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Mythological Figures: Queen Boudica (5E)

We’re back in Britain for this week’s Mythological Figure although this time we’re going way, way back to just a few decades after Year 0 with Lady Boudica!




As a product of the American education system I had no idea who Queen Boudica was and wow was I missing out! When her husband (King Pasutagus) passed away he left the kingdom to both the Roman emperor and his daughters but the lands of the Iceni were annexed by the empire anyway. Roundabouts 60 AD Queen Boudica convinced neighboring peoples to revolt and was chosen as the leader of the rebels, kicking off the campaign by releasing a rabbit, praying to Andraste (a British goddess of victory), and interpreting the direction it ran away. Here’s a quote of hers that sums up how badass she was:

"It is not as a woman descended from noble ancestry, but as one of the people that I am avenging lost freedom, my scourged body, the outraged chastity of my daughters...This is a woman's resolve; as for men, they may live and be slaves."

In short order her army destroyed three Roman settlements, killing between 70,000-80,000 people and taking no prisoners. Governor Gaius Suetonius Paulinus lets one of these cities be taken in order to work a larger stratagem that ultimately allows his 10,000-man army to beat her much larger force (upwards of 50,000 rebels with some estimates above 200,000). Superior tactics and discipline, better equipment, and the conditions of the battlefield (negating the revolt’s superior numbers) lead to a Roman victory. Queen Boudica poisons herself (or is poisoned, or her health quickly wanes; depends on source), ending the rebellion.

Queen Boudica is definitely a real historical figure and her mythology is perhaps more stilted towards archeological evidence than anything else—what happened seems fairly agreed upon but precise numbers on the size of her forces are wanting. That said she was definitely awesome and as the years go by has accrued proper myth, surely with more to come long after we’re gone: “There is a belief that she was buried between platforms 9 and 10 in King's Cross station in London, England. There is no evidence for this and it is probably a post-World War II invention.”

Design Notes: I bopped around various different builds for Boudica—did she merit a few levels of war cleric, or a tactical fighter archetype for maneuvers or moving about allies?—before finally landing on valorous bard/scout. She's solid in the wilderness, knows how to hold her own, and able to enable others but with a general focus on all of those things rather than a concentrated talent for just one of them. It’s worth pointing out that while obviously as a queen she ought to have the Noble background, since that was stripped away from her by the Romans (and she needed proficiency with land vehicles) folk hero fit like a glove.


Queen Boudica
Medium humanoid (human), neutral good bard 5 (battle)/fighter (skirmisher) 6

Armor Class
16 (studded leather, defensive fighting style)
Hit Points 66 (5d8+6d10+11)
Speed 30 ft.

STR
DEX
CON
INT
WIS
CHA
14 (+2)​
16 (+3)​
12 (+1)​
11 (+0)​
12 (+1)​
16 (+3)​

Saving Throws Dex +7, Cha +7
Skills Animal Handling +5, Athletics +6, Medicine +5, Nature +4, Perception +5, Persuasion +11, Stealth +7, Survival +5
Tools artisan’s tools +4, vehicles (land) +8 (usually a chariot), three instruments
Senses passive Perception 15
Languages English, Gaelic, Latin, Welsh
Challenge 6 (2,300 XP)

Background: Yeowoman. Boudica is always able to rely on the hospitality of commoners to help her hide or rest provided she poses no danger in doing so, going so far as to shield her from being discovered (though not at the cost of their lives).

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

Bardic Inspiration 1d8 (3/Short Rest). As a bonus action on her turn, Boudica can choose one other creature within 60 feet who can hear her. 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. In addition, they can add it to a weapon damage roll, or when they are hit by an attack they can use their reaction to add it to their AC (possibly causing an attack to miss). 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.

Combat Excellence (4d8/Short Rest). Boudica can expend an excellence dice to perform one of the following:

  • Boudica rolls the excellence die and adds half the result to an ability check that uses Athletics, Nature, Perception, Stealth, or Survival.
  • Boudica adds the excellence die to a weapon attack roll.
  • While wearing light or medium armor, Boudica uses her reaction to add the excellence die to her AC, either avoiding the attack or taking half damage from an attack that is still successful.

Feat: Inspiring. Boudica can inspire up to six creatures friendly to her (or up to five creatures and herself) that are within 30 feet of her and can see her, or hear her and understand her. Any that listen to Boudica speak inspirationally for 10 minutes gain 14 temporary hit points. Temporary hit points can only be gained from this feature once per short rest.

Feat: Master of the Spear. Boudica can increase her reach with a spear by 5 feet until the end of her turn by using a bonus action. In addition, she can prepare her spear to resist a charge by using a bonus action. Boudica chooses a creature within 20 feet that she can see and if on her next turn it moves within her reach, she can use her reaction to make a melee attack against it using her spear. On a hit she deals an extra damage die. A creature that used Disengage does not provoke an attack from Boudica.

Jack of All Trades. Boudica adds +2 to any ability check she makes that doesn’t already include her proficiency bonus.

Natural Explorer: Forest. When Boudica makes an Intelligence or Wisdom check related to the forest, her proficiency bonus (+4) is doubled if she is using a skill that she’s proficient in. While traveling for an hour or more in your favored terrain, Boudica gains the following benefits:

  • Difficult terrain doesn’t slow her group’s travel.
  • Boudica’s group can’t become lost except by magical means.
  • Even when she is engaged in another activity while traveling (such as foraging, navigating, or tracking), Boudica remains alert to danger.
  • If Boudica is traveling alone, she can move stealthily at a normal pace.
  • When she forages, Boudica finds twice as much food as she normally would.
  • While tracking other creatures, Boudica also learns their exact number, their sizes, and how long ago they passed through the area.

Second Wind (1/Short Rest).
On her turn, Boudica can use a bonus action to regain 1d10+6 hit points.

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

Spellcasting. Boudica is a 5th-level spellcaster that uses Charisma as her spellcasting ability for spells (spell save DC 15; +7 to hit with spell attacks). She has the following spells prepared from the bard’s spell list:
Cantrips: dancing lights, mending, message
1st-level (4 slots): bane, charm person, cure wounds, longstrider
2nd-level (3 slots): enhance ability, suggestion
3rd-level (2 slots): clairvoyance, fear


ACTIONS
Extra Attack. Boudica attacks twice.

Spear. Melee or Ranged Weapon Attack: +7 to hit, reach 5 ft. or range 20/60 ft., one target. Hit: 6 (1d8+2) piercing damage or 7 (1d10+2) piercing damage if wielded in two hands.

Longbow. Ranged Weapon Attack: +6 to hit, range 150/600 ft., one target. Hit: 7 (1d8+3) piercing damage.
 
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Mike Myler

Mike Myler


Winterthorn

Monster Manager
I think awarding her an alignment of neutral good is a problem: slaughtering 70-80 thousand roman civilians and taking no prisoners is too harsh behaviour to qualify for that alignment - specifically, I do not think a leader who supports or tolerates that level of destruction can be considered "good" even if one is fighting for freedom. As far as LG, NG, and CG mean to me, the Good part requires taking prisoners and otherwise demonstrating a capacity for compassion even towards one's enemies once they are defeated. The good cannot commit wholesale slaughter and stay good IMHO.

Considering the circumstances and consequences of her leadership, I would say she was just Neutral at best.

Aside from my nitpick, good article :)
 
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Derren

Hero
What exactly does it take to be named a Mythological Figure anyway?
Boudica didn't really do anything of note except slaughtering civilians in undefended cities and then failing miserably when meeting a real army. Does this really warrant making her lvl 11? It doesn't even sound like she participated in battles.
 
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Zarithar

Adventurer
What exactly does it take to be named a Mythological Figure anyway?
Boudica didn't really do anything great except slaughtering civilians in undefended cities and then failing miserably when meeting a real army.

Additionally, she was not "mythological", although I'm sure some elements of her reign have been exaggerated since then. There are plenty of female mythological/legendary figures that could have been chosen instead.

All that aside, Boudica's rebellion is a fascinating chapter in the Roman conquest of Britannia and she is certainly a compelling historical figure. Finally... I guess I lucked out. I first learned of Boudica's existence in a high school world history class. The teacher spent a lot of time on the Romans.
 

Mike Myler

Advanced Fifth Edition: https://www.levelup5e.com/
The Roman general bad the upper ground.
I read as much in a few spots but it wasn't unanimous--that sounds reasonable though I wonder if it was more advantageous terrain than that.


I think awarding her an alignment of neutral good is a problem: slaughtering 70-80 thousand roman civilians and taking no prisoners is too harsh behaviour to qualify for that alignment - specifically, I do not think a leader who supports or tolerates that level of destruction can be considered "good" even if one is fighting for freedom. As far as LG, NG, and CG mean to me, the Good part requires taking prisoners and otherwise demonstrating a capacity for compassion even towards one's enemies once they are defeated. The good cannot commit wholesale slaughter and stay good IMHO.

Considering the circumstances and consequences of her leadership, I would say she was just Neutral at best.

Aside from my nitpick, good article :)

We're on a British website here and it seems the Queen's subjects are fond of her so while I'm not saying you're incorrect, I'll just point out that to some folks she'd definitely be seen as a good character. Plenty of reason to think otherwise and I imagine if we asked a contemporary roman, they'd say she was evil for sure. ;)

Glad you dug it!


What exactly does it take to be named a Mythological Figure anyway?
Boudica didn't really do anything of note except slaughtering civilians in undefended cities and then failing miserably when meeting a real army. Does this really warrant making her lvl 11? It doesn't even sound like she participated in battles.

People have to request it. In Boudica's case I got word from on high that she was on the interesting list and there were about a half dozen different forum members that asked to see her to boot.
It's awful hard to say how involved in the fighting she was (two thousand years ago) but since she's frequently depicted on a chariot with a spear, I got the impression she was at the very least there. There are definitely reasons for her to be lower level (maybe 6th or 7th?) but the last point of these builds is for them to be useful to GMs--the design sweet spot is for characters between 5th and 12th level, and as an NPC she's got more utility at CR 6. Plus she's a general and just a toooouch higher CR than the most experienced of the standard core combat NPCs one might expect to be among her soldiers (Gladiator at CR 5).


Additionally, she was not "mythological", although I'm sure some elements of her reign have been exaggerated since then. There are plenty of female mythological/legendary figures that could have been chosen instead.

All that aside, Boudica's rebellion is a fascinating chapter in the Roman conquest of Britannia and she is certainly a compelling historical figure. Finally... I guess I lucked out. I first learned of Boudica's existence in a high school world history class. The teacher spent a lot of time on the Romans.

Like Mulan or Circe or La Maupin or Joan of Arc maybe? :) I'm working my way down a list that's finally been whittled to only a single two-column page.
 


Lylandra

Adventurer
And why exactly does the general have to be stronger than the soldiers?

Because she's a D&D character and having he boss be the biggest badass is one of the more common tropes?

(Seriously, look at the Faerunian leadership... so many high level kings and queens)

Also, considering the fact that she's Iceni and therefore celtic I have no doubt that she participated in the battle, though not necessarily on the front lines.

The whole point of her rebellion was that the Romans would not accept her daughter's claims (in addition to abusing her whole family), therefore ignoring her people's traditions whily trying to impose their roman customs.
 

Von Ether

Adventurer
And why exactly does the general have to be stronger than the soldiers?

I remember the scandal when WotC created Eberron rulers who weren't kings of combat (see what I did there.) The main complaint was "but what if my players what to just kill the royals?"

It's a long standing tradition to D&D leaders of all types bigger bad asses because GMs are afraid that players can decide that a coup is as easy as just walking in and doing full murderhobo on a regent and take his stuff (kingdom.) This was long before video games, btw.

So if it rolls that way for a king, how goes it for a general who may very well be the "end boss" of a fight?
 

Derren

Hero
I remember the scandal when WotC created Eberron rulers who weren't kings of combat (see what I did there.) The main complaint was "but what if my players what to just kill the royals?"

It's a long standing tradition to D&D leaders of all types bigger bad asses because GMs are afraid that players can decide that a coup is as easy as just walking in and doing full murderhobo on a regent and take his stuff (kingdom.) This was long before video games, btw.

So if it rolls that way for a king, how goes it for a general who may very well be the "end boss" of a fight?

Yet why should you adhere to D&D murderhobo prevention when statting mythological (more or less) figures?
 

Von Ether

Adventurer
Yet why should you adhere to D&D murderhobo prevention when statting mythological (more or less) figures?

Because some GMs are still worried that players will want kill them for XP. I'm not defending the practice, just letting you know where it comes from. Every gaming table is different.

At my table, there are plenty of rules and mythological figures who suck at combat. My current group is very cool so I don't need other consequences to keep them in line, nevermind the old, "every inn keeper is a retired high-level adventurer who takes no gruff from murderhobos."
 

Mike Myler

Advanced Fifth Edition: https://www.levelup5e.com/
Yet why should you adhere to D&D murderhobo prevention when statting mythological (more or less) figures?

Are you positing that she's less accessible to a wider range of GMs because she's CR 6/11th level? I'm pretty certain her maximum utility as a collection of mechanics is within the design sweet spot. As is she'd still take a whooping from Mulan/Joan of Arc/La Maupin so it feels like the scaling within Mythological Figures​ doesn't lose consistency either.
 

Schmoe

Adventurer
What exactly does it take to be named a Mythological Figure anyway?
Boudica didn't really do anything of note except slaughtering civilians in undefended cities and then failing miserably when meeting a real army. Does this really warrant making her lvl 11? It doesn't even sound like she participated in battles.

That seems a little harsh. She inspired more than 200,000 to rebel against an unfair landgrab by the Romans and wreak vengeance for their occupation. Your average commoner wouldn't be able to do that. Now, whether she was an able combatant might be up for debate, but there's no question that she was an inspirational historical figure whose legend has lasted through the ages.
 

Mike Myler

Advanced Fifth Edition: https://www.levelup5e.com/
On the phone app picking the "Thanks" button comes up as a "Laugh" post reaction on a PC browser. So to anyone who's like "what a sod" my apologies, I'm meaning to thank you, honest. B-)
 


Xethreau

Josh Gentry - Author, Minister in Training
In terms of liberation theology and decolonizing theology, she would in fact be Lawful Good!
 

lewpuls

Adventurer
The trouble with choosing ancient historical figures is that what you make up likely will have little or nothing to do with history. Boudicca wasn't a fighter, she was a symbol of her people's disgust with the Romans. How much she was the political leader isn't known, as we know next to nothing about the whole affair, aside from what Tacitus says. (E.g. Cassius Dio wrote about a century after the rebellion.)

Not as bad as the "historical" industry surrounding "King Arthur", who likely never existed.

So make up whatever you like. Some so-called "historians" do the same.
 

Quartz

Adventurer
I'm having a hard time seeing how those stats reflect the real Boudicca. I'm thinking more along the lines of a high level CHA- rogue with expertise in Oratory, Persuasion. Maybe a few levels of Paladin (Crown) too.

But you know what? That's irrelevant. This Boudicca would be an interesting NPC for the players to encounter and that trumps everything.
 

Mike Myler

Advanced Fifth Edition: https://www.levelup5e.com/
The trouble with choosing ancient historical figures is that what you make up likely will have little or nothing to do with history. Boudicca wasn't a fighter, she was a symbol of her people's disgust with the Romans. How much she was the political leader isn't known, as we know next to nothing about the whole affair, aside from what Tacitus says. (E.g. Cassius Dio wrote about a century after the rebellion.)

Not as bad as the "historical" industry surrounding "King Arthur", who likely never existed.

So make up whatever you like. Some so-called "historians" do the same.

King Arthur and Merlin. ;)
 

Mike Myler

Advanced Fifth Edition: https://www.levelup5e.com/
I'm having a hard time seeing how those stats reflect the real Boudicca. I'm thinking more along the lines of a high level CHA- rogue with expertise in Oratory, Persuasion. Maybe a few levels of Paladin (Crown) too.

But you know what? That's irrelevant. This Boudicca would be an interesting NPC for the players to encounter and that trumps everything.

I dunno if it trumps *everything* but it's important. There are plenty of canned NPC statblocks available that would work fine depending on how Boudica is involved.
 

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