If you could be a gemstone, what gemstone would you be? This week we highlight a character belonging to somebody names Josh. Josh’s favorite character was Adam Gray, an amethyst. This character had a unique build that fully embraced the idea that Dungeons and Dragons are more like guidelines.
Adam Gray was a human who transformed into an earth genasi. Gray lived in a mining village in the mountains, and, as with many people who undergo impossible transformations, he met with tragedy. After a mine caved in, he was stuck underground for some time and gradually became dehydrated. All seemed lost, until he began to hear…voices? He traversed the tunnels, unable to see in the darkness, and was rewarded with a soft purple glow, the first light his eyes had seen in some time.
The glow emanated from a great amethyst, a violet colored quartz crystal that glowed with an unearthly light. Voices drifted from the stone, tempting him. His hand reached out to touch the stone, and everything went black as his fingers brushed the rock.
Image Credits: Creative Commons License, found at https://www.flickr.com/photos/jsjgeology/29500438768
Gray gradually began to stir, sifting through his memories to find that most were…gone. He recalled that he was named Gray, but not how long he had been unconscious nor much about the above world he had lived in. Sitting up, he examined the purple skin and features he had acquired, crunching his hand through amethysts that served as hair. He new that this was not how he had looked before. Forced to assume this new form, he eventually made his way out of the mines and caves in which he was trapped, and began to explore the surface world that he remembered so little of.
Gray became a warlock, choosing the Pact of the Chain and The Great Old One Patron. With help from his Dungeons Master, Josh was able to color his character’s abilities to fit the amethyst theme that was establish during his transformation into an earth genasi. He had a small amethyst gem that acted as his familiar, similar to a sprite.
In actual play Gray was a warlock that took Pact of the Chain and had a small amethyst gem that acted as his familiar (reflavored sprite). He used psychic powers and amethyst like abilities to make control the battlefield. Eldritch blast was a shard of amethyst he fired from his arm, he would silent image walls of amethyst. – Josh
Josh and his DM interpreted the rules loosely, knowing that they were designed to facilitate rather than hinder play, and adapted his character to have abilities with unique flavor that made the character fun to play. Each spell took on an amethyst hue, and he focused on amethyst when creating illusions and other effects. This integration gives a player a connection to the character and helps with roleplaying by integrating combat and personality together.
The Dull-Witted Warlock
The DM and player did not stop there, continuing to customize his character to fit the concept. While he gained his power like any warlock, through a pact with an otherworldly being, he learned a lot about the world through analyzing thing through his patron. Since Intelligence was how he learned about the world, they decided to have him play as an Intelligence-based warlock.
Using an alternate spellcasting ability is a debatable subject, as some view it as an extreme change from the rules, rather than a simple house rule. While I am not well versed on the warlock class, my favorite explanation for the typical use of Charisma was that the warlock would have to have enough Charisma to negotiate the pact with the entity. My counterargument; what if the entity wanted the pact, and was in fact the one who convinced the character to agree to it? An example of this could be a devil making a deal for somebody’s soul in some mythologies.
In this case, the player used Intelligence to understand the world and therefore the magic he used, so it made sense to use it as Gray’s primary ability. One thing tha most people agree on is that a group should do whatever makes sense to them, and specifically to the DM. (See this reddit thread for more things to consider on the Charisma vs. Intelligence argument for warlocks.)
While some may agree or disagree with this change, altering how you use a class to fit the character’s personality and way of using abilities is another way the DM can ground players in their world. This leads to more quality roleplaying based in personality rather than objectives.
Gray’s adventures were set in Waterdeep, where they fought together and eventually came to own a tavern, further integrating them into the setting. This type of integration helps players to be grounded in the world and possibly reduces murderhoboism (see second definition). While some people mistakenly categorize old-school players as murder hobos, it is in fact play style that exists in all versions of Dungeons and Dragons, in which characters kill indiscriminately. Some people attribute this style to lack of attachment to the setting world.
True to the stone-based nature of the character’s story, their final adventure was the discovery of the “stone of Galorre”. Gray infiltrated a tower to find the stone, attuning to it before attempting to escape. The tower was heavily guarded by bugbears and kobolds, and he fought valiantly, provoking endless opportunity attacks while he was protected by Armor of Agathys, and eventually killing most of them. Unfortunately, he was unable to kill all of the creatures, and fell during that battle.
The Best and Worst of the Best Character
While this character did not survive until the end of his adventuring days, he was still Josh’s favorite character. Let’s look at some of the attributes that made Gray fun, as well as the mistakes that led to his demise. One thing that has consistently been cited as a source of enjoyment or regret is the roleplay done during the session. In a previous session, Kevin described a lack of roleplaying as a source of regret from his first Dungeons and Dragons campaign. This character was well designed for roleplay, and this group focused on playing the character’s personalities rather than just fighting and trying to be as powerful as possible.
I did love the role play aspect I had with someone with low charisma, and I played it as just not understanding social situations and saying the wrong things at the wrong times. – Josh
When one thinks about social interaction, one might assume that high Charisma would be a benefit; however, Josh found that social interaction, while less successful, was more interesting with low Charisma. It could be amusing to interact with a character who does not understand social interactions, and makes faux pas continuously.
The Final Regret
While this character was entertaining to create and play, and was well-tied into the background, his death would suggest that some mistakes were made. In this case, the player forgot that spellcasters are “squishy.” This common expression refers to spellcasters like wizards and sorcerers who have d6 hit die. While warlocks are a little less squishy at d8 hit die, they aren’t front-line warriors like fighters and barbarians.
I one of the main things I did wrong was stay near the front lines more than I needed to. Gray enjoyed his companions that understood him so he wanted to protect them, but I also should have understood how fragile he was even with temporary hit points. – Josh
Due to the quality roleplaying of the group, Gray became attached to his companions. His desire to protect his companions led to spending too much time on the front lines. During his final session, he also felt distinctly the lack of a healer. The cleric was not playing during that session, and thus he was unable to heal.
How to Create a Unique Character
This character creation played loosely with the D&D rules, using them as guidelines to form a unique and interesting personality that fit a character concept without being overpowered.
My advice to people creating their very first character is that you really don’t need to know specifics all that much. Just figure out a character that sounds fun. When you make your first character you don’t have limitations already in your head so it’s possible to think outside the box a bit more. – Josh
Josh makes the point that a player doesn’t quite understand the game when creating their first character, whether they are entirely clueless like I was when I made Anakis or somewhat knowledgeable like Alastair, who played previous versions of D&D. That gives them the creative freedom to come up with an idea and ask the DM, “Hey, can I do this?” Sometimes a misconception about the game will also lead to an interesting build.
I had a player ask for their first character if they could be a half-elf half-tiefling which I had never heard before and sounded amazing. We used the half elf statistics and said the other parent was tiefling and she had small horns and and a rosey skin tone. The gist is, don’t let the rules in the book limit your imagination. – Josh
Most experienced players tend to think that you can play either a half-elf or tiefling, since you can only play one race. This player did not have preconceptions about the game, and so suggested two different races which turned into an interesting homebrew.
The moral of this article: think outside the box and use your newbie creativity to its fullest. The rules are really just guidelines.
Question of the Week: How loosely do you play with the rules?
Who was your first character? Who was your best or your worst character? Message me on Facebook, send feedback in the Contact Us form, or email email@example.com if you’d like me to write a post on it. I am always looking for new stories, and if you enjoyed this article, chances are others will enjoy your character’s story.
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