Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Secret of D&D Island

I am never certain what inspires me to make certain iconic characters as D&D Encounters playable characters.  Sometimes, it comes simply because I played a game or saw a movie with a clearly doable character.  Sometimes, somebody asks for some sort of character and I find myself compelled to create it.  Guybrush Threepwood came from a combination of replaying Secret of Monkey Island while thinking about just why it is D&D has an obsession with the rapier.
My name is Guybrush Threepwood and I'm a mighty pirate!
In the end, it's all about the Rapier!
Let me upfront and say that I never understood why D&D seemed to have an obsession with the rapier.  I first noticed it in Third Edition, where rapiers suddenly became this exotic sword every thief wanted to become proficient in.  Since then, I continue to see it pop up in various capacities, always with something that makes it better than the standard longsword or shortsword.

Obviously, Guybrush uses a rapier so he's likely to be some sort of a rogue or another.  The choice to make him an Essentials Thief came about because simply because I find the stick-and-move thief more interesting than the original.  There is still the thought process of "how do I get combat advantage this turn?" but less of the fuss over At-Will attack powers.  Perhaps, a future Monkey Island character will utilize the PHB Rogue.  Le Chuck, anybody?

Thursday, March 22, 2012

D&D: The Force Unleashed

As my process of making novelty characters got better, I started taking more obvious character class mashups and making them into D&D characters.  One in particular had been sitting in the back of my head for years...

When I started in my first Eberron campaign, I was tasked with playing a defender.  Not one for classic classes, I tried to find something more interesting.  I found the Swordmage.  Or, as I discovered a few minutes after reading it, the Jedi Knight.  Years later, I would apply that thought process and create...

Vader's Apprentice, Unleashed!
It's all about the Force Lightning...
It's surprising how easy some of this stuff comes.  On the original version, I also gave him a magical item (the Farbond Spellblade) that let him throw his lightsaber 5/10.  However, with these versions, I wanted to keep them magic item free so the dispensing of magic items at D&D Encounters could be more relevant.

Combining the lightning Genasi with lightning based Swordmage powers yielded a significant amount of "Force Lightning" that works reasonably well with the character.  Although you may not quite get the 100% Sith Lord feel you're looking for, you do get some interesting play out of our friend Starkiller, enough to really influence the way you play with him.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Nocturne in the Moonlight

When Heroes of Shadow came out, I became especially thrilled at all the new nonsense I could implement into my D&D Encounters character cards.  After flipping through the book, I knew that I wanted to start work on Castlevania themed characters, as I was always a big fan of the series.  Besides, I figured, the Castlevania characters would be a relatively easy match.

After spending far too much time trying to work a whip into a character, I gave up in frustration and tried something different.  I thought of an iconic character in the game that WASN'T a Belmont.  From there, I arrived at this.
The Son of Dracula returns!
An effective translation of SotN.
This allowed me a great opportunity to use the fantastic Castlevania (Dracula X) cover art by Ayami Kojima.  Although I would grow tired of her style (as everybody starts to look the same after a while), the cover for Dracula X always impressed me.

The observant will likely realize that Alucard is a Vryloka Blackguard.  As Alucard used weapons and the like, it seemed inappropriate to make him a Vampire.  We'll just have to wait and see what character gets matched up to that...

Monday, March 5, 2012

Here Comes a New Challenger! (part 1)

Last week, I put up one of my custom Dungeons & Dragons Encounters characters.  Although the last one bordered on the "silly" category, it illustrated how the mechanics of D&D4E could be easily re-skinned into interesting (and often unexpected) ways.

When I started reading about the Essentials Mage class, I was both fascinated and upset about it.  I liked having a wizard option that focused on the different schools of magic but it didn't seem like they included enough schools to make it interesting.  The illusionist was nice but I had no fondness for Evokers and Enchanters.  Eventually, WotC released the first new "school" of magic, the Pyromancer, and it got me thinking.

From those thoughts, this was born:
Dhalsim, Yoga Master and World Warrior

Dhalsim, Master of the Yoga Fire
It was something of an easy choice in rendering this character the way that I did.  Unfortunately, you cannot remove Magic Missile from the Mage class, a feature I learned to dislike intensely mostly due to my intense dislike of Magic Missile.  Thus, despite having all of these wonderfully themed powers, there is the oddball "Yoga Force," which I could not find a way to better explain.  I considered leaving it off, but I would worry that purists out there may disagree with "house-ruling" my Encounters characters.

I believe Dhalsim is another character where applying the "skin" to it changes the way you interact with the game.  What was "just another wizard" has become something exceedingly strange yet entertaining.  It also begins to illustrate the idea that a character does not need to necessarily reflect the class.  Dhalsim doesn't necessarily feel like a wizard at all.  Mechanically, this character is a wizard, but nobody looks at him as a sagacious old student of magic but instead as the World Warrior we all know.

"You win!  Perfect!"