Creating Character: Varuun, Tiefling Zealot

This second character was actually one of the first that occurred to me as I was starting to build backup characters for Clovis. Its a pretty simple concept, and doesn’t take as many twists and turns as Brox did, so this one might be a bit simpler. 
Lets see where he goes, then. Lets get to Varuun, the Zealot. 

Much like Brox, Varuun came about when I started thinking about what type of character would defy expectations as a Tiefling, but aren’t the tried and true completely-against-nature tropes? Clearly, the paladin was out. Monk would be neat, but I had just created a monk. Many of the standard classes aligned pretty well, so most of them can probably be skirted. Cleric didn’t even occur to me until, now, and that might be a really solid direction to take a tiefling, but what I thought about most is how a tiefling is often associated with magic. power, grace, and poise. A disturbing yet charming and often seductive force. There is a class that they are not associated with often that could play on that trope rather well: Barbarian. 

There are a number (One for each of the Nine Lords of Hell, and then some) variants of Tiefling. Zariel, in particular, is useful for the barbarian build because it increases the STR by 1. Levisus can raise Con, but the abilities are a bit less useful. Speaking of which, The Zariel abilities are really, really good. Thurmaturgy isn’t great for the barbarian, but both Searing Smite and Branding smite are pretty cool as lead-off spells – Remember you cannot cast spells while raging, allowing you to extend your damage by a turn. 

I’ve seen the might Zkullg, Barbarian World Ender with a 2h Axe or Club too many times to count, so I wanted to do something a bit different. Using two weapons, a paired set of morningstars, because I so rarely see them used, would likely be a cool and thematic weapon, what with one being an extremely thorny and spikey weapon, and the other being a morning star. They do a pretty standard amount of damage, and can be used, after 4th level, one in each hand via Dual Wielder. So, that is the path we are going to tread down. 

Varuun is going to be a Raging Demon blooded barbarian with a pair of Morningstars. In order to do that, we’re going to need to make sure we have proficiency in dual fighting as soon as possible, which is 4th level, Once we have our first feat, we take Dual Wielder.

Prior to this, though, we have to choose our Primal Path, the method of death we will deliver as a Barbarian. For this character specifically, because he is a tiefling barbarian, I reached for Zealot. This makes flavorful sense to me because tieflings, being the progeny of infernals or other extraplanar vileness, are keenly aware of the divine nature of the world. Being in touch with one of the many angry and violent gods makes sense for a tiefling more than many of the other paths presented. It also graces us with a bit more damage – d6+ half our barbarian level, on the first attack to hit each turn. At this point, though, we are likely only making one attack. 

After 3rd gives us Zealot, we then Take Dual Wielder. This gives us a number of advantages. First is the +1 to AC while wielding two weapons – you essentially have half a shield, which is pretty solid. Then you’re allowed to draw and stow two one handed weapons whenever you’d be allowed to draw or stow one. Its a small benefit, but it allows you to fight with both weapons at the start of a combat, instead of allowing you to fight with only one on round one. The other benefit, though, is the one we are after, allowing us to two weapons even when they aren’t light.

Up until this point, we’ve had to either fight with a single weapon – the most likely choice – or we’ve been using light weapons, which wouldn’t be morningstars. Now, we can use both weapons. Taking another level of Barbarian here gives us two attacks, and a bonus action to make our second attack with our offhand, albeit with no STR modifier for damage. Taking our 6th level in fighter and taking the Two-Weapon Fighting style will allow us to now make three attacks in a round, with the same hit bonus and damage – d8+ Str, giving us +1 to AC while we are at it, because we are unlikely to be wearing armor. 

At this point, we have some decisions to make, and I don’t know that it is clear cut. We’ve invested in Fighter to level 1 in order to get +5 (ish) damage a round, and we are getting second wind to allow ourselves to heal d10+1, once per rest. How far into Fighter do we want to dig, now that we have given up the +4 Con (essentially +40 HP) and +4 Str (+2 damage per attack)? Primal Paths in Barbarian top out at 14th level, and the 18th level barbarian ability is good, but not amazing. 15/5 is probably a good split as that is where you get Persistent rage and can only stop raging early once I fall unconscious. Zealot Kinda overrides that, however, with their Rage Beyond Death ability, allowing them to rage past death and come back to the edge if they are healed to normal HP prior to ending the rage, which leads me to a 14/6 kinda split, which is probably fine. You’ll get some of the best abilities of a Barbarian, and be able to peek into fighter for a few levels. The only “problem” with this is that they both get Extra Attack (1) and it will only ever give you one additional attack. You’ll get one Archetype ability, so make it count. personally, I like the Champion Ability to Crit on a 19-20, because you’ll be making something like 3-5 attacks in a round, and a 10% chance of landing a critical hit is pretty significant. 

At 6th Level – Due to the needs of the character to function right, I decided this time to parse out the start of the character at 6. 

Varuun, Zealot
Race: Tiefling, Spawn of Zariel
Highest Stat: Strength
Second Highest Stat: Constitution
Background: Barbarian Tribesman – Sword Coast (It fits!)
No armor: When you’re a Barbarian, you get Dex+ Con for your AC when you are unarmored. When STR is maxed out, use your extra Ability Score Increases on these stats. You won’t need anymore. 
Weapons: Paired Morningstars
Skills: Intimidation and Perception. As a Barbarian, Intimidation is going to be fun to use when you’re raging and the world trembles as your fury. As a Zealot Barbarian, it fits even stronger as you impose your bloody and terrible will on the world in the name of you violent god. 
Primal Path: Path of The Zealot Getting additional d6 damage on your first hit each turn is pretty solid and being able to be brought back from the dead is pretty cool, though likely not all too common. Rerolling Failed Saving throws at 6th and granting advantage to all allies within 60′ is great at 10th. Living to fight through after dying, with the chance to live even though it all is amazing. Really looking forward to this one.
Barbarian is also going to grant Reckless attack, giving you advantage on your attack rolls, Danger sense to avoid traps, and an extra attack as well as extra movement at 5th.  
Fourth Level Feat: Dual Wielding: Getting your STR in damage is pretty solid on that last attack in a round, and man does it feel good when you roll a 1 to do more than just a single point of damage with your Bonus Action. 
Fighting Style: Two-Weapon Fighting is the only reason we are dipping into Fighter, and its the only fighting style we can take. It is one of the main reasons that getting to level 10 in Fighter, where many allow you to take a second style, isn’t worth it. Defense, the default, doesn’t even work, because you won’t wear armor. 

At this point, you should be able to build a pretty solid character from here, and you understand where I am going with it. I hope you enjoyed this look into how I made this character, and what I do in order to cement the concept. Up next is either the Demegogue Bard or the Half Orc Warlock. We’ll see.  

Until next time!