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View Full Version : Tatsu: Dragon spirits in human guise. PC race [3.5]



Jarrick
2010-09-20, 10:47 PM
Playable race of lesser dragons created for my Dai Nippon campaign setting. Dragons of all types in this setting are considered spirits for the sake of effects that taget spirits.

It bears mentioning that there is a subset of spells in this setting that effect only spirits in a similar vein to those that effect only humanoids (Enlarge/reduce person, Hold person, charm person, etc) so as far as power is concerned, spirit is about equal with humanoid in this setting.

Description:

Among the last to act during the Mingling of Spirits were the dragons, mightiest of all spirits. The least of these, and therefore the most ambitious, were the Tatsu. Seeing the plight of the human world, the reclusive Tatsu learned from their elders how to assume human form and ventured out to aid the humans in the defeat of the Youma.
Personality: Tatsu are calm, collected individuals. It takes a great deal of action to truly shake up a tatsu. Many exude a quiet confidence in all their endeavors and speak softly and decisively, but not arrogantly. This is not to say they are emotionless, indeed they display the same array of emotions as most, but are confident in their ability to handle their problems.
Physical Description: Tatsu in their human forms resemble humans, albeit thin and light of frame. Their skin ranges from pale white to ruddy brown. Their hair colors vary widely, reds, greens, blues, white, and black being most common. In their dragon forms, they resemble red, black, blue, green, white, or silver lung dragons with hair the same color as the hair in their humanoid form. They have long single whiskers on the end of dog-like mouths and stand on bird-like feet. A pair of bony horns or antlers sweeps backwards over their head.
Relations: Tatsu strive to get along with others to the best of their ability. Most other spirits who recognize them as dragons pay them at least token respect as their clan is the mightiest of the spirit clans.
Alignment: Tatsu favor lawful and good alignments. They keep their word and generally attempt to perform good deeds where needed. Less altruistic Tatsu do exist, however, and one may occasionally encounter less honest or centered Tatsu as well.
Lands: The Tatsuís homelands are in the spirit realm. They emerged into the human world to aid in the Yokai war, and thus may be found wherever there are humans.
Religion: Tatsu do not worship the spirits that humans venerateóthey consider themselves the spiritsí equals. Tatsu may practice the disciplines of a philosophical school, sharing a spiritual orientation with certain monks. Tatsu priests command the power of the spirits not through veneration, like human priests, but through partnership.
Language: Tatsu speak Draconic, a language shared by all dragons as well as the spirit tongue. Three years of living in the human world has taught them Common as well.
Names: Tatsu have long names. They are typically named after specific bodies of water, mountains, islands, and so forth. Their name also encompasses their clan name and any titles they hold as well. Many have adopted a shorter human name to make it easier on the humans.
Adventurers: Tatsu come from powerful families that hold magic above all other pursuits, and so they favor the sorcerer class. Tatsu Duskblades are also fairly common. Warriors of any type are uncommon, though more than a few have taken up the banner of a samurai. Some of the more devious Tatsu have taken up the arts of the Ninja or even those of a rogue to earn wealth by stealing it from others. Tatsu with a chaotic bent are fairly rare, but they have been known to make fierce barbarians.

Tatsu Racial Traits:

Medium Dragon (Spirit)

+2 Dex, -2 Con. Tatsu are quick and agile, but also thin and light of frame.

Speed: In its humanoid form, a Tatsu has a base land speed of 30ft.

Low Light Vision: A Tatsu can see twice as far as a human in conditions of low light.

Darkvision out to 60ft.

Immunity to magical Sleep and Paralysis effects.

+2 racial bonus on Listen, Search, and Spot checks. Tatsu are keenly observant.

Alternate form (Su): Although it spends the majority of its time in humanoid form, a Tatsuís natural form is that of a lung dragon, thin and snake-like, and as long as the Tatsuís humanoid form is tall. It has four spindly legs that end in sharp talons. This supernatural ability functions like the polymorph spell, but a Tatsu can change form at will. Changing form is a standard action that provokes attacks of opportunity.
The Tatsuís size changes to small when in dragon form, gaining a +2 size bonus to Dexterity, a -2 size penalty to Strength (to a minimum of 1), and a +1 bonus on attack rolls and AC due to its reduced size.
A Tatsu in dragon form has a 1d4 primary bite attack. While it keeps its base land speed, it also gains the limited ability to fly (See Flight below).
A Tatsu's equipment usually transforms to become part of her dragon body. She loses the benefits of any weapons, shields, armor, or robes she wears or carries. Items that require a physical apparatus to function, such as a ring or a pair of boots, shift to adopt a form suitable to the animal, such as a collar or anklet and continue to provide their benefits.
A Tatsuís dragon form is unable to use her limbs to manipulate fine objects. She cannot cast spells with a somatic component, use scrolls, or activate magic items. When a Tatsu in dragon form assumes human form, her equipment returns to its normal form and magic items resume functioning.

Flight (Su): While in dragon form a Tatsu can float through the air supernaturally. At lower levels, this manifests as a sort of low hovering, the Tatsu lacking the strength to ascend higher. At higher levels, the Tatsu is capable of flight worthy of its kind. A Tatsu of 4th level or lower flies at a speed of 30ft with good maneuverability, but due to its limited power, can only ascend a maximum of 10ft off the ground. When falling from higher heights, this ability manifests as the Feather Fall spell. At 5th level, this restriction is lifted, allowing the Tatsu to fly like any other creature with a fly speed. Furthermore, the Tatsuís flight maneuverability improves to Perfect.

Breath Weapon (Su): As dragons, Tatsu have minor control over the weather. A Tatsuís breath weapon reflects itís affinity. Once per day, a tatsu may produce one of the following effects as a supernatural ability as a standard action. This effect is chosen at character creation and afterwards may not be changed. Caster level for the effect is equal to the Tatsuís HD: Obscuring Mist* , Cloudburst*^, Gust of Wind, or Thunderhead.
*As the spell, though you need be in the center of the effect, you must be within or adjacent to it.
^ The Water created by this effect is real, and quenches thirst like normal water.

Automatic Languages: Common, Draconic, Spirit Tongue
Bonus Languages: Any

Favored Class: Sorcerer

Feats: Here's where I need the most peaches, lol. Please be gentle, I havent tested these yet.

DRACONIC POTENTIAL I [RACIAL]
As you grow in level, your size increases to reflect your power.
Prerequisite: Tatsu, 3 HD
Benefit: When assuming dragon form, a Tatsu may choose to become a dragon of medium size. The tatsu can freely switch between size categories as easily as it can between human and dragon form. Consult the chart ďTatsu Dragon FormsĒ for ability score and bite damage increases.

DRACONIC POTENTIAL II [RACIAL]
As you grow in level, your size further increases to reflect your power.
Prerequisite: Tatsu, 9 HD, Draconic Potential I
Benefit: When assuming dragon form, a Tatsu may choose to become a dragon of large size.

DRACONIC POTENTIAL III [RACIAL]
As you grow in level, your size further increases to reflect your power.
Prerequisite: Tatsu, 15 HD, Draconic Potential II
Benefit: When assuming dragon form, a Tatsu may choose to become a dragon of Huge size.

DRACONIC POTENTIAL IV [EPIC, RACIAL]
As you grow in level, your size further increases to reflect your power.
Prerequisite: Tatsu, 21 HD, Draconic Potential III
Benefit: When assuming dragon form, a Tatsu may choose to become a dragon of Gargantuan size.

DRACONIC POTENTIAL V [EPIC, RACIAL]
As you grow in level, your size further increases to reflect your power.
Prerequisite: Tatsu, 27 HD, Draconic Potential IV
Benefit: When assuming dragon form, a Tatsu may choose to become a dragon of Colossal size.

Tatsu Dragon Forms:
{table=head]Dragon Form Size Category|Ability Adj (Str, Dex, Con)|Bite Damage|Nat. Armor|AC/Atk Mod.|Space/Reach
Medium|+0, +0, +0|1d6|+0|+0|5/5
Large|+6, -2, +0|1d8|+1|-1|10/5
Huge|+12, -2, +4|2d6|+3|-2|15/10
Gargantuan|+18, -2, +8|3d6|+7|-4|20/15
Colossal|+24, -2, +12|4d6|+12|-8|30/20
[/table]

Morph Bark
2010-09-21, 03:28 AM
Due to Alternate Form, there is no way this is LA+0, as that ability can be way useful.

Jarrick
2010-09-21, 05:09 AM
Due to Alternate Form, there is no way this is LA+0, as that ability can be way useful.

Its only useful in combat if you take the feats to get bigger, since you cant cast spells or use items, and being able to fly 10ft off the ground is little more than ignoring rough terrain. Without the alternate form, they're less than elves stat-wise.

So far, we've had two in our party and they've been fairly evenly balanced with the rest of the party. Heck, the most unbalanced thing either of them has done is wielded a Zanbato (Fullblade) as his primary weapon.

Is there something I'm missing about their alternate form that can be abused? :smallconfused:

Morph Bark
2010-09-21, 05:21 AM
Its only useful in combat if you take the feats to get bigger, since you cant cast spells or use items, and being able to fly 10ft off the ground is little more than ignoring rough terrain. Without the alternate form, they're less than elves stat-wise.

So far, we've had two in our party and they've been fairly evenly balanced with the rest of the party. Heck, the most unbalanced thing either of them has done is wielded a Zanbato (Fullblade) as his primary weapon.

Is there something I'm missing about their alternate form that can be abused? :smallconfused:

For one, you change your size. That's pretty big already. Then you get a Dex boost (on top of already increased Dex) and a free bite attack. Sure, you can't cast spells or use items... but what if you couldn't cast spells in the first place? A rogue, monk or swordsage with this would be pretty incredibly at level 1. Furthermore, their type is Dragon, which means that with Alter Self they can turn themselves into wyrmlings for lots of niftiness. It also gives immunity to sleep effects, low-light vision and darkvision, I believe. Plus fly at level 1? Even if it doesn't go fast, that's incredible.

And those size increase feats... they frankly make it even better. They could truck around as a huge dragon all day at level 15. Heck, when they can become Large they could enter Warhulk and end up with +32 Strength at level 19. I'd get rid of some of those feats (or make the Huge one epic too) and instead of HD requirements I'd make them BAB requirements.

So yeah, an LA of +1 at least is in order. +2 would be better for what benefits you get, but then you'd better give them a few more boosts too. +2 Wisdom and +1 natural armour for instance.

Jarrick
2010-09-21, 05:42 AM
My PCs dont know about the alter self shenanigans, and as I DM I'd hit them with books if they figured them out.

The tatsu's flight isnt particularly slow, same as base land speed, but it only allows flight 10ft off the ground until 5th level. They can ignore terrain problems and fly over water and avoid falling damage, but that's about it 10ft isnt going to put them out of anyone's reach.

As for alternate form's dex boost, +1 dex and +1 size to AC is probably a downgrade from whatever armor you were wearing.

Walking around as a huge dragon means that you dont always fit in the dungeon. That's the payoff, sometimes the ability is useless. I was going to let them keep previous forms, so they could become dragons of appropriate size, but now I'm considering changing that. :smallfrown:

Morph Bark
2010-09-21, 06:13 AM
My PCs dont know about the alter self shenanigans, and as I DM I'd hit them with books if they figured them out.

Alter Self isn't that bad, IMO, though Polymorph and derived spells are typically banned in my campaigns, along with summon spells and teleport spells.


The tatsu's flight isnt particularly slow, same as base land speed, but it only allows flight 10ft off the ground until 5th level. They can ignore terrain problems and fly over water and avoid falling damage, but that's about it 10ft isnt going to put them out of anyone's reach.

Ah, sorry, read that wrong, prolly since the base land speed for the race in normal form wasn't listed. But yeah, that makes it even better. Climb checks won't be necessary for them out-of-combat (and really, how often do you use them in-combat?), so the Strength penalty in dragon form is slightly less limiting.


As for alternate form's dex boost, +1 dex and +1 size to AC is probably a downgrade from whatever armor you were wearing.

Probably, unless you're not wearing any. Hence why I bet this race would be much preferable for Monks and Unarmed Swordsages.

Also, there are armours that change with you, specifically made for druids, but they would/could work for this too.


Walking around as a huge dragon means that you dont always fit in the dungeon. That's the payoff, sometimes the ability is useless. I was going to let them keep previous forms, so they could become dragons of appropriate size, but now I'm considering changing that. :smallfrown:

Perhaps, but not every campaign takes place inside dungeons, and they could always turn back into their humanoid-shaped form while walking around, then go to dragon form for combat.

Jarrick
2010-09-21, 10:19 AM
Those are certainly some valid points, and my first draft of the race did have a level adjustment because they used to have a climb and swim speed as well. I still might make a feat for the swim speed... maybe the climb speed too (Mountain Dragon and River Dragon). They also used to have claw attacks.

I based walking around huge all day at 15th level on the fact that WuJen can do it for short periods at 13th level with the Giant Size spell. And the same wujen can become gargantuan at 16th level, gaining twice as much extra str and con as the huge tatsu.

Frankly I dont see anything terribly game-breaking about their alternate form as it is at early levels. It's based on the tibbit. Sure you get a little extra AC, but you get to deal 1d4+str damage once per round. Meanwhile the human rogue is using twf to deal 1d8+str/1d6+1/2str+1d6 sneak attack. And the namahage (Half-orc) barbarian is raging with a zanbato for 2d8+10. Even with sneak attack and swordsage stuff, that's not a big deal. Circumventing climb and swim checks just gives them a reason to be arrogant more than anything, since the rest of the party still has to try to overcome the obstacle, and they still cant fly up a vertical incline. Their speed is listed btw, third line down under the spoiler tag. I'd also like to point out that crane hengeyokai in Oriental Adventures can fly at effective 2nd level (+1 LA) with no restrictions. As much as it hurt to do so, I took them out for that reason.

Zaydos
2010-09-21, 10:30 AM
The reach should be that of a long creature not a tall creature when in dragon form (5-ft at small to large, 10-ft at huge, etc).

Three feats for +12 Str? Yeah that's too powerful.

Flight: Take a look at raptorans. 5th level perfect maneuverability all day at will is really, really good. Sure warlocks can get similar at 6th level, as a major portion of their power. This is worth more than a feat. Without Alternate Form cheese for flight forms at 3rd level (many of which require the DM to include non-core and obscure FR races) you don't get long term flight till 9th and even then it is not very good. Do like Raptorans when they first get full flight limit their consecutive rounds and rounds per day.

Alternate Form: Should be +1 to hit and AC from small size. Also remember Small size is an advantage if you aren't a melee character and even if you are it's actually only a small disadvantage. If you're a caster it is a free +2 to hit with rays and AC.

Edit: Crane hengeyokai have several limitations on their flight. Besides that they cannot cast spells in animal form (dragons on the other hand can in their natural form), have their physical stats set to rather low numbers, and can only change form a number of times per day equal to their character level. Also average maneuverability is much worse than good or perfect.

ErrantX
2010-09-21, 10:48 AM
I'd make these a strong LA +1 race myself. I like this a lot. You should consider some other feats as well as for claws, tail slaps, etc for combat use, as well as improvement on breath weapon feats.

-X

Jarrick
2010-09-21, 12:29 PM
The reach should be that of a long creature not a tall creature when in dragon form (5-ft at small to large, 10-ft at huge, etc).

I based it on the true dragon's listed reach, but looking at the lung dragons, which have wierd face/reach due to being 3.0, I think I will make this ghange. It only makes sense really.

Three feats for +12 Str? Yeah that's too powerful.

But only one attack. And whats 6 extra points of damage at 15th level? Mages have finger of death at that level, which on a successful save deals 3d6+15 damage. Not to mention things like horrid wilting. A wu jen of 16th level gets +24 Str and full casting, and full weapon use for zero feats. Melee gets weak at higher levels, so what's wrong with a little extra help?

Flight: Take a look at raptorans. 5th level perfect maneuverability all day at will is really, really good. Sure warlocks can get similar at 6th level, as a major portion of their power. This is worth more than a feat. Without Alternate Form cheese for flight forms at 3rd level (many of which require the DM to include non-core and obscure FR races) you don't get long term flight till 9th and even then it is not very good. Do like Raptorans when they first get full flight limit their consecutive rounds and rounds per day.

Maybe I'll reduce it to average/good and just leave it at that.

Alternate Form: Should be +1 to hit and AC from small size. Also remember Small size is an advantage if you aren't a melee character and even if you are it's actually only a small disadvantage. If you're a caster it is a free +2 to hit with rays and AC.

You cant cast while in dragon form. I might make that a feat, but it'll have higher requirements than the druid one.

Edit: Crane hengeyokai have several limitations on their flight. Besides that they cannot cast spells in animal form (dragons on the other hand can in their natural form), have their physical stats set to rather low numbers, and can only change form a number of times per day equal to their character level. Also average maneuverability is much worse than good or perfect.


Seriously, this race isnt as powerful as everyone seems to think. It's been used by two different players in my campaign, and its been pretty much equal. One even fell into a spiked pit trap while in human form...

I think they're just a little better than elves, but since this setting has no elves, that isnt much of an issue. I cant bring myself to give them a level adjustment though. If I do I'll be giving them back their water breathing and swim speeds.

Jarrick
2010-09-21, 12:31 PM
I'd make these a strong LA +1 race myself. I like this a lot. You should consider some other feats as well as for claws, tail slaps, etc for combat use, as well as improvement on breath weapon feats.

-X

This, I had in mind already. I'll get to those later though. thanks for confirming the idea. :smallbiggrin:

Morph Bark
2010-09-21, 01:11 PM
Seriously, this race isnt as powerful as everyone seems to think. It's been used by two different players in my campaign, and its been pretty much equal. One even fell into a spiked pit trap while in human form...

I think they're just a little better than elves, but since this setting has no elves, that isnt much of an issue. I cant bring myself to give them a level adjustment though. If I do I'll be giving them back their water breathing and swim speeds.

It's probably because your group optimizes little. If full casters and melee seem balanced at mid- or high-levels in your group, that's likely. Not a problem with that, but I - and Zaydos and ErrantX no doubt as well - critiqued this race with the assumption that at least a little optimization is happening.

Also, what kind of action does it take to change forms?

Jarrick
2010-09-21, 01:38 PM
Changing form is a standard action that provokes attacks of opportunity.

Our casters do tend to outpace our melee at mid levels, hence the improvements as it goes on. My group sort of optimizes, but not to the extremes that sort of thing is taken to on these forums sometimes. Not for lack of trying on their part, mind you.

I'm trying to emphasise melee over magic a little in this setting. I've made a lot of subtle changes to rebalance things here and there, but the full setting is incomplete and way too long to post here. This setting has no wizards, but it has wu-jen, which is derived from daoism and almost strictly a human art, and sorcerers. It has slightly weaker cleric variant I made called the priest, based on shinto priests, but I'm the only one in my group that knows that clerics are powerful so that's ok too. I made three new martial classes and 5 fighter variants, powered up the monk and sohei and reworked and combined some fighter feats because japanese legends speak of powerful warriors and priests/monks far more often than skilled magicians.

Still though, even fully optimized in the most broken ways you guys have mentioned, it just doesnt seem very powerful to me for some reason. Maybe its the sleeping pill I took last night, but I just dont see the problem. I think the drawbacks of transforming counterbalance (or even outweigh) the benefits. What if their base dragon form was medium, and I took out the first feat in the line?

I appreciate all of your guys' commentary, I really do, even if it doesnt look that way.