Sunday, December 18, 2016

Coming Soon: The Blackest of Heroes

This coming week I'll start layout on the Blackest of Heroes, the char-gen compendium/player's guide to the Black Tokyo setting. For the last year, I've been working at a local college, and we have a pretty impressive winter vacation. I'll be on paid leave until January 2nd, so I'll be using that free time to work on some neat releases to end this year and begin 2017.

In addition to Blackest of Heroes, I'm working on several more magic item books. First a shorter Battlechanger-specific item book, which also delves into Lifespawn stuff as well, than the larger and more complex second volume of Enchantments of Black Tokyo and a Heavy Future sourcebook in the same vein. After that expect some big campaign sourcebooks for all my lines. I've got writing completed on several books just need to start gathering art.

Today, I want to preview another race from Blackest of Heroes. A few years back, I included an Ainu cultural template. This time I included the Utari Ainu as a full playable race. Take a look at how they work, and the final format for BTU character races. The artwork to the right makes no claims at being culturally accurate- in fact it's gender-flipped Overwatch cosplay, but it had the vibe I was going for with the Utari Ainu race.

Utari Ainu
Medium Humanoid (Human)
The Ainu (which means people in their own language) are a vanishing indigenous race that once roamed freely across the frigid plains of far Northern Japan and territory that would eventually belong to Russia. Circa 2015, only vestiges of Ainu culture remains in Black Japan, washed away by years of forced assimilation into Japanese society, or by a retreat into the twilight of the Tatakama, via lost gates hidden on Japan’s northern-most islands. Those vanishingly few Ainu who keep their old ways in defiance of modernity are the Utari (comrade) Ainu.

Our Appearance
Utari Ainu are a small, muscular people that straddle the line between Caucasian and Asiatic features so nimbly anthropologists write papers debating which ethnicity the tribe actually belongs to. They have dark hair and intense eyes, and traditionally Ainu males grew bushy beards once they came of age (though modern Ainu men might favor going clean shaven). Life outdoors darkens their skins to a dusky brown several shades darker than the Japanese norm.

Soon after puberty, Utari Ainu children are ritually tattooed. Beginning at 13 or so, an Ainu child’s lips, hands and arms are intricately tattooed. The deep azure marks become deeper and more complex with successive tattooings, until the tattoos are completed around 16, and an Ainu is considered an adult. Utari Ainu with mystical talents find these carefully etched tattoos burning as brightly as the sky itself when they call upon their powers.

Our Sexuality
The few traditional Ainu living in the modern world often intermarry with Japanese or Russian families. Even in olden days, the races’ women were free to choose their own spouses and were fairly equal participants in community life. Today’s Utari Ainu women are equally proud, equally fierce, and often become adventurers to protect other women; some might contract with the Eyrines Sisterhood.

Ainu children aren’t usually given a permanent name until their second or third year. Instead, they’re given often vulgar nicknames (like ‘little shit’) by their parents; as the predatory creatures of Ainu myth avoid unclean things, this tradition offers newborns a measure of mythic protection.

Our Faiths and Beliefs
Today only a few Ainu practice their traditional, animistic and proto-Shinto beliefs, with most having embraced either a mélange of Shinto and Buddhist beliefs similar to other Japanese, or else embracing the Russian Orthodox Church. Some Ainu are Gothic Christian demonologists or hunters, though from Orthrodox rather than papal sects. The traditional myths and stories of the Ainu race offer deep insights into the ghosts and monsters of the Japanese archipelago. When the horrific rears its head, Ainu are better able to defend against the unknown than many other Japanese mortals.

The Places Important to Us
During the race’s heyday, the Ainu hunted the Kuril Islands, the large, cold island of Hokkaido and into the northern provinces of Honshu. They also claimed the Russian territories of the Sakhalin Island and the Kamchatcha Peninsula. The surviving remnants of the culture are concentrated in Hokkaido, and know its frigid environs well. Some live in Tokyo, having migrated there in the last few years to insular neighborhoods.

The Ainu were officially recognized as an indigenous people by the Japanese Diet in 2008, reversing a policy of non-recognition more than a century old. At roughly the same time, Russia eliminated the Ainu ethnicity entirely from its national census, claiming that the Ainu race was extinct in its territory.

The Languages We Speak
Utari Ainu characters begin play speaking and literate in Ainu (also known as Emishi) and either Japanese or Russian. Utari Ainu characters with high INT scores can choose any language as a bonus language, including Druidic due to the race’s primordial traditions.

Play An Utari Ainu If….
·         You want to be an excellent druid, ranger or wilderness survival expert.
·         You want an especially tough and impressive animal companion.
·         You want to exist on the fringes of modern, Japanese culture.
·         You enjoyed Princess Mononoke.

Utari Ainu Racial Traits
All Utari Ainu share the following racial traits.

Size and Type
Ainu are Medium Humanoids with the Human subtype. As Medium creatures, Ainu receive no bonuses or penalties due to their size.
Ability Score Modifiers
+2 STR, -2 INT, +2 WIS.
Utari Ainu characters are physically robust and strong for their size. They have keen senses and strong wills, but are tradition-bound to a fault and are not as well educated as more mainstream Japanese children.

Normal Speed (EX)                                                                                
Ainu have a base land speed of 30 ft.

Animal Friend (SP)
Utari Ainu speak the language of beasts fluently, and the race was often considered little more than beasts themselves during the 17th – mid 20th Centuries.

Utari Ainu are treated as being under a permanent speak with animals spell, as cast by a druid of their total character level. 

Animal Wisdom (EX)
Utari Ainu receive a +2 racial bonus to Handle Animal and Survival checks.  Ainu especially love and revere bears, and are equally beloved by ursines. This bonus on Handle Animal checks increases to +4 when dealing with ursine creatures. These skills are always class skills for the Utari Ainu.

Bear Spirit (SU)
If an Ainu character who selects a bear (or bear-like creature) as an animal companion, the creature receives maximum Hit Points per Hit Die, and is an incredibly large, powerful example of the species, often with unique markings in its fur or strange and compelling eyes.

Human Blood (EX)
Utari Ainu count as Humans for all effects related to race.

Lowlight Vision (EX)
Years of night hunting have trained the Utari Ainu to see far. The Utari Ainu gains lowlight vision.

Mercy Towards the Beasts (SU)
Hunting is a duty that is necessary for survival, but is a somber task for Utari Ainu.

For 24 hours after slaying any creature of the Animal type, an Utari Ainu character suffers a -2 racial penalty on REF and WILL Saves; they are distracted and unlucky. If the Utari Ainu slays a bear or bear-like creature, he is considered shaken as well for the duration.

Tattoos of Maturity (SU)
When an Utari Ainu reaches adulthood, their lips, hands and forearms are tattooed ritually. These tattoos protect the Ainu, and declare their role in society.

Ainu characters receive a +2 deflection bonus to Armor Class against creatures of the Animal or Magical Beast type, thanks to their mystic tattoos. This bonus increases by +1 per four character levels. An Utari Ainu’s ritual tattoos are considered a holy symbol.

Utari Ainu Alternate Racial Traits
The Utari Ainu are a loose coalition of tribes, some fully assimilated into mainstream Japanese culture, and some not. Other clans might have retreated completely into the Tatakama, abandoning Earth entirely.

Ancient Wisdom of the Forest (EX)
Replaces: Animal Wisdom
Utari Ainu have guarded Hokkaido’s forests and tundra for uncounted generations, and the secrets of doing so are passed down along family lines. When in the region of their birth, or any area designated as favored terrain, the Utari Ainu may substitute a Survival check for Knowledge (arcana, planar and religion) checks made to identify threats, wonders or natural features.

Bear Caller (SP)
Animal Friend
The Utari Ainu can cry out to the kamui (gods) of nature and animals for protection and be heard.

Once per week, the Utari Ainu can use Summon Nature’s Ally IV as a 10th level druid, but may only use this ability to summon a grizzly bear. If the Utari Ainu is in a cold or temperate forest, mountain or plain, the duration of the summoning is one hour/level.

Kamchatchka Ainu (EX)
Bear Spirit
The Ainu hails from a tribe whose traditionally hunting grounds were especially frigid. The Ainu gains the Cold subtype, becoming Immune to Cold and Vulnerable to Fire.

Nameless Ainu (SU)
Animal Wisdom
The Ainu never received a permanent name, and is called the vulgar, often scatological nickname he was given upon birth. This has made the Nameless Ainu virtually invisible to the animistic spirits of disease and ill health, and given him a kind of instinctive mastery of skatto magic.

The Nameless Ainu receives a +2 racial bonus on Concentration/Spellcraft checks to cast spells with the skatto descriptor, and rolls 2d20 rather than d20 on FORT Saves against disease and takes the better result.

Scent (EX)
Lowlight Vision
The tattoos on your lips continue onto your cheeks and the bridge of your nose, marking you as a Utari Ainu with an extraordinary nose, the equal of any bear’s. You gain Scent.

Tattoos of Life (SU)
Tattoos of Maturity
The Utari Ainu’s tattoos are inked with black rather than blue, and mark the Utari Ainu as someone of intense vitality and vigor. The Utari Ainu receives a +2 racial bonus on FORT Saves, which increases by +1 per four character levels. An Utari Ainu’s ritual tattoos are considered a holy symbol.

Tattoos of Warfare (SU)
Replaces: Tattoos of Maturity, Animal Friendship
The Utari Ainu’s tattoos are inked with crimson rather than cerulean, and mark the Utari Ainu as a defender of their tribe and great hunter in the traditional methods. The Utari Ainu receives a +2 racial bonus on attack and damage rolls with the longbow, longspear and short sword, thanks to their mystic tattoos. This bonus increases by +1 per four character levels. An Utari Ainu’s ritual tattoos are considered a holy symbol.

Walking with the Forest’s Spirits (EX)
Animal Friend
When you were very young, you encountered a strange animal in the wilderness, which may have been a minor kamui rather than a natural beast. You won this creature’s friendship and protection, and you adventure together as equals.

You gain an animal companion as a Druid of your total character level. Your animal companion may only be chosen from the following list.
  • Bear, Bird, Boar, Dog, or Wolf

Warm Breasts of Nature (EX)
Available To:
Female Utari Ainu characters
Replaces: Bear Spirit
The Utari Ainu woman is especially busty and maternal. She receives the Busty Extreme trait and Mega-Busty as a racial bonus feat.


1 comment:

Chris said...

I'm excited for all these new releases! Especially the new enchantments of black tokyo.

Keep up the good work!