Lady Chian is a DC Universe character, first seen in 1982. She exists in the distant past of Arion, Lord of Atlantis – a sword-and-sorcery setting.
This entry will not detail the plot, since that belongs to an Arion character profile.
- Real Name: Lady Captain Chian.
- Known Relatives: Lord Sato (father).
- Group Affiliation: House of Shonan. Guard of the City of the Golden Gate.
- Base of Operations: City of the Golden Gate.
- Height: 5’2″ (1.58m). Weight: 110 lbs. (50 Kg.).
- Eyes: Hazel. Hair: Black.
The naming of katana wielders is a difficult matter
“Chian” is a possible transcription of actual Japanese given names. But, as far as I can tell, a none-too-good one crushing the exact sound of the second kanji.
Plus, of course, modern Japanese is *at least* 50,000 years in the future for Lady Chian.
But one possibility I like for her non-transliterated name is 千彩 (“Chiaya”). If you draw from the Chinese meaning of the characters, it can translate to something nice such as “Of a thousand graceful colours”. And it’s butcherable into “Chian” by foreign speakers.
Without going into a history of Atlantis in the DC Universe, here are quick pointers :
- Atlantis is more than a million years old. It is a major example of modern Humans having lived on Earth well before “mainline” humanity reached the sapiens sapiens era.
- Lady Chian came much, much later. She lived about 45,000 years ago.
- The City of the Golden Gate is the main Atlantean state. There are 11 others, but we know little about most of these.
- Chian’s time was marked by immense destruction in Atlantis. However, Atlantis doesn’t *sink* under the ocean until much later – about 9,600 BC.
- Atlantis was a society built upon the mastery of magic. However, thousands of years before Chian’s time, there also was much progress in science and engineering. At its scientific peak, Atlantis could even build a few starships.
The milieu, as Mr. Gygax would say
The Atlantis of Chian’s time is one of those late 1970s/1980s kitchen sinkHere, it means “using a lot of unrelated elements that seemed cool at the time.” fantasy settings.
- The early narrative draws hard from Howard’s Conan.
- There’s Moorcockian chaos and order.
- The protagonist is a super-wizard accompanied by a pseudo-samurai and a pseudo-Native-American.
- They also have lasers.
- They occasionally shoot dinosaurs.
Powers & Abilities
Lady Chian is a highly trained, experienced :
- Military officer.
- Pilot. She can fly various models of Atlantean sky-sled. These look technological but actually use magic to fly.
- Acrobat. She chiefly uses her acrobatic technique when she needs to quickly cross a battlefield. And to avoid triggering Attacks of Opportunity. No, wait, wrong game.
- Martial artist. She’s a proficient kickboxer, and will use kicks in her swordfighting style.
She can take on a half-dozen ordinary soldiers with good odds.
She’s courageous, dutiful and disciplined. Her will is strong enough to resist some forms of demonic possession.
The beauty of our weapons
She normally fights with a katana-like sword. If necessary she’ll transition to an Atlantean blasterA gun shooting energy, like in Star Wars. pistol. If outnumbered, she’ll dual-wield these two weapons.
Chian’s always armed. She even sleeps with her sword.
One flashback also depicts her fighting with dual swords. But presumably, one longer sword provides more reach to compensate for her small size.
Another flashback shows her training with a nunchaku. And she’s quite proficient with a dagger.
Cpt. Chian can operate most Atlantean military equipment, mounts, etc..
She can also provide solid swordsmanship or meditation instruction.
During magic fights, Lady Chian usually acts as Arion’s bodyguard. She’ll ensure his physical safety while he focuses on the magic stuff. She’ll also dispatch foes that are vulnerable to normal weapons.
She sometimes wears a few pieces evoking medieval Japanese armour. A pair of sode (shoulder and upper arm guards) and a pair of haidate (thigh protectors). But that’s too little coverage to be more than decorations.
She has a strong track record of sensing people attempting to strike her in the back. This is precise enough to allow her to parry the blow – even without looking. But oddly, this doesn’t seem to work against non-lethal attacks.
- Her sword is her primary, not her gun. Unless it is clearly a ranged combat situation.
- Wyynde carries a crossbow, and prefers it to the blaster wot’s right on his hip.
- The pistol is drawn when outnumbered. But even then it’s there to support the blade, or engage more distant opponents.
- Nobody is ever seen reloading, though they are seen running dry.
- Mara once mentions that the charge of her blasters is running low. There’s also some dialogue with guards about charged blasters, giving the impression it’s a long process (like charging a 2010s electric car).
- Atlantean soldiers can mow down melee attackers, but not for that long. Overwhelming them with hordes of clubmen seems more feasible than if they had, say, AK-47s rather than blasters.
We can also assume that, despite looking technological, these are actually magical weapons.
- You can’t take snapshots. It’s a laser beam and must be maintained for one or two seconds to reach lethal intensity. This limits mobility and clearly gives your position away.
- The range is lower than what a proficient archer, or a crossbowman, can achieve.
- Blasters need a magical battery (à la Green Lantern Alan Scott). There’s a scene that strongly implies that – the characters are using a magical solar power battery aboard a pirate ship to “reload”. But it’s not *entirely* explicit.
- The lasers’ maximum charge gets lower with use, eventually turning them into a pretty paperweight. And producing new ones is difficult and expensive. This is to further explain the slight reluctance to use them.
- Unlike with some other stories, drawing a gun is faster than drawing a sword.
Big big classic.
History (part 1)
Lady Chian comes from Hoshan, one of the 12 Atlantean states. She’s with the House of Shonan.
Her father, Lord Sato, was a master artisan. As well as a gifted artist and contemplator of nature.
In the far past, an ancestor of hers had rebelled against a mighty warlord. This rebellion was put down, and a tribute enacted. Once a century, the House would send a child to the warlord’s descendants.
This is how Sato was forced to send away his beloved daughter Chian. She was about 10.
This apparently came earlier than anticipated, as Sato had not warned or prepared Chian. His daughter thus came to hate him.
The wrath of Chian
Chian found herself locked up in the huge fortress of the warlord. These folks too seemed to have a pseudo-Japanese medieval culture. The children given as tribute were trained to become ruthless warriors.
During the brutal training, Chian became a close friend of one Tomokata, another trainee/prisoner. Once they were young adults, they also became lovers.
One day, Chian had a live blade for training, and was near an outer wall. She slew three of her taskmasters in as many seconds, then escaped.
However she had to leave Tomokata behind, and refused to return to her hated father.
With her great martial skills, Lady Chian became a successful mercenary. But she felt rootless and directionless, enraged and immature. And she kept squandering her ample pay.
Be true to the thought of the moment and avoid distraction
Lady Chian eventually came across a castle, deep in the wilderness. Within was the dojo of Master Yoshiro.
She decided to attend the classes.
The warlord’s cruel taskmasters had made her a warrior and a gladiator. But with Yoshiro, Chian became a martial artist.
She then left Hoshan, and came to the City of the Golden Gate. Chian decided to settle there, and offered her blade in service to King D’Tilluh.
The offer was promptly accepted, and she joined the City Guard.
Notes about the Golden Gate city guard
There might be traditional ties between Hoshan and the Golden Gate military. The troops have samurai-ish outfits and melee weapons, and many of the officers seem Asian.
But we don’t know how many of the Atlantean states are Eastern-Asian-ish. Therefore, the bulk of the cultural influence might not come from Hoshan.
Furthermore, in the last two issues the uniforms suddenly become more akin to fantasy Mongols. Perhaps there is a tradition of rotating across the liverySpecial uniform worn by a servant, an official, or a guard. of the other Atlantean states ?
Captain Chian commands the Guard in a stern manner. One gets the impression that these units were lacking resolve and professionalism, and that she’s retraining them to better standards.
The Guard might be distinct from the military. Captain Chian and General Balar never seem to be in the same chain of command.
The City Guard also has some telepaths. They seem to have a small level of innate magic. One use for it is to scan for unseen presences, such as magical scrying.
Telepaths also seem to operate some sort of communication and scanning equipment. These appear technological, but likely aren’t.
The telepaths wear sci-fi jumpsuits.
History (part 2)
Lady Chian apparently joined the Golden Gate guard as a Lieutenant. Wyynde was on one of her squads, and they became friends.
Both Chian and Wyynde were on a patrol that was ambushed by so-called “submen”. Chian’s prowess allowed her men to hold, but they were separated from Wyynde.
Chian refused to stop searching for him. Wyynde eventually showed up – with Arion.
Lt. Chian was wary at first, as she distrusted mages. But he soon helped her squad against a renewed submen attack. The two became friends.
Chian thus saw Arion gradually master his magic, and be honoured as Lord High Mage by King D’Tilluh.
Tears, sweat and blood
By the 183rd year of the reign of King D’Tilluh, the situation of the City of the Golden Gate was bad. The area had been plunged into an unending, frigid winter for years.
The submen, with their wooden clubs and fur loincloths, frequently attacked en masse. Other assaults, such as dinosaur stampedes, seemed to involve magic.
The guard held. But they were suffering significant casualties. And they were uncomfortably dependent on the spells of the Royal Mage, Lord Arion, to handle the thicker and/or mystical assaults.
Then came a day when Arion took Wyynde and Lady Chian with him on a quest…
A petite, striking East-Asian woman who seems to be in her late 20s.
She usually wears her lush black hair very long – mid-thighs. Sometimes it’s done as a queue to be out of her way.
She sometimes wears a broad bandana, covering much of her brow and upper head to keep her hair out. There’s usually a symbol on it. My guess would be that it’s her rank, since she had a different one as a el-tee.
(On one occasion she’s called a First Lieutenant rather than Captain, but this seems to be a mistake.)
There’s a flower-like tattoo on her upper breastbone.
Sometimes it’s drawn as an outline, sometimes it’s filled with red. Heh, maybe it’s a magitech tat that slowly fills then empties itself. There’s sometimes a similar symbol on the back of her jacket, so it might be the heraldry of her House.
(The tattoo is sometimes filled with pink or magenta… which might mean that the inner colour indeed fades in and out.)
She’s usually clad in a vivid shade of green, such as chartreuse, and white.
And she’s usually free-boobing, which might not be too comfortable in melee combat.
As usual, her eyes have gone through every possible colour. But they usually were hazel in the early issues, so I’ve gone with that.
DC’s Who’s Who went with black eyes, presumably because they picked what was more common near the end of the series.
Captain Chian is a focused professional. She’s here to do her job efficiently and without having to deal with unnecessary nonsense, kthxbai.
As the series progresses she becomes more emotional. In part because most of the material she gets to act with is romance subplots.
She’s not big on hierarchies. She sees Wyynde as a brother rather than a subordinate, and her deference toward Lord High Mage Arion was perfunctory at best.
Cpt. Chian likes to fight. She finds battles exciting and liberating, and she trusts her skills to see her through.
Like most Atlanteans she swears by the names of the local gods and kings – especially Cholloh.
Over time, Lady Chian developed a fondness for their young companion Mara. And Chian is exceptionally loyal toward her friends.
She indulges in biting sarcasm from time to time. It seems to be a mood thing.
If you can see me, Arion, reach out and take me home
Lady Chian decided to date Arion, confirmed that there was enough interest, then largely ignored the fact that he’s terrible at it.
In particular, she’ll just brush aside his spurts of arrogance.
She clearly wishes that he were more emotionally available, but she’s fine with what she can get. She genuinely cares for him.
Over time, Arion matures and opens up. This allows their relationship to become something much more romantic, satisfying and free-flowing.
Like Wyynde, Chian entirely trusts Arion. He’s the one with the occult knowledge, paranormal perceptions, special intuitions, etc.. She fully expects him to have information she couldn’t possibly have. And thus take better decisions.
“At my back, Wyynde ! We have to first protect Arion from harm !”
“Aye… then we fight ! For, by the gods, I’ve got an anger I’m aching to release !”
Mara (in battle): “Hey ! Anybody got a spare sword for me ?”
Chian: “Wait but a moment, Mara… and this scab on the face of humanity will relinquish his to you !” (kills her opponent, kicks his fallen sword toward Mara).
Beyond our time, beyond our universe…
Post-Crisis, it is stated that Chian and Arion married. This isn’t reflected in her background block above, which describes her at the beginning of the story.
For 20 years (1986-2005), it was established that Chian and Arion had a daughter, Kara. However, the evil magic of Arion’s brother forced him to exile Kara to the far future. When that happened, Lady Chian wasn’t present (and may have been dead).
Kara had received a series of magical and genetic alterations. She was also given false memories. All together, this made her think she was from Krypton, and she became Power Girl.
If retcons retcould retcon retcons…
This hack allowed Power Girl to continue existing in the post-Crisis DC Universe. Which had different “rules” about how many survivors of Krypton could exist.
It moooooorrre or less, sort of, kinda worked ? Though there were clear weak points.
Kara’s appearance wasn’t one of these – genetics are complicated. And we never see Chian’s mum, so she could easily have been a blonde with light-coloured eyes.
If you want continuity notes about this span where Kara was Chian’s daughter, Carol Strickland archived stuff .
DC Heroes RPG
|Dex: 07||Str: 03||Bod: 04|
|Int: 04||Wil: 04||Min: 06|
|Inf: 04||Aur: 04||Spi: 06|
|Init: 017||HP: 030|
Full vision: 00
Bonuses and Limitations:
- Full vision is a Skilled Power.
- Full vision is limited to perceiving armed attacks. This allows her to maintain her full OV against those.
Acrobatics: 05, Animal handling (Riding): 05, Martial artist: 05, Medicine (First aid): 03, Military science (Field command): 05, Occultist (Occult lore): 03, Thief (Stealth): 05, Vehicles (Air): 04, Weaponry (Melee, Firearms): 07
Edge (MIN, SPI), Familiarity (Arctic survival, Atlantean military equipment and protocols, Dragon-riding), Rank (Captain of the Guard).
Royal Councilor Wing (High).
Edge (STR, BODY).
The overall Genre isn’t Real, but the healing times are. RV boosts, LDD and DesRec also seem Mock-Real or so. The rest is Action.
- Sword [BODY 06, Enhance (EV): 02 (cap is 08), Descriptor: Slashing, Piercing, Recommended STR 02].
- Blaster [BODY 02, Laser beam (ML): 04, Ammo: 10, Misc.: reloading requires infrastructure, Misc.: integral battery slowly deteriorates with use, R#2].
Early on, Lady Chian deployed this :
- SKY SLED [STR 06 BODY 06, Flight (ML): 07, R#2]. This sci-fi flying car is actually powered by magic. It can carry up to five persons. During forays it also carries supplies, campaign equipment, binoculars, etc. plus a magical “campfire”.
- “CAMPFIRE” [BODY 01, Flame being (ML): 04, Temperature control (only to compensate for cold) (ML): 02]. This is a ring of tall, magical flames that can be activated around a camping site. It provides both a barrier and a source of heat.
- MAGICAL BATTERY ? One suspects that the skysleds can be used to recharge blasters, albeit more slowly than with a full-size battery. The Ammo score in the stats above assumes this.
Skysleds become a bit less common later on, but are still used to cross long distances. For smaller journeys Chian just rides a horse. Her favourite is a white one called Plainsrunner.
Cpt. Chian’s Rank Advantage is almost cosmetic. Normally they’ll be away from her troops. But then, she’s not built using a budget, so…
Arion, Wyynde and Mara are fellow Player CharactersRPG characters played by a player, rather than the gamemaster or the computer., not Connections. I considered making them zero-points dependants, but that felt meh.
Edge is used as a nod toward her meditations techniques. And because she seems to be near the lower bound when it comes to her STR and BODY APs.
I don’t think Medicine was demonstrated. But it makes sense and it’s in her Mayfair stats, so let’s keep it.
More design notes
Speaking of Mayfair, I kept as much of those stats as was reasonable. One difference is that I ditched some Advantages that didn’t fully match the material, and increased the corresponding Attributes instead. That reflects the comics better.
Everybody speaks the same language. Even the demons, the submen, the jackal dudes, etc..
Her AVs and OVs seem pretty consistent across loadouts and situations. So no need to do stuff with Evasion and the like.
Source of Character: Arion, Lord of Atlantis and the like.
Helper(s): Mayfair’s Atlas of the DC Universe. Darci.
Writeup completed on the 31st of January, 2020.