D&D 5E Mythological Figures: Admiral Blas de Lezo y Olavarrieta

The Mythological Figures column gets a lot of interesting requests but this one will stick with you like a peg-leg caught in a hole on deck. The astute historians among you may get the clue but if that’s not you, read onward and check out Admiral Blas de Lezo y Olavarrieta!

blas de lezo BANNER 5E.jpg


This career sailor of more than four decades lived to the age of 52, but it wasn’t an easy life as among his nicknames are Captain Pegleg and Half-Man--because so much of his body had been ripped away by hot lead. His list of injuries include but are not limited to: left leg amputated below the knee, his left eye (he’s not just winking although it definitely looks like he’s just winking), the ability to use his right arm. That imagery of the one-eyed peg-legged pirate? That’s more Blas de Lezo than any of Blackbeard’s contemporaries. When he wasn’t being gradually maimed he was climbing the naval ranks in a host of battles, the most infamous of which is the Battle of Cartagena de Indias (aka Columbia). Thanks to his defense of Spanish forts in the area, King George II in Britain drops out of supporting a Pragmatic Sanction around Austria and Europe is drawn into the War of the Austrian Succession. About four months after the siege Blas de Leza dies of typhus (and his efforts are largely initially disregarded because he unnecessarily scuttled several ships for no apparent gain but lots of expense).

Design Notes: “A brute swashbuckler!? Mike’s gone mad!” I assure you I have always been mentally unstable but nay, this is not a display of one of those moments. This is (like Rasputin) another fellow who very clearly just refused to die easily, over and over and over again. The astute designers out there might realize he’s leaving one hand free (because it is useless to him) but even so he’s a tough son-of-a-gun, and because he seemed to have a lucky streak (definitely an odd one but all the same) he’s got Lucky to make the most out of those death saves. With that in mind--it’s time for the numbers. The DMG puts Blas de Lezo here at an 11 and the Blog of Holding’s Rubric a little higher at 11.8. It’s tempting to give him a little extra boost for his capacity (both historically and numerically) for surviving those mortal wounds, but by the time he’s down that low I’m not sure how long he can be expected to keep getting back up so I’ve refrained.

Admiral Blas de Lezo y Olavarrieta
Medium humanoid (human), neutral rogue (rakish) 5/fighter (brutal) 11
Armor Class 17 (breastplate, defense fighting style)
Hit Points 163 (11d10+5d8+80)
Speed 30 ft.
STR
DEX
CON
INT
WIS
CHA
14 (+2)​
14 (+2)​
20 (+5)​
14 (+2)​
10 (+0)​
14 (+2)​
Saving Throws Str +7, Con +10
Skills Athletics +7, History +12, Insight +5, Perception +5, Persuasion +12
Tools navigator’s tools +5, thieves’ tools +5, vehicles (water) +5
Senses passive Perception 15
Languages Spanish, Thieves’ Cant
Challenge 11 (7,200 XP)

Background: Nautical. Blas de Lezo is able to acquire passage on a sailing ship for him and his allies free of charge. He has no control over the ship’s route, departure, or return, and although no coin is required he and his companions do have to help crew the vessel.
Action Surge (1/Short Rest). Once on his turn, Blas de Lezo can take an additional action on top of his regular action and a possible bonus action.
Brutal Toughness. Blas de Lezo gains a +1d6 bonus to saving throws and death saves (treating final results of 20 or higher on a death saving throw as a natural 20).
Combat Footing. Whenever he makes a melee attack against a creature on his turn, Blas de Lezo doesn’t provoke opportunity attacks from that creature until the end of his turn.
Cunning Action (1/Turn). Blas de Lezo can take a bonus action to take the Dash, Disengage, or Hide action.
Indomitable (1/Long Rest). Blas de Lezo can reroll a saving throw that he fails but must use the new roll.
Feat: Fortune Points (3/Long Rest). Blas de Lezo 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.
Second Wind (1/Short Rest). On his turn, Blas de Lezo can use a bonus action to regain 1d10+11 hit points.
Sneak Attack (1/Turn). Blas de Lezo deals an extra 10 (3d6) damage when he hits a target with a weapon attack and has advantage on the attack roll, when the target is within 5 feet of an ally of Blas de Lezo that isn’t incapacitated and Blas de Lezo doesn’t have disadvantage on the attack roll, or when the only creature within 5 feet of Blas de Lezo is his target.
Swashbuckling. Blas de Lezo adds his Charisma modifier (+2) when rolling for initiative.


ACTIONS
Extra Attack. Blas de Lezo attacks three times when he takes the Attack action on his turn.
Saber. Melee Weapon Attack: +7 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 9 (2d6+2) slashing damage.
Pistol (6). Ranged Weapon Attack: +9 to hit, range 30/90 ft., one target. Hit: 11 (1d10+1d6+2) piercing damage.
Musket. Ranged Weapon Attack: +9 to hit, range 40/120 ft., one target. Hit: 12 (1d12+1d6+2) piercing damage.


REACTIONS
Uncanny Dodge. When an attacker Blas de Lezo can see hits him with an attack, he can use his reaction to halve the attack’s damage against him.
 
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Mike Myler

Mike Myler

Rafael Martin

Adventurer
I would like to recommend you do a write up of John Paul Jones (born John Paul; July 6, 1747 – July 18, 1792) who was the United States' first well-known naval commander in the American Revolutionary War. He made many friends and enemies—who accused him of piracy—among America's political elites, and his actions in British waters during the Revolution earned him an international reputation which persists to this day. As such, he is sometimes referred to as the "Father of the American Navy".
 

Derren

Hero
Like with previous figures one has to ask why the rogue levels? Nothing in his biography indicates a "rougish" behaviour, knowledge of anatomy or willigness to fight dirty.
 

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Supporter
I like it. The toughness is handled well and I like the balance of fighter and rogue you went with to flesh things out. One question, do you generally feel like his navigation, and perhaps vehicles (water), should be higher than +5, at least in comparison to the massive History mod at +12? Just curious.
 

Mike Myler

Have you been to LevelUp5E.com yet?
I would like to recommend you do a write up of John Paul Jones (born John Paul; July 6, 1747 – July 18, 1792) who was the United States' first well-known naval commander in the American Revolutionary War. He made many friends and enemies—who accused him of piracy—among America's political elites, and his actions in British waters during the Revolution earned him an international reputation which persists to this day. As such, he is sometimes referred to as the "Father of the American Navy".
Added to the list!

Like with previous figures one has to ask why the rogue levels? Nothing in his biography indicates a "rougish" behaviour, knowledge of anatomy or willigness to fight dirty.
Uncanny Dodge (the rogue feature) is a survivalist feature included with builds to keep them viable because unlike in medieval fantasy, not everyone is walking around in plate armor so mechanically they do not hold up with everything else they are capable of doing.
Moreover in this particular instance, the Swashbuckler archetype is definitely right up Olavarrieta's proverbial alley. :D

I like it. The toughness is handled well and I like the balance of fighter and rogue you went with to flesh things out. One question, do you generally feel like his navigation, and perhaps vehicles (water), should be higher than +5, at least in comparison to the massive History mod at +12? Just curious.
Ehhhhhh maybe? I expect a commander of his rank and caliber to have someone devoted to navigation. I also think that "tactics" falls under History, thus placing his Expertise on to that.
 

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Supporter
Ahh, yeah, 5E doesn't really have a 'tactics' skill. If your fix is to slot that under History then it makes perfect sense. On the flipside, it also means that expertise in history is also defacto expertise is tactics, which is cool but ... wierd? IDK, this is probably very much a YMMV nitpick, not an actual issue.
 

Mike Myler

Have you been to LevelUp5E.com yet?
Ahh, yeah, 5E doesn't really have a 'tactics' skill. If your fix is to slot that under History then it makes perfect sense. On the flipside, it also means that expertise in history is also defacto expertise is tactics, which is cool but ... wierd? IDK, this is probably very much a YMMV nitpick, not an actual issue.

Yeah. Most of tactics is a working knowledge of what has or hasn't worked before as opposed to what's logical (which isn't to say that the latter isn't valuable, but the former is how tactics have been taught for as long as I know about tactics being taught). Look at chess for example--you'll have the occasional savant who just gets it but the vast majority of players (even really good players) know all the gambits and maneuvers because they've been tried before and somebody wrote down how it went.
 

Derren

Hero
Uncanny Dodge (the rogue feature) is a survivalist feature included with builds to keep them viable because unlike in medieval fantasy, not everyone is walking around in plate armor so mechanically they do not hold up with everything else they are capable of doing.
Moreover in this particular instance, the Swashbuckler archetype is definitely right up Olavarrieta's proverbial alley. :D
Knowing the secret thief languages and how to open locks on the other hand don't fit at all.
And with all his injuries which he seemed to have sustained rather early in his career I doubt he was much of a swashbuckler or even a combatant at all.
I also agree with Fenris that he should have more skills in navigation and other naval skills. After all he climbed up the career ladder, starting from a young age as it was normal in those days and could only delegate tasks once he reached the rank of admiral.
 

Mike Myler

Have you been to LevelUp5E.com yet?
Knowing the secret thief languages and how to open locks on the other hand don't fit at all.
And with all his injuries which he seemed to have sustained rather early in his career I doubt he was much of a swashbuckler or even a combatant at all.
I also agree with Fenris that he should have more skills in navigation and other naval skills. After all he climbed up the career ladder, starting from a young age as it was normal in those days and could only delegate tasks once he reached the rank of admiral.
You are welcome to disagree with the builds or remove those levels for him and otherwise alter any Mythological Figures statblock to match what you need it for--indeed you should do exactly that!--but for Olavarrieta here specifically, understand he's going to take at least a 1 or 2 hit in Challenge Rating and subsequently become a paper tiger for play (which is to say he'll die very quickly unless you give his one good arm a shield, meaning he can't really attack, or place him in armor that's too heavy for him to wear effectively).
 

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Supporter
Yeah. Most of tactics is a working knowledge of what has or hasn't worked before as opposed to what's logical (which isn't to say that the latter isn't valuable, but the former is how tactics have been taught for as long as I know about tactics being taught). Look at chess for example--you'll have the occasional savant who just gets it but the vast majority of players (even really good players) know all the gambits and maneuvers because they've been tried before and somebody wrote down how it went.
Hmm, so this has moved past being a critique of the build above, but it's interesting, so I'm going to reply. In a vacuum I don't have an issue with how you explain how tactics falls under History. 5e doesn't have a tactics skill, and it needs to fall under something. That said, where I start to have issue is in the more practical application of this idea. More precisely that the 5e characters who most often actually have History are certainly not the characters one would first expect to actually understand practically applied battlefield tactics, and in many cases quite the opposite. It's more an artifact of 5e's sometimes odd skill system than anything else, but I was picturing the 'tactical mastermind' characters in my last couple of parties (by your measure anyway) and it made me giggle a little. You see what I mean though, right?
 

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