Tiefling + Zweihander
Posted by Doug on April 24, 2009
The Dungeons & Dragons Character Builder is a very useful program for anyone interested in the most recent edition of Wizards of the Coast’s flagship roleplaying game (whether or not it is worth subscribing to Dungeons & Dragons Insider to access is debatable. I think it is, but your mileage may vary). It is a fairly straightforward interface that can step you through the process of making a playable character and whenever you gain levels, it can guide you through that, too. You make all the choices, and the Character Builder does all the math, adding up your attack bonuses and defenses and whatall, and outputs the end result to a slightly customizable character sheet…which is one of the weaknesses of the program. At best, it is an inefficient, disorganized layout with lots of unneeded and/or redundant information. At worst…well, needless to say I organize my character sheets differently.
I liked the layout of the character sheets from the first (or one of the first, I’m not sure on this) playtest modules from a convention (or not. I totally don’t remember where), and I use a version of it from time to time—for example, I made a tiefling great weapon fighter using the Character Builder and then whipped up this much more readable character sheet using OpenOffice.org 3.0.1.
Now, of course, I recognize that tieflings make suboptimal fighters—fighters have Strength, Dexterity, Wisdom and Constitution listed as their key ability scores, and the tiefling racial ability bonuses are to Intelligence and Charisma. To compare things, the new goliath race from the Player’s Handbook II, with their bonuses to Strength and Constitution, would make much better fighters; tieflings are much better suited to the warlord or warlock classes. Then again, I don’t usually make optimization my primary goal—if I am going to build a character for play, I am going to start with an interesting concept and then optimize within that concept. My concept for Saeth was “tiefling + zweihander“.
I gave Saeth the “Wandering Mercenary” background from the Scales of War Adventure Path because it just fit; increasing the number of failed death saves before actually dying from 3 to 4 is a nice addition. The big debate on the ability scores was whether to put her second-highest score, a 14, into Constitution or Dexterity. I chose the latter with the epic feat Heavy Blade Mastery in mind, but I will probably divide my second stat increases up between Constitution and Dexterity. The skills Saeth was trained in were easy to pick, and I had to spend my level 1 feat on proficiency with fullblades (I’m figuring a zweihander would be categorized in D&D 4E as a fullblade), so those two sections went quickly.
As far as at-will powers, Reaping Strike and Cleave were easy picks. For my encounter power, it was a toss-up between Steel Serpent Strike and Lunging Strike. Both are 2[w] + Strength modifier attacks; Steel Serpent Strike slows the target and prevents them from shifting until the end of my next turn, while Lunging Strike takes a one-point penalty to the attack roll to make the attack reach one square further than normal. I decided on Lunging Strike for no particular reason. As far as the daily power, Brute Strike is just ever-so-much fun, with it being reliable and having 3[W] + Strength modifier damage and all.
Equipment was easy to buy: after procuring scale armor, a fullblade, and an adventurer’s kit, I had ten gold pieces left, which I decided would be well spent on a profusion of daggers suitable for throwing, leaving my tiefling mercenary flat broke, in and of itself a decent lead-in to an adventure.
The description I wrote of Saeth was spawned from working through Jens Alm’s character description questionnaire; the background could easily be tweaked to just drop into just about any campaign world. I even included the International Phonetic Alphabet pronounciations (as best I understand the system), just because it always irks me when people make up fantasy names and don’t give any clues as to how they might be pronounced. The word saeth means “arrow” in Welsh, but I have no idea how they pronounce it in Welsh; I pronounce it as one syllable, such that it almost sounds like “safe” but with a “th” sound instead of the “f” sound at the end. I’ve used the name before and said it with two syllables, like “say-eth”, but I like the stronger, single-syllable version better.
I can hear you out there asking, Shouldn’t a character who is named “Arrow” be, you know, a ranger? An archer ranger? Well…yeah. Oh, well. Too late to change it now.
Of course, it’s unlikely I will ever use Saeth as my player character—I’ve got a lot of other campaigns I’m wrapped up in. Still, I think it’s fun to build characters just to see how they turn out. Even still, Saeth may end up seeing some use in a playtest party, or I might drag her out if I’m showing a new player the ropes in a quick one-DM-and-one-player session and his character (which, odds are, will be a striker. From what I’ve seen in the forums, players gravitate towards the strikers, for some odd reason) needs a little backup. So maybe this wasn’t a complete waste of time.
But it probably was, even still.