The Azure Blade

Val Char Cost
 15 STR  5
 24 DEX  28
 23 CON  13
 13 BODY 3
 19 INT  9
 15 EGO  5
 20 PRE  10

 2 PD    0
 2 ED    0
 5 SPD   30
 8 REC   4
 46 END  6
 34 STUN 7

18m RUN  6
 4m SWIM 0
 4m LEAP 0
 Characteristics Cost: 199

Cost Power
 30  Psi-Blade: Multipower, 30-point reserve
 2f   1) Blade of Ego: Hand-To-Hand Attack +6d6 (30 Active Points); Hand-To-Hand Attack (-1/4) (3 END)
 3f   2) Blade of Malice: Killing Attack - Hand-To-Hand 2d6 (3d6 w/STR) (30 Active Points) (3 END)
 1f   3) Blade of Mind: Mental Blast 3d6 (30 Active Points); No Range (-1/2), Perceivable (-1/2) (3 END)
 22   Alchemically Treated Silk Garb: Resistant Protection (9 PD/9 ED) (27 Active Points); IIF (-1/4)
 6    The World Moves With Intent: Clinging (normal STR) (10 Active Points); Must begin and end movement on a surface that can normally be stood upon (-1/2), Cannot Resist Knockback (-1/4)
 4    Flashy moves impress the masses!: Aid PRE 2d6 (12 Active Points); Only to Aid Self (-1), Requires A Roll (Skill roll; KS: Qin Dao Kung Fu; -1/2), Extra Time (Full Phase, Only to Activate, -1/4), Extra PRE only affects those that have seen her do a weapons display (take time and make skill roll) (-1/4) (1 END)
 8    Looking Where The Eye Should Not See: Precognitive Clairsentience (Sight and Hearing Groups) (50 Active Points); No Conscious Control (-2), Precognition Only (-1), Increased Endurance Cost (x3 END; -1), Side Effects, Side Effect occurs automatically whenever Power is used (Automatically stunned for CON, takes 5D6 STUN; -1), Vague and Unclear (-1/2) (15 END)
 Powers Cost: 76

Cost Martial Arts Maneuver
 4   Martial Block: 1/2 Phase, +2 OCV, +2 DCV, Block, Abort
 5   Defensive Strike: 1/2 Phase, +1 OCV, +3 DCV, 3d6 Strike
 4   Martial Disarm: 1/2 Phase, -1 OCV, +1 DCV, Disarm; 25 STR to Disarm
 4   Fast Strike: 1/2 Phase, +2 OCV, +0 DCV, 5d6 Strike
 Martial Arts Cost: 17

Cost Skill
 3   Acrobatics 14-
 3   Acting 13-
 3   Breakfall 14-
 3   Climbing 14-
 3   Combat Driving 14-
 3   Contortionist 14-
 3   Conversation 13-
 3   Demolitions 13-
 3   Disguise 13-
 3   Electronics 13-
 5   Language: Cantonese (idiomatic; literate)
 3   KS: Chinese Alchemy 13-
 3   KS: Feng Shui 13-
 3   KS: Qin Dao Kung Fu 13-
 3   Mechanics 13-
 3   Mimicry 13-
 3   PS: Cook 13-
 3   PS: Stunt work 13-
 3   Paramedics 13-
 3   Persuasion 13-
 3   Power 13-
 3   Stealth 14-
 3   Science Skill: Chemistry 13-
 3   Teamwork 14-
 10  Defense Maneuver I-IV
 16  +2 with HTH Combat
 Skills Cost: 100

Cost Perk
 5   Money: Well Off
 Perks Cost: 5

Cost Talent
 3 + 1/+1d6 Striking Appearance (vs. all characters)
 Talents Cost: 3

Total Character Cost: 400

Pts. Disadvantage
 15  Psychological Complication: Thrillseeker (Common; Strong)
 15  Psychological Complication: Code Vs. Killing (Common; Strong)
 5   Psychological Complication: Code of the Qin Dao School of Kung Fu (Uncommon; Moderate)
 15  Dependent NPC: Murray Gellman, Agent: Infrequently (Incompetent; Useful Noncombat Position or Skills; Unaware of character's adventuring career/Secret ID)
 10  Rivalry: Professional (Swashbuckler), Rival is More Powerful, Rival is a Player Character, Seek to Outdo, Embarrass, or Humiliate Rival, Rival Unaware of Rivalry
 5   Hunted: Tony "Three-Thumbs" Salducci Infrequently (Less Pow; Harshly Punish)
 10  Social Complication: Secret Identity Frequently, Minor
 Disadvantage Points: 75
 Base Points: 400

Description: Sophia is five foot nine, slender, with green eyes and ash-blonde hair that hangs to mid-back. She dresses for the occation, and dresses well, but is most comfortable in jeans, t-shirts and so-called ‘kung fu slippers’.
The Azure Blade wears a loose-fitting shirt and pants of a standard Wushu design, with an over-coat and slippers, all of it in shades of blue. She also wears a domino mask over her eyes, and if possible gives her hair a blue rinse (and it’s usually very possible, all she needs is some blue Kool-Aid and some water) while pulling it back into a double-tied tail (nape of neck and the end). Her psychic sword resembles a jian (the Chinese broadsword) which glows blue in her hand, and appears to be solid.

Background

Every year, young pretty women run to Los Angeles, trying to become actresses, starlets, or just famous. This is the story of one of those girls, in a world that isn’t quite our own….

At fifteen, she’d been a teenage runaway, hoping to make her mark in Hollywood. Tony Three-Thumbs: the man that found her at the bus station and took her in, and turned out to be a pimp. Turning tricks, getting hooked on junk. Messing up with a john. Tony beating her savagely, then tossing her out of a car up in the hills.
Waking up in the throes of drying out cold turkey, she found herself with an old Chinese man quietly mopping her brow, making her eat funny foods, and talking to a lot of other old guys. The junk had messed her up a lot, her teeth were a mess, but the old man took care of it all. Then he informed her that she would being paying him back.
She started to undress – she didn’t know any other way to ‘pay’ for things – and with a single harsh “no” he stopped her. Then he showed her to a small room and told her to sand the floor, giving her precise instructions – so precise that she never thought to disobey. It took hours, and her arms ached, but she finished it. The old man walked in as she had gotten to the corner, and nodded, sharply, once. “Good.”
Finally, she looked up at him and said, “I don’t even know your name.”
He smiled then, for the first time. “My name is Tsien Lu Fao. In this room, you will call me sifu.”
“What does that mean?”
“It means many things.” Then he whacked her in the shoulder with a bamboo stick. “It means teacher, master, and is a term of great respect. In this room, you will always call me sifu. Do you understand?”
She rubbed her shoulder. “Yeah.”
He whacked the other one. “What was that?”
She’d seen a few Chinese martial arts movie, and it suddenly snapped into place what was happening. “Yes, sifu!”
He nodded. “Good. Now, you must prepare yourself. Come with me.”
The next three years were painful, as her sifu first cleared her body of the poisons in it, then trained her. Each day, he expected more of her and showed his disapproval when she didn’t reach it. After that first day, he only hit her in training, never as a way to show his disapproval… but she learned to read it in him, and burned with shame, and tried harder the next day.
He taught her what he referred to as a ‘civilized language’, Cantonese, until they spoke only in that language. When she suddenly realized she’d started thinking in Cantonese, he favored her with a small smile.
He sat with her, helping her through the moment when she had her first flash of foreknowledge, as her precognition hit her for the first time. He had her describe it once she could stand and speak of it, giving her tea.
He taught her the basics of alchemy, to make a tea that would restore her body’s ravaged parts, mystically fortifying her. He was somewhat surprised when he found out that the tea also made her faster and more agile, but he consulted with another master, this one more skilled at alchemy, and so she learned more of that skill.
He taught her to cook, where she learned the joy in making food, and in eating food, and developed a resistance to and love of peppers.
He taught her his style of kung fu, and then when he described her as ‘acceptable”, began with her training in the sword. One bright morning, dueling, he disarmed her. And in a flash, a sword appeared in her hand, slightly transparent and coruscating blue. Tsien Lu Fao was a master of many disciplines, but he was surprised at this, and thus more surprised when she hit him in the head with the sword, and was knocked out.
After that, he worked with her more, as they both learned how she could draw forth the sword. He consulted with the youngest of the masters, only there five years, who told them it was a psionic construct – her own mind creating it. Once they’d settled that, they worked with it. The sword could be as sharp as an angry thought or dull as ignorance, as ephemeral as innocence or as solid as ego.
And they worked, until one morning, when Tsien Lu Fao said to her over morning tea, “Perhaps you should return to the world.”
“But, sifu, what place do I have there?”
“What place do all have in the world? None but what they find.”
He had somehow gotten her some clothes, and as she packed, he handed her an envelope. “Take this to my grandson Tsien Hui Bao, at the address. It gives him instructions.”
She bowed to him, and left the rooms of Tsien Lu Fao. Halfway down the mountain, she turned and looked, and the house she’d spent the past three years in had disappeared. She continued down the mountain.

Tsien Hui Bao (or as he called himself, Harold Tsien), was surprised to see a 20-year-old ash blonde woman appear on his doorstep in Berkeley, claiming to have a letter from his grandfather Tsien Lu Fao, especially since Tsien Lu Fao was actually his grandfather’s grandfather and had, so he thought, died nearly a hundred years before. However, as he was a Taoist, he was willing to accept this, especially since the letter was quite obviously hand-written in a precise Cantonese hand. It gave him access to a numbered bank account and charged him to use it to give the bearer of the letter an education.
Well, being a provost at the University of California Berkeley certainly gave him the ability to do that.
Sofia Rothman enrolled as an undergraduate, no major, and rapidly made her way into the film school She had to work her way through school – the rules were that her classes and room and board were paid for, and she had to work for anything else she wanted, and film school has very expensive outside requirements, especially since she’d become fascinated with special effects. She graduated magna cum laude with a double major in film and chemistry (the better to deal with both developer and stunts), and managed to get a job at M-5 Productions, a San Francisco effects house. She also did some of the stunts in a few small movies, which got her noticed. While she wasn’t trying to be star material, preferring to stay behind the camera or standing in for someone else, she did manage to get cast in a few small roles, including being Catherine Zeta-Jones’s stunt double for a few bits in The Head Of Zorro.
She’d kept in touch with Harold Tsien, and he’d gotten her to come to the Film School from time to time to give the occasional talk about what happens behind the camera in real situations. She was there when the Golden Avenger tried to take over the United States, and was revealed to be Adolf Hitler in a new body. Sofia had kept up her martial arts training almost religiously, and when the gunfire started she manifested her sword with barely a thought and defended the students, as they ran for cover. When it was all over, she had two bullets in her, and the beginning of a superhero career.

Sophia’s personality, after everything she’s been through, is remarkably laid-back. Yes, she figures, she’s an ex-teen-hooker, her martial arts sifu died more than a century before she was born, and she worked harder than she actually had to in order to make it through college, so there’s not a lot in the world that can mess with her calm. To sum it up, she’s a kind of Zen surfer chick. Her speech is peppered with ‘dude’s when referring to people, and she quotes the Tao Te Ching and other books of Chinese philosophy, filtering it through the surfer lifestyle concepts and a deep dedication to “The Big Lebowski”. Her apartment in San Diego was picked purely due to the local feng shui, and is decorated in a somewhat schitzophrenic style that mixes China and California and still ‘maximizes the Dragon Line flow’, as she puts it.
She’s not a flake, though – she’s well-educated and street-smart in a way that only a background like hers could give. One does not make it through UCLA Film School – one of the most competitive programs at that school – while working the night shift at In’N’Out six days a week AND keeping up your martial arts skills if you’re a slacker or a flake. When it’s needed, she gives 120 percent, and keeps reaching for more. She may sleep for a day and a half afterwards, but almost none of that is the victory party – it’s almost all dealing with her exhaustion.
While she does party hard – and often – she doesn’t drink or do drugs; if asked or offered, her usual refusal line is, “It’s such a great party, dude, I’m just getting’ high watchin’ people have fun!”

She follows a modernized form of the code of the Chinese Knight. Her sifu made a point of her understanding that some things that worked when he was young do not work now. Her code is this:

  • Right the wrongs you see
  • Work to improve social injustice
  • Keep the oaths you swear, but swear them with thought and insight
  • Meet the obligations you accept, unless it would cause a greater wrong
  • Honor the virtuous
  • Celebrate life

She gives a great deal to charitable organizations and works for them when she can, which she sees as part of working to improve social injustice and right the wrongs she sees – most of those organizations can do more with the resources than she can, and she is totally fine with that.

Some notes on Qin Dao Kung Fu:
Qin Dao Kung Fu is a very aggressive martial art, but also has a great deal of showmanship in it. It is designed to be impressive and showy, to minimize the need to fight by showing how ridiculous it is to try and fight a practitioner of the art. (“Violence is useful as a technique, but the display of overwhelming competence is just as useful.” – Qin Dao, the First Analect.) There is a significant moral component to it, which she likes to quote (usually starting with “In the first analect, Qin Dao wrote…”). It is also a style that specifically is designed to evolve with the time – while she is the first Westerner to practice it, the point is that one is chosen to receive the teachings (as opposed to seeking out a teacher), which makes all other practitioners of the style brothers and sisters – a master chose to teach you; you must be worthy.
There are two reasons why there are so few students of this style: first, a student is chosen at a time when the student is close to death. There is a spiritual component to the nature of the teaching that requires the student to have been close to dying and unlock what is needed to be considered a student. Needless to say, few potential martial artists willingly put themselves into that level of harm’s way, and many – who would be willing to – lack whatever a master of the art would judge to be worthy of the teaching.
The other reason is that mastery of the art requires the complete transcendence of all physical needs, to a level that requires one to either perfect the Taoist Elixir of Immortality… or die. In either case, they no longer are in contact with the base world, only paying attention when one who may be worthy of their teaching touches the line between life and death, but does not cross. They bring the student, body and soul, back to the House Of Transcendence And Divestiture, where they are returned to health, then trained.
The House of Transcendence And Divestiture exists in a place between Earth and the Chinese afterlife. The precise nature of how it came to exist is known only to Qin Dao, and he has not spoken of it to others. All the masters of the art reside in the House. It apparently spawns new wings when a new master arrives. Each wing contains a kwoon for training, a room for the new master, and a room for a student. These are all furnished spartanly, with a simple bed, a desk and chair, some shelves for personal effects, and a small bath.
The House itself has two courtyards, the Courtyard of Transcendence and the Courtyard of Divestiture. A new student arrives in the Courtyard of Transcendence with their master, who nurses them back to health. It is very rare for two students to be in the Courtyard of Transcendence at the same time – in the nine centuries of the art, it has only happened once.
The Courtyard of Divestiture is where new masters of the art are given their rank. When the masters of the art meet, which happens once each century, this is also where they meet. Qin Dao, as the head of the school, master of the masters, presides over the meeting, wherein new masters are introduced to their fellows, techniques are exchanged, and the scrolls of the school are annotated with students, masters, new techniques, new wisdom, and new recipes for food (Qin Dao made his way through the Middle Kingdom as a cook, and this has informed part of the non-martial training of the school). Students are only allowed in the Courtyard of Divestiture with their masters, and only with the permission of Qin Dao himself.
Qin Dao occationally appears in the kwoon of the teaching masters, bringing food, and sharing a meal with the master and their student. (They may have transcended the need for food; however, it is a part of the code to enjoy the good things in life, and thus they eat for pleasure, but not to excess.) Masters without students spend their time in meditation and practice, to keep their skills prepared for when a student reveals themselves.
Apparently, the ineffable quality that causes a student to be revealed is completely self-evident to the masters, as well as which master is best for that student. The students themselves have no idea.
When the student is ready to leave the kwoon of their master, they step through a previously-unopened door, and are usually within a mile of where they left Earth to go to the House of Transcendence and Divestiture. After that, it is their responsibility to learn, grow, and be ready, until the time comes that their die, and either pass into the Hells for purification, or come to the House to be masters. (Master Qi Li Fong had to go through the Hells before he could be a master, as he had become too much of a glutton; while his skills remained sharp, he needed to be purified of his sin of gluttony before he could come to the House; so says the seventh analect of Qin Dao.)

The soundtrack!

1. “Saturday Night(‘s All Right For Fighting)”, Nickleback feat. Kid Rock

There’s a reason for that version, instead of the Elton John original: it rocks harder. It’s got more edge.

The reason for the song? Well, she no longer drinks or takes any drugs, but you know, a seriously kicking party is a thing of beauty. The code says to “celebrate life”, and dancing to serious music and feeling the pulse of humanity? That’s how you gotta roll.

2. “Misirlou”, Agent Orange

Scenes that would use this would start with her frustrated, annoyed, and needing to shed that negativity. Imagine a reasonably-traditional kung fu sword stylist performing taolu (forms, or as those more familiar with Japanese styles would put it, kata) at the rate to go with a punk cover of a surf-rock standard – in short, a perfect song to illustrate her fusion of California surfing attitude and a thirteen-century-old martial art.

3. “Los Angeles is Burning”, Bad Religion

She lives in a world of superheroes, and she’s trying to be one. There’s always a fire somewhere threatening to cause tremendous destruction, be it an actual fire, or some supervillian with an insane plan to get money/get power/rule the world/destroy the world.

And then there’s SNN – Super News Network – which broadcasts it…

Catch it on Prime Time / Story at nine/ The whole world is going insane

4. “Burly Brawl”, Juno Reactor vs. Don Davis

One martial artist with a psionic sword. Bunches of mooks. She may not yet be the equal of the person she replaces on the team (Steel Thunder, the #2 rated martial artist in the world, who people have referred to as ‘The woman who beats up Neo’), but she does okay for herself.

5. “The Different Story (World of Lust and Crime)”, Peter Schilling

Trust enough and you won’t find

A world of lust and crime.

Maybe it’s impossible… but why not try?

6. “Red Right Hand”, Pete Yorn

The first time she ever saw Tony ‘Three-Thumbs’ Tomassino, he was beating someone up. His right hand – the one with the fused index and ring fingers, making it bendable but solid plate of bone – was bloody. And then he made her into a hooker, hooked her on heroin.

And every time he beat her, and told her that it was because he loved her and she needed to be taught, she believed him. Even when, beaten almost dead, going through withdrawal, in the Courtyard of Transcendence, she believed he did it out of love.

 More than any producer, any supervillain, anyone, Tony represents the Devil in the world to her.

7. “Elevation (Tomb Raider Mix)”, U2

When she’s deep in meditation – either by itself, or doing forms – she sometimes reaches a state where she feels like she’s within the world, surrounding it, and part of it, all at once. This song is about the only one I know that even comes close to vocalizing the mental concept.

8. “Way of the Sword”, Power Symphony



Past is left behind
 / For the one on the way of the sword
 / Fools are meant to fall / 
They’ll get lost along the way
 / Past is left behind / 
For the one on the way of the sword / 
Fools are meant to fall / 
I am she who’s on the way of the sword

Tsien Lu Fao set her on the path. He gave her the tools she needed to make a new life for herself. He showed her the beginning of the way of the sword., and she stepped onto it and left her past behind.

Too bad sometimes it comes chasing you, isn’t it?

9. “All Fired Up”, Pat Benatar

Now I believe there comes a time / 
When everything just falls in line
 / We live and learn from our mistakes / 
The deepest cuts are healed by faith

Which says it all.

10. “J-E-N-O-V-A (Advent of Jenova)”, Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children

Music for the really big challenges. The visual for this is something straight out of a wuxia movie, with her and her opponent facing each other. At about 18 seconds in, they go into the ‘showoff’ stage, and at 42 seconds, the fight starts, with both of them starting to do that whole ‘gravity is an option’ thing as the battle gets more furious.