Monday, January 10, 2011

Bonus Monday Post

Just as a special bonus post, here's some more 4E character talk. This is a potential backup character if the Tempus Cleric goes down unexpectedly.  First, some fluff:

For the Realms one of the big "evil" areas is Thay. The Red Wizards of Thay have been a threat to the Realms since the 1E version of the world. Now in 4E the leader of the region is a super-lich who has imposed his will on the formerly somewhat fractured nation. The leaders of the region are known for magical power, evilness, and intriguing against one another.

Also in 4E Tieflings are now a standard player race. Since they are both somewhat tainted by evil as a race and somewhat magically inclined I think an association could be made with their ancient homeland of Bael Turath (mentioned frequently in the 4E default world setting) and the current Realms nation of Thay. That is, perhaps whatever was there before the Red Wizards took over was the center of the old Tiefling Empire. Tieflings might now be in a somewhat subservient role to the interloper humans who moved in after the collapse and took over. Stealing some easy references, they might operate somewhat like the Narn in the early seasons of Babylon 5 - a race dominated by another and chafing under the yoke. I would also envision their society as being somewhat like Klingons from Star Trek, though not the Samurai Klingons of the Next Gen era but the Cold War Klingons of the original series - ruthless, calculating, deceptive, not afraid of a fight but preferring to have the odds on their side, but not humorless drones either. Note that I don't see this as "all Tieflings"  are this way, I see it as "this particular group of Tieflings" is this way. Other groups might be more like the later Klingons, while others might be more like Ferengi, to continue the Trek references.

One new class for 4E is the Swordmage. This is an Arcane class that is mainly a melee fighting class that goes with light armor and uses magic for defense and mobility. It's portrayed as an Eladrin thing but there's no reason to think they're the only ones who started this. I can see an ancient order of tiefling mage-knights who wield nasty blades and light armor and go teleporting around the battlefield.

The outcome of these three ruminations is Kor Koloth, Tiefling Swordmage. Let's look at a 4E character line by line:

Kor Koloth, level 1
> Yeah it's a trick name but I like it.

Tiefling, Swordmage
Build: Assault Swordmage
Swordmage Aegis: Aegis of Assault

> Simple enough. There are 3 types of Swordmage - one that shields allies, one that pulls enemies to them, but I choose the one that goes after the enemy.

Background: Thay (Thay Benefit)
> This is key - the "Thay" background lets us use Int as the base score for hit points instead of Con and this is huge as you will see in a minute.

Str 14, Con 10, Dex 10, Int 20, Wis 9, Cha 12.

Str 14, Con 10, Dex 10, Int 18, Wis 9, Cha 10.
> Tieflings get a +2 to Int and a +2 to Cha. Intelligence normally affects Reflex defense, Armor Class, and some skills. For Swordmages it is also the primary attack stat - almost all of their powers are "Int vs. something". For this character, with the Thay background, it also is the base for hit points. So by making these choices we have made Int by far the most important ability score and thus it's worth getting it up to a 20. Normally I'm fine with an 18 primary, even with a racial bonus, but this is too good to resist.

AC: 20 Fort: 12 Reflex: 15 Will: 13
> And here is one reason why: Swordmages get a +3 to AC id they have one hand free and are in cloth or leather armor. So AC is Base 10 + 3 for the class feature, +2 for leather armor, +5 for Int modifier. Starting out with a 20 AC is  huge for a front-line melee combatant. For comparison, a 1st level Paladin in Plate + Heavy Shield is also AC20. it's about as good an AC as a starting character can have. His other defenses are alright, with Reflex being pretty good due to the Int bonus.

HP: 35 Surges: 8 Surge Value: 8

> Here is the other reason we wanted a 20 Int - it means we start with 35 hit points! That's as much as a starting character can have short of taking the toughness feat and that's probably gong to show up down the road. Defensively this character is a beast, with a very high AC and very high hit points - for a frontline defender this is awesome, and for one who could be teleporting around the battlefield away from healing it is even more beneficial.

Arcana +10, History +10, Diplomacy +6, Athletics +7

>He's likely to be the party authority on Arcana and History, he's not terrible at Diplomacy, and physical challenges are no problem either.

Acrobatics, Bluff +3, Dungeoneering -1, Endurance, Heal -1, Insight -1, Intimidate +1, Nature -1, Perception -1, Religion +5, Stealth +2, Streetwise +1, Thievery

> Well everybody has a wekness and his is here. He's OK with Religion but the 9 Dex and its -1 modifier hurts him on some important skills. The penalty can be erased down the road but he is by no means a skill-monkey.

Level 1: Intelligent Blademaster

> This feat allows him to use Int as his attack stat on Basic attacks. This is important because some swordmage abilities allow him to make Basic attacks when triggered. Basic attacks also come into play with Opportunity Attacks, and as a melee defender class he will see more than a few of those.  Taking this lets us ignore Str for attack bonuses and maximizes the use of our 20 Int.

Swordmage at-will 1: Luring Strike

>This is a normal attack that lets him shift himself and the target if he so desires

Swordmage at-will 1: Greenflame Blade
>This one will see a lot of use as its a normal attack that does Str modifier damage to all enemies adjacent to the main target. This is one reason to raise Str to a +2 modifier even though we've focused on Int for our attacks - that Str modifier boost shows up in a lot of Swordmage powers and 2 points is enough to slay minions. If he gets swarmed while all by himself he can clear out a bunch with just one hit. It also has the Fire keyword - more on that below.

Swordmage encounter 1: Flame Cyclone
> This is a close burst attack that does 1d8 fire damage + Int modifer + Str modifer. It's another minion sweper, basically, but with the double modifer it does enough to hurt a group of non minions too.  This also has the Fire keyword.

Swordmage daily 1: Frost Backlash
>This is a single-target attack that is an immediate interrupt , so it fires off when Kor is hit - it does triple damage + Int mod so it's pretty nasty and it doesn't burn up one of his own attacks - on his turn he can act normally.

Future deelopment here would be to take Hellfire Blood at level 2. This is a Tiefling-only thing that adds a +1 to hit and damage to all attacks with the Fire keyword - and there are a lot of Swordmage Fire attacks, starting with one of the at-wills and the encounter power chosen above. This means that using a longsword Kor normally has a +8 to hit with his Int-based attacks. When he advances to 2nd he will get a +1 level bonus, and if he takes this feat he would then have a +10 with most of his attacks when a +7 or +8 is considered pretty good. He would also have a pretty nice damage modifier.

Also down the road could be proficiaency with the Bastard Sword (for the d10 damage on a 1-hander) and maybe Toughness (+5 hit points at heroic) to enhance one of the already strong parts of the character. With a feat at every even level he could be very nasty and very tough by 6th level - as if he wasn't already.

So there you have it - I like the concept and actually had it before I had any mechanics down beyond "Tiefling Swordmage" and wondering how that would work. Once I got happy with the idea I discovered that mechanically it is very potent both for offense and for defense - always a nice discovery. Personality wise I would probably play up the Klingon thing - calm, calculating, and not afraid to bervally taunt his enemies.

Anyway I don't typically spend a lot of time here on mechanics and that is not likely to change - I just wanted to run through it once to show some of my thinking when working up a new character.

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