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Wednesday, June 19, 2013

My latest #dndnext #Ravnica character: a Noble Gruul Ranger!

My moments of boredom very often result in new characters, and Ravnica is still all the rage as far as character themes go, here where I'm sitting!

My latest idea tries to "fix" the Ranger, considered by most players the weakest class in the current playtest packet.

While I'm at it, I also try to create an interesting character, using my custom "guild powers", and this time it's Gruul's turn.

The Gruul Mechanic.

I chose to give Gruul a somewhat direct "conversion" of their actual mechanic, in the form of a wild sure-critical charge which triggers an also sure-critical OA. So you deal high damage but risk a lot for doing so.

The current critical hit rules in Next are hopelessly underwhelming too, adding just one die of damage, so weapon selection becomes critical.

By the way, if wanting to maintain the custom "Guild Initiate" feat (which grants the guild "channel divinity" effect to non-Clerics) balanced with the equivalent feat (Magical Rejuvination), the power will be usable only once per day, so it's not going to be anything special, but it will be cool to have a "one shot nova".


I'm really fond of D&D Next's take on the Katana. Quite simply a two-handed bastard sword but using Dexterity. I also like the slight paradox of a Gruul using a katana or equivalent exotic sword, and the mechanical advantage of being focused on Dexterity, allowing for good ranged attacks and AC.

So katana it is. And since we want to capitalize on the sure-fire one-shot critical hit, I'd choose a "Keen Katana", replacing katana stats on the magical "Keen Rapier". Those extra 2d6 will help make it worth it.

Armor choice is trickier than usual. I had thought about going light, but until Dex can become 18 at 4th level, medium armor is better. And since stealth is not going to be a focus, Scale Mail will make a lot of sense (and protection). An AC of 16 is nothing bad at all for a two-handed weapon wielder. And since we're talking about a Giant slayer, where "giant" can be any Large or bigger creature, a Studded Dragon Leather could also be available...

For ranged attacks, I picture him using javelins, to retain some savage style.

Favored Enemy

This is the cool part. Making this Ranger a Giant slayer not only fits the Gruul theme, but also the mechanic, because if the enemy OA connects, the ranger can expend his reaction to halve the damage, at least if the enemy is Large or bigger.

Plus, I like the idea of a Gruul Ginat Slayer. Gruul is the "giant guild" in many ways, and having a "small" guy good against them, makes for a respectable individual within his Clan. Which brings to an interesting Background choice...

Unusual Background.

This Gruul (aka savage) Ranger will have the... Noble background. It is meant to be an elite warrior within the clan, who earned a lot of respect by fighting big and scary members of the same or other clans. So for a twist, the "three retainers" pledged to serve this noble will likely be (very) tamed OGRES!

Only change to the skill selection is the selected Lore. Political doesn't make a lot of sense for Gruul, so I'd replace it with Cultural Lore, focused on the Gruul culture, but not only.

Ability Scores.

I'd like a rather balanced stat array for my Ranger. Dexterity is obviously a must, but basically all the rest needs to be decent too, especially mental stats, to convey an "elite" feeling within the savage Gruul. Strangely enough, I think Strength will be the dump stat!
Here's what I'd use, after the (crazy) all-stats human bonus, and class bonus:

Str 9, Dex 17, Con 12, Int 14, Wis 14, Cha 14

Yes, pretty crazy for a Gruul, but I think it works pretty well, making his Intimidate, Persuade, Recall Lore, and Sense Motive skills quite good at a +2.


Apart from the nearly obligatory custom Guild Initiate feat, the first level feat that I think fits best here is the simple Weapon Mastery. As written, it could take into account extra damage, so it should allow to replace the result of the extra d6 damage from either Hunter's Mark or Slayer of the Colossus with a juicy d10 from the katana. It's borderline cheating, but hey, we're trying to "fix" the Ranger..!

Name and final details.

I want a name that is both savage and noble of course. A harsh sound, but elegant in some way. Kharshk 'Tan it is, after a 1 minute brainstorming. That "Tan" is meant to conjure "chieftain". I also did a 30 seconds search of Gruul clans using the database, and I chose the rarely mentioned (actually mentioned only once) Bolrac clan, cited on the Wrecking Ogre card, since I want Kharhsk to have the respect of ogres.

Finally, I want a bad-ass illustration, which I obviously found on deviantArt, among the artworks of ~XRobinGoodFellowX.

And that's all for my latest Ravnican character