Mythological Figures: Gilgamesh (5E)

As last week was a great example of a Mythological Figure from the perspective of transference of media between cultures (Aladdin’s unique place via the ancestral “game of telephone”), now we’re going way back to a figure even older than our first entry—GILGAMESH! As you can see from the artwork for today’s entry there’s really not a lot about him in popular culture until relatively recently, so the best depictions of this God-King are thousand and thousands of years old.


The first thing I did was run through some summaries of the Epic of Gilgamesh (it’s been over a decade since I read it) and it quickly became clear that I’m not going to get away with a paragraph. Some highlights: two-thirds god and one-third man, demanding and tyrannical ruler, so much so that his taking of the “lord’s right” (prima nocta) on brides on the night of their wedding led to pleas to the gods that resulted in the wild man Enkidu (who ultimately becomes his greatest friend and go-to sidekick). This guy goes around slaying other demigods, wrestling just about everything, cuts down forests, entreats nature (and numerous gods), tracks down immortals—the list goes on (even summarized I was at four pages). He is definitely an interesting figure and I encourage folks to familiarize yourselves with his story. It truly is epic! (Wiki, Sparknotes)

Design Notes: Ultimately the designers of days past probably had it right: “He is noted for going out and getting things done when others were unable.” They are also what ultimately helped me figure out what build he ought to have, which is to say a mix of ranger, monk, and cleric (I’d prefer bard because he does a lot of pleading, but for the sake of keeping him within the bounds of stats we’re reigning in some attributes and putting a focus onto Wisdom). The math puts his CR slightly lower but Gilgamesh here has a host of abilities (as a god-king ought to!) so I’ve bumped him up slightly.

As ever let us know who you'd like to see stats for! We are steadily making it through the list and your favorite may not yet be on there. ;)

Gilgamesh
Medium humanoid (demigod, human), neutral good ranger (hunter) 8/monk (open hand) 8/cleric (nature) 4

Armor Class
16 (Wisdom)
Hit Points 148 (8d10+12d8+40)
Speed 30 ft.

STRDEXCONINTWISCHA
20 (+5)16 (+3)14 (+2)9 (-1)16 (+3)11 (+0)

Saving Throws
Str +11, Dex +9
Skills Athletics +11, History +5, Nature +5, Perception +9, Persuasion +6, Survival +9
Senses passive Perception 19
Languages Amorite, Assyrian, Babylonian, Sumerian
Challenge 12 (8,400 XP)

Background: Noble - Lordship. Due to his position as a god-king, Gilgamesh is treated with a measure of respect wherever he goes. He 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 him if requested to do so).

Channel Divinity (1/short rest). Gilgamesh can channel his divine energy to fuel one of two magical effects.
Befriend Nature. As an action, Gilgamesh extends some of his natural divinity to befriend nature. Beasts and plants within 30 feet that are able to hear Gilgamesh make a DC 17 Wisdom saving throw or is charmed by him for 1 minute (or until it takes damage). Creatures charmed this way are friendly to Gilgamesh and his allies.

Turn Undead.
As an action, Gilgamesh presents his holy symbol and speaks a prayer censuring the undead. Each undead within 30 feet that can see or hear him must make a DC 17 Wisdom saving throw. If the creature fails its saving throw, it is turned for 1 minute or until it takes any damage. A turned creature must spend its turns trying to move as far away from Gilgamesh as it can, and it can’t willingly move to a space within 30 feet of him. It also can’t take reactions. For its action, it can use only the Dash action or try to escape from an effect that prevents it from moving. If there’s nowhere to move, the creature can use the Dodge action.​

Defensive Tactics: Multiattack Defense. When a creature hits Gilgamesh with an attack, he gains a +4 bonus to AC against all subsequent attacks made by that creature for the rest of the turn.

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

Favored Enemy. Gilgamesh has advantage on Wisdom (Survival) checks to track humans and monstrosities, as well as on Intelligence checks to recall information about them.

Feat: Grappler. Gilgamesh has advantage on attack rolls against a creature he is grappling and he can use an action to try to pin a creature he’s grappled. To do so, Gilgamesh makes another grapple check. If he succeeds, Gilgamesh and the creature are both restrained until the grapple ends.

Hunter’s Prey: Giant Killer. When a Large or larger creature within 5 feet of Gilgamesh hits or misses him with an attack, he can use his reaction to attack that creature immediately after its attack, provided that Gilgamesh can see the creature.

Ki (8 points/short rest). Gilgamesh can spend ki to fuel the following features:

  • Patient Defense. Gilgamesh can spend 1 ki to take the Dodge action as a bonus action on his turn.
  • Step of the Wind. Gilgamesh can spend 1 ki to take the Disengage or Dash action as a bonus action on his turn, and his jump distance is doubled for the turn.
  • Stunning Strike. Gilgamesh can spend 1 ki to attempt to stun a creature he hits with a melee weapon attack. The target must succeed on a DC 17 Constitution saving throw or be stunned until the end of his next turn.

Open Hand Technique.
Whenever Gilgamesh hits a creature with one of the attacks granted by a bonus action or expending ki, he can impose one of the following effects on that target:

  • It must succeed on a DC 17 Dexterity saving throw or is knocked prone.
  • It must make a DC 17 Strength saving throw. If it fails, Gilgamesh can push it up to 15 feet away.
  • It can’t take reactions until the end of Gilgamesh’s next turn.

Ranger Features.
Gilgamesh has the Land’s Stride, Natural Explorer (desert or grassland), and Primeval Awareness ranger class features.

Spellcasting. Gilgamesh is an 8th-level spellcaster that uses Wisdom as his spellcasting ability (spell save DC 17; +9 to hit with spell attacks). Gilgamesh knows the following spells from the ranger spell list and has the following cleric spells prepared:
  • Cantrips: guidance, light, produce flame, resistance, thaumaturgy
  • 1st-level (4 slots): cure wounds, jump, speak with animals; bane, command
  • 2nd-level (3 slots): pass without trace, spike growth; aid, enhance ability
  • 3rd-level (3 slots): beacon of hope, bestow curse
  • 4th-level (2 slots): divination

Stillness of Mind.
Gilgamesh can use his action to end one effect on himself that is causing him to be charmed or frightened.

Wholeness of Body (1/long rest). Gilgamesh can spend an action to regain 24 hit points.

ACTIONS

Multiattack. Gilgamesh attacks twice (if attacking with unarmed strikes he can spend his bonus action to attack a third time, or his bonus action and 1 ki to attack a third and fourth time).

Unarmed. Melee Weapon Attack: +11 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 8 (1d6+5) magical bludgeoning damage.

Godly Mace. Melee Weapon Attack: +13 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 12 (1d6+9) magical bludgeoning damage.

REACTIONS

Deflect Missile. Gilgamesh can spend his reaction to strike a missile when his is hit by a ranged weapon attack, reducing its damage by 16 (1d10+11). If he reduces the damage to 0, he can catch the missile if it is small enough for him to hold in one hand and he has at least one hand free. If Gilgamesh catches a missile in this way, he can spend 1 ki point to make a ranged attack with the weapon or piece of ammunition he just caught, as part of the same reaction (+9 to hit, range 20/60 ft., minimum 1d6+5 damage).

Slow Fall. Gilgamesh can use his reaction when he falls to reduce any falling damage he takes by 40.
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Mike Myler

Comments

I don't see how ranger spellcasting or monk ki much comes into - like Heracles & Beowulf, Gilgamesh sounds like an archetypal fighter. Of course, D&D won't let you do the simplest things - not lead people effectively (even as despot), nor go hunting with your wildman buddy, not fight effectively while unarmed - if you're /just/ a fighter, so that's always been a problem. Then, to do those things, you end up with spells and other supernatural abilities, often because they're the /only/ way of doing something. So you end up doing all this epic stuff with an odd collection of low-level magic (Ki, ranger spells, cleric spells). ::shrug::
 

Mike Myler

Adventurer
I don't see how ranger spellcasting or monk ki much comes into - like Heracles & Beowulf, Gilgamesh sounds like an archetypal fighter. Of course, D&D won't let you do the simplest things - not lead people effectively (even as despot), nor go hunting with your wildman buddy, not fight effectively while unarmed - if you're /just/ a fighter, so that's always been a problem. Then, to do those things, you end up with spells and other supernatural abilities, often because they're the /only/ way of doing something. So you end up doing all this epic stuff with an odd collection of low-level magic (Ki, ranger spells, cleric spells). ::shrug::
Aye like I said I was pretty torn about how to approach it so I fell back on the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons breakdown. All told I think it covers the gamut and this is the first partly-divine Mythological Figure so I'm not concerned so much with the smattering of abilities--dude's part god, right? That's part of the shtick?--and the only thing I'd probably ignore in practice is Turn Undead. At my table, everything else for Gilgamesh is getting reskinned as his primal divinity in action (divination, ie chatting it up with a proper god, is something he does frequently in the stories) or a reflection of the narrative ("nature seems to sense your attack on Gilgamesh and suddenly thorns extend from the treeline!").
 

MechaTarrasque

Adventurer
If Gil is a magic user, it would be more ritual, and not in combat (the closest things in 5e would be the totem barbarian or the discontinued monster hunter fighter) where he seems to be primarily a melee type. Of course, he has a bad temper too.....

Speaking of rituals, a lot of his fights have a ritual flavor to them, where melee is part of the ritual. Ritual cleansing is part of a lot of the old strongman heroes (I beat up the monster, which cleanses the land from whatever pollution [to use a modern word] is defiling the land {and creating/attracting the monster}), but it is closer to the surface in Gilgamesh's mythology than in most others. 5e (and D&D in general) doesn't really have a ritual grappler archetype. Someone was asking how to build a sumo in 5e, and I think that is related as well. I am not quite sure how to do it.
 

dwayne

Explorer
the animal friendship could have been a nonmagical thing just have it take a while and require a persuasion roll to do. Turn undead same thing a force of faith and willpower that takes true conviction and a skill roll, use charisma. The monk things could just be reskinned as tactics and manervers fo a fighter and no ki points but maneover points or something
 

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
Speaking of rituals, a lot of his fights have a ritual flavor to them, where melee is part of the ritual. Ritual cleansing is part of a lot of the old strongman heroes (I beat up the monster, which cleanses the land from whatever pollution [to use a modern word] is defiling the land {and creating/attracting the monster}), but it is closer to the surface in Gilgamesh's mythology than in most others. 5e (and D&D in general) doesn't really have a ritual grappler archetype. Someone was asking how to build a sumo in 5e, and I think that is related as well. I am not quite sure how to do it.
Like fighting the volcano....

In 4e there was Martial Practices which could be leveraged to allow one to wrestle death and similar ritual cleansing effects with a martial flavor.
 

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
I was curious about reflavoring a Druidzilla in 3.x to make Gilgamesh.

Your Bestial friend is just a Tarzan type... reflavor a Grizzly bear.
 

MechaTarrasque

Adventurer
Like fighting the volcano....

In 4e there was Martial Practices which could be leveraged to allow one to wrestle death and similar ritual cleansing effects with a martial flavor.
I don't remember that (the memory is the second thing to go, and I forgot the first), but it sounds exactly like what I was thinking of.
 

BookBarbarian

Expert Long Rester
I think the Unearthed Arcana Scout Fighter with Tavern Brawler would cover the wilderness aspects, unarmed prowess, and grappling better than a Ranger/Monk multiclass personally.

Which is of course just my 2 cents.

Nice work as always.
 

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
I don't remember that (the memory is the second thing to go, and I forgot the first), but it sounds exactly like what I was thinking of.
I am not surprised it was a severely under developed feature of the game presented only in Martial Power II,

I have since went to some effort on actually following through with it, as well as doing some noteworthy rebalancing (based on some DMG2 guidlines wrt the value of an HS)

http://www.enworld.org/forum/showthread.php?564966-List-of-Potential-New-Martial-Practices&prefixid=wotc
 
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Mistwell

Legend
There was a very early quarterly like magazine publication from a third party for RPGs (AD&D 1e in particular) which did an excellent article/adventure and I think write-up for Gilgamesh way back in the 80s. I am trying to recall what it's named. Anyone?

Edit: Here it is. Role Aids, Wizards issue, 1983.



It's 21 pages of the book, which is a fairly sizable chunk given how short many adventure modules were back in the day. There was a lengthy introduction to his myth, a write-up on Sumerian gods (6 of them), and an adventure for 4-6 characters level 8-10 called Gilgamesh and the Seven Jenni. It's a good adventure, with a Zigguart pyramid and a city under the sands, a dungeon, some good overland travel in differing terrain, dream battles, and an exciting conclusion.

Here is the Gilgamesh write-up:

 
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Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
A lot of the old... lets design a mythic or legendary character in D&D has fallen pretty flat. Either they make them reliant on a plethora of magic items or they twist raw awesome and make it into something requiring mumbling,hand waving and eye of newt and which has to be learned from a scroll or book or begged for daily.

This was pretty much one of the first super hero stories, he could literally run for days at a speed that adds up to peak human potential. (like driving at 25 miles per hour day and night without rest) .

I mentioned martial practices could be leveraged for other things associated with Gilgamesh. Long distance runner is one of he practices which while it didnt seem to be a big deal at first glance is right up his ally.
 
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This was pretty much one of the first super hero stories, he could literally run for days at a speed that adds up to peak human potential. (like driving at 25 miles per hour day and night without rest) .

I mentioned martial practices could be leveraged for other things associated with Gilgamesh. Long distance runner is one of he practices which while it didnt seem to be a big deal at first glance is right up his ally.
No Martial Practices in 5e. Though, of course, one could just give him a list of unique special abilities rather than a list of commonplace spells.
 

Pauln6

Explorer
There was a very early quarterly like magazine publication from a third party for RPGs (AD&D 1e in particular) which did an excellent article/adventure and I think write-up for Gilgamesh way back in the 80s. I am trying to recall what it's named. Anyone?

Edit: Here it is. Role Aids, Wizards issue, 1983.



It's 21 pages of the book, which is a fairly sizable chunk given how short many adventure modules were back in the day. There was a lengthy introduction to his myth, a write-up on Sumerian gods (6 of them), and an adventure for 4-6 characters level 8-10 called Gilgamesh and the Seven Jenni. It's a good adventure, with a Zigguart pyramid and a city under the sands, a dungeon, some good overland travel in differing terrain, dream battles, and an exciting conclusion.

Here is the Gilgamesh write-up:

Yes! That's the supplement I referred to in the Merlin thread.
 

Mistwell

Legend
Yes! That's the supplement I referred to in the Merlin thread.
Yes, it's a particularly good issue. I bought it for the write-up on Aahz and Skeeve back in 1983, but it includes: Gilgamesh, Circe, Merlin, Lynn Abbey (Morgan LeFay), Roger Zelazny (Shadowjack), Gordon R. Dickson (S Carolinus), Robert Lynn Asprin (Aahz and Skeeve ), an Marion Zimmer Bradley (Lythande).
 

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
No Martial Practices in 5e. Though, of course, one could just give him a list of unique special abilities rather than a list of commonplace spells.
One could probably do a translation if they had actually developed these I suppose a heroic exertion could cause hit point cost which is then immediately offset with a hit die expenditure, this would allow those with higher hit die more extensive use of these heroic activities.

It's a bit like enabling over exertion of some sort to go beyond what would be normal peak performance then in the process of doing it you are also calling on those reserves. Could probably put a skill check in there to get more out of the hit die.

This wouldnt cover/model everything but it could be a start.
 
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Quartz

Adventurer
I like the use of the Monk abilities but I wonder if Paladin might be a better fit for the rest? Use the spell slots for Divine (ahem) Smite. Give him Cha 16 instead of Dex 16 and let one of his Paladin abilities be to use his Cha bonus instead of Dex for AC because there's no high AC armour in that era.
 

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
If Gil is a magic user, it would be more ritual, and not in combat (the closest things in 5e would be the totem barbarian or the discontinued monster hunter fighter) where he seems to be primarily a melee type. Of course, he has a bad temper too.....

Speaking of rituals, a lot of his fights have a ritual flavor to them, where melee is part of the ritual. Ritual cleansing is part of a lot of the old strongman heroes (I beat up the monster, which cleanses the land from whatever pollution [to use a modern word] is defiling the land {and creating/attracting the monster}), but it is closer to the surface in Gilgamesh's mythology than in most others. 5e (and D&D in general) doesn't really have a ritual grappler archetype. Someone was asking how to build a sumo in 5e, and I think that is related as well. I am not quite sure how to do it.
We can definitely make one ;)

In 4e they have something called Martial Practices they are loosely like rituals that use skills including athletics AND now you just gave me some ideas for how to use Gilgamesh to make up some epic flavored ones. Challenging the elements might allow you to purify and improve harvests and broadly reduce bad weather and other things hmmm

Stoppering the Volcano makes the kingdoms effective land area and wealth increase. And may cause the lava beast to attack a neighboring country because you have intimidated it. (Marshal it alongside your forces in your next large scale battle)

Hmmm not sure if I can find satisfying in there.
 
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