Saturday, June 23, 2012

Dungeon Gear Solid: Dragon Eater

Occasionally, when I see an inspirational Dungeons & Dragons character, I quickly have an idea of what I *want* to do but, as it ends up, I often have some trouble figuring out how to make that desire a reality. The hand-to-hand expert was the sort of character that did not fit within the original framework of Dungeons & Dragons Fourth Edition.  In fact, for what it is worth, the Dungeons & Dragons game has never been especially good at capturing fisticuffs within its game mechanics.  The Second Edition had an especially strange hand-to-hand combat table but it never felt especially compelling. Of course, various editions had variants of the Monk, but the "punch master" was not quite what I was looking for.

The Fourth Edition of Dungeons & Dragons game had flirted with the idea of an Assassin a few years into the run. When the Essentials line was released, they began play-testing an "Essentials" Assassin, a variant meant to capture more of the iconic, old-school Assassin. When first released, I could not help but think that somebody had really just been praying for a re-imagining of the old First Edition Assassin. It seemed interesting, but I was not sure how I felt about it in play. My biggest concern was how the Poison system would play out. Eventually, the "final" version was released as part of Heroes of Shadow and I began to think about how the class would fit into the overall context of the game. It seemed weird, but it started to seem like something different and interesting. The Assassin used strange weapons and had interesting hand-to-hand abilities that warranted further investigation.

When I began making Dungeons & Dragons character cards for my local D&D Encounters game, I started by trying to find classes that would easily fit into specific, iconic characters. The Red Scales Assassin felt like somebody who I had already seen, an iconic character that needed realization within the Dungeons & Dragons context. I realized that knocking enemies prone, stabbing them with a knife, and choking them from behind fit right into a favorite character of mine... Naked Snake from Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater. With that in mind, I sat down to the character builder and began working.

CODEC: 140.85
You haven't been practicing your CQC, Snake...
It took me some time figuring out quite how Snake would work within the context of Dungeons & Dragons. The Red Scale Assassin seemed to be near perfect. Garrote attack for a CQC choke. At-will attack that left the enemy prone to represent a CQC body toss. Special knife attacks for using poison. It was just a matter of making it all mesh together properly and naming things such that they felt very ... Snake-like. Honestly, the only thing this character was missing was an absurd array of camouflage to shift between. To be honest, I had half considered making him a Changeling just so I could have an ability that fit with the shifting of camo.

I should make one note about this character for the Fourth Edition rules aficionados out there. I have essentially done away with the garrote, despite it being essential to one of his attacks. The Executioner Assassin has an ability (Quick Swap) that allows him to sheath one weapon and draw another as a Free Action. In addition, Snake has the Master at Arms feat which allows him to sheath one weapon and draw another as a Minor Action. Keeping both of those in mind, I have essentially done away with switching to the garrote as part of Snake's move set. If he wants to choke somebody out (CQC Choke), he does (assuming he meats the hidden requirement). In the context of the character, it works just fine. In the mechanical context, a picky DM can just accept the fact that he is constantly switching his weapons around such that he uses the appropriate weapon for the attack he intends to perform.

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