Pyrrhic Victory

If you enjoy video games alongside your tabletop ones, then chances are you’ve heard the name Monty Oum. A high school dropout who taught himself computer animation, Monty became an internet sensation with his fan-film Haloid, before proceeding to top himself with the Dead Fantasy series (currently standing at five parts, an extended preview for the sixth part, and two music videos).

Moving through some jobs in the video game industry that the public display of his works had gotten him, Monty eventually made his way to the machinima studio Rooster Teeth, where he worked on the last few seasons of Red vs. Blue. Following the conclusion of that series’ tenth season, Monty became a leading figure in the conception and production of the studio’s new series, RWBY.

Of all of the series Monty has worked on, I’ve so far found RWBY to be the easiest to get into. His fan-films presume that the viewer has some knowledge about the video game series they’re based on (or at least, they’re more enjoyable if you have such knowledge), and by the time I found out about Red vs. Blue, it was already several seasons along, which made the idea of watching it feel like a bigger commitment than I was willing to make. I also wasn’t entirely sure if it was based on the Halo series of video games or not – it isn’t, as it turns out – which I haven’t played.

RWBY, by contrast, is very clearly an original work, and is still (at the time of this writing) in its first season. Given that, and the relative brevity of each episode, it’s very easy to get into – the entire series can, at this point, be watched in a little over an hour, without knowing anything about it beforehand.

Given that I’m enjoying RWBY, and that I’ve been on a kick of providing d20 stats for various characters using the excellent guide for class-less character-building that is Eclipse: The Codex Persona (as well as its sister book for spells and magic items, The Practical Enchanter), I thought it would be fun to stat up one of the characters from the series. Here are the results of that (also, thanks to the people behind the series’ unofficial wiki, which was very helpful in reviewing various aspects of the show).

RWBackground

Pyrrha_cleavage

She’s a professional warrior. She’s can kick my butt easily. I will not stare at her cleavage…

Set on the world of Vytal, the humans of RWBY live under threat from monstrous, soulless versions of normal animals, known as the creatures of Grimm. While the opening narration states that humans were able to save themselves from extinction at the claws and fangs of the Grimm due to the power of Dust – a crystalline substance that, particularly in powder form, contains mystical energies – the more prominent power in the show (thus far) is that of peoples’ auras.

As explained in the sixth episode, auras – the manifestation of the soul – strengthen and empower people, allowing them to achieve superhuman feats of strength, speed, and endurance. Auras can also manifest a Semblance, an elemental affinity that’s unique to each person.

World Law

Only creatures with a soul may have levels in psionic progressions. Typically, this means only creatures with the Animal or Humanoid types.

Vytal Human Racial Traits (15 CP)

  • Humans get to pick which attribute enjoys the Pathfinder Template bonus – buying off a Corruption worth (4 CP).
  • Bonus Feat (6 CP).
  • Fast Learner, Specialized in skills for one-half cost (3 CP).
  • 1 level of wilder progression/corrupted for two-thirds cost, provides Power only (2 CP). Each individual chooses their own key mental stat.
  • Eldritch (0 CP).
  • Unity (6 CP).
  • Disadvantages: Hunted (by the creatures of Grimm) and Accursed (Power cannot be used until it is “unlocked” – this typically requires someone else with unlocked Power to make physical contact and spend Power equal to half of your total Power) (-6 CP).

Here, we’re equating “aura” with “Power,” that is, power points (aka psionic power points), and as such only creatures with a soul can use it, which we’re told are only humans (and, presumably, the human-like Faunus) and animals, but not the creatures of Grimm (which seem like creatures of the Magical Beast type). Hence, every human starts off with at least a little Power.

Since Semblances are presumably also aura abilities, that means that they use Power. This is slightly awkward, however, as Semblances seem like what Eclipse calls rune magic – that is, comparatively low-powered abilities (compared to typical d20 magic) with a single elemental theme. Since rune magic normally requires mana, we’re giving humans the Unity trait to allow them to use it with Power instead. The visually distinct display they give is covered by the Eldritch ability.

Finally, while the Hunted disadvantage is self-explanatory, the Accursed disadvantage requires a bit more explanation. As we’re shown in the sixth episode, a person who wants to use their aura needs to have it “unlocked” first, which is apparently done by someone else with an unlocked aura. Given that this is a one-time drawback that can be overcome with comparative ease, it doesn’t really seem like it qualifies as a disadvantage.

The flipside to this is that this isn’t really giving Vytal humans any benefits – saving an extra 3 CP on their racial CP total doesn’t change much when they’re nowhere near the 31 CP cutoff limit for a +0 ECL race anyway. Between that, and that this explains why ordinary mooks – like the ones Ruby trashes in the first episode – don’t have aura powers, we’ll let this slide.

Pyrrha_rifle

…crap, I stared.

As humanity has created large cities where they can live in relative peace and security, most people aren’t concerned with going through the lengthy process of learning how to weaponize their aura in this way. A few, however, elect to dedicate their lives to hunting the creatures of Grimm on behalf of the rest of humanity. These people are known as Huntsmen and Huntresses. Their profession is treated similar to most other vocations, in that it requires several years of schooling.

The series’ focus is on several girls who, having finished combat school, have been accepted to a prestigious academy to become Huntresses. One of which is…

Pyrrha Nikos, 7th-level Huntress-in-training

A new student at the Beacon Academy for Hunters, Pyrrha is already a strong warrior, having graduated from the Sanctum school of combat at the top of her class, as well as holding four consecutive victories in the Mistral regional fighting tournament. Blunt and straightforward, Pyrrha is also kindhearted and unassuming. This makes her one of the more level-headed members of the cast in general, and her team in particular.

Available Character Points: 192 (level 7 base) + 6 (human bonus feat) + 6 (starting traits) + 24 (levels 1, 3, 5, and 7 feats) = 228 CP.

Pyrrha is, as the traits for Vytal Humans, above, hinted at, using the Pathfinder Package Deal. As an extension of that, she also receives 6 CP at each odd level, as per the Pathfinder feat progression. Likewise, she receives 6 CP at character creation for her “starting traits.”

Ability Scores (25-point buy): Str 18, Con 17, Dex 14, Int 14, Wis 13, Cha 14. Added +2 human racial bonus to Strength. Added +1 from Improved Self-Development at 4th level to Constitution. +2 enhancement bonus to Strength, Constitution, and Dexterity.

Given the semi-supernatural aspects of the setting, the high-energy combat sequences, and that series by Monty Oum tend to increase these things as they progress, using the “epic fantasy” point-buy value for Pyrrha’s ability scores seemed appropriate.

Basic Abilities (92 CP)

  • Light armor (3 CP), Shield proficiency (3 CP), all simple weapons (3 CP), and “Pyrrha’s weapons” (longsword, javelin, rifle, and shield bash) (3 CP).
  • 1d12 Hit Die at 1st level (8 CP) and 6d4 Hit Dice thereafter (0 CP).
  • +6 Warcraft (36 CP).
  • +5 Fort, +5 Ref, +2 Will (36 CP).
  • 0 skill points (0 CP).

I’m cutting a few corners here. By forgoing buying up her Hit Dice after 1st level, as well as ignoring skill points altogether, in favor of using other abilities (see below) to increase her hit points and skill points, I can squeeze a few more CPs’ worth of special abilities into her build, and make her stats better represent what we see in the show without needing to bump up her overall level.

I’m also cheating slightly with regard to her weapon proficiencies. Eclipse notes that you can buy “limited sets” of martial or exotic weapon proficiencies depending on how limited they are. In this case, the “set” consists of those weapons Pyrrha already uses, which makes it somewhat tautological – they’re defined as a set because she uses them, and she can use them because they’re defined as a set. That said, this is somewhat expected when making stats for a preexisting character.

Aura (73 CP)

  • 6 caster levels/specialized for one-half cost, wilder progression only (18 CP).
  • 6 levels wilder progression (18 CP) (vigor, force screen, concussion blast, detect hostile intention).
  • 5 additional powers known (15 CP) (psionic true strike, catfall, offensive prescience, psionic jump, Perception mastery I – TPE p. 14).
  • Innate Enchantment (psionic variant) – CL 1st, 8,000 GP value, 9 CP/corrupted for two-thirds cost, innate enchantments cease to function if Power drops to 0, and lesser vitality diversion cannot otherwise be shut off (6 CP).
    • lesser vitality diversion (LV 1, may divert hit point damage to power points, at a 1:1 ratio, up to a maximum of 3 points; 1,400 GP for personal-only version),
    • enhance attribute (Strength) I (+2 enhancement bonus to Strength; 1,400 GP),
    • enhance attribute (Constitution) I (+2 enhancement bonus to Constitution; 1,400 GP),
    • enhance attribute (Dexterity) I (+2 enhancement bonus to Dexterity; 1,400 GP),
    • hide like ox (natural armor bonus of +1 plus 1/6 caster levels above 1st; 1,400 GP),
    • shield of faith (deflection bonus of +2 plus caster level/6; 1,400 GP).
  • Doubled Damage, only when attacking unattended inanimate objects/corrupted for two-thirds cost, ceases to function if Power drops to 0 (4 CP).
  • Imbuement (armor variant) with the Improved and Superior modifiers/corrupted for two-thirds cost, ceases to function if Power drops to 0 (12 CP).

Here is where we start getting into the nitty-gritty of what a person’s aura can do. The psionic powers specified are meant to cover all of the “basic” powers that Pyrrha talks about in the sixth episode, as well as approximate the ones we see demonstrated. Likewise, the innate enchantments are also set to be functions that a person’s aura performs more-or-less constantly, so long as their aura hasn’t been entirely depleted, as is her ability to imbue her armor with greater defensive properties (something that’s necessary, given her comparatively low Armor Class).

Her having Doubled Damage is to represent how she can knock aside grown trees – that alone may not be enough to quite approximate the necessary level of damage, but that’s the sort of thing that Stunts are meant to cover (see below).

The issue of a person’s aura running out is covered directly in the twelfth episode. Namely, a person’s aura can be visually measured on a bar graph (e.g. the “life bar” in various fighting video games), and is lowered simply from the course of taking battle damage (something the wiki reasonably presumes is due to it trying to protect the person’s body). This is somewhat difficult to model in the d20 System, as Power points are not hit points.

The solution to this is to use a variant of the effect that an elan uses to convert hit point damage into Power point loss. As that was modeled off of a 2nd-level spell, and we want this to be a lesser effect (particularly since it seems to be implied that this is an effect that’s always active, but only provides limited protection from any single attack), it’s easy to set this as a 1st-level spell and limit how much hp-to-pp it can convert.

Besides lesser vitality diversion, all of the powers listed are either standard psionic abilities, psionic variants of common spells, or are found in The Practical Enchanter.

Combat Prodigy (30 CP)

  • Adept/Acrobatics, Martial Arts (Spathi kai Aspitha), Martial Arts (Akontio), and Martial Arts (Oplo) (6 CP).
  • Block (melee) with the Master and Multiple upgrades/corrupted, only with her shield (12 CP).
  • Block (ranged) with the Master and Multiple upgrades/corrupted, only with her shield (12 CP).

Expert Training (27 CP)

  • Upgrade racial Fast Learner from half-cost to double effect (3 CP).
  • Augmented Bonus with the Improved and Advanced modifiers/add Strength bonus to hit points (18 CP).
  • Action Hero/stunts (6 CP).

As alluded to above, Pyrrha’s having Action Hero/Stunts is meant to be a catch-all for anything we see her do in the series that her stats don’t otherwise represent.

Celebrity Status (6 CP)

  • Reputation (6 CP).

Buy Pumpkin Pete’s Marshmellow Flakes!

Equipment

  • “Milo” is a masterwork weapon that can, as a swift action, be changed between a longsword, a javelin, and a rifle. When thrown, the javelin form may expend a bullet to use the recoil to double its range increment. The rifle form has a capacity of six bullets.
  • “Akouo” is a masterwork heavy steel shield. It has been treated to function as if it had the throwing magic weapon property, dealing slashing damage, though this is a nonmagical function of its design.
  • Armor (treated as masterwork studded leather).

Pyrrha suffers from the same issue that almost all converted characters have – she doesn’t get to take full advantage of her gear value for a character of her level. As a 7th-level character, she should have (using PC wealth values) 23,500 GP worth of gear, only a fraction of which is accounted for in the above listing.

As it is, the gear that she does have is better than the standard Pathfinder equipment. Most characters have weapons that can convert from melee to firearms, and Pyrrha’s shield presumably takes advantage of similar advances in weaponry. She’s atypical in that she wears armor, even if it is somewhat skimpy.

Derived Stats

  • Hit points: 12 (1st level) + 15 (6d4 Hit Dice, taking the average) + 21 (Con bonus) + 28 (Str bonus) = 76.
  • Saving Throws:
    • Fort: +5 (base) +3 (Con) = +8
    • Ref: +5 (base) +2 (Dex) = +7
    • Will: +2 (base) +1 (Wis) = +3
  • Attacks:
    • Milo (sword form): +6 (BAB) +4 (Str) +1 (masterwork) +1 (martial arts) = +12/+7 (1d10+4/19-20)
    • Milo (javelin form): +6 (BAB) +2 (Dex) +1 (masterwork) +3 (martial arts) = +12/+7 (1d8+4)
    • Milo (rifle form): +6 (BAB) +2 (Dex) +1 (masterwork) +4 (martial arts) = +13/+8 (1d12/x4)
    • Akouo (shield bash): +6 (BAB) +4 (Str) +1 (masterwork) +1 (martial arts) = +12/+7 (1d6+2)
    • Akouo (thrown): +6 (BAB) +2 (Dex) +1 (masterwork) +1 (martial arts) = +10/+5 (1d6+2)
  • Armor Class: 10 (base) +3 (studded leather) +3 (Imbuement) +2 (heavy steel shield) +2 (Dex) +1 (hide like ox) +2 (shield of faith) = 23, touch 14, flat-footed 21. Martial arts are not included here.
  • Power: 46 (base progression) + 6 (Int bonus) = 52 Power.
  • Skills points: 0 (purchased) + 14 (Int bonus) + 14 (human bonus) + 7 (“favored class” bonus) = 35.

Skills

Ranks

Ability Bonus

Class Bonus

Total

Acrobatics

2 (1 point)

+2 Dex

+3

+7

Climb

1

+4 Str

+5

Diplomacy

1

+2 Cha

+3

Knowledge (arcana)

1

+2 Int

+3

+6

Knowledge (history)

1

+2 Int

+3

+6

Knowledge (local)

1

+2 Int

+3

+6

Knowledge (nobility)

1

+2 Int

+3

+6

Martial Arts (Spathi kai Aspitha)

7 (4 points)

+4 Str

+3

+14

Martial Arts (Akontio)

7 (4 points)

+2 Dex

+3

+12

Martial Arts (Oplo)

7 (4 points)

+2 Int

+3

+12

Perception

1

+1 Wis

+3

+5

Polarity Casting

5

+2 Int

+3

+10

Polarity Mastery

7

+2 Int

+3

+12

Spellcraft

1

+2 Int

+3

Survival

1

+1 Wis

+3

+5

Swim

1

+4 Str

+5

Pyrrha’s class skills are the twelve on the above table that have a +3 class bonus to them (though Craft and Profession are also class skills for her). Pyrrha is currently earning two skill ranks for each skill point spent on Acrobatics and all three of her Martial Arts skills. As she’s 7th level, however, her total ranks is capped at 7. Since she’s spent 4 skill points on each of her Martial Arts, they’ll all rise to 8 total ranks without her needing to spend any more points when she reaches 8th level.

As her Polarity Casting and Polarity Mastery (her rune magic skills) indicate, Pyrrha’s Semblance is polarity, the ability to control magnetism. So far we’ve only seen her use it once in the series, and for a relatively minor effect. However, we’ve seen her peers use Semblances for greater powers (though still low-level compared to the range of power that d20 spells can have), and since Pyrrha is presumed to be their equal in most regards, I’ve given her slightly greater ranks in this than her single use of this power would, on its own, call for.

No armor check penalties are listed, as her masterwork studded leather has none. Likewise, while her masterwork heavy steel shield does have an armor check penalty of -1, Pyrrha typically stows it on her back before needing to do something that’d require a skill check.

Martial Arts forms

Pyrrha’s use of martial arts is another area where I’m bending my adherence to the source material. While Pyrrha has been to combat school – and was a prodigy there – there’s never been any in-depth look at her, or any student’s, particular style of fighting. As such, I’m extrapolating that she’d have learned formalized fighting styles for each form of her weapon. While the use of Martial Arts as a skill typically lends itself to being played up in-game, here I’m treating it as being as much of a background element as, say, her Base Attack Bonus.

Given the heavy emphasis on a person’s aura, I’ve elected not to give any of the following Martial Arts a mystic aspect to them. All of the superhuman aspects of combat are already covered by her Power-based abilities above. This prevents us from needing to make her Martial Arts dependent on her having Power above 0, or expend Power when using Occult techniques. As a side-effect of this, the prerequisites for learning each of these Martial Arts are quite low.

Spathi kai Aspitha (Str)

A variant form of sword-and-shield fighting, Spathi kai Aspitha places a strong emphasis on quickly shifting from defense to attack. At greater levels of mastery, it also teaches how to use one’s shield as an offensive weapon. It’s considered somewhat esoteric compared to more traditional martial arts that use a sword and shield, but is still taught fairly widely in certain regions.

  • Requires: Proficiencies with swords and shields or equivalent point-buy.
  • Basic Techniques: Attack 3, Defenses 3, Power, Toughness 2.
  • Advanced/Master Techniques: Breaking, Mighty Blow, Shield Boomerang (when throwing a shield at a target within 60 ft., may cause it to return to the wielder as part of the attack), Weapon Kata (shield).
  • Known: Attack 1, Defenses 2, Power, Mighty Blow, Shield Boomerang, Weapon Kata (shield)

Akontio (Dex)

Throwing away one’s weapon is rarely a smart move. Hence, Akontio, a martial art based around javelin throwing, is virtually always taught as a companion to another martial art. Focused entirely on offense, Akontio heavily emphasizes precision strikes for maximum damage.

  • Requires: Proficiency with javelins or equivalent point-buy.
  • Basic Techniques: Attack 4, Power 3, Strike.
  • Advanced/Master Techniques: Far Shot, Improved Pin (make a CMB check to cause a target that’s adjacent to a wall or similar structure to be stuck to it; item may be pulled out with a DC 15 Strength check), Precise Shot, Sneak Attack.
  • Known: Attack 3, Power 1, Far Shot, Improved Pin.

Oplo (Int)

Oplo is a rifle-specific form of gun martial arts. It teaches that sending a storm of bullets in a target’s direction is inferior to a single, perfectly-targeted shot. Consequently, this fighting style is popular with snipers and anyone else who prefers that a fight’s opening shot also be the final one.

  • Requires: Proficiency with rifles or equivalent point-buy.
  • Basic Techniques: Attack 4, Power, Strike, Synergy (Perception), Synergy (Stealth).
  • Advanced/Master Techniques: Crippling, Far Shot, Precise Shot, Rapid Reload.
  • Known: Attack 4, Power, Precise Shot.

I’ve invented a few of the techniques here whole cloth (the ones with the parenthetical explanations of what they do) to better model Pyrrha’s abilities, but their power should be modest enough to fit in alongside the standard Martial Arts abilities.

Design Diary

The biggest issue with making Eclipse d20 stats for Pyrrha was trying to give her so many powers and abilities while at the same time trying to keep her level comparatively low.

The issue with wanting her to be low-level is largely due to the background assumptions made regarding ordinary people in the series, and Pyrrha’s relatively young age. Simply put, Pyrrha and her peers are notably more combat-capable than many of the ordinary adults in the series are; something demonstrated when Ruby (the youngest student at the academy) handily mops the floor with several adult men who try to rob her.

The characters who go to Beacon Academy, in other words, are a cut above normal people – they’re the best of the best. As such, they can’t be relegated to 1st- or 2nd-level. At the same time, they’re also still teenagers, and while they’ve clearly had a lot of training, they don’t seem to have had much practical experience. It’s therefore pretty logical to say that they’re nowhere near the top of their potential (e.g. 20th level).

Given that a 1st-level character can be completely outclassed by someone just a few levels above them, it therefore made the most sense to make Pyrrha somewhere in the mid-high single digits, in terms of her level. Given that she displays a wide variety of impressive abilities on top of her considerable combat prowess, this meant that in order to get her down that far – as mentioned above – I had to really stretch her CP allotment to get her down to 7th level, which seems to be the right place for someone with her degree of power. Had I not done so, she’d have ended up being about 9th level, which was higher than I was happy with.

Overall, Pyrrha is a very well-rounded character, having strong offensive capabilities and not-inconsiderable defenses, a fairly wide selection of skills with modest bonuses, and a small-but-significant number of utility powers. Along with her teammates, she’ll likely grow into a Hunter of legendary proportions; something we’ll get to see as RWBY continues!

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2 Responses to “Pyrrhic Victory”

  1. Eclipse – Sample Races, Templates, and Characters | Emergence Campaign Weblog Says:

    […] Pyrrha Nikos, a 7th-level Huntress-in-training, along with statistics for Vytal Humans, three Martial Arts, and some world background and discussion. […]

  2. Eclipse Builds by Alzrius | Emergence Campaign Weblog Says:

    […] Pyrrha Nikos, a 7th-level Huntress-in-training, along with statistics for Vytal Humans, three Martial Arts, and some world background and discussion. […]

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