It’s been nearly a year since I began my first campaign as a player. I’m lucky to have designed a character that persists (thus far) and while not a leader, he’s certainly a proud meatshield.
I had the luck to play in another version of the campaign my DM is running as a cameo of sorts. In the chat for that group one of the other players shared their ‘real life’ stats based on the quiz created by Kevin Haw.
What I enjoy about this quiz is it allows for the taker to both idealize and underestimate themselves. Most of us would attempt to answer as honestly as possible but you never know. You may consider yourself stronger than you really are or smarter or charismatic. So it’s a fun diversion.
After re-taking the quiz, I decided to conduct a character-creation experiment. Using the stats generated, what version of myself as a character would be the best–challenging, optimal, fun, silly, deadly, or easy–to play?
The parameters are simple. Using the Haw stats quiz, create a character in every class of the same race and general disposition. My persona is Avery Roth, a human male character I’ve written fiction about and used pretty regularly as the avatar template for all my RPG cahracters from World of Warcraft to Skyrim to D&D. I’ve clumped together the different classes into Battlers, Casters, and The Dodgy.
These are the classes whose focus is on combat. They may like the paladin deploy the occasional spell but primarily they are concerned with duking it out with blade or blunt trauma. The fighter, barbarian, monk, and paladin fall into the group.
As a fighter, Avery Roth is middling and unremarkable. This is perhaps the perfect build to take on the soldier background. In this class, Roth is a grunt who has just enough talent and experience to become an adventurer. I like that aspect–just better enough. While the base stats place him in the ordinary category, he ends up having some quirks. The +3 to Arcana and Investigation checks make him more astute than your run of the mill infantryman. He’s quite aware of what’s going on around him (Perception +4), able to last (Survival +4 and Athletics +4). With a reasonably high Intelligence and above average Wisdom, it would make sense to play Roth as a tactical fighter, someone savvy in combat. Thus, with his Two-Weapon Fighting style, I’ve given him a rapier and a whip to start his career out.
The barbarian version of Avery Roth takes the gladiator background increasing his Acrobatics slightly but not really any other skill. Too smart to be a brute and not nearly strong enough to be a champion, this version of Roth feels like he’d lean into being a spiritual warrior. This would fall in line with his +3 to Religion and would give some interesting roleplay options as I think a barbarian Roth is aligned Neutral Evil.
As a monk, Roth is a hermit who’s devoted his life to solitary contemplation and the mastery of bodily control. Hence the +5 to Religion, +4 to Medicine and Athletics. He’s not the strongest unarmed fighter and will certainly never repeatedly tell others he is immortal or iron knowing full well no one else will know what that means. This build of Roth feels like the weakest or least successful version stats-wise. However, I think it could be a very fun RP character.
Full disclosure, I think the paladin may be the most ‘me’ class available. The moral confidence and ethical acumen making this class what it is appears to me. I can also completely see why many and most players recoil from this class or superficially think it’s boring. It is one of the few classes you have to really commit to. This version of Roth comes from the noble background giving him a deep sense of Religion (+5), History (+5), and Insight (+4). For a first level adventurer, his AC of 18 and near max HP make him a benevolent tank. I think he’d become even more interesting if he developed into an Oathbreaker or took the Oath of Vengeance.
In this category, I lean towards Fighter as the best version.
If spellwork is the focus of your talents, then you are a caster. Wizards and sorcerers clearly fall into the category. But because nearly everyone in Dungeons & Dragons can use magic, it does become an ever-widening circle. To my mind, the druid, warlock, and cleric are best fits here. Although, I could be convinced a warlock could belong to Battlers and/or to The Dodgy simply because it is a hybrid class.
With Intelligence as the highest skill, Roth would seem to have to be a wizard. Yet his Spell Save of 13 and Spell Attack Bonus of +5 really only make him a middling caster. As such, I think this version of Roth would become the most contemptible kind of wizard, the Abjurer. This would be the kind of caster devoted to blocking or banishing rival magics while protecting itself and others. Given the low HP, absolutely no Charisma, and the sage background coupled with a Lawful Good alignment, it feels like this Roth is a bit of a Jerry. I could also envision him as a cryomancer, a master of ice spells and the counter to fire loving pyromancers, which is why I’ve given him Ray of Frost as his damage dealing cantrip.
One of the things I’ve always enjoyed about this class is the Wild Magic option. Therefore, this version of Roth takes on the folkhero background manifesting his magic through uncontrolled natural means. Again, not an impressive caster with a Spell DC of 10 and a Bonus of +2. Giving him proficiency with brewer’s supplies and a Chaotic Good alignment, I see this Roth as a bit of a drunken free spirit, which I think are reflected in the spell choices.
When I played World of Warcraft, Druid was a class I could never get my head around as a player. It just wasn’t designed as something I could intuitively play. The D&D version however feel much more straight-forward if not a bit less interesting. However, Roth does have respectable Wisdom, the stat most important to this class. Yet, he’s still not that great at it and would probably need a good deal of patience before he become a meaningful adventurer. A Neutral Good outlander makes for a rather mysterious perspective to approach the character from in terms of roleplay but I’m just not convinced by the stats this is a good fit.
As a radical pacifist, I think playing this class would be the most challenging and engaging for Roth. I’ve sketched pacifist characters before but have yet to get to play one. With this Roth, I gave him the Life Domain, no weapons, the acolyte background, Chaotic Good alignment, and spells nearly completely designed to heal and buff. Roth as a cleric has no interest in causing strife, pain, damage, or death. It would make him, potentially, a very difficult party member but one who could become invaluable.
Skirting the edges of Battler and The Dodgy, this class is the darkest of the Casters. I see this Roth as dual-wielding vicious looking sickles and casting spells meant to twist and mock opponents. Again, the neural Charisma makes this a difficult class to play with no bonuses at all in the prime class category. However, down the road this Great Old One warlock could become something rather fun. I like to think of this Roth giving into his darkest inclinations and slowly becoming a cold, calculating mastermind.
From the ranks of the Casters, I think the wizard is the best choice.
Dodgy as in tricky, risky, or hazardous. This, of course, encompasses the rogue but I feel it also covers the always irritating bard and the shadowy ranger.
I can’t imagine a bard as anything other than a charlatan. In fact, one of the things that first endeared the Peter Dinklage’s portrayal of Tyrion Lannister to me was his contempt of barding. However, a bard doesn’t have to be a fucking obnoxious singer. It can be a dancer, an actor, or poet (that is, a writer). As a bard, Roth is most likely the kind of busker who will attempt to rob you blind before you know it. He probably hawks snake oil and new age charms or deals out three-card monte to the delight/disdain of onlookers. Point is, he’s a crook. But not one that can rely on his charm (Charisma) to get him through. No, this Roth has to know when to fold ’em and know when to run, which he does thanks to his Wisdom.
This Roth was raised on the streets as an urchin. With no ties to friends or family, he skirts by on his wits. How does a rogue Roth survive? By being perceptive (Perception +4), fast with his fingers (+5 Sleight of Hand), and most of all being able to find what he’s looking for right away (Investigation +7). This version of the character screams out to become an Arcane Trickster. Playing this Roth, I think I would often find myself saying ‘I’m not that kind of rogue’ to the rest of the party.
My wife’s character is a ranger. She can hit anything she wants nearly all the time and deal scores of damage. I am filled with jealousy for her bounty hunter ranger. I think there’s more to a ranger than many players think but breaking out of the Hawkeye and Strider/Aragorn tropes is difficult. A forest hunter who lives alone (hermit background), this version of Roth is someone who just wants to be left alone. He begrudgingly joins the party partially due to the fact it turns out he doesn’t really bring that much to the table. With Strength and Dexterity not really worth writing home about, this Roth has to rely on his skill checks to make valuable. +5 in Religion, Investigation, and Nature buttressed by +4 in Perception and Medicine means Roth is grounded in roleplay and strategy rather than combat. It’s really a toss up whether this guy eventually goes hunter or beast master.
These Dodgy guys, well, they’re not a good group to choose from but if I had to, I guess, the rogue would be the best.
So those are the twelve versions of me in D&D. I don’t know which one is ‘the best.’ Of the three categories, it feels like wizard would be optimal, fighter the most practical, and rogue the most fun to play. Would they survive long?
Who’s to say…
**I’d love to hear your thoughts about which version is the best in the comments. It would also be cool to hear what your stats would be and what class you think they’d best fit.**