I met with my mid-week group to discuss Savage RIFTS. We’re all on board with it, and I took them through the three frameworks I worked up a few weeks back.
The “Top Gun Manistique” idea held much appeal, but we decided to put that one on hold—it’s been ages since we played RIFTS, and the consensus was that a more generalized framework would work better for our inaugural outing.
So we decided on a campaign of Atlantean freedom fighters and their allies operating out of the MARTA tunnels under the ruins of Atlanta, plotting the downfall of the Splugorth. One of my players had already pitched a concept of a runaway Blind Warrior Woman who underwent Juicer modification to better help her in her quest to kill her former Slaver and liberate her sisters from bondage, and that concept fits in perfectly with this framework.
My other player, who is far less well-versed in RiftsLore, went through several different ideas before settling on a Dragon Hatchling. Considering the campaign is going to be heavy on Atlantean and Splugorthian themes, I suggested he consider a Chiang-Ku as his species, to which he agreed wholeheartedly.
Which means it's time to do another conversion. In the process, I'm going to rewrite the Chiang-Ku backstory ever so slightly. As with my previous effort, this went pretty smoothly, and I think I'm in the ballpark as far as balancing with a more "normal" dragon like the Flame Wind.
Chiang-Ku Dragon Hatchling
The creatures called Chiang-Ku Dragons first came to Earth over 10,000 years ago. Experienced dimensional travelers, they took a liking to this little backwater and its single sentient species. Disguised as humans or operating openly in their full serpentine glory, the Chiang-Ku taught the people of Africa, Atlantis, East Asia, and Mesoamerica the secrets of stone magic and geomancy, kickstarting human civilization in the process.
The fall of Atlantis marked the end of serious Chiang-ku presence on Earth. Untold numbers of dragons died alongside their Atlantean allies as the continent vanished from the planet’s surface, and many more fled through dimensional portals as magic began draining from the atmosphere. Those very few that remained, by choice or otherwise, went into hiding and, by the time of the Great Cataclysm, all had met their doom one way or another.
Atlantis’ end also marked the beginning of the end for the Chiang-Ku on a broader scale. Masters of the esoteric arts of tattoo magic and alchemy, their knowledge was much sought-after by the Splugorth Empire, who hunted the dragons to the brink of extinction. In the process, the Splugorth stole the Chiang-Ku’s arcane powers and turned them to evil. The Chiang-Ku are now widely believed by most Atlanteans and Splugorth alike to be extinct.
They very nearly are. In the whole of the Multiverse, only a few score Chiang-Ku yet live. Of that tiny number, two dozen are on Earth even now, pursuing various ends both noble and nefarious. Many, like the inscrutable lord of the Phoenix Empire, are wholly turned to evil and ally openly with those who once drove their kind to the brink of oblivion. Meanwhile, the Chiang-Ku who wish to further the noble deeds of their forebears must operate in secret, usually assuming some form of disguise so that their true nature is not discovered.
To say the least, Chiang-Ku hatchlings are very few and far between. Such creatures, should they be discovered, find themselves the immediate target of the Splugorth, the Coalition, and evil Chiang-Ku, all of whom will wish to turn the young dragon to their own will and agenda or else destroy it. To be a Chiang-Ku is to be hunted, but also to possess great powers and abilities, perhaps moreso than any other dragon on Earth.
Appearance: Chiang-Ku are long and lithe, sporting three pairs of legs, each ending in prehensile five-toed claws. Their triangular scales are always some shade of green, usually emerald. The tail portion of their body is somewhat shorter and stubbier than a typical dragon’s, but their mouths are filled with razor-sharp fangs, giving them a mighty bite. Whiskers grow around their mouths, and a horned crest rings their head.
Due to their shape-shifting abilities, few ever see the Chiang-Ku in this form, however. Although they can assume practically any shape, most develop a “go-to” look for their human guise so that they may be recognized by allies and enemies alike.
Abilities & Bonuses
- Major Psionic: Chiang-Ku are born with an inherent mastery of psionics. They begin play with the Arcane Background: Psionics Edge and four powers, as well as the Major Psionic Edge. They have 15 ISP and a d6 Psionics skill, and may choose their powers from the Mind Melter’s list.
- Alchemy: The Chiang-Ku are unequaled potion masters. At Seasoned level or any point thereafter, a Chiang-Ku Hatchling may take the Arcane Background: Alchemy Edge (see Shaintar: Legends Arise for details). A Chiang-Ku with this background may concoct the legendary Elixir of Power and Deceit (subject of a future conversion post…).
- Tattoo Magic: The Chiang-Ku invented tattoo magic and remain masters of the form, such that all Chiang-Ku hatchlings are born already magically imprinted with the Marks of Heritage (see below). At Veteran level, a Chiang-Ku Hatchling may take the Arcane Background: T-Man Edge.
- Armored Hide: As if in compensation for their dwindling numbers, Chiang-Ku are able to take titanic levels of punishment—the Hatchling has M.D.C. armor of +12.
- Claws/Bite: As per the Flame Wind Dragon Hatchling.
- Fast Regeneration: As per the Flame Wind Dragon Hatchling.
- Fear: As per the Flame Wind Dragon Hatchling.
- Infravision: As per the Flame Wind Dragon Hatchling.
- Inherently Magical: As per the Flame Wind Dragon Hatchling.
- Low-Light Vision: As per the Flame Wind Dragon Hatchling.
- Marks of Heritage: All Chiang-Ku are born already mystically-imbued with two magic tattoos (the “Marks of Heritage”), one on each for their forelegs.
- The Eye of Knowledge: Grants the ability to understand, speak, read, and write any language, as per the speak language power (see Super Powers Companion). Use of this ability requires activation and lasts for one hour at a time.
- The Flaming Sword: Activating this tattoo conjures a glowing, flame-wreathed sword out of thin air (Str+2d6 damage, AP 2, Mega-Damage). The sword lasts for one hour before dissipating.
- Metamorphosis: Chiang-Ku lack many of the abilities of their draconic brethren (flight, teleportation, breath attacks), but are unparalleled in their ability to shapeshift. Chiang-Ku Hatchlings needn’t wait for Veteran level to attain unlimited metamorphic powers; they begin play with the full metamorphisis ability as described in The Tomorrow Legion Player’s Guide (p. 45). In addition to the guidelines given there, Chiang-Ku may assume a mist form. (See the intangibility power in the Super Powers Companion for guidelines on how this works.)
- Mighty: As per the Flame Wind Dragon Hatchling.
- Nigh-Immortality: As per the Flame Wind Dragon Hatchling.
- Resistance: All forms of cold- and fire-based damaged are resisted at +4 Toughness/+4 to opposed rolls, as appropriate.
- Size +6: As per the Flame Wind Dragon Hatchling.
- Size Increase: As per the Flame Wind Dragon Hatchling.
- Slow Regeneration: As per the Flame Wind Dragon Hatchling.
- Cybernetics: As per the Flame Wind Dragon Hatchling.
- Enemies: As detailed above, the Chiang-Ku are a hunted species. Hunted by the Splugorth, they are also targeted by the Coalition States (who hate all dragons on principle) and other evil Chiang-Ku and sorcerers.
- Large: As per the Flame Wind Dragon Hatchling.
- Outsider: As per the Flame Wind Dragon Hatchling.
- Untested: As per the Flame Wind Dragon Hatchling.
- Very Young: As per the Flame Wind Dragon Hatchling.
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