Sometimes it’s nice to practice your creativity because you want to. I like sitting at my desk with an arbitrary, random, restrictive concept and seeing where it takes me.
(If you find yourself with writer’s block or similar, I recommend doing the same. Why? Because restrictions remove obstacles. You focus on what you can do, rather than 17 things you could do.
This works, like everything else, because of focus.)
For this exercise, I took a character concept and drilled down into it. Every concept can spawn infinite characters – this was about exploring a little of that space.
I decided to create four 4e characters and one 5e character. Why? Several reasons. D&D 4e was the edition I was introduced to. It is my baseline, my origin, my frame of reference. It rather handily classified each class as one of four combat roles (Striker, Defender, Leader, Controller), which gives me my four characters. And the notorious bloat of source material means there are so many classes, too many to experience – this gives me a little exposure to some I’ve never played.
As for the 5e character, well, I like 5e, so why not.
So. The character concept. It’s a little less open and a little less brief than my guidelines recommend, but it’s still within acceptable bounds. I would be thrilled if a player handed me this so it passes that rule of thumb.
The Sun Dragon Temple stands high over the valleys and fertile plains below. Though its members are elusive, the Temple’s doors remain open to all goodhearted visitors. Small villages flourish on the mountain’s slopes, sheltered from the dangers of the world as if by the blessings of the land. When bandits sought the Temple’s riches, they were defeated. When kobolds infested the tunnels under the mountain, they were wiped out.
Worshippers of the Sun Dragon are devout martial artists and cunning strategists. They see magic and warfare as art forms, following a philosophy of intelligent strength: brute force applied at the perfect moment can topple empires. Disciples are regularly called on to defend the Temple and its surrounds.
Skilled warriors within the Temple can reach the rank of kagesan. Only kagesan are trusted to leave the mountain, stalk evil and fight it on its turf.
The recent goblin activity in the plains below is suspicious. Normally simple savages, these latest tribes have carried sophisticated weapons and employed impressive tactics. It is time for the Temple’s newest kagesan – impatient, manic and obsessed with beauty – to leave the sacred stone walls and fight this menace head on…
Kagesan Thales – Human Cleric (4e Leader)
A soldier, spy, general, raised in a monastery to oppose evil. Thematically, a cleric works quite well. 4e clerics are decent warriors, so the idea of Thales sneaking behind enemy lines to fight guerrilla wars or lead a rebellion makes a lot of sense.
Given his love of beauty, let’s make him a cleric of Corellon: the patron god of elves, art and spring in the 4e pantheon. As someone who needs to go unnoticed sometimes, let’s give him a ring as a holy symbol. And gloves to hide that symbol.
Kagesan Secena – Human Invoker (4e Controller)
Sticking with the religion theme, let’s make ourselves a divine controller: an invoker. I kind of like the idea of invokers – mortals that have a small fragment of divine power in their souls. Rather than praying for blessings, they can tap into that magic directly. Cool, sure, we can have fun with that.
I imagine someone with a direct line to the gods would be eccentric at best. So let’s give our invoker a strange appearance – his obsession with beauty doesn’t extend to himself. Given the Sun Dragons’ fixation on military history, let’s say Secena came in contact with an artefact of Kord’s (4e pantheon’s god of battle) which imbued him with his powers. Not a bad hook – the DM can work that in or ignore it in equal measure.
Kagesan Galiel – Eladrin Avenger (4e Striker)
Another divine class? Yep, because as arguably pointless as the avenger class is (are they really so thematically different from paladins?), they are a perfect fit for the Sun Dragon Temple. Crazed zealots who pursue the enemies of their god – it works.
Why Eladrin? Cos teleport.
Given that the Temple has ‘dragon’ in the name, at least one of these divine classes should worship Bahamut. Then again, given their purpose of protecting innocent villages and whatnot, I’m thinking Galiel should worship Erathis (4e pantheon’s patron god of civilisation).
Kagesan Milado – Dragonborn Warden (4e Defender)
Finally moving away from the divine power source, let’s now dabble in the primal. Why a warden? Well, it plays with the theme a little bit – instead of revering the Temple, Milado has a strong connection to the mountain itself. Also, wardens make weird adventurers – given what they are, I don’t expect them to do much travelling – but this context makes sense. To defeat the threats to the Temple and the mountain, Milado must face them head-on.
The main reason is because I like portmanteaus, and “dragonborden” rolls off the tongue.
Kagesan Enlil – Halfling Eldritch Knight (5e)
I love the idea of a halfling sneaking through the land, causing massive havoc wherever he goes. To me, nothing says portable destruction like an eldritch knight – you have the brawling of a fighter coupled with the powers of a wizard. Having one of these turn up in your basecamp would be a very bad day, indeed.
He’s small but armoured, and lets add some pre-existing injury to the mix. Why does he wear an eyepatch? Maybe the BBEG stabbed him, or maybe his obsession with beauty led him to leer at a thug’s wife. A good hook there or maybe just a character flaw?
Alright, your turn. When you read about the Sun Dragon Temple and the kagesans, what came to mind? Share your take on this character concept because I’d love to see what you do with it.