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Mythological Figures: Queen Penthesilea (5E)

Today Mythological Figures features a daughter of Ares, amazonian queen, and badass warrior who went toe-to-toe with Achilles in the Trojan War: Penthesilea!


Queen Penthesilea BANNER 5E.jpg


Penthesilia comes to Troy with Memnon and joins their side, bringing along a dozen of her fellow lady-warriors and looking to die honorably in battle after accidentally slaying her sister Hyppolita during a hunt. She spends her day cutting down soldiers before confronting Achilles who, upon killing her and removing her helmet, is immediately heartstruck. Another Greek soldier by the name of Thersites scolds him for having emotions then proceeds to tear the eyes out of her corpse and unsurprisingly is slain for it. Of course depending upon where you look, she’s attributed with other things too--killing Hector, for one odd example--but the torrid romance between Penthesilia and Achilles is pretty consistent. According to the 1st century BC text Bibliotheca Historica she was the last Amazon to distinguish herself in war, and afterwards her peoples and their accomplishments diminish into legend. She becomes an extremely popular figure for literature, plays, and other cultural objects as the centuries pass, even re-cast as a medieval warrior queen.

Design Notes: Since we’re talking about a woman who manages to put up a solid fight against (the nearly invincible) Achilles my figuring is that she ought to be 18th level or thereabouts--also it’s the queen of the Amazons. On top of being high level she still needs to be tough as hell for that kind of a match up so for her roots I went with some ranger (har har), and then the rest is dumped into the brute archetype fighter. At the end of the day she is fierce and I think would be a fitting companion for Diana of Themyscira. ;) With that, let’s do the numbers: the DMG puts Penthesilea at an even 12 and the Blog of Holding’s rubric does as well, albeit .8 higher, so we’re sticking with that. There are some things I think I’d like for her (some boosts to archery perhaps) but as far as RAW goes, I’m happy with this warrior queen.

Amazon Queen Penthesilea
Medium humanoid (human), neutral ranger (hunter) 4/fighter (brutal) 14
Armor Class 19 (studded leather, defense fighting style, shield)
Hit Points 153 (18d10+54)
Speed 40 ft.

STR-||--+DEX--|-+CON--|||-INT-||||--WIS-||-_-CHA
18 (+4)-+18 (+4)-+16 (+3)-+10 (+0)-+12 (+1)-+12 (+1)

Saving Throws Str +10, Dex +10
Skills Athletics +10, History +6, Persuasion +7, Stealth +10, Survival +7
Senses passive Perception 11
Languages Amazonian (?), Greek
Challenge 12 (8,400 XP)

Background: Noble - Queen. Due to her position as a ruler, Penthesilea is treated with a measure of respect wherever she goes. She 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 her if requested to do so).
Action Surge (1/Short Rest). Once on her turn, Penthesilea can take an additional action on top of her regular action and a possible bonus action.
Brutal Toughness. Penthesilea gains a +1d6 bonus to saving throws and death saves (treating final results of 20 or higher on a death saving throw as a natural 20).
Colossus Slayer (1/Turn). When Penthesilea hits a creature with a weapon attack, the creature takes an extra 4 (1d8) damage if it’s below its hit point maximum.
Favored Enemy: Beasts. Penthesilea has advantage on Wisdom (Survival) checks to track beasts, as well as on Intelligence checks to recall information about them.
Feat: Athletic. Penthesilea can stand up from being prone with only 5 feet of her movement, climbing doesn’t cost her extra movement, and she only has to move 5 feet before making a running long jump or running high jump.
Feat: Brawling. Penthesilea is proficient with improvised weapons, and she can use a bonus action to grapple a target she hits with an unarmed strike or improvised weapon on her turn.
Feat: Mobility. Penthesilea can Dash through difficult terrain without requiring additional movement. Whenever she makes an attack against a creature, she doesn’t provoke opportunity attacks from that creature until the end of her turn.
Feat: Soldier Tactics. A creature hit by Penthesilea’s opportunity attack reduces its speed to 0 until the beginning of the next round and disengaging from her still provokes opportunity attacks. In addition, Penthesilea can use her reaction to make a melee weapon attack against a creature within 5 feet when it makes an attack against a target other than her.
Natural Explorer: Forests. When Penthesilea makes an Intelligence or Wisdom check related to forests, her proficiency bonus (+6) is doubled if she is using History or Survival. While traveling for an hour or more in a forest, she gains the following benefits: difficult terrain doesn’t slow her group’s travel, her group can’t become lost except by magical means, even when she engages in another activity while traveling she remains alert to danger, if she is traveling alone she can move stealthily at a normal pace, she finds twice as much food as she normally would when she forages, and while tracking other creatures she also learns their exact number, their sizes, and how long ago they passed through the area.
Indomitable (2/Long Rest). Penthesilea can reroll a saving throw that she fails but must use the new roll.
Primeval Awareness. Penthesilea can use her action and expend one ranger spell slot to focus her awareness on the region around her. For 1 minute per level of the spell slot she expends, Penthesilea can sense whether the following types of creatures are present within 1 mile of her (or within up to 6 miles if she is in a forest): aberrations, celestials, dragons, elementals, fey, fiends, and undead. This feature doesn’t reveal the creatures’ location or number.
Second Wind (1/Short Rest). On her turn, Penthesilea can use a bonus action to regain 1d10+14 hit points.
Spellcasting. Penthesilea is a 4th level spellcaster that uses Wisdom as her spellcasting ability. She has the following spells prepared from the ranger’s spell list:
--_1st-level (3 slots): cure wounds, hunter’s mark, longstrider

ACTIONS
Extra Attack. Penthesilea attacks three times when she takes the Attack action. When she uses a bonus action to engage in two-weapon fighting using her shield, she can add her Strength modifier to the damage of her fourth attack.
Spear. Melee or Ranged Weapon Attack: +10 to hit, reach 5 ft. or range 20/60 ft., one target. Hit: 13 (2d6+6) piercing damage or 12 (1d8+1d6+4) piercing damage if wielded in two hands..
Shield. Melee Weapon Attack: +10 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 10 (1d4+1d6+4) bludgeoning damage.
Unarmed. Melee Weapon Attack: +10 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 10 (1d4+1d6+4) bludgeoning damage.
Shortbow. Ranged Weapon Attack: +10 to hit, range 80/320 ft., one target. Hit: 11 (2d6+4) piercing damage.
 
Last edited:
Mike Myler

Comments

Samloyal23

Explorer
I do not see anything in the stats reflecting her status as a daughter of Ares. She is technically a demigod. There should be some sort of bloodline feat for that...
 

Mike Myler

Explorer
I do not see anything in the stats reflecting her status as a daughter of Ares. She is technically a demigod. There should be some sort of bloodline feat for that...
What would you suggest? Mind you that the characters in this series are all built Rules-As-Written (albeit with renamed and reworded feats or archetypes for material that does not appear on the 5ESRD). Soooo the Lucky feat instead of Mobility, perhaps?
 

BookBarbarian

Expert Long Rester
I do not see anything in the stats reflecting her status as a daughter of Ares. She is technically a demigod. There should be some sort of bloodline feat for that...
Are there any bloodline feats in 5e?

We do have draconic sorcerers for dragons, Aasimar for angels, Tieflings for fiends, Genasi for genies.

Could always do some refluffing though. As a daughter of Ares I would something that would be helpful in War. The Half-Orc race has increased damage and toughness It could be refluffed easily enough.
 

Mike Myler

Explorer
Are there any bloodline feats in 5e?

We do have draconic sorcerers for dragons, Aasimar for angels, Tieflings for fiends, Genasi for genies.

Could always do some refluffing though. As a daughter of Ares I would something that would be helpful in War. The Half-Orc race has increased damage and toughness It could be refluffed easily enough.
Reskinning her as a half-orc isn't a bad route but it's got some drawbacks--namely that we'd have to shunt down her ability scores because the half-orc doesn't give us as much to play with at the start (she has 4 feats two of which come with +1s, then +4 spent normally from the other two ABIs). So we're going to have to chuck at least 1 feat to keep her numbers where they are at. Also it's maybe not the most glamorous thing to do (it would be reskinned, but she'd still be a half-orc which isn't so flattering).

Since we'd have to drop a feat making the switch to half-orc, I think that it might on the whole serve us better to pick a trademark feat for demigods instead (and then drop probably Sentinel [aka Soldier Tactics]). My impulse says that the obvious choice for divinity is Lucky but maybe there's a better option?
 

BookBarbarian

Expert Long Rester
Reskinning her as a half-orc isn't a bad route but it's got some drawbacks--namely that we'd have to shunt down her ability scores because the half-orc doesn't give us as much to play with at the start (she has 4 feats two of which come with +1s, then +4 spent normally from the other two ABIs). So we're going to have to chuck at least 1 feat to keep her numbers where they are at. Also it's maybe not the most glamorous thing to do (it would be reskinned, but she'd still be a half-orc which isn't so flattering).

Since we'd have to drop a feat making the switch to half-orc, I think that it might on the whole serve us better to pick a trademark feat for demigods instead (and then drop probably Sentinel [aka Soldier Tactics]). My impulse says that the obvious choice for divinity is Lucky but maybe there's a better option?
Lucky is a good one. Representing divine favor of the gods, and it's generically useful.
 

Mike Myler

Explorer
Have you done a Herakles yet? I might treat that one a little differently.
I have been quietly dreading the time I can no longer procrastinate building him. ~.~

If it becomes a signifier for demigods though, it becomes a blanket thing (which means going back through the series and making room for the Lucky feat for everyone who's a demigod but doesn't have it yet). Whether or not Herc should be getting that feat is I am certain going to come up in the comment volleys following when his statblock finally goes up.
 

Jay Verkuilen

Registered User
I do not see anything in the stats reflecting her status as a daughter of Ares. She is technically a demigod. There should be some sort of bloodline feat for that...
Having some kind of divine descent is characteristic of many mythological heroes (and villains) and the stories focus on them, not on "mere" humans and is a very good accounting of being able to be high level. In my view the easiest way to handle this is to turn down the non-divine blooded characters, not to turn up the divine blooded ones. So I'd suggest that non-divine characters:
  • Only gain one point of an ASI, not two, and cannot take feats without spending two ASI points. (Alternatively what you could do is put many of the really over the top feats on a ban list.)
  • Can only take "sidekick" classes.
  • Can only advance to level 10 (maybe).
  • At most gain a level per year of campaign calendar time.
Of course if you were running such a game the PCs would likely be all demi-gods or have some other similar legendary origin tale. That's the way those stories worked. They're really not that different from superhero stories, where the supers have some kind of origin story that explains what sets them apart from ordinary humanity.
 

Jay Verkuilen

Registered User
Are there any bloodline feats in 5e?

We do have draconic sorcerers for dragons, Aasimar for angels, Tieflings for fiends, Genasi for genies.

Could always do some refluffing though. As a daughter of Ares I would something that would be helpful in War. The Half-Orc race has increased damage and toughness It could be refluffed easily enough.
There really aren't bloodline feats, but a lot of the character races kind of are bloodlines, as are some of the classes. Half elf, half orc, aasimar, and tiefling certainly qualify as bloodlines of humanity that are shifted due to intermixing. You could fairly easily posit the other races are, similarly, bloodlines of humanity of some sort, or just ban them outright in a campaign that's supposed to be human- or human-adjacent focused.
 

Jay Verkuilen

Registered User
Have you done a Herakles yet? I might treat that one a little differently.
Herc seemed to have some decided ill-fortune working on him due to Hera's ire. One thing that's very characteristic of Greek heroes is that they have some kind of nearly-supernatural fatal flaw working on them. That's not RAW of course, because 5E really doesn't have a way to build flaws in, but it really is in genre for them.
 

Mike Myler

Explorer
Lucky is a reasonable choice, but not very flavourful. There should be something that says "Aries was here" in her background.
Again these are built Rules-As Written so our options are limited--if I could dip into Book of Exalted Darkness, Book of Celestial Heroes, Mists of Akuma, or EN5ider I am certain there'd be a good choice other than Lucky but as it is, we're looking at either that or Magic Initiate for signifying divinity. Martial Adept would make sense for an Ares descendant--but then what do we do with, for example, Perseus? Does Perseus need to pick up some combat maneuvers too? I say to thee nay and looking at his statblock, he's already got the Lucky feat! I'm starting to lean harder into that. If aasimar weren't carrying all that extra baggage they'd be my first choice but there it is.

Having some kind of divine descent is characteristic of many mythological heroes (and villains) and the stories focus on them, not on "mere" humans and is a very good accounting of being able to be high level. In my view the easiest way to handle this is to turn down the non-divine blooded characters, not to turn up the divine blooded ones. So I'd suggest that non-divine characters:
  • Only gain one point of an ASI, not two, and cannot take feats without spending two ASI points. (Alternatively what you could do is put many of the really over the top feats on a ban list.)
  • Can only take "sidekick" classes.
  • Can only advance to level 10 (maybe).
  • At most gain a level per year of campaign calendar time.
That sounds workable for a campaign, although obviously not good for our RAW purposes here.
This is how I'd do demigods for a campaign (Ares kids get a 1/day either mini-rage or short fear aura).
 

Jay Verkuilen

Registered User
Again these are built Rules-As Written so our options are limited <...> That sounds workable for a campaign, although obviously not good for our RAW purposes here.
This is how I'd do demigods for a campaign (Ares kids get a 1/day either mini-rage or short fear aura).
Well one justification for these legendary characters to have divine descent is simply for them to be high level, hence the level limit, which I think would do the job pretty well. For instance, PCs in a heroic type campaign would be levels 11-20 while other characters would be levels 1-10 (and possibly all sidekicks, not regular classes), which provides a pretty nice separation. You can also give them some of the alternative rewards from the DMG if you want to juice the really legendary.
 

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