well at his lessons, but he never understood why it was that Lonjiku and Atsuii were so insistent on teaching him about Minkai. After all, they lived in Varisia, and Minkai was on the other side of the world. Asking the question only received the answer, ”It is important to learn where you came from, Haruhiro. After all, you cannot know when you may have cause to journey there.” As he grew closer to his teen years, it did not escape his notice that, for all their insistence on his learning Minkaian culture, they were never quite so insistent with their daughter, Ameiko.

Ameiko Kaijitsu was three years older than Haruhiro, but she was always willing to spend time with Haruhiro, to help him with his lessons. Indeed, despite the fact they weren’t related, she behaved in all ways as his older sister, giving him advice when he needed it, helping him with his studies when he struggled, and a shoulder to cry on when he needed it. Even as she grew older and more involved in running the inn, she always made time to be there for him. There were times when Haruhiro honestly thought that if she hadn’t been there, he never would have made it through childhood. Though Ameiko would sometimes help him with his, she had her own lessons with Atsuii and Lonjiku in the afternoon, while he did chores around the inn.

Upon his twelfth birthday, after breakfast, instead of his normal lessons, Lonjiku took him outside and handed him a wooden training sword. Lonjiku said, ”You are now twelve years old, and it is time you began to learn the way of the samurai, an ancient warrior tradition in Minkai.” So it began that every morning after breakfast, he would spend learning the naginata, sword, bow, spear, and other weapons with Lonjiku, as well as learning the Way of the Warrior - to protect the life and lands of those he gave his word to, to be truthful and courageous, to be respectful of his elders and masters, and loyal to his friends and his liege, should he ever choose to swear fealty to one. Lonjiku taught him to always act with grace, dignity, and honor. When he gave his word to someone, he must do all he could to uphold his word. Failure to do so not only cost Haruhiro honor, but it could dishonor the family name. Honor was quite important to Lonjiku, and since Haruhiro carried the family name, he must not do anything to bring dishonor upon it. Lonjiku placed particular emphasis on the naginata, for its longer reach fit well with the unarmored style of combat he taught, one that flowed similar to dancing.

Learning the way of the samurai in the mornings did not replace his lessons with Atsuii, merely moved them to the afternoon. Those lessons themselves changed, from Minkaian culture to history and civics. Atsuii began teaching him public speaking, and the art of negotiation. Haruhiro was sure that Ameiko wasn’t being taught these same lessons. So why was he? Cautiously, he asked Atsuii why he was learning these lessons, and she merely said that it had been his parents’ wish that he receive a broad education. No matter how many times he asked, he always received this same answer. It frustrated him, for he was sure there must be more to it. Ameiko found his insistence that there was another reason funny, though, and told him that if he asked the wind, he would receive his answer for the greater reason. Haruhiro wasn’t foolish, but he understood what she was saying - sometimes, things are the way they are, and there’s never another reason. He never stopped wondering, though.

When Haruhiro was 16, a series of murders began occurring in Sandpoint. After the fourth one, Ameiko came to him and asked him if he wanted to go on a long camping trip with her and a friend of hers, Shalelu Andosana, an Elven ranger who patrolled the area around Sandpoint. Haruhiro expressed doubt that Lonjiku and Atsuii would allow him to do so, but they not only allowed it, they encouraged him to do so. Surprised, but accepting the opportunity, Haruhiro packed some things, including a bow Lonjiku had given him for the trip, and his shakuhachi, a traditional Minkaian bamboo flute. He then set out into the woods.

He, Ameiko, and Shalelu spent a month in the hinterlands around Sandpoint. Shalelu taught him the Elven language, and she showed him how to properly use the bow Lonjiku had given him. He also learned how to hunt and forage for food in the wilderness, and how to keep his bearings. The most exciting part of the trip was when a group of four goblins, following the smell from their cookfire, burst into the camp, chanting and singing their songs. Haruhiro’s bow lay unstrung beside him, but he drew his dagger and, using the techniques Lonjiku taught him, was able to hold his own enough to slay the goblin. Shalelu had pincushioned two of them, and Ameiko slew the last. Shalelu said she’d spent quite a bit of time fighting against goblins, and had gotten very good at fighting them. Once the month ended, Ameiko and Haruhiro returned to Sandpoint to find that the mysterious Chopper had been Jervis Stoot, a local man who carved birds into buildings. Lonjiku and Atsuii said it was a shame it had happened, that something must have touched the old man in the head, but Haruhiro caught hints of relief in their eyes. That didn’t make sense, though - why would they be relieved the killer turned out to be Jervis Stoot? Dismissing it as a trick of the light, Haruhiro settled back into life in the inn. After 6 more years of training and lessons, Lonjiku told him the time had come for him to choose his own path. To that end, Lonjiku presented him with a beautifully crafted naginata. Lonjiku told him that it was his father’s, and that it was now his to carry. He must always remember to avoid bringing dishonor upon his family, though. He told Haruhiro his true family name was Sugimatu, and that he had been brought up as a Kaijitsu so that he wouldn’t feel singled out or different. He finished by asking Haruhiro to continue using the Kaijitsu name, as a way of honoring the family that had raised him. Conflicted, Haruhiro agreed to do so, although now that he knew his true family name, he desperately wanted to tell all who knew.

Initially, Haruhiro was unsure what to do with himself, now that his lessons were over, but he quickly found the solution. Sandru Vhiski, who ran a merchant caravan out of Sandpoint, offered him a job protecting the caravan’s goods while they traveled. Seeing an opportunity to leave Sandpoint and learn more of the world, he agreed. So it was that he began regularly escorting Sandru’s caravans, helping to protect them from goblins and brigands, and even the occasional ogre. During that time, he came to view Sandru as, if not a friend, a close acquaintance, particularly due to their shared history, as both lost their parents and were raised by others. Sandru brought his adoptive mother, Koya Mvashti along as well, and Haruhiro has grown to respect the older woman for her sound, worldly advice.

Now 25, Haruhiro has returned from another journey with Sandru Vhiski. Sandru has been grumbling about his brother, Jubrayl Vhiski, and is thinking of taking on a longer journey. Haruhiro knows he’ll accompany them, but he wants to spend as much time with his adoptive family as he can first, especially Ameiko. Of late, though, something’s been bothering him. He’s kept using the Kaijitsu family name, as Lonjiku asked, but as he’s told Sandru stories of his childhood growing up, he’s come to realize there are some things he’d noticed when he was younger that didn’t quite make sense. Explanations his adopted parents gave, or a whispered conversation ended when they noticed he was near. He feels there’s more to the story of his birth parents than their death of some disease. That there is some dire secret in his family that the Kaijitsus are hiding - most likely to protect him. Haruhiro has the suspicion that whatever it is, it involves some sort of dishonor. That is the only reason he can think of that they would keep it secret. He hopes not. Having seen more of the world, and the behavior of other caravan guards, Haruhiro understands better than ever the importance of honor.

Life Moments:

====Lessons with Atsuii====

”Elongate your spine so you stand straight. Shoulders back. Chin up, but not so high you look down your nose. Now, remember, project your voice, and enunciate,” Atsuii said, as she stepped back from where Haruhiro stood. Taking a breath, Haruhiro began reciting the poem Atsuii had him memorize for this lesson. It was a longer poem, and this was his third attempt at reciting it today. He finished reciting the poem, then looked to his adoptive mother. She smiled warmly and clapped, saying, ”Well done! Perhaps soon you will be giving speeches to the crowds at the Swallowtail Festival.”

Haruhiro exhaled in relief. ”Thank you, mother, but I somehow doubt that I’ll be called upon for that duty any time soon.”

”Be that as it may, you will still be capable of doing so, regardless of whether or not you wish to. Now, onto the next lesson. We shall continue your lessons on the finances of governments. Today I will teach you about taxes - collecting them, and administering them.”

Haruhiro glanced at the sun streaming in the window - it was a beautiful spring day, and said, ”Mother...is it really important that I learn how to administer taxes? It hardly seems like I would ever need that knowledge, unless I’m secretly the king of all Varisia. Could we instead, maybe, go outside and learn about birds or maybe trees instead?” As he asked his mother about changing the lesson, he thought he saw something flicker across her face at his joke of ‘secretly king of all Varisia’. He wasn’t quite sure what, or if it was even anything more than a shadow, but it seemed there was something.

Following his gaze, his mother smiled warmly, and said, ”Eager to go outside, are we? Haruhiro, you are not secretly the king of all Varisia, but it is important that you learn how to administer taxes. Perhaps one day you will find yourself Mayor of Sandpoint, or another village. Perhaps you will be Lord-Mayor of Magnimar. Your destiny lies before you, and no one can say where that path may take you. No matter where that path leads you, Lonjiku and I have decided to make sure that you are prepared to walk that path.” Walking over to him, she gently guided him to the low table in their family quarters of the Rusty Dragon, where he knelt before a book, parchment, and quill. ”Now, a question from our lessons yesterday. Is it better to collect the same amount of taxes from everyone every year, or is it better to collect a set percentage of income every year?”

”A percentage of income, for that accounts for both good years and bad years. You cannot take as much from a farmer in a bad year as you can in a good year, else the farmer may starve or be forced to sell his land, and next year you will get nothing,” Haruhiro answered.

”Very good. Now, let us speak of tax collectors, and how to ensure the taxes they collect do not stick to their fingers.”

Haruhiro listened as his adoptive mother spoke, for at the end of the day, unless he wanted extra chores, he still had to do as she asked.

====Lessons with Lonjiku====

The practice swords came together with a loud clack, as he and Lonjiku danced across the stableyard. Over the three years since he had first begun his samurai training, he had never lasted this long in the warmup spar against Lonjiku. Just when he was getting confident, Lonjiku came in for a strike, and with a twist of the wrist completely changed the angle, deftly avoiding Haruhiro’s block and smacking his practice sword into the boy’s ribs. Lonjiku flowed back into a ready stance and said, ”You did well, but you must learn not to be so easily fooled. Observe.” Lonjiku began flowing through the strike he had used to win the spar, this time without the wrist twist. He then did it again, and this time twisted his wrists. ”Did you see the difference?”

Haruhiro nodded. ”Yes, you twisted your wrist on the second strike, changing the angle and eluding my block.”

Lonjiku shook his head. ”That is not the true difference. You focus too much on the blade, and the hands that wield it. A true warrior does not wield his weapon as a thing - it is a part of his body, of himself. A sword is an extension of his arm, an arrow the gaze of his eye. A strike like the one I used to fool you is not simply a turn of the wrists. It begins with how you place your feet, the angle at which your body moves into the strike. It is where you look. It should be effortless, like rain falling from the sky, or water flowing down the river to the sea. You must understand these principles - else in a real battle, death could come for you.” Something in Lonjiku’s eyes said he was truly worried about that - unusual, since Sandpoint proper’s greatest danger was goblins, and they rarely came in large enough numbers to be a true threat.

Haruhiro shook his head. ”Father, how am I supposed to keep my eye on my opponent’s weapon, hands, feet, torso, and eyes all at the same time?”

”Practice and hard work. Now. You did well learning the spear, and you show progress with the sword. It is time to put those principles together.” Lonjiku turned and, from the shed where he kept the training weapons, he pulled out a weapon consisting of a long wooden shaft with a two foot-long sword blade on the end of it. ”This is called a naginata. It is a traditional weapon of our homeland, Minkai. It provides greater reach than a katana, and is particularly effective against mounted foes.” Lonjiku pulled out a wooden version - a pole topped with a two-foot long practice blade - and handed it to Haruhiro. ”Now, hold your naginata like so, placing your feet in this stance. The naginata is not designed to be thrust at your opponent, or braced against a charge, as a spear is. You instead strike, as with a sword. Like so.” Lonjiku struck, a simple overhand chop. ”Now, you try.”

Haruhiro swung the naginata, knowing what Lonjiku would say next. ”Good. Again. The strike must come as naturally to you as breathing. Good. Again.” Lonjiku taught through repetition, making Haruhiro do the same thing again and again until he could do it without though. He rarely stopped for breaks either, seemingly tireless, even when Haruhiro was panting and sweating. Lonjiku was a strict taskmaster, too, only answering questions relevant to the lesson, and either ignoring others or reprimanding Haruhiro for letting his mind wander. Still, Haruhiro wanted to learn this, because maybe he could be a great hero one day if he did. Letting his mind wander as he practiced the naginata, he let himself be entertained by thoughts of him saving Sandpoint from some great threat, and people cheering him as he held his arms up in triumph…

====Camping with Ameiko====

The final note slowly faded as Haruhiro finished the song on his shakuhachi. Ameiko, lounging against a log next to the fire, clapped and said, ”Nicely done, Hiro. That actually sounded like music for once. Keep practicing for a year or two, and maybe I’ll let you join me in performing in the inn. As it is, you’re good enough to impress that tone-deaf buffoon who runs the theater.” Hiro was her nickname for him. She had recently begun playing the bawi in the evenings to entertain the Rusty Dragon’s patrons, when there wasn’t another bard in town to play the space. Cyrdak Drokkus had tried to recruit Ameiko, but whatever he’d said had made her furious in a way he’d never seen. Since then, she’d had nothing but animosity towards him. Haruhiro hoped he never upset her like that.

”Give it another year or two, and I’ll play better than you. Maybe then I’ll let you play with me in the inn,” Haruhiro shot back as he placed the instrument in its case. Ameiko grabbed a piece of tree bark and threw it at him, and for the next couple minutes they were throwing leaves, twigs, and bits of bark at each other - nothing that would actually cause injury, laughing as they did so. Eventually they stopped, the laughter fading, still wearing big smiles.

They had been camping in the Sandpoint Hinterlands for two weeks now - himself, Ameiko, and her friend Shalelu. Shalelu was an Elven Ranger who seemed to have chosen to protect and watch over Sandpoint. Somehow, she and Ameiko had become good friends, and he had been surprised to find himself invited along on their camping trip - even more surprised that Lonjiku and Atsuii had been comfortable with his doing so. Shalelu was off scouting nearby - she said she thought she’d seen some goblin tracks, and wanted to make sure they were safe. The smell of rabbit roasting over the flames permeated the air, and made his belly growl. He seemed to be hungrier than ever lately. Atsuii proclaimed it was because he was just a growing boy, and Lonjiku said a strong appetite was a sign you were working hard. Ameiko said it was because he was fulfilling his secret desire to eat everything in sight.

Looking up at the night sky, with only the fire lit, Haruhiro could see plenty of stars from here. Lifting his head, he said, ”So why did you invite me along on your camping trip?”

Ameiko looked at him, something that resembled concern in her eyes, and opened her mouth, but before she could say anything, they both heard a rustling and murmuring coming from some bushes on the opposite side of the clearing. Ameiko picked up the scabbarded rapier at her side, her hand moving to the hilt as she stood. Haruhiro moved to stand as well, with a glance towards his unstrung bow next to his tent. Suddenly, bursting into the clearing, were four small, greenish-skinned humanoids with large heads, razor sharp teeth, and swords that looked like they were made of literal junk. ”Goblins!” she shouted, as they began singing something in their native tongue.

The only weapon Haruhiro had at hand was his dagger, but he drew it as he slipped into a stance Lonjiku had taught him - the Exodus of Jinin - and prepared for their attack, dagger held in a reverse grip. Ameiko had her rapier drawn and was shifting into an engarde stance as the goblins rushed forward. As they prepared, two arrows flew between them from behind, both burying themselves in the same goblin. Hoping it was Shalelu, Haruhiro began to dance, using the dagger to deflect a goblin thrust, then an upward slash in a counter-stroke that cut its arm. A side-step avoided the goblin’s next attack, and downward strike into the top of the goblin’s head with the dagger dropped it like a stone. Looking about, he saw that a second goblin was downed by a couple of arrows, and Ameiko was cleaning the blade of her rapier while another goblin lay before her. Looking over his shoulder as he wiped the blade of his dagger, he saw Shalelu lowering her bow. ”I guess there were goblins about.”

The Elven woman looked at him and said, ”Yes, but not many. These look like they were part of the Mosswood tribe. We’ll move the bodies out of the way, and keep a close watch tonight while we’re sleeping.” Haruhiro set about doing so with Ameiko and Shalelu. The rest of the evening passed uneventfully, as they ate their rabbit and Shalelu told them about the Mosswood goblins. Once they decided to sleep, Shalelu said, ”I’ll take first watch. Ameiko take second, and Haruhiro, you take third. Keep your eyes and ears open. Other animals may be attracted to the dead goblins. Keep the fire going - that will keep most of them away.”

As Haruhiro and Ameiko moved to their tents, Haruhiro asked again, ”So, why did you invite me along on your camping trip?”

Ameiko smirked and said, ”Because with all the time you spend on lessons, I thought you might have forgotten how to have fun. Get some sleep, Hiro. You’ll need it for your watch.” There was no concern in her face or voice, and no reason for her to be concerned in her reasoning, but he hadn’t imagined it. Why had she been concerned earlier? Puzzled, he went to bed, but the thought was still nagging him when she woke him for his watch.

Personal Touches:

The character’s creation as a Bard/Samurai (Warrior Poet) stemmed from your description of wanting a well-rounded character, as well as the flavor text of the Warrior Poet archetype. The lessons Atsuii and Lonjiku teach him are designed to give him a broad education on how to rule, with some knowledge on many topics (as represented by the Bard class, specifically bardic knowledge). I see Lonjiku as having been a bodyguard, and Atsuii in an administrator type role as their former positions among his parents’ retainers. I also see Lonjiku and Atsuii as having trained Ameiko to protect him, as well.

Haruhiro has some inklings of his past - he knows the Kaijitsus are his adoptive family, and he knows his true family name, although nothing of significance about it. It’s only lately that he’s begun to truly suspect that there’s more to the story than death by disease.

For tone and theme of the game, I’m mainly thinking of the high adventure and classic samurai theme. I’d like combats to be fairly dynamic and mobile - the Warrior Poet archetype is built around Spring Attack, and I’m considering working Spring-Heeled Style in as well. I think it will make it more interesting and dynamic than a full-attack filled smack fest where two warrior types stand next to each other and whack away, as well as more in keeping with the high-adventure theme. I’m drawing some inspiration from the sword techniques of the Wheel of Time series for the combat parts, as well, and will probably use some of the form names from there in posting to represent his fighting style.

I also see the character as one who would prefer to use diplomacy to convince others of the righteousness of his cause. The warrior-poet archetype isn’t one that lends itself to warlord-type characters, and I don’t see Haruhiro that way, either. I chose Sugimatsu Scion because that sounded like the type of rulers they were, and it would fit how the character was portrayed.

Mechanically, if you choose my submission, there are a couple of things with my class choices that are affected by the feat tax rules. The Graceful Warrior ability of the Warrior Poet archetype grants the Weapon Finesse feat, while also letting me use Weapon Finesse with the katana, naginata, and glaive. The Kitsune’s Mystique flourish of the archetype also grants Improved Feint as a bonus feat, which is rolled into Deft Maneuvers. I haven’t taken that one, but I was considering it for later. These only need to be addressed if you choose my submission - I’m not concerned about it one way or the other.


Second check-back for the day here; told you guys I'd try and make things more frequent!

Ever_Anon:
Very fun writeup for Ruka; I appreciate the memory bits fleshing out some of her interactions and relationship with other characters, and the general background looks good. The character choices for mechanics seem solid, and overall I think this is a fine submission with nothing in particular that needs adding. Looks good.

Blue Symbiote:
As far as extra stuff, more is better in my thinking: you're trying to sell your character, so the more you can showcase them, the more likely I'll like it (as long as it's good quality and doesn't fly in the face of the game). Off the top of my head, if you wanted to give a brief scene describing a relationship with one or more of the family members in more depth, that could be fun, but honestly I don't really need anything else from you.

Phtm888:
Alright, I like the build and I like the background. The only note I have is that I'm not sure how I feel about Lonjiku telling Haruhiro his actual family name. That's asking for trouble should he ever actually use it, and it's tricky to reconcile that with the paranoia and dedication to secrecy the family has operated under for so long. I'm not entirely against the name being shared, I suppose; more the context under which it is. Even an emphasis on it being important that Haruhiro never use that name in public would be a good touch.

I also quite like the memory scenes for each of the family members, and they do a good job of personalizing the characters and their Haruhiro's relationship with them. I've my own ideas for why Lonjiku and Atsuii would be comfortable sending him off with Ameiko and Shalelu for some camping, and I imagine they line up with your own, but I'd be interested to hear your specific thoughts on that.

As for the personal touches and build notes, I agree with those as well. Bard/Warrior Poet is a really neat combination that I've wanted to play myself, and I agree it's very fitting for this campaign. I'm definitely in favor of having more dynamic and interesting combats, so I can appreciate that, and I have simple enough ideas for how to work with the feat changes. Overall, I think you're very solid here and I don't need anything more unless you want to pitch it!

Current Submissions As I See Them:

Notes on things that need brushed up in italics.

Player Name--Character Name--Race/Classes--Campaign Trait--Submission Status

Michelle Williams--Masahiko--Half-Elf Conscript/Incanter--Undecided Trait--Mechanics mostly done, backstory to be updated

Ellioti--Tai Kaijitsu--Human Paladin/x--Undecided Trait--Generally needs updated for consideration

baggageboy--Wai'ju Kaijitsu--Aasimar Spiritualist/Vigilante--Amatatsu Scion--Would like to see more full mechanics, backstory presented (might be brushed up, player's call)

Iff--Higashiyama Nobuyuki--Human Occultist/Samurai--Higashiyama Scion--Basic mechanics presented, background presented

Legendary Sidekick--Hanako--Human Monk/Sorcerer--Sugimatu Scion--Mechanics presented, Backstory and relationship scenes presented

Viviana Masters--Rei--Human Investigator/Slayer--Sugimatu Scion--Mechanics finished (I believe), Backstory and scene presented

Blue Symbiote--Shenzuka Amatatsu--Half-Orc Magus/Samurai--Amatatsu Scion--Mechanics finished, Backstory presented

Ever_Anon--Ruko Yamamoto--Human Oracle/Slayer--Higashiyama Scion--Mechanics presented, background presented

Phntm888--Haruhiro Kaijitsu--Human Bard/Samurai--Sugimatu Scion--Mechanics finished, background and scenes presented


Baggagboy here

GM, here is a proposed alius for Wai'ju. Some of the changes from our discussion have been incorporated. I'll be posting a narrative backstory in a day or two. A couple of questions.

I saw you mentioning that we could maybe use take the katana as a finessable weapon instead of a monk weapon. If posible I'd like to do so, then I can replace slashing Glgrace with something more fun. Also lethal grace is kinda redundant with the feat tax rules. Could I take something in place of getting weapon finesse to compensate for the change? If no to either of these that's ok. I have the core of the capability that I want here.

I'll update gear when I get the chance, it's only partly done right now. If you have any comments/concerns please let me know. Thank you

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