10 Sep 2014

Test Drive - D&D 5th Edition

Not too long ago, I wrote up a Project Natasha on the D&D Basic rules.  Since then, the 5th edition Player's Handbook has come out, with a full line of options for creating characters.  Natasha, however, doesn't need to change.  The rules in the Basic set were enough to create her.  Natasha doesn't work as a Monk, Paladin, Warlock, or Barbarian.  She's a Fighter, perfectly playable even without the PHB.

Even without Natasha, I can still come up with a character or five.  This test drive will be spread over a few posts, using different settings to see what I can do with and to the game.  In the coming posts, I'll create characters for the Dragonlance, Forgotten Realms, and Greyhawk settings*.  For today, my goal is to create a character that'd fit in a GM's home brew setting.  It'll be a chance for me to exploit the rules.  More after the break.

For this test drive, I'll create the character as per the steps in Chapter 1.  They're the same as with the Basic set; choose race, choose class, determine ability scores, describe character, and choose equipment.  The last step, come together, requires other players, so I'll have to hold off on that.

Step 1, choose race.  The PHB gives me a far larger range of choice here than in the Basic set.  GMs creating their own setting a free to pick and choose which races to allow.  Even the official settings have done this; for example, the Dragonlance setting does not have any orcs, thus no player character can be a half-orc without the player and the GM coming to an understanding on how the PC is there.  My choice will be the tiefling, a race that has decended from humans who made a deal with the devil and chose poorly.  While superficially appearing as humans, there are infernal heritages that linger, such as large horns, a tail, and sharp canine teeth.  As a whole, tieflings are mistrusted what with that whole devil's pact thing and the devilish appearance, but individual tieflings can be good, evil, or neither.  There's a list of suggested tiefling names and I'm already starting to get an idea of the characters background.  Some tieflings name themselves after virtues; I'll go that route and choose Reverence.  Tieflings get a few racial traits, noted on the character sheet.

Next, choose class.  I'm already seeing Reverence as being handed over to a church as an infant, but Cleric doesn't interest me.  Monk, however, does.  Reverence grew up in a monastery, learning to channel herself into, if not a peaceful being, then one with a purpose.  The clerics instilled in her a sense of right and wrong, nurturing her.  Reverence, while not hearing the call to become a priestess to tend to the flock, decided that she could best repay the priests by defending it.  Hence, Monk.  Monks do not use armour and are trained only with simple weapons and shortswords.  Reverence gets to choose two skills from the Monk list; she takes Acrobatics and History.  Religion was on the list, but I have a reason to not choose it right now.  Reverence also gets to choose a tool she's proficient in, either a musical instrument or a specific type of artisan's kit.  A quick look at the equipment list later in the book and Reverence is proficient in using a calligraphy kit.  I make a note of Reverence's proficient saving throws, Strength and Dexterity.  I also make a note of Reverence's Unarmoured Defense and Martial Arts.  For the latter, the die type will improve as Reverence gains levels.

For the ability scores, I will use the classic method of rolling 4d6 and drop the lowest, arranging to taste.  The rolls are 12, 13, 14, 11, 14, and 13.  A little above average, but nothing amazing,  Oh, well.  As a Monk, Reverence will need Dexterity and Wisdom, while she gets a bonus to Intelligence and Charisma from being a tiefling.  Dexterity and Wisdom each get a 14.  Strength will get a 13.  The 12 will be placed in Charisma, modified to 14.  Intelligence will get the 11, modified to 12, leaving Constitution at 13.  Could be better, could be worse, but high ability modifiers aren't as critical in 5th edition as they were in 4th, where a 16 in a primary ability was essential.

Step 4, describe the character.  This step not only includes the character's description but her background and and her alignment.  Tackling the easy bit first, Reverence is Lawful Good.  She was raised in a monastic order with a regimented schedule and a proper hierarchy.  At the same time, the priests instilled in her a respect for the well-being of others.  Next, I choose Acolyte for her background.  The recommended background for a Monk is Hermit, but that doesn't fit here.  Reverence grew up in an ecclesiastic setting, not in the middle of nowhere without another soul around.  Her background gets her two skills, Religion and Insight.  I had this background in mind back in Step 2 when I chose the Monk class, thus why I didn't choose it then.  Reverence also gets two more languages; she takes Elvish, to read the old books the elves wrote, and Giant, to help defend her people.  I also make note of the Shelter of the Faithful feature that will allow her to find a place to sleep among people of her faith.  Her faith will depend on the GM's setting, though.  Since each background comes with traits, I'll look and choose from what's available.  For Personality, the last item, little practical experience with the outside world, suits Reverence.  It's not the whole of her being, but it is something that an observer will see immediately.  Reverence's Ideal is Charity; she helps out those in need no matter the cost to her.  For her Bond, I'll modify the third item on the table; she owes her life to the priest that took her in.  The original mentions dead parents, but that detail doesn't fit the concept.  Reverence's Flaw is she puts too much trust in those weilding power in her hierarchy.  She trusts the people in her church because that's how she was raised; breaking away from that will be a major effort and could cause her world to collapse.

Background information aside, there's still the physical description; height, weight, colour of skin, hair, and eyes, and all that.  I picture Reverence with a dusky skin that has a tinge of red, a red reflected in her eye colour, and purple hair.  For fun, I'll roll for height and weight.  Base height is 4'9" +2d8, while base weight is 110 pounds, modfied by multiplying the 2d8 roll by 2d4.  The height roll is 5, for a total eight of 5'2".  The weight roll is 6, so another 30 pounds is added for a total of 140 pounds.  Given Reverence's ability scores and class, most of that is muscle.

The last step is equipment.  I'll just take the suggested gear from class and background.  As a Monk, Reverence gets a shortsword any simple weapon, a dungeoneer's pack or an explorer's pack, and ten darts.  She takes a quarterstaff, calling it a bo staff as a monk weapon, the explorer's pack, and the darts.  As an Acolyte, she also gets a holy symbol of her faith, a prayer book, five sticks of incense, vestments, a set of common clothes, and a pouch with fifteen gold pieces.

Without other players around, I can't create connections to other PCs.  Reverence could easily be of the same faith as a Paladin or Cleric, or have been seen in the same village as any other character.  As she gains experience and levels, I see her taking the Way of the Open Hand, becoming a front line fighter who uses her inner ki to challenge evil.

Reverence's character sheet:

Level 1 Monk, Lawful Good
Race: Tiefling

Strength 13/+1
Dexterity 14/+2
Constitution 13/+2
Intelligence 12/+1
Wisdom 14/+2
Charisma 14/+2

Hit Points: 10
AC: 14

Armour: none
Weapons: Simple weapons, shortswords
Tools: Calligraphy kit
Saving Throws: Strength, Dexterity
Languages: speak, read, and write Common and Infernal
Skills: Acrobatics, History, Insight, Religion

Background: Acolyte
  Feature: Shelter of the Faithful

  Darkvision 60'
  Hellish Resistance: resistant to fire damage
  Infernal Legacy: know the cantrip /thaumaturgy/; gain /hellish rebuke/ once per day at 3rd as a 2nd level spell; gain /darkness/ once per day at 5th; use Charisma as the spellcasting ability

Class Abilities:
  Unarmoured Defense: when unarmoured, use 10+Dexterity+Wisdom for AC.
  Martial Arts: Use Dexterity instead of Strength for attack and damage rolls; roll a d4 for damage instead of the usual die type for unarmed strike and monk weapons; when using unarmed strike or a monk weapon to attack, may use a bonus action to make an unarmed attack

  Gold Pieces: 15
  Quarterstaff (1d6 bludgeoning)
  Explorer's pack
  10 darts (1d4 piercing, finesse, thrown, range 20/60)
  Holy symbol
  Prayer book
  5 sticks of incense
  A set of common clothes
  Belt pouch
Please let me know how it goes if you play her.

* I'd create a character for Eberron, but I'm not familiar at all with the setting.

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