Archive for May, 2022

Breakfast at Ninjara’s

May 18, 2022

And I hate when things are over/When so much is left undone.

Deep Blue Something, “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”

During a recent bout of spring cleaning, I stumbled across some issues of the old Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comic series from Archie. Naturally, finding these twenty-five year old comics sent me down a rabbit hole of nostalgia, resulting in a deep-dive on how the series had turned out. Thankfully, sites like Turtlepedia and TMNT Entity made that pretty easy to do (though, of course, it still took enough time that the cleaning needed to be postponed).

Unfortunately, but unsurprisingly, the Archie Comics run of TMNT petered out, as all too many smaller comic series tend to do. In the case of this one, however, part of the reason was apparently that the writers kept clashing with the editors over the tenor of the stories, with the editors wanting to keep things light and kid-friendly while the writers wanted to explore more mature themes. Case in point, around the middle of the series’ run there was a backup group of mutants called the Mighty Mutanimals. When their spin-off series failed to catch on, the writers elected to kill them all off in a hail of machine gun fire. Dark stuff indeed!

But there was one character who never got that level of closure during the series, that being Raphael’s vulpine girlfriend, Ninjara.

Originally appearing as the minion of a minor antagonist, Ninjara (whose real name is Umeko) was largely a supporting character, bringing very little to the overall story. While her background (being part of a race of fox-people who lived on a mist-shrouded island off the coast of Japan, rather than a mutant) was used for the occasional plot-hook, for the most part she didn’t contribute much to the series. It was only near the end of the comic’s run, in the “Moon Eyes Saga,” that she started to develop as a character, breaking up with Raphael in favor of a widower named Mokoshan, a member of a tribe of wolf-people living in Alaska.

But while the Archie run of T.M.N.T. ended shortly thereafter, Ninjara’s story didn’t.

Her creators, still owning the rights to her character, briefly brought her back in a new story in the pages of Furrlough, a furry magazine of all things. It didn’t last very long, with her appearing only in three issues (which, being an anthology of stories, only added up to about one issue’s worth of content), which turned out to be a shame since it featured the best characterization she’d received to date.

In this new comic, Ninjara is roughly ten years older, trying to balance searching for Mokoshan’s killer while taking care of their daughter, Moka. To that end, she accepts a job to retrieve the seed of a rare plant, only to realize that it’s guarded much too heavily to be the mere collectible she was told it was…

That, unfortunately, is where the comic ended. Given that the rights to Ninjara’s character were subsequently sold to Viacom (now Paramount), the odds of the creators ever going back to finish her story are non-existent, which is a shame. As the song goes, I hate when things are over when so much is left undone.

To that end, I’ve written up Ninjara’s stats using the d20 System rules via Eclipse: The Codex Persona. She might not get any official resolution, but this is my way of paying tribute to her character.

This is also my excuse to not only write up another Eclipse character, something I haven’t done in far too long, but also test out posting character sheets under WordPress’s new block editor format.

Ninjara, ECL 6 shinobimusha

Available Character Points: 144 (level 5 base) + 12 (levels 1 and 3 feats) + 10 (disadvantages) + 10 (duties) + 10 (restrictions) = 186 CP.

Ninjara’s disadvantages are Broke (between raising her daughter and looking into her husband’s murder, money is tight), History (her adventures in the TMNT Archie comics), and Obligations (finding out who killed her husband, Mokoshan).

Ninjara’s duties are to her daughter, Moka.

Ninjara’s restrictions are against wearing armor and against using firearms.

Ability Scores (28-point buy): Str 10 (2 points), Dex 16 (10 points) +4 racial = 20, Con 10 (2 points) +4 racial = 14, Int 12 (4 points), Wis 13 (5 points), Cha 13 (5 points) +1 4th-level ability adjustment = 14.

Ninjara’s build adheres to 3.5 standards rather than Pathfinder, meaning that she uses the point-buy values from the DMG, only gains a feat every third level, etc. However, to reflect the modern setting she appears in, her skills are taken from d20 Modern.

Kitsujin (63 CP/+1 ECL race)

  • Improved Self-Development/+4 Dex (24 CP)
  • Improved Self-Development/+4 Con (24 CP)
  • Occult Sense/low-light vision (6 CP)
  • Celerity, specialized for one-half cost/only with light armor or no armor, and carrying no more than a light load (3 CP)
  • Adept/Hide, Listen, Move Silently, and Spot (6 CP)
  • Favors/followers of animism-based religions (3 CP)
  • Disadvantage/Outcast (ordinary people don’t know about/fear non-humans) (-3 CP)

While never formally named as such in the comic, “kitsujin” is the name we’ll use for Ninjara’s race here.

Basic Abilities (130 CP)

  • Proficient with all simple and ninja weapons (9 CP)
  • 1d12 Hit Die at 1st level (8 CP) and four d10 Hit Dice at levels 2-5 (24 CP)
  • +5 BAB (30 CP)
  • Fort +4, Ref +4, Will +1 (27 CP)
  • 32 skill points (32 CP)

“Ninja weapons” includes the katana and wakizashi, despite those actually being used by samurai, as well as shuriken, kunai, tekko-kagi, and similar weapons. Like most of T.M.N.T., Ninjara’s presentation as a ninja has little to do with historical accuracy.

Graceful Fighter (13 CP)

  • Finesse/use Dexterity modifier for melee attack rolls, specialized for one-half cost/only for weapons she’s proficient with (3 CP)
  • Finesse/use Dexterity modifier for melee and thrown weapon damage rolls, specialized for one-half cost/only for weapons she’s proficient with (3 CP)
  • Fortune/evasion, corrupted for two-thirds cost/only when wearing light armor or no armor, and carrying no more than a light load (4 CP)
  • +1/BAB, specialized for one-half cost/only for katana (3 CP)

Note that the additional +1 BAB for attacks made with her katana count for purposes of earning iterative attacks.

Ninja Training (19 CP)

  • Martial Arts (3 CP)
  • Bonus Attack/shuriken (6 CP)
  • Bonus Attack/fighting with two weapons, corrupted for two-thirds cost/must be proficient with both weapons (4 CP)
  • Defender/deflection, specialized for double effect/only when wielding a melee weapon which she’s proficient with, corrupted for increased effect/only when wearing light armor or no armor, and carrying no more than a light load (6 CP)

While we rarely see her fight with two blades at once in the comic, Ninjara is often shown to carry a daisho (i.e. a katana and wakizashi together). Given that there are one or two images of her wielding both at once, she’s been given the equivalent of Two-Weapon Fighting here.

Exceptional Prowess (20 CP)

  • Fast Learner, specialized for double effect/only for skills, corrupted for two-thirds cost/only for Adept skills (4 CP)
  • Adept/Balance, Climb, Jump, Tumble (6 CP)
  • Acrobatics, corrupted for two-thirds cost/only when wearing light armor or no armor, and carrying no more than a light load (4 CP)
  • Luck with +4 Bonus Uses, specialized for one-half cost/only for saving throws (6 CP)

While some of this could be attributed to her race, that’s a fairly iffy presentation. The few other fox-people that we meet in the comic, such as Ninjara’s grandmother or her younger brother Naga, don’t seem to be particularly athletic compared to what humans can do.

Underworld Connections (4 CP)

  • Contacts x4/a fence, an information broker, an unlicensed doctor, and a weapons dealer (4 CP)

Given that Ninjara calls herself “the best thief in Japan,” some level of underworld connections seem necessary, particularly since this is how she’s funding her hunt for Mokoshan’s killer (her only clue being an emblem with 告罪, the kanji for “tsugezai” (“condemnation”), on it).

SkillsRanks (points spent)Ability ModifierTotal
Balance8 (4 points)+5 Dex+13
Bluff1 (1 point)+2 Cha+3
Climb8 (4 points)+0 Str+8
Diplomacy1 (1 point)+2 Cha+3
Disguise8 (8 points)+2 Cha+10
Hide8 (4 points)+5 Dex+13
Intimidate1 (1 point)+2 Cha+3
Jump8 (4 points)+0 Str+8
Knowledge (streetwise)1 (1 point)+1 Int+2
Listen8 (4 points)+1 Wis+9
Move Silently8 (4 points)+5 Dex+13
Search8 (8 points)+1 Int+9
Sense Motive1 (1 point)+1 Wis+2
Sleight of Hand1 (1 point)+5 Dex+6
Spot8 (4 points)+1 Wis+9
Swim2 (2 points)+0 Str+2
Tumble8 (4 points)+5 Dex+13

All of the above skills are considered to be relevant skills (i.e. class skills) for Ninjara. Additionally, her Intelligence score lets her speak, read, and write English fluently, in addition to her native Japanese.

Basic Ninjutsu (Dex)

This is the entry-level form of contemporary “ninja”-style combat, possessing no mystical capabilities or esoteric techniques. Having no real resemblance to its namesake’s classical techniques (i.e. spying and assassination), this fighting style focuses on the effective use of weapons that have become associated with modern-day ninjas.

  • Requires: Weapon focus/katana (or equivalent)
  • Basic Abilities: Attack 2, Defenses 2, Power 1, Strike, Synergy (Hide), Synergy (Move Silently)
  • Advanced/Master Techniques: Breaking, Combat Reflexes, Weapon Kata (shuriken), Weapon Kata (wakizashi)
  • Known: Attack 1, Defenses 1, Power 1, Strike, Combat Reflexes, Weapon Kata (shuriken), Weapon Kata (wakizashi)

Derived Stats

  • Hit points: 12 (d12; 1st level) + 18 (4d8) + 10 (Con bonus) = 40 hp.
  • Speed: 30 feet (base) + 10 (Celerity) = 40 ft.
  • Armor Class: 10 (base) + 5 (Dex bonus) + 3 deflection (Defender) + 1 (martial arts) = AC 19, touch 19, flat-footed 14.
  • Fortitude: +4 (base) + 2 (Con bonus) = +6
  • Reflex: +4 (base) + 5 (Dex bonus) = +9
  • Will: +1 (base) + 1 (Wis bonus) = +2
  • Katana +5 (BAB) + 5 (Dex bonus) + 1 (Weapon Focus) + 1 (martial arts) – 2 (two-weapon fighting) and wakizashi +5 (BAB) + 5 (Dex bonus) + 1 (martial arts) – 2 (two-weapon fighting) = katana +10/+5 (1d10+5/18-20) and wakizashi +9 (1d8+2/18-20)
  • Unarmed Strike +5 (BAB) + 5 (Dex bonus) + 1 (martial arts) = unarmed strike +11 (1d4+6)
  • Shuriken +5 (BAB) + 5 (Dex bonus) + 1 (martial arts) – 2 (bonus attack) = shuriken +9/+9 (1d3+5)

And, as a bonus entry, here’s a character sheet for Ninjara’s daughter.

Moka, ECL 1 hybrid child

Available Character Points: 24 (level 0 base) + 10 (disadvantages) = 34 CPs.

Moka’s disadvantages are History (in that her mother is a figure of some note), Hunted (people who want her hybrid DNA), and Outcast (among pureblood anthropomorphs). Note that these last two aren’t presented in the comics; we’re presuming them here because they provide a basis for why Ninjara would keep Moka so close, rather than sending her to live in safety with her family on the misty island that she comes from.

Ability Scores (28-point buy): Str 11 (3 points) -3 age, +2 racial = 10, Dex 15 (8 points) -1 age, +2 racial = 16, Con 14 (6 points) -3 age, +4 racial = 15, Int 10 (2 points) -1 age = 9, Wis 13 (5 points) -1 age = 12, Cha 12 (4 points) -1 age = 11.

The child age modifiers used here are taken from the d20 Modern SRD. While Moka has a great deal of raw potential, she’s too young to put most of it to good use yet.

Kitsujin/Amagok hybrid (63 CP/+1 ECL race)

  • Improved Self-Development/+2 Str (12 CP)
  • Improved Self-Development/+2 Dex (12 CP)
  • Improved Self-Development/+4 Con (24 CP)
  • Occult Sense/low-light vision (6 CP)
  • Immunity to environmental hazards (common/minor/major) (4 CP)
  • Immunity to encumbrance penalties (common/minor/trivial) (2 CP)
  • Adept/Listen, Search, Spot, and Survival (6 CP)
  • Disadvantage/Outcast (ordinary people don’t know about/fear non-humans) (-3 CP)

As with her mother’s “kitsujin” heritage, we’ll use “amagok” to represent the Alaskan wolf-people that Moka’s father came from. Note that the “immunity to environmental hazards” listing is an approximation of the Endurance feat.

Basic Abilities (12 CP)

  • No weapon or armor proficiencies (0 CP)
  • No Hit Dice (0 CP)
  • +0 BAB (0 CP)
  • Fort +0, Ref +0, Will +0 (0 CP)
  • 12 skill points (12 CP)

While Moka’s ability score modifiers for being a child come from d20 Modern, the rest of her stat adjustments are from Eclipse. Specifically, that she has 3 + her Constitution modifier hit points (since as a level 0 character she hasn’t received any Hit Dice yet).

Dutiful Daughter (14 CP)

  • Luck with +4 Bonus Uses, specialized for one-half cost/only for saving throws (6 CP)
  • Fortune/evasion, corrupted for two-thirds cost/only when wearing light armor or no armor, and carrying no more than a light load (4 CP)
  • Acrobatics, corrupted for two-thirds cost/only when wearing light armor or no armor, and carrying no more than a light load (4 CP)

Despite Ninjara not wanting her daughter to take after her, the comics show Moka idolizing her mother. To that end, the above assumes that she’s been attempting to train herself up in secret.

Diligent Student (8 CP)

  • Adept/Balance, Climb, Hide, Move Silently (6 CP)
  • 1 skill rank each in Speak Language (Japanese) and Read/Write Language (Japanese) (2 CP)

What few skills Ninjara has taught her daughter include not only how to avoid/run away from danger, but also how to understand the language of her Japanese heritage (since Moka’s native language is English).

SkillsRanks (points spent)Ability ModifierTotal
Balance3 (1.5 points spent)+3 Dex+6
Climb3 (1.5 points spent)+0 Str+3
Hide3 (1.5 points spent)+3 Dex+6
Listen3 (1.5 points spent)+1 Wis+4
Move Silently3 (1.5 points spent)+3 Dex+6
Search3 (1.5 points spent)-1 Int+2
Spot3 (1.5 points spent)+1 Wis+4
Survival3 (1.5 points spent)+1 Wis+4

The above skills are all Moka’s relevant (i.e. class) skills. While characters aren’t technically allowed to spend half a skill point on relevant skills (even though they can on irrelevant, i.e. cross-class, skills), we’re overlooking that restriction here, since it comes out to the same total either way.

Given that she has no real combat training, special abilities, or even modifiers for most of her statistics, there’s no need to post a Derived Stats listing for Moka.

Further Development

Having already reached the limit for what a “badass normal” is capable of, Ninjara’s growth is probably going to be limited by genre conventions. While there are no hard-and-fast rules for the Teenage Mutant Nina Turtles setting (at least in a d20 context), it’s likely that there’s a level cap that she’s nearing, or possibly that there’s a multiplier for how much XP is required to gain more levels. Throw in that magic, psychic abilities, and similar supernatural powers are de-emphasized (though still present) in the setting, and it’s hard to see where Ninjara can go from here.

She does still have several options, however. If she can get her Broke disadvantage removed, she might be able to afford some super-science gadgets in addition to better mundane gear. She could also potentially undergo a mutation of her own, gaining power that way, though precisely what and how much depend on the nature and function of how she transformed. Alternately, she could put more emphasis on social expansion, perhaps turning her role as a thief into an underworld empire.

As for Moka, it’s too soon to tell which direction she’ll take, but her mother is likely to push her away from anything dangerous. Of course, children rarely follow the path their parents lay out for them, so who can say what she’ll become as she grows up?