March 14, 2011 by Jeff
Via Twitter, Quinn Murphy gave me the inspiration for this RP Build article, a “magical graffiti artist”. So let’s boil this down. The idea is to create a character who creates images on a surface and brings it to life using magic.
I have a few interpretations of how this could go. I could go with a runepriest easily enough. It’s already built into the class that they use written words to draw power. So the graffiti could simply be the words and images that the character uses to create it’s magic. Downside, it’s not a very creative way to build the character (it’s basically the just a normal runepriest only it’s magical words stick around leaving a trail) and it lacks the “magical” feel I’d like (being divine).
Here’s the approach I think I’m going with, a slightly reskinned wizard who, with magical aid, brings the images in his mind to a surface (floor, wall, etc.) and then brings them to life as they spring off the surface and attack.
So I’m building a Wizard and have two directions I can go with it. Illusionist or summoner. The difference will be do I want the images leaping off the graffiti to be real or illusory. I’m inclined to lean towards summoning, although the Orb of Deception implement for the Illusionist would make a more believable can of spray paint, I guess I’ll deal with that later, because summoner it is (added benefit, it doesn’t involve leaving a trail of images behind every time you cast spell) and along with that the Tome of Binding.
For some reason when the inspiration is a magical graffiti artist there was only one race that occurred to me. The Shadar-Kai. Broody, pierced, tattooed, full of angst and rebellion. Seems a natural fit. Added to that that they get a bonus to Intelligence and it’s pretty much a done deal.
Githyanki make a better choice for statistical reasons (bonus to Con and Int), but they’re pirates, not anti-establishment rebels without a cause. It’s a fine line, I’m sure, but it’s a pretty clear one in my head. So Shadar-Kai it is.
As for language choice, it’s Draconic, of course. What other language would he be using to magically tag a dungeon.
Details, Statistics, and Skills
I’m naming this guy Gamefiend, after my buddy Quinn Murphy from the At-Will blog, who provided the inspiration. He’s unaligned (I would have gone with a previous editions Chaotic Good, but alas, that is not an option) and I’m not particularly concerned about gods or backgrounds at this point. That’s easy enough to fill for a specific campaign and doesn’t impact the build overly much in this case.
As for stats, well, he’s a wizard, so it’s all about Intelligence, that gets an 18. He needs a decent Constitution to play into his summoning, so a 14 goes there, the rest fills in simply enough.
As for skills, Arcana is a freebie, and that works out well for us. There’s no crafting or performance based skills in 4th edition to represent painting, but he must be painting about something, so he’s not clueless about History, let’s train him there. Beyond that, it’s pretty much in the air. Broody guy who hangs out under bridges doesn’t come off as super-likable, so that’s a no on Diplomacy. He might hang out in tunnels, so I’ll go Dungeoneering. Let’s round things out with Insight (he’s got a good BS-detector) and that’s done.
Time to look at the powers and it’s keen to keep in mind that Summoning powers are the first in line for consideration. Second, Illusion can still fit the theme well even though we didn’t go illusionist. From there we’ll be creative.
For At-Will powers there isn’t a lot of summoning options. Storm Pillar can work and is a conjuration, which is close to summoning. Magically creates an image of a pillar on the ground, and then…bam…it appears. Phantom Cage can work the same way. So can Phantasmal Assault, but I think I like the cage so there is it.
When it comes to Encounter powers, there’s really only one choice. It creates a creature that you can paint and have come to life and it’s the only one that does that on the list. So Astral Wasp it is.
Lastly, look at Daily powers. There are a handful of summoning powers here. Dretch, Dust Devil, or Fire Warrior. So which of these things is the sort that a graffiti artist is likely to paint? Fire Warrior would look cool, but a creature of fiendish evil is a good pick and the Dretch gives some cool Symbiosis powers. It also sets up a theme of what sort of creatures Gamefiend will summon in the future (the fiendish sort). Summon Fire Warrior will be a good second Daily if they need another option.
Gamefiend get’s Ritual Caster for free and keeping it works really well. Rituals can totally be him painting stuff all over the walls and floors. Alchemy just doesn’t do that.
As for our other feat, there aren’t a lot of summoning options in 4e D&D, so I’m thinking that I want to make sure that he’s as good at summoning as possible. There’s one good feat for that right now, that’s Careful Summoner, although the idea of increasing range is tempting, it doesn’t fit the theme as much.
Well, as I often like to do, there’s an easy way I could have done a simple interpretation of what is already there to make this theme work and there’s the harder, more creative way. Naturally I went harder and more creative. Obviously as more levels are added and more powers end up in the old spellbook the theme will pop more and more.
So, how did I do? Does Gamefiend capture the idea of a magical graffiti artist while still being playable, interesting, and fun? If you use any of these ideas or the character provided let me know how it goes.