Ho-hum. I’m not what you’d call a Scrooge, but this time of year is not a great time for getting gaming done. People rushing around, doing Christmas shopping and attending family occasions, which means no time to get together, sit down, and chuck dice. So, yes, unfortunately our Wild West D&D game is currently on hiatus because of accursed Real Life.
I’ve been DMing for my latest group (Joe, Trev, Darryl, and occasionally Liam) solidly for about a year and a half now; we had a blast with the Lost Mine of Phandelver (which itself had a hiatus of several months) and once we’re finished with Sixguns – we’re probably past the halfway point of my overarching plot – I want to give Edge of the Empire a whirl, specifically the pre-published Long Arm of the Hutt adventure just so we can break up the d20 games with a new system. If the group likes it, I want to homebrew a Gamma World style game using the Edge rules, and then run that.
Of course, all this may inevitably lead to me getting burned out. I’m dropping heavy, not-so-subtle hints that maybe one of the others may want to try DMing a short campaign just so that a little pressure can come off me, and I can relax for a while and only worry about running one character, rather than a whole world of NPCs.
Last year, I filled the interlude by talking about characters that I’d like to run in a D&D game. Well, I’ve had more ideas since then…
Half-orc paladin (acolyte background)
I’ve recently replayed the excellent (and slightly obscure) Capcom JRPG Breath of Fire III. Garr is one of the main characters, and pretty important to the story; he’s a warrior angel tasked by God to wipe out the Brood, a race of dragons who God says will destroy the world. It’s not that simple though, and Garr ends up teaming up with Ryu, the last surviving member of the Brood, and bish-bash-bosh.
Half-orc may be a strange choice for race, but this is a time when the crunch is perfect; half-orcs get all sorts of bonuses to Strength, Intimidation, weapon criticals… all stuff that’s perfect to represent Garr. And those wings? He never uses them in game, so as far as I’m concerned they’re cosmetic. I was tempted to go with a red-heritage dragonborn (Garr mostly uses fire magic in the game, which a breath weapon could represent) but the half-orc rules suit him better.
Being a paladin suits his background as a holy warrior, and his combat tactics can boil down to 1) Smite enemy with massive halberd, and 2) Repeat Step 1 until enemy is dead. Smiting gives bonus damage against undead and fiends, but I’d try and bend the DM’s ear to let me get the bonus against dragons instead; after all, that’s what Garr was made to fight. Oh, and Oath of Vengeance all the way.
Personality Trait: I may seem scary and violent, but in actual fact I’m very devout and a loyal, caring companion.
Ideal: Truth. I have to know God’s real reasons for wanting to exterminate the peaceful Brood.
Bond: I promised my closest friend – the last surviving member of the Brood – that we would seek out God and demand answers for what she ordered the other Guardians and I to do.
Flaw: I’m full of doubt and self-loathing about what I did all those years ago. I was a fool to blindly follow God’s commands.
PRINCESS NINA OF WYNDIA
Half-elf sorcerer (noble background)
Yeah, another BoFIII character; this time the game’s resident squishy mage, Princess Nina. I don’t know why, but I really like the idea of a royal spellcaster; not a member of the court, like the king’s personal wizard or whatever, but one of the actual royalty. It’s fun to have a royal who actually goes out and gets shit done!
Nina is a mage of the blasty variety; it’s all lightning and fireballs (and some really shit debuff spells), so a sorcerer seemed like the best choice. As for the half-elf race choice; well, it’s sort of implied that the Wyndian royalty aren’t completely human. Because, um, you know. Wings.
So evocation spells out the wazoo; burning hands, thunderwave, scorching ray, lightning bolt… all that good stuff that can get really fun when paired with the sorcerer’s metamagic abilities. And as for Nina’s choice of Sorcerous Origin, there’s a fun little Unearthed Arcana called Waterborne Adventures that gives sorcerers the option for Storm Magic, perfect for representing Nina’s particular type of wind-based magic, culminating in a permanent flight speed and immunity to thunder and lightning damage at 18th level. I’d just have to make sure she’s nowhere near the front lines, the Wyndian royalty aren’t known for their ability to take a punch…
Personality Trait: I always try and see the good in people and stand up for them, regardless of race or social class.
Ideal: Duty. It’s the obligation of the royal family to protect and care for those less fortunate.
Bond: One day, I’ll be the Queen of Wyndia. It’s a responsibility I can’t ignore…
Flaw: … except for today, when I *might* sneak out of the castle and go and help my friends. Look, I’m a princess, I can do what I want!
Human monk (hermit background)
Look, I just want to play a cool martial arts guy.
Back in the days of 3.5, there was a controversial splatbook called Book of Nine Swords, or, as 1d4chan loves to call it, the Book of Weeabo Fightan Magic. It essentially gave combat classes a whole slew of flashy special moves. I thought it was pretty cool, because it actually made playing a monk fun and possible, rather than a grinding ordeal. Okay, so it was a “swordsage” with “Radiant Dawn” techniques, but hell with that, I had a few good games where I did all sorts of cool Jackie Chan stuff. 4th edition monks were similar in that they had a load of explicitly supernatural powers, but I found their rules mechanics were gimmicky and over-complicated. 5th edition to the rescue!
Not much more to say; I want to fight zombies and orcs with roundhouse kicks, one-inch punches, and judo throws. Oh, and a spear, one of the ones with a massive red twirly horsetail on it for maximum spinning. As for which Way I’d take? Eh, Open Hand seems okay, but Four Elements lets you throw hadokens.
Personality Trait, Ideal, Bond, Flaw: Generic humble-but-aloof martial artist bullshit. Look, you’re lucky he even got a name.
Silver dragonborn mystic (soldier background)
Ha! I know, right? It’s like the most obnoxious, adolescent, bad-fanfiction-Mary-Sue character ever. Well, whatever. We all have our guilty pleasures. Sometimes, like with the monk guy above, you want to play something that’s just straight-forward, and a little dumb.
I’ve actually played a few incarnations of Siegund before, back when friends were kind enough to run adventures so I could play. One was a d20 Modern Urban Arcana game, Siegund was a nightclub owner, he had a pair of knuckledusters and a Desert Eagle, and that was all he needed to take down a crime syndicate of cyborg ninjas. Another was a 4th edition game where he was a warlord leading a couple of new adventurers. I have a soft spot for the shiny, scaly old bastard.
The mystic is a class from another Unearthed Arcana in which we’ve been given a preview of how psionics will play out in 5th edition; no longer are they a “true” spellcasting class like the wizard or cleric, now they have a set number of disciplines which grant passive perks and spell-like abilities activated by spending psi points. Siegund is a mystic of the Immortal Order; what would be called a battlemind in previous editions. This means he gets fun things like bullet time and turning his skin into iron. To reflect his military training, I’d take the Martial Adept feat as soon as possible so he can bark orders after he’s done barfing liquid nitrogen on his enemies.
Military Specialty: Officer
Personality Trait: Never give up! There’s always another way! In my veins is the blood of Bahamut! I will not fail!
Ideal: The Greater Good. If I have to die to save others, then so be it!
Bond: My draconic parent was slain by the red dragon Kasulifon. I won’t rest until he is destroyed.
Flaw: I have little patience for the whining of cowards and sycophants. There are also times when I have been… overconfident in my abilities.
Maybe one day, one or more of these characters will grace the tabletop, but until then they’ll be on the shelf in the back of my mind, waiting for their chance to shine. And people wonder why DMPCs are a thing…