Archive for August, 2015

Gun Otaku in the RPG World

August 16, 2015

A few weeks ago, I found myself on the homepage for a group called re:translations. Unlike the manga-translation group that had originally (and indirectly) pointed me towards them, re:translations wasn’t translating manga, but rather light novels (that is, illustrated novels). This caught me by surprise, as I hadn’t realized that this particular media had dedicated translation groups the way that manga and anime do.

In particular, I’d ended up there because they had the light novel version (the original version, as it turns out) of a new manga called Gun-Ota ga Mahou Sekai ni Tensei shitara, Gendai Heiki de Guntai Harem wo Tsukucchaimashita?! Roughly translated into English, this means “A gun-otaku is reborn in a magical world, and creates a military harem with modern weapons?!”

Needless to say, I looked into this series for the same reason that I looked into Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon: the sheer insanity of the title created a “WTF factor” that I couldn’t bring myself to ignore.

Beyond the eye-catching title, however, I found a story that was surprisingly engaging. This was mainly because the main character didn’t have super powers – a welcome change of pace! – and instead had to leverage his knowledge of modern weaponry to survive in a world full of magic and monsters.

I enjoyed the story enough that I couldn’t help but want to draw up stats for the main character, Lute, using the rules for Eclipse: The Codex Persona.

The Story Begins: You Die

The plot of Gun-Ota (as it’s usually abbreviated) begins when Youta Hotta – a young man living in contemporary Japan – is brutally murdered on his way home from work one evening.

…wow, shortest story ever.

Prior to his death, Youta had lived a rather sorrowful life. Bullied in school, he had only a single friend, who was similarly tormented. Things got better for Youta when he entered high school and was transferred to a different class. His best friend, however, was not so fortunate, and his bullying continued. Youta even witnessed it happening, but – fearful of being targeted again – did nothing to help.

Thus, when his friend committed suicide, Youta was shattered by guilt. Dropping out of high school, he took a job as a metalworker, spending all of his free time drowning his sorrows in anime, video games, and – his greatest passion – military weaponry (albeit only in magazine and websites).

That was Youta’s life for the next ten years, until one day, one of his old bullies found him again. Now a low-level thug in a yakuza gang, he attacked Youta while the latter was coming home from work one evening, ranting about how unfair it was that his (the bully’s) life had been ruined when Youta’s friend’s suicide note had indicted him for his abusive behavior.

Blaming Youta simply because there was no one else for him to blame, the bully chased him down and – in a fit of rage – stabbed him to death in a park.

Death was not the end for Youta, however. When he closed his eyes for the last time, he opened them again to find that he had been reincarnated as a baby! Even more strangely, the woman taking care of him had bunny ears!

Reborn into another world, Youta – now given the name “Lute” – still had all of the memories of his previous life. Determined to make the most of this second chance, he vowed that he would never again stand by in silence when someone needed help. Finding out that he had no talent for magic, he instead turned to his knowledge of guns as he prepared to go adventuring…

Lute, 2nd-level gun otaku

Available Character Points: 72 (level 2 base) + 6 (human bonus feat) + 6 (level 1 feat) + 6 (disadvantages) + 2 (restrictions) = 92 CP.

Lute’s disadvantages are Blocked (innate magic above spell level 0) and History (he has an elaborate backstory prior to even being born into that world!). His restriction is to not be able to advance in a magic progression.

Ability Scores (28-point buy): Str 12, Dex 14, Con 12, Int 14, Wis 11, Cha 13.

Built as a 3.5 character, this write-up presents Lute at the end of chapter 49 (e.g. the end of volume 3) of the story. While this is a year or two younger than a 1st-level character should be, his memories of his former life let him advance faster than an ordinary child would.

Majutsushi Human (15 CP/+0 ECL)

  • Fast Learner, specialized in skills for one-half cost (3 CP).
  • Bonus feat (6 CP).
  • Body Fuel, specialized for one-half cost/only as a prerequisite (3 CP) with the Versatile modifier, specialized for one-half cost/only to use hit points (3 CP).

In Lute’s world, everyone has the potential to use magic. As such, that potential is written into his race. Since recklessly using magic is shown to cause physical harm, potentially to the point of death, Body Fuel seemed the best way to go about that.

The series measures how much magical power someone has using a letter-grade system (e.g. someone ranked “B+” has more magic than someone ranked “B,” who in turn has more magic than someone ranked “B-,” etc.). However, those ranked at C+ or below – including Lute (and indeed, the majority of the world’s population) – cannot improve their magical abilities. Such people have the restriction and Blocked disadvantage listed above.

Basic Abilities (50 CP)

  • Light armor proficiency (3 CP), proficiency with all simple weapons (3 CP) and small arms (6 CP).
  • 2d6 Hit Dice (4 CP).
  • +2 BAB (12 CP).
  • +1 Fort, +3 Reflex, +1 Will (15 CP).
  • 7 skill points (7 CP).

God’s Gift to Guns (12 CP)

  • +1 BAB, specialized for one-half cost/only with guns (3 CP).
  • Occult Skill/Craft (mechanical) (3 CP).
  • Skill Focus (Craft (mechanical)) (6 CP).

Lute’s memories of his previous life, with his obsessive love of guns, is the reason he can take Occult Skill here, Craft (mechanical) being from d20 Modern. He then leverages this to create the guns that he and his friends use, being the only one in the world who can do so.

Magic Liquid Metal

For all his knowledge of guns and metalworking, the machinery to create proper gun components simply isn’t present in Lute’s world. However, there’s a work-around: a magical substance called “magic liquid metal.”

Taken from the dead body of a “metal slime” monster, magic liquid metal is, as the name suggests, a liquid metal that can be shaped by magic. The user simply has to touch it while imagining the item they want and channeling their magic into the liquid, and it will form that item. But once so formed, the item can never return to its liquid state, being permanently solidified. If the user’s concentration wavers when shaping the metal, they could very well end up with a defective item.

Most people in Lute’s world find the stuff useless, since it’s rarity makes it unduly expensive, and a single lapse in concentration can ruin the finished product. To Lute, however, it was a god-send, allowing him to make guns piece by piece.

In game terms, magic liquid metal allows someone to make a Craft check to create a metal item as a full-round action. A single dose (enough to make a light weapon for a medium creature) costs 250 gp. A one-handed weapon requires two doses, and a two-handed weapon requires four. Likewise, a buckler requires one dose, light armor or a light shield requires two, a heavy shield or medium armor requires four, and a tower shield or heavy armor requires eight. (This represents a departure from what the source material says magic liquid metal normally costs, but that’s necessary since it uses a different economy than the “standard” d20 market costs.)

For his part, Lute – wanting to make the best guns he could – made all of his guns mastercraft (+2) weapons. Since that’s a +5 DC modifier on a DC 25 check, that meant that he kept using magic liquid metal until he got a 20 on his Craft check…for each separate component! No wonder it took him four years just to make three of them!

Prodigious Dedication (9 CP)

  • Upgrade racial Fast Learner bonus from half-cost to double effect (3 CP).
  • Privilege/wealthy (3 CP).
  • Martial arts (3 CP).

These abilities represent several of Lute’s lesser accomplishments throughout the series. The first bullet point is his overall commitment to learning as much as he can about his new circumstances. The second represents the money he makes from introducing the game Reversi to that world. The third represents his training under Count Dan Gate Vlad on the Demon Continent.

First Among the Talentless (18 CP).

  • 2d6 Hit Dice, specialized for one-half cost/only applies for Body Fuel (10 CP).
  • Efficient modifier to Body Fuel (6 CP).
  • Occult Talent, specialized for one-half cost/does not grant a 1st-level spell, corrupted for two-thirds cost/does not grant free 1/day use each (2 CP):
    • Personal physical skill mastery II: +7 competence bonus to physical skills (e.g. Jump, Spot, Move Silently, Swim, etc.) for 10 min./level.
    • Personal barkskin: +2 natural armor bonus (+1 per 3 levels above 3rd; max +5) for 10 min./level.
    • Personal flesh ward II: damage reduction 3/– for 10 min./level.
    • Personal weapon mastery II: +1 competence bonus to all weapon attack rolls (including unarmed strikes) for 1 min./level.

Lute has no ability to learn spellcasting per se, and cannot learn any inherent magic above level 0. Even with that, he’s unwilling to use less than everything he has, managing to use his meager reserves to create a handful of beneficial effects.

Some clarification on these spells. All are from The Practical Enchanter, specifically (Skill) Mastery (Various) (p. 14), Barkskin (p. 38), Flesh Ward (Various) (p. 66), and (Weapon) Mastery (Various) (p. 14). For the (various) spells, they’re all used at spell level 2, which is the natural spell level of barkskin as well.

So how is he using 2nd-level spell effects when he can’t use anything above level 0? Well, On page 59 of Eclipse, the Transference metamagic theorem has the “Sharing” ability, which allows for a personal-only spell to be used on someone else for +2 spell levels. These spells use that in reverse, being touch-range spells that have been busted down to personal-only (hence the “personal” in the names listed above). Like that, they become 0-level spells that Lute can use! (Even better, since they’re Occult Talents, their caster level is his character level.)

Friends in High Places (3 CP)

  • Contact (1 CP).
  • Occult Contact (2 CP).

The basic contact is with Elle, the bunny-girl healer and retired adventurer who runs the orphanage where Lute was raised. The Occult contact is with vampire Seras Gate Vlad, the matriarch of the prestigious Vlad family on the Demon Continent, where Lute temporarily served as her daughter’s servant/guardian.

Gear

  • S&W M10 (revolver; damage (M) 2d6; critical 20; range 30 ft.; weight 2 lbs.).
  • AK-47 (assault rifle; damage (M) 2d8; critical 20; range 70 ft.; weight 10 lbs.).
  • Dagger.

For Lute’s firearms, I’ve used the basic d20 Modern stats for both guns. However, I’ve deliberately left off some of the information, such as the damage type and the critical multiplier. That’s because this information tends to depend on what type of game you’re running – d20 Modern, for example, treats guns as having their own damage type “ballistic,” and so most damage reduction is bypassed, but only has x2 critical multipliers. Pathfinder, by contrast, has guns dealing both bludgeoning and piercing damage, with a x4 critical multiplier being standard. I’d personally go with the Pathfinder interpretation, but either one would probably work.

The March of Progress

d20 Modern grouped technology into several broad strata called Progress Levels (PL) to measure how advanced they were. This was done largely to make a convenient shorthand for what sort of items should be found in what sort of setting. However, I’ve long used a house rule with regards to having advanced weapons and armor versus their less-advanced counterparts.

The rule functions as such: When using weapons and armor of differing Progress Levels, the item with the higher PL gains a bonus equal to the difference between the two. So for example, Lute’s guns are Progress Level 5 weapons (being from the latter half of the 20th century on Earth), whereas medieval-era gear is PL 2; as such, his guns would get a +3 bonus when trying to hit someone clad in the various types of armor found in the PHB. Likewise, if he made 20th-century (PL 5) body armor, it would gain a +3 armor bonus against the PL 2 weapons found in the PHB, etc.

There’s a corollary to this rule, however: magic is the great equalizer. If the more primitive item is enchanted, then that negates the bonus that the more advanced item would receive. So using a PL 5 gun against a PL 2 suit of armor that was enchanted to be +1 armor would not receive a bonus for being more advanced.

This rule ignores a lot of nuance between various types of weapons and armor (e.g. how most modern body armors are made to stop bullets, but wouldn’t protect from a knife very well), but helps to underscore exactly why weapons and armor keep advancing across the ages without armor bonuses or damage dice having to reach stratospheric levels.

Derived Stats

  • Hit points: 6 (d6 Hit Die; 1st level) + 3 (1d6) + 2 (Con bonus) = 11 hp.
  • Speed: 30 ft.
  • Init: +2 (Dex bonus).
  • Alignment: Lawful Good.
  • Saving Throws:
    • Fort: +1 (base) +1 (Con bonus) = +2.
    • Ref: +3 (base) +2 (Dex bonus) = +5.
    • Will: +1 (base) +0 (Wis bonus) = +1.
  • Armor Class: 10 (base) + 2 (Dex bonus) + 1 (martial art) = AC 13, touch 13, flat-footed 11.
  • Attacks:
    • Unarmed Strike: +2 (BAB) +1 (Str bonus) = unarmed strike +3 (1d4+1).
    • Dagger: +2 (BAB) +1 (Str bonus) = dagger +3 (1d4+1/19-20).
    • Revolver: +2 (BAB) +2 (Dex) + 1 (martial art) +1 (weapon focus) +2 (mastercraft bonus) = S&W M10 +8 (2d8) or Rapid Shot +6/+6 (2d8).
    • Longarm: +2 (BAB) +2 (Dex) + 1 (martial art) +1 (weapon focus) +2 (mastercraft bonus) = AK-47 +8 (2d10) or Rapid Shot +6/+6 (2d10).
  • Skills: 10 ranks (Int bonus) + 10 ranks (Fast Learner) + 7 (7 CP) = 27 skill points.
Skills Ranks Ability Modifier Misc. Modifier Total
Craft (mechanical) 5 ranks +2 Int +3 Skill Focus +10
Diplomacy 1 rank +1 Cha +2
Disable Device 1 rank +2 Int +3
Hide 2 ranks +2 Dex +4
Jump 1 rank +1 Str +2
Knowledge (history) 1 rank +2 Int +3
Knowledge (local) 1 rank +2 Int +3
Listen 2 ranks +0 Wis +2
Martial Arts (pistol expert) 5 ranks +2 Dex +7
Move Silently 2 ranks +2 Dex +4
Search 2 ranks +2 Int +4
Speak Language 1 rank
Spot 2 ranks +0 Wis +2
Swim 1 rank +1 Str +2

Lute has fourteen skills here as class skills. I normally assign characters twelve skills plus Craft and Profession as their class skills, but since that’s just a guideline rather than a hard-and-fast rule, and since he’s only over by one skill, I’ll let it slide. Given his massive restrictions on magic that he has, this doesn’t seem like a very big deal.

Lute’s martial art is Pistol Expert, which can be found over here. His current techniques known are Attack 1, Power 1, Defense 1, and Rapid Shot. Lute also knows four languages, thanks to his Intelligence bonus and rank in Speak Language. These are Common, Demon, English, and Japanese.

Further Development

Currently, Lute is something of a glass cannon. Using his magic, he can attack twice a round at +7 to hit, inflicting major damage and likely seriously wounding (if not killing outright) most level-appropriate monsters. But he can barely muster an AC of 15 even with his defensive magic up; given his anemic hit points, anything that gets in close is likely to take him out in short order. Luckily, Lute seems to know that, since as of chapter 50 (e.g. the beginning of volume 4) he’s started making armor and similar support gear.

For his personal abilities, he might want to take Reflex Training so that he can use his Occult Talents faster, and maybe expand them to include some other low-level effects (though these will succumb to diminishing returns rather quickly). Likewise, some Luck never hurts for when he needs to make a shot, or a saving throw. A few skill boosters might help as well, especially with regards to his martial art.

Beyond that, I’d recommend some increases to his speed (for keeping away from close-range attackers), hit points (for when things go south), and whatever else he can do to bump up his Armor Class, though that might be difficult without magic.

Of course, given that the rest of his party includes a high-ranking ice-sorceress with a revolver, a vampire princess with a sniper rifle, and a dragon-girl who is a genius at crafting magic items, he’ll probably do alright in the meantime!

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