June 14, 2010 by thebasicsofthegame
“Help! Help!” the young woman cried aloud as she ran along the elevated walkway. The magical torches along the rails, provided her an all too clear view of the dastardly villains chasing her. There was no escape to either side for her. The towering heights of Sharn were not for the faint of heart. As she ran, she crashed head long into the slight and well dressed fellow who stepped from a shadow before her.
With a start, she tried to back away from this new figure thinking him another thief who had somehow gotten ahead of her. Despite her hesitance however, Oliver managed to push her behind him so he could face her pursuers. His plumed hat and cloak almost completely hid the lady.
“Who do you think you are?” The brute in the lead cried as he slowed to stand before the new intruder. Oliver’s blade was drawn and before the first man could stop him and he stabbed home. The flurry of short slashes and thrusts had a quite deadly effect.
“My name is Oliver. I will be the hero this evening. “
I have been advocate of getting a Dungeons and Dragons Insider subscription for some time. The truth is if you pay for it, you really don’t need to buy any of the books that come out beyond the base set. The stat blocks for every item, feat, power, or monster is available to you from every book WOTC publishes. There is another reason to get a subscription on top of that.
DDI releases a lot of material that never makes it into print. Their digital versions of Dungeon and Dragon magazines has lots of extra content. This is not just new items or adventures, but whole new character builds can be found there. The contributors will explore options that maybe don’t make it into the main book, but are still really interesting.
The duelist or swashbuckler style of character did not get a lot of love in the first set of books. The fighter and rogue classes flavor in both the main players handbook and the martial power book failed to deliver that style of character. I wanted to make a more D’artagnan style character for an Eberron campaign. I went on DDI and found just the thing. An article written by Mike Mearls introducing a duelist build for rogues in issue 381 of Dragon Magazine.
When I made Oliver I took a lot from that Dragon article. The first thing I took was the At-Will power, Duelist’s Flurry. This power allows you to do sneak attack damage if you do NOT have combat advantage. This actually sounds worse than it is. You don’t do weapon damage so you are just doing the Dex bonus and back stab damage. It also slides the target 1 square, and you shift 1 square. This adds some mobility and control aspects and fits flavor wise. The swordsman driving some one back on their heels makes a certain amount of sense.
My Daily power choice also came from this article. Duelist’s Prowess is a stance power. If you activate it, then each time an enemy hits or misses you, you can make an attack against it. Having an attack triggered every time someone attempts to hit you is very swashbuckler. The riposte is of course a classic fencing move. It also makes you very dangerous in close quarters.
As a feat, I took Versatile Duelist, which is also from the Dragon article. This was more about expanding my range of weapons. That feat allowed me to use a standard heavy blade like a longsword with those powers. A campaign where your going have lots swashbuckler action then the rapier is fine but if your going to be running around in dungeons or the like you might prefer a longsword.
This was obviously a rogue build. I could have done a swashbuckler in a few other ways. The Swordmage for instance would make an excellent mystical flavored musketeer type. The spray of magic in someways enhance the stylish refined swordsman image. Indeed after a couple of levels I had multiclassed into swordmage for Oliver. I could do this with a fighter build now though they still are not as well flavored for what I was shooting for. There are a lot of options.
The thing is, I started with a strong image of who I wanted the character to be and looked around for builds to match. There is a lot of material published at this point and quite a lot of fantasy tropes are covered by 4th edition now. If you start with a clear vision the power choices are out there for you. You want to play around with thieves guilds? There are options for that. Do you want to be the enduring gladiator? There is certainly build options there. Look at the the names of powers and the flavor text and you will find a number that fit the image you have in your head.