View Full Version : You have 5 seconds to live....ideas needed for Hokuto no Ken fluff

2011-09-30, 04:20 PM
Fist of the North star

Saviours at the end of the century!

So, here is a first stab (mainly to gather your experts feedback :smallwink:) at fluffing the Hokuto Shinken. I guess i want to make it playable, to a power level which is not supposed to be the same as the regular series, but good enough to have some fun in a low spell-casters low magic setting. I need to add that the series (like so much anime) is riddled with contradictions and inconsistencies, so at some stages I am just going to sandpaper the whole franchise back to bare wood and then move from there. I have made a few assumptions which I would love to receive feedback on, just to see if I am on the right track. So, without further ado....

Books mostly Oriental Adventures, Complete Warrior and Core. ToB I have it, but I want to try without.

The HNK style is, by and large and as Oriental Adventures suggested me, a collection of Feats. If mastered, and if all other prerequisites are met, the style provides the practitioner with certain benefits. Mastering all those feats also sort of implies that the practitioner is a rather high level character, so at least the "Ken ploughs through 300 mooks" part is taken care of. Still, even mastering all the feats, there are many more steps to take beyond that point. The topmost tier of the style being the rank of Succesor / Heir of the Kokuto Shinken school. Due to its "great destructive power" it was established long ago that there can be only one successor at any given time. Including the Master (until he dies) there are thus only 2 people that can reach that level. Everyone else has either his/her fists crushed, or has to swear forever to abandon the HnK style and to never use its teachings, or pass them on. The Style Mastery befits a powerful warrior, a force that must be reckoned with, so my guess is somewhere between level 13-15 is the time to attain this level (I am a bit conservative with levels, and still hold levels beyond 20 in a certain awe). To become the Successor (and eventually the Master) is to take the path of levels 16-20, with the occasional super-talented warrior that attains an Epic level in that role (very few, and far between). The abilities of the Master, by the time of the choice for Succession, should be so advanced that no disciple could be a threat to him or be able to challenge his decision. Still, every 1000 years or so, when all humanity is in deep distress, the school will produce a Unifier, a warrior so powerful as to cross the line between schools (and the many branches these originated) and bring back peace to the world.

In the storyline of Hokuto no Ken, something impossibly rare occurred: not one but THREE warriors were deemed equally worthy of becoming the Successor, and had the power to become Unifiers. Toki, Raoh and Kenshiro.

Toki' s story

(awesome art (C)by Erik Von Lehmann)

Of the three, Toki manifested the greatest natural talent for the HnK. He was gifted beyond record, and had not disease struck him, he would have become the Successor. A flawless technique and compassionate heart were his defining characteristics. Before the nuclear war, and even more so after, Toki dedicated himself, body and soul, to the application of the Hokuto knowledge to medicine, thus becoming a healer, surrounded by the legends of the "miracles" he performed. His style emphasised graceful, flowing ,motions and had beauty and perfection. It was a "soft" style, that could kill just as efficiently as Ken's or Raoh's but without the distinguishing rage of the two other brothers. Toki apparently mastered the "hard" style too, although that was only due to him temporarily activating a pressure point combination that granted him supernatural physical abilities for a short time, at the cost of his very life. Toki was a healer through and through, wise, determined, calm, collected (feat?)

Raoh' story
(awesome art (C)by Erik Von Lehmann)

Raoh, the eldest brother, was the one with the most ambition. His heart was so filled with the desire to conquer, as to allow him to push his body to a limit, withstanding fire and hails of arrows without so much as a scorch or a scratch. His style was brutal, direct, aggressive and powerful. All his fight seemed to last very little, his enemies bodies smashed by the might of his fist. After Kenshiro was chosen to become the successor, master Ryuken (who was also Raoh's, Ken's and Toki's adoptive father) tried to force Raoh not to use his knowledge of the Hokuto ever again. Crippled by his heart condition and old age, his body failed him seconds before he could seal Raoh's fists and erase his memory of Hokuto forever. After murdering Ryuken in cold blood, Raoh set off to fulfil his desire to dominate the world. His main weapons were fear and terror, to subdue both his soldiers and the people of the world. Raoh is a combat beast, someone who would have mopped the floor with Gatsu, Kratos and Conan without breaking a sweat. Terror and panic would grip the heart of the most steadfast soldiers, and literally send everyone else running away screaming in fear (feat?).

Kenshiro's story
(awesome art (C)by Erik Von Lehmann)

Like Raoh and Toki, Kenshiro had in himself the ability and power to become a unifier. Just like Raoh was the "Conqueror" Ken became the "Saviour at the end the century". In his heart there lied both the compassion of Toki and the Righteous Rage of Raoh's heart. Even though his "technique" was not at the same level as his brothers', he had Destiny itself on his side. Moreover, his path led him to outgrow and overpower his more gifted brothers. Toki spent his time in meditation, and Raoh had it relatively easy, with very few opponents daring to challenge him , and even fewer capable of being a threat to his ambition. The loss of Julia and his great love for her, the tribulations he had to go through, meeting and losing many good friends along the way, forged his soul and allowed him to unlock the most esoteric secrets of the Hokuto school.

Hokuto Shinken (Fist of the North Star style)
The martial arts school known as Hokuto Shin Ken (Divine Fist of the North Star) has a tradition that dates back to more than 2000 years before the events narrated in the animated series. All through this time, its adepts and masters have refined it, optimized it, merged new techniques and discarded old ones, honing their martial prowess to pinnacles that defy logic. The core strength of the school is the knowledge of the location of the 708 Keiraku Hikō, or pressure point (akin to what acupuncture points are). The ability to strike them (in certain combination and with the right amount of "spiritual" energy (Ki, or Chi, if you wish)) could cause effects that varied from paralysis of a limb to loss of strength, to total memory loss, the inability to lie to the striker or to control one's own limbs, up to more dramatic effects such the explosion of appendages or of the whole body. As the three brothers demonstrated, the Hokuto style could be used to heal wounds, restore sight and hearing, or even prolonging the lifespan of a terminally ill person by a few months or years (an for Julia and her cancer). Only another Hokuto practitioner (of skill comparable to that of the original striker) could counter the effects of an activated pressure point, if he acted in time.


Using a bloodline ?
This might not be as powerful as the bloodlines of UA, but it does have an effect on who can cut it as successor (or Saviour) and who can't. There might have been masters that did not belong to the bloodline, and even those individuals must have been fearful opponents in the arena (monks of level 16-21) but only those who descend directly from the founder of the school have in their blood the energy, the “magic” to become truly epic (which is the case for Ken and Hyoh, but not for Raoh and Kaioh!). Still, I wonder if it would not work better WITH the bloodlines as described in UA. Perhaps a "titan" equivalent only for the "Unifiers"? Those punches do hurt...

Combat Aura - touki

This is a feature that, to some extent, is common to all fictional martial arts, including those that appear in D&D. A certain “combat aura” is inherent to all characters, and the fact that it might manifest visibly as light (and reveal its owner's morals, through its colour) is just fluff. In the case of a Hokuto Master though, the touki can reach such levels as to have an actual in game effect (up to the point where nearby structures collapse!). The aura grows with the power of its owner, and so do its effects on friends and foes.

Tapping the hidden Potential
The second hallmark characteristic of the style, it is again best left as fluff. Let us not forget that to access the innermost secrets of the school, a warrior needs to have the ability to rage, or to somehow increase some stats so as to unlock special techniques. This can be replicated by “Rage”
effects (Barbarian, Singh Rager etc..) or other special abilities (shintao monks' “Touch the Void Dragon”). It is pretty much a defining feature of monks that they can push their bodies to the limit, and thus turn them into weapons, withstand lots of damage, leap high above the heads of the most towering enemies etc...Like the touki though, this characteristic becomes a real in-game factor once the Successor/Unifier class is entered.


Omae wa mou shinde iru.
(you re already dead....)

Most of the techniques do not require a formal feat or SA to replicate them. Often used as finishing moves against thugs and goons, they can be interpreted as an application of Flurry of Blows, Power Attack, Cleave and Great Cleave. The fact that the targets often die by exploding can be kept as fluff, I think, seeing how a martial artist of level 20+ can bring the hit points of most mooks below zero without too much effort. What is apparent from the series is that those punches hurt and hurt badly, whether the striker manages to activate a tsbuan or not. There is a disconnect, in fact, between when Ken simply punches THROUGH your chest because the HnK buddies are that strong and when he does hit you hard, but not hard enough to kill you, and yet your head goes kaboom! the proverbial 7 seconds after. This seems suggested by the punishment inflicted on both opponents in martial arts duels between great masters. Two HnK warriors will hit each other, relentlessly, until one of them manages to activate the tsbuan and unleash the devastating effects of what is, at the end of the day, an assassination art (Toki was really an oddball). Perhaps this is bc they have very high saves? (reflex? will?)

If that were not the case, KnK would not be different or in any way more special than any other school of martial arts (and its secrets would not be guarded so jealously). In short, some techniques as seen in the anime deserve a special treatment , and this "touch and die" effect is what really helped surrounded the school with a mixed aura of awe and fear. Still, it feels like they can mostly be collapsed in one or two special abilities or class features and then be fluffed at leisure in-game.

The classes
As said before, there are 2 prestige classes. The first one (successor) can only be unlocked if Mastery of the style is attained and the existing master grants his approval, and teaches the new heir the secrets of the art In this respect, Kenshiro had an edge over Raoh, but only just, seeing how Ryuken died before he could teach everything to Ken and widen the gap between the youngest of the three brothers and the two elder). The series has lots of unclear points and contradictions, so there are grey areas left open for interpretation, but my sense is that through predestination (and immense talent) the three brothers (or, at least, Ken and Raoh) rose through the ranks until they became equally powerful. Ken though, was somehow “predestined” and eventually had an edge over Raoh thanks to the SAs and Class features of the “Saviour” class to aid him.

Knowledge is power
Often-times, a warrior might prove to be a greater challenge than his absolute power level would indicate because he employs some new and obscure technique, which allows him to catch the superior fighter by surprise. This one, I am not even going to try and replicate. The way Souther defeats Ken when they fight for the first time (pressure points won't work? So what, Souther gets hit a bazillion times, that should have hurt somehow) or the way Kaioh defeats Ken the first time are just plot devices which are beyond my ability to explain or translate into playable features. Unless, of course, you guys want to contribute an amazing idea to simulate this :smallbiggrin:

The style mastery.
So, here we go with some crunch. There are 2 styles, roughly speaking, in the Hokuto school. One which is somewhat “softer”, emphasizing agility, speed, and fluid, circular motions. It is the style favoured by Ken and Toki. There is also a “hard” style, which relies on direct action and physical strength to annihilate foes. It is the style favoured by Raoh and, to some extent, by Baran (The Emperor of Light).

Soft Style Mastery
Wis: 16+ (introspection)

Improved unarmed strike
Stunning fist
Combat Expertise
Stunning Fist
Freezing the lifeblood
Iron Will
Pain Touch
Weakening touch
Discipline (OA)

Hard Style Mastery
Cha: 16+ (emotions)

Improved unarmed strike
Stunning fist
Power Attack
Weapon Focus (IMS)
Improved Critical
Power Critical
Iron Will

Now, questions are: is this feat tree complete? What would you add/delete? What can be the benefit of the style mastery? Should there be other prerequisites?

I am going to try and sketch out what a Master must look like in game terms, but I could so use your inputs. The I will try to sketch the Unifier/Saviour class, which I reckon should be a 5 levels class.

Thanks a million!!!