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Topics - Riven

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1
Plot Zone / It's not easy being evil... (group planning/setup)
« on: February 15, 2018, 09:37:36 AM »
ATTENTION VILLAINS!

Are you tired of the "goods" and the "grays" getting the spotlight?
Are you ready to turn scheming and plotting into sinister activity?
Do you long to be more, to do more, to unleash the evil in your soul?


If so, HAVE WE GOT A GROUP FOR YOU!


This thread is for all the aspiring Roman Torchwicks, Neos, Emeralds, Mercurys, and yes, even Cinders -- if you have an evil character (or are interested in making one), you are officially welcomed to be part of the creation of this underworld organization. This is not technically a Worldbuild (at least not yet, as this is still very much in the concept phase -- are Worldbuilds even reopened?), more like a brainstorming and interest-gauging thread. The overall concept is simple: give true villain characters (who aren't associated with the White Fang, that is) something to do in-RP beyond serve as a boss / midboss in the occasional battle or act as a plot device for the "good guys". In essence, we'd be offering both social and mission threads for baddies, all within the in-story context of a criminal confederation taking on jobs and pursuing their own agendas.

Instead of simply launching a fully formed group concept myself, I figured it'd be best to reach out to those interested for feedback and ideas regarding everything from name and themes to roles, ranks, rewards, etc. I have a general concept -- using my character Maria Sanguine as a kind of "help wanted agency" to offer up evil missions to members of our consortium -- but I feel like effective evil organizing also means giving all the plotters, schemers, ner-do-wells, and aspiring evil overlords involved a voice in the process.

So, if you have a nefarious character (or intend to make one), a suggestion, or even just an evil laugh that you really, really wanna belt out, feel free to post here! All insidious contributions are welcome!

2
The Vale Region / Within Nature ~ Training [Nathan] (CLOSED)
« on: January 29, 2018, 05:10:57 PM »
"I have a special assignment for you, miss Chlophyll." Budonoki explained as they headed away from the camp site. "Something for which I think you may be uniquely suited."

The old faunus gestured to the south-east. "In that part of the forest is a family of foxes, one of several that Beacon uses to keep tabs on Forever Fall. The creatures are fitted with unobtrusive collars that include a miniaturized tracking device and a set of tiny cameras, and as they go about their lives they enable us to keep a weather eye out for signs of Grimm activity. As Grimm very seldom bother wild creatures it's a novel and surprisingly effective solution... however," He rested his free hand atop his staff, a look of some concern passing across his features. "Not without the occasional snag."

"One of the foxes' collars has stopped transmitting. Normally this would not be a matter of concern -- they break down with about as much regularity as you'd expect. This time, however, the collar abruptly ceased immediately after the fox came within sight of a pair of Boarbatusk."
He reached into a pocket on his gi and produced a small memory card. "If you plug this into your Scroll it will give you access to the camera feeds closest to you, as well as mark the last location where our missing fox transmitted from. With any luck we're just dealing with an uncanny malfunction... but somehow, I feel like that's not the case. All you need do is locate the fox and try to ascertain what went wrong, but if the creature is injured do what you can for it."

"Will you take on this mission, miss Chlophyll?"

3
The Vale Region / Within Nature ~ Training [Monster] (CLOSED)
« on: January 29, 2018, 04:17:28 PM »
Jocelyn, as Budonoki knew, was a kind and giving soul even by the standards Beacon held its prospective Huntresses to. One could even argue that she was too quick to give of herself, that her Semblance of healing at the cost of her own Aura stood to be her greatest potential vulnerability. Even so, as the sagely old Faunus led her up the course of a shallow river he could not help but admire her dedication to the welfare of others -- the girl would be a fine medic one day, very possibly even more.

It was thus imperative, he mused, to ensure she could survive to help as many people as possible.

"Not much further now, miss Antiqua." He assured, half-turning to look back at her. The foliage was dense up ahead but he knew the way -- in truth, this was one of his favorite spots in Forever Fall. Rounding the bend of a rocky outcropping, their destination came into view: a horseshoe-shaped cleft in the cliffs a mere ten feet high, over the ledges of which flowed no less than half a dozen small, burbling waterfalls. The place had no official name that he was aware of, but Budonoki had come to affectionately call it "the amber veil".

Smiling at the sight, he found a familiar tree stump at the water's edge and sat down. "Thank you for indulging this old man -- I've a fondness for this place, you see." He smiled over at her. "But you must surely be wondering why I've brought you here, hm?"

4
The Vale Region / Within Nature ~ Training [Rush] (CLOSED)
« on: January 28, 2018, 01:41:47 PM »
 It was a spot Dr. Budonoki had picked out in advance -- the wide, quietly flowing stream was idyllic in some ways, a ribbon of soft-spoken blue contrasting the vibrant reds that dominated in Forever Fall. It was interrupted only by a single fallen tree trunk that bridged the water, and it was to this that the old Faunus led Juno.

"Juno Vert... the files the school has on you make it clear that you're a capable and creative fighter." Budonoki made his way over to a tree not far from the water where a number of simple metal poles were waiting, placing his staff aside and picking one up. "And I see no reason to contend that. Your performance at the Vytal Festival showed your skills quite clearly. However..." He gestured for Juno to grab one of the wooden poles. They were about four feet long and sturdy looking, the sort that one could easily spar with.

"Your go-to melee weaponry are all hard-light constructions, are they not? Very light and agile by nature, durable... but virtually weightless." The professor tested the balance of his pole, tossing it from one hand to another and spinning it deftly as he did. "To be a Huntsman, you must be ready to adapt. We do not always have the advantage of our preferred weapons, after all, and improvising in the field can prove just as critical as good preparation. Today, we'll be working on your balance. Get a feel for your weapon, then step up onto the log and face me when you're ready to begin..."

5
Approved Characters / Maria Sanguine
« on: January 27, 2018, 02:27:53 PM »
CHARACTER

Name: Anya Lacrima (name abandoned)

Alias: Maria Sanguine (self-chosen name), "Bloody Mary" (among close associates), "The Lady (of a Thousand Faces)" (professional title)

Theme Music: I Can't Wait (The Magic Puppet Remix) by Celldweller

Age: 37

Species and Gender: Human, Female

Symbol:

Spoiler: show


Maria's personal iconography is the absolute height of simplicity: a single elongated crimson droplet, without any form of embellishment or artistry whatsoever. This extreme simplicity lends itself well to her more covert operations, as she is often able to 'leave her mark' in plain sight without anyone being the least bit suspicious.

Occupation: Freelance underworld operative

Appearance:

Spoiler: show


Maria herself doesn't look like anything special, the kind of entirely forgettable face that you could pass by on the street and never think twice about. Standing at no more than 5' 2" she is far from intimidating, not even looking like the sort of person who would have an Aura let alone put up any sort of fight, yet looks can be incredibly deceiving.

Maria also has a second face, this one significantly more memorable and theatrical -- that of "The Lady". The costume is mostly simple, common elements: the short black dress, the long black hooded cloak, the high heeled shoes, but the uncommon elements of the mirror-shard mask and blood drop shaped ruby pendant give it its true presence and mystique. The mask's shape (1) (2) (artist credit) is highly off-putting, its uneven lip and jagged outline giving most people who look at it no small degree of discomfort. It also incorporates a built-in voice modulator, rendering Maria's normal voice unidentifiable while she's wearing it.

The costume may seem entirely impractical for fighting, and that's because it is. Maria typically only presents herself as "The Lady" when dealing with clients, preferring to reserve the theatricality of her alter ego for when it has the greatest impact. When expecting a fight she tends to dress very simply and practically, aiming to avoid impeding her agility but otherwise catering her appearance to whatever job or confrontation she's preparing for. She seldom wears armor of any sort, given that should her Aura go down it's no guarantee of protection for her in the slightest. Most of her outfits, whether as "The Lady" or for doing business, incorporate at least a few hidden pockets to help conceal the tools of her trade.

The elaborate tattoo patterns she wears on her legs and upper arms are semi-permanent, the ink incorporating a very high end formula that allows it to bond to various forms of purified Dust before application. Utilizing one of these "hidden weapons" will cause it to glow the color of the respective Dust element for the duration of use -- usually only a very short time -- before "burning away" into a fine mist, leaving behind skin that is raw to the touch for several days but otherwise perfectly healthy. Maria is VERY careful to cover up her arsenal when not "in character" so as to avoid being identified; on those occasions where she knows it can't be helped she'd typically opt to expend her tattoos and have them reapplied later (a very costly but sometimes necessary choice) than run the risk of her alter ego being revealed. Only an expert looking very closely (or someone with the ability to detect Dust) would have any clue that the tattoos were anything more than normal body ink without seeing them in action.


History:

Maria, born as Anya, grew up in an extremely unhealthy Mistrali home -- her father was always either drunk, broke, or coming home late reeking of strange womens' perfume while her mother mostly alternated between screaming, crying, and storming out of the house. Though neither typically directed their conflicts in her direction, it did happen from time to time. Outright abuse, however, was far less common than "forgetful" neglect, including "forgetting" to take little Anya for regular check-ups at the doctor. This, without a doubt, was probably why the symptoms of her illness went undetected for so long, only to finally come to the fore one night at dinner when she accidentally bit the inside of her cheek... and the blood kept running into her mouth for over an hour of crimson coughs and coppery swallows. The panic at the uncontrolled bleeding finally led to her seeing a specialist, whereupon she was diagnosed with a rare, progressive form of hemophilia that would only get worse as she aged. The treatment involved injections -- every other month at first, but by the time Anya was in her teens were quickly becoming a weekly tribulation. And that wasn't all that changed as she grew.

With their recent divorce becoming a messy and grim affair, the legal system finally had to intervene in Anya's upbringing and remove her from her parents' custody. She was instead entrusted to an uncle on her mother's side who had distanced himself from the family's dysfunction many years previous. Uncle Fraus was, oddly enough, the most stable and upstanding person in the entire family; the court regarded the fact that he helped run a travelling circus group more as a quirk than as a concern, and he did indeed see to it that young Anya was well taken care of and made her way through her schooling. That was far from all he did for her, however: sparking the girl's imagination with ringside seats to the circus' performances, he gradually began training her in acrobatics, magic tricks, and the skills of a travelling performance artist. One would think that for a young girl who might need a medical intervention for a bad bruise that such a career path was tantamount to suicide, but Fraus was a man of connections and had a former Huntress who owed him a favor. There had been speculation that awakening Anya's Aura could help her body cope with her disease, but all the medical professionals had fretted about the risks of undue stress and how if Aura failed her at a critical moment the results could be fatal -- Fraus had little mind to wait for expert consensus, only seeking Anya's permission before undergoing the process.

Awakening her Aura initially took a toll: Anya was bedridden for over a week while her body and spirit struggled to come to terms with one another, rendered exhausted and too frail to safely walk around unassisted. Finally, however, a sort of equilibrium settled in and Anya found herself stronger and steadier than ever. What's more, while laying in bed wishing desperately for a friend she accidentally discovered her Semblance, briefly and imperfectly transmuting a blood sample awaiting collection into a short-lived copy of herself. Were it not for the attending nurse in the room seeing the whole thing no one, perhaps least of all Anya herself, would have believed the incident to have been anything more than a fever dream. Unfortunately, though Aura allowed her to mend otherwise slow-closing injuries it only delayed the pace of her blood losing its ability to clot properly, not reverse it -- the injections were still necessary, and becoming more expensive as time went on. Uncle Fraus, while doing well by the standards of his profession, was not exactly wealthy. As soon as she finished her last year of regular school Anya threw herself full-time into preparing for a circus role, determined to help earn her own way in life... and see something of the world while she still had days left.

Juggler. Tumbler. Magician's assistant. Plate spinner. Anya steadily worked her way up through the circus to become one of its top performers and illusionists, crafting an act all her own that combined feats of agility (assisted by a little Dust, unknown to the audience) and daring with illusions (often incorporating her Semblance) and theater. By the time she was twenty two "The Grand Enchantress" was one of the biggest travelling shows in the kingdoms... however, it was also one of the few still going. Travelling circuses were gradually becoming a dying breed; as modern technology surged ahead people began to care less and less for live performance, and the costs of running a circus were rising as well. As they went from village to village the circus had to hire Huntsmen, Huntresses, or just simple mercenaries for protection in case of Grimm or bandit attacks, nor was moving an entire troupe plus animals, tents, and equipment a cheap proposition, whether by caravan or airship. The circus' unofficial side business -- uncle Fraus' smuggling of contraband and gray-market goods, the source of much of his financial gains -- was also hitting on hard times as the SDC and its regulatory partners tightened their grip on everything they had even the slightest investment in. Things steadily grew increasingly desperate. Corners were cut, performers left to seek other occupations, and as the show down-scaled so too did its appeal. Without a large operation to conceal his other business uncle Fraus had greater and greater difficulty smuggling anything of worth, getting caught on several occasions and only avoiding years in jail by taking out significant loans to turn into bribes... and said loans did not come from good people.

The circus rapidly decomposed from there, going from a big top act to smaller, private shows just to make ends meet, crossing into progressively darker shades of gray as time went on. She'd never quite remember who made the suggestion first, but the idea was floated between Anya and her uncle of using her Semblance for... other kinds of entertainment. Highly paid... very private... of questionable legality. It was a desperate moment and both swore off the idea at once, yet when the collectors came calling, bearing threats if payment wasn't forthcoming, it seemed there was little choice left to them. Both quietly agreed, saying only what little about it was absolutely necessary. Neither liked it, even as a last resort, but there was no denying the necessity. Anya bore it as well as she could, gradually learning to throttle down the feedback of sensation from her copies as a means of preserving some shred of dignity... and steadily becoming numb to her own feelings as well. It was a dark time.

When she one day woke to news that her uncle had leapt to his death off the roof of a building, Anya cried for perhaps the last time in her life. Fraus had been a conman, a liar, and worse over the time she had known him... but he had also been the closest she'd ever had to true family. She considered suicide herself over the weeks that followed, just to escape the pain, but eventually decided on a different path -- a fake death. Her Semblance was still a closely kept secret, and with Fraus gone there would be barely anyone who knew what she was capable of. The trick was, ironically, in the execution; she could send a copy of herself to its "death", certainly, but there wouldn't be a corpse left to recover. What was needed was an audience, a crowd of unsuspecting witnesses to bear testimony of her "end", and a means to do so that no one would question after the fact.

She spent two weeks selling off her uncle's possessions, quietly buying up as much Dust as she could. When Anya appeared at the door of her uncle's worst loan shark they doubtless expected either payment or pleading, no doubt already savoring the taste of her desperation. What they got instead was an explosion that leveled half the building and shook several city blocks on the Mistral lower levels. On that day "Anya" died, and a new, ruthless, and determined woman walked away free, cutting and dying the long auburn hair she had carefully cultivated since she was a child and adopting the name Maria Sanguine.

Her fresh start was not without complications, however. Maria still needed the regular, expensive injections to stabilize her blood, and with her old identity gone she had no one she could turn to for help. However, for someone who can be in multiple places at once there are plenty of doors that can open, if one is flexible and creative. For a brief time she relied on crude criminal enterprise -- pick pocketing, robbery, and the like -- to get by, however Mistral is a rough place for an inexperienced thief to make a living. In a chance encounter with someone who had decided to rob the same house as her Maria was forced to defend herself, managing to kill her competitor in the process, and while trying to sort out what to do with the body happened upon a truly curious idea: using someone else's blood as the catalyst for her Semblance. It didn't work -- at least, not on its own -- but a second try which combined her blood and the victim's yielded a startling success. It was grisly and inexpert work, but Maria managed to drain and bottle up enough blood from the body to serve her purposes. Over the days that followed she experimented, mastering the finer points of controlling a copy that was hers but not her, and also learning the inherent limits to this aspect of her Semblance. The possibilities arrayed themselves before her mind as she considered them. All she needed was a few drops...

Getting them, however, was the tricky part.

Not many people think about how hard it is to sneak into a blood bank. Even in Mistral, where criminal activity could be argued to be at its most diverse and inventive, such a place seldom ever saw trouble and yet was still guarded carefully, though vastly more-so against clerical errors than break-ins. Ultimately Maria ended up abandoning the idea of direct infiltration and sniffed around for an alternative approach, finally finding a nurse who was down on his luck and eager for quick cash. It turned out to be an excellent arrangement: he would discreetly take note when a well-off or well-connected patient arrived at the clinic, match up the name to the scarlet donation, and remove just enough extra that Maria could work her magic. On her end Maria quickly became an adept identity thief, studying the routines and personalities of her victims from the backgrounds of their lives to more convincingly portray them with her copies, then use said copies to glean bank account numbers, empty out safety deposit boxes, or take out enormous loans. None of the people she hit were innocent -- in a place like Mistral, fairly few people truly are -- but only a handful were genuinely despicable. The morality of her scams only barely registered however, Maria having cast off much of her moral presuppositions long before giving up her former name. Survival was what truly mattered, and she was determined to survive at any cost... especially if it was someone else who paid it. Over time her ability to do what few others could led to growing influence, the tendrils of which ran both down into the dregs of society (including a certain very skilled mercenary) and up into the polished chambers of the well-off, and simple identity theft became secondary to a more exotic line of work doing all manner of freelancing requests. Still, she knew that associating her face with her deeds would only lead trouble her way eventually. A way to manage her growing enterprise without painting a target on her back was necessary. Drawing on her glory days as "The Great Enchantress", Maria proceeded to forge a new stage persona: "The Lady of a Thousand Faces", an alter ego who was one part mystic recluse, one part underworld intermediary, and one part dealer in various and sundry "miracles" for the right price. Setting up shop in the mid-level wards of Mistral under the false front of a psychic, fortune teller, and card reader, "The Lady" was the perfect front for Maria's operations...


Personality:

Regardless of who you are, who you know, what you want, what you believe, or what you have, one thing is almost certainly true: Bloody Maria is NOT your friend. Maria is the sort who keeps her circle of close associates small as a matter of self-preservation -- the fewer you people you trust, she reasons, the fewer there are who can betray you. That's not to say she can't be approachable, agreeable, even intimate if she so chooses... but it's almost certainly just an act, yet another mask she wears to get what she needs or wants. Maria is the quintessential actress, able to adopt a persona and wear it near-flawlessly for however long she needs to keep up the act. It's important to note that she's not cruel or necessarily evil at her core, nor that she's incapable of caring about other people. She just simply puts her own survival first and foremost, and will do whatever it takes to ensure she's in a position to make it through another day. She is capable of terrible cruelty or incredible kindness, however her heart is never really in either. She's the true neutral -- like a broken mirror she will reflect back a thousand faces to you, and whether they be welcoming or scornful is largely a matter of perspective.

In the stillness of solitude -- which she relishes whenever the chance comes along -- Maria is an unsurprisingly private and reclusive person who enjoys fine Mistrali and Vacuan teas, dark chocolate, a good book, meditation by candlelight and incense, and, strangely enough, fighting games. She has quite a collection in fact: Living Or Deceased, BurnzRed, FPL VS Wackom, Glory Tournament 7, even a classic Street Hunter 2 cartridge all feature proudly in a locked glass display case in her tiny, rundown apartment. A generous person would call her devotion to skillful button mashing cathartic, or perhaps even something of a power fantasy, but Maria mostly just finds the games to be simple, mindless fun and, somewhat more somberly, a cartoonish joke about the world's violent nature.

It's worth noting that, although she doesn't let it impact her business dealings, Maria holds a deep-seated distrust of men that borders on hate and disdain. To her, men are the world's second most terrible -- and first most successful -- of monsters, the primal savagery of Grimm just barely overshadowing the calculated greed and wanton cruelty men are capable of. Then again, she also tends to view herself as having become a monster and has long since reconciled herself to that notion, more out of begrudging necessity than anything else. In Maria's view the world is little more than monsters biting and clawing one another just to avoid being trampled beneath the herd... it's a rare person indeed that makes her second-guess this paradigm. This is one of the chief reasons why she is so incredibly slow to consider trusting, REALLY trust, anyone at all.

In business matters Maria positions herself as the public intermediary for "The Lady", adopting what is basically a secretarial role of booking appointments and dealing with the occasional walk-in. Most of the customers who come in through the door know that "The Lady of a Thousand Faces" is about more than just getting your palm read or checking the forecast of your stars -- such mystic preludes are kept up for appearances, though business is just as commonly discussed in frank terms behind closed doors. Still, it's not uncommon for tourists or the extremely superstitious to wander in, and to avoid giving up the ruse they are catered to as well with all the pageantry and hocus-pocus one might expect from a reclusive soothsayer. Maria is still, in many ways, an entertainer, and she hasn't forgotten how to put on an impressive show.

She is a pack-a-day smoker and occasional drinker despite the added health risks it poses for her, living by her own rules and enjoying what small, temporary comforts she can. She also turns a fair bit of her profits around and anonymously invests in research she suspects could lead to a cure for her condition, hoping that one day she might finally be out from under the ever-present shadow of her bloody affliction.

Aura and Semblance:

Maria's Aura burns a deep blood red (#660000). It is not as strong and resilient as one might find from a Huntsman or Huntress, matching more closely to the average level of Aura strength one would expect to find in an aspiring student not yet entered into the main four academies -- the reason for this being her Aura constantly being that little bit more strained from trying to keep one step ahead of her illness. In practical terms her Aura absorbs actual damage less efficiently than others (equating to an extra 2% impact from all attacks).

Not only that, but the Aura's healing effect is a large part of what's holding her together. If her Aura is broken and she starts to bleed in any significant measure (a cut from a blade or claw, a wound from a gunshot, or any physical trauma that would cause internal bleeding) she risks literally bleeding out and dying if not rushed to an emergency room within thirty minutes or less. This is a big part of the reason Maria focuses on agility and relies on her Semblance to fight either for or alongside her, as well as why she comes to battle with so diverse a range of tricks up her sleeves.

Her Semblance, which she calls Bloody Reflection, isn't entirely uncommon in the world of Remnant: the ability to create an Aura-based duplicate. However, hers has some fascinating and disturbing distinctions. For a start, Maria cannot simply will her doppelganger into being -- first she must bleed, shedding at least a few drops while focusing a measure of her Aura into it. The Aura-infused blood will quickly form into a mist, taking the shape and then likeness of her body, indistinguishable at a glance from Maria herself and very much able to pass for her. This process does mean that she must willfully retract her Aura, even if only for a moment, in order to draw blood; a prick of her finger or, if creating multiple copies, a shallow cut across the flat of her palm if what she usually goes with, but a cut on her leg, shoulder, or elsewhere will do just as well. Besides blood, the body double also requires a sacrificial measure of Maria's Aura flow into it; at least ten percent is necessary, but Maria can grant however much she wishes so long as she doesn't give it all away. This does, however, leave Maria herself permanently short that measure of Aura for however long she maintains the copy, only able to begin restoring her reserves if the copy is destroyed, dismissed, or makes physical contact with Maria to return however much Aura it has left to her. She can dismiss a duplicate at any distance but will only recover any Aura if the copy is making physical contact with her when it is nullified -- this restores around 3/4 of the Aura the copy had left at the time of its dismissal, the lost amount basically being a "transaction cost" for maintaining so elaborate a power. Fortunately, such a costly Semblance does have its upsides: Maria's copies share their awareness with her (sight, hearing, touch, taste, and smell), can pass for a real person (they can eat and drink, are convincing to the touch and even imitate body heat, and can give the appearance of crying or bleeding if such deception is needed), but can also operate at a distance of up to a mile from Maria herself and for as long as twenty four hours before reaching their limit and degenerating. A copy that is destroyed, dismissed, or degenerates will rapidly reduce to a hazy, person-shaped cloud of crimson haze for a moment before dispersing entirely, leaving only a few drops of blood on the ground where they were standing. Maria's copies also leave no fingerprints -- useful for deniability purposes.

Maria is able to create more than one Bloody Reflection at a time, however if she tries to maintain more than two at the same time it requires an extremely high level of mental focus. This forces her into the equivalent of a meditative state wherein she cannot move most of her body or be moved without disbanding her Semblance entirely, only able to speak. Her absolute maximum is five, and every copy she creates cuts the maximum distance they can be from her (and the time she can maintain them for) by half. It is still required that each copy be imbued with at least 10% of Maria's maximum Aura, no matter how many she makes. A copy does not spawn with any weapons and will only give the appearance of having Maria's tattoos, meaning they must either arm themselves to fight effectively or rely on fisticuffs and martial arts.

A Bloody Reflection can also be "infused", causing various effects. If Maria is able to acquire at least a few drops of another person's (or even animal's) blood she can use it in addition to her own when making a copy, the result being a doppelganger that is visually indistinguishable from the other person and even able to produce a match for their voice. However, physically they are the same as Maria's normal copies, matching her and not the other person in physical attributes like strength, resilience, vision and hearing, etc. One additional quirk is that the identity-stealing copy will always generate wearing a facsimile of whatever Maria herself is wearing at the time, meaning that a change of costume may well be needed if the copy is truly to pass for the original. This is Maria's most used Semblance infusion, even though it is also the hardest to use to its full potential and often requires extensive planning and study of the target beforehand to truly get a payoff from. Besides a "mixed blood infusion", Maria can also infuse her Semblance copies with anything that can play nice with air, Aura, and blood -- this includes Dust, yes, but also other substances like acid or poison if she's being particularly devious or spiteful. Usually such infused Reflections are the equivalent of walking bombs, intended only to close distance to target and then "go off" in a small (2 ft wide) burst of blood-hued haze and whatever destructive payload they were carrying -- a remembrance, in a way, of Maria's first "death".

Maria must be careful about her emotional state while employing a Bloody Reflection. Though seemingly autonomous they are still guided by her will and mind; if she experiences any form of extreme stress, pain, or emotion while controlling a Reflection its appearance will warp and distend in nightmarish, horrifying fashion: pale, gaunt, and ghoulish with entirely black eyes and rivulets of blood running from cracks and gouges in the skin... a reflection of Maria's tortured deeper nature.

Interestingly, Maria is able to form a copy as wearing any outfit she herself is familiar with. This means that she and "The Lady" can easily be in the same room together with hardly any forethought or planning, which is very useful for maintaining the deception that they are two separate people.


Combat Behavior:

In so far as combat goes, one could describe Maria as a glass cannon... but lacking the 'kaboom'. She is only too well aware of her own susceptibility and takes great pains to avoid putting herself needlessly in the line of fire. When a fight is inevitable, however, her first impulse is often to turn to her Semblance or her tattoos to create a diversion or opening that she can then exploit, relying not on strength or firepower but cunning to bring about victory. She will endeavor to keep an opponent off-balance as much as possible and get them to expend their strength chasing shadows before delivering a carefully planned strike, withdrawing to repeat the pattern until either she or they have lost too much to continue -- a strategy of attrition through evasion. To this end she leverages her highly trained dexterity for both acrobatic combat maneuvers and parkour, bringing her guns and blades to bear only when she either has no choice or a clean angle of attack.

It must be noted that Mary seldom fights with the intent to overpower, or even kill. Barring planned and targeted assassinations, she is typically far more concerned with eluding threats than facing them. This goes double for Grimm, and she has virtually no experience fighting non-human creatures. If clearly overwhelmed or caught without a strategy she focuses all her efforts on escape, standing her ground only if absolutely forced to.



WEAPON

Name: Shards

Primary Form: Maria's Shards are small, razor-edged, mirror-surfaced throwing stars about five inches long. She keeps these weapons in their collapsed form tucked into concealed pockets in most of her outfits; her skills as a magician and illusionist means she can often produce anywhere from one to six of them at a time, seemingly just by flicking her wrist a certain way. Maria keeps herself in good supply of Shards, often carrying around fifty or more -- and stocking up even more if she feels at all threatened.

Secondary Form: The Shards collapse down into three-inch wide flat metal discs for ease of storage and concealment.

Tertiary Form: N/A

Dust Functions: N/A

History: One would think that a hemophiliac like Maria would be wary of blades, given the risk that an unexpected cut could present. However, she has in fact long since reached a sort of peace about the matter -- hard experience has taught her how to handle short blades like an expert, and during her circus days it wasn't uncommon for her to include knife throwing into her act. Her desire to protect herself from exploitation and risk has led to her desiring a means to protect herself that others won't see coming, and throwing stars suit that need just fine.


WEAPON

Name: Chant Thrice

Primary Form: Bloody Mary's go-to weapons for conflicts that can't be solved by a deft kick or well-placed throwing star, Chant Thrice is a trio of collapsible, concealable pistol-blades that also each pack a magnetic-action dart thrower. The weapon's primary form is a thirteen-inch single-edged short sword with a curved handle, cast in hues of dark red and smoke gray. The pistol and dart thrower components cannot fire in this form.

Secondary Form: Chant Thrice's secondary form is dedicated to ranged combat; the curved handle twists to become a pistol grip and the blade separates and folds to become an under-slung bayonet, revealing the pistol barrel and rail-edged dart thrower. The pistol fires common 9mm kinetic Dust rounds and can also chamber elemental 9mm rounds, though beyond the element-specific damage output the specialty rounds don't offer any additional benefits to the weapon. In this form Chant Thrice can also fire bolt-style darts from a magnetic rail-propelled top-mount -- these darts are armed with a tiny contact-explosive tip which bursts upon meeting solid resistance (or intense heat), dispersing a concentrated hallucinogen into a two foot wide cloud for about thirty seconds before fading. The hallucinogen is Maria's emergency answer in case she's ever pursued by a human or Faunus opponent who greatly outmatches her: breathing it in causes extreme disorientation and nightmarish hallucinations for at least three minutes, even in those with strong Auras. Unfortunately, each Chant Thrice only carries a single dart and the mechanism is complex to reload, meaning that even having extra ammo with her wouldn't allow her to employ it in a heated battle. The darts can hit accurately up to 70 feet away.

Tertiary Form: Chant Thrice is designed to fold in on itself into a small and compact form no larger than an expanded Scroll, making it relatively easy to conceal when not in use.

Dust Functions: N/A

History: Maria knows that she lives a dangerous life -- even with her Semblance and alter ego there will still be threats she cannot foresee, enemies who will come for her, and fights that won't be won with just a few acrobatic maneuvers and a handful of throwing stars. The trio of gunblades were quietly commissioned from a Mistrali underworld arms merchant via a string of third parties to guarantee anonymity, ensuring that tracing the weapons back to her if she were ever forced to abandon them would be next to impossible. It may seem a strange choice to have three when only two could be held at once, but assuming that is a mistake. Not only is Maria an excellent juggler (which can make for some fairly deft combat tricks) but given the limits of her Semblance she's able to arm both herself and up to two Bloody Reflections with a Chant Thrice -- a personal firing squad should things go badly.


WEAPON

Name: Dust Tattoos

Primary Form: Until activated, Maria's tattoos appear to be nothing more than common -- if elaborate -- body ink. Only very close examination, special Dust-detecting tools, or the eye of an experienced expert in the field of novel Dust applications would pick out her swirls, wisps, and iconography as anything more than an artistic expression while they lay dormant.

Secondary Form: N/A

Tertiary Form: N/A

Dust Functions:

Each of Mary's tattoos, which range from her ankles up to her shoulders and down to her elbows (as well as one hidden away on her inner lip), is infused with extremely fine grain Dust suspended in the ink. Needless to say, something like this is not cheaply done nor do they just wash off in the shower (fortunately). Although the exact mix used is something it's maker, a Faunus going by the name Pariah, protects as a trade secret Maria knows that one of the key ingredients is a rare and highly expensive resin that's used to bond the finely powdered Dust to a blend of pigments and metallic salts. Though the patterns themselves are largely meaningless they do organize the applied Dust types, giving Mary a means of knowing how much of her "hidden in plain sight" arsenal she has left before needing them reapplied. Each use of a tattoo causes one segment to "burn away", expending the Dust and evaporating the ink all in one go -- the process leaves the skin where the tattoo was without its topmost layer, tender to the touch but quickly enough healed by Aura or just simple time. As the actual amount of Dust one can fit into a tattoo isn't very much, even with highly refined and concentrated Dust, the effects of the tattoos tend to be minor one-off tricks that Maria can pull out to surprise an enemy or get herself out of a tight spot.

The various tattoos are outlined below:

[GRAVITY] :: Wings of Hermes ~ Arguably the most useful of Maria's tattoos, this marking of crossed wings adorns her upper back and is comprised of thirteen segments each centered around a feather. Each segments' gravity Dust lessens the effect of gravity on her by 10% for ten seconds, letting her briefly leap higher or fall slower.

[AIR] + [ICE] OR [FIRE] :: Whispers of the Four Winds ~ These Dust tattoos dominate Maria's legs in prominent, seemingly erratic swirls and sharp, hooked lines, comprising eight segments on each leg. Of these, four are purely air Dust while an added two each combine air with either fire or ice. These segments are among those with the most direct combat application, allowing Maria to turn her kicks into short-range elemental bursts with a minor knock-back effect.

[GRAVITY] + [ICE] :: Cold Rejection ~ This two-segment tattoo on Maria's right upper arm takes the form of a scorpion's stinger as though rendered out of ice or frozen over, wrapping around her arm twice in a spiral pattern. Activating this tattoo channels a pulse of dark blue Dust energy down her arm and into her fingertips where it is released, generating a small one-foot shockwave of compressed cold air that's strong enough to knock an unsuspecting person off their feet.

[STEAM] :: For My Next Trick ~ This seven segment tattoo of playing cards spilling out of a magician's top hat splays across Maria's left upper arm and is a call-back to her days as "The Grand Enchantress". Activating it generates a concealing burst of smoke-like white steam around her body that quickly spreads out to cover a four foot area -- just enough space to make an unexpected move such as using her Semblance or, if the chips are down, evade and run for it.

[LIGHTNING] :: Electrifying Touch ~ A three-segment tattoo of thunderbolts on Maria's lower torso, this Dust tattoo is more defensive-minded than offensive -- though it can be used both ways. When activated it briefly electrifies Maria's Aura for a span of about four seconds, causing anyone or anything that comes in contact with her to suffer a mild jolt. Useful for dealing with those who can't keep their hands to themselves or to fry any tracking devices that might be planted on you... though it's best to avoid having a Scroll, for example, on your person at the time of use, as it's a sure-fire way to void warranties.

[ICE] :: Kiss of the North ~ Hidden away on her inner lip, this tattoo foregoes any elaborate design work for a simple black dot. This is one of Maria's least frequently used tattoos and tends to be more of an assassination tool than anything else; activating it and then breathing out releases an icy mist that will flash-freeze an area roughly six inches wide on contact. As you might imagine this is at its most useful if the intended victim is very close, entirely unsuspecting, and unable to quickly respond to their lips and nose frosting over from an extra-minty kiss. Bye bye oxygen...

History: When you work in the Mistrali underworld you tend to meet all sorts of people. Most are ruthless criminals out to turn a profit off of other people's suffering, but there are the occasional exceptions -- the outcasts, the exiled, the misunderstood. One such person was a serpent Faunus who called herself Pariah, offering her services as a tattoo artist to whomsoever could pay. Given that Mistrali gang members and guns-for-hire often used tattoos to mark their "accomplishments" it was a decently profitable business, but Pariah was also a talented chemist looking to push her art in bold, new directions. Incorporating Dust into tattoos, turning them into one-off weapons, wasn't something she advertised openly -- too much attention, too much trouble. Instead she reserved it as a service for her best paying and most trusted customers. Maria was neither when they first met, but circumstances rapidly changed and an alliance formed over shared interests... those interests being to see the remnants of a certain money-lending group disappear for good. Now not only does Maria regularly send work Pariah's way in addition to depending on her when her tattoos get used up, but the two have been known to enjoy the occasional casual tryst over white wine. There is plenty of reason to suspect that Pariah is more than she lets on, as not just anyone could craft Dust tattoos that are so potent and effective (even given the top-grade materials that Maria helps her to acquire) but much of the Faunus' past is something she keeps to herself. Mary has her theories, however, and even a mutual agreement not to go digging up the past hasn't entirely muted her curiosity. Maria, for her part, has plenty of reason to suspect that Pariah may not be as self-taught as she claims to be...

6
Non-Canon / Crossing Blades [GingerAvalanche] (CLOSED)
« on: January 20, 2018, 02:26:31 PM »
(OOC: Practice battle thread for Ginger -- if you have any questions or uncertainties along the way just lemme know. En guarde!)


S C E N E ~ M U S I C
Where Valkyries Fly
by Ioannis Gutevas



ARENA: Amity Coliseum
CURRENT TERRAIN: Default



Normally this sort of thing wasn't exactly Cordell's cup of tea -- pirates, after all, don't go looking for fair fights when an unfair fight can be had. Yet here she was, striding out onto the most renowned battle stage in all of Remnant. Amity Coliseum somehow seemed... bigger than it looked on the tournament broadcasts. Maybe it was all the empty seats? Or maybe it was the camera work and nimble fighters who made it seem more compact.

In any case, when one finds the famed arena making its way between kingdoms and its escorts are called away to deal with Grimm, who can be faulted for having a peek? It wasn't hard to imagine what it must be like, stepping out under the bright lights with thousands of cheering fans filling the stadium seating, the excitement, the anxiety, the anticipation of battle. Perhaps if life had taken a different turn she could've stood here legitimately, competing under the Atlas banner. Ah, it was a nice thought, at least.

Only, Cordell wasn't as alone as she assumed...

7
The Vale Region / Legends of the Hidden Temple [SLVA ~ CLOSED]
« on: December 12, 2017, 04:27:08 PM »
MISSION SCENARIO:

The Emerald Forest has always been a site of archaeological interest, featuring many ancient ruins scattered about its verdant expanses and the promise of greater finds below the surface. One such site has recently been revealed: a long-forgotten temple. The research team at the site was making remarkable progress in understanding the pre-Kingdoms culture which once thrived in the region when they happened upon what they described as a 'treasure room' of relics and valuable artifacts. Two days later all contact with the team was lost, and efforts to find out why have been hampered by increased Grimm activity in the area. That was a week ago, and Beacon has decided to step in. Your team, supported by Doctor Budonoki, has been tasked with investigating the site and recovering the research team if possible. Don't worry about clearing the area of Grimm -- simply get to survivors and extract them, as prolonged activity is certain to draw in more Grimm.

Objectives:
 - Learn what befell the research team
 - Evacuate any survivors
  Optional bonus objectives may occur during the course of this mission





In the research team's notes the area was simply known as 'site 173', which said a lot about both the sheer volume of archaeological efforts in the Emerald Forest and how little the expedition had been expecting a find of the scale and interest that they'd actually unearthed. From the air it certainly looked no different from any other verdant stretch of trees and undergrowth -- it was only as the Bullhead carrying Team SLVA came in low to drop them off that it at all became clear they were in the right place. The base camp was little more than the remains of shredded tents and trampled supply crates with gouges and small craters suggesting the fervor of the fighting that had left it ravaged. Strangely, and hopefully, the only bodies to be seen were those of robots -- the archaeologists had elected for rent-a-droid security instead of hiring along a Huntsman or Huntress to protect them. Needless to say, they would not be getting the deposit back.

Stepping off the Bullhead, Budonoki surveyed the area with a critical eye. "No dead among the wreckage -- promising, that. We may find the research team alive and well after all." He turned to the group of students. "Keep your wits about you. Something in this area has been agitating the Grimm, and they are indeed prowling about. We cannot afford to be careless. The dig site is just north of here, and the most likely place that any survivors would go to seek shelter."

"Now, then..." The sagely old Faunus looked to his four charges, hands laced atop his gnarled wooden staff. "I'm not here to lead unless absolutely necessary. This is your rescue mission, Team SLVA. Time to show this old hand how the younger generation handles themselves, hm?"

8
The Vale Region / Far From Home [CLOSED INITIATION]
« on: December 09, 2017, 12:53:17 PM »
S C E N E ~ M U S I C
Ghost
by Lucas King



Mountain Glenn. The ruined skeletons of once-proud buildings cast jagged shadows in the early morning's light, making the desolation seem even more shattered and broken than it was. This was a place of ghosts, a graveyard of hope and a testament to what happens when the best of intentions go awry. From above, gazing out the window of the Bullhead, Budonoki took in the terrible scene with mournful solemnity. He hadn't been here before, either before or after its fall, but he could remember the hope that had accompanied its golden days... and the dread that came with the announcement of its fate.

Drawing in a deep breath and centering himself, the Faunus doctor turned to the young students he was accompanying. This team was literally just starting out, having been freshly assembled such that a team name and and roles hadn't yet been figured out. This would be a proving, to be sure. His gaze traveled from one to the next. "We're close now to where we'll touch down. As most of you already know, Mountain Glenn is very dangerous -- not only the creatures of Grimm which stalk these ruins, but all the natural hazards that come from crumbling infrastructure. Somewhere, somehow, there is a child clinging to life in this forsaken place," He pulled out his Scroll and displayed for them a grainy, blurred reconnaissance photo; it was clear that the child was young, had messy mid-length dark-colored hair, and wearing some sort of tattered poncho or dress, but not much else was clear enough to make out. "And our duty is to bring them safely within the kingdom's walls if at all possible. I know your team is still finding its way, and you aren't likely used to working with one another yet, but I believe that we can do this -- if we work together and watch each other's backs."

He pocketed the Scroll, then hefted a backpack with a prominent first aid kit strapped to it up onto his shoulders. "Remember, this is a child. Sounds of gunfire and fighting may attract their attention, but could just as easily scare them away. Defend yourselves as necessary, of course, but try to avoid combat when possible. I've read each of your files, so I know what the school knows of your capabilities; each of you has knowledge, skills, and talents which may prove useful to our endeavor. I have every confidence we can succeed here."

The Bullhead began to turn, vectoring towards the roof of a squat two-story building as the door lights shifted from red to green. As the hatches slid open Dr. Budonoki leapt out, gnarled wooden staff in hand, sticking the simple landing without issue despite his years and gesturing for the team to follow. Their mission had begun...

9
  S C E N E ~ M U S I C 
Seeking The Truth
by Atom Music Audio



How had this happened? Everything, everything, from that fateful day onward, had been done to avoid this...

Gripping the flight controls with desperate urgency, Captain Cordell of the pirate airship Red Corsair willed her ship and herself to maneuver faster and more deftly than she'd ever done before. The stress of constantly shifting momentum would have battered her senseless against the cockpit had Delahaye not deployed a safety harness upon the first reckless maneuver Cordell had performed... and she was now somewhere between her fifth and her twelfth, having well and truly failed to keep track as her heartbeat thundered in her ears. Yet the enemy was keeping up, move for move... and an abrupt shower of sparks and warning klaxon going off suggested they might even have the upper hand.

"Starboard fuel injection system has been hit." Delahaye's computer-generated voice was perhaps the only calm and collected thing in the cockpit right now, standing in stark contrast to the ill-tidings she bore. "Ring circulation compromised. Main engine efficiency dropping to 85%."

'Damn it all!' Cordell thought, sweat mingling with blood on her forehead. The enemy had come seemingly out of nowhere, their sensor baffling leaving the Red Corsair blind until the first shots struck -- a complete surprise attack, and one that included a nasty collision with a bulkhead for the young pirate. She'd been too bold, too careless, especially to come this far north over open waters. Now it seemed painfully obvious that the rumors she'd been chasing down about illegal shipments of military-grade hardware from Atlas had been nothing but a trap from the start.

Well, not entirely untrue. There was, after all, that other airship. The one keeping up with every twist and turn she made, tracking every tight zig-zag and calling the bluff on every feint. The one that looked almost exactly like hers -- a cobalt-blue and smoke-gray painted devil straight out of hell. She knew Atlas still had old V-21 Arrowheads mothballed in storage, sure, and it wasn't impossible that the military could have upgraded them to the level pursued by Project Thunderbolt. What she was looking at through the rear cameras was entirely possible... but it was also entirely wrong. The other airship had no military markings, in fact it had no markings whatsoever. There had been no call with a demand to surrender; Cordell knew Atlas military protocol, and her attacker was not following it.

This was why her father had stolen the prototype and destroyed the plans. This was why she'd never stopped poking about in the black market to see who would have wanted it in the first place. This -- a swift, potent combat airship potentially ending up in the wrong hands. Apparently it had all been for nothing.

They hadn't prevented it. They'd just given it a target.

"Del, is there anyone else in local airspace? Anyone? Even a gods-thrice-damned Atlas patrol?" She quickly keyed up the manual shut-off to the damaged connections and routed in the emergency backups, one hand dancing across buttons and flip-switches while her other jerked the flight stick hard left.

"One. A cargo carrier, ten clicks out. Scans indicate they may possess moderate-to-heavy armaments."

"It'll have t' do. Lock in their coordinates an' send out th' following distress signal on auto-loop." He paused for a moment, focusing to pull the Red Corsair into a steep climb as she hit the under-slung wing thrusters at full tilt. "Whomever's receivin' this -- this is Captain Cordell o' th' Red Corsair. I've come under fire from an unidentified airship an' sustained significant damage. Help get this bastard off'a me an' there's fifteen crates o' industrial-grade Dust in it fer ya, no questions asked. FIFTEEN. CRATES. Onboard me ship, goin' down with me if'n this backstabber gets their way." Despite whipping into a corkscrew and diving hard left, the Red Corsair took another hit from the enemy ship's guns, causing the Red Corsair to shudder from the impact and Cordell to lurch forward against her harness with a pained grunt. "Damn iiiiit!"

Turning in the direction of the cargo ship, the pirate switched off several safeties and accelerated for all her ship was worth. Gauges spiked, needles shot into the orange and teetered on the brink of red. She knew her ship could take this, even in its damaged state... but not for long. If this didn't pay off then she'd risk burning out the fuel cells and induction coils -- the Red Corsair could literally overload and go dark, plunging into the churning, frosty waters below.

It was time to roll the dice...

10
The Vale Region / Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust (AGAT Initiation)
« on: December 07, 2017, 05:27:10 PM »
MISSION SCENARIO:

The mining settlement of Carron Valley in southern Sanus had, from its inception, been a gamble. The area is fairly bleak with little in the way of farm-able lands, instead featuring rocky bluffs, dense forests, whitewater rivers, and huge rocky canyons like the settlement's namesake. What the local area does have, however, is iron -- large supplies of it near the surface and even more below the earth. Prospectors made small fortunes there and mercenaries earned almost as much protecting the town and its many dig sites, even before the excavations uncovered rich Dust veins in the region. Once the Dust began to flow, Carron Valley became a booming outlands hub of raw material commerce.

Two ago, Carron Valley came under attack by a massive wave of Grimm. The defenses held, barely, but something curious happened during the attack which caught the town's defenders by surprise. A lone cargo hauler took off without permission and flew away from the town, and as it left almost a quarter of the attacking Grimm turned and followed it away into the wastelands. The unusual behavior was enough to turn heads, and the town's leaders launched an investigation once everything was secure. The ship belonged to one Tarn Farrus, a known smuggler who'd been under medical observation after passing out in the streets a few days earlier. The clinic he was being kept in was torched as fled, and the recovered bodies of the medical staff there showed signs of violent trauma.

Tarn's ship was found crashed at the edge of a vast pine forest twenty five miles from Carron Valley. Surveys by local pilots and Huntsmen confirm that he has fled into the forest on foot, but his exact whereabouts are unknown. Beacon Academy has been tasked with capturing and questioning Tarn, and they've dispatched Team AGAT -- supported by Doctor Budonoki -- to bring him to justice. Tarn is known to have basic Aura and weapons training but nothing advanced; once found, his capture should be a simple matter. Team AGAT is also tasked with investigating the crashed airship for any clues as to Tarn's whereabouts, the violent shift in his behavior, and why so many Grimm followed him away from the attack on Carron Valley.

Objectives:
 - Deploy to Tarn's crash site and investigate
 - Locate and capture Tarn Farrus






An overnight flight in a small kingdom airship certainly wasn't the most appealing start to a mission, to be sure. The cabin which he and the students had made themselves comfortable -- relatively speaking, at least -- was at least more spacious and with better seats than a Bullhead, but one can only sit in place and try unsuccessfully to sleep for so long. Even meditation had proved elusive, and not for lack of trying. There was something about a pressurized cabin, no matter how generously adorned, that chaffed both mind and body after the first few hours... in Budonoki's experience, at least.

Now, as the sun began to rise outside, the pilot called over the intercom that they were thirty minutes from the crash site. Setting out some dried apricot slices, styrofoam cups of tea poured from a heated thermos, and a few other quick breakfast options, the Faunus professor roused whomever had managed to fall asleep. "Nearly there now. Everyone get something in you to keep your energy up, then check your equipment."

Outside the windows the contrast of the landscape could be seen, barren rocky slabs giving way abruptly to a winding wall of towering pines. The rising sun cast everything into deep relief, painting brilliant ambered hues and inky black shadows with the same broad brushstrokes. It honestly looked like a painting... yet, somewhere in all that natural beauty, a suspected murderer with much to answer for was lurking...

11
The Vale Region / Within Nature, Within One Self (CLOSED)
« on: November 26, 2017, 09:59:40 AM »
  S C E N E ~ M U S I C 
Forever Fall Ambiance
from RWBY: Grimm Eclipse



Ah, Forever Fall... a forest of striking colors and a peaceful, soothing nature. Even with the Grimm that so often lurked here it was hard not to feel a sense of peace under these eternally scarlet boughs, like being wrapped in a vast, fluffy red blanket. And that was the common experience; for those deeply in touch with nature, a walk through Forever Fall quite nearly felt like wandering into a dream.

"Keep pace now, students -- the camp site is in a clearing up ahead." Staff in hand and with a supply pack slung across his back, Budonoki turned and gestured to his small group as they made their way along a winding path. He was very much in his element here and his chosen outfit, a loose fitting tan robe with scarlet leaf accents, almost made it look like he belonged here -- a forest hermit from an earlier age. Still, as much "in nature" as they all were now the trip hadn't been without its modern touches: dropped off by a Bullhead just a few miles back and with a local signal transmitter to boost Scroll reception, the group was hardly cut off from society.

As the trees thinned ahead, a clearing came into sight. It was scattered with old grown-over stone pillars and blocks, ruins from an earlier age no doubt, but otherwise seemed like a very agreeable place to set up camp. In fact, a crate of supplies was waiting for them there -- Budonoki had seen to the group's preparations and provisioning ahead of time, as well as a few things for later on. "Right, then. Students, you can set your packs down wherever you feel comfortable. Go ahead and pick out where you'd like to set up your tents; each of you will have one, but try not to spread out too far." Lifting the lid of the metal crate, the old Faunus began distributing tent kits. "Once you're finished, we can begin the first lesson for out little outing."



(OOC: Quick reminder, there's no set posting order for this thread. Have at it!)

12
Beacon Academy / Physician, Teach Thyself (OPEN to FIRST YEARS)
« on: November 25, 2017, 05:35:44 PM »
(OOC: Just so everyone knows, there's no posting order for this thread -- feel free to pop in or bow out as you see fit.)



Beacon Academy... how many years had it been since he'd walked these hallowed halls? Memories seemed to wash over him with every step, every sound. To think, once a transfer student from a foreign land, that he would now serve here as teacher to many of Remnant's most promising. It was enough to bring a soft smile to his wrinkled old face.

First day. First day teaching. This would doubtless prove to be quite an experience. Walking stick in one hand and lecture notes in the other, Budonoki looked every bit the far-eastern sage turned professional educator in his earth-tone slacks and wooden sandals, forest green shirt, black tie with subtle leaf emboss, and rice hat. Some might even think his appearance comical, and truth be told he wasn't quite sold on the color scheme himself. One had to make due, however; much of his wardrobe was still being shipped over from Mistral, and he wasn't quite sure if a combat gi was proper classroom attire. The students had to stick to a dress code, after all, so he would respect them with efforts towards the same.

Reaching the classroom, he stepped inside to find the risers were nearly full with students chattering away. Ah, how it brought back memories. Quietly sliding the door shut behind him -- and taking a moment to place his staff upright in a large dirt-filled planter near the door -- Budonoki made his way to the lectern and cleared his throat.

"Hello." Waiting a moment for the chatter to subside, he let his eyes and smile travel from face to face, sweeping the room. "Welcome students, to Practical Medicine and First Aid 101. I am Doctor Sophos, your instructor for this course. The goal of this course is to equip you future Huntresses and Huntsmen with the knowledge and skills needed to tend to both ordinary and combat-related wounds, injuries, and ailments when your Aura fails, or in the event of another person needing your care."

Removing his hat and hanging it on the corner of the desk, he looked around with an amicable, welcoming expression. "Now, I am new on the school's staff, but once I was a student here much like yourselves. Does anyone have any questions, about the subject at hand or myself, before we get started?"

13
Plot Zone / Within Nature, Within One Self [FULL]
« on: November 25, 2017, 05:03:02 PM »
It is said
There is no better classroom than life,
No better teacher than experience.



Dr. Budonoki Sophos is organizing a small overnight expedition into the Forever Fall forest for first and second year Beacon students. The trip promises not only extra credit but also wilderness survival training and, given the good doctor's reputation, plenty of sagely wisdom along the way. Come armed and ready -- there are Grimm about, and students will be expected to defend themselves and each other against whatever may come.

Pack your tent, sleeping bag, bug spray, and extra ammo. This little hiking trip promises to be interesting.





SPOTS OPEN: THREAD FULL
Juno Vert
Jocelyn Antiqua
Diana Farran
Helena Chlophyll
Mae Tulimanu
Theodore  Williams


14
Everywhere Else / The Things We Do For Love [VCVS]
« on: November 19, 2017, 05:47:46 PM »
"This is a message for Juno Vert."

With those words, the recording on Juno's Scroll began. The face -- or rather, mask -- of the person speaking was immediately recognizable as belonging to a member of the White Fang, and behind him were several similarly masked individuals bearing rifles, pistols, and blades. Little could be made out of the location due to heavy black drop cloths that had been hung over the walls, obscuring any hints of where and when the video was taken. The speaker stepped slightly closer to the camera. "You might say we've taken an interest in you, especially after your rather thrilling performance at this past Vytal Festival. Shame about the semi-finals -- really, I mean it -- but you showed us just enough to get several people curious. And suffice it to say, the actions you've taken against our brethren in Vale have made you something of a... target of opportunity and interest."

"You have something special, mister Vert. Something that we want."

Grabbing the camera, the speaking White Fang member panned it to one side, bringing into frame a prisoner bound with metal cables to a steel chair. A quick zoom-in and refocus made the details of the captive perfectly clear: she was a Faunus, lean and pale-skinned with droopy canine ears. A blindfold covered her eyes and a length of duct tape could be seen over her mouth, but even with these features covered Juno would recognize Caja instantly. She was roughed up but clearly alive, made plain by her rapid breathing and continual struggling against her restraints. The camera lingered there for a minute before the speaker stepped back into the foreground. "And we have something that you want. Oh, she was a pain to catch, what with that tricky Semblance of hers... but we got her eventually. And now that we have her, you're going to do" He stepped up so his masked face occupied the whole of the video. "Exactly. What. We. Say. Understand? Otherwise we'll start mailing her back to you one small piece at a time."

Stepping back, the kidnapper pulled a piece of paper from his pocket and held it up to the camera. "These are the details of an airship that departs for Wind Path tomorrow, and you're going to be onboard. Bring your tech. Once you arrive you'll get a message on your Scroll telling you where to go. Don't try anything funny, tough guy -- no rescue attempts, no heroics. If you even breathe a word of this to the kingdoms or academies she will die, you got it?"

With that, the message ended.

15
Approved Characters / Dr. Budonoki Sophos
« on: November 19, 2017, 11:57:53 AM »
CHARACTER

Name: Dr. Budonoki Prasinus Sophos

Nicknames: "Budo" (among close colleges and personal friends), "The Surgeon Sage" (common media nickname)

Age: 62

Species and Gender: Lynx Faunus, Male

Symbol:

Spoiler: show


A stylized frond with detached leaves.

Theme Music: Curse Of The Dragon (Shanghai Seven Mix) by The Distillery

Occupation:

Teacher (Hunter Professor) at Beacon Academy (Specialties: Aura Use & Theory, Practical Dust Applications, Wilderness Survival & Tracking, First Aid & Field Medicine)

Former professional Huntsman; Beacon Academy graduate

Former professional surgeon and biotechnologist

Part time medical researcher and experimental botanist

Appearance:

Even at a glance, most people can tell there is something different about Professor Budonoki P. Sophos. The simple fixate on very obvious physical traits of course: things like his distinctive feline Faunus ears poking up pointedly from his graying dark brown hair and tipped with distinctive pointed fur tufts (when his head isn't covered by one of the woven conical hats he favors, at least), or the fact that he seems to have the same old-looking coil-barked walking stick with him at almost all times. The more observant might pick up on the fact that his wardrobe, frequently in earthy shades of green, brown, or off-gray, subtly hints at a wealth he has little desire to flaunt, suggested by the custom tailoring which weaves hints of a vine pattern into both his casual and formal clothes -- this theme is especially pronounced in his combat attire, where thin trails of variable green vine embellishment form an elaborate weave up the entire left-hand side of his charcoal-hued martial arts gi, with which he wears a dark green sash and black tabi boots. However, the most astute will register one aspect of Budonoki above all: his eyes. Bright green and dark brown in a starburst around the iris, his gaze is piercing to hold... but the longer you look, the more you'll see his eyes convey a sense of weight, of knowledge and the burden that comes with it, of a long life of success, failure, and struggle...

Doctor Sophos, as a matter of habit, doesn't go about announcing himself loudly -- this extends to his outfit choices as well as how he carries himself, such that not many people even notice when he enters a room... and, even once inside, few people assume he's important unless told otherwise. Adding to his cat-like features, he keeps his facial hair in a medium-length, pointed set of mutton chops that resemble the "beard" of a wild lynx. His olive skin tone is neither tan nor pale and, aside from some laugh lines and wrinkles showing at the edges, bears surprisingly few signs of aging for a man of his years. In fact, many would guess him to be a decade or more younger than he is -- a side effect of the unique path his life has taken, along with his holistic outlook. The one feature that truly betrays his age is his eyes; no one would mistake the look in those eyes for that of a younger man, certainly.

History:

From his humble beginnings, few would have guessed that young Budonoki would grow to become the sort of man he would eventually become. Born in a small, predominantly Faunus farming community in southwestern Anima, greatness seemed almost as far away from the young boy as the stars themselves. Each day was hard toil, each season one of continual labor just to get by -- it was the only life his family had ever known. Yet, in the back of his mind, Budonoki felt something pull at him, as though the forests beyond the farms were whispering to him, bidding him come hence. At night he could almost hear them in his dreams. Admittedly, this notion terrified his parents to no end; while the area was not known for the ferocity or abundance of its Grimm they still lurked out beyond the walls nonetheless, and it wasn't unheard of to find the remains of travelers along the road to the nearest towns. Words of caution were urged, and the boy obeyed... mostly.

One muggy summer's eve, while the family was bringing their harvest to market, the forest's summons became too much. Half in a daze, ten year old Budonoki wandered from the camp and stumbled through the trees as if lured by a siren's song. At the time, all he could remember was that it was beautiful, more beautiful than anything he'd heard in his entire life. You might expect that this is when the boy would have his first fateful encounter with the creatures of Grimm, but no -- the entire night passed without incident, and the next morning his terrified family found him fast asleep among the roots of an oak tree. They had not only feared the worst but literally been forced to fend off a Beowolf in their search, not to mention hearing the distant howls of a whole Beowolf pack, yet the unarmed child had spent the whole night in the creatures' territory and suffered no harm. His family passed it off as impossible luck, a fluke of good fortune and childhood innocence, and after a good scolding they thought little more of it for almost a year. That was when a wandering Huntress sojourned in the family farm while passing through the area and discovered, much to her astonishment, that the child -- who had never had any formal training -- was generating an Aura with so much natural ease that even he didn't realize he was doing it. Much discussion followed, with the conclusion drawn that something must have happened in the forest that night, something that awakened young Budonoki's soul.

The boy's talents would be wasted on a small farm, or so the Huntress made her case that the family, and asked them to entrust him for training to one of the Academies. Haven seemed the logical choice, and after some consideration the boy's parents agreed. This was, after all, his chance to make a better life for himself. With tears and hugs he was sent off on his way to a much bigger, much stranger world than he had ever known.

Being only twelve upon arriving in Mistral, Budonoki was entrusted to a small preparatory boarding school in the city's mid-level districts. It was here that he discovered his thirst for knowledge, hungrily scouring the school's library for any tome that sparked his curiosity -- and there were plenty that did. History, art, science, philosophy, his young mind soaked it up like a sponge and went back for more, spending a great many nights reading under the blankets by flashlight long past the official lights-out call. Along the way he also discovered a passion for the natural world, feeling just as drawn to the vast stretches of green around the city as he had the bordering forests of the humble farm. Luckily the city's elaborate gardens and parks sated the itch for nature he so often felt; it was there that Budonoki often found himself when he needed calm, or just an escape from those among his classmates who bullied him for having "beast ears". Bringing his two passions together brought out the best results: if given a chance to study in the school's vegetable garden, which he often did, Budonoki's mind became incredibly sharp -- his test results, although always strong, were absolutely flawless when the season was warm and the weather agreeable. Nature, clearly, brought out the best within him, and when pressed he would just remark that he felt "more aware" among the greens and leaves and blossoms. This carried over when practical combat training began; in the school's practice room the young man was a middling fighter at best among his peers, but out on the grass he moved with a surety that seemed nearly preternatural. Confused and fascinated, the teachers consulted with the staff at Haven, concluding ultimately that a Semblance was likely at work here.

When he began his first year at Haven four years later, Budonoki was a capable young student but more scholar than warrior. He soon began to find himself left behind. As word of his nature-focused Semblance spread he began to lose him the advantages he'd once enjoyed at the lower school. While he remained a model student academically he struggled in practicals, especially sparring -- even when matches were held outdoors his opponents had largely figured out that assaulting the local greenery or removing Budonoki from it turned him into a distracted, easy opponent. Feeling himself slipping but not wanting to give up on becoming a Huntsman, Budonoki caught wind of an inter-academy exchange student program and signed up at once, in hopes that new environs and new teachers could help him improve as a warrior. A few months later he was on an airship headed to the kingdom of Vale, whereupon he would end up partnered with a striking young woman named Sienna Andraste and on a team of one young Alec Chadwick. Things were rough at first as cultural and personal differences were ironed out, but by the end of the first semester the teammates were inseparable. Budonoki petitioned Haven for permission to stay on as a full student of Beacon, a petition which was accepted. The next three years passed almost as if a golden dream, flush with camaraderie and victories and the endless vigor of youth. By the time Budonoki graduated he was not only the intellectual equal of many of his teachers but a competent Huntsman with either his staff or his bare hands. Feeling indomitable, the team decided to stick together and see where their new careers would take them.

The turmoil of the Faunus Revolution initially seemed far away during those days of simple heroics and warm-hearted revelry... though Budonoki could never quite bring himself to forget about his homeland of Anima, nor the plight of his people there. When Sienna died a terrible death in combat, the team shattered and began to drift; Budonoki, for his part, could no longer ignore the call to defend the Faunus of Anima from the injustices and aggression they suffered. For a period of two years he aided a resistance group which operated out of Anima's woodlands and forests, using his talents as a scout to keep his fellow freedom fighters concealed from retaliation while also learning how to do the work of a field medic.

The Faunus Revolution, at last, came to a close. Now a very different man and having forsaken much of his idealism, Budonoki attempted to return home... only to find that his family farmstead was gone, attacked by Grimm and evacuated during the war. Lacking direction and in turmoil within himself, Budonoki wandered for a few years and eventually aligned himself with a small order of monks and mystics who practiced an ancient, Judo-like form of martial arts as well as deep meditation. Five years of training and soul searching with the monks allowed him to recenter himself as a person and tap into depths of his Aura and Semblance that the ignorance of youth and the strife of war had nearly blinded him to. He had forged himself into a warrior, yes... but he was not a creature of war. Even during the Revolution he had very seldom shed blood, spending nearly as much time patching up his comrades as he had fighting humans. No... his way was different, he realized: a fight to protect life, not to take it. Finding himself restored and whole within, he said fond farewells to the monks and set out once more. He instinctively felt there was a new path for himself, and knew with certainty that he was meant to be a healer just as much as a protector.

Starting over again in a new profession wasn't easy, but Budonoki dedicated himself to his studies as intently as he ever had. After five years in medical school and a two year apprenticeship under one of the greatest surgeons in Mistral, Budonoki became a fully licensed surgical physician and went on to make a name for himself. He had his critics and doubters along the way, to be sure -- despite its diversity there was still plenty of prejudice against Faunus in Mistral, in some ways more-so following the end of the war -- but talent and hard work have a way of silencing bitter voices, especially in a field where able hands are perpetually in high, even urgent, demand. While travelling to various villages to fulfill his practicums he took an interest in plant-sourced remedies, and here his deep connection with nature led him to several discoveries that would ultimately result in medical breakthroughs. Taking a strong interest in bio-engineering, he founded a small biotech firm called LifeWeave so that the work that he began was able to be carried on by others under his guidance. The company grew and prospered rapidly... but Budonoki, for all his talents, was no businessman -- after just a few years he sold most of his stake in LifeWeave and stepped down from ownership. He would still found ways to contribute now and then, and his departing arrangements made it possible to tap a limited measure of company resources as he needed, but other things were calling to him now.

Beacon was calling him back -- he could feel it in his soul. When he put in an application to come on as a teacher he wasn't immediately sure if they would take him, given his age and how long he'd been away from fighting Grimm. Yet it seemed someone there decided he would be a worthwhile addition to the staff. Time, of course, would tell how it played out...


Personality:

Dr. Budonoki is a quiet, sagely sort of person. Quick to listen and slow to speak, he gives off the impression of having a soul from an earlier time despite how easily he navigates the modern world. Not only is he the sort to drink rose hip tea while reading up on the latest medical breakthroughs, he has a penchant for trying to incorporate elements of nature into both his personal and professional life -- teaching classes outdoors (when the weather permits), filling his apartment with potted plants, that sort of thing. His outlook centers upon careful consideration, balance, and avoiding unnecessary conflict, which is reflected in his teaching style through giving his students as much chance to explore and reach their own conclusions as possible.

The elephant in the room, of course, is that Budonoki is a Faunus, something he does not try to disguise. Though he largely keeps his views on matters of human-Faunus relations to himself he does feel great sorrow that, with all the true monsters in the world, humanity will so often look to those who are different from themselves as yet more monsters... and, in terrible irony, sometimes act monstrously themselves in response. He has no love for the White Fang, seeing their violence as misguided and repeating a senseless and destructive cycle; people, he has long since realized, cannot be forced into changing their beliefs and prejudices, and that far too often deeds done in the name of "justice" are just as guided by fear and othering as the worst of crimes. If anything, he views teaching as the surest path to change -- a major reason why he sought to come back and work at Beacon.

Despite what one may think, Budonoki's Semblance doesn't effect his eating habits quite as much as it might. Having grown up on a farm he is long since used to living off the land, and as a biologist he understands the necessary cycle of seed-bearing fruits and vegetables (viewing them as "offerings of the land"). However, he tries to avoid plant foodstuffs he views as "made through suffering" -- chiefly saps and sugarcane. As a consequence he has long since weaned himself off of most common sweets, opting instead for honey or sugar derived from sugarbeets. This awareness of food sourcing extends to meat as well, leading him to consume fairly little beef, poultry, and fish and commonly substituting tofu in their place. Many spices, chiefly those derived from roots and stems, are out as well -- he concedes, however, that leaves are to a plant much like hair is to a person and can, within respectful limits, be removed without causing lasting harm. Some would say it's a bland way to live life, and Budonoki doesn't judge them for their choices, but for him it is about facing nature with a clean conscience.

To the surprise of many, Budonoki's hobbies and interests extend beyond gardening, meditation, research, and rose hip tea -- he's also a surprisingly talented dancer, for one thing, with an excellent sense of rhythm and movement. He knows and practices a little bit of street magic every now and then, far preferring the sort of illusions that involve making objects vanish and reappear to what he views as the "uninspired" card tricks and number games many performers rely on.


Apartment:

Despite having the money to afford a house in the upper class area of the city, Doctor Budonoki opts instead to live on the top floor of a tall apartment complex in part of the residential district not far from Beacon. Not only does it give him a quick and easy commute to work, but it has other advantages as well. As part of his lease agreement for the apartment itself Budonoki was able to install a large shatter-proof glass greenhouse on the roof of the apartment building, taking advantage of the elevation and open sky to more easily create and control growing conditions. Here he experiments, trying out various innovative approaches on an assortment of plant species. Of particular note are his experiments with Dust as a soil additive: dozens of plant varieties are painstakingly cultivated in premium soil containing many types and saturation mixes of Dust in it. It was from a personal research bed much like this that he grew his Vine, and he often returns it to a special soil bed here to nourish and restore it. It also turns out that carefully limited Dust exposure can lead to simpler, but still remarkable, changes in various plant characteristics. Under low light conditions some of the plants he grows seem almost to shine and shimmer; the greenhouse's hot peppers can actually cause people and animals who eat them to literally breathe fire (with little to no control, it should be warned) for up to fifteen minutes, and those are just a few of the botanical wonders he has wrought. None of the research is at a stage where Budonoki is ready to share his discoveries with the world just yet, but it does make for quite a tour. If you're invited to visit, be sure to try the blueberries!

The apartment itself is decorated in a very Asian style in keeping with certain traditional aesthetics from Anima, though with the occasional modern flourish added in for effect: floor cushions and woven rice mats, shōji and darkly laquered low-set furniture, and many types of potted plants scattered about are somehow harmonized with bookcases full of texts on medicine, philosophy, and teaching, a holographic TV screen, and a handful of abstract art pieces hung upon the walls. For those with the proper mindset, Doctor Budonoki's apartment is a place where you can simultaneously lose yourself and feel right at home, a refuge of thought and stillness overlooking the city.


Aura and Semblance:

Budonoki's Aura is a fresh fern green, which chiefly becomes visible when he's meditating.

His Semblance is known as Verdant Sense, and confers several benefits. In simplest terms, Budonoki "feels" the plant life around him as a type of perpetual sixth sense. When someone steps on a blade of grass or brushes against a fern, if he's close enough he'll sense it in the back of his mind. If a tree is scorched by flame or carved into by a blade he will "hear" it "cry out" in suffering; if a person or creature is perched in its branches he will "feel" it sag and "hear" the tree "sigh" from the added weight. This early warning system also doubles as a tracking aid: should he come across the path a person or creature took through the underbrush he can trace the "memory" of their passing through the vegetation, even up to a full week after the fact (though fresher trails are, by far, better). The more greenery around him the sharper his Verdant Sense becomes, going from virtually nonexistent in an urban setting to shockingly accurate in dense jungles or forests. To put that in practical terms: if a Beowolf were to walk across a grassy yard in a village he would feel a 'presence', have a rough idea of where it was and how big it was, but little more, while in a forest he could at once identify the Beowolf, be able to guess at its strength, and know whether or not it was wounded by the way its body moved, all without ever so much as seeing the creature. This awareness extends beyond physical bodies: he can sense nearly anything that effects the local plant life, much as if the foliage were speaking directly into his mind. The standard range of his awareness is a 50 foot radius, giving him decent coverage of his immediate surroundings, but this can be expanded ten-fold if he sits, calms his mind, and attunes himself to a meditative state. The more surrounded by nature Budonoki is the more easily he can achieve this -- he cannot, however, move or fight without breaking his meditation in doing so.

As you might expect, the Verdant Sense means that Budonoki is the master of his surroundings in any sufficiently green area, making it child's play to avoid threats and launch ambushes. His Semblance, however, has been finely tuned through experience and deep introspection, strengthening the bond between Huntsman and wilderness yet further. When fighting in forests or jungles Budonoki's Aura is bolstered as well: he strikes harder, runs faster, heals from injuries quicker, and shrugs off Aura damage more easily. To put a number to it, his combat attributes are at 150% of their normal levels while in this boosted state. He also becomes a blind spot to the emotion-senses of Grimm when boosted, meaning that if they don't perceive him with their regular five senses they won't even know he's there.

There is a major drawback to this Semblance, one that can be exploited by a knowledgeable enough -- or simply destructive enough -- opponent: cause enough damage to the local flora and Budonoki's Verdant Sense can become overloaded with "screams of pain" from the vegetation. The greater the damage, the worse the experience is for him: he can shrug off the sensation of a tree being smashed apart thanks to years of experience and focus of will, but put him in the middle of a raging forest fire or other large-scale devastation and not only does he immediately become disoriented and unable to fight effectively, he risks going catatonic from prolonged exposure. Nature is Budonoki's heaven... but should the greenery be plunged into hell he will be dragged down with it.

Budonoki is also a fighter deeply in tune with his Aura, and as such can wield it expertly. His bare hands can project concentrated Aura to form protective barriers up to two feet wide or, alternatively, deliver Aura-infused strikes that cause small destructive shockwaves on contact (much the way Lie Ren and Fox do). Using these techniques can be taxing on his Aura, however, and as a result any Aura damage he takes while using these techniques or up to a minute afterwards hits twice as hard as normal.


Combat Behavior:

Budonoki fights as a martial artist does, whether using the Vine, his staff, or his hands and feet. His approach to combat is to engage up close and personal, relying on reflex, agility, and skill to create openings in his opponents' attacks. As far as physical attributes go he leans heavily towards speed over strength, able to dash about rapidly and with great precision in even complex, busy spaces. With the exception of Grimm, however, he typically fights to disable his opponents rather than destroy them, preferring to do as little harm as possible in order to resolve a conflict -- this sometimes causes him to underestimate an opponent or let a fight drag on longer than it ought to, which can and will come around to bite him. In a fight against human or Faunus opponents he will often target pressure points; he is knowledgeable enough that a few good strikes once someone's Aura is down can numb their arms or legs for a solid five minutes or more, or outright render someone unconscious. Against strong Grimm he pivots to a strategy of luring the creatures onto ground that favors him, utilizing terrain to gain an advantage and expose weak points, all with the goal of ending the fight as quickly and with as little destruction as possible.

As physical resilience is not exactly his strongest attribute, Budonoki has learned to favor Judo-style grapples, throws, and disarming maneuvers. He can take a hit, certainly, but he can't take many, especially when away from the lush grounds that grant him combat advantage. He's also at a disadvantage when fighting foes at long range, as both his fighting style and choice of weaponry tend to focus on close and mid-range combat almost exclusively.


EQUIPMENT / ACCESSORIES

First Aid Salve: One of the many products of the doctor's research, this salve is a medical aid intended to treat standard combat wounds, accelerate Aura-based healing, and stabilize the critically injured until they can be properly cared for. It looks like a green paste and has the smooth, spreadable consistency of chocolate pudding while smelling strongly of bitter herbs (and faint hints of nutmeg, for some reason). This topical salve is a densely packed slurry of nutrients and biological building blocks, along with a special Dust blend designed to stimulate and accelerate the proliferation phase of healing -- when applied to an open wound the salve encourages both body and Aura to focus on rebuilding nearby tissues, serving like a rich supply drop in the body's fight to restore itself. As a result the body increases the rate of producing scar tissue and knitting itself together in the effected area  by around 25%; if combined with an active Aura, even a weakened one, a person will heal at a rate almost 50% faster than they would otherwise. The salve was originally formulated to serve a post-surgical role but has shown itself versatile for a wide array of uses. While it cannot replace the work of a medical professional should someone, for example, get stabbed through and begun bleeding out, it can act as a stabilizing agent until help arrives.

Budonoki always keeps at least three doses of salve on his person and will stock up if preparing himself or others for a dangerous mission. The salve is still technically in clinical trials but LifeWeave expects to bring it to market within a year's time; the doses Budonoki carries are from a personal supply. Side effects include headache, mild fatigue, dizziness, and faintly glowing skin in the applied area. Less than 2% of trial participants experienced troubled breathing, accelerated heart rate, nausea, blurred vision, and brief loss of consciousness while using this product. If you are allergic to any form of Dust you should not use this product. Talk to your doctor and see if First Aid Salve is right for you (patent pending).


WEAPON

Name: Extendable Combat Staff

Primary Form: The weapon does not so much have 'forms' as it does 'settings' -- this staff, a very simple and unassuming metal pole in appearance, has on its main segment several recessed buttons which toggle the length it extends to. Due to the wonders of Remnant's micro-engineering technologies the staff can collapse down to being a mere foot long (for easy storage) or extend to an almost mind-blowing thirty feet long, all with the press of a button. The micro-hydraulics that drive the lightweight segmented metal lengths are top-tier tech, enabling the staff to go from fully collapsed to full extension in just over two seconds, making it a viable countermeasure when facing foes at close or moderate range. It is, ultimately, just a (variable) length of metal -- this weapon has no gun mode and cannot strike foes at any further out than its reach. It's standard combat length is just shy of six feet long, meaning it is very similar to a bo staff in practical use.

Secondary Form: (N/A)

Tertiary Form: (N/A)

Dust Functions: (N/A)

History: Budonoki has had many staves down through the years -- in his youth he fought with a blade-tipped staff that was functionally no different from a spear or halberd, during the Faunus Revolution he brought into battle a staff with electrified whip-like extensions intended to shut down anyone who engaged him in close quarters, but during his time with the monks Budonoki put aside these warlike implements. Now, as a teacher at a school to train warriors, he takes up a staff once again -- one designed not to slay, but to defend. The piece was commissioned from an expert weapon smith, intended to incorporate high-end design and sturdy, lightweight alloys with a simplicity and directness of purpose. Budonoki tends to rely on it chiefly in situations where he'd rather not reveal what his other staff, the Vine, is really capable of.



WEAPON

Name: 'Project Triple Helix-V, Specimen 27-08: Aura-Responsive Structured Bio-Engineering Prototype with Dust Aspects', AKA "The Vine"

Primary Form: [WOODEN STAFF]
The Vine's most practiced form by far is as a simple wooden staff -- in this state it curls tightly in on itself and forms a gnarled woody exterior shell which is almost as strong and resilient as metal. The staff form is four and a half feet long and entirely unassuming in appearance; to look at it you would never know Budonoki had painstakingly engineered it in a lab instead of merely picking it up on a walk through the woods. As the Vine is attuned to his Aura it also channels it very well -- while all weapons of Huntsmen and Huntresses are conduits for their Aura, a living conduit like the Vine is able to benefit from the defensive and healing qualities of Aura particularly well, giving the staff a resiliency few other weapons can claim and the ability to mend itself over time.

Secondary Form: [FRUITING BRANCH]
The Vine can be coaxed by Budonoki to rapidly bud, self-pollinate, and produce a softball-sized spherical fruit that resembles a pomegranate. For the record, this is not the sort of fruit you want to try and eat -- when lobbed at an enemy they rupture in a large, messy burst two feet wide that covers targets in sticky amber-colored sap. The sap rapidly hardens, making it difficult for large targets to move and potentially immobilizing smaller targets (especially when multiple doses of sap are applied). If the Vine is fed a Dust crystal these fruit-grenades can also carry various elemental bursts (see Dust Functions), not all of which produce sap. The Vine can produce one fruit every two minutes regularly, up to fifteen a day before its ability to fruit is exhausted; to accelerate the process Budonoki can "plant" one end of the staff into the ground, causing it to create temporary roots and draw nutrients from the soil. In decent quality soil this can accelerate fruit production to a rate of one every twenty seconds; if the soil is poor (sand, for example) this confers no benefit. The Vine can also be "planted" in water to engorge the fruit, resulting in sap bursts up to six feet wide instead of the standard two.

In this form the Vine is functionally little different from it's wooden staff state, though the woody exterior becomes thinner, greener, and somewhat more prone to damage to as the plant focuses on growth instead of protection.

Tertiary Form: [TRUE VINE]

In its other forms, the Vine doesn't so much resemble a vine as it does a stick; this one is the exception. At Budonoki's prompting the Vine sheds its wooden shell and becomes a flexible, elastic, and nimble green whip which moves not just when swung like a conventional weapon but also based on thought, reacting reflexively to subtle shifts in Budonoki's Aura. Fully extended, the Vine as a whip normally has a reach of up to fifteen feet... but this can be expanded.

Instead of actively wielding the Vine in this state Budonoki can "plant" it in suitable soil, causing it to grow -- and rather fast at that. It can double its length in less than a minute and sprout new extensions just as fast, meaning that within ten minutes the Vine can spread to cover a wide area. As the Vine grows in length it also becomes stronger; Budonoki's favored tactic when doing this is to have the Vine curl around and immobilize enemy targets, although it can be used in other ways as well. Vine tendrils can extend underground, reaching up snag feet, crumble loose terrain, or even create tunnels once they become long enough. If high levels of force are needed the Vine tendrils can weave together into a solid mass, lashing out with enough force to shatter the body of a Petra Gigas. In this state the Vine can regrow just as rapidly as it grows, meaning that hacking away at its tendrils will only delay it for so long. The one downside to this rapid growth is that Budonoki must remain completely still while directing it, entering into a meditative state which, if disturbed by injury or interruption, will cause the Vine to rapidly wither back down to its original size. Therefore its a bad idea for him to use the Vine in this way without allies to cover him, as it renders him dangerously exposed.

Feeding the Vine a Dust crystal in this state causes it to grow inch-long thorns which carry elemental attributes (see Dust Functions).

Dust Functions:

It should be noted that powdered or granular Dust confers no combat benefits to the Vine -- to have any effect it needs a Dust crystal, which it will take into itself and digest to create the resulting effects.

[FRUIT]

Air Dust -- Causes the erupting fruit to explode over a much larger radius (15 ft) and with enough force to knock over a human-sized target who takes a direct hit.

Ice Dust -- Replaces the sap inside the fruit with a bitterly cold liquid which freezes on contact and produces a large cloud of fog over the span of five minutes before evaporating (this can be extended or shortened due to ambient temperature and weather conditions). Best used with engorged fruit for maximum effect.

Fire Dust -- Instead of hardening, the sap produced by the fruit becomes highly acidic, enough to cause a painful burn on contact with exposed skin. If ingested by a creature with no Aura (fruit thrown into a Grimm's mouth, for example) the acidic sap can burn its way through internal organs and kill the victim from the inside out within a handful of minutes, causing incredible pain in the meantime.

Earth Dust -- Strengthens the sap, resulting in it taking on the durability of concrete as well as a dark, earthy hue once hardened. While hardening the sap becomes elastic and rubbery, making it especially difficult to break free of.

Electricity Dust -- Instead of sap, the exploding fruit releases a ten foot wide cloud of semi-translucent off-yellow vapor which, when breathed in, has a numbing effect. The vapor cloud can linger for up to two minutes before losing strength, and the longer a person or creature stays in the cloud the greater the effect. Full exposure has the benefit of severely dulling pain but also making it hard to feel one's arms and legs; this effect can last for up to ten minutes, with diminished exposure resulting in lesser effects and quicker recovery time.

Gravity Dust -- Instead of sap, the exploding fruit produces a dim purplish-gray cloud which lingers in place for up to two minutes, regardless of the effects of wind, shockwaves, or other forces which would disperse a common haze. Anything that passes through this cloud experiences 10% less gravity for roughly a minute, making it possible to run faster, jump higher, strike harder, or even slow down falls if used properly.

[THORNS]

Ice Dust -- These razor-sharp pale-blue thorns bear an icy chill but are susceptible to flame; Budonoki can cause the Vine to launch them like throwing knives at targets. The effect lasts for one minute.

Earth Dust -- The curved hook-shaped thorns produced by an Earth Dust crystal may not be as sharp as the Ice variety but they are impressively strong and difficult to break off. The Vine itself also hardens and becomes slower but more damage resistant. The effect lasts for one minute.

Electricity Dust -- Electricity sparks and arches between these needlepoint thorns like a live electrical circuit, shocking anything they touch. The individual thorns are fragile but damaging them causes a brief electrical surge, doubling the pain for anyone unfortunate enough to be in their grip. The effect lasts for one minute.


History: The project which gave rise to the Vine was inspired by an old legend commonly told in the area of Anima where Budonoki grew up. "The Story of the Great Forest", sometimes referred to as "The Tale of First Weapons", tells of a time before mankind's discovery of Dust -- a time when the world was still young and the soul of nature itself resided in a vast forest of immeasurable size. The story goes that in those days the creatures of Grimm scoured the earth, their destructive impulses bent upon wiping out nature... and, over many seasons, their perpetual assault on the Great Forest weakened it. Before the darkness could overwhelm the forest entirely it entrusted five seeds to a great sage, desiring that they be planted across the entire world that nature might endure. The seeds did indeed sprout and give rise to forests of their own, covering the world in lush green life, but each one also grew something special: an expression of the Great Forest's power, a unique living tool by which the sage and a chosen few might defend nature against the dark forces. The seed which grew in the east became known as The Leaf, and called a light-hearted wanderer to don it as a cloak and command the grace of the wind itself. The seed grown in the west gave rise to The Root, summoning a vigilant farmer to bear it upon his feet and legs and command the strength and stability of the earth. The seed of the south, The Thorn, called a fierce warrior to take it up as a might blade, and the seed of the north, The Bark, bound itself to a motherly protector as an unflinching suit of armor. The sage, seeing the Great Forests' gifts, carefully tended the last seed himself -- it grew into a long and reaching Vine, deeply connected to the land and the pulse of the world and, in the form of a staff, the Vine and the sage traveled the world and tended to the first verdant shoots of human and Faunus civilization.

Whether there is any truth to this tale or not, it inspired Budonoki as a young child and has continued to captivate his imagination well into his older years. When he first began experimenting with bio-engineering the idea of creating a plant hybrid that emulated the seeds of the Great Forest was just a musing, an idle notion in the back of his mind... but also one that refused to go away. Once LifeWeave became an established company he had the resources on hand to find out what was possible, and what followed were many long nights in a private lab splicing genes, infusing micro-doses of Dust, and carefully exposing the resultant seedling to his Aura in hopes of creating a bond. Even with Budonoki's Semblance giving him deep insights into each specimen the first 26 batches were failures, falling to mutations or simply being unable to cope with the changes taking place inside themselves... but upon crafting batch 27 something remarkable happened: one of the specimens began to evolve, not only coping with the alterations and Dust infusions but embracing them in a stable, responsive manner. Budonoki took great pains to nurse this specimen to full maturity, exposing it to his Aura as it grew until the plant almost seemed to respond to his thoughts. To say it became almost like a child to him wouldn't be an exaggeration -- he's been known to refer to the Vine as his "old friend" and speak to it like a person, going to great lengths to nurture it and improve its capabilities.

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