Monday, January 20, 2014

"What was the most difficult character (NPC or PC) you've ever played as?"

I decided those stats were so mediocre that I could not play a MAD (multi-ability-dependency) character like a bard. I needed something that could survive with a single 16. So I picked wizard, and specialized in conjuration, so I could be an Abrupt Jaunt wizard.

Abrupt Jaunt wizards are a special wizard type from Player's Handbook 2, in which they get mini-teleports (only 10') 4 or so times per day. The important part is that the teleport happens as an immediate action, which means you can do it even when it's not your turn, which means you can use it to zap yourself out of the range of an enemy's attacks mid-swing. Because I felt that my character would likely die with his blah stats, I felt I needed that stuff just to stay alive.

It evolved pretty quickly that my character wasn't exactly a coward, but was extremely self-aware and paranoid. He knew he sucked compared to his triple-18s buddy. He knew that his miserable armor class & hit points meant certain death if he dared to get anywhere near melee. Most combat encounters involved me getting off a spell or two until the bad guys closed in, and then my character spent the rest of combat running like a scared little kid, and teleporting all over the battlefield screaming, "Gaaah! They almost got me! I'm going to DIE if you guys don't HIT THEM!"

He took trapmaking skills and set tripwires every night. He had alarm spells, backup escape routes, anything I could dream up to allow him to survive in a game world that he should have never survived in. I hated him. I wanted my bard so much. I wanted to not have to play so defensively. I wanted to explore building a really good character. Instead, I had Gimpy, with his "they're going to kill me" paranoia (of course, reasonable paranoia, since it was true, and the paranoia was keeping him alive, but still it was paranoia).

It took a long time for me to realize that I loved him. I had built a really good character, just not the one I expected. And eventually, I got so good at making something out of nothing that he became pretty amazing.

One of my finds stunned the group and got them cheering one day. The "find" was a small D&D 3.5 rule I stumbled across that stated that "unconscious characters are automatically considered willing." Why is that important? Because it means that any spell which only affects the willing will automatically work on unconscious characters, friend or foe. Enter Benign Transposition. A particularly grim battle was going badly for us. Our rogue was at 1 HP, and our barbarian had just fallen unconscious, surrounded in every adjacent square. Our DM will in fact do coup de grâce on a fallen character instead of moving to fight whoever is still up, so the guy playing the barbarian was pretty bummed out. He was going to suffer 8 coup de grâce as soon as the monsters' turn came up.

And then there was my guy, standing at range, next to the party healer, who was frantically trying to figure out how to save the barbarian without wading into melee against 8 tough enemies. I told him, "Ready a cure spell, trigger on me bringing the barbarian to you." He was like, "WHAT?!?" but he did it. My turn came up, and I cast Benign Transposition. Poof, the barbarian was now lying on the ground next to the cleric (bing! healed!) and I was now standing, in no armor, at the center of a mob of enemies. Everyone was flipping out. "You saved the barbarian for like one round and now YOU will die! Not good!" But I used Abrupt Jaunt to pop out of the mob, and then used my remaining move action to run like hell. On the next turn as they re-surrounded me, I Abrupt Jaunted again and ran again. By then the barbarian was fully healed and came raging back into the fight, everyone cheering as he tore through the enemies. It was such a great moment.

I owe that to having to figure out how to play a "lame" character that I didn't want.

His character sheet eventually became the focus of a topic on En World, and some other DMs turned him into a super-villain in their campaigns.