You know that D&D session that I said was going to happen this week? Yeaaaah. Darryl and Liam couldn’t make it. Instead Trev, Joe and I had a blast playing Cryptozoic’s DC Heroes deckbuilding game Crisis expansion, so it all worked out in the end.
We’ve also found out that Joe will be unavailable for a while as he starts a new job. Rather than bring the whole thing crashing to a halt, he’s instead requested that in his final session that Barry has a heroic death, then Trev, Liam and Darryl can continue on and avenge his name. Seeing as that last session will be in Thundertree, a death shouldn’t be too hard to arrange…
Oh, you said “heroic”? I thought you said “horrific”. No, I’m not changing it.
Anyway, as I mentioned last week, I picked up the new PHB and had a good flick through, checking out class features and spells and whatnot. And, as I inevitably do, I’ve come up with concepts for characters that I would love to use in a game, but unfortunately never will, as I am doomed to eternally DM! Still, I thought it would be fun to share these concepts with you, dear readers.
I’m a big fan of atypical characters. The stereotypical dwarf fighter, halfling rogue, elf wizard, etc, are boring to me. I like weird background/race/class combinations. Although the actual game mechanics are terrible for a tabletop RPG, the career system in Iron Kingdoms RPG was a big draw for me as you make characters with interesting class combinations, like alchemist/investigator, sorcerer/duellist, or gunmage/spy; combinations that oozed personality.
The last time I played D&D – back when Heroes of the Feywild had just been released, and I was getting a barely-satisfactory fix from Encounters sessions at a gaming store – my character was Zagrim Brickbeard, a dwarf illusionist, who was great fun to use. Unfortunately Zaggy didn’t fit into the “OPTIMISE OR GTFO” mindset that dominated 4th edition (and especially 4th edition Encounters), but he lives on as a fond memory. At least he got to be a memory, unlike the following, who will never feel the sweet joy of a natural 20.
CAP’N TORGUN KRAKENSMASHER
Mountain dwarf Barbarian (sailor background)
I mentioned a while ago when reminiscing about Warhammer Fantasy’s Dogs of War that Long Drong’s Slayer Pirates were pretty damn cool, and they serve as the inspiration for Cap’n Torgun; a crazy dwarf pirate.
Unlike normal barbarians who usually use two-handed weapons, Torgun would exclusively use big dirty cutlasses, or a mace (his peg leg). Maybe a brace of hand crossbows too, if the DM would let me re-fluff them as dwarven-made flintlock pistol. His rage would represent his reaction to any insult (real or imagined) towards his ship Dirty Serpent, or his credibility as a sailor. As he gains levels, I’d probably take frenzied barbarian as an archetype; it fits his personality better than the totem warrior. Of course, if I had a generous DM that would let me homebrew a sea serpent or shark as a totem animal…
Personality Trait : Foul-mouthed… you orc-banging queefguzzler.
Ideal : Respect. Any shipmate or landlubber can earn me respect, but that’s the key word; “earn”.
Bond : G’yarr, I’ll always remember me first ship, the Thirsty Serpent, which was wrecked by a sea monster (which I slew).
Flaw : Me pride, ‘twil be the death of me one day. G’yarr.
Half-orc Cleric (folk hero background)
Aruk nearly made it into a game once; it was a forum-based play-by-post game, which I pretty much bailed on instantly when I realised that I didn’t have the time to properly commit to it.
Aruk was essentially a civil rights leader for half-orcs; his backstory was that he was raised in the slums of a city where the nobles treated half-orcs as slave labour. Aruk was then taken under the wing of an elderly half-orc and discovered the teachings of the obscure goddess Hnae-Hnesha, She of Sundered Chains, a goddess of freedom and equality. Aruk became an evangelist, and fearing an uprising, the nobility sent in soldiers to massacre the half-orcs. Aruk proceeded to kick ass – because oh yeah, he’s a fucking half-orc – and escaped the city with over a hundred of his kindred.
More of a talker than a fighter, I’d give Aruk the Knowledge domain, and give him spells focusing on diplomacy and healing.
Defining Event : I stood up to tyrants so that my people’s children would no longer be born into slavery.
Personality Trait : Dedication. When I set my mind to something, it gets done.
Ideal : Freedom. I will not rest until every tyrant who seeks to toy with the lives of others is overthrown.
Bond : I am adorned with the tattoos of my goddess, the sacred broken chain motif. I cannot fail her.
Flaw : The nobility of my city will stop at nothing to kill me, which puts those closest to me at risk.
Wood elf Druid (criminal background)
Is it just me, or would a druid not make an excellent burglar or spy? They can turn into sneaky animals like cats, birds and mice, or they can speak with these animals and get them to perform acts of thievery or surveillance for them. Why pick a lock when you can turn into a spider and scuttle underneath the door? Why bother with grappling hooks and escape ropes when you can turn into a bird and fly away with your loot? And you aren’t going to alarm guards if you’ve taken the form of a house cat; they’d likely just shoo you away rather than stab you for trying to steal Lord Edwyr’s signet ring.
All these thoughts made me think of Cylena – obviously an homage to Selina Kyle, aka Catwoman. At first I thought she’d be Circle of the Moon, but Circle of the Land gives her access to the Grassland spells; namely invisibility and pass without trace. You know, those spells that would be massively useful to a thief or spy.
Criminal Specialty : Burglar.
Personality Trait : Slow to trust. People lie. Animals don’t.
Ideal : Charity. I’d give everything I steal to those who need it; I don’t need it. However…
Bond : I’m paying off an old debt. Who to? Like I’d tell you.
Flaw : I’ll run if things look bad. Cats may have nine lives, but I don’t.
Stout halfling Fighter (guild artisan background)
Oh sure, everyone laughs at the idea of a halfling fighter. But think of Sam from Lord of the Rings. You know, that halfling who stabs the shit out of the demon-mother-queen of spiders and then fucking solos Cirith Ungol. Yeah.
What’s Tad’s story? Well, he was the head chef at the best tavern in his hometown; and to halflings, head chefs are like the Pope. One day, Tad’s niece went missing. He led the search for her, and found her just before bandits did some Bad Things to her. Tad went to town with his meat cleaver, and saved his niece. After that incident, he reassessed his life and decided to make the trip to the big city, where he could settle down, open his own restaurant, and maybe find a little bit of adventure on the way.
So, standard fighter. Probably would take the Champion archetype, though I sort of like the idea of going Battlemaster and fluffing all his maneuvers as very unorthodox attacks with cooking implements.
Guild Business: Cook/baker.
Personality Trait : A bit of a perfectionist. You wouldn’t ask an painter to rush a portrait, don’t ask me to half-arse this bulette terrine with mandrake and crownleaf jus!
Ideal : Community. Good food helps bring people together! The world needs more good food and I’m willing to provide.
Bond : My ma and pa, and my sister and her little ‘uns mean the world to me.
Flaw : I’ve never been a violent sort before… now I can’t help but go looking for a fight.
Anime + nuns = what did you expect?
Human Warlock (acolyte background)
Oh, poor Sister Sabrina Sable! Not only were you cursed with an extravagantly alliterative name, but gosh darn it, you’ve gone and made friends with a cosmic abomination!
I like the idea of a devout follower of Standard-D&D-Judaeo-Christian-God-expy who has been “gifted” with the powers of a warlock and sees themself as “tainted” or “unclean”. Warlocks have never sat well with me in terms of fluff; their 5th ed mechanics are amazing, but I can never imagine other adventurers willing to buddy up with that guy who sold his soul to a demon for some rad-as-fuck laser eye-beams. I’m a big Warhammer 40k fan, so I’ve always liked the idea of sanctioned psykers, who have amazing powers but are kept under lock and key and who have to undergo rigorous mental and physical testing to ensure they don’t go snooker-loopy.
Sister Sable would definitely see her powers as a curse and try and keep them in check while being a good church-goer. Lots of moping and praying for guidance. But if the Mother Superior keeps insisting that she go out on these missions, then what’s she to do? Ideally, this would be a character I’d run if another player was happy to play a character who would be like an appointed bodyguard. Oh, and she’s definitely got Pact of the Tome (cunningly disguised as a holy text) and has the Great Old One as a patron. Always bet on Cthulhu.
Personality Trait : Sheltered and naive. I’ve never really left the convent. Everything is so scary! 0_0
Ideal : Charity. We should always help those in need! ^_^
Bond : The Mother Superior and my warden have kept my secret. No one else in the order can know… >_<
Flaw : I HEAR THE SONG OF ENDING IN MY DREAMS, HE WILL RISE CLAD IN THE DUST OF DEAD STARS IA IA IA FHTAGN … I mean, umm, I guess I’m a bit hard on myself….
Human Wizard (entertainer background)
Mr Vormund (“call me Callendy, please, I insist!”) is one of the most friendly, charming, and polite wizards you’ll ever meet. He doesn’t much care for thecolleges of arcane academia; no, for him, his hall of magic is the stage! Specifically, the stage of his travelling show, Comedia Penumbra! A skilled practitioner of the magical arts, Callendy serves as ringmaster, and uses his various cantrips for breathtaking light shows (and you simply haven’t lived until you’ve tasted his prestidigitation-flavoured candy floss). The performers of Comedia Penumbra are the best though; their daring acrobatic feats are death-defying!
Or at least they would be, if the performers were alive. You see, Callendy is a necromancer. A very good one, in fact. His three undead performers – Sacchi, Firenze, and Rocanto – aren’t shambling, mindless, rotting corpses, but the carefully preserved and animated bodies of three willing volunteers whose dying wish was to be in the circus. At Callendy’s command, they tumble, walk the high wire, and engage in physical slapstick. It’s all just a jolly good laugh, and boo to those stuffy clerics who says it’s an “affront to the gods”.
Entertainer Routine: Circus ringmaster.
Personality Trait : The thing is not to take yourself too seriously; then no one can get into a tiff with you, wot?
Ideal : People. Nothing makes me happier than seeing the smiles on the faces of my audience.
Bond : I’d do anything to keep Sacchi, Firenze and Rocanto safe; without them, Comedia Penumbra wouldn’t exist!
Flaw : I say, she’s rather stunning, isn’t she? I… I think I’m in love!
Tiefling Ranger (sage background)
I had a few ideas for a tiefling character; before I thought of Sister Sable, I was going to make a tiefling warlock called “Nothing-New”, who was aware that he was a stereotype, but I thought that was a bit of pretentious. Instead I went with tiefling Indiana Jones.
Treasure is a ranger who loves to explore and find new things and places, hence her “virtue” name (she has long since abandoned her Infernal name). While out in the wilds, she hopes to stumble upon some mysterious ruins, or an old tomb. She’s incredibly well-read, so if she found something, she would know what it was… it’s that she just can’t find anything! She keeps meaning to go further afield, but her duties to patrolling the borders of the kingdom keep her stuck where she is. She has a trained hawk called Turath, after the ancient tiefling empire. Naturally, lots of “normal” people are wary of her, afraid of her fiendish heritage, but she’s found a few firm friends in the libraries and academies, where she spends most of her time when she’s not outdoors.
Personality Trait : There’s nothing I love more than a good mystery. It would be boring to know everything!
Ideal : Self-Improvement. I don’t want to find something for the glory or riches; I just want to better myself.
Bond : I’ve been researching the location of an ancient tiefling temple for years; it’s my goal to find it.
Flaw : I’m painfully shy and awkward in social situations. Can you blame me?
Phew! That took ages! Still, I hope it was an enjoyable read, and maybe inspires you to come up with your own interesting D&D characters!