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[White Elephant for Dietaku] Manu Hundred-Voice, a lyrebird totem Lunar antagonist

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  • [White Elephant for Dietaku] Manu Hundred-Voice, a lyrebird totem Lunar antagonist

    Dietaku requested a Lunar antagonist; Lunars being my favorite antagonist type, I was more than happy to oblige. I was supposed to write up either a temptor or a brawny character, but I ended up doing a little bit of both: he is more of a social character primarily, but he packs quite a bit of a punch by the standards of the antagonists in the core, and his ability to launch ranged attacks from short range at no penalty while flying probably makes him incredibly frustrating to fight unless the party has access to Thunderbolt Attack Prana or a dedicated ranged combatant. That said, I purposefully statted him suboptimally, with most abilities capping out at 3 and his best ones not exceeding 4, to reflect the fact that Lunars won't get any favored abilities in Ex3.

    If you think he's too weak for your party and are looking to buff him a bit, stealing the rest of the Shapeshifting Trickster's Charms and bumping his pools and base excellency values by 1 each (to represent maxed attributes) is probably a good place to start, followed by a Stamina increase (which should grant him another -4 HL; based on the Barbarian Warlord's writeup, I went with the assumption that Sta 1-2 grants -2/-4x2 while 3-4 gives -2/-4x3), another level of Ox-Body or two, and maybe snatching the regeneration effect from the Barbarian Warlord's version of DBT. This won't solve the problem of his pathetic soak, but he's supposed to evade attacks instead of tanking them anyway, so Impenetrable Beast Hide would be less useful to him than it is to the big guy. (You could also bump his armor up to the artifact version, but I think having every opponent running around in full artifact gear cheapens them quite a bit, so I'm trying to avoid it whenever I can.)

    Needless to say, as always, questions and feedback are welcome.



    Manu Hundred-Voice, Chosen of Luna


    Background:

    Sonorous Thunder was considered to be one of the most discerning sifus of Nightingale style; her dojo, the House of Singing Waves – an elaborate construction of lacquered wood built above the ocean so her students could learn to synchronize their actions with the heartbeat of the world – never lacked disciples. True masters, however, were much rarer under her tutelage. To be recognized as such, a student needed to demonstrate not only a comprehensive mastery of Nightingale style, but true artistry: performing a piece of original musical composition while under assault by twenty men, without pausing or their voice faltering. The man who later became known as Manu Hundred-Voice could easily hold his assailants at bay and his singing was flawless, yet mastery was forever out of his reach – he lacked the talent for composition, and no matter how many sleepless nights he spent stooped over sheets of paper, he could never overcome that hurdle. Many times he petitioned, fought, and was ultimately denied on the grounds of his composition not holding up to standard, until finally he realized that his best work will never find success – to attain the rank of a master, he will need someone else’s best work.
    The con he ran on the island’s greatest melodist earned him both an enduring masterpiece to sing and Luna’s mark of Exaltation. The next time he was called upon to demonstrate his worth, not only did his song bring his audience to tears, but he also managed to defeat all of his opponents without laying a finger on them or being touched in return. Sonorous Thunder was astonished. The rank of master was finally within his grasp. But that was not enough.
    After being formally acknowledged as a master of Nightingale style, Manu admitted the deception. After all, Thunder taught him that the heart’s song will always reveal any falsehoods held within, so being recognized as a master must’ve meant he deserved the position despite his cheating, right? Surely she would have heard if something was wrong, and besides, demonstrating a skill in the art that was only heard of in whispered legend has got to count for something, no?
    The revelation shook his master to the core. The person she now thought of as her best student, someone who overcame his greatest weakness and in the process achieved a level of enlightenment that has eluded even her suddenly turned out to be her greatest failure as a teacher. Hurt and humiliated by the combination of this public declaration of betrayal and the fact that her most skilled student has apparently failed to understand any of the deeper principles she tried to instill in her pupils, Thunder renounced him and revoked his rank. Manu was devastated. Overcame with a terrible anger, he unleashed a kiai that punched a hole in the floor and took out three of the massive wooden stilts that held the building aloft. The House lurched, then crumbled into the sea, consigning most of those inside to a watery grave. He fled the site of his shame and failure without looking back, and booked passage on the next ship scheduled to leave the island.

    Now he’s on his way to Mornsong, crown jewel of the Harmony Isles, where the most talented scions of the Great Families are whisked away and locked inside forbidding towers of glass so they can practice the arts of the Nine Noble Instruments throughout the year with no distractions, in preparation for the arrival of the aquatic behemoth Tekeq’mu, The Sable Whirlpool that Swallows the Stars. Some say the creature’s depths are endless and every song it ever heard echoes forever within; others claim the whirlpool is but a mere sign of its passing and the behemoth is actually a colossal cephalopod swimming in unfathomable depths, but they all agree in one thing: it visits Mornsong because it wants to hear their music, and if offended by repetition or a substandard performance, it will swallow the entire island chain whole.
    The Changing Moon is planning to break into the towers of the city, steal the voices and instruments of the chosen musicians, and when all seems lost, single-handedly appease Tekeq’mu with a performance of unparalleled beauty and prowess. He does not do this out of a desire for reward – albeit it is known that the day after the behemoth’s passing, the shores are littered with the strange treasures of sunken cities, and the most valuable of these prehuman relics somehow always find their way to the hands of those whose performance pleased the creature. Nor does he wish to pose as Mornsong’s savior – albeit the locals would no doubt revere him as a hero as long as they don't find out that he was responsible for their predicament in the first place. But none of these matter, for his only desire is to prove himself before the greatest audience he’s ever known - and if he has to face down a behemoth to do so, that will just make the eventual recognition even sweeter.

    Can his plans reach fruition, or will his hubris only bring doom to the Harmony Isles?


    Intimacies:
    "I must prove myself as the greatest singer on Creation” (Defining)
    "It is foolish to expect change from most people" (Major)
    Sonorous Thunder (Lingering Resentment) (Major)
    Sonorous Thunder (Respect) (Minor)
    The House of Singing Waves (Guilt) (Minor)
    "No matter what I do, I've still failed to earn her respect" (Minor)


    Essence: 2; Willpower: 6; Join Battle: 6 dice (+3 for 3m, +7 for 7m)
    Personal: 17; Peripheral: 42
    Health Levels: 0/-1x2/-2x3/-4x3/Inc

    Actions:
    Hearing: 8 dice (+4 for 4m, +7 for 7m), Larceny: 6 dice (+4 for 4m, +7 for 7m), Read Intentions: 7 dice (+4 for 4m, +7 for 7m), Resist Poison/Disease: 4 dice (+2 for 2m, +6 for 6m albeit I have no idea how you’d stunt that), Singing: 9 dice (+4 for 4m, +8 for 8m), Social Influence: 7 dice (+4 for 4m, +8 for 8m), Stealth: 7 dice (+4 for 4m, +7 for 7m)
    Appearance 4, Resolve 3 (+1 for 2m, +3 for 6m), Guile 4 (+2 for 4m, +4 for 8m)

    Combat:
    Attack (unarmed): 12d withering, 8d decisive (+4 for 4m, +8 for 8m); damage 9
    Attack (kiai, short range): 12d withering, 9d decisive (+4 for 4m, +8 for 8m); damage 9
    Withering kiai attacks receive +1 accuracy at close range. They can’t be used to launch attacks at medium or greater range.
    Combat movement: 7 dice (+4 for 4m, +6 for 6m with another physical, +8 for 8m if you somehow manage to stunt it with a social or perception)
    Evasion 4 (+2 for 4m, +4 for 8m), Parry 4 (+2 for 4m, +4 for 8m)
    Soak/hardness: 5/0 (concealed chain shirt)


    A note about pronouns and consistency: the Exalted core refers to the Charm’s user with „she” and the target with „he”. Obviously this is not workable when the character in question is male. In the interest of consistency, I’ll be referring to the Charm’s user as „he” and the target as „they” below.

    Powers:

    Shapeshifting
    : as per the rules for Lunar shapeshifting (Ex3 core, p.545). Manu has a multitude of animal forms that are innocuous and abundant in civilization – rodents, small birds, cats and the like -, but no combat forms as he relies on his own prowess and Deadly Beastman Transformation in that area. In addition to taking Heart’s Blood, he can temporarily steal another’s form and voice through seduction or as payment for services rendered (see below).
    Shape-Stealing Seduction: if a character with an at least Major Intimacy of desire for the Lunar kisses him or sleeps with him willingly and under no coercion, he may pay a point of Willpower to temporarily take their form into his form library. This lasts for (Essence) hours in the case of a kiss and for (Essence) days in the case of sexual congress. If the required Intimacy is of Defining intensity, this is extended to (Essence) days and (Essence) weeks, respectively.
    Shape-Stealing Bargain: by striking a bargain with a character, the exalt is empowered to take their shape. The other party has to consent explicitly, but the Lunar is under no obligation to spell out the specific terms of the bargain; however, he does need to take some personal effect of the target as payment. This can be anything as long as it is strongly related to the character somehow: a piece of paper with their signature on it, a drop of blood or a lock of hair, or some cherished item they’ve grown attached to over the years. As long as the Lunar is in possession of this item, he can take the character’s shape as if he had their Heart’s Blood. However, this power fades with time, depending on the magnitude of the Lunar’s service: if the favor was equivalent to an Inconvenient task, the trinket holds potency for (Essence) days; if it was a Major task, (Essence) weeks; and if it was a Life-Changing task, (Essence) lunar months. If the exalt manages to trick the target with clever wordplay into giving up something of considerably greater personal value to them than they initially thought, without causing them to renege on their end of the bargain, the duration of this effect is extended by one step: days become weeks, weeks become months, and months become years.
    Voice-Robbing Trick: whenever the Lunar qualifies to steal another’s form via the methods above, he can choose to steal their voice for the same duration instead. This inflicts the Mute flaw on the afflicted character, and allows him to count as having obtained their shape for the purposes of Artful Lyrebird Imitation and Stolen Voice Allure. Moreover, it endows him with the ability to use the honeyed words of a merchant or the booming battlefield voice of an army commander: at any time, he may pay 4 motes to borrow all of the target’s relevant action pools (such as bargaining, commanding troops or social influence) for the rest of the scene. Bonus dice gained in this fashion explicitly count against the Charm limit.

    Social Charms:
    Artful Lyrebird Imitation (4m; Reflexive; Indefinite):
    For the duration, the Lunar can mimic the voice of another whenever he chooses so, regardless of his current shape. Piercing this deception requires the would-be investigator to overcome the exalt’s result on a Charisma + Performance roll with (Essence) automatic successes; if he’s spent at least an hour studying the target of his mimicry, this roll can’t be attempted without the aid of magic. Impersonating a character whose form the Lunar stole reduces the cost of this Charm to 1 mote and causes the mimicry to become undetectable even by magically enhanced senses. Using this Charm in conjunction with a mundane disguise attempt allows the character to reroll 5s and 6s until they fail to appear.
    Moonlight Curtain Drawn (2m; Reflexive; Instant; Mute): Add +1 Guile against a read intentions roll, or +3 if the roll would reveal something contradictory to the Lunar’s current shape or identity.
    New Friend Aroma (6m; Simple; One scene; Mute): Any character whose unmodified Resolve is less than or equal to the Lunar’s Appearance becomes enthralled by his pleasant, pheromone-laden scent, and will seek to approach him to either befriend or seduce him. Characters who already know the Lunar (or the current identity he is assuming) instead take -1 Resolve and Guile against him. Characters may resist for one Willpower.
    Stolen Voice Allure (5m 1WP; Supplemental; Instant; Mute): subtly playing on the intonations and speech patterns of a character whose form he’s stolen, the Lunar draws a subconscious parallel between himself and that character in the mind of his target. This Charm supplements a persuasion attempt, allowing the exalt to treat any positive Intimacies towards that character to count as supporting his persuasion as long as the contents are not directly opposed to one of the known Major or Defining Intimacies of said character. For example, the Charm can’t be used to draw on a prince’s love for his wife in order to convince him to sign a new law supporting slave trade if his wife is an ardent opponent of slavery, but it can support a persuasion attempt to get him to release a prisoner even if she never particularly cared for the fate of the imprisoned.

    Offensive Charms:
    Deadly Beastman Transformation (5m 1WP; Simple; One scene):
    the Lunar assumes a half-avian battle form that is terrifying and majestic in equal measure. He adds +4 to his soak, +2 to his combat movement pool and +2 to withering damage dealt by his attacks. His Appearance increases by 2, and he gains a bonus to intimidation rolls as if he had the Hideous merit. He halves wound penalties on attack and movement rolls, and gains flight as per the 5-dot version of the Wings merit. The wings do not interfere with his ability to make kiai attacks, but his unarmed attacks are subject to the usual -3 penalty.
    Silver-Voiced Nightingale Form (8m; Simple; One scene; Form): withering kiai attacks gain +4 damage. Add +1 Evasion. Gain 3 Initiative whenever an enemy pays Willpower to resist a Performance-based influence roll. May be activated reflexively whenever the Lunar overcomes an opponent’s Resolve with a Performance-based influence.

    Defensive Charms:
    Hearing the Heart’s Song (5m 2i; Reflexive; Instant; Perilous; Decisive-only):
    add +2 Evasion against a decisive attack. If the defense succeeds, make a reflexive Read Intentions action against the target’s Guile, adding 6 non-Charm bonus dice. This supernatural understanding prioritizes Intimacies that can be exploited by Heart-Piercing Taunt Technique.

    Combat Influence Charms:
    Terrifying Battle Shriek (4m; Simple; Instant):
    roll 9d (+4/+8 for 4m/8m) to intimidate a single enemy. A successful roll forces the victim to move away from the Lunar on their next turn, or hide if possible. This Charm is explicitly allowed to be placed in a flurry with a kiai attack at no penalty, and the target is treated as having a Minor Tie of Fear towards the Lunar if they were hit by a kiai attack on the same turn; if the attack was decisive, increase this to Major. Terrifying Battle Shriek can be activated reflexively when the Lunar assumes Deadly Beastman Transformation.
    Haunting Heart-Rending Melody (1m 1WP; Simple; Instant): roll 9d (+4 for 4m with a stunt) with two automatic successes to inspire all enemies with sorrow, regret, despair, or some other emotion that would impede their will to fight. This attempt does not receive penalties from group influence, and the Charm may be flurried with kiai attacks at no penalty. An enemy who yields to these emotions gains a -3 Defense penalty against the Lunar’s kiai attacks. Once an enemy has paid Willpower to resist this effect, they become immune to it for the rest of the scene.
    Heart-Piercing Taunt Technique (3m 1WP; Simple; Instant): roll 7d (+4/8 for +4/+8m) as a special inspire action, either exploiting knowledge of something the target feels deep shame, regret or sorrow about (at least a Major Intimacy’s worth), or revealing information that causes them to believe they’ve acted against one of their Major or Defining Intimacies. Rejecting this influence costs an additional point of Willpower if the Intimacy in question is Major, two if Defining. If the inspire attempt succeeds, steal (Intimacy’s strength) initiative from the target, and until the end of next turn, apply a penalty equal to (Intimacy’s strength) to their rolled actions and half of that, round down, to their static defenses. Regain a point of Willpower if the initiative loss crashes the target or causes them to lower their initiative from a value greater than to a value lesser than the Lunar’s own. This Charm can’t be used to take advantage of the same piece of information against the same character twice.
    Last edited by aluminiumtrioxid; 12-27-2017, 08:43 PM.


    Evocations for the demonic tattoos gained from the Pact with Mara sorcerous initiation || Pyre-Kindler (Soulsteel and Red Jade Grimscythe, Artifact 3) || Tenebrous Descent (Stormcaller's Black Jade Reaver Daiklave cousin, Artifact 5)
    Advice for running the corebook shikari antagonists

  • #2
    My goodness. I asked and you definitely delivered. Thank you very much, I think he's oerfect.

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    • #3
      I like this guy too. Nice job!


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