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Paper Master
Advanced Class – Detailed Description
(Return to Paper Master Summary

“Books may well be the only true magic." - Alice Hoffman

(Note: with sincerest apologies to Donnie Nakajima, Ridley Wan, and Sonny Wong, I will be using the pronoun “she” in this text where I need a specific third person pronoun for simplicity’s sake. No offense is intended.)

Paper Masters are rare, gifted individuals who so love books that, some say, the books love them back. In the hands of this superpowered bibliophile, paper shapes itself to the will and imagination of its bearer, becoming a beautiful origami flower that “blooms” on its own, an animated creature that does its master’s bidding, or a sword so sharp it can slice through steel. Brain meets brawn in perfect harmony in the Paper Master.

Becoming a fully manifested Paper Master requires three things: an inborn talent (usually passed genetically), extensive training, and an extremely obsessive love of reading. Certain clandestine intelligence organizations such as the British Library or Dokusensha hold the secrets to training Paper Masters, and most Paper Masters serve them as special agents and assassins. Some of these secret societies have managed to engineer a Paper Mastery “gene” into normal individuals or create human constructs and clones from Paper Master DNA, but even these “artificial” Paper Masters–at least those that manifest their abilities–are or become ardent bibliomaniacs. The Power, it seems, cannot exist without the Passion.

Base Attack Bonus +2
6 Ranks each in Two different Knowledge Skills
Feat: Studious

Special: The Paper Master must have an innate, genetic talent for their abilities to manifest. For most purposes, this can simply be settled upon when developing the PC’s background; deciding to take this Advanced Class should not be a spur of the moment decision but planned during character creation. However, GMs wishing to control the power level of their game more may require an additional feat of Wild Talent or something similar to reflect this genetic trait.

The fastest path to Paper Master is as a Smart Hero, but other paths are possible. Dedicated, Tough, and Fast Heroes and combinations thereof make very good Paper Masters.

Hit Dice, Action Points, Skills, and Class Abilities by level are all covered in the Class Summary

Class Weaknesses
"When I have money, I buy books. If any money is left over, I buy food and clothes." - Erasmus

Elemental Limitations: Completely wet or burning paper is useless to the Paper Master, though they may use Strong or Hard Paper to slow or stop the rate of absorption or combustion, allowing them to use their abilities on damp or burning paper until the paper is completely consumed. Acid always immediately destroys paper, and likewise Sonic damage works normally. In addition, powerful subsonic or supersonic vibrations–not necessarily enough to cause significant damage to a person, but still strong enough, for example, to cause glass to sing or shatter–render most Paper Master abilities useless, save Strong or Hard Paper. Binding works (but cannot be combined with other abilities) but only lasts for 30 seconds (5 rounds). The GM may rule other Paper Master abilities can work during a subsonic or supersonic attack, but generally no Paper Talents should be allowed, save perhaps those that work "handheld" (such as Paper Knife).

Bibliomania: Paper Masters are severely, clinically obsessed with both reading and collecting books. They will go out of their way, even endangering themselves, to get hold of a book they highly desire, and can be extremely difficult to rouse when absorbed in a good read, regardless of the situation around them. When in a bookstore or library, they compulsively collect any desirable tome, regardless of such limitations as whether they have enough money to purchase the book. All Paper Masters have an Allegiance to “Books.” Paper Masters need to specifically collect printed, written materials and read them–books on tape and e-books do not apply. They are “Paper” Masters, after all, not “Electromagnetic” Masters.

Paper Masters are assumed to be buying books (and other printed documents such as magazines and comic books) at every opportunity, and are therefore consistently poor (the most powerful Paper Masters habitually place book purchasing as a priority even over food and rent; fortunately, these folks generally have co-workers or friends who help them take care of these priorities). Paper Masters’ wealth bonus is -2 (to a minimum of 0), and they may not take the Feat: Windfall (if they took the Feat before they became Paper Masters, they must lose it and choose another Feat they can qualify for). The GM may choose to apply a higher penalty to purchase DCs if the Paper Master has recently significantly added to her collection.

When surrounded by books such as in a bookstore, Paper Masters must make a Willpower saving throw DC 12 plus their Paper Master level (yes, their level increases the difficulty) to resist filling their arms with books and buying them (or borrowing or stealing them, as the case may be). The Paper Master is considered to be in a mildly frenzied state–they must do all they can to obtain the books they want. Note, however, the Paper Master will not grossly violate her Allegiances to obtain a book–a Paper Master allied to “Good” or a similar concept will not kill for a book, for example (one that does not have such an Allegiance, however, may have no qualms doing so).

If they choose, Paper Masters can read any document with intensity regardless of outside distraction; they do not need to make a Concentration check to absorb the contents of a text, even if, say, they were trying to translate an ancient manuscript amid a series of explosions. The GM may determine there are some circumstances where a Paper Master must in fact make a Willpower roll, as above, to stop reading a particularly engrossing text to be able to take any other actions. In such a cases a Paper Master is considered “Dazed”–capable of defending herself as normal, but otherwise unable to take any other actions until the saving throw is made (the save may be re-rolled every round).

Book Dependency: More to the point, Paper Masters’ abilities are directly tied to their love of reading. They must read at least 2 out of every 24 hours or they lose all class abilities and suffer mild withdrawal-like symptoms, putting them at a -2 to attacks and skill checks. This lasts until they can sit down to read for at least a solid hour (and get their second hour in within the day or they lose their abilities again).

If a Paper Master has been deprived of books for a 1d6+1 days, her condition “stabilizes,” eliminating the penalty to attacks and skills; she still cannot use any paper Talents, but is capable of using her other class abilities. The effects of Bibliomania no longer apply to the Paper Master, but until she begins to read regularly again (at least every day for a week), she cannot gain any more levels in Paper Mastery. At the GM’s discretion, a Paper Master may suffer psychological trauma or be temporarily conditioned to dislike reading, but they suffer the effects of “reading deprivation” just as any other Paper Master and cannot advance until they embrace the written word once again.


Bonus Feats: At 3rd, 6th, and 9th level, the Paper Master can take one of the following feats, provided she has fulfilled the prerequisites: Agile Riposte, Attentive, Creative, Dead Aim, Educated, Far Shot, Focused, Meticulous, Mobility, Point Blank Shot, Power Attack, Precise Shot, Shot on the Run, Improved Sunder

Paper Mastery
Except bonus feats, all Paper Master class abilities require using an appropriate quantity of paper on hand. Quantities are described here roughly as a “page,” a “book,” a “bookshelf,” and a “library” worth of paper; the Player and GM must track usage of the paper. The paper must be dry and undamaged (see Weaknesses for more information).

For this class, “paper” refers to any super-thin, flat, fibrous material created specifically for being written, printed, or drawn upon; in addition to standard “plant pulp” type paper from copy paper to newsprint, this also includes cloth fiber papers used for fancy stationery and currency, and archaic skin-based writing materials like parchment and vellum. Basically, use common sense–anything you would generally consider in the “paper” category (whether it is truly, in the most technical sense, "paper" or not) is manipulable by a Paper Master. The paper within books can be used and torn from their bindings as a free action. Writing surfaces like chalkboards and dry-erase boards do not apply.

Unless otherwise mentioned, most Paper Master abilities can be activated as a "Swift Action"; i.e., they can activate it any time, like a Free Action, but can only do one per round; additionally, most abilities must be activated on the Paper Master's turn.

If paper used for a Paper Mastery effect is damaged in any way, it is rendered useless once the Paper Master stops using it for their ability (if it has not already been completely destroyed). If the paper is not damaged, half of the quantity (rounding down) is rendered useless for further Paper Mastery effects (the potential "psychic" energy within it has been used up).

At 1st level, Paper Masters can use all their abilities on paper that occupies their square only, and they must be touching it. Their ability to control paper in an area improves as they gain levels (see Paper Telekinesis, Area Control, and Paper God).

If a Paper Master falls unconscious, all effects she has created immediately cease, reverting to plain, crumpled paper. Any paper bound to her falls off.

Paper Masters may combine their abilities to make complex effects; the most powerful Paper Masters are limited largely by their imaginations as to what they can make paper do. Except for Paper Telekinesis, Paper Masters can combine any ability that is NOT a Talent, called a regular ability, with any other regular ability automatically. They can combine any regular ability with one Talent after succeeding a Concentration check DC 10 (add 2 for each regular ability beyond the first); the GM may ask them to roll this check repeatedly under very stressful circumstances. They may NOT combine a Talent with another Talent. They may maintain multiple effects using regular abilities, but if they are in combat, they must make a DC 15 Concentration check (the GM may adjust the DC according to the circumstances as appropriate). Common combinations involve using Binding with other Talents like Paper Knife or Shin Origami to create paper "ropes" with grappling hooks, or using Binding and Inkshift to create makeshift "clothing."

Paper Masters are proficient in any weapons they make out of paper. “Blades” made from the Strong or Hard Paper abilities, or the Paper Knife from the Paper Fu Talent Tree, count as Light Weapons.

Paper Telekinesis: At first level, all Paper Masters can animate any paper within any adjacent square. Outside her own square, the paper can only fly up and down and side to side–no complex maneuvers are possible, though as a Standard Action, she can use this ability to summon paper from an adjacent square into hers, where she can then use her more powerful abilities on it.

If there is at least a book or ream’s worth of paper in the radius, a Paper Master can animate it so that it flies in a constant circle around her, granting her a 20% miss chance to ranged attacks The Paper Master must make a Concentration check DC 15 to make this last more than one round; the check must be made every round.

Ink Shift: Paper Masters can “move” the inks and pigments embedded in a piece of paper, altering writing or changing the color of the paper. They can render a printed page blank or change the content. This ability provides a +2 to +4 circumstance bonus to Forgery attempts on printed documents (the bonus depending on the complexity of the document to be altered).

Strong Paper: Paper Masters can make paper amazingly resilient, making it roughly equivalent to hard plastic in terms of game mechanics (Hardness 2, 5 hit points per inch of thickness; a single sheet has the hit points equivalent to the Paper Master's Constitution modifier). In order to make paper Strong, it must be in the Paper Master’s hand, and can be from a sheet up to a book or about 300 pages of paper. Strong Paper has the following traits:

Binding: At 2nd Level, Paper Masters can “magically” blend paper fibers together, combining several sheets together to make one large sheet or a paper chain. They can mend torn paper in this way (but paper rendered useless by previous acts of Paper Mastery is still useless). Paper Masters of any level must be touching paper to bind it, but paper chains and walls created with binding are limited in size only by how much paper the Paper Master has at her disposal. Paper Masters can combine Binding with Strong Paper but only within the same area of effect as their Paper Telekinesis. Finally, Binding allows Paper Masters to hold paper onto their bodies by sheer will, allowing them to conceal and control it quite easily. Concealing more than a few sheets of paper usually requires a successful Sleight of Hand check. The paper does not necessarily make noise, however: at this level, Paper Masters who can Bind paper can alter its makeup enough to soften it, keeping it from rattling or crunching. Paper that is Bound, with no other effects used on it, can be reused for other Paper Master abilities.

Paper Defense: At 4th Level, Paper Masters can make a true paper shield out of just a handful of sheets of paper. More resilient than Strong Paper, Paper Defense can be activated as a Swift Action and absorbs an amount of damage equal to the Paper Master’s Constitution Modifier plus Paper Master levels. When the paper takes all the damage it can absorb, it is destroyed, and the Paper Master takes any remaining damage.

Area Control: At 5th Level, a Paper Master’s control over paper noticeably improves. As long as she holds a single piece of paper, she can use any of her abilities on any paper in the immediate 5 foot area around her (rather than just in her square). The radius of effect for Paper Telekinesis expands to 10 feet.

Hard Paper: At 7th Level, Paper Masters can make paper nearly as strong as steel. Hard Paper works like Strong Paper, except for the following:

Paper Aegis: At 8th level, Paper Masters seem to become virtually bulletproof. Paper Aegis works like Paper Defense, except for the following:

Paper God: The character for “paper” and the character for “god” are pronounced the same in Japanese: “Kami.” At 10th level, a Paper Master’s Area Control expands to 10 feet, and she no longer needs to hold on to a piece of paper in order to use her abilities within this area (unless otherwise specified by a particular ability). Paper Telekinesis expands to a 20 foot radius. Paper God also allows a Paper Master to attempt to take control of paper used by another Paper Master if both Masters are within 20 feet of each other. Both Paper Masters make contested Concentration checks, adding their Paper Master levels to the roll. Ties go to the defender. If the Paper Master using Paper God wins, she gains control of the other’s paper (she can maintain any effect the other Paper Master was using provided she knows how to). If the “Paper God” fails and the defending Paper Master is also 10th level, they get an opportunity to overtake the first attacker’s paper instead. If the defender is less than 10th level, they get no special benefits from winning the struggle, apart from the fact that they maintain control.

Paper Talents
Paper Talents follow a set of “trees”; the Paper Master can take any talents provided they fulfill the prerequisites, which may include skill ranks or other abilities as well as other Talents.

Kami-do Talent Tree: This tree allows the Paper Master to fashion powerful melee weapons, as durable and powerful as a “real” weapon, if not more so. Note that the weapons below can also be made as bludgeoning weapons, but in this case they will not ignore any Hardness. Paper weapons must remain in the Paper Master’s hands and become normal paper as soon as they are released. These weapons can be Sundered; they have the Hardness of the Paper Master's Constitution modifier x2 and the hit points of similar weapons.

Shin Origami: Paper Masters are able to perform the art of paper folding purely telekinetically, instantly making beautiful objects and useful tools.

Paper Projectile Talent Tree: Except as noted below, the ranged paper attacks described below must originate from a Paper Master’s hand–paper cannot be telekinetically animated and then thrown.

Paper Transport: The most powerful Paper Masters can use their paper creations as a legitimate mode of transportation.

Paper Puppetry Talent Tree: This is a complex talent tree which allows a Paper Master to create “familiars” made of paper: humanoid or animal-like constructs which act according to the will of the Paper Master. Regardless of level, Paper Puppeteers must remain in contact with their minions using paper “strings” (created using the Binding ability) and thus they can never stray too far from their creator (generally, no more than 50'). Only one puppet may be created at a time. Paper puppets require a lot of paper to create; the smallest puppets may require only a book or ream but larger puppets will require several books to a whole library's worth of paper to create.

Paper Masters can extend their sight through their puppets–what the puppet “sees” they see–making them useful for peering around corners and the like, but they do not gain any special visual acuity.

Paper Masters can do nothing but control their minions while the puppets are active; . Although they are not defenseless (attackers do not gain bonuses; the puppeteer does not provoke attacks of opportunity, etc.), if they stop controlling their minions to fight or perform another action, the minions disperse (half of the original paper used to create them remains useful). The only other Paper Master ability they can perform simultaneously is to keep their "strings" and other paper bound to their bodies. If trying to control minions in very difficult circumstances, the GM has the right to require a concentration check for the Paper Master to maintain control.

The minions can be damaged as normal, just as other kinds of Constructs can. With a successful Concentration check DC 12, Puppets can be given "claws" or "fangs," or they can be “armored,” granting 2+any positive con modifier to their Defense rating. Both traits can added with a successful Concentration check DC 16. They need only make this check once. Again, the GM has the right to increase this DC in appropriate circumstances. Paper Puppets have Strength and Dexterity equivalent to their creators; for every size category larger than the Paper Master they get a +2 to Strength and -2 to Dexterity, and vice versa for every size category smaller than the Paper Master. They have no other ability scores. Their attacks and saving throws are the same as their creators. They act on their creator’s initiative. Paper Puppets are Constructs and have most Construct traits, but do not have Darkvision or low light vision (unless the Paper Master has such vision already). Their other stats are listed below the tree list.

Paper Puppet Stats:

Tiny Minion
Hit Dice: ½ d10 (2 hp)
Speed: 40' (8 sq) (60' if multiple legs), Fly (clumsy) 40'
Defense = 10 + PM’s Dex + 2 Size; the PM can increase this as above
Attack: Slam, Claw, or Bite damage 1d3 + PM Tiny strength

Small Minion
Hit Dice: 1d10 +10 (5 hp)
Speed: 30' (6 sq) (50' multiple legs), Fly (clumsy) 30'
Defense: +1 Size, +2 “natural”
Attack: Slam, Claw, or Bite damage 1d4 + PM Small strength

Medium Minion
Hit Dice: 2d10+20 (31 HP)
Speed: 30' (6 sq), (50' multiple legs), Fly (clumsy) 30'
Defense: +4 natural
Attack: Slam, Claw, or Bite 1d6 + PM Strength

Large Minion
Hit Dice: 4d10 +30 (52 HP)
Speed: 20' (4 sq), (40' multiple legs), Fly (clumsy) 20'
Defense: -1 size, +5 natural
Attack: Slam, Claw, or Bite 1d8 + PM Large Strength
Space/Reach: 10'/5' (long); 10'/10' (tall)

Huge Minion
Hit Dice: 8d10+40 (84 HP)
Speed: 20' (4 sq), (40' multiple legs), Fly (clumsy) 20'
Defense: -2 size, +6 natural
Attack: Slam, Claw, or Bite 2d6 + PM Huge Strength
Space/Reach: 15'/10' (long); 15'/15' (tall)

Class Build Notes

This is the first class I’ve ever really fully, completely homebrewed. I have a good sense of how classes should work in a holistic sense, but breaking down the nitty gritty details to statistical/mechanical issues is not a talent of mine. Mostly anything mechanical is based on comparing what I think an ability should do with abilities found elsewhere in the d20 System (be it Modern or D&D). I am very happy to hear from game mechanics experts on how better to tweak the class/make it work. Please keep the following in mind:

  1. I have designed this class to be used in a very cinematic style game; GMs and players will need to be flexible to accommodate the abilities but also use common sense. No matter what system you might try to use to reflect it, the very idea of Paper Mastery is “broken”; it can be enormously, ridiculously powerful–or almost completely useless. Go rewatch the OAV, where there are several scenes which alternate between Yomiko Readman completely kicking ass with her skills and scrambling desperately for even a single piece of paper. A GM could easily destroy a Paper Master by saying, “Nope, sorry, there’s no paper anywhere. Enjoy your d8 hit dice, your nice BAB, and your bonus feats–but oh, of course your class weaknesses still apply.” That’s not fair. But neither is a player coming up with a completely ridiculous combination of class abilities that allows him to create an indestructible flying robot with paper ICBMs. Only so much mechanical tweaking will “fix” the class; the idea of creating this system is simply to give players a framework so they can play RPG characters in this awesome universe created by Hideyuki Kurata.
  2. One area I could really use help in: this class needs a much better system for tracking paper usage. I realized early on that could get very silly depending on how it was done, and I lack the mathematical skills to come up with something simple/streamlined like a “Paper Points” system. If you have any ideas on this, do please submit them. As it is, I decided it would be most feasible to merely suggest general quantity requirements. GM and player should agree on a way to track the paper usage.
  3. One area I have worked very hard in is reflecting the abilities and weaknesses as seen in the anime and manga; the Read or Die manga is especially useful in its explanations of how Paper Mastery seems to work (and what seems to fuel it–that manga especially helped me break down the weaknesses section). I’ve seen a couple other attempts at making d20 Paper Masters (oddly, more often for D&D) and I’ve found the abilities were too broad or too powerful, and moreover often ignored the weaknesses, which I think is a big oversight. I went through a number of ideas but found that the class abilities coupled with the series of Talent Trees worked the best to reflect how I saw Paper Mastery working. My first attempts at a Paper Master class was building it as a psionic advanced class but it wasn’t working out the way I wanted it to–trying to track paper quantity AND power pools seemed ridiculous, and it didn’t adequately reflect the areas of specialization most Paper Masters seem to have. So, while I am open to suggestions about tweaking the class, I would like to keep the general structure as is, as that at least is something I’ve put a great deal of thought into. That said, I would love some thoughts/suggestions/guidance on a number of things:

    1. The abilities and talents could still be streamlined a lot more. In some ways, Hard Paper and Paper Defense should be the same thing, but I was having trouble with how the ability should evolve. At one point I even had it as its own talent tree, but every Paper Master seems to have it to some degree so it seemed a basic ability.
    2. In struggling with how Paper Defense should work, I finally realized a Constitution-based system made a lot of sense (and helped explain why all Paper Masters seem to have a defense ability, but some are better at it than others–Maggie versus Michelle, for example). In retrospect, making more class features Ability-based sort of makes sense–maybe Strong Paper works based also on Constitution; weaponesque skills based on Strength, etc. Any thoughts or suggestions in this light are appreciated.
    3. I can’t decide if “Paper Flood,” currently in the “Paper Projectile Talent Tree” should actually perhaps be an effect of Binding. Most Paper Masters seem capable of it–notably, it’s one of the few Paper Master abilities Anita uses that isn’t to do with fighting hand to hand or throwing her paper card-shuriken.
    4. The Telekinesis/Area Control abilities are hard to judge, especially since the Paper Masters’ limitations on how well they can control paper they don’t touch seems to shift according to the Power of Plot. Sometimes I worry I’ve made it too powerful, sometimes not enough.

Disclaimers: d20 Modern and the d20 System belong to Wizards of the Coast. R.O.D and all related concepts and characters are created by Hideyuki Kurata and belong to Aniplex/Studio Orphee and Shueisha. Legally, I cannot claim this as Open Game Content because I do not have the legal rights to Read or Die. This is a fan creation; it is meant to be read and distributed for free; no harm is intended to the license holders of R.O.D-related materials, nor to Wizards of the Coast. If anyone with the right to do so wishes me to remove this, I will comply, but I hope they will understand the harmless intentions of this work and my wishes to simply celebrate the world of R.O.D; of course, if a real, licensed "R.O.d20" game was to be made I'd certainly have no desire to stand in the way. I'll help! I'm an editor!

If anyone would like to post this or quote this elsewhere, I request that you please let me know and credit me (Death Quaker) for creating the mechanics for the class written up here. Thank you.

Death Quaker's Realm All original creative materials © 2005 R. Pickard. Read or Die, R.O.D. the TV and all related concepts were created by Hideyuki Kurata and are ©2003 Aniplex/Studio Orphee.
Contact: mistress@deathquaker.org