Thursday, August 7, 2008

My First 4e Character: The First Draft

So... I caved. I realized that sooner or later, I would need to break the mold on my first 4e character, and that day happened just 42 hours or so ago. I was invited to play in a Play-By-Post 4e remake of Expedition to Castle Ravenloft. I love the module, so it was hard for me to turn down. Plus, the game was described to me as "noob friendly" which made me face the sad fact that, despite the hours I've put into 3.5, I'm still a baby when it comes to 4e.

As I hadn't the faintest idea of what the party would need, or what I should play, I let the DM make the call. Soon enough, the call had been made. A paladin. This was appropriate for me on two counts. First, I'm kind of a lawful good guy by nature, so I always get drawn to, and enjoy playing those classes anyways.

Second, I have actually had a minor preview of 4e at DDXP this past year, during which I played the halfling paladin premade. I thought this was a good option, so I copied the sheet into a notepad document and sat down on my couch.

Then my cable went out.

The tv and internet flatlined. So there I was, with a borrowed Player's Handbook, Dungeon Master's Guide, and an empty character sheet with only one line filled in. Paladin. I had no way of contacting the online world to see if I was making mistakes or to ask for suggestions.

I was on my own - a good old fashioned solo quest - and I only hoped I wasn't in over my head... The module started at 6th level, so I flipped to page 143 of the Dungeon Master's Guide and received it's heavenly guidance. My adventure had begun.

Step 0: Choose a God.

The actual first step in the Dungeon Master's Guide is to choose a race - but I'm playing a Paladin! That means that probably the most important part of my character will be my religion! Sometimes, religion is tied closely with race, so I didn't want to make any decisions before I knew what god my lovely paladin would be following.

Alright then, Player's Handbook - Table of Contents. Things I was surprised to see? Magic Items. Things I didn't see? Deities! I was scared at first, but a lucky guess and a little page skimming brought me right to the correct location.

Avandra, Bahamut, and Moradin first caught my eye, my goal was to explore all of the many facets of 4e however, so the two old gods were out of the picture. Avandra was interesting. Then the Raven Queen caught my eye. Clearly Wee Jas was not cool enough to make it to 4e, but at least they kept her alive in one form or another. (That poor goddess has gone through so many changes...)

Being a paladin of the Raven Queen would allow me to kill without pity, yet still maintain a humble personality. Also, as the Ravenloft module is crawling with Undead, I would have more then enough reason to lend my weapons to the cause, since the Raven Queen seems to be quite anti-necromancy. Done and done.

Step 1/2: Choose an Alignment.

If you have read my earlier posts you probably caught onto the fact that I was obsessed with alignment. This is usually step 0 for me unless I'm playing a cleric or paladin. However, I held back on this step since I don't know what the paladin requirements will be yet...

Step 1: Choose a Race.

The Raven Queen does not demand any race in particular, so my options seemed open. I peeked ahead at key Paladin abilities just for some added insight into what would work.

First stop is Dragonborn. I've never been a big fan of the "dragon craze" that hit a lot of people around the time Draconomicon came out. I think dragons can be somewhat overused and have, in that vein, steered clear of them for all of my characters. Yet, here we have a race that fits perfectly into the Paladin class - even accenting two of my key abilities. Something worth considering...

Dwarfs are another good option. I've always loved dwarfs. They would fit in decently to the class. On to Elves... err... there's a typo in my book. No wait, that's Eladrin. Sorry. Feypeople. Onward...

Half-Elves! Another all-time favorite of mine. Hey, apparently they fit in well with Paladin too! Of course there are good old humans, another staple of mine. I always find that I need that extra feat, so they're still in the running.

My first urge was to go with the Dwarf. Reading though their description however, the Raven Goddess wasn't even mentioned as a possible god for them to follow, and though they had the more grim and stable personality I was looking for, it just didn't fit.

I figured that Dragonborns would be the same way, but rather, they seemed hung up on honor more then on gods. Certainly a possibility. They seemed down to earth, rather the flighty, and even occasionally aroggant. My paladin would certainly be convinced in his own beliefs, so this was something worth considering.

Half-elves were my second choice after dwarves, but their description fell short for me too. They just seemed a bit too... happy for my tastes. So between dragonborn and human. Final decision?

Well, I want to try everything new, so dragonborn it was. Looking over the race I determined that I would be able to play it in a unique fashion that wouldn't bank all of it's "cool" on the fact that my noble paladin looked like a lizard. Made my breath weapon cold to honor the Mistress of Winter, and moved on.

Step 2: Choose Class.

Paladin! Easy enough. Glancing over the class it looked like the Avenging Route was my character's plan since he is ready to accept death. Why would someone who worships death as the natural end of things take extra measures to protect it. Hmm... playing this character is going to be a challenge, but I'm going to enjoy it.

I'm unaligned! Whatever that means...

Steps 3-5: Ability Scores, Skills, and Feats.

This all fell into place easily. I like the condensed skill selections and the way they organized it. I think this is certainly a fair way to streamline. I've always played with the "perception" and "stealth" skills, rather then listen, spot, move silently, and hide - so it was nice to see this. For feats, I grabbed a couple racial feats, and of course Blessing of the Raven Queen.

Step 6: Choose Powers.

Here's where things got fun. The powers were of course the big thing when it came to 4e, since everything's more or less turned into "build your own class". I could make two 6th level paladins who are completely and utterly different from each other in skill and ability. Strength was my primary ability, so most of my powers had to do with Strength attacks.

All in all though, this was a fun process, and I found the powers really interesting. It will certainly be interesting to play once the campaign starts up. I'll try to update you again when I have the finer points of this guy's personality hammered out. And a name of course... I still need a name.


Questing GM said...

Ooo....this is tempting me to scratch my first character too. Even if I don't get to play him any time soon.

Storyteller said...

Hey questing gm! It's certainly an adventure. Even though it's still D&D it feels like a completely different game.

Maria said...

I, myself, extremely dislike (notice my restraint) 4e for two reasons. One of them being the fact that half the alignment options are taken out. There are only three options: Lawful Good, Good, and Unaligned (neutral), which takes away from role-playing. The second is the fact that there are no options for evil characters. (all monsters are evil, or neutral and hungry) thats just my opinion however...