Monday, June 18, 2012

Dungeons & Dragons: Yuri's Revenge

When I first started making character cards for Dungeons & Dragons Encounters, I tried to explore character classes that were not well represented within the already existing set of characters.  Specifically, I wanted to make characters that people did not normally play.  The existing cards covered a broad range, but mostly focused on Essentials content.  What I wanted was something ... different.

Psionic characters did not get a lot of love from the D&D community when they first arrived, at least amongst my friends.  As a friend put it, Players Handbook 3 was "holding the Monk hostage."  Eventually, the fact that these classes were different became an interesting thing to explore.  Eventually, these kinds of differences would be made a major design choice as Essentials classes shattered the old mold of At-Will/Encounter/Daily.

As it ends up, I found psionic classes somewhat different to develop for.  They are a bit strange.  I figured the easiest way to make a cool character card for a psionic character was to find some iconic character that was psychic.  After a little thought, I realized that one of my favorite Udo Kier characters would fit the bill nicely.
"Only complete faith in Yuri can protect you."
"Be one with Yuri."
I will admit that I thought Udo Kier did an incredible job playing Yuri in Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2.  Command & Conquer had been a series that made a name for filming live actors for story sequences, but those "actors" often tended to be design staff.  They kicked it up a notch when they hired James Earl Jones for Tiberian Sun, but they made the mistake of taking themselves too seriously.  Red Alert 2 was done by a team that apparently had very little interest in taking themselves too seriously.  The game's introduction even lets you know it intends to be absurd as it features mind-controlled squid, a mind controlling telephone handset, and giant Soviet zeppelins flying over New York.  Somehow, the over-the-top villain Yuri, special psychic advisor to Soviet Premier Romanov, seemed a perfect match for the kinds of ridiculous pre-made characters I have become fond of building.

Yuri and Stalin.
I originally developed Yuri as one of my early pre-made character cards.  When I went looking for a character race that utilized Intelligence and Charisma, I somehow ended up choosing a Tiefling.  As I recall, I first constructed the character shortly after Heroes of the Forgotten Kingdoms had been released.  Thus, the original Yuri had some peculiar artifacts from the racial choice (fire resistance, fire reaction attack).  I never liked that and had even re-written his resistance as cold resistance, calling it "Soviet Hardening" or "Soviet Cold Training."  Luckily, Essentials started a way of "upgrading" for all of the races featured in print, which provided a new, better option for our Soviet Supermind: the Kalashtar.

When I went to "touch him up" to throw up on the weblog, I realized that all off the old standard races had been upgraded to feature a choice for attribute bonuses.  Suddenly, the Kalashtar was a good choice as it fit the attributes I was looking for while also granting telepathy and other psychic related abilities.  Thus, the new version of Yuri was born.

The big "trick" with this character card was setting up the Augment powers and the power points.  Power points would prove to be exceptionally easy as I had already done abilities with multiple use blocks.  The augment powers did not end up being especially difficult as I had done something similar of the Monk's Full-Discipline powers.

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