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Yakari and Little Thunder

Yakari


Power Level:
Game system: DC Heroes Role-Playing Game

Context

Yakari is a traditional Francophone ligne claire adventure comics for small children. For simplicity’s sake I’ll use the names from the solid translation published by Cinebook.

This profile only covers the first score of Yakari books out of nearly 40, because time.

Technically there are S P O I L E R S, since the History section has to give a sense of the sort of adventures Yakari gets into. I doubt that it counts, though – these are very simple stories.


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Background

  • Real Name: Yakari.
  • Marital Status: Single (minor).
  • Known Relatives: Bold Gaze (father), Braid Night (mother).
  • Group Affiliation: Unnamed Oglala tribe.
  • Base Of Operations: Mobile with his tribe.
  • Height: 3’5” Weight: 68 lbs.
  • Eyes: Dark brown Hair: Black


Powers & Abilities

Yakari is a clever, handy little child with much the same skill set as a 1960s/1970s Boy Scout. For instance he can craft a crude self bow to hunt small game. He also can survive outdoors if the milieu and climate are good. He is good with horses, and can routinely ride without saddle or bridle.

He has a quick mind and is surprisingly resourceful. Yakari is an excellent swimmer and climber for his age, and can do some simple tracking.

One of Yakari’s best friends is a colt named Little Thunder. It is a fleet and spirited mustang who likes children. Little Thunder is unusually athletic, and can escape the tribe’s colts enclosure by jumping over it whenever needed. He can also track a person by sense of smell.


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Guardian Eagle

Yakari’s totem animal is Great Eagle. It regularly manifests to him in dreams and even in the flesh. To reward the child’s courage and good heart, Great Eagle gave him the ability to talk to all animals.

Great Eagle occasionally appears as an exceptionally large eagle to help Yakari. For instance, when the boy was trapped by a prairie fire, his totem flew in and guided him out. When he appears in Yakari’s dreams, Great Eagle will often give him useful visions about the future.

Great Eagle is very intelligent, and apparently omniscient. He appears whenever a bright child’s intelligence isn’t sufficient, giving Yakari clues about good solutions to the current situation. Great Eagle’s advice is always cryptic. But it’s 100% reliable once Yakari has figured out what the bird spirit meant.

Yakari meets with the Great Eagle spirit

Yakari meets Great Eagle in a dream.

Other folks have other totems, such as Nanabozho the trickster rabbit. These can also give dream visions, though most totems aren’t as wise as Great Eagle. Still, dreams and other omens from one’s totem are almost always correct, and are considered an important part of life.

Beasts of the Land, part 1

In this setting, charismatic fauna  is about as intelligent as people, though this is only apparent to Yakari. Non-charismatic fauna such as basic fishes, field mice or most insects are apparently regular animals but horses, bears, eagles, ducks, coyotes, butterflies, otters, etc. are all people. Most of them are friendly.

Animals can understand people just fine. For instance a little girl named Rainbow convinced Little Thunder to let her ride on his back by flattering him, though she didn’t realise that a horse could actually understand her words.

Animals can also talk to each other. But they will of course not get along if they’re predators and prey. For instance marmots are terrified of eagles.

Most animals share the beliefs of the Sioux about the natural order upheld by the Great Spirit Wakonda. They see it as a good balance. For instance buffaloes do not mind being hunted, as they know that the responsible Sioux hunters will take the old and sick, and will not kill more than they need to live.

Beasts of the Land, part 2

The cultures of animals are also none too different from the Sioux’s. They know the same myths and they use similar conventions to name themselves. A family of mountain goats even identified Yakari’s tribe by his clothing.

A few animals have magic powers. For instance the crow Mick-Mack could mesmerise a human sleepwalker by standing on his head. Animals also have their totem spirits, but unlike humans it’s always the totem of their species. For instance, bears teach their cubs the wisdom of Great Bear.

They even have vision quests. For example Little Thunder and other young mustangs once took part to a series of ritual ordeals. Those are undergone to conserve the horse spirit’s blessing of courage for their species.


History

Yakari is a little boy living in the Old West with his people, a nomadic Sioux  tiwahe (“family”, though Yakari use it in the sense of “tribe”). They follow buffalo herds across the Great Prairie. Among the Sioux Alliance he’s part of the Lakota  people, specifically the Oglala  tribes.

Yakari and his mother

The stories take place before the big waves of European settlers and the genocides – but after 1600 or so, since there are already horses around. From the account of an elder one guesses that horses have been present in the Prairie for about 3 or 4 generations.

Much of the action seems to take place in Ohio – the Great Serpent Mound  is close to the most frequent camping site. But it considerably precedes the Oglala and is already ancient by this point.

Great Eagle

During a dream vision, Great Eagle encouraged little Yakari to be just like him. Over the following days, Yakari and Rainbow (a girl his age) courageously chased away a puma. Yakari later helped a wild colt who had trapped its leg between rocks.

Satisfied, Great Eagle gifted Yakari with the ability to talk to animals and one of his feathers. However, no adult believed Yakari, and they did not want him to wear the prestigious feather in his headband.

A few days later, Yakari ran into the colt again. The young mustang — named Little Thunder — agreed to become his friend. Impressed that he had tamed such a spirited mustang, his father and the other men agreed that Yakari had earned the right to wear his eagle feather.

Vision quests

The following year was a bad one. Snow lasted too long and no buffalo was to be found. As starvation was nearing, Great Eagle gave Yakari a dream vision about the buffaloes. The boy and his horse adventured across the far Southern desert. Once there, Great Eagle showed them how to drink and eat from cacti.

Yakari and Little Thunder discovered a hidden valley where the buffaloes had found refuge from the winter. White Buffalo (the pale-furred chief of the herd) agreed to lead the herd out and resume their migration. This saved the tribe.

Yakari and his tribe around a campfire

During the following summer, Yakari met a tribe of beavers. He became their friend, saving two of them from certain death. He also told Rainbow his secret, and introduced her to the beavers.

During the autumn, the beavers found a lost raccoon child whose parents had disappeared. They asked Yakari to help. The little Sioux and his colt discovered that a vile grizzly had enslaved a number of animals.

On Great Eagle’s advice, Yakari had the slaves give way too much food to the grizzly as winter approached. This sent him into deep hibernation. As the bear slept, Yakari and his friends took him to a tiny island. Having forgotten how to cross water, the grizzly agreed to treat people right in exchange for swimming lessons. He soon became an ally to the neighbouring animal tribes.

Friendship is magic

Yakari then dealt with a very sick and quite lost pelican. During the next winter he brokered peace between an obsessed Sioux hunter named Tormented Wolf, and a tribe of wolves living near one of the camping spots on the tribal migration circuit.

During the spring, Yakari and Rainbow befriended a tribe of moose, and protected a wounded young moose against a nasty wolverine.

During the autumn, a hunter from Yakari’s tribe chased a mustang too far. In doing so he intruded on an eagle’s turf. The eagle stole the hunter’s talisman, making him sick. With the help of a tribe of mountain goats and Great Eagle, Yakari recovered the talisman from the seemingly inaccessible eagle nest.

Yakari's tribe on the move

Later on Rainbow, Yakari and a friend their age — a boy named Buffalo Seed — went canoeing. But Buffalo Seed ran into a mountain lion while trying to hunt. With the help of a cunning coyote, Yakari lured the lion away long enough for Buffalo Seed to escape.

There were many further adventures, of course. Yakari eventually gained the trust of the adults of his tiwahe. They came to assume that he knew what he was doing. They even let him accompany a raid party when the horses were stolen by another tribe, to help the raiders steal back the horses.

One-Who-Knows, the shaman, particularly came to appreciate Yakari’s rapport with his great totem.


Description

Yakari sports a fine eagle feather in his headband. This signifies that he has accomplished an exploit – obviously a rare sight for somebody his age.

Yakari never grows up. As a genre conceit, time essentially never passes and nobody’s age ever changes.


Personality

Yakari is a wise and good little boy. He lives in harmony in nature and always helps people and animals in need. He believes that everybody should be free and equal, and would never use deadly violence. But some force might be used to save lives. For instance, Yakari once charged a bear on Little Thunder’s back, using a branch as an improvised lance to knock the surprised bear down.

Yakari’s moral stance is very strong. He will persist in doing the right, altruistic and just thing even when that’s dangerous or really annoying. Of course, in his genre, everything can always be solved with good deeds, an open mind and the power of friendship. These are positive stories for small children.


Quotes

“A true hunter opens both eyes before stretching his bow !”

“Great Eagle is my totem, Rainbow. He knows everything.”

“Grizzly ! I saw you ! Aren’t you ashamed ! You shouldn’t treat people that way !!”


DC Universe History

It’s difficult to insert these pacific stories within the violent DC Universe’s Old West. But perhaps an adult Yakari (then a shaman married to Rainbow) saved Brian Savage from dying in the desert. They helped the wandering warrior complete an inner quest and find some peace of mind.

Then Savage left the prairies and moved to Opal City, becoming a seasoned, veteran, respected sheriff of the nascent city, instead of a lone wolf.


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Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG Print Friendly

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Yakari

Dex: 02 Str: 00 Bod: 01 Motivation: Upholding Good
Int: 03 Wil: 03 Min: 02 Occupation: Little boy
Inf: 02 Aur: 02 Spi: 03 Resources {or Wealth}: 000
Init: 007 HP: 010

Powers:
Speak with animals: 04

Bonuses and Limitations:

  • Speak with animals has a Special +5 Duration Bonus.
  • Most animals in Yakari’s setting are fully intelligent.

Skills:
Acrobatics (Climbing): 03, Animals handling (Horses): 04, Charisma (Persuasion): 04, Evasion (Ranged only): 03, Gadgetry (Build gadget): 02, Military science (Survival, Tracking): 02, Thief (Stealth): 03

Bonuses and Limitations:

  • Charisma (Persuasion) is Contingent Upon Speak with Animals, and limited to reasonable animals.
  • Gadgetry is limited to simple, low-tech outdoors stuff (think Boy Scouts) and simple crafts (such as braiding a rope from goat hair).

Advantages
None demonstrated.

Connections:
His tribe (Low), Great Eagle Spirit (High), Little Thunder (High) and a Low Connection with several animal tribes (particularly a tribe of beavers, a tribe of prairie dogs and the redeemed grizzly).

Drawbacks:
Age (Very young).

Equipment:
Tiny utility knife [BODY 02, EV 00, used for woodworking and the like].


Little Thunder

Dex: 03 Str: 04 Bod: 04 Motivation: Upholding Good
Int: 02 Wil: 02 Min: 02 Occupation: Mustang
Inf: 02 Aur: 01 Spi: 02 Resources {or Wealth}: N.A.
Init: 007 HP: 005

Powers:
Analytical Smell/Tracking Scent: 04, Density Increase: 03, Extended Hearing: 02, Running: 04, Ultra Vision: 03

Skills:
Acrobatics (Athletics): 04

By Sébastien Andrivet.

Source of Character: Yakari graphic novels by Derib and Job.

Helper(s): Capita_Senyera (DCU History section), Peter Piispanen, Darci

Writeup completed on the 7th of July, 2014.

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