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Zach’s Terrible Monkdruidpire, or “What to do with characters that break your setting.”

Zach’s Terrible Monkdruidpire, or “What to do with characters that break your setting.” published on 10 Comments on Zach’s Terrible Monkdruidpire, or “What to do with characters that break your setting.”

The Character

I have not seen a leveling progressing for the abomination I am about to describe. I only know that the character at beginning at fifth level.

The monstrosity’s name is Leba Gelosi, may Helm have mercy on its soul. It’s a Tiefling Variant with fangs, pale skin, and the request for a custom Tiefling bloodline. We shall call this bloodline the framing element of this section and end with it.

Its class consists of two levels of monk and three levels of druid. The character will be ignoring many of its druid-related powers, or reskinning them. The player is not asking for any special replacements.  The class levels, its creator Zach tells me, are representative of something other than training. Monk levels represent superhuman dexterity. The druid levels allow him to shapeshift into a bat or wolf. He has these levels in Monk / Druid, but really just wants to be level 5 of a custom class that has cherry-picked elements from two others.

His Tiefling bloodline represents this class: Leba was born of vampiric heritage.

why can’t you just remake Legolas like everyone else? why are you the way you are?

The Problem

Setting aside that there are so many homebrew and official ways to create a vampire, I resisted this character concept fairly hard for a lot of reasons. I’ll address my minor concerns first. By not swapping out spells and abilities for homebrew options, Zach has made a statement about my world that I never agreed to. Shillelagh is, I’m told, critical to the build’s combat functionality, as well as number of other iconic druid abilities and I suddenly have to adjust my world to account for vampires that have druid skills. Vampires exist in my setting, but they can’t heal people or cast Goodberry.

Additionally, while I don’t really mind power gaming, I am annoyed at the subtle attempt to get out of the malus of multi-classing – namely that ABIs / Feats typically come at the fourth class level and not the fourth character level.

Largely, though, the aesthetic bugs me, and it bugs me for the same reason that some DMs ban monks or psionics. We’re playing in Faerun and that’s just not how vampires work in Faerun. Classes are earned, not born into, and my myopia disallows me to see the monkness and these druidness of this character as intrinsic aspects of a unique Blade-esque character.

Also, Zach has openly admitted to wanting to roleplay as Bela Legosi.

Literally Zach’s Character

The Solution

Players love their creations as much as anyone else. There’s never a reason to stomp on it, even if they rub the wrong way against your setting. I look absurd in all sorts of real life settings and any setting that attempts even a hint of realism must eventually cope with players pushing at boundaries in the same way that Vermin Supreme and Donald Trump exist in the same universe as Emmanuel Macron and Elon Musk. This makes the primary solution to not to put puppet strings on your player’s creations. If they’re doing something inordinately dangerous, warn them and move on. People exist that other people disapprove of; people exist that rest of the world, that popularity, and that decency itself actively resist.

There need to be some negotiations about rules, but ABIs and Feats are ways to customize a character, not break a world, and there’s no reason to deny a multi-classer these things—once they earn them. Just because you say yes to a concept doesn’t mean you’re saying yes to it having Goku’s power-level. This might mean letting the player take monk powers or druid powers as they want and calling it a vampire. It might mean telling the player to choose monk or druid every level. And if you’re feeling really nice, it might mean giving out boons as the character plays that help actualize the image of playing as Bela Lugosi in clownshoes.

If the player isn’t interested in negotiating, but all choices they made have come official source material, or source material you already approved, suck it up. My objection to this character class was that, from my perspective, it colored the magical secrets of Druids and the training of Monks; it was abomination in the sense that it changed the fabric of my assumptions. But Zach never did this, and neither did Leba. I did it my head as easily as I undid it by saying, “this character is from some faraway land and does not reflect the shared reality of the background,” and solved my problem.

My problem. Not the player’s.

The Takeaway

Every DM is going to have this problem, eventually, I think. Banning Tiefling-druid-monkpire is just as game-breaking as banning monks. If Monks or Wizards don’t exist in your world, you’re not playing D&D anymore. You might be close enough that the rules of 5e still apply, but frankly, if you ever find yourself in a situation where you are vetoing primary source material, it’s time to either swallow your pride and let everyone play the game you agreed to DM, or else it’s time to find new rulebooks.

Agree? Disagree? We wanna hear from you. Sound off in the comments, and consider supporting us on Patreon if you like our content and want more.

Chapter Three PDF & Blogdump

Chapter Three PDF & Blogdump published on No Comments on Chapter Three PDF & Blogdump
Click me to go to the PDF on Patreon.

First thing’s first — Chapter Three is done, and is available as a PDF over on Patreon, free of charge. Share it with your friends and stuff!

Second thing’s second — we’re taking a small, five-comic break from Ramen Empire to showcase a new D&D-themed comic we’re making, at the end of which we’re hoping to collect a few opinions about. It’ll be a nice break for Zach and me, and it’ll give us a chance to edit chapter four before we start posting it.

It’s been a long, strange trip through chapter three and I’m both proud and confused with what we’ve made so far, which I suspect is the inevitable result of creating content slightly behind a never-ending publication schedule. We’d love your thoughts overall! I find myself liking certain parts better than others, but don’t want to corrupt anyone’s impression of the arc.

Civilization VI has been released, and it calls to me like a siren song, but as a perpetually broke artist / writer duo, Zach and I are resisting its malicious summons through the sheer power of poverty. It’s a dubious blessing, since neither of us have been consumed in the maw of Civ, while on the downside, neither of us have been consumed in the maw of Civ. That said, the Civ V: Vox Populi mod is an incredible gaming experience if 4x history psuedosimulators are your bag. It’s a far more complete and satisfying Civ experience, in my opinion, than Brave New World, and has a professional-tier development team behind it. It addresses most of Civ V’s critical weaknesses — particularly in the AI department — and feels like a professional product, not a mod. I’ve played a LOT of Vox Populi, though, and am itching to find some extra spare change to pick up Civ VI. Alas, shelter and food come first.

We started a new D&D campaign, and I’m trying a different approach to DMing. I’m proud of the campaign packet I wrote, but I intended it to be published at the DM store, and even though I’m only about 1/4th of the way through it, I can already see that the 40+ pages I wrote are completely useless for quick reference. I’d been organizing events and locations together, and all of that write-up is absolutely unusable garbage. Eloquent garbage, though, if I do say so myself. I’ll be re-creating that document after we finish playing through the packet, but I’ve got a good idea of how to make it useful. It’s a mixture of a social campaign and a dungeon crawl, and I’m looking forward to sharing it with folk (and, you know, having a for-money product to sell in the DM Guild.)

In other news, I finished lettering Honeypot, and it’s going to print. I’ll update this with a link once I’ve got one. The Wonderfunders are an interesting group to work with, and this’ll be my first time lettering a real, honest-to-god comic book instead of online strips. It was a good experience. I want to do it again, soon, but I’m also in the camp of “my labor needs to turn into money so I can eat” and I don’t anticipate making a lot off of Honeypot. The sales are divided between the publisher, writer, pencil artist, ink artist, colorist, editor, and (sitting off the end) the letterer, and while I don’t regret the experience in the slightest, community comic creation is very clearly not a get-rich-quick scheme.

I noticed that despite an angry comment or two directed our way for having endorsed Clinton (here and on Facebook), our readership has actually gone up, and I do appreciate whichever of our gentle, honest, good and true readers are responsible for this. I’m absolutely not capable of remaining unpolitical. At the same time, I’ve got thick skin, so if anyone is down to rumble (in a civil fashion) in the comments section, bring it on. ^_^

All right. That’s it for the blog dump. See you guys in a few days!


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