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Hello again, dice jugglers. Welcome to Part 4 of ARR!. Today, we’re going discover the dark secrets of Merric Gallowstree and the bargain our wild warlock made. Over the last two weeks, we’ve assembled six individuals, given them a name, a Class, a Race, and a Background. Now, we’re going to fill in their character sheets. As I mentioned in a previous article, I am not rolling for these characters stats. While that is an entirely feasible method of character creation in Dungeons and Dragons, if you plan to roll your stats, it is advisable to do that at the beginning of the character creation process. That way, your Ability Scores can inform your choice of Class. We’ve simply reversed the situation for a change of pace in ARR!.
With that in mind, these are recommended selections to help make these characters “mechanically sound.” It is not to optimize or “munchkin” them, nor is it to force each character into a single niche. With six characters at the 1st Level, the players will be doing the bulk of the choosing as their characters advance in experience. For now, we’re just looking to make sure they feel fun to play. To that end, we’ll primarily be using the default ability and spell suggestions in the Player’s Handbook. After all, nothing is crueler than having a player agree to play a random character and then giving them the sheet for a nearly unplayable mess. That’s how you teach players to never agree to do random things again.
Rule #1: If the players aren’t having fun, it doesn’t matter.
Alright, I’m going to try and keep this light and clean so that I don’t lose too many people by just talking about numbers and abstract stats that, if you’re relatively new to gaming, may get you lost, but enough to let our seasoned folks know where we are.
Assigning Ability Scores
There are six Ability Scores we have to flesh out for our party members. Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma. These scores will give our characters bonuses or penalties for in-game actions. We’re going to use the Score Assignment method; instead of rolling random Ability Scores or using a point buy system, we’re just going to assign scores from a set of six.
The Ability Score scale runs roughly from 1 to 30, with 1 being so poor that it’s surprising you’re still alive, and 30 being the score many deities possess.
Our six scores are: 15, 14, 13, 12, 10, and 8.
In this case, 10 is “average.” You receive no bonuses, no penalties. These six numbers give us four things we’re skilled at, one thing we’re average at, and one thing we kinda suck at. This will be easiest to get usable characters out of random loons.
Ability Scores: Merric Gallowstree
- First, we have our Halfling Warlock Merric Gallowstree. A random roll lets us know Merric is specifically a Lightfoot Halfling. This detail matters, as it will give him different bonuses and abilities. As a Warlock, Merric’s Charisma should be his highest score so that he can cast spells well—we’ll assign it the 15. This rises to 16 because he gets a bonus to Charisma as a Lightfoot.
- Second, his Constitution will get the 14, as it’s recommended that he be quite durable. His other four Ability Scores are up to us. As Merric has been living as a Hermit, defending a great mystery.
- It would stand to reason then, that his Intelligence and Wisdom are both above average. Since Merric is a Warlock perceiving messages and strange signs from his patrons that others can’t see, let’s give his Wisdom the 13 and his Intelligence the 12.
- Now for his most “average” skill. Surviving alone, let’s reason, has probably left him relatively nimble. Dexterity will get the 10. Again, his being a Halfling gives him a bonus to Dexterity. This time, it raises it to 12.
- Finally, that leaves the 8 for Strength. Apparently, Merric has never been incredibly strong.
Merric’s Spells & Skills:
Using the Player’s Handbook recommendations, Merric will receive the spells and skills listed below. Also, being 1st Level, Merric has a +2 Proficiency Bonus. This means everything we say he has a “Proficiency” in, he gains a +2 to using.
- Eldritch Blast and Chill Touch cantrips. These are two attack spells he can use in combat. Both are ranged spells. One is great against the undead, and one can be upgraded later in his Warlock levels. Cantrips can also be used over and over with no issue.
- We’ll also give him the 1st level spells Ray of Sickness and Witch Bolt. These are two more ranged attack spells. At 1st level, he’ll only be able to choose one spell to cast once per day.
- Merric starts with 10 Hit Points (8 + his Constitution modifier of 2.) Every time he gains a level, he can either roll a 1d8 or gain 5 Hit Points (plus his Constitution modifier), depending on how your group chooses to run the game.
- Merric has Proficiency with Light Armor and Simple Weapons.
- He has Proficiency in Saving Throws for Wisdom and Charisma (both of these will help him resist different dangers and types of spells.)
We also have to choose two skills from a list. We already know that Merric is in trouble for his discoveries and that he’s been doing extensive research since then. Therefore, he’ll get:
- Proficiency in the skill Investigation.
- Proficiency in the skill History.
Merric’s Equipment & Special Features:
Next, we’re choosing Merric’s equipment.
- His Dexterity means he would favor long-range weapons over close-range ones, so we choose a light crossbow and 20 bolts over an extra melee weapon.
- We choose an arcane focus over a component pouch so that Merric never has to worry about having special “eye of newt, tongue of dog” goodies for his spells. We’ll let Merric’s player decide exactly what that focus should be.
- Finally, we’ll give him a scholar’s pack over a dungeoneer’s pack as he’s been an intelligent hermit more than a cave diver. The contents of each pack are in the Player’s Handbook. Suffice to say, the scholar’s pack isn’t as all-around useful as the dungeoneer’s pack but it’s in theme for our character.
- Finally, he has a set of leather armor, two daggers, and a simple weapon. We’ll pick a simple spear for his weapon, as it’s appropriate for someone who’s been surviving on their own, as well being quite versatile. With his Strength score so low, Merric will need all the help he can get. Thankfully, his daggers are considered Finesse weapons, so he gets to add his Dexterity bonus instead of his Strength.
Finally, we get to Merric’s special features:
- As a Lightfoot Halfling, he has a base walking speed of 25ft. per turn and is considered a Small creature.
- He’s also Lucky, meaning whenever he rolls a 1 (typically an automatic failure in DnD), he can reroll the die and must take the new result.
- He is Brave, meaning he gets Advantage on saving throws against being frightened.
- He has Halfling Nimbleness, so he can move through the space of any creature a size larger than he (which even includes the other party members.)
- Further, he’s Naturally Stealthy and can attempt to Hide even when only behind someone a single size larger. Now, we come to the DEFINING MOMENT for Merric.
Who is his Otherworldly Patron?
Merric is a Warlock, meaning his spell-casting abilities come from a deal with a powerful entity, not unlike a deity, but of stranger origin. It could be a powerful Archfey, like the Queen of Air and Shadows, or perhaps Oberon, the Green Lord. It could also be a Fiend from the Abyss looking for a soul to corrupt and a passageway out of their rank prisons. Or it could be a Great Old One from beyond the known reality, like Dendar the Night Serpent.
And our random number generator says…. an Archfey.
- This will add to Merric’s list of spells he can choose as he advances in levels, and well as granting him Fey Presence. This will allow Merric to force all those within a 10 ft. cube of him to roll a Wisdom save against his spellcasting ability or be either charmed or frightened by his presence. Merric chooses which he would prefer each time the ability is used. Once used, Fey Presence can’t be used again until Merric takes a rest, either short or long.
- Finally, we’ll pick Merric’s last Language gained from his Background as Sylvan, the language of the Fey.
So there we have it. Deep in the wilderness, a lone Halfling has been surviving in isolation. He has knowledge that those out there in the wider world would kill him to have. His experiences have left him few social graces but haven’t tarnished his capacity for manipulating and seeing through others. He has sworn a pact with a great being of the Feywild. Power, in exchange for his service. A small shadow in the trees, living off nature, and hunting for secrets.
Come by next week as we continue building random characters with character, and eventually, an entire campaign all by the power of the random number generator. Thanks for reading and remember…