Well, its finally come: A day I get to create and build my own character and see how swiftly I can get them killed by the DM I’m going to be running under.
I figured I’d start out this little epic by giving a rundown on the character I am going to be playing, Clovis the Brutal (Working Title). Its a character I’ve wanted to play since early 3.5 that I just never, ever got around to, and now is his time to shine!
D&D characters are often very personal creations, and that attachment is even greater when you play in long adventures in the same group year after year. For me, this attachment becomes even more intense when I’ve had ages of DMing behind you, and and have spent much of that time ruminating on what characters you’d play if given the chance. In this instance, I have likely spent more time on, and become more attached to, a character I have yet to play than many people have with characters they play every week. I’ve thought deeply about backgrounds, levels, motivations, alignment and the many and sundry pertinent portions of the character. I’ve mentally taken him to every level from 1 through 20. Its a tiny obsession of min to get this character so right in execution and flavor that I just keep pouring over the options again and again and again.
When I create a character, I like to put together things that don’t quite perfectly mix, but also aren’t completely juxtaposed as complete insanity. I want moderately original characters that speak to me in some way or another, and that have some sort of interesting twist I can play out. Jerek of Jhord was a Rhulic (Dwarven) Spy. Movaris Thornwind is a Halfling Autumn Druid, Durin Mountiansteel is a Cleanshaven Dwarven Barbarian and Endrus Tolstien is a burly, Enchanter Mage with no damaging spells.
Clovis’s orgins, that of a Gnome Monk Assassin, dwell deep in the archives of 3.5, with the Assassin Prestige Class in the DMG. Prestige classes required certain skills and abilities and while the assassin was built with the rogue in mind, there was a way you could get the monk to qualify. This amused me, so I started thinking on what type of character could be a monk assassin that would continue into the amusement. After picking through a whole bunch of races, looking for the one that fit the best, I decided that I didn’t want a race that fit the best, but thought it would be hilarious to have a gnome, with its tiny fists and itty bitty stature, to be the one laying low mighty villains. Done with the outline of the character, I moved on, DMing and playing in games that weren’t D&D, all the while contemplating how to get to play my next character.
Now, years and editions later, the time has come!
Now, in 5th edition, what I will be playing, Classes are a bit different. Prestige classes are gone, but each individual class has a few paths that change how each class works a bit. The case that is relevant to me, here, is the Rogue Class, which houses the Assassin Path. More than likely I don’t really need this class to make my concept work, as the Path of the Shadow in Monk, which represents a ninja like concept, covers all the basics, but what would a monk assassin be without the assassin portion!
This meant that I would need to be able to be able to multiclass, which shouldn’t be that hard, honestly, just need to pay attention to it when assigning stats (something we have yet to do at the table – Next Week!). That also meant that I had two classes to pay attention too, and I would need to be able to get the most out of both, without wasting good abilities, duplicating abilties, or loosing out on characterful abilities that would make my character really sing. For Rogue, that meant that I needed to get to at least 7th level. I want evasion and 4d6 sneak attack damage. This meant I had to look at how high I wanted to get in monk for the compliment to see how much further I wanted to get with rogue. For Monk, 12th level was really as far as I wanted to go in terms of combat effectiveness, so I figured I’ll pick up the extra level in rogue to allow for more Stat increases and the possibility of another feat.
Similarly, I wanted to start out life as a rogue. This would enable me to have a few cool abilities to make up for my tiny deficiencies as a gnome, like my anticipated tiny strength, with expertise. Starting out at level 3, like we are, makes this a bit easier, and I’ll be a 2/1 Monk/Rogue
Gnomes are tiny and brilliant creatures, with some having the proclivity towards agility (Forest Gnomes), and other towards heartiness (Rock Gnomes). With the character needing a bit more Dex to accommodate both classes, alongside the ability to speak with animals, I figured I’d go with the Forest Gnome.
Finally, as the last bit, I had to figure out my background (bonuses), which meant I had to figure out my background (story).
Sadly, I don’t know much about the world (yet) so I will have to fit my place in it as we go along. That said, I did know what I wanted to do, after talking with the DM a little about how the world works.
Clovis, he doesn’t know or remember or care about his family name, doesn’t remember much of his younger days. . He didn’t know his parents too well, mostly because he thought he was better than them and ran away at a young age, much younger than he should have. Sadly, his parents likely assume him dead and he honestly should be.
He grew up on the streets of the city, and it made him wise to the ways of the world, but it didn’t jade him like it did many of the others he lived with and grew up with. That isn’t to say that he wasn’t tempered by the world, it simply didn’t consume him like it did many others. He grew accustomed to the gnawing stomach and the itchy clothes. He lived with bare feet and ragged hair, and didn’t think much of it. He burgled, stole and waylayed with many different gangs and troupes, and often the fattest targets, wealthiest marks and softest victims were those of the monastery, either coming or going. While not all of them were easy pickings, many of them were. It was simple to steal from them, and for days after they would have full bellies and clean clothes.
However, after years of living in alleys and gutters, one step ahead of the city watch and those he’d wronged both in society and with crimes, he grew weary. He was still young, not even in the prime of his life yet, and he seemed to want more, to want to have a place to live, friends who wouldn’t betray him and fraternity with those around him. The weariness expanded and consumed him, until one day, he simply realized the solution. It was such a simple and easy way out he was stunned at his idiocy and his inability to see what lay in front of him for years. That very day, he walked to the gates of the Monastery and knocked, twice. When a young woman, an elf, opened the gate and looked at him he announced, before she could get even a word out
“My name is Clovis, I have no other. I have come to this place to dedicate myself to the gods, to become their servant, humbled in their glory, and to be used like a weapon, as and when they see fit.”
They stared at each other for a few moments, and then she beckoned him in. He walked through the gates of the monastery and never looked, or thought, back. Over the next years, he dedicated himself, fully and completely, to the monastic training he received. He amplified his natural ability for stealth with training and focus, he abandoned his daggers and swords and became a student of unarmed conflict, using knees, fists, elbows and even his head as a weapon, if needed. He trained during the day, and studied at night for hours and hours. He became enraptured with the methods of communications that the gods used, studying omencraft, auguries, communion and oracles until they became second nature to him. He was truly a student of the gods.
Sometime during his stay, for the first time in his life, he was approached by a servant of Zehir, the god of snakes, darkness and assassins. He was asked to join their cult, be a part of their gods devoted. For the first time in his life he was wanted. He jumped at the chance. The Zehiri trained him in the art of assassination, of darkness and poisons. He became a skillfull murderer and a sly deceiver. What he lacked in stature he made up with sheer brutality. Eventually, he was sent on his way, with the knowledge that Zehir would speak to him and guide him along his path, that he had a greater destiny than one stuck within the walls and learning. He would put his practice to use and bring death to those deserving, as he so choose.
Clovis is good at heart, though he has embraced the necessity of killing to accomplish the greater vision he has for the world. He has a soft spot for the lost and misguided, though not to soft, and will often lead them or direct them to a church to seek out their greater destiny. In order to travel throughout the lands unnoticed and unremarked, he has created an alter ego for himself, Clovis the Brutal, a skilled pit fighter that travels the land, challenging the regions strongest and most skilled of underground, or legal, fighters in combat. He fights under the title Clovis the Brutal Fist, and is well known when he travels. It just so happens that sometimes, people die when Clovis is in town.
I had a few concepts I could have use for backgrounds – Acolyte, Criminal, Charlatan among others, but I chose the variant on entertainer: Gladiator. It gave me a decent background, a pretty convincing cover, and some cool role play opportunities.
I think I’ll enjoy whatever time I have with Clovis. He’s cold and calculating, brutal to his enemies and steeped in religion. I’ll get to make up all sorts of omens and signs – that have no bearing on the game – at every opportunity and chance I get. It won’t be the last I wright about this character, but it will likely be the longest.
Until Next time!