About Asuka Narukami
Mechanically, Asuka is a melee damage-dealer/support and face character. She will be using versatile performance for diplomacy, bluff, and disguise (thank you persuasive performer) so she’ll have a decent amount of skill points to play with. Her AC is going to be respectable, especially if she can get mage armor from the wizard or eventually UMD. Expect a lot of feinting! She can do it as part of a move action from level 1 thanks to her archetype and she’s just gonna get better at it. Expect greater feint ASAP, so any rogues in the party have that to look forward too!
As for social role, I see her as a source of humor and tension relief when appropriate and as a friendly character who tries to keep people of disparate motivations motivated and tied together, though she’s not above causing drama if it might make a good story. Speaking of stories, Asuka will periodically be giving her episodic account of the party's adventures, narrativizing them as though this was an epic action adventure anime in the vein similar to her story below.
The Incredibly True and Astounding Tale of Asuka Narukami:
The greatest battle of ten thousand years was about to begin. I was alone against the full armies of the Iron Oni. I went into battle with six swords: Flametalon, Mountainsmash, Deltawave, Heartwood, Windsteel, and Null. Each sword was forged of starmetal by a blind master then blessed and empowered by elementals of the six Tian-Xia elements. I had gone on years-long quests to find each of them, tales for other days, all in preparation for this moment. I used three swords in each hand at once, holding them between my fingers like great and powerful claws, even more so than my own! I rode in with my arms folded in front of me. I did not even need to touch the reins, for my horse—Shiro—understood and trusted me as family.
The Iron Oni's army jeered at me as I rode forward, but their wild cries did little to deter me. In response, the Iron Oni rode out on not one, but TWO horses! One for each foot.
He looked down at me with haughty disdain, his cold gray armor making his already massive frame even larger. "You have troubled me for far too long, Thunder-god Asuka. Are you prepared to stand for your crimes and face me in single combat?"
"Hah! I should ask you the same, Iron Oni. Why don't we skip to the main event?" I could tell he was scared. He would need his armies to finish conquering Tian-Xia and then the world, and I would surely slay them all in actual combat. I knew I was playing into his wishes, but I prefer to avoid bloodshed when possible and single combat would allow me to save my energy for him.
We dismounted and faced each other, his army staying well away, knowing that our battle would batter the field with powerful elemental ki energies. The Iron Oni drew his two double-ended tetsubo and settled into his fighting stance.
I took my fighting stance, remembering the lessons that Master Yoshi had passed down to me during my training with her: "Strike him down in one blow with all your power, or there will be nothing left of you on the field when all is said and done."
I charged up all of my swords with my ki, energy being drawn in from all around me, willingly leant by the planet's life wanted to defend itself from the Iron Oni's destructive rampage. I could barely contain all the power and my aura flared bright gold. I pointed all six swords at the Iron Oni and unleashed my ultimate strike: "Six Swords Final Heaven Blast!" The wave of energy slammed into the Iron Oni, sending him back on his heels. I threw more of my ki into the blast until finally, the wave overtook the Iron Oni, sending giant clouds of dust flying for miles and leveling a mountain in the distance before it stopped.
The dust cleared...and the Iron Oni was still standing. "You thought that you could use the power of the Six Elemental Blades against me! You think I didn't know what you were trying to do? I have empowered each of my tetsubo with one of the four western elements! I am unstoppable now!"
I could only stare on in wide-eyed amazement. I had drained my energies and the Iron Oni was still standing? What hope did I have now of defeating him? Had my entire quest up until then been for naught? Find out next week, when I continue The Incredibly True and Astounding Tale of Asuka Narukami (that’s me!).
(Asuka describe an epic battle each week for the next six months, adding new complications and dramatic shifts in the tide of battle every week, clearly drawing out her story for maximum excitement until she FINALLY gets to the end of the battle)
I had finally cornered the Iron Oni! Though five of the six swords were spent to destruction and Null was reduced to a mere cold iron katana, the last of the Iron Oni's tetsubos was destroyed and he lay on the ground bleeding out of a mortal wound from my Null Blade Reversal, all of his elemental magic spent. As an honorable tengu, I prepared to give him a painless death, as is our way in Tian-Xia, by removing his head. He grinned as a raised my blade, and I knew something was wrong. Just before the final blow was struck, his laughter resounded throughout the battlefield as he used his last spell and opened a portal before flinging me into it! I landed in an unknown forest, peaceful and green, and looked back just in time to see the portal close and hear his final death rattle. The Iron Oni was defeated, but I was in an unknown place and without my loyal steed, Shiro.
I wandered the forest, confused by the alien varieties of plants and animals. I finally came to a clearing and found a creature that looked like a short green man feasting on a peck of pickled peppers. I was so happy to meet someone that I approached without thinking, calling out to him in Tien.
"Greetings, little green man. Do you know where we are?"
He stared at me with big wide eyes, then opened his mouth to show his legion of knife-like teeth. He called out in a language I did not recognize, but I knew enough to know that it was not friendly. My fears were confirmed when I finally noticed the pale, bloody body of a merchant in the bushes, the former owner of the pickled peppers. Within moments, a dozen creatures just like him appeared. My eyes grew wide as more of these little green men with mouths full of knife-like teeth appeared every moment. Even as they covered the hills all the way to the horizon, they still kept coming more and more! And I had only Null, its power drained and broken, perhaps forever, my own energy depleated and my wings horribly wounded by the Iron Oni. I was surely a dead bird walking, but I would go down swinging to the last.
But then the homey sounds of samisen carried across the hills, and all the goblins fell silent and still, as if entranced by a single vision of divinity. I turned to look and saw a black-haired woman with the front strands of her hair turned pure white. I recognized the features common to humans in Tian-Xia and thought I could not be too far away. Even as she played the peaceful notes of her samisen, she grinned the cocky grin of someone who knows her power’s depth and has not even begun to draw upon its darkest reaches. I looked around me to see the goblins disappearing as quickly as they had appeared. I stood in wide-eyes amazement as I understood I would not have to die that day. I stood transfixed until the woman finished her song and I knew it was safe.
I ran up to her and knelt and bowed in endless gratitude, praising her in Tien. ”Thank you so much for saving me! I thought myself a doomed woman. Where are we in Lung Wa?”
She gave me a perplexed look, as if everything I said was a surprise. She cleared her throat and spoke in wary Tien, her accent strange to me. ”Are you okay? Hit your head in a fight or something? We are not in Lung Wa. Lung Wa hasn’t existed for hundreds of years. This is Varisia. In Avistan.”
Was I really transported from hundreds of years in the past to the other side of the world? Have we truly heard the last of the Oni General? And what about this horde of little green men? Find out next week, when I continue The Incredibly True and Astounding Tale of Asuka Narukami (that’s me!).
The Actually True and Mildly Interesting (Perhaps) Story of Asuka Narukami:
Asuka Narukami has always wanted a life of adventure and drama, inspired by the vibrant, hammy populist theater of her homeland and the serialized adventure stories people would discuss each week. She saw how such bright and triumphant stories breathed life into her village in Kwanlai, and she wanted to be responsible for such joy and vibrancy, but she didn’t know how to begin.
Her path came from her uncle Reiji from Minata, a bold tengu that went off to the west to join the Pathfinder Society and become a Hero of Justice. She devoured the tales of his exploits in the Pathfinder Chronicles, including how his team won the Ruby Phoenix Tournament. But the whole time she wondered what it would have been like if he had written the accounts himself. What had he been thinking as he faced the King of the Storval Stairs in mortal combat, one swing away from death, having to trust in his spells to protect him? What was it like to possess truly mythic power and then lose it? How did he come up with all of his attack names? It was then that Asuka knew: she would learn how to be a Hero of Justice herself and write stories based on her own exploits.
Becoming a Hero of Justice is not as easy as it sounds, though. She never had the easy talent for blades the rest of her people shared, learning instead to rely on her claws when the need to pierce or slash something came up. But a Hero of Justice needs to use a sword, and if she wanted to write like a Hero of Justice she needed to learn how to use one. Sadly, nobody in Asuka’s village was particularly good at teaching sword fighting, as they had had no need to teach someone before. Even manuals on the art of swordfighting were impossible to find, as they were rare even in the big cities of Kwanlai. So Asuka turned to the best source she could: stories. She read over every story dozens of times to mentally recreate a defensive stance and watched performance after performance to see how Toshiro moved his wrist when doing his Wave-Splitting Slash or how many beats Tsukiko let pass between her iconic line (“In the name of the Sun, I will punish you!”) before unleashing her Sun Prism Strike. She would incessantly bother those two—among other actors—after performances, asking them to do the Parry of Perfect Heart one more time.
Now, as anyone with a whit of sense could tell you, trying to learn swordfighting from actors performing stylized stage combat is a horrible way to learn how to fight and is liable to get you killed before you finish saying Ultimate Gigas Beak Breaker. However, when all of the actors are tengu instinctually good with blades and you are copying their movements to the muscle, you pick up enough to be marginally effective.
The story of how Asuka got to Sandpoint is broadly true, for a broad value of “broad” and broader value of “true.” She tells it differently depending on who asks—there’s a version in which she comes from another planet where everyone fights by piloting golems—but that is the version she tells the children in Sandpoint with the addition of proper sound effects, mimed actions, and occasional cliffhangers. She actually did get teleported to Varisia, except it was by a drunk wizard who wanted to test out his new spell on the first person he came across, and she didn’t come from the past in Imperial Lung Wa. She did run into a goblin that Ameiko distracted using her bardic skills so Asuka could escape, but there was significantly more cursing involved, and there may have been an innocent cabbage cart caught in the crossfire of Asuka’s Heaven-Render, a move that she has retired until further notice at Ameiko’s request.
Speaking of her, Ameiko is one of the reasons Asuka has yet to leave Sandpoint. Asuka has decided that Ameiko is her mentor figure in this story, as she is a mysterious but cool former adventurer who doesn’t like to talk about her past and the incident with the goblin is a great meet cute, as they say in the writing business, although Asuka doesn’t have any romance in-mind, at least at this point. While she had briefly dated a few girls back in Kwanlai, Asuka has no prospects in Varisia.
As Asuka tries to get Ameiko to reveal the sure-to-be-amazing secrets of her adventures, she also has learned the local language and is working on a better understanding of this strange Avistani world, knowing that will make great material for her book. She has taken up work in town to earn her keep for the time being and pay off the debt she owes Ameiko for spotting her a room. She is of course writer by trade, which means she has another job to actually make money. In her case, gardening. Her fine control of her claws and beak make her well-suited to the work, though she tends to get enraptured by an idea for a fight scene or a great line and then forget what she is doing.
Asuka is an overflowing well of positivity and idealism. She has internalized the themes of the stories she loves and believes deep down that she just needs to work hard enough and have enough Fiery Passion, and everything can be solved in the end. Her first reaction on realizing she was teleported to the other side of the world was not “how do I get back?!” or “I’m going to murder that drunk wizard” or even “oh no everyone I ever knew and loved will die without me seeing them again most likely.” She thought “This is just like an isekai, one of those stories where an everyday person gets transported to a faraway land of adventure!” and began furiously outlining.
Asuka will insist she is a storyteller, not a liar, and she tells her stories with the assumption that everyone understands she is exaggerating. She simply sees little reason to report things exactly as they are when she could make them more interesting with embellishment, and she typically isn’t paying attention to notice the actual details anyways. That said, she lives so much in her imagination that she sometimes has difficulty separating reality from fiction.
She tends to have a lot of nervous energy, often being unable to sit still. She picked up the habit of eating coffee beans as snacks from her uncle, which likely has something to do with this.
If most tengu are crows, Asuka is a cardinal, except with a black beak instead of black face. The feathers on the top of her head give the appearance of a faux-hawk. Her eyes are always big, blue, and bright, and she tends to exaggerate her expressions so non-tengu can understand her better. Her clothes are comfortable, practical cuts and fits, but the color choices are anything but. She likes solid, loud, bright colors, and as many different ones as strikes her fancy that day. She keeps her index claw on each hand filed to a duller point so she can use those claws for writing. She will not tolerate her feathers being plucked to use as writing implements by anyone.
Asuka Stat Block:
Asuka “Thunder-god” Narukami
Tengu Samurai (warrior poet)/2
NG Medium humanoid (tengu)
Init +3 Senses: Perception +1 (-1 for sight-based perception)
AC 18, touch 14(18 vs incorp touch), flat-footed 14 (+4 armor, +2 dex, +2 cha)
Fort +4, Ref +3, Will +1 (+5 vs charm/complusion)
Speed 30 ft
Melee Cold Iron Katana +5 (1d8+3/18-20), Bite +5 (1d3+2/x2) and 2 Claws +5 (1d3+2/x2)
Ranged Acid Flask +5 (1d6/x2)
Special Attacks Challenge 1/day (+2 damage, +1 dodge to AC and +1 sacred to saves vs target)
Str 14, Dex 17, Con 12, Int 10, Wis 9, Cha 15
Base Atk +2; CMB +4; CMD 17
Improved Feint (b)
Hero Worship (Ameiko)
Skills (armor check penalty 0)
Bluff(versatile performance) +7
Craft (writing) +6
Disguise(versatile performance) +7
Escape Artist +3
Knowledge (religion) +4
Perception +1 (-1 for sight-based perception)
Perform (act) +7
Perform (comedy) +6
Profession (gardener) +4
Sense Motive -3
Languages Tien, Tengu, Taldane (common), Minkaian, Goblin, Varisian
SQ Resolve 1/day, Samurai Order (Order of the Songbird), Dancer’s Grace (+2), Flourish (Kitsune’s Mystique), Graceful Warrior, Versatile Performance (perform [act])
Leather Lamellar, Cold Iron Katana, Traveler’s Outfit (free starting clothes), Masterwork Backpack, Bandolier, Journal, Ink, Acid Flask x3, Canteen, Crowbar, Smoked Goggles, Ear Plugs, Grooming Kit, Flint and Steel, Wooden Holy Symbol of Shelyn, Sunrod x3, Common Artisan’s Tools for Craft(writing), Katana Waster, Entertainer’s Outfit x3, 15 Pounds of Coffee Beans, 6 gp 5 sp 3 cp
Mage Armor (50 charges)
1 Iron Will
B Weapon Finesse
B Improved Feint
3 Persuasive Performer
5 Power Attack
7 Greater Feint
B Spring Attack
9 Diva Style
11 Diva Strike
13 Diva Advance
B Improved Spring Attack
14(b) Vital Strike
15 Improved Vital Strike
17 Furious Focus
B Greater Spring Attack