With the recent Western success of Yakuza series, new fans have grown to love the over-the-top characterizations and brutal action on display in these games. While much of the fan base is focused on the future of the series, longtime protagonist Kazuma Kiryu has dominated hearts, minds and every street brawl he’s found himself in with a suit. brute strength, stamina and a variety of fighting styles.
As the series moved from 3D beat-em-up to JRPGs, the question of how to portray Kiryu in Dungeons and dragons can occur. While the tabletop RPG may not perfectly replicate the real-time change in fighting styles and brutal one-on-one action of the series, the various martial classes of D & D have a lot of tools to bring the character to life.
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Kiryu’s race and stats
Kiryu is obviously human, but his exceptional tenacity and resilience means that a repainted Goliath, Half-Orc, or Dwarf could do the trick in terms of stats. With no dungeon master that allows it, however, Variant Human is the better choice.
Kiryu is extraordinarily strong and can take a beating, so focus on strength and build. He also displays a strong, subtle and reasonably agile charisma, so those scores should be above average as well. However, both his Intelligence and his Wisdom are lacking. Consider building Kiryu’s highest stats, strength and build, leave Dexterity and Charisma at positive scores but don’t focus on increasing them, and leave his intelligence and wisdom as his lowest stats.
For the starting feat of the Variant Human, there are a few interesting options. Tavern Brawler replicates its Brawler and Beast styles quite well, allowing for more powerful unarmed attacks, additional grappling attempts, and the ability to use any nearby object as an effective weapon. However, Crusher is the perfect choice, increasing a primary stat and allowing Kiryu to reposition enemies with unarmed attacks, as well as providing a nice stun effect on a critical hit that deals bludgeoning damage.
While Kiryu can fight with weapons, all of his main fighting styles are unarmed, with the exception of Beast, who uses improvised weapons. With that in mind, Monk seems like an attractive choice. However, the Fighter class is ideal for Kiryu, as his Brawler, Beast, and Dragon fighting styles are all focused on strength, with only Rush focusing on quick hits and dodging. In addition, the unarmed combat style of Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything Gives a massive boost to unarmed damage, making Monk less needed.
However, Kiryu tends to fight while wearing only his town clothes, which means that it is necessary to acquire a level of barbarian as soon as possible. Whether he starts off as a barbarian and then progresses to fighter or takes a little dip into the barbarian at level two, getting unarmoured defense with his high constitution is a must. Rage will also help with grappling, which is a key part of his Brawler and Beast styles. This will also grant him the superhuman durability he constantly displays, as well as bonus damage on all his attacks.
Returning to Fighter after the Barbarian Dive, Kiryu does more than just attack a target. It will hit multiple targets with a single attack, knock people down or send them flying. To replicate this, consider taking the Battlemaster archetype. Any number of maneuvers are useful, such as tripping or pushing attacks to control the battlefield. New on that of Tacha is the Commandant Presence maneuver, which will serve to consolidate Kiryu’s Charisma statistic and represent his personality strength if the need to speak arises.
A Multiclass will roll back Kiryu’s additional attack function, so even if one of his bonuses is obsolete by the unarmed combat style, grabbing Tavern Brawler at fighter level four will allow Kiryu to attack and kill. fight in one round. This can temporarily replace the additional attack. From there, switching between Kiryu’s Brawler and Beast styles is as easy as activating his Rage to represent the Beast and using improvised weapons when possible in a rage. His high strength and additional rage damage will keep him viable in terms of damage.
The Rush style, unfortunately, appears to be odd, although it can easily be represented by short bursts. The Rush style involves dodging enemy attacks and responding with a flurry of weaker punches in return. As Kiryu levels up, he might spare one or two to gain Monk features. However, with so much overlap between this class and the choices he’s already made, it might be better to see Rush less like a mechanical boost and more like an actual fighting style.
Against more dangerous enemies, use Kiryu’s action push to unleash plenty of strikes. Spend a few laps focusing on defense with the Dodge Action and Second Wind functions, which aptly represent the patient and calculated boxing Kiryu puts into action in this style. As the grappling hook locks Kiryu with an enemy and restricts its own movement, it is absent during rush-style fights.
If all of that arbitrary differentiation between the different styles gets old – or if the tokens are down and Kiryu just needs to fight hard – Kiryu can unleash his fourth and final style: The Dragon of Dojima. Although in the game he has unique abilities, he essentially represents Kiryu using the strengths of all three fighting styles at once. To do this, have Kiryu pull all the tricks in the book to truly become Dojima’s dragon.
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