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D&D 5E Mythological Figures: Leonidas

Today Mythological Figures tackles one of history’s best remembered and lauded military commanders, the famous general of the 300 in the Battle of Thermopylae and a true King of Sparta: Leonidas!

Leonidas DnD 5E BANNER.jpg


Leonidas was born in 540 BC and was the third son of King Anaxandridas II, the second born by his first wife. Twenty years later after his father’s death his eldest brother Cleomenes assumed the throne of Sparta. Leonidas’ second eldest brother Dorieus (from the same mother as Leonidas) was so dissatisfied with his country’s treatment of him that he left to try and start a colony in Africa which failed, then died in Sicily. The rule of Cleomenes continued for three decades until around 490 BC when he was jailed and imprisoned as insane, leaving Leonidas to become king by virtue of his skill and talents as a soldier as much as his lineage. Unfortunately his reign was only a decade for when the Persian invasion led by Xerxes loomed in 480 BC, he was chosen to command the Greek forces repelling the invaders in what would become one of the most famous military actions throughout history: the Battle of Thermopylae.

With a total of 7,000 soldiers (300 of which were Spartan hoplites) arrayed against 70,000 to 300,000 Persians, it seemed like the Greeks were doomed but they held fast, making their enemy engage in terrain where numbers could not force a quick defeat. Then on the seventh day Ephialtes betrayed the rest of the Greeks by leading the Persian general Hydarnes through the mountains to flank Leonidas’ soldiers. Following that day of battle most of the Greeks were sent away with only 300 Spartans, 900 helots, 400 Thebans and 700 Thespians remaining in the pass. Eventually the Persians finally claimed victory, but not without sacrificing a great deal and ultimately setting themselves up for defeat a year later. For his courageousness Leonidas became enshrined in Greece as the subject of worship by a hero cult that lasted until 192 AD.

Design Notes: Leonidas was sixty years old by the time of the Battle of Thermopylae so guess who’s getting a Constitution of 20. As a King of Sparta (the famously hardened and most militaristic of the Greek city-states) and tested soldier it makes good sense for him to use the battlemaster archetype, and the intercept fighting style and Shield Master feat cover his shield expertise. GMs that want to optimize this build can put him in half plate (+1 AC) and use a longsword instead of a shortsword—it won’t be enough to change his CR. Speaking of challenge ratings let’s do the numbers! The DMG landed at 12.8333, the Blog of Holding spot on at 14, and it averages out to a few shades above 13 which feels apropos for a masterful warrior like one would expect from Sparta.

Leonidas

Medium humanoid (human), lawful neutral fighter (battlemaster) 20
Armor Class 18 (breastplate, shield)
Hit Points 210 (20d10+100)
Speed 30 ft.
STR
DEX
CON
INT
WIS
CHA
18 (+4)​
14 (+2)​
20 (+5)​
11 (+0)​
12 (+1)​
10 (+0)​
Saving Throws Str +11, Con +11
Skills Athletics +11, History +7, Perception +7, Persuasion +6
Senses passive Perception 17
Languages Greek
Challenge 13 (10,000 XP)

Background: Noble. Due to his position as King of Sparta, Leonidas 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).

Action Surge (2/Short Rest). On his turn, Leonidas can take an additional action on top of his regular action and a possible bonus action.

Feat: Athletic. Leonidas can stand up from being prone with only 5 feet of his movement, climbing doesn’t cost him extra movement, and he only has to move 5 feet before making a running long jump or running high jump.

Feat: Master of the Shield. While he has his shield, Leonidas adds +2 to Dexterity saving throws against spells or other harmful effects that only target him and he can use a bonus action to use it to shove a creature within 5 feet when he takes the Attack action.
In addition, Leonidas can reflexively protect his body with his shield. When he is subjected to an effect that allows him to make a Dexterity saving throw to take only half damage, Leonidas can use his reaction to take no damage if he succeeds on the saving throw.

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

Indomitable (3/Long Rest). Leonidas can reroll a saving throw that he fails. If he does so, he must use the new roll.

Maneuver Master (6d12 Maneuver Dice/Short Rest). Leonidas can expend a maneuver dice to perform a single maneuver with an attack. When Leonidas rolls initiative and has no maneuver dice, he gains 1 maneuver die.
  • Command. Leonidas 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 1d12 additional weapon damage on a successful hit.
  • Disarm. A creature Leonidas has hit with an attack takes 1d12 additional damage and makes a DC 18 Strength saving throw or drops one held item of his choice.
  • Menace. On a successful hit with a melee weapon, Leonidas deals 1d12 additional damage and the target makes a DC 18 Wisdom saving throw or is frightened of him until the end of Leonidas’s next turn.
  • Parrying Twist. Leonidas uses his reaction when damaged with a melee weapon attack to reduce the damage by 1d12+2.
  • Sweep. Leonidas chooses a creature adjacent to his target and within his reach and on a hit, the adjacent creature takes 1d12 damage (of the same type as the weapon attack).
  • Trip. Leonidas deals 1d12 additional damage and if the target is a creature of Large size or smaller, it makes a DC 18 Strength saving throw or is knocked prone.

Second Wind (1/Short Rest). On his turn, Leonidas can use a bonus action to regain 1d10+20 hit points.

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


ACTIONS
Extra Attack. Leonidas attacks 4 times when he takes the Attack action.

Shortsword. Melee Weapon Attack: +10 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 7 (1d6+4) piercing damage.

Spear. Melee or Ranged Weapon Attack: +10 to hit, reach 5 ft. or range 20/60 ft., one target. Hit: 7 (1d6+4) piercing damage.


REACTIONS
Fighting Style: Intercept. When an attacking creature Leonidas can see hits a target other than him that is within 5 feet of him, if Leonidas is wielding a shield or martial weapon he can use his reaction to reduce the damage by 11 (1d10+6).
 

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Mike Myler

Mike Myler





Aaron L

Hero
20th level Battlemaster sounds exactly right for Leonidas to me. The only difference is that I would have actually made him Lawful Evil. The Spartans were pretty vile.

If you're OK with using Unearthed Arcana stuff I would give him the Spear Mastery Feat; it gives +1 to hit with the spear, gives it the damage profile of a longsword in the hands of the weilder, allows it to be used with Reach, and lets the user set for a charge, basically turning a spear into a proper Martial weapon in the hands of a trained user. And a Spartiate would definitely be the proper candidate for it.
 
Last edited:

Hatmatter

Laws of Mordenkainen, Elminster, & Fistandantilus
Today Mythological Figures tackles one of history’s best remembered and lauded military commanders, the famous general of the 300 in the Battle of Thermopylae and a true King of Sparta: Leonidas!

View attachment 137315

Leonidas was born in 540 BC and was the third son of King Anaxandridas II, the second born by his first wife. Twenty years later after his father’s death his eldest brother Cleomenes assumed the throne of Sparta. Leonidas’ second eldest brother Dorieus (from the same mother as Leonidas) was so dissatisfied with his country’s treatment of him that he left to try and start a colony in Africa which failed, then died in Sicily. The rule of Cleomenes continued for three decades until around 490 BC when he was jailed and imprisoned as insane, leaving Leonidas to become king by virtue of his skill and talents as a soldier as much as his lineage. Unfortunately his reign was only a decade for when the Persian invasion led by Xerxes loomed in 480 BC, he was chosen to command the Greek forces repelling the invaders in what would become one of the most famous military actions throughout history: the Battle of Thermopylae.

With a total of 7,000 soldiers (300 of which were Spartan hoplites) arrayed against 70,000 to 300,000 Persians, it seemed like the Greeks were doomed but they held fast, making their enemy engage in terrain where numbers could not force a quick defeat. Then on the seventh day Ephialtes betrayed the rest of the Greeks by leading the Persian general Hydarnes through the mountains to flank Leonidas’ soldiers. Following that day of battle most of the Greeks were sent away with only 300 Spartans, 900 helots, 400 Thebans and 700 Thespians remaining in the pass. Eventually the Persians finally claimed victory, but not without sacrificing a great deal and ultimately setting themselves up for defeat a year later. For his courageousness Leonidas became enshrined in Greece as the subject of worship by a hero cult that lasted until 192 AD.

Design Notes: Leonidas was sixty years old by the time of the Battle of Thermopylae so guess who’s getting a Constitution of 20. As a King of Sparta (the famously hardened and most militaristic of the Greek city-states) and tested soldier it makes good sense for him to use the battlemaster archetype, and the intercept fighting style and Shield Master feat cover his shield expertise. GMs that want to optimize this build can put him in half plate (+1 AC) and use a longsword instead of a shortsword—it won’t be enough to change his CR. Speaking of challenge ratings let’s do the numbers! The DMG landed at 12.8333, the Blog of Holding spot on at 14, and it averages out to a few shades above 13 which feels apropos for a masterful warrior like one would expect from Sparta.

Leonidas

Medium humanoid (human), lawful neutral fighter (battlemaster) 20
Armor Class 18 (breastplate, shield)
Hit Points 210 (20d10+100)
Speed 30 ft.
STR
DEX
CON
INT
WIS
CHA
18 (+4)​
14 (+2)​
20 (+5)​
11 (+0)​
12 (+1)​
10 (+0)​
Saving Throws Str +11, Con +11
Skills Athletics +11, History +7, Perception +7, Persuasion +6
Senses passive Perception 17
Languages Greek
Challenge 13 (10,000 XP)

Background: Noble. Due to his position as King of Sparta, Leonidas 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).

Action Surge (2/Short Rest). On his turn, Leonidas can take an additional action on top of his regular action and a possible bonus action.

Feat: Athletic. Leonidas can stand up from being prone with only 5 feet of his movement, climbing doesn’t cost him extra movement, and he only has to move 5 feet before making a running long jump or running high jump.

Feat: Master of the Shield. While he has his shield, Leonidas adds +2 to Dexterity saving throws against spells or other harmful effects that only target him and he can use a bonus action to use it to shove a creature within 5 feet when he takes the Attack action.
In addition, Leonidas can reflexively protect his body with his shield. When he is subjected to an effect that allows him to make a Dexterity saving throw to take only half damage, Leonidas can use his reaction to take no damage if he succeeds on the saving throw.

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

Indomitable (3/Long Rest). Leonidas can reroll a saving throw that he fails. If he does so, he must use the new roll.

Maneuver Master (6d12 Maneuver Dice/Short Rest). Leonidas can expend a maneuver dice to perform a single maneuver with an attack. When Leonidas rolls initiative and has no maneuver dice, he gains 1 maneuver die.
  • Command. Leonidas 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 1d12 additional weapon damage on a successful hit.
  • Disarm. A creature Leonidas has hit with an attack takes 1d12 additional damage and makes a DC 18 Strength saving throw or drops one held item of his choice.
  • Menace. On a successful hit with a melee weapon, Leonidas deals 1d12 additional damage and the target makes a DC 18 Wisdom saving throw or is frightened of him until the end of Leonidas’s next turn.
  • Parrying Twist. Leonidas uses his reaction when damaged with a melee weapon attack to reduce the damage by 1d12+2.
  • Sweep. Leonidas chooses a creature adjacent to his target and within his reach and on a hit, the adjacent creature takes 1d12 damage (of the same type as the weapon attack).
  • Trip. Leonidas deals 1d12 additional damage and if the target is a creature of Large size or smaller, it makes a DC 18 Strength saving throw or is knocked prone.

Second Wind (1/Short Rest). On his turn, Leonidas can use a bonus action to regain 1d10+20 hit points.

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


ACTIONS
Extra Attack. Leonidas attacks 4 times when he takes the Attack action.

Shortsword. Melee Weapon Attack: +10 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 7 (1d6+4) piercing damage.

Spear. Melee or Ranged Weapon Attack: +10 to hit, reach 5 ft. or range 20/60 ft., one target. Hit: 7 (1d6+4) piercing damage.


REACTIONS
Fighting Style: Intercept. When an attacking creature Leonidas can see hits a target other than him that is within 5 feet of him, if Leonidas is wielding a shield or martial weapon he can use his reaction to reduce the damage by 11 (1d10+6).
I love it, Mike!
 


Mike Myler

Level Up is LIVE on Kickstarter and FUNDED!
Aye my thinking was along the lines of Spartan ethics—the most likeable inspiring guy is not in the front, it's the dude everyone is afraid of or respects because he's such a badass.

Although the whole lineage/rulership thing with Leonidas is all kinds of messed up. That bit definitely does not say to me "I am charismatic and well-liked."
 

Stalker0

Legend
The rule of Cleomenes continued for three decades until around 490 BC when he was jailed and imprisoned as insane, leaving Leonidas to become king by virtue of his skill and talents as a soldier as much as his lineage.
While this fictional story was very interesting, having watched the 300 documentary I can with confidence say that Leonides became king after defeating a giant black wolf in the depth of the winter cold while wearing a white diaper. That's the real history:)

In seriousness this looks pretty solid. I think the menance and sweep manuevers do highlight him well here. With 4 attacks + more 4 more attacks from action surge + 6 uses of sweep, he could in theory with good rolls take out 14 guys in a single round. That's pretty baller.
 

Mike Myler

Level Up is LIVE on Kickstarter and FUNDED!
I still can't get over this dude being 60 and leading in the Battle of Thermopylae. It completely changes how I envisioned the battle.

Like, were there more sexagenarians running about with shields and spears against at least ten times as many enemies? How many were there?

Did they just round up all the retired Spartans and were like "we got one last fight for you?"

Was THAT part of the PLAN? Can you imagine how demoralizing it would be to roll up as the third wave and see that old ass dudes have killed hundreds of your allies and you are next?

🤯

with-a-little-help-help.gif
 

Sithlord

Adventurer
I still can't get over this dude being 60 and leading in the Battle of Thermopylae. It completely changes how I envisioned the battle.

Like, were there more sexagenarians running about with shields and spears against at least ten times as many enemies? How many were there?

Did they just round up all the retired Spartans and were like "we got one last fight for you?"

Was THAT part of the PLAN? Can you imagine how demoralizing it would be to roll up as the third wave and see that old ass dudes have killed hundreds of your allies and you are next?

🤯

with-a-little-help-help.gif
I doubt they were all in their 60s. But I think one of things was that they only sent their best and men who had already sired children so their lines would continue. They were sending very experienced soldiers that pretty much knew they were going to die. They were the special forces and rangers of their period. The best trained and most experienced.
 

Mike Myler

Level Up is LIVE on Kickstarter and FUNDED!
I doubt they were all in their 60s. But I think one of things was that they only sent their best and men who had already sired children so their lines would continue. They were sending very experienced soldiers that pretty much knew they were going to die. They were the special forces and rangers of their period. The best trained and most experienced.
Agreed obviously they weren't all in their 60s. But it certainly wasn't a bunch of 20-30 year olds and now I'm terribly curious about how many were in their 50s or otherwise past their prime.
 

Blue Orange

Adventurer
I'm not an expert on this but these guys got a lot more exercise than the vast majority of people would today, so you'd expect a slower physical decline.
 

Stalker0

Legend
I'm not an expert on this but these guys got a lot more exercise than the vast majority of people would today, so you'd expect a slower physical decline.
There's also been recent evidence that the "mediterrean diet" is really good for longevity and health, so you may have see longer lasting Greecian men compared to the norm back then. Of course that's with a grain of salt, as diet info seems to change every 5 years.
 

I'm not sure how the shortsword (the xiphos was roughly half a metre long) and the spear (the dory was between 2-3 metres in length) both have a reach of 5ft?
 

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