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Saturday, August 10, 2013

A #Ravnica #Simic #dndnext Monk - Plus my take on the latest rules!

Hello folks!
I guess this blog is becoming a lot like a "let me tell you about my cats", with cats being my characters... But anyway, I always try to push the system a bit and pull off some archetypes that at a first glance are not doable.

As always, the inspiration comes from a picture, which comes from a Ravnica card that is not properly Simic, but depicts a Simic character.

How cool is that, first of all?? In my mind, it is clearly a monk (also notice the resemblance with the iconic D&D 4e Githzerai Monk), and it is clearly repelling some spell.

Couldn't help noticing that the current Monk's "Way of The Four Elements" tradition has the water themed ability focused on saving throws. But honestly, it's also the most boring ability. So what about giving the magic-resistant theme through race instead? The new Gnome has exactly that.

So making a medium-sized Gnome represent this Elf or Human mutant (perhaps even Merfolk, who knows) is a very doable choice. Return to normal speed, but leave the weapon restrictions in place to represent his frailty. Take the Forest Gnome subrace and we also have animal-speaking (quite fitting for a Simic) and the Minor Illusion cantrip, which could be easily replaced by Prestidigitation to stay more in-theme.

So the Monk's elemental choice can now become the flashy Fire Riposte one, which could also be a second take on the picture. Alternatively, if I could start at a higher level, I'd still take the "signature" Shelter of the Flowing River first (which combined with Gnome's feature covers all saving throws, basically), and then opt for Flames of The Phoenix at 6th level.

The feat choice is a bit hard, but to stick to Simic flavor, I would add some magic for sure. And in particular, I'd take the Divine Initiate feat and take Resistance (to capitalize even more on Saves), and Sacred Flame, which I'd reflavor as a "biomancy" power dealing with spontaneous combustion..! The first level spell would be Bless, which I would reflavor as the incarnation of Simic's "Evolve" ability.

As for the Background, I'd go Sage, and take Natural and Magical Lore. The Expertise Die would be of course assigned to Wisdom checks, to better represent the mystical nature of the character.

Now, would I like to play this character? The Monk class has become pretty mature and interesting compared to previous incarnations, but honestly something is missing, and it's basically the first level feat for me. I really miss that, especially considering characters such as this get an even slower feat progression than most. With a first level feat, I would have certainly taken either Alert or Loremaster, adding a lot of flavor to the character.
Repeating a well-known error of previous editions, D&D Next still forces the player to choose between combat and non-combat features (feats), which are very difficult to balance, and even when balanced, one simply feels too bad about choosing.
I think D&D Next sorely needs to expand on the Background concept to make it more like the 4e's Themes, and have it advance with levels, granting a choice of non-combat features, while leaving the Feats to represent truly combat/power related things that are truly measurable in terms of Ability Score Improvement that you give away.