Cinematic Characters

Cinematic PCs (and NPCs) should have access to incredible abilities. As noted under Cinematic Martial Artists (p. 30), these can range from a few cinematic skills, through superhuman attributes and exotic advantages, to full-fledged super-powers - and perhaps include all of these things - depending on the GM's plans for the campaign. Minimum power level is around 200 points, simply because the PCs have to be able to afford such abilities.

Unlike realistic campaigns, cinematic campaigns don't demand that abilities line up with occupations. The cook at the noodle stand is often a master of chopping more than vegetables, the foppish duke could be a deadly swordsman, and the mild-mannered reporter might be a superhero by night. What matters isn't that a hero's skills are realistic -because they won't be - but that they're consistent with the legends about his fighting style and with his personal style.

Still, the templates in Chapter 2 can help players design many kinds of heroes found in martial-arts fiction - just apply the "Cinematic" lens! For instance, the ninja of legend would use the cinematic Assassin or Spy template, while an action-movie vigilante has the cinematic Crimefighter template. Several templates provide a "Tough Guy" lens for the player who wants his PC to thrive in a cinematic environment without flashy moves - an important archetype in many martial-arts tales.

Cinematic heroes should have at least some of the cinematic skills, techniques, and Style Perks listed for their style in Chapter 5, and probably several optional traits. This makes the style lenses under Choosing a Style (pp. 144-146) unsuitable, since they specifically exclude cinematic skills and techniques. However, "Self-Defense" and "Trained by a Fraud" have a way of showing up in silly stories . . . and tough guys without cinematic skills often have the "Military," "Police," or "Street" lens.

Above all, a cinematic PC or NPC needs a strong sense of his place in the campaign. Be he a bumbling fool with untapped talent, a brooding assassin, a square-jawed pulp hero, or a romantic swashbuckler, his personality, actions, fighting style, and gear should paint a single, vivid picture. For instance, cinematic ninja dress in black and use swords, not guns; pulp heroes do carry guns, but prefer fists; and swashbucklers use swords and pistols, but dress in lace and avoid skulking and brutish fisticuffs.

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