16 Sep 2014

Test Drive - D&D 5th Edition II

Welcome back to the short series testing out the D&D 5th edition Player's Handbook.  If you've missed a part, the list is below.

Part I - Reverence, tiefling monk

In this series, I want to test some character ideas based on setting.  In Part I, the setting was assumed to be a homebrew where the GM would let anything go.  For the rest, I'll be using the Dragonlance, Greyhawk, and Forgotten Realms campaign worlds.  The PHB has some info on each of those worlds, enough for a start.  Today's world is Krynn, the setting for Dragonlance.

The core Dragonlance setting made a few changes to the available classes and races.  There are no orcs on Krynn; goblins and hobgoblins fill that role.  Dragonborn didn't exist when the setting was first published; the closest equivalent are the draconians, dragon-like servants of Takhisis created from the corruption of the eggs of the metallic dragons.  As such, draconians aren't ideal as player characters.  The niche of the halflings is filled by the kender, an inquisitive race that are both fearless and cursed to kleptomania.  Kender don't steal, at least not consciously.  Instead, they find a shiny bauble and forget to put it down.  Kender don't take anything valuable, though; the baubles are interesting but shiny.  A gold coin isn't as interesting as a copper whistle.  Gnomes on Krynn are based on the rock gnome as in the PHB, except for the tinkering aspect.  Tinker gnomes are also cursed; the curse takes the form of the need to build devices that just don't work.  The devices are overbuilt with multiple redundancies, warning bells, whistles that tell when a warning bell is ringing, alarms for when whistles aren't whistling, and fail-safes that, well, fail unsafely.

With halflings, gnomes, half-orcs, and dragonborn not available, that still leaves most of the core races available.  While the cultures of elves, dwarves, and humans are different on Krynn than in the Forgotten Realms, there's not much mechanically different.  The same goes with half-elves.  Tieflings are an oddity; they may work best as the offspring of a devil and a victim, but that's a DM judgement call.  As mentioned, elves do exist in Dragonlance, but drow do not.  There is no inherently evil elven race, but dark elves do exist.  Elven society on Krynn, particularly the Silvanesti, banish elves don't remain good.  But "not good" isn't necessarily "evil"; an elf who becomes a Wizard of the Red Robes, a neutral-aligned wizard, also becomes an exile.

Dragonlance also added a few new classes, ones that required experience before being able to take.  The various Knights of Solamnia and the Wizards of High Sorcery required time before entering.  The Knights were voluntary, a role-playing decision instead of a mandatory route.  Magic-users, though, had to choose a path once they reached fifth level; a Wizard of High Sorcery with robe colour based on alignment, or a renegade hunted down.  The Wizards had restriction on the type of spells they could cast.  Meanwhile, the original Dragonlance setting came out as an AD&D first edition setting.  Some classes, like sorcerer and warlock, didn't exist then, and the bard could only be chosen after being first a fighter then a thief.  Some creative interpretations may have to be done.

Given all of the above, I'll start with a concept.  One theme introduced in the setting is the idea of one culture imposing itself on another.  The Dragon Highlords are warring to take over Krynn.  The hill dwarves refused let themselves be lost amongst the mountain dwarves.  The Silvanesti and Qualinesti, two variants of the high elf, are trying to "civilise" the Kagonesti.  While the imposition is seen, at least by the mountain dwarves and the high elves, as inherently good, the hill dwarves and the Kagonesti disagree.  That's where I want to start, a young Kagonesti warrior, Liga Dawnspringer, chafing against Silvanesti imposition.  The rest will be taken in the suggested order.

Step 1, choose race.  Already done in the concept above, a Kagonesti, or wood elf.  As an elf, Liga gains a boost to Dexterity, moves 30 feet in a round, has darkvision, is proficient with Perception, and speaks both Elven and Common,  Wood elves add a boost to Wisdom, proficiency with longswords, shortswords, long bow, and short bow, increase their speed to 35 feet in a round, and can hide in natural settings even if just lightly obscured by rain, snow, or foliage.

Step 2, choose class.  I picture Liga as somewhat hot-headed and a warrior.  Ranger might fit, but Barbarian looks far more interesting.  Liga's a Barbarian, avoiding civilization as much as possible and striking fast and hard.  The weapon proficiencies - simple and martial weapons - include the elven weapon proficiencie, so I just record the all-encompassing entries.  Barbarians get two skills.  I take a quick look ahead at Backgrounds to see what Outlander gets, then choose Animal Handling and Nature.  Barbarians also get Rage, giving Liga bonuses when raging but for a limited time.  They also get Unarmoured Defense, getting a bonus to Armour Class when not wearing armour.

Step 3, ability scores.  Again, I will use the classic method of rolling 4d6 and drop the lowest, arranging to taste.  The rolls are 16, 9, 14, 14, 15, and 10.  Liga will have higher class-beneficial attributes than Reverence did, but averages just 1/6 higher overall.  Barbarians need Strength and Constitution; I place the 16 and 15 in those attributes respectively.  Dexterity will also be handy, so the one of the 14s goes there.  The other will be placed in Charisma; Liga wants to lead his people out of servitude.  The ten will go into Intelligence; Liga is average there.  The 9 thus goes to Wisdom.

Step 4, describe the character.  As I noted in Step 2, I looked at Outlander.  It's an appropriate background for a wilderness type who still keeps in contact with a settlement, even if it's to bring in food.  Outlander provides two more skill proficiencies, Athletics and Survival, and the Wanderer ability, allowing Liga to remember terrain and find food and drink for himself and up to five others.  Best listed personality trait is placing no stock in wealth or well-mannered folk as hungry owlbears* don't stop for either.  Ideal is Change; life is in constant motion, and being forced to conform works against it.  Liga's Bond is to his tribe, who he wants to liberate from the Silvanesti.  His Flaw, though, is a lack of caution.  Liga fits the Chaotic Good alignment, seeing freedom as important to all individuals.  Physically, Liga is a dark tan with green eyes.  He stands 5'2" tall and weighs 108 pounds.

Step 5, equipment. As with Reverence, I'll take the suggested gear.  As a Barbarian, Liga has a choice between a great sword or any martial weapon, two handaxes or any simple weapon, an explorer's pack, and four javelins.  Liga takes a pike, calling it a long spear, and the two handaxes.  Outlanders get a staff, a hunting trap, a trophy from an animal killed, a set of traveller's clothes, and a belt pouch with 10 gold pieces.

Step 6, connections, will have to wait for a game to form.  Some possibilities: A high elf, Qualinesti or Silvanesti, who Liga must protect while still resenting.  A half-elf, outcast by human and elven societies, who Liga treats as a soul mate.

Liga's character sheet:

Liga Dawnspringer
Level 1 Barbarian, Chaotic Good
Race: Kagonesti (wood elf)

Strength 16/+3
Dexterity 16/+3
Constitution 15/+2
Intelligence 10/+0
Wisdom 10/+0
Charisma 14/+2

Hit Points: 14
AC: 15

Armour: light armour, medium armour, shields
Weapons: Simple weapons, martial weapons
Tools: Horn
Saving Throws: Strength, Constitution
Languages: Elven, Common
Skills: Perception, Animal Handling, Nature, Athletics, Survival

Background: Outlander
  Feature: Wanderer

  Darkvision 60'
  Fleet of Foot
  Mask of the Wild

Class Abilities:
  Rage, 2x per day
  Unarmoured Defense

  Gold Pieces: 10
  Pike (1d10 piercing, heavy, reach, two-handed)
  Handaxes, 2 (1d6 slashing, light, thrown - range 20/60)
  Javelins, 4 (1d6 piercing, thrown - range 30/120)
  Staff (1d6 bludgeoning, versatile 1d8)
  Hunting trap
  Skunk's tail
  Traveller's clothes
  Belt pouch
Please let me know how it goes if you play him.

* Same goes for aquatic owlbears.  Failing nature checks lead to odd additions to a DM's setting.

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