If you’re a long-time reader of this blog, then you need no reminder that I’m a fan of anime. While I’m typically willing to give any anime a chance, I’ve recently become aware that there’s a particular category of anime that I’ve been discriminating against: those that are brand new.
This wasn’t something I was doing intentionally, but rather was purely based off of practical considerations. While there are streaming services that will let you watch anime mere hours after it premieres in Japan, I don’t subscribe to any of them. Instead, I watch whatever’s available on Netflix, and occasion I’ll hunt something down online if I’m particularly interested in it.
That latter instance is how I’ve ended up watching one of the new anime of the Spring, 2015 season: Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon?
Is It Wrong to Try to Check Out Anime with a Weird Name?
I originally heard about this anime when a friend in my weekly game group name-dropped it a few weeks ago. While I initially overlooked it due to how utterly ridiculous the title was, I forgot the old expression “there’s no such thing as bad ink.” That is, that absurd label stuck with me, until I decided that I wanted to know what the show was about just so I could put some substance to that bizarre name.
While I could have gone to Wikipedia, or any other anime-specific news site, I prefer – as a general rule – to consult primary sources when making up my mind about something. As such, I figured I’d watch an episode or two to see what the series was about (though I admit that I figured that if it wasn’t completely awful I might as well keep going, since I prefer to finish what I start).
As it turns out, I rather liked the show, to the point of watching all of the episodes that are currently available (which, as of the end of May, 2015, are nine). Moreover, it was amusing enough that I couldn’t resist giving d20 stats to the main character – using the class-less point-buy rules from Eclipse: The Codex Persona, of course – and posting them here.
Is It Wrong to Keep Using These Annoying Header Titles?
…Okay, the answer to this is clearly “yes.” As such, any further headers won’t be phrased that way.
Set in a fantasy world, Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? – hereafter simply called Dungeon for ease of reference – is a fairly standard shonen adventure/harem anime. My use of the appellation “fairly standard” isn’t meant to be a knock against the series, since I’m of the opinion that innovation is overrated (at least where art and entertainment is concerned). Rather, it’s simply to note that, if you’re familiar with the style and conventions of shows of this genre, you’ll know what to expect here. The overall tenor of the show is very similar to, for example, The Familiar of Zero.
The background for the series is as follows:
Long ago, on the world of Orario, the gods became dissatisfied with living in the Heavens. Fascinated by the unending joys and struggles of the beings in the Lower World, the deities collectively decided to abandon their celestial realms and instead live among the myriad mortal races.
In doing so, the gods made a pact among themselves to seal their divine powers. Limiting themselves so as to be no greater than the mortals they now dwelt among – save only for retaining their eternal youth and vast knowledge – the deities permitted themselves to retain only a single godly ability: to grant certain mortals divine blessings.
These blessings were given only to those mortals who dedicated themselves to a particular deity, groups of which were eventually dubbed “familia.” Members of a familia had the ability to gain great power, though only if they continually pushed their limits. These powers included great martial prowess, fantastic skills, and even the ability to harness magic itself.
These blessings were given freely to those mortals who dedicated themselves to their deity, save for only a single restriction: that they be used – however sparingly or indirectly – to combat the Dungeon. The Dungeon, a massive tower that not only reached higher than the eye could see, but also pierced the earth to an unknown depth, was the source of all the world’s monsters.
Thus were “adventurers” born…
Operating off of this premise, Dungeon focuses on the goddess Hestia, who has such little name-recognition among mortals that she has a familia consisting of just a single individual. This person, a teenage boy named Bell Cranel, is the hero of the story.
Bell Cranel, level 6 adventurer
Wait, he has white hair and he’s not a villain? I was wrong: innovation abounds!
Never having known his parents, Bell Cranel was raised by his grandfather, an adventurer who continued to make periodic forays into the Dungeon despite his advanced age. Bell spent his childhood listening to stories about the incredible adventures that his grandfather had. As Bell became a teenager, his grandfather liked to tease him that the best way to find a girlfriend was to rescue a female adventurer from monsters, since doing so would earn her love in one fell swoop.
One day, Bell’s grandfather didn’t come back from the dungeon. While this was common enough for adventurers, Bell was heartbroken. Determined to carry on his grandfather’s legacy, he went to familia after familia, begging to be admitted. All of them turned him away, not wanting to babysit someone so young. Only the goddess Hestia, herself completely destitute and with no familia of her own, was willing to take Bell in.
Throwing himself into the Dungeon completely on his own with reckless abandon, it wasn’t very long before Bell bit off more than he could chew. He was almost killed by a minotaur before being saved by the beautiful female knight – and one of the world’s most famous adventurers – Aiz Wallenstein. Ironically, Bell became completely smitten with Aiz as a result of this, no longer having eyes for any other woman. He vowed right then that he’d never stop until he became Aiz’s fighting equal, since that was the only way he felt worthy of her.
Now pushing himself harder than ever, Bell doesn’t realize that his newfound drive has awoken a hidden power within him…
Available Character Points: 168 (level 6 base) + 18 (levels 1, 3, and 5 feats) + 6 (human bonus feat) + 6 (starting traits) + 10 (disadvantages) = 208 CP.
Bell’s disadvantages are Accursed (“mind down” – falls unconscious if all of his spell levels are spent), Broke (he has very little money or gear, apart from his existing weapons and armor), and History (this has only been hinted at in the show so far, but is related to his hidden abilities).
Ability Scores (25-point buy):
||Initial Scores (Point Cost)
||+1 (4th level)
Human Traits (13 CP/+0 ECL)
- Fast Learner, specialized for one-half cost/only for skill points (3 CP).
- Bonus Feat (6 CP).
- Humans get to pick which attribute enjoys the Pathfinder Package Deal bonus – buying off a Corruption worth (4 CP).
Given how that he receives a feat at every odd-numbered level (and “starting traits”), uses a point-buy value for his ability scores that has them default to 10, rather than 8, and gains a +2 racial bonus to an ability score for being human, it should be fairly self-evident that Bell is using the Pathfinder Package Deal.
Basic Abilities (115 CP)
- Light armor proficiency with the Smooth modifier (6 CP). All simple and martial weapons (9 CP).
- 1d12 (8 CP) plus 5d8 (20 CP) Hit Dice.
- +6 BAB (36 CP).
- Fort +5, Ref +5, Will +2 (36 CP).
- 0 skill points (0 CP).
It should be noted the stats given in this write-up are for Bell as he appears at the end of the ninth episode of the anime, which is the most recent one aired at the time of this writing. Since the remaining episodes aren’t out yet, and I haven’t read the light novels the show is based on, subsequent revelations and developments aren’t taken into account here.
With a +6 BAB, Bell also has an iterative attack. In this case, we’re going to use an alternative rule for iterative attacks, from Bad Axe Games’ Trailblazer. Under this rule, you gain a second attack at +6 BAB as per normal. However, when making a full attack action, you do not make the first attack at your full bonus and the second attack at -5. Instead, both attacks are made at their full bonus, but with a -2 iterative attack penalty.
At +11 BAB, you do not gain any additional attacks, but rather the -2 penalty that both attacks take on a full attack action drops to -1. At +16 BAB, the penalty disappears altogether.
This alternate rule eliminates the third and fourth attacks in favor of a small penalty to the first two under the idea – which the book backs up via statistical calculation – that these last two attacks are largely useless, except in situations where you need to make as many attack rolls as possible (e.g. situations where you can only hit on a 20, or only miss on a 1). This way actually grants slightly more successful hits on average.
That said, since this is an alternate system of iterative attacks, rather than any sort of overall bonus, it doesn’t cost any CPs.
Drive to Be A Hero (18 CP)
- Realis Phrase: Mentor with the Prodigy modifier, specialized for double effect/only works while in love with someone, corrupted for increased effect/may not be used for template or racial upgrades (12 CP).
- Argonaut: Doubled Damage, specialized for increased effect/works in any circumstance, but must be a “critical situation” decided upon by the GM (6 CP).
These abilities are the special – indeed, unique – skills that Bell develops over the course of the series. Both are also somewhat tricky to translate into game terms.
“Realis Phrase” grants Bell additional personal development – described here as the Mentor ability with the Prodigy modifier – so long as he pushes himself because of his feelings for someone else (Aiz Wallenstein, in this case). While the corruption limitation is fairly straightforward, the specialization is rather cheesy, since it’s granting a massive XP bonus simply for being in love.
The best way to keep this in check in an actual game – presuming it’s allowed in the first place – would be to play up the relationship drama with the NPC in question. While the love doesn’t need to be requited, the character with this power is understood to be operating under the assumption that they have a chance with them. If that seems to disappear, this power should be curtailed.
Likewise, the “critical situation” that allows the use of the Argonaut power flat-out stated to be at the GM’s discretion. In the show, it’s usually presented as being when someone Bell wants to protect – or otherwise cares about – is in imminent danger of death. It should be noted that this can be applied to his magic just as easily as a melee attack.
Quick and Deadly (38 CP)
- Bonus Attack, corrupted for two-thirds cost/may not use a shield (4 CP).
- Reflex Training/Combat Reflexes variant (6 CP).
- Block/melee with the Master, Riposte, and Multiple modifiers, all corrupted for two-thirds cost/requires a melee weapon (16 CP).
- Augment Attack/+1 to hit with daggers (6 CP).
- Defender (dodge bonus), specialized for double effect/does not work if using medium or heavy armor or shields (6 CP).
Bell is presented as a “striker” character, one who relies on a combination of speed and strategic blocking to protect him while he darts in to slice his enemies. He’s also shown, as the show progresses, to fight with a weapon in each hand.
Blessed with Falna (37 CP)
- 4 wilder magic levels, generic spell levels variant – Charisma-based, arcane magic, spontaneous – with the components and studies limitation, corrupted for two-thirds cost/no inherent powers (8 CP).
- 4 caster levels, specialized for one-half cost/wilder progression only (12 CP).
- Firebolt spell (2 CP).
- Easy metamagic theorem, specialized for one-half cost/only to use “rapid casting” (3 CP).
- Streamline metamagic modifier, specialized for double effect/only applies to the Easy metamagic theorem (6 CP).
- Fast metamagic modifier (6 CP).
Firebolt; school evocation [fire]; level 2; casting time 1 standard action; components V, S; range medium (100 ft. + 10 ft./level); Targets special; Duration instantaneous; Saving Throw special; Spell Resistance yes.
This creates a bolt of flame that strikes a single target as a ranged touch attack, doing 1d6 points of fire damage per caster level (10d6 maximum) on a successful hit. When cast, the bolt can be made to strike multiple targets, making a ranged touch attack for each one, but this reduces the damage by -1d6 per additional target. Alternately, the firebolt can be spread to affect multiple targets in a 10-foot radius, but this reduces the total damage by -2d6; doing this requires no attack roll, but the targets gain a Reflex save for ½ damage.
Within the setting, magic takes one of two forms. There’s the inherent magic that certain races have, and there’s the magic that can be used by those blessed by the gods. The latter type of magic is known as “falna.”
In the show, Bell’s potential to use falna is unlocked after he reads a grimoire, a powerful magic book that is expended – its pages turning blank – after someone reads it (akin to tome of understanding or similar magic items in Pathfinder). So far, firebolt is the only spell he knows. The spell statistics above are adapted from the blast spell in Thoth’s “Blaster” mutant template.
The above suite of abilities may seem like quite a lot for a single spell, and it is. That’s because the spell needs to accomplish three goals to represent what we see in the show:
- It needs to have power tied to Bell’s personal growth, rather than being stuck with a static caster level.
- It needs to be able to be cast multiple times, drawing from a finite pool of energy.
- It’s specifically noted as being cast without an incantation (though he does have to yell the spell’s name to use it). Given that this seems to be in reference to the speed of casting it, that created a bit of an issue with its casting time.
In order to solve the issue in point #3, I elected to bend the rules for the Easy metamagic modifier, and say that it allowed for “rapid casting” for a +2 spell level modifier. Rapid casting is actually a magic item modifier from The Practical Enchanter that doubles the price, but allows for the item to be used as many times as it potentially be activated in a round, rather than only being usable once per round as a strict limit.
In this case, the results are very similar. For +2 spell levels, a “rapid cast” spell can be used as an “attack action” rather than a standard action. That is, it can be cast with the same restrictions as making an attack, so a spellcaster with a +11 BAB could make a melee attack at +11 to hit, cast a “rapid cast” spell at +6 to hit, and then make a third attack at +1 to hit. Or they could cast a “rapid cast” spell as an AoO, etc. Basically, they can use a “rapid cast” spell anywhere they could make a melee attack.
With the above abilities (e.g. Streamline and Fast), Bell can apply “rapid casting” to any particular casting of a spell that he knows. Thanks to his wilder levels and Charisma bonus, he has a total of 12 spell levels that can be used to fuel castings of firebolt (with each casting costing 2 levels). As such, he can use firebolt six times a day, though the sixth time will leave him unconscious.
- Adamantine chain shirt (DR 1/–).
- Ushiwakamaru (masterwork dagger).
- The Hestia Knife (relic).
The chest-plate that Bell wears isn’t very detailed within the show, with Bell noting only that it’s very light and easy to move in, presumably while still offering him decent protection. As such I’ve statted it up as being akin to an adamantine chain shirt. Similarly, when Bell has the armor’s maker – who goes on about not liking magic items – forge a minotaur’s horn into a dagger for him, I’m presuming that said dagger (which is named Ushiwakamaru) doesn’t have any magical properties, unlike Bell’s other dagger…
The Hestia Knife (1 CP relic)
Forged by Hephaestus and blessed by Hestia, this dagger relic is meant only for Bell Cramel. Alive – in the sense that it reacts to his life force – the weapon grows in power along with him. For anyone else wielding it, it is simply a non-magical weapon.
- Imbuement with the Improved, Superior, and Focused modifiers, specialized and corrupted for one-third cost/only functions when held by Bell Cramel (8 CP).
At Bell’s current level of ability, the Hestia Knife functions as a +1 keen spell-conductive dagger. The spell-conductive ability functions as per the conductive weapon ability, but only for spells, rather than spell-like or supernatural effects.
The Hestia Knife is a weapon that has a rather cheesy specialization and corruption combo applied to it, since they won’t affect the intended user at all. Still, this does prevent anyone else from using it effectively – for good or for ill – and even prevents it from having any appreciable resale value, as Lily found out when she stole the dagger and tried to pawn it.
- Hit points: 12 (d12 1st level) + 22 (5d8) + 12 (Con bonus) = 46 hp.
- Speed: 30 ft.
- Init: +3 (Dex bonus) = +3 initiative.
- Saving Throws:
- Fort: +5 (base) + 2 (Con bonus) = +7.
- Ref: +5 (base) + 3 (Dex bonus) = +8.
- Will: +2 (base) + 1 (Wis bonus) = +3.
- Armor Class: 10 (base) + 4 (adamantine chainmail) + 3 (Dex bonus) + 2 dodge (Defender) +1 (martial art) = AC 20, touch 16, flat-footed 15.
- Single Attack: +6 (BAB) + 2 (Str bonus) +1 (Augment Attack; daggers only) +1 (martial art) = +11 Hestia Knife (1d6+3/17-20).
- Single Attack: +6 (BAB) +2 (Str bonus) +1 (Augment Attack; daggers only) +1 (martial art) = +11 masterwork dagger (1d6+2/19-20).
- Two-Weapon Fighting: +6 (BAB) +2 (Str bonus) +1 (Augment Attack; daggers only) +1 (martial art) -2 (iterative attack penalty) -2 (two-weapon fighting penalty) = +7/+7 Hestia Knife (1d6+3/17-20) and +7 masterwork dagger (1d6+1/19-20).
- Skills: 0 skill points (0 CP) + 6 (human bonus) + 6 (favored class) = 12 skill points.
|Martial Arts (Thousand Bees)
Bell’s class skills are the six listed above, plus Craft, Disable Device, Escape Artist, Knowledge (local), Knowledge (religion), Profession, Sleight of Hand, and Stealth.
Thousand Bees (None)
What a single cut cannot do, many can; that is the mantra of the Thousand Bees fighting style. Focusing on delivering myriad blows with daggers to wear foes down over time, this martial art is the invention of Bell Cramel. It has no specific teachings yet – or even a formal name – and as such, has no requisite key ability modifier. If it becomes more widely adopted, it will eventually become a Dexterity-based martial art.
- Requires: Weapon Focus (dagger) or similar point-buy.
- Basic Techniques: Attack 2, Defenses 2, Power 1, Strike, Synergy (Acrobatics), Synergy (Stealth).
- Advanced/Master Techniques: Blinding Strike, Crippling, Two-Weapon Fighting, Weapon Finesse.
- Occult Techniques: Inner Strength, Light Foot, Resist Pain, Serpent Strike.
- Known: Attack 1, Defenses 1, Power 1.
This is representative of Bell’s training under Aiz Wallenstein. Though she only instructs him in fighting for a week, she’s shocked at how quickly he learns. Since their lessons are simply sparring, with no other instructions given, a self-developed martial art felt most appropriate.
Bell is still a long way from his goal of being able to catch up to Aiz Wallenstein. However, he is making excellent progress towards that goal, gaining power rapidly enough to become a local sensation. Moreover, he’s recently started to form a party that can support him when he enters the Dungeon, having signed contracts for the exclusive services of a “supporter” – essentially a retainer – and a skilled weapon/armorsmith.
While his recent fame has been largely beneficial – inspiring several other adventurers to push themselves harder, as well as catching the eye of several local girls – the gods have also begun to notice Bell’s status. While most are happy for Hestia’s sake, not all of them are so benevolent…