The Ancient Master in Heroes Unlimited definitely needed revising. Especially, with my modified combat rules. I try to stress versatility and uniqueness for each character. For this reason, I tried to recreate and revise the Ancient Master so that they won’t be so limited in abilities, combat and background. Ancient Masters in Heroes Unlimited had the right idea, but they were extremely limited—the background for them was already set, they didn’t have any choices in abilities and every Ancient Master would have the same combat skills. This is very annoying, since a real Master of the Martial Arts could be a master at literally any martial art. The characters in Heroes Unlimited are all the same. They lack customization, which I have found to be very appealing to players when they consider what kind of character they want to make. This is the reason why many players lean towards making any character where their abilities can be chosen—chief among these are characters with super powers. My Ancient Master will have some flair and a bit of the Ninjas & Superspies esque to them. Have fun with them and I hope you like them.
Determine the character’s eight attributes as usual. If even after physical skill selections, the character’s P.S., P.P. and P.E. are below 20, raise them to 20. If adjusting the attributes to 20, do not add a bonus die for reaching over 16—these are final attributes.
The player has the choice of adding 2D4 to either M.A.- or to M.A.+. This means the character either radiates high levels of confidence, compassion, strength of character and is very trustworthy or they are have a very unnerving presence, is a person to be feared and gives off the feeling they have power beyond human ability.
Actual Age: Roll percentile dice on the table below. The Ancient Master is as healthy and physically fit as an athlete of half his age is, regardless of physical appearance and they tend to look 10-20 (roll 1D10) years younger they really are.
01-15 32 years old.
16-30 41 years old.
31-45 50 years old.
46-60 60 years old.
61-75 70 years old.
76-85 80 years old.
86-00 90 years old.
Tine in the Modern World: Roll percentile on the table to determine how long the Ancient Master has wandered in this new modern world.
01-20 Two years.
21-40 One year.
41-60 Six months.
61-80 Thee months.
81-99 1D4 weeks; just off the boat!
00 Still on the way over here! The boat arrives today!
Note: Remember that this character is not familiar with the customs or technology of the modern world, so in many regards he should be played with a certain amount of naiveté, innocence and curiosity, however, this shouldn’t be interpreted as stupidity. He or she understands human nature, and while he/she may show one the benefit of the doubt, the character is not likely to be fooled by treachery, caught completely off-guard, walk into a trap unaware, or do stupid stuff—although, he/she may “play” the fool or weak, senile old guy/lady.
Level of Experience: 1D6+3 — Unlike normal characters who start at first level, the Ancient Master already has some to much experience, at least in philosophy and combat arts.
Hit Points: Figure Hit Points like usual, according to the character’s level. Then add an additional 6D6 points acquired from years of body hardening and spiritual enlightenment.
S.D.C.: 3D6×10+6D6+P.E. Plus those any from physical skills.
Do not roll for education and skills as usual. This character has had a life of special training. Their education is almost all combat oriented. The only non-combat skills that they have mastered are listed below. All of these skills are at the same level as the character. Any new and secondary skills start at level one.
Basic Mathematics (98%)
Language/Literacy: Native Dialect (98%)
Language/Literacy: One of Choice (+20%)
Lore: Geomancy and Lines of Power (-10%)
Two Art of Choice (+15%)
First Aid (+15%)
Boxing and Wrestling
Two Physical of Choice (+10%)
Two Domestic Skills of Choice (+10%)
Secondary Skills: Since the Ancient Master has just come to the modern world, they have picked up several new skills. They may select 1D4+4 Secondary Skills from the Electrical, Mechanical, Military and/or Physical Skill Categories.
The character’s decades of constant study and training in a single martial art combined with years of experience with that one art has allowed the Ancient Master to nearly perfect their combat abilities.
Hand to Hand: Mastered Martial Arts: This is a special hand to hand exclusive to the Ancient Master. Starts with:
o Basic Moves: Parry, Dodge, Roll with Punch/Fall/Impact and Disarm.
o Primary Category: The category the character has all the moves of. Pick one: Arm Attacks, Leg Attacks or Grapples.
o Secondary Categories: The 2 leftover categories that the character has ¾ of all the moves of.
o All Miscellaneous Attacks.
o All Attack Modifications.
o 5 Special Defenses.
o Perfect Pull Punch: No roll necessary and damage can be completely controlled from 0 points to maximum damage.
o A total of +20 points to distribute among initiative, strike, damage, grapple, roll with punch, the Basic Moves and/or any Special Defenses they choose.
o Automatic KO or Death Blow (no roll needed for either).
o 5 Attacks per Melee at level one.
Level Advancement Bonuses:
o Every odd level, they may distribute +7 total among those that they initially distributed +20 points among.
o Critical Strike, KO, Disarm and Pin number range lowers at levels 3, 6, 9, 12 and 15.
o Gains one attack per melee at every even level.
o Starts with an additional +10% to save vs. Coma/Death; gains +5% more at levels 7, 10, 13 and 15.
o Starts with a bonus of +6 to save vs. Horror Factor; gains +1 more at levels 4, 8, 12 and 14.
o Starts with a bonus of +6 to save vs. Possession and gains +1 more at levels 9 and 15.
o Gets a bonus of +2 to save vs. any kind of Mind Control.
o The character’s strength is considered “Strong.”
The Ancient Master is unique in they have abilities and/or powers that defy the human body’s capability. These abilities are powered by energy known as “Chi” (P.P.E.), which this character has seemed to master. It is very similar to the kind of energy that mages use, however, it has very different results and effects. There are three types of Special Abilities that an Ancient Master may make selections from.
“Chi Powers” are the first type of abilities that the Ancient Master can choose from. They are very similar to how spell invocations are cast and used. However, because spells are a product of an exact desire, they have a single effect that is the same for all mages. Chi Powers vary from Ancient Master to Ancient Master. While one Ancient Masters’ Chi Blast may look like an blue energy ball, another’s Chi Blast might look like a stream of red glowing gas. Chi Powers will reflect the Ancient Masters’ personality and alignment.
“Training Arts” is another type of abilities the Ancient Master may make selections from. They are extreme methods of training that the Ancient Master has undertaken in order to better his physical body or other combat skills. They are more like skills than anything else.
“Mastered Weapons” are the last kind of abilities that the Ancient Master may make selections from. Unlike the other categories, Mastered Weapons actually are skills — see the New and Revised Skills section for details.
Amount of Abilities: The Ancient Master starts with one at level one and gets one more every level until level seven—starting at level eight the character will gain one more at levels 9, 11, 13 and 15.
Chi (P.P.E.): The Ancient Master knows a whole lot about manipulating their own Chi to fuel the powers they have. In many ways, the Ancient Master sees eye-to-eye with how the Mystic Studies character channels and uses his/her P.P.E. From the Ancient Masters’ point of view, the Mystic Study character simply has a different name for Chi. While Mystic Study characters know much about how P.P.E. works, it is a very unnatural thing to them. In contrast, for Ancient Masters using Chi is a very natural thing to them. As a result, Ancient Masters’ Base P.P.E. is lower than the Mystic Study character. Base P.P.E.: 6D6+6+P.E.+1D6 per level of experience.
As noted previously, Chi Powers are powers that draw on the Ancient Masters’ Chi to use. Also noted was that the way these powers look will be different with each Ancient Master. Something to keep in mind is that for game purposes, while these powers do use P.P.E. as it’s source of fuel, they cannot be affected by other magic—unless the magic has effects that result in non-magical ways (i.e., a Chi Blast will hit a mages’ Armor of Ithan before it hits him). Another thing to keep in mind is that, again, while these powers use P.P.E., they are not subject to the P.P.E. Channeling rules that a mage is subject to — each ability will note how long any aspect takes and unless otherwise stated all activation costs burn up one melee attack. One final note to remember is that while these powers do use P.P.E. they are not affected by Ley Lines or Nexus Points like spells are, nor are Ancient Masters able to siphon P.P.E. from Ley Lines or from other individuals.
1. Channel Chi: This is a very simple ability that allows the character to channel P.P.E. The character can channel an amount of P.P.E. equal to the amount they spent to activate this power; however, the maximum amount that may be pumped is equal to the characters’ M.E. This ability only lasts for only one melee and must be activated again if the character wants to use this ability next melee. It can be used to restore lost P.P.E. or to store P.P.E. Stored P.P.E. will remain for an amount of melees equal to the characters’ M.E.—after that it does one damage to the character for every point not used. The act of channeling burns a characters’ action, not attack—only one action within an attack may be used to channel P.P.E.
2. Chi Blast: A blast or bolt of heat and force powered by Chi energy. It will do 1D6 damage per 1 P.P.E. used and has a maximum range of P.E.×10 feet, plus 10 feet per 2 P.P.E. the character pumps into it. It takes a full melee attack to conjure the energy and another melee attack to aim and fire. Initiative should still be rolled, because the character can dispel it at any time during the conjuring part. If attacked during the attack they are conjuring the blast, they may dispel it and try to roll a defense. However, the defense will be a sloppy and hasty one (-6). To successfully conjure a Chi Blast without being hit in combat means getting two successful initiative rolls in a row. Even if the opponent does a simultaneous attack during the attack the Chi Blast is released, it still goes off with full effect, because the blast takes effect during the first action, while the second action is used to recover (the character can still defend during this action, but at –6, once again).
3. Chi Burst: This spectacular power allows the character to become a pulsating nexus of pure Chi! The character must put all concentration into this power and for as long as they want it to continue the power will negate ALL forms of energy within it’s radius! Fire, lightning, lasers, particle beams, pure energy, heat and plasma will dissipate within the sphere of the Chi Burst—doing no damage at all! Conjuring the P.P.E. will burn one action and the next action is used to release the Chi Burst. It costs 1 P.P.E. per 1 foot radius and takes up ALL of the concentration of the Ancient Master. The character may dispel it at any time and it lasts a maximum of 1 attack per P.E. point of the Ancient Master, starting with the attack after it was conjured. The character is still vulnerable to radiation and kinetic damage. This power also keeps those that are pure energy from entering—this applies to entities, ghosts and any other creatures of pure energy. Chi Blast is also ineffective.
4. Chi Charge: A very useful ability, allowing characters to channel their Chi back into their own body, boosting his/her physical attributes! For every five points of Chi the character uses they may boost either P.S., P.P., P.E., Spd up by a point and/or they may spend 20 P.P.E. to upgrade their strength to Supernatural for the duration—one melee. In the alternative, they may also spend P.P.E. to give a temporary S.D.C. charge. They will gain 1 S.D.C. point per 1 P.P.E. spent. However, while this helps the character to gain more S.D.C., it cannot be used to restore S.D.C. or Hit Points.
5. Chi Healing: Specifically, this ability allows characters to heal themselves using Chi energy. It has two uses and is a bit costly. However, it is well worth it. The character can do two types of healing—Trance Healing and Instant Healing. A Trance Healing involves the character meditating for a few or so hours to harness Chi into their body and regain S.D.C. or Hit Points. It costs one P.P.E. per point being healed and the character must meditate for 1 hour per 10 points being healed. Instant Healing is the second type of healing and is used best in combat situations or desperate situations. The character has the ability to heal 1 S.D.C. or H.P. per 10 P.P.E. spent. In one attack (not action), the character can heal up to one S.D.C. or H.P. per point of M.E. and P.E. the character has (i.e. a P.E. of 10 and M.E. of 10 would be able to heal up to 20 S.D.C. or Hit Points per one attack). The healing begins at the start of any attack. If a character is interrupted while healing was induced (i.e. a simultaneous attack), then only half of the amount they tried to heal will heal and the character won’t lose the full sum of P.P.E. they put into the healing, they only lose enough for the amount of S.D.C. recovered. Another simple ability that Chi Healing has is ridding the body of infections, poisons, etc. at the cost of 15 P.P.E.—30 minutes of meditation is required.
6. Chi Spirit: First lets start with the nature of this ability. It is meant to impose fear or awe into others. It purely a move to use as defense or a move to use to stop a battle. Whatever way this ability manifests, it has the same effects, has the same duration and costs the same amount of P.P.E. This ability will effectively give the character a temporary Horror Factor of 12 +1 per point of M.A. (negative or positive depending on what the character is trying to achieve) above 15. It costs 10 P.P.E. per melee and also acts as a sort of probe wall to the character A side effect of this ability, due to it’s nature (P.P.E. oriented), makes the character resistant to magic—+5 to save vs. magic for the duration. Now, as for the manifestations. This can be anything the player thinks of. The character could glow bright with any color they want, they could seemingly catch on fire with the fire being an unusual color, or a bigger “spirit” of the character could eminent from them. Or it can be as simple as the characters' eyes glowing unnaturally, they can have a god like voice, their attacks could seem energized, etc. These are just a few examples; feel free to come up with your own.
7. Chi Weapon: A very useful ability for those that select mastered weapons. It allows a character to channel P.P.E. into a weapon that the character has practiced with and exclusively uses or has used for at least a month. The character must put at least 5 P.P.E. into the weapon after which the weapon will have some visible effect (i.e. glow, vibrate, etc.). This power will give the character several abilities. First, the character is able to sense anything with P.P.E. in it at a radius of 1 foot per P.P.E. point in the weapon. This is useful in that the character can sense the location and movements of anybody within the radius even if they cannot see them—allowing them to combat them with no penalties. However, if they can see the person, they will not receive any bonuses to combat them, they simply cannot be the victim of a sneak attack. The second ability will let the weapon wielder inflict damage to those in pure energy form and creatures normally invulnerable (this is considered a magic weapon). However, the character may only inflict up to one damage per point of P.P.E. in the weapon—they will still have to roll damage, this is just the maximum damage that can be done. The exception is critical strikes (natural only), which will allow the character to do more damage than the maximum allowed. Third, the character is able to perform projectile type attacks of pure Chi with the weapon! However, the projectiles have limitations. They burn the P.P.E. in the weapon and they do relatively little damage, however, they are nonetheless very effective. Damage is one point per point of P.P.E. being used. The wielder has to make some sort of gesture with the weapon in order launch the projectile. They will have no bonuses to strike with the projectile and range is 2 feet per point of P.P.E. still left in the weapon. The act of channeling is instant, it will burn no attacks or actions, no matter how much P.P.E. is used.
8. Solid Chi Surge: A very impressive ability that is one of the most powerful of the Chi Powers. The character will receive an A.R. of 1 per point of P.P.E. used for one melee. If the character wants to extend the duration, they may do so, at the cost of more P.P.E. The maximum A.R. possible is equal to the characters’ M.E. However, the maximum one can ever achieve is an A.R. of 18.
The following abilities are more like skills, in that they do not require the character to use any P.P.E. to use them—some of these arts are always on, permanently gained and others are like skills in that some kind of roll is necessary to perform it.
1. Art of Breaking: Breaking boards, bricks, ice, wood or bones—it makes no difference to this character what it is, they are likely to break it. However, this skill goes beyond looking for the weak point in a target. The character actually learns to break the Chi of an object—which occurs the moment before impact. This ability does not burn up any additional attacks or actions. It is an addition to a normal attack, but it has varying modifications to combat depending on the outcome. A natural roll to strike is necessary and depending on what the character is trying to break (living beings or inanimate objects), effects will vary. Against inanimate objects, a roll of 1 to 4 will mean the object was not broken and instead the character takes full damage, instead of the object! A roll of 5-13 means the object takes half damage and the character takes half damage, but at least the object breaks. This usually happens when the Chi of the object is broken upon impact, instead of breaking it right before impact. A roll of 14-20 is perfect shot—the character breaks the object no problem, without taking damage! It does not matter how much damage was inflicted, the desired effects were achieved (broken in half, has a hole in it, shattered, etc.). Nor does an objects A.R. matter (this includes natural A.R.’s as well) this ability completely bypasses them. Using this skill on living beings is particularly deadly. A roll of 1 to 4 means the character only did normal damage (if a natural A.R., then effects are unchanged—treat it as if the character did not use this skill). A roll of 5-13 means the character did double the normal damage (if a natural A.R., then the character bypasses it and does full normal damage to the character, but takes none themselves). A roll of 14-20 means a perfect shot, the victim takes double the normal damage direct to Hit Points (effects are unchanged with a natural A.R.). This ability may only be used once per melee, because it strains the character and if the roll (against either) was 1 to 4, they lose their next available initiative. Also, this ability can only be used as the characters attack; it may not be used with Combo Parry/Attack (or Dodge /Attack), Power Parry or any Attack Modifications.
2. Blind Fighter Training: This skill is extremely useful to have. Characters are able to abandon their sense of sight, to fight using only their other senses. Characters with this ability cannot be the victim of a sneak attack (except by long range sneak attacks) and enjoys several bonuses when they are able to see: +6 on initiative, +2 to parry and +4 to dodge. If the character is blinded then this ability allows the character to fight without the previous stated bonuses, however, they retain any other bonuses they normally have! Maximum range when fighting blinded (i.e. using the other senses to combat others) is just past Long Range (about 10 feet).
3. Body Training: A very hard and harsh method to train that involves taking various attacks with full damage without defending. The character will stand still and attempt to keep bearing while being punched, kicked or hit with weapons so their body becomes resistant to the effects of physical attacks. The characters’ body becomes as tough as a rock able to take lots of damage. Add 1D4×10+40 S.D.C., 6D6 Hit Points and +4 to save vs. pain.
4. Endurance Training: Those who train in this method attempt to master the effects of fatigue and physical strain that the human body can withstand. This kind of training involves pushing and pushing oneself above and beyond normal limits of the human body. Characters will train and train until they can no longer lift their arms and pass out from exhaustion and when they wake up they will train some more. This characters capacity for endurance is almost supernaturally high—they fatigue at only 1/10 the usual, and their strength is considered “Extraordinary.” Add +2 to P.S. and +1 to P.E.
5. Iron Hand Training: This training focuses on making the hands stronger and able to withstand lots of impact, so that the character may deliver more powerful attacks with the bare hands. Training is long and continuous as the ability to strike things without sustaining damage gets harder and harder. The end result being that the character can hit nearly anything and not take any damage him/herself. They can also do things like pick up hot coals with their bare hands. Add +10 to damage with any hand attacks and also lower the treat the characters hand attacks as if it were a P.V. of 2. Combined with the Art of Breaking, the character never fails to break an object, when using hand attacks!
6. Kick Training: Focusing on precision, accuracy, speed and the power of Leg Attacks is what this training is all about. Training is considered complete when the character can do the splits and control their kicks to the point of being able to stop their foot a centimeter short of impact and hold it. Add +3D6 to Speed, +10 to damage with all Leg Attacks, +10 feet to leap distance and the character can hit fist size targets without any penalties!
7. Reflex Training: Characters train themselves to try to react as fast as possible in combat. In the end, they are able to track attacks, react to them and move on to another attack, all before doing anything. Add +6 on initiative at level one and add +1 more at levels 3, 6, 9, 12 and 15.
Depending on the Ancient Masters history and the types of martial arts they trained in, players might consider selecting a few or just one Mastered Weapon W.P. Each selection counts as one of the characters “Special Abilities” selection. All rules and bonuses to Mastered Weapons apply as per the skill.
It is basically up to the player whether their Ancient Master has any equipment at all. However, it should be advised that equipment should be relevant to the characters history—not all Ancient Masters are the same and while some might have and carry an arsenal of Ancient Weapons, some use absolutely no weapons at all. It all depends on history and the player.
Weapons: The Ancient Master will most likely have one personal weapon for each W.P. they have. They never use any kind of firearms or guns, however. This “personal weapon(s)” is likely to be the characters favorite and it (each) will cost any where in the neighborhood of $1D20×100. If it is a hand full of throwing weapons, they will have 2 sets or 3D4 of them (it is the players choice) and it is likely they know where they can get more, when quantity is low.
Other Personal Items are at a minimum. No car (but may have a bike), a modestly furnished (small, or even tiny) apart-ment, simple clothes, etc. Many life as a vagabond keeping all their things in one bag/backpack and have no permanent place to call home.
Personal Financial Resources: $2D6×100 is available for those who have lived in the modern world for longer than six months. There are not that many jobs available to the Ancient Master. Most include, holistic doctor/counselor, a martial arts instructor, philosopher, language interpreter (if they are lucky) and so on. However, most Ancient Masters will accept honest work, like sweeping floors or keeping a library. However, it is not to say that there are not evil Ancient Masters out there—it is likely that an evil Ancient Master will only expect the best work, while most won’t work convenient jobs at all! Many of these evil Ancient Masters will hire themselves as assassins or mercenaries or bodyguards. Some, after living here for some time, will come to realize the harshness of the modern world and will adjust accordingly. While good Ancient Masters will never take employment or payment for his fighting skills (with the exception of teaching them), an evil or “misguided” one is likely to.
Alignment: Any alignment can be selected, but heroes are likely to be of good or unprincipled alignments. (Take a look at the Taoist alignment in Mystic China for a very interesting alternative).
Not all martial art masters are old guys with lots of powers. Some, young men and women, dedicate their whole lives to be a master of the martial arts. However, some of these men and women sometimes leave the temple (or monastery, etc.) early to pursue a life in the modern world, or even more likely, they are trained by an actual Ancient Master as they grow up in the modern world! These men and women have the benefit to live in the modern world and be a dedicated student of the martial arts as well. Many keep their abilities secret for fear that they will be persecuted like mutants are and most can live a normal life without anyone ever knowing that these characters have abilities beyond the human. This is an optional alternative for those who feel like the Ancient Master is too powerful of a character to play from the start or if they just feel like making a younger “martial arts” type character.
When creating the Martial Arts Master, treat as if making a regular Ancient Master. There are few things that are different though.
First, although the character is a master of the martial arts, they do not get the attribute bonuses the Ancient Master has achieved through years of practice and dedication to the arts. Instead, this young master will receive a total bonus of +4 to distribute among any attributes, except I.Q.
Second, do not roll on the Actual Age, Time in the Modern World or Level of Experience tables. This master is relatively young (20ish), has been in the modern world for at least ten years of his/her life and starts at level one.
Third, although relatively in good shape, the young master is nowhere near as in good a shape or condition as an Ancient Master is. As a result, they will get 2D4×10+3D6+P.E. as the base S.D.C. And they will also receive an additional +3D6 to Hit Points. This comes from many (not as much as an Ancient Master though) years of body hardening training and spiritual enlightenment.
Fourth, the skills that the Ancient Master receives are not changed. However, the character is likely to have been raised in the modern world long enough to acquire more skills from a life in the modern world. Ignore the secondary skill section in the Ancient Master category and select or roll (1D4) from the following: High School Graduate, Trade School or On the Job Training, One Year of College or Two Years of College. Then subtract on skill program, which is spent studying and training in the martial arts.
Fifth, the character doesn’t get any of the weapons that the Ancient Master gets, due to their lower status in the martial art community (i.e. they are not as respected as an Ancient Master would be). So, though they get a weapon for each W.P. they have, it is made commercially (not the real thing); however, it is worthy to note that while these characters do not receive as polished or authentic weapons as their more respected elders, these young masters do not limit themselves by not using fire-arms. If they have the W.P.’s then they have a weapon for it.
Sixth, the character is likely to have a day job or a career, which brings them in some dough. They also have a decent to modest place to live, likely to own a car (80% chance), they get the four skills automatic to all characters and $1D6×1000 is readily available.
Finally, everything else is unchanged. And just as a note, use the Experiment table for level advancement.