A paladin sworn not to protect or to heal but to conquer and dominate, crushing all in her path for power’s sake. A monk who meditates with a blade in his hand, seeking perfection of mind and body in the heat of battle. A wandering samurai, clan-less and master-less, using his steel and his will to rebuild everything that he lost. A rogue and a scout of the wild places of the world, who has fought for years and now thinks of the easy life. It’s been a busy few months for Unearthed Arcana, the Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition column that presents new options for the community to playtest. There are still loads of builds for lots of classes, so let’s keep Unearthing some Arcana and Meet the Party!
The rollout of new material continues, with more than enough to put together an entire party of ready-to-play characters complete with backstories and relationships. This time we’ve got a decidedly martial bunch, including characters from the Paladin, Monk, Fighter, and Rogue classes. As with the previous batch we’re going to break with Meet the Party D&D5e tradition and send these characters further up the leveling system so we can see everything the new builds have to offer. So, without further ado, let’s Meet the Party: an Oath of Conquest Paladin, a Way of the Kensei Monk, a Samurai Fighter, and a Scout Rogue!
Anakis, Tiefling – Level 20 Paladin
HP: 164 AC: 19
Str: 20 Con: 14 Dex: 8 Int: 13 Wis: 10 Cha: 20
Racial/Class/Background Features: Darkvision, Hellish Resistance, Infernal Legacy, Divine Sense, Lay on Hands, Fighting Style: Defense, Spellcasting, Divine Smite, Divine Health, Sacred Oath: Conquest, Channel Divinity (Conquering Strike, Guided Strike), Extra Attack, Aura of Protection, Aura of Conquest, Aura of Courage, Improved Divine Smite, Cleansing Touch, Implacable Spirit, Invincible Conqueror , Background: Soldier, Military Rank
Gear: Longsword, Shield, Javelins x5, Explorer’s Pack, Chain Mail, Holy Symbol, Insignia of Rank, Trophy Taken From Enemy, Set of Dice, Common Clothes, Belt Pouch with 10 GP
Skill Proficiencies: Insight, Persuasion, Athletics, Intimidation
Tool Proficiencies: Dice, Vehicles (Land)
Saving Throws: Wisdom, Charisma
Anakis is just as dangerous as any other Level 20 Paladin, but the abilities she gains from her Oath of Conquest leave no doubt as to how the Tiefling treats those who stand against her. Her Oath spells include options like command, fear, and dominate person. The Conquering Strike use of Channel Divinity makes the target of her attack frightened of her, while Guided Strike grants a blow uncanny accuracy. Aura of Conquest gives her enemies disadvantage against becoming frightened, while Implacable Spirit makes Anakis immune to attempts to charm her. Finally, Invincible Conqueror turns the paladin into a truly deadly foe: for a minute, once per long rest, Anakis gains resistance to all damage, makes an additional attack whenever she makes the Attack action, and scores a critical hit on a 19 or 20.
Rurik Torunn, Hill Dwarf – Level 20 Monk
HP: 163 AC: 20
Str: 12 Con: 15 Dex: 20 Int: 10 Wis: 20 Cha: 8
Racial/Class/Background Features: Darkvision, Dwarven Resilience, Dwarven Combat Training, Stonecunning, Dwarven Toughness, Unarmored Defense, Martial Arts, Ki, Unamrored Movement, Monastic Tradition: Way of the Kensei, Path of the Kensei (Glaive, Greatsword, Whip), Deflect Missiles, Slow Fall, Extra Attack, Stunning Strike, Ki-Empowered Strikes, One With the Blade, Evasion, Stillness of Mind, Purity of Body, Sharpen the Blade, Tongue of the Sun and Moon, Diamond Soul, Timeless Body, Unerring Accuracy, Empty Body, Perfect Self, Background: Hermit, Discovery, Extra Language
Gear: Handaxe, Battleaxe, Glaive, Greatsword, Whip, Explorer’s Pack, Darts x10, Scroll Case of Notes, Winter Blanket, Common Clothes, Herbalism Kit, 5 GP
Skill Proficiencies: Acrobatics, Athletics, Medicine, Religion
Tool Proficiencies: Smith’s Tools, Woodcarver’s Tools, Herbalism Kit
Saving Throws: Strength, Constitution, Dexterity, Intelligence, Wisdom, Charisma
Rurik Torunn subverts some expectations of a monk; while many such warriors are at their deadliest with empty hands, when Rurik has a weapon in his he becomes truly fearsome. The Path of the Kensei grants him proficiency in several weapons, and any weapon he is proficient in becomes a kensei weapon. He can choose to use Strength or Dexterity with these weapons, can choose whether to use the weapon’s die or his Martial Arts, deal extra damage as a bonus action when he hits with one, and when he makes an unarmed strike with a kensei weapon in his other hand he gains a +2 to AC. One with the Blade makes kensei weapons magical, and can increase Rurik’s proficiency bonus for an attack. Sharpen the Blade allows the dwarf to spend ki points to gain a bonus to attack and damage rolls using a kensei weapon, and Unerring Accuracy allows for one attack roll per turn to be re-rolled.
Pandjed, Brass Dragonborn – Level 20 Fighter
HP: 221 AC: 16
Str: 20 Con: 20 Dex: 8 Int: 10 Wis: 16 Cha: 15
Racial/Class/Background Features: Draconic Ancestry, Breath Weapon, Damage Resistance, Fighting Style: Two-Weapon Fighting, Second Wind, Action Surge (2), Martial Archetype: Samurai, Fighting Spirit, Extra Attack (2), Elegant Courtier, Indomitable (3), Unbreakable Will, Rapid Strike, Strength Before Death, Background: Noble, Position of Privilege, Extra Language
Gear: Chain Mail, Longsword, Shortsword, Handaxes x2, Explorer’s Pack, Fine Clothes, Signet Ring, Scroll of Pedigree, Purse with 25 GP
Skill Proficiencies: Athletics, Perception, Insight, History, Persuasion
Tool Proficiencies: Dragonchess
Saving Throws: Strength, Constitution, Wisdom
Pandjed, as a Samurai fighter, has a will stronger than steel and is nearly impossible to turn aside when he’s on the attack. Fighting Spirit gives him a bonus action ability, usable three times after each short or long rest, that grants him advantage and resistance to sashing, piercing, and bludgeoning damage for a turn. Elegant Courtier adds his Wisdom modifier to Charisma checks with noble or otherwise socially powerful individuals, and grants him an extra skill (or language). Unbreakable Will gives him proficiency with Wisdom saving throws, while Rapid Strike allows him to sacrifice advantage in exchange for making a bonus action attack. Strength Before Death allows Pandjed to will himself away from the bring of death: when he takes damage that would reduce him to 0 HP, he can use this ability to delay that damage until after he uses the bonus action it grants him. If the damage is not then enough to reduce him to 0 – because he’s used Second Wind or gained resistance from Fighting Spirit, for instance – than he’s still in the fight.
Enna Naïlo, Wood Elf – Level 20 Rogue
HP: 141 AC: 16
Str: 8 Con: 14 Dex: 20 Int: 14 Wis: 18 Cha: 13
Racial/Class/Background Features: Darkvision, Keen Senses, Fey Ancestry, Trance, Elf Weapon Training, Fleet of Foot, Mask of the Wild, Expertise (Perception, Stealth, Investigation, Athletics), Sneak Attack 10d6, Thieves’ Cant, Cunning Action: Roguish Archetype: Scout, Survivalist, Skirmisher, Uncanny Dodge, Evasion, Superior Mobility, Reliable Talent, Ambush Master, Blindsense, Slippery Mind, Sudden Strike, Elusive, Stroke of Luck, Background: Solider, Military Rank
Gear: Rapier, Shortbow with 20 Arrows, Explorer’s Pack, Leather Armor, Daggers x2, Thieves’ Tools, Insignia of Rank, Trophy from a Fallen Enemy, Deck of Cards, Common Clothes, Belt Pouch with 10 GP
Skill Proficiencies: Perception, Acrobatics, Deception, Investigation, Stealth, Nature, Survival, Athletics, Intimidation
Tool Proficiencies: Thieves’ Tools, Deck of Cards, Vehicles (Land)
Saving Throws: Dexterity, Intelligence
Enna Naïlo is an expert at surviving in the wilderness, a master of getting the drop on enemies, and blindingly quick. Survivalist gives her Proficiency with Nature and Survival, and mimics the effects of Expertise by doubling her Proficiency Bonus with those skills. Skirmisher allows Enna to use her reaction to move up to half her speed when an enemy ends its turn within 5′ of her. Superior Mobility increases her walking speed by 10′, making her hard to get away from and even harder to catch. Ambush Master is particularly interesting: if any enemies are surprised, Enna can use a bonus action in the first round to grant all of her allies +5 initiative. The allies also gain a 10′ speed boost for a turn. Sudden Strike lets Enna make an additional attack as a bonus action whenever she uses the Attack action, and if that bonus attack is the only one sent a target’s way it can benefit from Sneak Attack even if Sneak Attack has already been used.
Creating Meet the Party characters at Level 20 is something new. Like with the first batch of characters using the recent wave of Unearthed Arcana, I wanted to show off everything that the new builds have to offer. The classes showcased here, however, have builds that go a lot farther into the lifespan of the class: rather than Level 14, most capped around 17-18, and the Paladin goes all the way to 20. It seemed a waste to stop so close to the top, and the Paladin’s capstone ability is always an interesting one, so here we are!
It’s pretty likely that our Level 20 characters are quite poor by the standards of the level, since they haven’t had any chances to acquire magic items or anything of the like. If you take them out for a spin, either keep that in mind or toss them a few magical doodads. I did bend the rules for Rurik, giving him all the weapons he was proficient in as kensei weapons, since if he couldn’t scrounge together the gold for them by now then something pretty bad probably happened.
Overall I like these builds, although the entire Paladin article is one that needs to be eyed a little carefully. Paladins of Conquest and Treachery do not for nice people make, by and large, so if you’re going to dip into them keep party dynamics in mind.
Who They Are
Anakis served faithfully as a soldier for years, fighting the wars of noblemen and kings for . . . well, they always told her it was for country, and the people, and honor, but she never seemed to find any of those good things on the battlefield. Winning – and dominating those you defeated – meant survival, so winning was the only thing that mattered. She prayed to nobody in particular for victory before every battle, until one day someone actually answered her. It’s been a long time since Anakis was just a soldier, and she fights for no noble or king, now. She fights for herself, to survive and to dominate and to rule, and with the power of a god at her back no do-gooder prince or evil overlord can stand against her.
Rurik Torunn always found something interesting in weapons, born the son of a smith and often told about the spirit of the blades they forged. His father meant a lot of things by saying that, but Rurik took it even farther. There was a state of perfection, hovering on the edge of Rurik’s senses, whenever he saw a warrior and their weapons truly work together. Rurik left the smith behind in pursuit of that perfection, and after many years of study returned to the larger world with a goal in mind. He’d acquired the building blocks – a strong body, an iron will, weapons made by his own hand- but it would be the heat of battle that forged it all together. Fighting is his meditation, and perfection now seems one more swing of a blade away.
Pandjed was a noble warrior of his clan, sworn to service for the protection of his people and his master. Unfortunately that simple life was not meant to be, and despite the best efforts of Pandjed and those like him the clan fell to a rival before being picked apart by scavengers. With no master to obey and no clan to protect, Pandjed wandered the road for years, often wondering why he even bothered. In the end, he came to an interesting conclusion: the absence of a clan to call home was abhorrent, so he must simply found one of his own. Everything starts somewhere, after all, and why shouldn’t a new clan rise from the edges of his blade? Such action requires strength, of course, and Pandjed will cut his new clan’s power out of every enemy that crosses his path.
Enna Naïlo lived the first part of her professional life ahead of the armies, scouting out routes, gathering intelligence, and killing her counterparts from the other side. It was, basically, a job. She didn’t much care for the pay most days, but it was steady work, and it kept her outdoors the way she liked it. Honest, too, after a fashion. Eventually there wasn’t an army to stay ahead of, so now Enna works ‘freelance’, although it’s been some time since she worked for anybody but the one tiefling. It’s been a good life, but an early retirement is starting to sound good. Buy some land, pay a few people to manage it for her, and see if dying of old age and good food and drink instead of a blade in the bushes suits her. More work to do before that, though.
How They Interact
Anakis sees fighting as a means to an end; sure, she enjoys it to a degree, but it’s what the fighting gets you that matters. Rurik has never seemed to care much about anything other than the fight itself, which has always struck Anakis as decidedly odd, but she’s gotten used to it. Pandjed is all wrapped up in making something out of all this, which seems a little diluted from her own ‘power is as power does’ mentality, but she can sympathize with wanting to take what you’ve earned from a world determined to keep it from you. Enna’s been with Anakis almost from the beginning, and they were acquaintances back in the army, so the elf’s the closest thing she has to a friend. She doesn’t get the retirement thing (she’ll never stop conquering so long as there’s something left to conquer), but she wishes Enna the best and tries not to think that she’ll miss her.
Rurik sees Anakis’s hunger for conquest as unnecessary and a little vulgar, the way some more ascetic monks might view gluttony at the dinner table. Following the knight tyrant has provided Rurik with many fires to forge himself in, however, and for that he is grateful. Pandjed also has goals that seem extraneous, and yet the dragonborn samurai’s will is an admirable thing. They often meditate over their blades together, and Rurik prefers Pandjed as a sparring partner. Enna is a strange one, with relatively simple goals that remind Rurik of the tenets of his father: be successful, take pride in your work, and profit by it. There’s almost a purity to that, and if she makes it Rurik would like to visit her one day to see if it all worked out the way she hopes.
Pandjed sees Anakis as an ally of convenience, and not much more than that to be truthful. The world seems to have scorned her just as much as him, but Pandjed sees something noble in his personal goals and no end to the fighting in Anakis’s. They do talk tactics and plans, now and again. Rurik is a calming influence in their little group, and Pandjed actually met the dwarf a few times on the road before formally teaming up with him. He reminds Pandjed of his master: quiet, strong, and wise. He hopes Rurik might advise him one day, or perhaps even train the soldiers of Pandjed’s new clan. Enna’s skulking about doesn’t sit well with Pandjed on a personal level as the samurai feels honor-bound to engage in straightforward combat, but he’s worldly enough to acknowledge that his type of honor just doesn’t work for someone like Enna.
Enna only kept in contact with one person from the army days, and that was Anakis. The tiefling’s always chomped at the bit a little too hard for Enna, more so since she found her god, but she’s a good comrade to have. Enna hopes that she’ll visit now and again after the scout retires, but won’t hold her breath for it. Rurik is a quirky one, but he’s nice enough for a dwarf who only seems to care about his combat forms. They play cards now and again to while away the hours that the paladin and the fighter are scheming. Pandjed’s a bit of a stick in the mud, and anybody who cares so much about honor clearly never had to fight anyone for a dagger in a muddy trench. He’s a straight shooter, though, probably can’t lie if his life depended on it, and there’s something reassuring about the fact that his own honor obligates him to watch Enna’s back.
The surveys for these classes are already up, either in the articles linked above, the Artificer article (for the paladin), or the Sorcerer article (for the rogue). There are also plenty more builds to choose from: Treachery Paladins, Tranquility Monks, and Arcane Archer, Knight, and Sharpshooter Fighters. There are also a pair of Ranger builds, which I’m not sure I’ll be getting to with Meet the Party. Suffice to say, we’ve got a lot of work to do! Reviewing and playtesting these characters and more could have quite the effect on the future of D&D Fifth Edition.
As for Anakis, Rurik, Pandjed, and Enna? Well, they’ve made it all the way to Level 20, and are probably pretty close to their goals. They might actually be just one more conquest away from Anakis’s domination, Rurik’s perfection, Pandjed’s new clan, and Enna’s retirement. Will they succeed or fail? That’s for you (and your dice) to determine!
Do you have feedback after using this batch of characters? How about a system you’d like to Meet the Party for? Speak up in the comments or give me a shout on Twitter @HungryHalfling. If you want to support Cannibal Halfling Gaming, please let your friends know about us and/or become a Patron!