21 Sep 2014

Test Drive - D&D 5th Edition III

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
Part II - Liga Dawnspringer, Kagonesti barbarian

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 Faerun, the setting for The Forgotten Realms.

The Realms were created by Ed Greenwood as a home setting before being published for the first edition of AD&D.  With each new edition, the setting changed to reflect the updates, sometimes through a crisis.  The changes allowed for the new rules and classes to be added, so Dragonborn, which became a playable race in the core rules for D&D 4th edition, became a new race brought forward because of a merging of the Realms with another planet.  The Realms are also high magic; wizards are known entities, commanding respect and fear.  The campaign allows for sword-and-sorcery, dashing heroism, but still has room for darker plots, with undead liches threatening countrysides.

The Realms were also the home to the RPGA's Living City.  The legacy of Raven's Bluff lives on with the D&D Adventurer's League, and leads to another possibility for the test drive, a character designed for use in the League.  To that end, I'll bring in a line of characters I've used for RPGA events, Aelfward Shadowstar.  Aelfward's line started during the days of 2nd edition D&D and the Living City.  The original Aelfward was a swashbuckling thief, one who didn't so much steal gold as he did steal hearts.  Mechanically, Aelfward was a Thief with the Swashbuckler kit from The Complete Thieves' Handbook.  Kits acted like backgrounds in D&D 5th, giving a few minor benefits and drawbacks without necessarily being too powerful.  The Swashbuckler kit gave Aelfward two-weapon fighting, some acrobatics, and access to rapiers.  Aelfward wound up stepping forward to assist a pregnant woman having difficulties, resulting in him changing sex and taking on the pregnancy, giving birth to Aelfward Junior, a half-elf.  Aelfwina, alas, was eaten by a brown dragon.

With 3rd edition, Aelfward Junior became a bard.  Normally, half-elves were the product of having a human and elf parents, with offspring returning to either human or elf in later generations depending who the half-elf mated with.  Aelfward Junior, though, came into being through divine magic, and was born an half-elf.  At that point, I decided that all of Aelfward's lineage would be half-elves, even if the mother was a human or an elf.  I chose bard to reflect both the original Aelfward's flamboyancy and Junior's magical origin.  In the 4th edition, Aelfward III became a Warlock, able to call a magical sword to his hand.  With the 5th edition, though, I want to get back to the original Aelfward's swashbuckling.  With that in mind, let's go back through the steps.

Step 1, choose race.  Aelfward IV is a half-elf.  He gets a boost to Charisma and to two other ability scores of his choice; Aelfward decides on Dexterity, aiming towards fighting with finesse, and Constitution.  Aelfward also gets two skills of his choice.  I'll come back to this after seeing what skills he gets through class and background.  Aelfward also gets Common, Elvish, and one other, which he takes as Gnomish.

Step 2, choose class.  The line of Aelfwards have been many classes, but this time around, Aelfward IV is a Fighter, allowing him to focus on swashing buckles and buckling swashes.  Fighters, appropriately enough, are proficient with all armour, all shields, and all weapons.  He also gets two skills, taking Acrobatics, for swashing about in a fight, and Perception, to notice danger.  Fighters get a fighting style; Duelling seems appropriate.  Duelling will let gain a damage bonus when fighting with just one one-handed melee weapon.  Aelfward also gets Second Wind, allowing a fighter to catch his breath and regain health once during a fight.

Step 3, ability scores.  For the Adventurer's League, a point buy system is used instead of random rolls to maintain a sense of fair play.  The array 15, 14, 13, 12, 10, 8 can be purchased using the point buy system, so I'll use those numbers.  As a swashbuckler, Aelfward needs good Dexterity, so the 15 will go there.  Charisma is just as important, so it gets the 13.  The 14 will be placed in Constitution.  Strength, being not as important for a finesse fighter but still key to the class, gets the 12.  The 8 goes into Wisdom; the Aelfward line has never thought twice about leaping into danger, even when thinking would be a good idea.  The ten goes to Intelligence, mainly from being the last available stat.

Step 4, describe the character.  Aelfward is a flamboyant person, wearing brightly coloured clothes even when trying to be subtle.  For the background, there are a few that make sense - Charlatan, Entertainer, Folk Hero, even Noble.  Folk Hero works well; Aelfward is looked up to by the common people.  Aelfward must choose a defining event; robbing from the rich to give to the poor is very Robin Hood of him, and the inspiration for the original Aelfward, so I'll take that event.  There are a couple of listed personality traits for Folk Hero that fit; "Thinking is for other people; I prefer action," and "If someone is in trouble, I'm ready to help".  Why choose?  Aelfward has both.  His Ideal is Freedom, which fits nicely with the defining event.  Aellward's Bond is protecting those who cannot protect themselves; again, working well with everything so far.  The Flaw Aelfward has is an overblown sense of his destiny, always rushing into danger.  Or, as Aelfward prefers, swashbuckler.  He gets Animal Handling and Survival from the background, plus proficiency in a set of artisan's tools, taking cook's utensils, and land vehicles.  Why cook's utensils?  Being able to cook breakfast the next morning is always appreciated.

With all Aelfward's skills from class and background determined, now's a good time to fill in the bonus skills for being a half-elf.  Aelfward needs skills to help with the dashing rogueness he's trying to be, so Persuasion and Deception are chosen.  I want to point out a strength of the 5th edition:  Two characters with the same class can be completely different just through choosing background and skills.  Natasha, even with the same background, still has a different feel from Aelfward.  Aelfward is charming and agile, relying on patter and dodging.  Natasha, on the other hand, is more brute force.

Step 5, equipment.  From being a Fighter, Aelfward has a choice of chain mail or leather armour with longbow and a quiver of arrows, a martial weapon and shield or two martial weapons, a light crossbow and bolts or two handaxes, and a dungeoneer's pack or an explorer's pack.  Aelfward, wanting to take advantage of his agility, takes the leather armour, a rapier and a whip, the pair of handaxes, and the explorer's pack.  From Folk Hero, he gets a set of cook's utensils, a shovel, an iron pot, a set of common clothes, and a belt pouch.

Step 6, connections, will have to wait for a game to form.  Some possibilities: Aelfward is along to protect the other PC.  Aelfward is related to another PC.  Looking forward, Eldritch Knight keeps with the previous magical versions of Aelfward, but the original wasn't.  Battle Master, however, would put Aelfward IV as a leader, which is a new direction for the character, and that could be fun.

Aelfward's character sheet:

Aelfward Shadowstar IV
Level 1 Fighter, Chaotic Good
Race: Half-elf

Strength 12/+1
Dexterity 16/+3
Constitution 15/+2
Intelligence 10/+0
Wisdom 8/-1
Charisma 15/+2

Hit Points: 12
AC: 14

Armour: Light, medium, and heavy armour; shields
Weapons: Simple weapons, martial weapons
Tools: Cook's utensils, vehicles (land)
Saving Throws: Strength, Constitution
Languages: Common, Elvish, Gnomish
Skills: Acrobatics, Perception, Animal Handling, Survival, Persuasion, Deception

Background: Folk Hero
  Feature: Rustic Hospitality

  Speed 30'
  Darkvision 60'
  Fey Ancestry

Class Abilities:
  Fighting style: Duelling - +2 damage bonus when using a one-handed melee weapon and nothing in the other hand.
  Second Wind: Use a bonus action to regain 1d10+1 hit points; can only be used once before a short or long rest.

  Gold Pieces: 10
  Leather armour
  Rapier (1d8 piercing, finesse)
  Whip (1d4 slashing, finesse, reach)
  Handaxes x2 (1d6 slashing, light, thrown - range 20/60)
  Explorer's pack
  Cook's utensils
  Iron pot
  Common clothes
  Belt pouch
Please let me know how it goes if you play him.  Or say hi if you see him in play; that could be me.


  1. Love it Scott. Hopefully Aegala or Hobunn can adventure with you soon.

    1. Just wait until tomorrow's test drive. :)

      Would love to meet up with Aegala and Hobunn again.