Wednesday, January 19, 2011

[DND] Character Conversion - Street Fighter: Ryu vs. Ken

Capcom's world-renowned fighting game series Street Fighter is legendary, and the main character duo of Ryu and Ken stand at the top of the ever-growing roster of characters. While my personal favorite is the ninja girl Ibuki, and I wanted to post a D&D character conversion concept post for her first, I felt I would be remiss if I didn't start at the beginning.

In the videogame, ever since Street Fighter II,  Ryu and Ken have shared the same list of special attacks: the Hadoken fireball, the Shoryuken leaping uppercut, and the Tatsumaki Senpukyaku spinning jump kick. In later versions, the designers and developers kept the "clone characters" feel of the two by keeping their control input the same, but at the same time giving each fighter a different flavor by changing the effects of the attacks. Ryu's Hadoken became larger and stronger with more variation, while Ken's Shoryuken grew more powerful and his Tatsumaki Senpukyaku spun faster.

In coming up with how to best represent these two iconic heavyweights in D&D terms, I knew I wanted to keep their Power selection identical. Thanks to the 4th Edition system of Builds within Classes, I could make two identical characters feel completely different, just like they do in the videogame. I also wanted to identify a few key themes that would help guide my choices along the way:
  • powerful martial arts attacks
  • high-flying athleticism and acrobatics
  • combination of physical and spiritual strength
  • emphasis on speed and resilience
  • no armor, no weapons
To start, I based both Ryu and Ken on a Human Monk. This race/class combo touches on all of the key themes above, and many of the special Full Discipline movement techniques can help to make the character feel like he stepped right out of a videogame and onto the game table. Rather than selecting an extra At-Will power, I took the new Human racial ability, Heroic Effort, instead.

I decided to make Ryu the more spiritual and resilient of the two, since his character reflects a more practiced study of self-improvement via martial arts, so he gets the Iron Soul class feature. For his background, I selected Wanderer (+2 Perception) from Psionic Power because he is literally the wandering warrior of the Street Fighter franchise.

For Ryu's ability scores, I focused on Dexterity first, like all Monks, and Constitution second, for better hit points and healing surges, plus it increases the damage dealt by the Iron Soul Flurry of Blows class feature:
STR 12
CON 14
DEX 16 (18)
INT 10
WIS 14
The low Charisma score is there to reflect Ryu's aloof and stern personality, as well as his unintentional condescension toward defeated opponents. He's a bit of a dick.

I chose skill training a bit differently between the two fighters because their characteristics and ability scores favored different skills. For Ryu, I trained:
Acrobatics, Athletics, Endurance, Heal, Perception
Nothing fancy, but it's enough to reflect Ryu's wandering ways and self-sufficiency.

Returning focus back to Ken now, I decided that his hot-headed and competitive nature is best represented by the raw power of the Monk's Stone Fist class feature. As the son of a wealthy hotel owner, I gave Ken the Noble (+2 Diplomacy) background from Player's Handbook 2. It was Ken who found Ryu in seclusion after his fight with Sagat, giving Ryu words of encouragement and his now-trademark red headband to snap him out of his funk.

I wanted Ken's ability scores to make him feel more offensive, so I stacked Dexterity and Strength, but I dropped Wisdom and Constitution a bit to reflect his more impetuous tendencies and his more sheltered urban American lifestyle. This made room for more Charisma (Ken has a hot blonde wife! He's gotta be at least a little likeable).
STR 14
CON 13
DEX 16 (18)
INT 10
WIS 11
CHA 12
In the skill training department, I stuck pretty close to Ryu's same skills, except for one personality vs. survivability choice:
Acrobatics, Athletics, Diplomacy, Endurance, Perception
For these two fighters, I wanted their main differences to be apparent in their class features, their ability scores, and the effects of their identical power selection. With this in mind, I purposely chose rather generic feats that helped both Ryu and Ken with defenses, accuracy, and speed, but did not directly enhance any other specific features. In no particular order, I selected:
Improved Monk Unarmed Strike, Improved Defenses, Improved Initiative, Human Perseverance, Unarmored Agility, Action Surge, Fast Runner
And then it came time to choose the powers, and this is what I decided:
  • (L1, At-Will) Crane's Wings - The leaping kick of this power is highly evocative of the typical jump/kick/sweep combo that Ken and Ryu can do, especially if you Action Point into...
  • (L1, At-Will) Dragon's Tail - This power's movement technique, which lets you swap places with a prone target, feels a lot like Ken's & Ryu's throw.
  • (L1, Encounter) Rising Storm - Advantage: Ken. While this attack only targets one creature, it can still damage multiple adjacent enemies, and Ken's higher Strength makes his that much more powerful. The flight technique makes this a good fit for the duo's tatsumaki senpukyaku "hurricane kick" special move.
  • (L1, Daily) Stunning Palm - Combo, combo, combo, STUN! This attack simulates a rapid assault that leaves the target defenseless with little birdies or skulls floating around his head.
  • (L2, Daily) Fighting Fury - Advantage: Ken. This utility is good for both fighters, but Ken will find it more potent since he's the more reckless and "furious" fighter.
  • (L3, Encounter) Enduring Champion - Advantage: Ryu. Extra saving throws always come in handy, but with his higher Wisdom score, Ryu stands a better chance of shaking off debilitating effects with this power -- and he inflicts a few extra points of damage while doing it.
  • (L5, Daily) Thunderbolt Surge - This is your hadoken!
  • (L6, Encounter) Iron Heart Endurance - Advantage: Ryu. The more patient of the duo, Ryu's tempered spirit grants him a more substantial temporary boost from this power.
  • (L7, Encounter) Titan's Step - Advantage: Ken. The movement technique that creates difficult terrain adjacent to where your jump lands paints a powerful image. Ken's Strength makes his attack more violent, but the push effect creates a dramatic finish for both fighters.
  • (L9, Daily) Immolating Fist - This is your shoryuken!
  • (L10, Encounter) Confirmation of Spirit - Advantage: Ryu. Again, the more focused and disciplined Ryu aims to outlast his opponent, regaining more hit points with this power than his rash and impetuous counterpart, Ken.
I did not do any magic item shopping for these builds, but I'd recommend the obvious choices of Emerald Flame ki focus or Blazing Arc ki focus for Ken, Iron Body ki focus or maybe Impeding ki focus for Ryu, and the Iron Armbands of Power are always popular among melee strikers.

Ryu's iplay4e link:

Ken's iplay4e link:

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