Wednesday, August 13, 2014

D&D 5th Edition Character: The Sorcerer Politician

Last Friday I picked up the Player's Handbook for the new edition of D&D. As a dungeon master it's my responsibility to familiarize myself with new systems to see what sort of things and determine if they're worth trying out. While I had little interest in 4th Edition compared to 3.5, so far I'm actually liking 5th. It seems to be solving a lot of the problems with both 3.5 and 4th in an elegant way, and just reading the book is giving me ideas of characters.

So, in this post I'll be describing one of those characters that manifested while reading one of the classes.

To note: I'm actually not done reading the new PHB, so my understanding of the system is still limited. To that end, I won't be going too deep into the mechanics or build of this character.

Description: A disheveled, anxious man whose beard is overgrown and unkept. His clothes were probably nice once, though it looks like he hasn't changed his clothes in quite some time. It's hard to tell what his face looks like beneath the beard. His eyes are desperate, but not dangerous. In fact, he seems hesitant to go near anyone.

Backstory: Frederick Ely was once a prominent politician. He had a way with words that was said to be able to charm anyone. Between his silver tongue, noble background, and handsome face, it seemed like he was well on his way to becoming one of the most effective and influential senators of his time.

That is, until strange things began to happen. Once, while he was at dinner trying to convince a fellow senator about one thing or another, suddenly Frederick lost his ability to speak. Every time he tried he would only gurgle, causing bright pink bubbles to stream out of his mouth. When it finally ended, Frederick searched for the arcane prankster responsible, yet was unsuccessful.

Afterward, Frederick began pursuing anti-magic legislation, getting more intense in his efforts as more strange things happened around him: either himself or other people would begin to float in midair for a while, his skin turned blue for a while, faint music started playing, and once a frightened unicorn appeared for a while.

At some point Frederick suspected that, perhaps, there was no antagonist at all. He began to withdraw from the public, hiding out at his home away from people for a time. After a couple of months with no incident, he finally went out after a fellow senator asked him out to dinner to discuss the next session.

There, at a fine restaurant, Frederick and the other senator got into an argument. As usual, Fred concentrated his charm toward changing the senator's mind and, just as it seemed to be working... Frederick exploded. The table, the food, the senator, and Frederick himself were all charred, as were a few people at a nearby table.

Frederick was unsure what happened, but he knew that he was the cause. Something magical was awakening within him, and it was going out of control. Though he was hurt, he didn't stick around to see if anyone else survived. He ran home, packed a few essentials, and retreated from his old life.

He still doesn't know if the other senator survived. He's afraid to find out, and still afraid of himself. He's been wandering for nearly two years now.

General Build: A heavily Charisma-based sorcerer with an emphasis on Enchantment spells. His Sorcerous Origin is Wild Magic, hence the uncontrolled bursts of magic every time he'd (unknowingly) attempt to "charm" someone.

Character Progression: Frightened and distant at first, I can see Frederick slowly coming to understand and even rely on his magic over the course of an adventure. As he becomes more comfortable with himself and more-or-less under control he begins to clean up and uncover his ambition again, once again acquiring influence... for better or worse.

A neat thing that the 5th Edition PHB stresses is the creation of a background and personality that gives the character a greater depth and connection with the world in which they inhabit. This is something most serious roleplayers already did naturally, and other systems included this step in the character creation process as well.  In 5th, this part is actually necessary since it gives a character additional skills depending on their background.

Background: Noble. Though Frederick has hidden himself for the past couple of years, there are times when he forgets to hunch over in fear and his noble bearing shows, and it's evident in the way he speaks. Very likely his family is worried about him, though he hasn't contacted them since he left.

Alignment: Lawful Neutral. As a senator, Frederick was prepared to do what society asked of him, especially insofar as it benefited him. He accomplished good things and bad things in the senate, not because he believed in them, but because it was expected of him. Even his self-imposed exile is a result of what he thinks is expected of him. His experience as an adventurer might change his alignment, again, for better or worse. Despite his skill at manipulating others, he was a slave to the demands of society. In his current, distressed state he is very malleable.

Personality Traits: Frederick is evasive and loathe to get close to anyone, both emotionally and physically at the moment. However, over time his charm and ambition for political power will resurface. He takes great joy in manipulating people, though he hasn't bothered since his self-imposed exile.

Ideal: Though he very likely served under a monarchy, he believes the true power of a nation should belong to a senate, or at least be shared. Senators earn their positions and are held accountable for their actions more than a monarch, and accountability is important to Frederick.

Bond: Frederick misses the senate greatly, for that was the family he chose. He was in his element there, and longs to return. He would protect it if it were ever in danger of destruction or dissolution.

Flaw: As noted before, Frederick is manipulative. Rather than forming true bonds, he'll often tell people what they want to hear in order to get them to do what he wants.

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