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Mythological Figures: Drona (5E)

Mythological Figures: Droṇa (5E)

In Mythological Figures today we’re going after Droṇa, guru of princes and wielder of the world’s first, greatest weapon!





This one is a bit of a doozy so strap in.


Droṇa’s name means “vessel made of leaf” because that’s what he was born from! An overexcited sage named Bharadwaja saw a beautiful apsara (female spirit of the clouds and waters) in the Ganga River, catching his expulsion in a leaf that Droṇacharya sprang out of. Droṇa grew up poor but trained in the military arts, showing a talent for weaponry and growing close to a local prince named Drupada. He gets more involved with nobility by marrying Kripi, another person borne outside of a human’s body and the sister of a royal teacher in a nearby territory. The two had a son (Ashwatthama) for whom he did penance in order to make valiant. When Droṇa hears that Parashurama (the sixth avatar of Vishnu) is giving his possessions away to brahmanas (priests, teachers, and others charged with maintaining religious traditions) but unfortunately only weapons were left—Droṇa accepts them along with the knowledge of their use, gaining the title of ācārya.

Prince Drupada becomes a king and wishing for his son to know a better life, Droṇa tries to make good on a childhood promise. His former friend claims that because they now have different statuses in life that the pledge is void, only agreeing to provide Droṇa some wealth if he asks as a brahmin (the singular of brahmanas) instead—which he refuses to do, walking away in silence and vowing revenge. Droṇa starts his own school to continue Parashurama’s legacy, taking his family across northern India until crossing paths with Kuru princes in Hastinapur, lads that he helps out by solving some problems. They in turn go to Bhisma (their patriarch) who recognizes Droṇa, asking him to become their guru. Before long they’re joined by other royal progeny.

A favorite pupil emerges—Arjuna—and impresses Droṇa, taught the mantras needed to invoke the Brahmāstra with the promise it would not be used against ordinary warriors. Arjuna sort of becomes a second son to Droṇa, promised that one day he’d become the world’s finest archer. On the other end is Ekalavya, a prince of the Nishadha that Droṇa refused to teach archery (because the boy’s father was a general in the army of another empire in expansion). Despite that Ekalavya trains hard and claims he was taught by Droṇa, a lie that comes to light when (using his excellent marksmanship) he shoots a dog’s mouth shut using arrows. When Droṇa finds out he demands the thumb on Ekalavya’s right hand.

When Droṇa’s done training all of the Kuru princes he tells them to round up King Drupada but they all fail until Arjuna takes up the task—and once captured, Droṇa takes half of the kingdom to make them equals. Obviously upset with the arrangement, Drupada performs a ritual of sacrifice to bear special offspring: Dhṛṣṭādyumna (a son that will one day slay Droṇa) and Draupadī (a daughter that will marry Arjuna along with four other Pandavas ultimately leading to the Kurukshetra War that saw the Kuru fall).

Notably, Droṇa holds Asi: the sword of Lord Brahma, a primordial weapon forged by the gods to destroy evil, and the personification and primary energy behind all weapons ever created. Just having it means certain victory. That doesn’t help him in the end however and on the 15th day of battle in the Kurukshetra War—after pretty much everyone mentioned above has been murdered or thought to be dead—Droṇa loses the will to fight upon hearing that his son died so he lays down on the battlefield and one of the Pandava princes decapitates him.

Design Notes: The footwork on this one was fairly considerable but in learning about Droṇa and getting his synopsis together I figured out what bases needed to get covered—some badassery on his own account plus a solid talent for affecting it in others. Since we're talking about a real badass warrior here it seemed like the best bard option was the college of the sword, and between Bardic Inspiration and the Commander's Strike maneuver he's in a good position to do that. Wielding Asi (a +3 defender longsword) he should make an excellent NPC to include as a BBEG's lieutenant. For calculating CR I figured on his sword adding to AC instead of attack each round, and I averaged out the DMG's suggestion (8.4) with the Blog of Holding's rubric (9.6) to land on 9.



Droṇa
Medium humanoid (human), lawful neutral bard (blade) 5/fighter (master of battle) 11

Armor Class
15 (studded leather, defensive fighting style)
Hit Points 115 (5d8+11d10+32)
Speed 30 ft.

STR
DEX
CON
INT
WIS
CHA
16 (+3)​
14 (+2)​
14 (+2)​
12 (+1)​
12 (+1)​
16 (+3)​

Saving Throws Dex +7, Cha +8
Skills Athletics +13, History +6, Insight +11, Perception +6, Religion +6
Tools artisan’s tools (2) +5, instrument +5
Senses passive Perception 16
Languages Sanskrit, Tamil
Challenge 9 (5,000 XP)

Background: Advisor - Guru. Droṇa is frequently made to take on apprentices, training them in the military arts. His subordinates obey his commands and believe what he tells them (within reason).

Action Surge (1/Short Rest). Once on his turn, Achilles can take an additional action on top of his regular action and a possible bonus action.

Bardic Inspiration 1d8 (3/Short Rest). As a bonus action on his turn, Droṇa can choose one other creature within 60 feet who can hear him. That creature gains one Bardic Inspiration die, a d8. Once within the next 10 minutes, the creature can roll the die and add the number rolled to one ability check, attack roll, or saving throw it makes. The creature can wait until after it rolls the d20 before deciding to use the Bardic Inspiration die, but must decide before the GM says whether the roll succeeds or fails.

Feat: Mobile. Droṇa 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 Droṇa’s opportunity attack reduces its speed to 0 until the beginning of the next round and disengaging from Droṇa still provokes opportunity attacks. In addition, Droṇa 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 Droṇa.

Flourishing Blade (1/Turn). Droṇa’s speed increases by 10 feet on any turn that he takes the Attack action. When he hits a creature with a weapon attack, he can choose one of the following.

  • Defend. Droṇa spends a Bardic Inspiration die, dealing 1d8 extra damage. Until the start of his next turn, Droṇa‘s AC increases by the same amount as the extra damage.
  • Maneuver. Droṇa spends a Bardic Inspiration die to deal 1d8 extra damage. The target is also pushed a number of feet away equal to 5 + the extra damage, at which point Droṇa can use his reaction to move up to 40 feet to a space within 5 feet of the target that is not occupied.
  • Slash. Droṇa spends a Bardic Inspiration die to deal 1d8 extra damage and he deals the same amount of extra damage to another creature within 5 feet of him.

Indomitable (1/Long Rest).
Droṇa can reroll a saving throw that he fails but must use the new roll.

Jack of All Trades. Droṇa adds +2 to any ability check he makes that doesn’t already include his proficiency bonus.

Maneuver Master (5d10/Short Rest). Droṇa can expend a maneuver dice to perform a single maneuver with an attack.

  • Command. Droṇa uses his bonus action to forgo one of his attacks and direct a friendly creature who can see or hear him. The creature uses its reaction and makes a weapon attack, dealing 1d10 additional weapon damage on a successful hit.
  • Disarm. A creature Droṇa has hit with an attack takes 1d10 additional damage and makes a DC 16 Strength saving throw or drops one held item of his choice.
  • Feint. Droṇa can use his bonus action to feint against one creature within 5 feet. He has advantage on his next attack roll against that creature as long as it before the end of his turn. On a hit he deals 1d10 additional damage.
  • Sweep. Droṇa chooses a creature adjacent to him target and within his reach and on a hit, the adjacent creature takes 1d10 damage (of the same type as the weapon attack).
  • Trip. Droṇa deals 1d10 additional damage and if the target is a creature of Large size or smaller, it makes a DC 16 Strength saving throw or is knocked prone.

Second Wind (1/Short Rest).
On his turn, Droṇa can use a bonus action to regain 1d10+11 hit points.

Song of Rest. After a short rest, Droṇa or any friendly creatures who can hear his performance regain hit points by spending one or more Hit Dice, each of those creatures regains an extra 1d6 hit points.

Spellcasting. Droṇa is a 5th-level spellcaster that uses Charisma as his spellcasting ability for spells (spell save DC 16; +8 to hit with spell attacks). He has the following spells prepared from the bard’s spell list and can use a bladed weapon as his spellcasting focus:
Cantrips: message, true strike, vicious mockery
1st-level (4 slots): bane, healing word, longstrider, thunderwave
2nd-level (3 slots): enhance ability, zone of truth
3rd-level (2 slots): bestow curse, fear



ACTIONS

Extra Attack (2).
Droṇa attacks three times.

Asi (Defender Longsword). Melee Weapon Attack: +11 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 12 (1d8+8) magical slashing damage or 11 (1d10+6) magical slashing damage if wielded in two hands. The first time Droṇa attacks with the sword on each of his turns, he can transfer some or all of the sword’s bonus to his Armor Class, instead of using the bonus on any attacks that turn. The adjusted bonuses remain in effect until the start of Droṇa’s next turn, although he must hold the sword to gain a bonus to AC from it.

Longsword. Melee Weapon Attack: +8 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 9 (1d8+5) slashing damage or 8 (1d10+3) slashing damage if wielded in two hands.

Longbow. Ranged Weapon Attack: +7 to hit, range 150/600 ft., one target. Hit: 6 (1d8+2) piercing damage.
 
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Mike Myler

Mike Myler

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