Monday, September 15, 2014

Folderol Campaign, The Gully Dwarf Chronicles #1

Tomorrow, I'll explain how the first session went, but for today's post I'm focusing on my character. It's kind of an odd topic for Outsyder Gaming because I don't normally spend much time talking about the characters I run. That's partly because I don't get out from behind the screen too often, but it's also because (let's be honest, here) most people don't want to read about them. This character was a little different for me, though, because he ended up such a quirky blend of flavor and optimization that I just have to write about it.
I had forgotten how much fun RPGs can be when you take the focus away from optimizing and just do something fun. When I'm creating characters, I typically start with a concept that has a high power level or a high "cool factor," and go from there. This time, I started with something a little less serious... I wanted to play a gully dwarf, and I wasn't going to let the race's mechanical disadvantages deter me.

Why a gully dwarf? Well, I still have fond memories of playing Sestun. He was a DM-PC that I ran back in middle school, and while he was rather pathetic, he was fun. Yes, I stole his name from the character in Dragons of Autumn Twilight, and no, I didn't think it was a big deal at the time. Our party consisted of a Drizzt clone, my gully dwarf rogue, and a dwarf fighter named Gimli. Being innovative wasn't quite on our radar in those days.

But enough about stuff that happened almost twenty years ago. Let's talk about Bodunk. I wanted an incredibly dim-witted character who was convinced that he was a hero, and if things worked out, he might accidentally become one after all. The gully dwarf is the perfect race for such a character, and with so many good memories of running a gully dwarf in the past, I jumped on the idea.

With the Advanced Class Guide just hitting the scene, I knew I wanted to use one of the new hybrid classes as well, since multiclassing has always been one of my favorite aspects of the game. I rolled up Bodunk as a slayer, but I found myself somewhat irritated by a few aspects of the character. Being small really sucks for a melee character... having a lower damage die for your weapons is bothersome, and the decreased movement speed is annoying as well. Even though I initially planned to avoid optimization as much as possible, I just couldn't stomach a melee fighter that was doing something like d6+2 damage and had a movement speed of 15'. I started fooling around with switching to light armor and taking the Fleet feat, but I eventually decided that it wasn't worth the effort.

As I've already mentioned, multiclassing is one of my favorite aspects of the game, and a quick dip in another class could solve all of my problems. Why not? A one level dip in barbarian would fix the speed problem and at least help with damage output... but why settle for one class when you can take a hybrid? Bloodrager gives the same speed and damage increases, plus some other goodies as well... and it inspired me to put in a quirky twist in the character's background to help justify it.

Here's the background for this bloodrager/slayer...

Bodunk is from a long line of proud gully dwarves that lived in the ghettos and sewers of a mighty duergar city. Legend has it that the city was attacked by monsters, and that the gully dwarves were the only ones smart enough to hide. They survived, and resettled the ruins as soon as the monsters moved on.

Living among the abandoned treasures of the duergar city, the gully dwarves thrived. They even managed to accidentally find and figure out how to use some of the more cleverly hidden treasures of the duergar, those items that were not looted by the monsters before they left.

Among these treasures was a trapped djinn vizier, who was forced to grant Bodunk’s great great grandmother three wishes. She wished for a child, and by some twist of fate her wish was worded in such a way that the djinn was forced to father the child himself. Ever since then, members of Bodunk’s family have occasionally exhibited odd traits tied to their elemental bloodline, and other gully dwarves consider them great heroes of the people regardless of how cowardly they might actually be.

Bodunk grew up like most gully dwarves in the old duergar city, scavenging for everything he needed, accumulating as many shiny things as he could, hiding his favorite shiny things for safekeeping, and subsequently forgetting where he hid them. His most cherished items were those he carried on his person at all times, mostly because it was hard to forget about the exquisite duergar breastplate strapped to his chest, or the potions that clink around in his backpack.

On one particularly unsuccessful scavenging run, he ventured outside of the city for food and got lost, as gully dwarves are wont to do. After a few weeks of wandering the underdark, he found himself on the surface, and overheard some children talking about how all true heroes get their start with the Guardians. As a true hero, it only made sense for Bodunk to find these Guardians and lend a hand.

When everything was rolled up, calculated, and recorded on the sheet, I had a character with decently optimized abilities and some really fun quirks as well, such as...
  • A bunch of silly catch phrases, such as "Bodunk genie-us!" (which he says whenever he thinks he did something smart, but has the added irony of referring back to his bloodline)
  • A wand of expeditious retreat (which he can cast because it's on the Bloodrager spell list) that he calls the "quickie stick"
  • A spellbook full of doodles and artwork that he studies every morning (because he thinks he needs to in order to use the magic "quickie stick")
  • A battle cry of "BZZZZZZT!!!!" that he uses whenever he uses his bloodline power to add electricity damage to his attacks
Munchkin? No. Optimized? Sure. Fun? Absolutely.
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