Sunday, 29 July 2012

My Fighting Monks are Benders... discuss


An Earth style mage using Earth Fist Technique
In my experience, when a party is being assembled, the fighting monk is always the guy that gets picked last (even after the gnome).  Although monks are competent fighters and have a few neat abilities at higher levels, they always lose out in favour of a cleric because of their lack of magic.  This is a bit of a contradiction when considering that in most wuxia movies monks are kick ass characters full of mystical know-how.  In the Avatar anime franchise specifically, they are are masters of the four great elemental forces of air fire wind and water. 

In my recent Castle and Crusades campaign, when one of my players (a self confessed street fighter fanboy) decided he wanted to play something different,  I thought it would be nice to apply this Avatar concept on a new character class.  Luckily for me, I made a concious choice in the design stages of The Lands of Dual to create all of the landmasses first and then allocate cultural memes to each of them.  This enabled me to apply any of the associated mythologies and styles as I saw fit whilst simultaneously restricting any game destabilising effects to just one locale (in case they got out of hand).

One of these memes was that of the Feudal China seen in hundreds of Wuxia movies like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon or House of Flying Daggers.  The island of Huang-Zua is my attempt to combine all of my favourite wuxia memes in one place and so it has become the home to the mystical Martial Mage's who use their mastery of fighting techniques to shape elemental forces to their will. 

The Martial Mage

Prime Attributes: Intelligence & Strength
Race: Human only (Huang-Zua)
Starting Gold: 30-120gp
Hit Die: d12
Alignment: Neutral Good or Neutral Evil
Weapons: None
Armour: None
Abilities: Unarmed Attack (as monk), Elemental spell-like abilities (as below)

The Four Elements, Styles and Schools of Martial Mages

Every Martial-Mage adopts a fighting style related to one of the four elements (Earth, Air, Fire or Water) and is taught how to use that styles techniques in one of four fighting schools.  Only that school can teach the secrets of their fighting style and their is fierce rivalry between all four schools.  It is forbidden to practise more than one school of fighting at a time although each fighting school's archive contains accounts of one or more styles being practised simultaneously by their ancient masters.

The Techniques

In the Avatar series, all the manifestations of this elemental power are triggered by a series of fighting moves and in RPG terms a conventional ranged touch attack is required in almost every instance.  This retricts the spell casting abilities of the Martial Mage character to use in solely in combat, but also distinguishes it as a class from other spell casters.

Avatar Fan-art by DeviantART user slifertheskydragon


Likewise, in order to perform any of the techniques a martial-mage must have access to a source of elemental material matching their fighting style.  For example, a water style martial-mage must have access to a suitable volume of water.  This makes some fighting styles difficult or even impossible to use in certain environments, for example a water style mage would find it extremely hard to use their techniques in a desert, and fire and air style mages would both find using their techniques almost impossible whilst submerged.

ELEMENTAL FIST (Level 1)
Duration: InstantSAVE: NO
Description and Damage
When using this attack the casters hands are enveloped by elemental material. A successful melee attack inflicts 1d6 +1 per level of damage to the target.

ELEMENTAL STRIKE (Level 2)
Duration: InstantSAVE: NO
Description and Damage
When using this attack the caster shapes a ball of elemental material into a 1ft diameter ball. Upon a successful ranged touch attack, they can fire this ball upto 100ft at a single target inflicting 1d6 +1 per level of damage.

ELEMENTAL SHIELD (Level 3)
Duration: 1 Turn / levelSAVE: NO
Description and Damage
This technique allows the caster to form a ball of elemental material into a free floating disc approximately 6ft in diameter which they can move around their body at will like a shield. This affords them a +3 AC bonus against all attacks directed at them during melee and missile combat. This also affects spells which require a successful touch attack, those that automatically hit are unnafected.

ELEMENTAL SHARDS (Level 4)
Duration: InstantSAVE: NO
Description and Damage
When using this attack the Martial Mage collects and shapes an amount of elemental material into a 1ft diameter ball. Upon a successful ranged touch attack, they can fire a barrage of shards in a 20ft wide, 100ft long cone inflicting 1d6 +1 per level of damage to anyone caught in the cone.

ELEMENTAL STEED (Level 5)
Duration: 1 Hour / levelSAVE: N/A
Description and Damage
This technique allows the caster to create a spinning ball of elemental material which can be ridden much like a horse or other beast of burden. The ball can move in any direction at a speed of 5mph / level of caster. Any change in direction or speed requires a DEX save to avoid falling off.

ELEMENTAL BLAST (Level 6)
Duration: InstantSAVE: DEX
Description and Damage
By using the stomp technique a Martial Mage emits a shockwave of his chosen element material in a 50ft radius sphere around him. This shockwave does no damage but all targets within the blast radius (including those flying) must make a DEX (with a +1 difficulty modifier per level of caster) save or be immediately knocked to the ground.. Alternatively a mage can direct the stomp technique at a single target up to 100ft away.

ELEMENTAL CAGE (Level 7)
Duration: InstantSAVE: DEX
Description and Damage
After making a successful ranged touch attack, this technique allows the caster to surround the target with a mass of elemental material unless they make a DEX save (with a +1 difficulty modifier per level of caster). Targets who are successfully captured can also break free on a successful STR save (with a +1 difficulty modifier per level of caster)

ELEMENTAL WALL (Level 8)
Duration: 1 Hour / levelSAVE: DEX
Description and Damage
When using this technique a Martial Mage shapes a wall of his chosen elements material into a 50ft high, 10ft thick wall upto 100ft in length directly in front of him. Any targets caught in the path of the wall who fail a DEX (with a +1 difficulty modifier per level of caster) save will be hit by the wall (causing 1d6+1 per level damage) and be pushed out of the way in the direction that the wall is growing. In the case of Air and Water Style, the wall can be as transparent as the mage wishes, however in the case of the Earth and Fire the wall can only ever be opaque. The wall is impervious to all attacks other than those which take the form of the same element which do half damage.

ELEMENTAL SPHERE (Level 9)
Duration: 1 Round / LevelSAVE: N/A
Description and Damage
The caster surrounds himself with a 10 ft diameter sphere of elemental material which is impervious to all attacks other than those which take the form of the same element which do half damage. Whilst maintaining the sphere the caster cannot attack or perform any other action.

ELEMENTAL FLIGHT (Level 10)
Duration: 1 Hour / levelSAVE: N/A
Description and Damage
Using this technique the Martial Mage can achieve flight. For Earth and Water styles this is achieved by creating a disc of material underneath the caster which is then levitated vertically and horizontally in the air. In the case of Fire and Air styles, jets of material are emitted from the casters hands and or feet which propel the user vertically or horizontally. The caster can accelerate or decelerate at upto 10 Mph per level and achieve a maximum height of 1,000ft per level.

4 comments:

  1. OK. Your blog title didn't mean what I thought it did on first glance. Which is a good thing.

    ReplyDelete
  2. LOL, I was hoping to sucker in a few readers with it.

    It was a huge disappointment for me that the UK mainstream media just couldn't get over the word "bender" when reviewing "The Last Airbender" live action movie.

    I often despair about some of these so called critics, particularly those who disgorge copy like the Evening Standard's Derek Malcolm who doesn't know his Tharks from his Barsoomian White Apes (check the picture caption of his John Carter Review) and refers to a light sabre as a laser sword!!

    Ranty mode off.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Best. Monk. Enhancement. Ever.

    Thanks for sharing.

    ReplyDelete