Welcome back for part two of the character generation process. If you haven’t read part 1, hop back to the previous post. This series of posts are developed in conjunction with Ryndaria.com. So jump over there to see the different steps we use to create characters.
Let’s Get Right Into It
I decided to build a warlock. A quick look in the PHB tells me that the warlock’s primary ability is Charisma. Well, that’s where the 18 I rolled goes. When building characters I get tactical with my ability score appointments. It’s all part of my design philosophy to create a mechanically competent frame for the PC as first order. What other abilities are important for warlocks? Well, not much: Charisma is used for casting. So when your primary ability is sated it’s time to look at how the other ability scores are useful. Now, if you’ve played D&D for any amount of time you probably have the ability tendencies memorized. If not, the PHB does an OK job of breaking them down. As many other people have noted about the 5e PHB, it’s written for a target audience of D&D players, meaning table top veterans. Keeping that thought in mind you can see how someone might get lost in something as intrinsic to D&D as the ability descriptions.
Strength: Most melee attacks, forced movement, athletic feats
Dexterity: Most ranged attacks, finesse melee attacks, initiative, armor class, common saving throw
Constitution: Hit points, saves versus poisons, venoms, and saves to not lose your lunch
Intelligence: Knowledges, Investigation
Wisdom: Perception, saves against deception, insight
Charisma: Already important for our PC, influence others
So for my next score I picked Dexterity and slapped down the 15 in its spot. It helps my warlock’s AC, initiative, and (given the warlock’s weapon list) attacks/damage for some dagger action.
I put the other 15 in Constitution because 2 more hit points per level makes a difference. The 14 went into Wisdom. I debated over Wisdom or Intelligence, but went with the former since I thought Perception and Wisdom saving throws were more useful. Intelligence 11, Strength 9. A minus for Strength, but as I noted earlier the warlock will use Dex for his attacks and damage. He’s going to suck at climbing and ravine jumping, but that’s more a brawny class’s bag.
Now that everything is laid out I flipped to the race section and began flipping through the pages. I have to say, I’ve really enjoyed the art style of the new edition, better than 4e, better than 3.x. Many of the illustrations feel vibrant without the cartoony overtones of some of the older art. After noting the races I looked at where the bonuses would fall. In the end Wood Elf just fit better and was a more interesting choice than something like Tiefling, or Half-elf I might have chosen has I not rolled a natural 18. I feel the race choices are pretty limited at this point. The vanilla race selection pigeon holes your games into the high fantasy realm whether you want that or not. Of course, there’s absolutely zero doubt that will change within a year.
A wood elf warlock evoked images of something druid-like, but not really. Like any warlock, something has to draw them to the esoteric power. They require some reason, some need, for the power. Really easy to come up with characterization for a class like warlock, but we’ll get to that later.
So I chose a wood elf, +2 Dex, +1 Wis. I played a switcheroo on my affected ability scores so the Dexterity and Wisdom sit on a very nice 16. In all this character has ended up with a +10 ability score total, that ain’t shabby.
What I like about 5e is you get a lot of racial traits. Each race and subrace has some enviable traits. The wood elf is no slouch in that department.
- Darkvision (Pretty useful for a game that has Dungeons in the name)
- Perception Proficiency (You can actually SEE in the dark)
- Short/Long Bows & Swords Proficiency (Big time useful for classes that don’t get martial weapons)
- 35 ft Base Speed (Faster than everyone else)
- Mask of the Wild (A leaf falls in front of you and you’re hidden)
- Advantage on Saves vs. Charm effects (Charm effects suck, don’t want to fail these)
- Cannot be put to sleep (Doesn’t come up often unless your DM is just dead set on TPKs)
- Trance (You have perception, darkvision, and don’t have to sleep… who do you think is keeping watch all night, every night?)
- Elven Language (The only lackluster entry; I get it, I’m an elf)
That’s 8/9 useful traits. Not only that but a number of the traits actually function in conjunction with other traits. Wood elves are really geared for the scout theme with a ranged weapon. This works pretty well for a warlock who can sling spells at a distance as well. Overall, wood elf is a solid race for any character who’s not slugging it out in the shield wall or pouring over an ancient tome.
Things are coming along with the character and now it’s time to tediously record the racial traits and the class features on my character sheet. The warlock gets proficiency in light armor, simple weapons and two skills. For the two skills I chose Nature and Intimidation. Nature for the race choice and Intimidation for the class. A person contracted with an entity beyond the natural plane seems pretty intimidating on paper. The warlock gets proficiency in Wisdom and Charisma saves. We’re pretty much establishing this character has some potent willpower.
The warlock also has to pick an Otherworldly Patron, the entity with which they have an accord. I chose the Great Old One. It’s dark, which I like, though the fey option would have thematically as well. The problem with the fey option is I tend to channel it as Midsummer Night’s Dream. Oberon and Titania just doesn’t do it for me. Plus the Great Old One gives the warlock, telepathy within 30 ft, and that’s another super useful feature. We also get a number of patron specific spells in addition to the general warlock spell list. Unfortunately you only get one lousy 1st level spell slot at first level. The only upside is the warlock gets two 0-level cantrip/at-will spells and there are some potent choices.
0 Level – Eldritch Blast, Witchbolt
1 Level – Poison Spray, Arms of Hadar, Dissonant Whispers, Tasha’s Hideous Laughter
Warlock spells have suitably heavy metal monikers. Many also sound like edgy, energy drink names.
The equipment list for the warlock is slim. Choose a light crossbow or any simple weapon, component pouch or arcane focus, scholar or dungeoneer pack, leather armor, any simple weapon, 2 daggers. The choice of simple weapons made me think typo: 4 weapons seems overkill for a warlock.
Shortbow, Arcane Focus (Crystal), Dungeoneer Pack, Leather Armor, Dagger, and… 2 More Daggers.You can always take the gold, but for mundane gear the start package usually suffices well. The warlock can stab and throws daggers until he scavenges some short swords. The shortbow too is load-free and reinforces the elf race proficiency.
And that’s it. I could take this character to the table and play it as is. It’s mechanically sound and because of that I don’t have to worry about every small skirmish being a nail biter. Next time I’ll finish off the character by adding flesh to its mechanical bones. Keep your eyes peeled for the 2nd post over at Ryndaria.com as well.
How do you feel about this type of character generation? Do you build your characters’ RP elements first or its numbers?