Level Up (A5E) Mythological/Literary/Historical Subclasses

xiphumor

Explorer
The book Mythological Figures and Maleficent Monsters is pretty cool, but what about if you wanted to play a PC inspired by a famous character, much like the Avenging Archetypes from GPG 2 allow for superheroes? Obviously, you can approximate most anything with some clever design and conversations with your GM, but I’m more interested in inspiration for brewing up new options! Which figures would people want to play, and how should they be built?

A few ideas:

Sun Wukong Druid - Fight with weapons while wildshaped

Odysseus/Penelope Savant - Focus on Deception, Disguises, and De-escalation

Achilles Berserker - Bonuses when an ally reaches 0 hit points

Arjun Herald - Ranged weapons, (and perhaps some ways to mitigate when allies roll poorly)

Scheherazade Bard - benefits that improve when casted repeatedly

Ahab Marshal - bonuses against “sworn enemies”
 

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Sun Wukong Druid: From the Adventurer's Guide (I don't know what page since I'm using the SRD), "You still retain the benefit of any features from your class, destiny, or culture and can use them if your wild shape is physically capable of doing so." I'm pretty confident that this line means that you already can use any weapons you are proficient with while wildshaped, provided your DM agrees that the limbs (or other features) of the creature that you transform into would allow it.
I think this is still interesting and could be leaned into. Perhaps a synergy feat tree for Adept/Druid that allows you to use adept weapons while in wildshape regardless of the form you are in—not sure what other features I'd add here, though.
Achilles Berserker: I think the idea is potentially fun, and I would be interested in seeing what kind of things people did with this concept. My one concern would be how useful the archetype's features are if they mostly activate when you have an ally at 0 HP. We don't want our allies to lose HP, and one of the main roles of the Berserker is to take hits so other people don't lose hit points, so I'd be concerned about having really interesting and flavorful abilities that I rarely get to use. (That's not a downside for other players, but for me, personally, I weigh how good an ability is by how frequently I will be using it. If I'm going to be using it only very rarely, it needs to be extremely impactful for me to prefer it over a weaker ability that I will use multiple times every session.)
Arjun Herald: I love the idea of having an archetype for Herald that focus on ranged combat. Herald is really intentionally melee-focused, so I think having more than one or two in the lifetime of A5e risks giving the class too many toys to play with, but there's no harm in one or two. Anyway, I personally would focus on taking melee-only Herald abilities and allowing you to use them with ranged weapons (ESPECIALLY Smite—maybe do a little balancing by making it so you can only use Smite with ranged weapons if you take this archetype).
 

xiphumor

Explorer
Sun Wukong Druid: From the Adventurer's Guide (I don't know what... etc.
For the record, these were just initial thoughts. I'm more interested in idea generation at this stage than fleshing them out. However, you make good points. An Adept/Druid synergy feat does seem like it might do better for a Sun Wukong character. And I definitely agree that this wouldn't be Achilles' only or even main ability, but it could be a fun homage. Another could be something along the lines of "short life of glory" where you get extra power-ups in exchange for introducing some kind of weakness.

There's a lot of room to play within just one or two, especially as there's technically nothing stopping Heralds from being ranged anyway. They would have to be DEX based, so their AC will naturally be a little lower, but the thing that probably needs to be left alone is buffing their auras. Herald Auras are a lot more powerful if your allies don't have to be in the thick of battle with you to make use of them. I think it could be really fun to do something like giving "Heavenly Archer" Heralds access to Biting Zephyr instead of additional spells.
 

Faolyn

(she/her)
I'm not so sure about the Achilles berserker as you wrote it, because it seems very much not a team player. Maybe a bonus when you see an ally get hit for a certain amount of damage.
 

xiphumor

Explorer
I'm not so sure about the Achilles berserker as you wrote it, because it seems very much not a team player. Maybe a bonus when you see an ally get hit for a certain amount of damage.
Again, not strictly meaning to start designing, but just coming up with characters I would be excited to play. :)
 

And I definitely agree that this wouldn't be Achilles' only or even main ability, but it could be a fun homage. Another could be something along the lines of "short life of glory" where you get extra power-ups in exchange for introducing some kind of weakness.
I personally really enjoy high risk/reward options (provided the award is genuinely worth it), and I think the Berserker is a really solid base to start with when making such a character. For example, I get why Reckless Attack is gone (while there's probably other reasons, I personally think greatly expanded crit ranges are the main reason), but I loved how it made the O5e barbarian the center of a fight and actively pulled attention away from allies simply because it made it more rewarding for enemies to attack you—depending on how your DM chose to place. Features that put the Berserker in more danger but that also adequately make it more dangerous in response, I think, are tons of fun.
 

xiphumor

Explorer
I personally really enjoy high risk/reward options (provided the award is genuinely worth it), and I think the Berserker is a really solid base to start with when making such a character. […] Features that put the Berserker in more danger but that also adequately make it more dangerous in response, I think, are tons of fun.
Hmmmm… Maybe something in keeping with the idea of Achilles’s Heel would be appropriate.
How about:

“While raging, you can choose to forgo gaining new Rage hit points for a turn in exchange for adding the same number of forgone points to your weapon attack rolls until the start of your next turn. If you do so, all attacks against you score critical hits on a roll of 19-20 until the start of your next turn.”
 

ReadyButNot

Explorer
For example, I get why Reckless Attack is gone (while there's probably other reasons, I personally think greatly expanded crit ranges are the main reason)
actually i'm pretty sure it's been replaced both by a maneuver (i can't remember which one but it gives you an expertise die on attacks but grants an expertise die on attacks against you - sounds like reckless attack to me) and press the attack (which is a basic bonus action anyone can use and is similar to that maneuver except it grants advantage on attacks against you instead...and the target can use their reaction to negate the expertise die and move backwards [you can follow though], so it honestly kind of sucks, especially since the movement doesn't trigger opportunity attacks so you can't even catch 22 someone with it).
 


xiphumor

Explorer
actually i'm pretty sure it's been replaced both by a maneuver (i can't remember which one but it gives you an expertise die on attacks but grants an expertise die on attacks against you - sounds like reckless attack to me) and press the attack (which is a basic bonus action anyone can use and is similar to that maneuver except it grants advantage on attacks against you instead...and the target can use their reaction to negate the expertise die and move backwards [you can follow though], so it honestly kind of sucks, especially since the movement doesn't trigger opportunity attacks so you can't even catch 22 someone with it).
Which is why it’s best to use while flanking, or when the target is pressed against a wall or ledge. :) I like it as in incentive to think tactically.
 

ReadyButNot

Explorer
@ReadyButNot, you're likely thinking of Press The Attack, which is a regular combat action.
nope, i mentioned press the attack as a separate thing - turns out i was thinking of zealous stance:
Zealous Stance (1 point) 1st degree Tempered Iron bonus action (stance) By submitting to your fervor you make yourself vulnerable but gain an edge on your opponents. When you make your first attack on your turn, you can decide to gain an expertise die on melee weapon attack rolls until the start of your next turn. When you do so, until the start of your next turn attack rolls against you gain an expertise die.
yeah, this is straight up just reckless attack lmao
Which is why it’s best to use while flanking, or when the target is pressed against a wall or ledge. :) I like it as in incentive to think tactically.
except that doesn't help you at all. in the case of flanking, all it does is let them break out of the flank and grant everyone advantage on attacks against you for a turn. if they're against a wall or ledge, unless they're surrounded on all sides by that wall or ledge, then all it does is grant everyone advantage on attacks against you for a turn.

honestly i think the problem is less press the attack and more fall back. i think if the target's movement from fall back triggered opportunity attacks (not from the person who pressed against them though) then it'd be fine - although this discussion would probably be more appropriate for a different thread, so maybe i should stop here

“While raging, you can choose to forgo gaining new Rage hit points for a turn in exchange for adding the same number of forgone points to your weapon attack rolls until the start of your next turn. If you do so, all attacks against you score critical hits on a roll of 19-20 until the start of your next turn.”
does there need to be an extra detriment to basically getting rage damage from o5e when you're already giving up recharging rage hit points for that turn? i don't think the expanded crit range against you would really make the ability that much worse (though there should probably be a clause to expand the crit range if their crit range is already 19-20 or better), i just don't know if it's necessary.
 

Mike Myler

Have you been to LevelUp5E.com yet?
The book Mythological Figures and Maleficent Monsters is pretty cool, but what about if you wanted to play a PC inspired by a famous character, much like the Avenging Archetypes from GPG 2 allow for superheroes? Obviously, you can approximate most anything with some clever design and conversations with your GM, but I’m more interested in inspiration for brewing up new options! Which figures would people want to play, and how should they be built?

A few ideas:

Sun Wukong Druid - Fight with weapons while wildshaped

Odysseus/Penelope Savant - Focus on Deception, Disguises, and De-escalation

Achilles Berserker - Bonuses when an ally reaches 0 hit points

Arjun Herald - Ranged weapons, (and perhaps some ways to mitigate when allies roll poorly)

Scheherazade Bard - benefits that improve when casted repeatedly

Ahab Marshal - bonuses against “sworn enemies”
This is cool! I'd focus on the characters that don't have any class-built precedents in the original column (like Circe, the Green Knight, Oberon). O5E archetypes aren't as cool as our spiffy new things but they'll fit the bill, and with the additional features in every class and the origins system there's more versatility to hit a more accurate mechanical depiction for a mythological hero (or villain ;)).
 

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