Sunday, August 25, 2013

Creating a High Level D&D Next Character: Barbarian (Conan)

Well, the last Creating a DnD Character post attracted a lot of interest.  The new playtest package came out a bit ago, so I thought I'd give this another go and see what's changed.  I also want to try making a high-level character, just to do a simulation of what leveling looks like.


I'm going to make CONAN, a level 18 Barbarian.  Then I'm going to make him again as a level 18 fighter.

Actual Quote from my 4-year old daughter, Iris.  "Who's a Coban?"

Race:  Human, obviously, since this is Conan.  But it's also a really good choice, which is weird since human has been the red-headed stepchild of the race choices for as long as I can remember.  +1 on all stats is pretty impressive, and makes

So, point buy for stats - 15 Str, 15 Dex, 15 Con, 9 everything else. Conan is a physical beast.  Stats go up to 16,16,16,10,10,10 with the racial bonus.  He speaks Common and Orcish, cause Conan would know how to speak Orc.  Or Pictish, anyways.

Background is Guide - we'll go with post-Venarium Conan, just down from the hills.  He gets the Wanderer trait, proficiency in Navigator's tools (whatever the fuck those are.  The stars?  Moss on trees?) and Cultural Lore: Northern Peoples and Natural Lore.  The only way to make these fucking lores work is to make them REALLY general.  Otherwise ones like Arcane and Natural are just worth so much more than the others that the others are worthless.  Lores suck a dick.

Starting HP is15 (12+3) and equipment is a longsword (thematic, technically it's a broadsword), a shield and studded leather, for an AC of 15.  He gets 2 rages, which make him tougher and hit harder.  Now to start leveling up this bad boy.

Level 2, we get 9 more HP (I'm just giving him the 6 average every level), bringing the total to 24, and Feral Instinct, which gives him advantage on initiative rolls (awesome) and Reckless Attack, which gives him advantage on attacks when not raging, at the cost of advantage on attacks against him.  Not bad, and thematic for a Barbarian.

Level 3 and things get interesting.  Conan is not really a berserker like Logan Nine-Fingers or Minsc, but
he's no totem warrior either.  I'll try Berserker on this build and see how it goes.  I suspect the Fighter version might end up being more accurate.  This is actually the point where I would multi-class him to fighter anyhow.
That would be barbarian rage, alright.
So, path of the Berserker gives him Fearless Rage, so he cannot be frightened while raging.  He also gets 9 more HP, bringing the total to 33, and gets another use of Rage.

Level 4 brings us to another interesting choice - feat or stat bump?  This is really an interesting choice.  Alert, Charger, Stealthy and Tough are all appropriate, but most chronologies have Conan as a thief in Arenjun in Zamora at about this point in his career, so we'll take the Stealthy feat.  That gives him low-light vision, the ability to hide if lightly obscured and a d4 expertise dice to use on Dex saves when hiding.  Not bad, but maybe not worth 2 stat points.  HP's go up to 42.

Level 5 raises his attack bonus to +2, totalling +5 to hit now, Brutal Critical, which allows him to roll an additional dice when he hits with a critical (so a critical with his longsword would be 3d8+3, or +5 if he is raging).  He also gets Fast Movement, raising his speed by 10, to 40, since he is sticking with the light armor.  HP go up to 51.

Level 6 sees HP go to 60, another use of rage, so 4 now, and Mindless Rage, which makes him immune to charm while raging.  Sorta meh power, but whatever.

Level 7, HP go to 69 (dude) and he gets Feral Reflexes.  Now, this one is just written badly.  It says that "if you are surprised while you are conscious, you can take a turn during the surprise round if you enter your rage at the start of the round." I'm not sure what the fuck that is supposed to mean.  If you are surprised, you CAN'T enter your rage at the start of the round.  But I'm just going to assume they mean that if he gets surprised, he can enter a rage and act normally during the surprise round.

Level 8 and we get some cool stuff. HP are up to 78 and he now has 2 attacks per round.

Level 9 and we're back to feat vs ability score.  I'd say here we want to increase Str by 2, to 18.  Rage damage also goes up to +3, so Conan has +6 to hit and +7 damage while raging, and gets 2 attacks per round.  He also now has 87 HP.

Level 10 sees an increase in our base attack bonus, so +7 to hit, 96 HP and another class feature, Unchecked Fury, which allows him to make 1 additional melee attack if he misses during his turn.  Very nice power.

No King Conan in THIS version of D&D
This is the point where I think I would cap HP gain, or limit it just to Con bonus.  Cranking HP up past 100, I think gets us diminishing returns pretty fast.  We're getting to Name Levels now, and even if Next doesn't have demesne stuff, I'll be house-ruling it in.

Level 11 gets him Relentless Rage, which lets him make a DC 10 Con saving throw to ignore a blow that would drop him below 0 HP, instead staying at 1, so long as he is raging.  Handy power that.  Better buff up Con when we have a chance.  HP go up to 107.

Level 12 brings his HP to 116, and gains Furious Resilience, which allows all saves made while raging to be done with advantage.  That sorta makes Relentless Rage pretty nice.  The only practical way to kill him now is massive damage killing him outright.  The math on this is basically that Advantage is about the same as a +3 bonus on a roll.  Combined with +3 (soon to be +4) on Con rolls, that means he saves 4 times out of 5 on his Relentless Rage checks.  Oh, and he also gets another use of rage, bringing the total to 5.

Level 13 is another feat vs ability point.  I'd say we'll go with the +2 Con bonus.  That means he has 126 HP.

Level 14 means HP go to 136 and he gets the path feature Brutal Rage, where he can turn a normal hit into a critical, but this stops his rage and grants attacks advantage for the next round.  This would be situationally handy, but not  super-great for a 14th level ability.

Level 15 and HP go to 146 and we get Simmering Rage, so now he can go up to 2 consecutive turns without making an attack before his rage ends.  Handy for prolonging the FUN!

Level 16 means the attack bonus goes up to 4, as does the rage damage.  Conan now has 156 HP and gets 2 attacks/round at +8 to hit and damage when raging.  He also gets Incite Rage, which is a LOS slight buff on a single target.  Not very impressive at 16th level.  This shit needs to be options at lower levels.  This fucking design by 1e is crap.

Terrifying Rage in action!
Level 17 gets him another rage, so 6 now, and a path feature, Terrifying Rage, which makes any creature that takes damage from him make a Will save or be frightened.  Which is pretty cool and interesting.  Oh, and he has 166 HP!

Level 18, which is as high as we're gonna go, is the final feat vs stat choice.  Conan is wary like a cat, so I'll take the Alert feat, which gives him +5 on initiative (and advantage...  and +3 for dex), immunity to surprise and advantage on wisdom checks when using Listen or Spot.  Not bad.  He also now has 176 HP.

I could take him all the way to 20, but really, I'm kinda bored.  Other than character creation, I got to make 5 decisions.  One path decision at level 3, and four feat vs stat increase choices.

THIS IS NOT THE WAY TO DESIGN A CLASS.  Interesting decisions are the staple of tabletop games of all varieties, and there are NO interesting decisions here - just force-feeding.  It's a railroad adventure dressed up as a class.  And there is NO REASON it has to be this way.  Most of the high-level class and path features are just as powerful as the low-level ones.  You want to make this interesting - give me a choice of any of those features at each level where I would normally get one. Let me choose my path feature, and choose my class feature, or swap them out for a flat bonus to something.  Then we're talking.