Chi skills

There are several skills that deal specifically with Chi in Dragon In Ninth Heaven, and I want to explore how they should be dealt with in this edition of the game. The list of skills that matter from the older editions are:

  • Lightfoot
  • Chi Awareness
  • Chi Healing
  • Chi Channelling

Lightfoot is an important part of the genre, granting movement speeds in excess of normal character limits. It also allows feats of balance which are otherwise impossible.

Chi awareness is something that can be seen in the comics, but does not have such a strong presence in the genre generally – I have never seen it in a movie. The existing skill allows a character to detect the presence of another based on the amount of chi they are using. This power could just be replaced with a new use of the Perception skill, or ignored altogether. It’s loss probably won’t be felt.

Chi healing is the ability to channel your chi into another person, healing their wounds. For this edition of the game, this should probably become a class power, or maybe a skill power of the Heal skill. It is quite possible that the existing skill powers for Heal will suffice.

Chi channelling is the ability to transfer your chi to another to make them more powerful. This does not map onto an existing skill at all – an ability like this is firmly in the realm of the Leader class role, and possibly a Controller. I think this will be limited to only a few classes.

Skill powers

Earlier I made several mentions of skill powers. These are utility powers related to a skill. Characters may choose them and swap them with a class power if they are trained in that skill. This is an interesting mechanic, and allows for more customization of a character. I feel that this works well for healing, and possibly lightfoot.

I’m not sure that skill powers are the best option for lightfoot. Most characters in Dragon In Ninth Heaven should have some level of lightfoot power, and those who specialize will become even better. Skill powers require a sacrifice of other class related abilities to grant this – and there are so many other class related powers that can be swapped for kung fu powers already. Using skill powers feels like it will make the choice of class redundant.

The other options for lightfoot are feats and class features. Feats don’t really work because a character has so few of them – they could be used for specialization, but not for a range of basic abilities. Class features could be acceptable – a separate lightfoot class feature grants utility powers that may be used just like the kung fu powers. Then each class could define the focus on movement techniques and the actual techniques can be limited by kung fu style as well.

Lightfoot as a class feature feels like I am starting to use class features as the tool to solve all problems. Each class will suddenly have no distinct features of their own. I’ll run with it for the moment and see how things turn out.


  1. It’s time to add a new class feature: Lightfoot.
  2. Skill powers may be used for chi healing.
  3. The leader and controller will now be the classes that can enhance others with their chi

4 Responses to “Chi skills”

  1. 1 Cynan
    September 17, 2009 at 12:37 AM

    Maybe Chi Awareness could be a feat that allows you to use your perception or arcane skill (whatever is higher) to detect chi?

    I’m interested to see how you implement Lightfoot. Since you already have a few mechanics for at-will and encounter powers.. maybe look at the mechanic they used for the Psion. A powerpoint system where using one will grant a bonus but using two will grant an even bigger bonus. Give a character two points and he has the choice of say two +1 to shift or a +3 to shift… not that I think that’s a very exciting example..

  2. 2 antonyball
    September 17, 2009 at 11:14 AM

    Power points are an interesting idea. I previously used Chi points to drive kung fu powers (in the old versions) but I have steered away from that this time. All the extra resource management becomes a pain in actual play.
    I may grant a free Lightfoot feat as part of the kung fu class feature, and then allow characters to purchase feats which expand on it.
    This is probably the area of the system that I’m least comfortable with at the moment. I like your ideas, and I’ll ponder them for a while 🙂

  3. 3 Fellhand
    September 17, 2009 at 12:22 PM

    Hmm, almost sounds like the “metamagic techniques” from ShadowRun to be honest, but slightly different. SR is massively massively different from the DnD world, so the comparisons may be out of whack but the general concept is the important part.

    Basically, as a mage (of any type), you “buy” from a list of these metamagic techniques. From m emory, there’s something like 12 Base, and then customs. The base skill, which then becomes trainable after intial purchase, much like any other skill group, allows for specialisation into branch of magic types. Some of the metamagic techniques form the prerequisites for others, but the base concept is simply that you buy the base skill.. and then improve it. It effectively becomes a whole new skill group. As an example, lightfoot as a base skill could add movement modifiers, and then give access to talents like wall running, cloud skipping, pin point balance… you get the gist.

    Now, in regards to lightfoot in particular, while lightfoot is a very broad term for the different types of movement, it would be very easily possible to break lightfoot into skill groups based on class, which would decide what *types* of lightfoot are available to the class, thus removing the homogenization problem. I can’t imagine a controller at anything before paragon tier getting cloud skipping for instance. Still purely class based, but each class would have it’s own spin on the lightfoot skill, based upon their usageof, and understand of, the lightfoot skill. Now it would mean making multiple skill groups under the lightfoot heading, and effectively building trees, ala exalted, or, dare i say it, WoW, the only difference being that instead of a class based talent tree, it’s a skill based one with certain paths in it only being available to certain classes.

    Biggest issue your going to have is that lightfoot will be a very in demand skill. Any decent power gamer will be getting ranks in it first and foremost, as mobility is the smaller form of godhood : if they can’t catch you, they can’t hurt you. If your running rings around them, they have less chance of hurting you. Now given that lightfoot will most likely be available to all classes (or at least that’s my impression at this stage), it’s entirely possible that PC’s will run up against others using it as well, which may mitigate the powergaming aspect to some degree, but only during initial stages, before sasid PC’s get lightfoot up the wazoo, and can effectively no longer be hit by anything short of a thor shot to the general vicinity. Just thought i’d bring that up, my RP group is a bunch of powergamers, and things like these raise flags in my head at the very sight of them. I’ve seen them abused, and done so according to the rules, way to many times now.

  4. 4 antonyball
    September 17, 2009 at 12:35 PM

    Yeah, I see what you mean. I’m planning to abuse the ability to shift 2 squares after an attack that my Monk has in a current D&D game – I can see opponents being unable to catch me because of that.
    I’m planning on being very careful about Lightfoot adding to defensive abilities (it won’t). It will allow additional movement and larger shifts (movement that does not provoke opportunity attacks), instant stand, feats of balance, wall running, massive leaps and eventually, flight.
    I do really like the idea of making many of the powers class specific, with maybe a small group that are common. I’ll work on this soon.

    Thanks for the neat ideas 🙂

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