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Mythological Figures: Odysseus/Ulysses (5E)

In Mythological Figures today we’re headed after a person that is more popular in terms of ancient Western mythologies than probably anyone else: Odysseus/Ulysses!



Odysseus is known for two principal things: his role in the Trojan War (recounted in The Illiad) and his long, perilous journey back home collectively known as The Odyssey. If you find yourself saying, “that word looks familiar…” that’s what I’m talking about with Odysseus’ lasting popularity--the whole reason we have a word for “a long series of wanderings or adventures, especially when filled with notable experiences, hardships, etc.” is this guy right here. I’ve no intention to repeat the entirety of that trip here and instead refer folks to better resources for that (Wikipedia, Video SparkNotes, full text at The Internet Classics Archive). Suffice to say that of the many greek heroes, Odysseus is Captain Greece.

Design Notes: Odysseus needs to be a few things--he’s got to be clever and wise, have some agility, he’s not weak, and he’s good with a bow. With that in mind we’ve got our first ranged battlemaster build with a healthy dose of mastermind rogue to reflect his legendary cunning. The archery fighting style and a smattering of feats fill out the rest of his iconic profile, with Expertise ramping up the essential skills for his many successes to whopping +15s. For the CR equation this time around the DMG said 10.6, the Blog of Holding rubric claimed 11, and I’m inclined to agree with the latter--Odysseus here is definitely a considerably dangerous foe and as long as he’s not wasted in a suicidal charge will be an NPC that adventurers will quickly decide to focus their ire upon.


Odysseus
Medium humanoid (human), rogue (genius) 9/fighter (master of battle) 11


Armor Class
17 (breastplate or 19 with shield)
Hit Points 101 (9d8+11d10)
Speed 30 ft.

[TABLE="class: grid, width: 475"]
[TR]
[TD]
STR
[/TD]
[TD]
DEX
[/TD]
[TD]
CON
[/TD]
[TD]
INT
[/TD]
[TD]
WIS
[/TD]
[TD]
CHA
[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD]
12 (+1)​
[/TD]
[TD]
16 (+3)​
[/TD]
[TD]
10 (+0)​
[/TD]
[TD]
16 (+3)​
[/TD]
[TD]
16 (+3)​
[/TD]
[TD]
14 (+2)​
[/TD]
[/TR]
[/TABLE]

Saving Throws Dex +9, Int +9
Skills Deception +14, History +9, Insight +15, Investigation +15, Perception +9, Persuasion +14
Tools gaming set +6, thieves’ tools +6
Senses passive Perception 19
Languages Common, two other languages
Challenge 11 (7,200 XP)

Background: Noble - Prince. Due to his position as a noble, Odysseus 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 (at least until it is clear he is quite mad), 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 (1/Short Rest). Once on his turn, Odysseus can take an additional action on top of his regular action and a possible bonus action.

Cunning Action (1/Turn). Odysseus can take a bonus action to take the Dash, Disengage, Help, or Hide action.

Evasion. When Odysseus 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.

Fast Learner. After Odysseus has heard a creature speak for 1 minute or longer, he can mimic its manner of speaking as long as he knows the same language as the creature (allowing him to seem like he is local to a given region).

Feat: Brilliant. Odysseus always knows how long it will be before the next sunset or sunrise, the northerly direction, and can perfectly remember anything he’s experienced within the last 31 days.

Feat: Diplomatic. Odysseus can make a Charisma (Persuasion) check contested by the Wisdom (Insight) check of a creature that can understand what he says during 1 minute of talking. On a success, as long as Odysseus remains within 60 feet of it (and for 1 minute afterward) the target is charmed by him. Odysseus automatically fails on the check if he or his companions are fighting the target.

Feat: Moderate Protection Master. Odysseus adds +3 from Dexterity instead of +2 when he is wearing medium armor.

Feat: Superb Aim. Odysseus ignores half cover and three-quarters cover when making a ranged weapon attack, and he doesn’t have disadvantage when attacking at long range. When Odysseus makes his first ranged weapon attack in a turn, he can choose to take a -5 penalty to his ranged weapon attack rolls in exchange for a +10 bonus to ranged weapon damage.

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

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

  • Command. Odysseus 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 extra weapon damage on a successful hit.
  • Disarm. A creature Odysseus has hit with an attack takes 1d10 additional damage and makes a DC 17 Strength saving throw or drops one held item of his choice.
  • Inspire. Odysseus uses a bonus action and chooses an ally able to see and hear him. That ally gains 1d10+2 temporary hit points.
  • Maneuver. On a successful hit with a weapon attack, Odysseus deals 1d10 extra damage and chooses a friendly creature that can see and hear him. That creature can move half its speed by using its reaction. This movement does not provoke opportunity attacks from the target of Odysseus’ attack.
  • Trip. Odysseus deals 1d10 additional damage and if the target is a creature of Large size or smaller, it makes a DC 17 Strength saving throw or is knocked prone.

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

Sneak Attack (1/Turn). Odysseus deals an extra 17 (5d6) damage when he hits a target with a weapon attack and has advantage on the attack roll, or when the target is within 5 feet of an ally of Odysseus that isn’t incapacitated and Odysseus doesn’t have disadvantage on the attack roll.

Tactician. Odysseus is able to use the Help action to aid an ally attacking a creature as long as the target of the attack is able to see and hear Odysseus and is within 30 feet of him.

Tactician’s Insight. After Odysseus 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. Odysseus also knows when he and the target have equal scores in one of these categories.

ACTIONS

Extra Attack. Odysseus attacks three times.
Shortsword. Melee Weapon Attack: +9 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 6 (1d6+3) piercing damage.
Longbow. Ranged Weapon Attack: +11 to hit, range 600 ft., one target. Hit: 5 (1d8+3) piercing damage.
 
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Mike Myler

Comments

Beowulf

Villager
Remember also that the contest is Penelope's idea.
Sort of. Athena made her think of it.

Anyway, I'm going to bow out. I think it's a really interesting topic/idea, but it seems like too many people are trying to instruct others, rather than just have a good discussion. It's just not that important.
 

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
Od 13.297-8, Athena says to him "You are among mortals the best in council/advice and speech/stories.

It's not just wisdom in battle.
"speech and stories" is still charisma again no? Yes his public speaking rocked and cleverness might still cover what they mean by council ... he definitely pulled some serious derps wrt what I would call wisdom and notably behavior that featured lack of discipline.

here is a professor who taught greek mythology pointing out how Athena's Wisdom is different than you might expect.
https://www.quora.com/What-are-some-examples-of-Athena-displaying-her-own-wisdom-in-Greek-myths

Specifically this In reference to Athena's mother who was Wisdom "Metis" ---- > This story tells us something important about the Greek idea of wisdom: "metis" is subtle, clever, tricksterish. <---

And to me that is Charisma's cleverness not wisdoms due diligence and persistent measured discipline

It was also something I recollected from some elaborate discussion in high school how the words were not being used the way we expected.

Od 5 staying afloat for days (cf. Beowulf, actually)
Od 9 holding his body under a ram
I might target those to be CON or endurance and like. In 4e we might just go with Fortitude and let Strength have it though.

Odysseus' "strength" is shown (as far as I remember):

Il. 23 speed and wrestling
Od 8 throwing a discus further than anyone else
Stringing the bow, as others have mentioned, works at the speed of plot -- it is a strength challenge for the suitors and Telemachus (who alone is able to do it); for him it is instant.
Nods yeh if nothing else I am certain it is highlighted sufficiently and unambiguously
 
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Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
The greeks were ones to value broad versatility and that is something in common with the early Celts too D&Ds specialization focus is too modern and fights against designing some ancient heros.
 

Beowulf

Villager
That is only helpful if he knows the arc of the flight of arrow. This of course varies by how much force is applied to arrow. So he would have to know the parabolic arc of the axe handles and then be able to draw the bow the correct amount to match that arc with his arrow. A very impressive feat. It seems just as likely that the where nearly straight and close enough that the flight of the arrow was nearly straight which only requires him to provide as much force as possible.
Exactly. That's why he's a LEGENDARY HERO.

Edit: alternately, maybe he has 5 levels of Wizard and he cast Levitate on the arrow...
 
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Kobold Stew

Adventurer
"speech and stories" is still charisma again no? Yes his public speaking rocked and cleverness might still cover what they mean by council ... he definitely pulled some serious derps wrt what I would call wisdom and notably behavior that featured lack of discipline. Which is why I think maybe Athena's ideas of wisdom may not be exactly the D&D wisdom stat.
True -- charisma is solid (see also him taking over from Agamemnon for a minute in Iliad 2; admittedly in Iliad 9 when speaking to Achiles, he is little more than a mouthpiece, and it is Ajax that rolls well, as it were.

In the Odyssey, we see him learning wisdom, I would say. By his own account, he has learned nothing as he leaves Troy (Od 9 -- the first thing he does is lay siege to another town; and he foolishly reveals his name to Polyphemus), but by the time he's with the Phaeacians 9 years later, he as matured and (I'd say) is wise. The transition comes in the Underworld, when (ironically) it is Achilles who provides hi with a true understanding of the human condition, which he then adopts (Od. 11). The comment from Athena in Od 13 reflects both Wisdom (boule -- council) and charisma (muthoi -- stories/speech).

That said, all the stories of him at Troy from the Odyssey reflect his compassion, insight, and understanding (e.g. Menelaus' story of his Insight roll vs. Helen's deception in Od. 4).
 

Sadras

Explorer
The story always made perfect sense, in any edition of D&D that included Strength bows. Odysseus had Strength 18/00, and a bow built to support that. Only one in 21600 individuals could possibly match him.
Just keep in mind that Ithaca is a small island (population probably under 4,000). Even with visitors, lesser lords and what not, it would seem highly unlikely to swell over 5,000 souls, half of which would be women. Remove the women, children and elderly that 5,000 figure would be drastically reduced.
I'm suggesting his strength need not be at maximum (20 or 18/00). If one sets it at maximum then one might risk running into comparative issues with regards to STR for other heroes and heroines, mythological or otherwise.

His ability to draw that bowstring was a result of a combination of STR and technique/skill.
 
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Saelorn

Explorer
I'm suggesting his strength need not be at maximum (20 or 18/00). If one sets it at maximum then one might risk running into comparative issues with regards to STR for other heroes and heroines, mythological or otherwise.
Either way, there's some sort of Strength requirement. I would suggest that it's not a simple 18, because otherwise 5 in 1000 would be able to succeed.

I also have no problem with 18/50 being the typical Strength for most heroes everywhere. When you're talking about mythology or superheroes, peak-human is run-of-the-mill, and actual Strong heroes usually have divine Strength that would push them far above that.
 

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