Mythological Figures: Achilles (5E)

D&D is itself an extension of mythology and sometimes it’s a good move for the GM to bring a proper legend into their game. Whether to have an epic NPC make an impact on the plot, slack a few jaws in awe, or just as a lark, this Mythological Figures column is bringing you the greatest figures of mythology with statistics for Fifth Edition!


What better place to begin this series than the protagonist of the Illiad, slayer of Hector—that son of a nymph Achilles! Most people remember the legendary soldier from the Trojan War as an invincible warrior, made so by his mother Thetis dipping him into the River of Styx in his infancy. While this is definitely entertaining, it’s debatable if that’s the original story; some sources have his mother covering him with ambrosia then burning the mortal bits off, and in other parts of the epic poems he gets wounded elsewhere than his left heel. That’s the one players are most likely to expect though and we’ve got a feature to include to that effect.

Achilles
Medium humanoid (human), lawful neutral fighter (champion) 18

Armor Class
19 (breastplate, shield, fighting style)
Hit Points 135 (18d10+36)
Speed 40 ft.

STRDEXCONINTWIS CHA
16 (+3)14 (+2)14 (+2)12 (+1)15 (+2)13 (+1)

Saving Throws
Str +9, Con +8
Skills Athletics +9, Insight +8, Perception +8, Religion +7
Senses passive Perception 18
Languages Common
Challenge 12 (8,400 XP)

Bestowed Invulnerability. Achilles mother Thetis dipped him into the River Styx in his infancy, turning his skin nigh-invulnerable. He is immune to sneak attack damage, ignores extra damage from critical hits, and has resistance to bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing damage. A creature targeting Achilles' singular point of vulnerability (his left heel) has a -10 penalty on its attack roll, but on a hit the attack deals normal damage (ignoring the immunities and resistances of this feature).

Action Surge (2/short rest). Once on his turn, Achilles can take an additional action on top of his regular action and a possible bonus action.

Feat: Fortune Points (3/long rest). Achilles can spend one fortune point to reroll an attack roll, ability check, or saving throw, or to force an attacker to reroll an attack made against him.

Feat: Leader's Words. Achilles can inspire up to six creatures friendly to him (or up to five creatures and himself) that are within 30 feet of him and can see him, or hear him and understand him. Any that listen to Achilles' inspiring speech for 10 minutes gain 19 hit points. Temporary hit points can only be gained from this feature once per short rest.

Feat: Mobile. Achilles can Dash through difficult terrain without requiring additional movement. Whenever he makes an attack against a creature, he doesn’t provoke opportunity attacks from that creature until the end of his turn.

Feat: Soldier Tactics. A creature hit by Achilles’ opportunity attack reduces its speed to 0 until the beginning of the next round and disengaging from Achilles still provokes opportunity attacks. In addition, Achilles can use his reaction to make a melee weapon attack against a creature within 5 feet when it makes an attack against a target other than Achilles.

Indomitable (3/long rest). Achilles can reroll a saving throw that he fails but must use the new roll.

Remarkable Athlete. Achilles adds +3 to any Strength, Dexterity, or Constitution check he makes that doesn’t already use his proficiency bonus. In addition, when he makes a running long jump, the distance he can cover increases by 4 feet.

Second Wind (1/short rest). On his turn, Achilles can use a bonus action to regain 1d10+18 hit points.

Superior Critical. Achilles’ weapon attacks score a critical hit on a roll of 18–20.

Survivor. At the start of each of his turns, Achilles regains 7 hit points if he has no more than half of his hit points left. He doesn’t gain this benefit if he has 0 hit points.

ACTIONS

Multiattack. Achilles attacks three times.

Shortsword.
Melee Weapon Attack: +9 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 8 (1d6+5) piercing damage.

Spear.
Melee or Ranged Weapon Attack: +9 to hit, reach 5 ft. or range 20/60 ft., one target. Hit: 8 (1d6+5) piercing damage, or 7 (1d8+3) piercing damage when thrown.

Longbow.
Ranged Weapon Attack:
+8 to hit, range 150/600 ft., one target. Hit: 6 (1d8+2) piercing damage.

Lancelot, Robin Hood, Daedalus, and Sun Wukong are on the docket but post below with who you want to see next!
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Mike Myler

Comments

MonsterEnvy

Adventurer
I feel like what would work best for Achillies is that he can't take any damage. Unless it's a disadvantaged crit. Which kills him on the spot hitting his heel.
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
I feel like what would work best for Achillies is that he can't take any damage. Unless it's a disadvantaged crit. Which kills him on the spot hitting his heel.
I guess it depends how you want to interpret the legend. IIRC doesnt hesuffer minor injuries in the Iliad, so he’s not actually completely invulnerable? But that would be a totally valid version. Would increase the CR a bit.

And in that version, it’s not that his heel is super sensitive or anything. I’m trying to remember, but he doesn’t just drop dead when Paris shoots him, does he? It’s just that his heel isn’t invulnerable. It’s the same as the whole of everybody else.
 

Mike Myler

Explorer
Surely we can #DoBetterThanDrow! Also Drizzt isn't a mythological figure I don't think, he's a literary figure (which is to say he's a creation still owned by an entity). If the character isn't in the public domain, chances are good they are not mythological. Beowulf and Grendel? Different story. :)

I feel like what would work best for Achillies is that he can't take any damage. Unless it's a disadvantaged crit. Which kills him on the spot hitting his heel.
I guess it depends how you want to interpret the legend. IIRC doesnt hesuffer minor injuries in the Iliad, so he’s not actually completely invulnerable? But that would be a totally valid version. Would increase the CR a bit.

And in that version, it’s not that his heel is super sensitive or anything. I’m trying to remember, but he doesn’t just drop dead when Paris shoots him, does he? It’s just that his heel isn’t invulnerable. It’s the same as the whole of everybody else.
So basically what happens if you say "double crit on disadvantage" (which was the initial plan btw) is that somebody negates the disadvantage with true strike or something, which makes it a 1/20 chance (rather than 1/400) chance. As its written above (-10), that still leaves room for Achilles to be fun to use/fight (because disadvantage/advantage will still have weight) while discouraging the use of the power feats (Great Weapon Master for example).

I did make one small cut that you'd enjoy I reckon:
For near-complete invincibility, increase Achilles’ challenge rating by +1, give him immunity to bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing damage, and change the penalty to attack his left heel to -5.
If you really want to go Unus the Untouchable with Achilles, leave it at -10 (and only increase CR by +2 if the party has no primary spellcasters.)
 
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Eltab

Visitor
Ulysses / Odysseus
Sir Percival (or some other "mere mortal" member of the Round Table)
Merlin
King Richard the Lion-Hearted - and of course Saladin
Jason (and the Argonauts?)
Somebody from 1001 Arabian Nights, if there are any recurring characters
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
Lancelot. Merlin. Odysseus. Rasputin. Conan. Blackbeard. Miyamoto Musashi. Hercules. Thor. Loki. Dracula. Frankenstein’s Monster. Santa. Robin Hood. Sheriff of Nottingham. Puck. Spring-heeled Jack. The Black Knight. The Green Knight. Julius Caesar. The Fisher King. Gawain.
 
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Eltab

Visitor
Confucius (as a benevolent power behind the throne)
Baba Yaga
Imhotep (I think: Ancient Egypt, said to have invented bureaucracy and built the first pyramid)

I don't know enough American Indian - or Subcontinent India - mythology, but there has to be somebody with a neat story to tell, from both places.
 

Benji

Visitor
Firstly, love this idea.

My picks are Aladdin, Sage Dunban, Morgan Lafey, Fionn MacCumhail, Hipployta, Talos, Saint George, Jesus (if we can get away with it), Horus, Leonidas, Gilgamesh, Perun, Coyote, Pan, and maybe some shakespeare characters like Puck, Caliban, Prospero and the Scottish guy.

Jason (and the Argonauts?)
...That's a lot of people. They were basically the Greek Avengers. People like Herakles, Belleraphon and Chiron were members of the group sort of before or after they did other stuff. Mind you given how many I just put up, maybe I shouldn't complain.
 

Kobold Stew

Adventurer
It is always problematic when trying to adapt literary characters to the game, and with a mythological figure, it's especially so, since there is no single source to which one can appeal.

Let's lay out some basics, though:
The Greco-Roman sources for Achilles that survive include Homer (c. 700 BCE, reflecting an earlier oral tradition that preserves details from the Bronze Age) to tragedy (he's a character in Euripides' Iphigenia in Aulis, produced in 405 BCE) to Hellenistic works (including Apollonius' Argonautica, where he appears as a baby) to Roman works in Greek (Apollodorus' Library) and Latin (Ovid, Hyginus) that extend into the second century CE. That's 900+ years of history, plus ancient commentators on the lot, and not including lost works throughout that period but which are indirectly attested, that we refer to when we're talking about "the myth" or "the legend". Throughout that time, there is no obligation on any of these creators to adhere to what has gone before, and each will use the character in their own way for their own literary purposes. "The Myth" simply doesn't exist; there is only an ongoing accretion of detail some of which will agree with what's gone before, and some of which won't.

We can't know "the original story" (it predates literacy) and so if we want to speak at all meaningfully about this, we need to pick an author we like.

The OP mentions Homer and the Iliad, but if you're going with that, you find yourself quickly stuck.

What better place to begin this series than the protagonist of the Illiad, slayer of Hector—that son of a nymph Achilles!
Homer doesn't know about the invulnerability. In fact, that detail isn't attested until after the death of Alexander the Great, four centuries later. Some scholars guess it's an earlier tale, but "the legend" and "the myth" simply doesn't support it.

Though not invulnerable, he is able to fight a river and then kill Hector (Iliad 20-22). For Homer, he demonstrates speed ("swift-footed Achilles"), high constitution and strength (he is the single best hand-to-hand fighter at Troy, on either side; so 20 Strength and Constitution?).

In the Odyssey, he is the wisest person Odysseus encounters in the underworld, so we should give him at least a posthumous 18 wisdom.

Vase-painting (and lost tragedies about Palamedes) have him regularly playing tactical board games, which suggests Intelligence. Euripides in the fifth century plays up his Charisma. Etc.

In Homer, he uniquely uses his father's spear (which for some reason only he an use/lift). He doesn't use a bow or a sword (though there is a really good sword scene at the start of the movie Troy). [EDIT: He has a sword, which he almost uses against Agamemnon, in book 1.]

I understand the desire to stat up mythic figures, but (not to be too much of a pessimist) it's a mug's game, and you can justify almost any decision because the sources simply do not agree with one another.

The same will be true of other figures who are less well attested (Daedalus) or who developed over several hundred years (Lancelot, Robin Hood).

There is not, and cannot be, a right answer.
 
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Cúchulainn from the Celtic.

Or ones I like to use are the famous tournament knights such as William Marshall, John Hawkwood a mercenary leader or Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar also named as El Cid.
 

Jay Verkuilen

Dogsbody Waghalter
I'd give him some levels in Barbarian for Rage. The first word of the Iliad is...Rage.
100% agree.

RAGE!

He should be a barbarian. It also does a pretty good job of simulating his invulnerability to make him a Bear Totem. I don't quite know the right adaptations for it to make things fit Greek myth as bears don't really fit super well, but Achilles as a high level barbarian in a world where most people are much lower level would do the job quite nicely.
 

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