The D&D crew is once again drawing to the end of a Wizards of the Coast hardcover book. We are almost done with Candlekeep Mysteries and it’s time to select a new book. We’ve decided to to go with Hoard of the Dragon Queen and Rise of Tiamat, also known in their combined final form as Tyranny of Dragons. I know both of these pretty well as the first published adventures released for 5e. And they were the first, they are a little rough around the edges. A few chapters kinda suck. And the “I’m sorry your dragon mask is in another castle” schtick would be terrible once, but the adventure does it like three times. And the Council of Waterdeep is uninspired and bad as written even if it’s also kinda my favorite part of the adventure.
I would love to run Rise of Tiamat at some point but I don’t have time for that so it will stay on the bucket list for now. I will be going into this one as a PC. So it’s time to choose a goddamn character. Like any “The Person Who Usually DMs” I have a few ideas and I’m prepared to choose whatever the hell it is that no one else wants and fill a gap in the party.
If you’re in the Tyranny crew, maybe don’t read this. I know you will but I am asking nicely. Also I still feel bad about Avernus not working out.
Blue Bell, Tiefling Bard-barian
This one is the Iron Bull from Dragon Age ripoff. I tried an alternate version of this one with the Bard+Fey Wanderer Ranger and while it’s fun to add your Wisdom to Charisma checks it was harder to use than a Bardbarian. For those just joining us, The Iron Bull is a character from the video game, Dragon Age: Inquisition. And he’s a standout fan fave. Physically the prototypical barbarian as a seven foot tall horned warrior. But he’s also an extremely well-trained spy and easily the smartest person in any room he’s in.
In the game he’s struggling between two roles. In a D&D context he’s struggling between being a Lawful Evil spy for a totalitarian society or his cover as a Chaotic Good mercenary captain. To make it not just a ripoff I thought he could be presenting himself as a kind of an Ogre Mage, hence the name, which is also stolen from the Robot Chicken 4e game with Chris Perkins. Tiefling works and Orc also works. The Eberron Orc gets some good skills. I like the idea of this person being a spy for the Nine Hells which fits with Rise of Tiamat. I picture Asmodeus wants everyone in this situation to lose, Faerun and Tiamat both. For class, I think Eloquence Bard and Zealot Barbarian is most fitting. Lore Bard is a more powerful option, skills and Cutting Words are objectively better features but I love the Eloquence Bard getting baby reliable talent. And Totem Barbarian’s spells might be more useful but Zealot feels right if you’re a spy for Hell.
Character Inspirations: The Iron Bull from Dragon Age (Obviously), Seth from City of Angels, Deputy Chief David Hale from Sons of Anarchy.
Dae-won, Tabaxi Necromancer
This is a meme character. What if the cat is actually the wizard and the human is the familiar? With Monsters of the Multiverse you can play a small Tabaxi and the largest cats on earth, the Maine Coon, get close to halfling size.
It’s funny but I don’t want to play a comedic character. I’d rather play things straight and keep the jokes firmly out of character. Thay comes up in this adventure and I kind of like the idea of playing a Thayan Necromancer to take myself out of my comfort zone. I usually hate summoner characters because their turns take forever, but I’m open to a change. For a name I like the Korean name Dae-won, inspired by a Hindu tiger mount, Dawon.
I worry that this is going to be fun for like, one session and then okay I’ve seen it time to move on.
Character Inspirations: Stephen from Django Unchained, Arthas Menethil from Warcraft 3, Severus Snape from Harry Potter
Editor’s Note – Another player has said they want to be a wizard so Dae-won is out of the running.
Cadfael, Changeling Divine Soul Sorcerer
I made this character a long time ago as an idea. What if a Changeling really really wanted to become a dragon? This character would be a Changeling pretending to be a Dragonborn Cleric of Bahamut. Really doing their most to stress their dragon-ness. The Divine Soul Sorcerer lets you cast Cleric spells, so keep the charade going as long as possible! I had originally named this character Caraxes when Fire & Blood was a pretty obscure book among my group. Then House of the Dragon came out. Ruh roh. I used the name Cadfael as a dragon-ny sounding name for a Paladin for the Candlekeep roster of characters. With Blue Bell this might be the character best suited to this adventure.
Character Inspirations: Francis Dolarhyde from Red Dragon, Rey Skywalker from Star Wars, Blackwall from Dragon Age
Elham, Drow Cleric
Boy do I have fun playing high level clerics. Maybe that’d be true of any high level caster. Hell probably that’d be true of any high level character! But I really want to play a cleric again. I liked playing a character with faith, I liked preparing spells from the whole cleric spell list everyday. It’s the most fun I’ve had with D&D in a long time and I want to chase that feeling. But how to do so? The story I really want to tell is with an Elf in Eberron because Eberron’s faiths are cool and interesting. But we’re not doing that.
The Forgotten Realms is tough for PCs with faith. The gods are almost more like Theros’s Mythic Fantasy than High Fantasy. They’re involved, active, and always trying to ruin the PCs’ day. In trying to think of a character that might be interesting to play, I settled on a Drow. WOTC announced they were going to create some other Drow cultures because it’s pretty racist to have this culture of dark skinned evil people but they haven’t done anything with those cultures like put them in a product.
No, this a character from the original Menzoberranzan Church of Lolth. Or are they? All of these characters have a secret of some kind and I’m not sure what this character’s secret is. I have a feeling they maybe didn’t leave Menzoberranzan as a noble scion on good terms or their god is something of a mystery. It’s also tough because The Drow have nothing to do with Tyranny of Dragons. WOTC knew they had Out of the Abyss right around the corner and saved their powder for the year after Tyranny was released.
I’m equally undecided on mechanics but I’d pick these based on if the party needed Beef or Magic with either the Order Domain or the Arcana Domain. I think those would be fun and fit the character.
Elham is an Arabic name that means Inspiration.
Character Inspirations: Charlie Baltimore from The Long Kiss Goodnight, Anders from Dragon Age, Arcade Gannon from Fallout: New Vegas
Gjen, Dhampir Unarmed Fighter
Last but probably first of my choices, I like the idea of playing a secret vampire. In this instance, Dhampir is pretty much just a vampire reskin rather than a “half-vampire” or some derivative. What if a vampire used duty as a caravan guard to spread out their feeding habits? I also like the idea of starting unarmed and working my way up eventually casting away armor and weapons. It would be easy to just be a monk but I don’t wanna have Ki and all these special monk features. I don’t want to use flurry of blows I want to punch a hole through a motherfucker with super vampire strength. The Open Hand and especially Way of Mercy monks would fit but I kind of prefer a Fighter/Rogue/Monk to get always on features. Blindsight and Unarmed fighting style, Assassin for damage or maybe Swashbuckler for the vampire’s charm, and Monk for the mechanics of unarmed strike and wisdom to AC. There’s probably a better way to do this that gets you your cool shit at lower levels. I could see this person joining the gang in Greenest.
Gjen comes from Gjenganger, a kind of Scandinavian undead creature.
Character Inspirations: Abby from Let Me In, Joshua York from Fevre Dream, Logan from X-Men.