Why can’t I join your party?
There have been several requests for draconic characters recently. After all, standard d20 makes them rather difficult to play. That’s normal for a generalist – your typical dragon blasts, casts, scouts, evades, and tanks, and is thus capable of functioning as a one-character party – but it means that they have such high ECL adjustments that they’re less effective in any individual role than more specialized party members.
Most of the people who want to play a dragon want to play them as something more than the parties fifth wheel. Sure, you can fill in for many of the other characters in a pinch – but that’s not really what the players had in mind.
Fortunately, Eclipse will let you customize your dragon just like any other character – and there are a LOT of possible specialties out there.
Still, we do need something to work from – so here’s a breakdown for one of the earlier requests: the lowest ECL dragon character you can usually have – a standard White Dragon Hatchling broken down for Eclipse.
OK; Classically that’s a Tiny dragon. To build one of those we’ll need…
- Two Levels of Shrinking (24 CP). That’s -4 Str,+4 Dex, -2 Con, +2 Armor Class and Attack Modifier, +8 to stealth skills, -8 to things like door-smashing, and reduces falling damage from d6’s to d2’s.
- It has +2 Con and -4 Int overall. So in conjunction with the Shrinking we’ll need +4 Str and Con and -4 Dex and Int (Attribute Shift, 24 CP),
- It breathes a 1d6 15 foot cone of cold every 1d4 rounds. That’s kind of pathetic actually, but it DOES expand well later – so it’s off to the Path of the Dragon to buy it.
- Shaping, Specialized and Corrupted/only as a prerequisite (2 CP).
- Dragonfire, Specialized/only for cone energy attacks, Corrupted/upper limits determined by age (2 CP).
- Breath of the Dragon, Specialized and Corrupted/only to change to Cold, must be used (2 CP).
- Pulse and Heart of the Dragon, Specialized and Corrupted/only as a prerequisite (4 CP).
- Blood of the Dragon, Specialized and Corrupted for Triple Effect/only to fuel Dragonfire, requires a wait of 1d4 rounds in between discharges (6 CP). Normally this is Charisma-based, but if the character has a lousy Charisma, Finesse (another 6 CP) may be used to substitute another attribute, such as constitution.
- Immunity to Sleep and Paralysis. Honestly… Sleep isn’t usually used on player characters much; it’s boring. Ergo, Uncommon, Major, Major on the Sleep (6 CP), and Common, Major, Major on the Paralysis (9 CP).
- Like many dragons, it has Blindsense out to 60′ (6 CP), Low-Light Vision (6 CP), and 120′ Darkvision (12 CP).
- At tiny size it has a 1d4 bite and two 1d3 claws (each only getting one-half the strength bonus). Just to simplify this, I’m buying it 1d8 Natural Weapons (Martial Arts, 9 CP) and +2 BAB, Specialized/only to add to iterative attacks (6 CP). That improves things a bit, opens things up for more attacks later on, and involves less rolling. Given that this IS a young dragon, we don’t really care what body parts it uses – bite, claws, tail, wings, tail spike, high-speed collision, whatever… the player can describe things as he or she likes.
- It DOES have 30′ burrowing, the ability to “Spider Climb” on ice, and 150 flight (albeit with only average maneuverability). So… +30′ Move with Additional Movement Mode (Burrow) (24 CP), and +55′ move with Additional Movement Mode, Specialized for Double Effect and corrupted for two-thirds cost/only average maneuverability in the air, dependent on having space to spread and flap wings or on moving on an ice-covered surface, can be brought down by wing damage or entanglements (26 CP). (OK, yes, I could save a couple more points – but the notion of white dragons buzzing around on icy surfaces like gravity-defying figure-skaters amuses me).
- It has +2 Natural Armor. That’s Defender (12 CP).
- It’s immune to Cold and Vulnerable to Fire. That’s Energy Infusion/Cold (6 CP).
And… that’s about it for what really belongs in it’s “racial template” That adds up to… 189 CP. That’s quite a lot. Fortunately, the entire package is Specialized; the user is a blatantly non-human dragon, is subject to powerful draconic instincts, craves treasure, has valuable magical body parts, has to deal with rivals and dragon-hunters, is vulnerable to anti-dragon weaponry, radiates magical power and an aura that disturbs people and animals, can’t wear most armor or use a lot of other magical devices, has automatic alignment tendencies, and has to deal with any other being-a-dragon problems that the game master feels like applying.
That takes the cost down to 94 CP – just within the 95 CP allowance for a +2 ECL template.
That leaves us with three regular levels, providing a base of 96 CP and two bonus feats. So what else do we need to buy?
- 3d12 Hit Dice. That’s (24 CP)
- To speak Draconic That’s (1 CP). I suppose this could go in the racial template, but it doesn’t make a lot of difference – and it seems reasonable that some dragons might be raised to speak other languages. We could also assume that it’s simply it’s base language and not buy it at all, but I want to make sure that it has space to speak “common”, even if it winds up with an abysmal intelligence.
- 20 Skill Points. Fortunately, in Eclipse you get bonus skill points for high intelligence, but – since you aren’t required to buy skills at all – there’s no low intelligence penalty. Therefore, to match the 20 SP that our tiny white dragon would normally have we need only spend (20 CP)
- +3 BAB. That’s (18 CP). To get the secondary attacks, we’ll also want +1 BAB Specialized for Double Effect (Only to get iterative attacks, 6 CP).
- Base Saves of Fort +3, Ref +3, Will +3. That’s (27 CP).
That comes out to 96 CP – precisely what’s available. The two bonus feats are up to the player.
Now that’s actually pretty survivable; blindsense and burrowing can be a pretty effective defense, it has more than enough hit points and attacks – including a ranged energy weapon that will preserve meat quite effectively – to deal with the kind of prey that a tiny predator will want to eat, and it can easily fly away from most ground-based threats.
Of course, as a member of a party, it’s not all that effective, even if it DOES make a dandy little scout. Even it’s two unspent bonus feats won’t help that much.
Of course, in Eclipse, you can eke out a few more points here and there – ten for disadvantages and six for duties. Spend those (and your bonus feats) on upgrading the Path of the Dragon and you can get some decent magical powers – enough to be a reasonably effective party member.
And that, of course, is the point; we don’t want to grossly overshadow everyone else in the party, but neither do we want to be grossly overshadowed – and this build should accomplish that just fine if the player makes halfway decent choices with those extra points and feats.
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