Mythological Figures: Cleopatra (5E)
  • Mythological Figures: Cleopatra (5E)


    In today’s Mythological Figures post we’re examining the quintessential Queen of the Nile and a woman not at all unfamiliar with intrigue: Cleopatra!



    Most of us know Cleopatra through the lens of “Egyptomania” solidified in pop culture since the Victorian Age but this woman’s history is far, far, far more involved than that. Her reign isn’t just one period of rule it’s several, sometimes as a joint-ruler with her siblings or by manipulating others from afar. Whether or not she was on the throne she was using her position to create other ties with figures of authority and note, siring children with both Julius Caesar and Marc Anthony before ultimately becoming the target of the Roman Republic’s final war. In short Cleopatra led kind of a crazy life.

    Design Notes: There are some real sly operators in the Mythological Figures lineup but after even a cursory scan of her life I think Cleopatra is quite possibly the most cunning of them all and her statblock is built to reflect that. Being the superior diplomat that she obviously was means investing heavily into mental ability scores and the skill feats for them essentially giving her Expertise in all of her skills plus some fun abilities for spice. Granted she probably deserves a higher score in Intelligence and Wisdom, but to make her feel unique (and get more utility out of her for GM use) I think she needs those feats. Unlike most of the builds I’m going to give her a little extra magical oomph because as a frequently-ruling queen it’s a fair assumption that she’d have the resources for some magical trinkets. All told she’s definitely table-friendly and will be appearing in some of my games soon (maybe with a different name, maybe not--I did just finally start a New Argonauts campaign...)



    Cleopatra
    Medium humanoid (human), neutral rogue (genius) 10

    Armor Class
    15 (bracers of defense, ring of protection)
    Hit Points 55 (10d8+10)
    Speed 30 ft.

    STR
    DEX
    CON
    INT
    WIS
    CHA
    9 (-1)
    14 (+2)
    12 (+1)
    14 (+2)
    14 (+2)
    18 (+4)

    Saving Throws Str +0, Dex +7, Con +2, Int +7, Wis +3, Cha +5
    Skills Deception +12, History +10, Insight +10, Investigation +10, Perception +10, Persuasion +12
    Tools gaming set +4, thieves’ tools +4
    Senses passive Perception 20
    Languages Coptic, Hittite, Latin
    Challenge 4 (1,100 XP)

    Background: Noble - Queen. Due to her position as a ruler, Cleopatra is treated with a measure of respect wherever she goes. She is treated as royalty (or as closely as possible) by most peasants and traders, and as an equal when meeting other authority figures (who make time in their schedule to see her if requested to do so).

    Cunning Action (1/Turn). Cleopatra can take a bonus action to take the Dash, Disengage, Help, or Hide action.

    Evasion. When Cleopatra is subjected to an effect that allows her to make a Dexterity saving throw to take only half damage, she instead takes no damage if she succeeds on the saving throw, and only half damage if she fails.

    Fast Learner. After Cleopatra has heard a creature speak for 1 minute or longer, she can mimic its manner of speaking as long as she knows the same language as the creature (allowing her to seem like she is local to a given region).

    Feat: Diplomatic. Cleopatra can make a Charisma (Persuasion) check contested by the Wisdom (Insight) check of a creature that can understand what she says during 1 minute of talking. On a success, as long as Cleopatra remains within 60 feet of it (and for 1 minute afterward) the target is charmed by her. Cleopatra automatically fails on the check if she or her companions are fighting the target.

    Feat: Master of Intrigue. Cleopatra can use an action to fool one humanoid she can see within 30 feet of her. The target must be able to hear her make a Charisma (Deception) check contested by its Wisdom (Insight) check. On a success, the target is fooled until the end of Cleopatra’s next turn or until she attempts to fool a different target. Cleopatra doesn’t provoke opportunity attacks from movement around a fooled target and she has advantage when attacking a fooled target. On a failure, Cleopatra can’t fool the target for 1 hour.

    Feat: Medical Learning. A creature that Cleopatra uses a healer’s kit to stabilize regains 1 hit point. In addition, she can use an action and a single use of a healer’s kit to mend a creature’s wounds. The creature regains 1d6 + 4 hit points, plus hit points equal to the creature’s total hit dice. A creature can only benefit from this feature once between short or long rests.

    Sneak Attack (1/Turn). Cleopatra deals an extra 17 (5d6) damage when she hits a target with a weapon attack and has advantage on the attack roll, or when the target is within 5 feet of an ally of Cleopatra that isn’t incapacitated and Cleopatra doesn’t have disadvantage on the attack roll.

    Tactician. Cleopatra is able to use the Help action to aid an ally attacking a creature as long as the target of the attack is able to see and hear Cleopatra and is within 30 feet of her.

    Tactician’s Insight. After Cleopatra has observed or interacted with a creature for 1 minute, she learns whether or not it has higher or lower Intelligence, Wisdom, or Charisma scores than her. In addition, she learns if the target has more or fewer class levels than her. Cleopatra also knows when she and the target have equal scores in one of these categories.

    ACTIONS

    Magic Dagger. Melee or Ranged Weapon Attack: +7 to hit, reach 5 ft. or thrown 20/60 ft., one target. Hit: 5 (1d4+3) piercing damage.

    REACTIONS

    Uncanny Dodge. When an attacker Cleopatra can see hits her with an attack, Cleopatra can use her reaction to halve the attack’s damage against her.
    Comments 34 Comments
    1. Quartz's Avatar
      Quartz -
      Since you're allowing magic, how about giving her Magic Initiate: Bard instead of Healer? She could have Friends, Vicious Mockery, and Charm.

      If you want to exclude magic, how about giving her a level of Monk to represent her self-discipline? It would also give her +2 AC and unarmed combat. A second level of Monk would give her some utility Ki powers - Patient Defence and Step of the Wind.
    1. Imaculata's Avatar
      Imaculata -
      Shouldn't she also have some skill in regards to the use of poisons?
    1. pauldanieljohnson's Avatar
      pauldanieljohnson -
      Quote Originally Posted by Imaculata View Post
      Shouldn't she also have some skill in regards to the use of poisons?
      That's a good thought. Maybe scratch the thieves' tools proficiency in exchange for poisoner's kit.
    1. Mike Myler's Avatar
      Mike Myler -
      Is there a way to get proficiency with a poisoner's kit other than the assassin archetype?

      Incidentally I don't think she needs that to be using poison and would even suggest that she didn't craft/brew her own poisons, she was rich (and influential and extremely persuasive) enough that she wouldn't be doing that herself.
    1. UnknownDyson's Avatar
      UnknownDyson -
      wow... she's whiter than snow in that picture.
    1. Mike Myler's Avatar
      Mike Myler -
      Quote Originally Posted by UnknownDyson View Post
      wow... she's whiter than snow in that picture.
      Aye that she is. Like most of history (including ancient Greece and Rome) the artists of the past whitewashed her. Hopefully someday we'll get a proper illustration of her but until then I've got the Public Domain to work with and that's about it.
    1. dave2008's Avatar
      dave2008 -
      Quote Originally Posted by UnknownDyson View Post
      wow... she's whiter than snow in that picture.
      There is much debate about what she looked like, but, for whatever it is worth, she was not Egyptian. She was also noted to be known more for her whit, charm, and intellect than her looks.
    1. Jay Verkuilen's Avatar
      Jay Verkuilen -
      Quote Originally Posted by UnknownDyson View Post
      wow... she's whiter than snow in that picture.
      Yeah, that picture makes her look rather Northern European or at least Italian. As was the case with a lot of pictures from the Renaissance and immediate period after, which took some pretty major liberties, sometimes showing historical figures like Alexander or Saint George in armor from the High Middle Ages.

      One more thing need to bear in mind is that women in antiquity are often referred to as "great beauties" by period authors who would not actually know what they looked like. The same applied to Hypatia of Alexandria four hundred years later, along with many other historical women. "Beauty" either could have a much broader meaning or there may be a general assumption "well she's important enough for me to write about so she must be a knockout, too...." Your guess is as good as anyone else's but I bet it's some from Column A and some from Column B.

      Unfortunately, like many historical figures Cleopatra often a canvas onto which later eras have projected their anxieties and aspirations. It's not entirely clear what she looked like but claims like "oh she was Nubian" or the like are just factually incorrect as far as we know. She was of Macedonian ancestry--- so think Balkans, although even that's tricky because that whole area has been pretty heavily mixed in the intervening two millennia. The Ptolemaic dynasty had worked pretty hard to keep to themselves genetically distinct (aka inbred) and had stayed pretty distinct from their Egyptian subjects culturally. As I recall, Cleopatra was the first to learn the language. In any event, high Charisma totally fits her. I could make a case for Cleopatra having a 20 given that not one but two men threw away empires for her! In 5E, Charisma isn't really the character's appearance anyway, but the force of their personality.

      The link has a picture which might be reasonably accurate, portraying her with fairly pale skin---not unusual given the propensity for the wealthy to avoid the sun---red hair, and a fairly prominent nose. This is the picture from Wikipedia (and hence public domain) that is believed to be contemporary of her:

      Name: Retrato_femenino_(26771127162).jpg ► Views: 461 ► Size: 248.7 KB
    1. Zarithar's Avatar
      Zarithar -
      How is Cleopatra a mythological figure though? That's kind of like saying Julius Caesar was a mythological figure. Granted, there are some myths and tall tales which have grown in the telling surrounding her over the centuries, but this is true of most larger than life historical figures, particularly those prior to the Renaissance.
    1. Zarithar's Avatar
      Zarithar -
      As for the whitewashing aspect, I agree that some of that is at play... but also remember that Cleopatra was a Ptolemaic Pharaoh, and therefore descended more from Alexander the Great's Hellenistic culture than from true Egyptian roots. Alexandria was very much a Greek/Hellenistic influenced city, though the old Egyptian pantheon and beliefs thrived along side the influx of Greek culture which had been deeply established by the time the Romans arrived on the scene.
    1. Jay Verkuilen's Avatar
      Jay Verkuilen -
      Quote Originally Posted by Zarithar View Post
      How is Cleopatra a mythological figure though? That's kind of like saying Julius Caesar was a mythological figure. Granted, there are some myths and tall tales which have grown in the telling surrounding her over the centuries, but this is true of most larger than life historical figures, particularly those prior to the Renaissance.
      IMO she's right on the edge of mythological. There have been some other figures in this series that are like that, such as Boudica, Rasputin, Jeanne d'Arc, and La Maupin.
    1. Mike Myler's Avatar
      Mike Myler -
      Rasputin
      Confucius
      Queen Boudica
      Hua Mulan
      Blackbeard
      Julie D'Aubigny aka La Maupin
      Joan of Arc
      Miyamoto Musashi

      Quote Originally Posted by Google Dictionary (bolding Mike's) View Post
      myth
      /miTH/Submit
      noun
      noun: myth; plural noun: myths
      1.
      a traditional story, especially one concerning the early history of a people or explaining some natural or social phenomenon, and typically involving supernatural beings or events.
      synonyms: folk tale, story, folk story, legend, tale, fable, saga, allegory, parable, tradition, lore, folklore; More
      traditional stories or legends collectively.
      "the heroes of Greek myth"
      2.
      a widely held but false belief or idea.
      "he wants to dispel the myth that sea kayaking is too risky or too strenuous"
      synonyms: misconception, fallacy, mistaken belief, false notion, misbelief, old wives' tale, fairy story, fairy tale, fiction, fantasy, delusion, figment of the imagination; More
      a misrepresentation of the truth.
      "attacking the party's irresponsible myths about privatization"
      synonyms: misconception, fallacy, mistaken belief, false notion, misbelief, old wives' tale, fairy story, fairy tale, fiction, fantasy, delusion, figment of the imagination; More
      a fictitious or imaginary person or thing.
      an exaggerated or idealized conception of a person or thing.
    1. pauldanieljohnson's Avatar
      pauldanieljohnson -
      I'd love to see one of these articles on Tarzan - or possibly John Carter of Mars.
    1. Zarithar's Avatar
      Zarithar -
      Cleopatra should also most definitely speak Greek as a descendant of Ptolemy (a Macedonian Greek). Also I was aware of all those other entries and had the same reaction... I just chose to post when it came to this one.

      So everyone's social media profile(s) are mythological now. Got you!
    1. TharZakon's Avatar
      TharZakon -
      Quote Originally Posted by UnknownDyson View Post
      wow... she's whiter than snow in that picture.
      She was from an Ancient Greek northern region, Macedon... Yeah she was white, Mediterranean, not anything else. She was not African as some mentally challenged people from USA may like to imagine.
    1. TharZakon's Avatar
      TharZakon -
      Quote Originally Posted by Mike Myler View Post
      Aye that she is. Like most of history (including ancient Greece and Rome) the artists of the past whitewashed her. Hopefully someday we'll get a proper illustration of her but until then I've got the Public Domain to work with and that's about it.
      What are you talking about? What is whitewashing about a person from history which we know so many things about.

      She was not African, Chinese, Eskimo, Korean, Japanese, Alien martian or a giant robot. She was an ancient Greek by origin and even Egyptians themselves were not black. You can't even read the most basics of history or exert the rudimentary capacity of common sense?
    1. Morrus's Avatar
      Morrus -
      Quote Originally Posted by TharZakon View Post
      You can't even read the most basics of history or exert the rudimentary capacity of common sense?
      Another person confusing EN World with the YouTube comments section. Don't post in this thread again, please. If you can't make a point without namecalling, don't post.
    1. dave2008's Avatar
      dave2008 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Zarithar View Post
      Cleopatra should also most definitely speak Greek as a descendant of Ptolemy (a Macedonian Greek). Also I was aware of all those other entries and had the same reaction... I just chose to post when it came to this one.

      So everyone's social media profile(s) are mythological now. Got you!
      Incase you missed Mike's response - these are also by request.
    1. dave2008's Avatar
      dave2008 -
      Quote Originally Posted by TharZakon View Post
      What are you talking about? What is whitewashing about a person from history which we know so many things about.

      She was not African, Chinese, Eskimo, Korean, Japanese, Alien martian or a giant robot. She was an ancient Greek by origin and even Egyptians themselves were not black. You can't even read the most basics of history or exert the rudimentary capacity of common sense?
      The image is "whitewashed" because it makes someone of southern European descent look like they are from Northern European descent. Not because Mike thinks she was African. Mike tends to research these quite a bit and I am sure he knows here origins.
    1. Jay Verkuilen's Avatar
      Jay Verkuilen -
      Quote Originally Posted by dave2008 View Post
      The image is "whitewashed" because it makes someone of southern European descent look like they are from Northern European descent. Not because Mike thinks she was African. Mike tends to research these quite a bit and I am sure he knows here origins.
      Indeed, although as the one contemporary portrait (maybe!) I could find shows, the one posted wasn't actually that bad, though it is clearly a product of Orientalism overall. Of course, we are talking about D&D!
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