Dungeons and DotA: Creating Batrider

Batrider is a ranged Intelligence hero whose roles are initiator, jungler, disabler, and escape. Through AOE attacks that constantly peck away at enemy health and strong movement options, Batrider can disrupt a section of the battlefield in a flash. Lore-wise, Batrider is probably one of the most understandable DotA 2 heroes. One day, a farmer in the Yama Raskav jungle was taken by a massive bat. Rather than accept his fate, the rider decided to ride it into the ground (and had a great time while doing so). It was after this moment that Batrider knew his purpose in life: to ride flaming bats for fun. Given the reckless nature of his abilities and his self-centered motivations, I’d say Batrider is chaotic neutral.

Before I go any further, I have to give a disclaimer: this build is the least rules-as-written “concrete” of any I have made. In order to play this build, you’ll need to be allowed access to the Unearthed Arcana Ranger and have a DM who’s willing to work with you in character creation and advancement. I will say that nothing in this guide breaks any DnD 5e rules, but they do require a level of independence from the rules-as-written in some minor ways. So, basically, talk with your DM.

Another note: this guide falls short of what I want these guides to be. Due to DnD 5e restrictions, the creation of a Batrider character that has the exact same abilities as Batrider is more or less impossible. With other guides, I always striven to create characters that, as often as possible, felt like their DotA 2 counterparts. With this guide, you’ll become Batrider in the sense that you ride a bat and use fire. Don’t expect a direct gameplay mirror like you’d see in most of the other guides in this series. With that out of the way, let’s move on.

Batrider’s abilities are mainly about causing chaos in the battlefield. Let’s take a moment to look at each one (and explain why they aren’t perfectly replicable in DnD 5e, much to my dismay).

Batrider’s first ability is Sticky Napalm. This wide shot of oil slows and damages enemies with increasing effectiveness for each stack applied. Finally, enemies in the area take increased damage from Batrider himself. We’ll get an ability to slow and damage enemies, but it’ll need some intense re-flavoring to be like Sticky Napalm. As far as exact replications go, count this one out.

The second tool in Batrider’s arsenal is Flamebreak, effectively a Molotov cocktail. This firebomb ignites enemies hit by it and knocks them back. This is the most easily recreated ability with items and spells, though there will be no knockback in our recreation.

Using his inexplicably flaming morde-bat, Batrider can use his third ability, Firefly, to leave a trail of destruction behind him as he soars into the sky. As our Batrider increases in level, he’ll be able to recreate this more and more effectively.

Finally, Batrider’s ultimate is a flaming lasso that drags targets around, restraining them. I wanted to recreate this ability so badly, but every route I looked to had so many restrictions that Batrider would be practically unplayable in order to recreate it. Sadly, I have not figured a way to recreate this ability truthfully. If you have an idea of how to do it, please leave it in the comments below!

If you’ve been waiting for a build that lets you play as an energetic bat-riding pyromaniac, here’s your chance!  For those of you hoping for an in-depth, accurate, 1:1 recreation of Batrider… well… sorry.

Race

While in DotA 1 Batrider was a troll, there’s no such player race in DnD 5e. Instead, we’ll be making Batrider a goblin. Besides vaguely similar features, goblins possess a lot of generally good racial abilities: darkvision is nice and Fury of the Small is almost always applicable. We won’t be getting as much use out of Nimble Escape because, at least eventually, we’ll have our goblin on a bat.

Honestly, calling the rider a ‘small’ race isn’t quite accurate, but we do what we must.

Class

After absurd amounts of consideration, I’ve found that a multiclass of Arcane Trickster Rogue 12 with Unearthed Arcana Beastmaster Ranger 8 works best to cover Batrider’s bases. This is an unusual mix that gives us a small amount of multi-ability score-dependency, but it isn’t a three or four-class multiclass, so I’ll consider it better than the alternatives. Like always, take these levels how you see fit.

The reason for choosing Unearthed Arcana Ranger is as follows: normal ranger sucks. It’s fine if you disagree, and you can feel free to play this build as a standard ranger, but for the sake of this guide I’ll be referencing Unearthed Arcana Ranger material exclusively.

Rogue

Our early Rogue levels really give us nothing of worth. Expertise and Sneak Attack aren’t real game-changers until a bit later on, and our racial ability Nimble Escape does 2/3s of what Cunning Action does. Our first level into Arcane Trickster is what gets us our important features.

Picking from the Wizard spell list, we get two cantrips and three spells. For the cantrips, pick Green-Flame Blade and Firebolt. For first-level spells, Featherfall, Grease, and Burning Hands are my picks. I’ll get into the justification for some of these spells now: for later levels, see the ‘Spells’ section in this guide.

Firebolt will be our way of recreating Batrider’s basic attack. In the basic attack, his bat shoots a firebolt. Because there are no fire-breathing bats in DnD 5e by default, we’ll just reflavor our goblin casting Firebolt to be our bat shooting fire. Now, we don’t have a bat just yet, so Firebolt can also be a recreation of his Flamebreak ability in the meantime. Featherfall will be useful when we do get a bat (we don’t want to go splat, now do we?). It’s always a nice spell to take early on. Grease allows a pseudo-sticky-napalm ability. Though it doesn’t slow, nor does it deal damage, it is thematically similar enough for me to say go ahead and grab it.

*Ptoo!*

Later levels in Rogue provide some miscellaneous benefits (Mage Hand Legerdemain, Uncanny Dodge, Evasion), but keep in mind all along the way you’re getting access to new spells and more sneak attack damage. Rogue level nine provides the ability Magical Ambush, which gives disadvantage to saving throws for any target you are hidden from when you cast a spell on it.

Ranger

Unearthed Arcana Ranger provides a wealth of bonuses for early levels. While some may use these bonuses for a quick level-dip to beef up their min-maxed character, we’re taking it a little further with Ranger. The Favored Enemy bonus usually goes to Humanoids, but I would argue if you want to truly recreate Batrider his favored enemy would be beasts. If the jungles of Yama Raskav are as bad as they sound, beasts would be Batrider’s #1 enemy.

At second level we get to choose a fighting style. Personally, I’d take the Dueling fighting style, but Defense is always handy, too. Archery is generally out of the question, given how neither Batrider nor his mount uses a bow.

Once we get to third level we gain access to the features of the Beastmaster conclave. The text states:

‘With 8 hours of work and the expenditure of 50 gp worth of rare herbs and fine food, you call forth an animal from the wilderness to serve as your faithful companion. You normally select you companion from among the following animals: an ape, a black bear, a boar, a giant badger, a giant weasel, a mule, a panther, or a wolf. However, your DM might pick one of these animals for you, based on the surrounding terrain and on what types of creatures would logically be present in the area.’

Notice here that ‘giant bat’ isn’t an option. The giant bat has a challenge rating of 1/4, which is as much as many of these creatures and less than that of the black bear. Of course, the giant bat has some clear advantages: High fly speed, 13 AC, and a solid amount of hitpoints, and one clear drawback of only having Blindsight for 60 feet. I wouldn’t call the giant bat an unfair option by any means (especially compared to races like Aarakocra who get flying from the start) but you should still discuss with your DM prior to following this build. Maybe it is fine as-is, maybe your DM would want to lower its health or armor class or move speed or size.

Regardless of what your DM decides regarding acquiring a giant bat, note that the Player’s Hand Book does mention the possibility that unique flying mounts might be available in a campaign:

‘Mounts other than those listed here are available in fantasy gaming worlds, but they are rare and not normally available for purchase. These include flying Mounts (pegasi, griffons, hippogriffs, and similar animals) and even aquatic Mounts (giant sea horses, for example). Acquiring such a mount often means securing an egg and raising the creature yourself, making a bargain with a powerful entity, or negotiating with the mount itself.’

All of the creatures listed here are better than the giant bat in one or more ways, so just know that while a giant bat may be an unorthodox choice it doesn’t go against the rules at all.

Basically, get a giant bat as your animal companion. Because goblins are a small race and giant bats are a large beast, our Batrider will be able to use the giant bat as a mount without any problems. This also helps trigger our Rogue Sneak Attack feature, as every time we get in range to attack a creature we will be next to another friendly creature that is in combat and within five feet of our target. Basically, if you’re on the bat, you’ll get sneak attack.

I won’t really go into the rest of Ranger: most of the options are straightforward enough. Greater Favored Enemy, for instance, really has no clear choice, making it completely up to you. One bonus that Ranger gets is the ability to cast spells, so I’ll go ahead and cover both Ranger spells and Arcane Trickster spells in the following section.

Spells

I’ve already talked about a few spells earlier, but this will be a general list of all the spells available to this build. By splitting the levels Ranger 8/Arcane Trickster Rogue 12 (according to my calculations) we end up with a fourth-level spell slot being our highest level slot. With that in mind, the words ‘early game’ ‘middle game’ and ‘late game’ here all refer to comparatively early game spells for standard spell casters.

As I’ve said for Rogue, the spells Burning Hands, Feather Fall, and Grease make the most sense to me starting out. Burning Hands can be used while flying away as a early-game recreation of Firefly. For Ranger, early game spells like Beast Bond or Animal Friendship can be helpful at the start. Beast Bond is still useful after you’ve acquired your giant bat, as it gives advantage with the bat’s attack rolls within 5 feet of you that you can see. For some Batrider disabling options, Ensnaring Strike and Snare could prove useful, too. You’ll only know three spells until Ranger level 4, so be smart with what you pick.

For mid game, a few spells stand out. In the Arcane Trickster spell list there are plenty of fire spells: Aganazzar’s Scorcher, Flaming Sphere, and Scorching Ray all provide an option for (poorly) recreating Firefly. Just take off with your giant bat and shoot any of these spells behind you! Dragon’s Breath is the only way to make your flying bat actually shoot fire, so this spell works nicely, too.

The ranger spell Spike Growth is also essential: unlike Grease, this spell actually slows and damages targets! With some intense re-flavoring, Spike Growth will end up being our Sticky Napalm ability (more like stick-y napalm, amirite?). Just as a side-note, Arcane Trickster gets another cantrip at level 10. You can easily pick up Lightning Lure this way, which, like the Flame Lasso ability, pulls targets.

By late game, the Arcane Trickster spell list gives us the infamous Fireball spell. Once you can finally cast a fourth-level spell, Wall of Fire is our best way to emulate Firefly. Unlike earlier recreations, with Wall of Fire we can have a path of flame that persists! The late game Ranger spell list is pretty pathetic for the purposes of recreating Batrider, so there’s not any specific spell that you’ll need.

‘One forest fire coming up!’

Finally, if your DM is adamant that you may not have a giant bat, the Ranger/Druid spell Conjure Animals lets you summon EIGHT OF THEM. As an action. Admittedly this spell requires concentration, and you should really go Druid if you plan on reworking this entire build to use this spell, but if you ever need eight giant bats in a few seconds… there you have it.

Equipment

For our Batrider, you’ll want to have some kind of armor, be it light or medium. You’ll want to take a whip as your primary weapon – together with the Green-Flame Blade cantrip, this finesse weapon will allow you to make sneak attacks at a reach that also deal fire damage. I mentioned Flameburst was pretty easy to recreate, and it is! If you don’t take Arcane Trickster right away, just use the ‘alchemist’s fire’ item for a quick replication (that actually does ignite enemies, unlike Firebolt).

‘You call throwing firebombs around a martial art?’
‘Hey, as long as it works.’

If you’ve gotten your DM to agree to riding a giant bat, they’re probably a DM that likes to give special treats to their players. As a very direct person, I would as my DM the following question: ‘Can I have a flaming whip at some point?’ Seriously, if you can get a flame-tongue style whip, that’d be very cool. To my knowledge, no such magic weapon already exists in DnD 5e.

Feats

Don’t worry about not having enough Ability Score Improvements for feats: with this build, you’ll get six (just like you would if you went Rogue the whole way)!

Mounted Combatant is a great feat for this build for so many reasons. Firstly, because giant bats are large, you can get advantage on melee attack rolls against creatures smaller than your mount. This might seem redundant, but it guarantees that attacks with your whip made at a reach would still get Sneak Attack damage, even if you and your mount aren’t next to your target. If you’re fighting a creature that’s large or larger, you can still get sneak attack damage if you and your flying mount are both within five feet of it.

Mounted Combatant is also great because you can take damage for your mount: any attack (not AOE spell) that targets your mount can instead target you for no action cost. With Uncanny Dodge, you can then halve this damage. Finally, Mounted Combatant gives your mount evasion, too: both you and your mount will always take (at most) half-damage when making a Dexterity saving throw, assuming you’re at least a level 7 Rogue.

Elemental Adept is always a nice feat for an elemental-themed character. If you want your fire-based attacks (which will be a majority of them) to deal more damage, pick up this feat.

Ability Scores

You’ll want a high Dexterity, Wisdom, and Intelligence for this build. It is more important to have a high Intelligence than it is to have a high Wisdom, namely because most of your damaging spells will be coming from Arcane Trickster. You might be tempted for higher Constitution, but keep in mind that Rangers have a d10 hit die, so health shouldn’t be too much of an issue. Additionally, Batrider isn’t known for his tankiness.

Though there is no perfect recreation of abilities as I would like them, I’ve sacrificed perfect recreation for a build that is thematically true and mechanically fun. For instance, the best “pull with whip” type attack in DnD 5e is the Way of the Four Elements Monk ability ‘Water Whip.’ I could have fit that in, but I didn’t think it was worth it.

While this build does require more  approval with your DM than usual, I think it’s an extremely fun one. Many times I make these builds to try and test my character-creation skills, but I am definitely playing this one as soon as I can. And as always, gonna ride this bat outta hell like a bat outta hell!

Hopefully you enjoyed this guide! If you did, you might enjoy my others:

Abaddon
Alchemist
Ancient Apparition
Anti-Mage
Arc Warden
Axe
Bane

Additionally, consider dropping by our podcast at 2:00pm EST every Friday on twitch.tv/heavyshelf for a conversation on what’s big each week in gaming.

Terraria 1.4 Journey Mode: What We Know So Far

In a recent video from prominent Terraria community member Chippy Gaming, we got the first look at the features of Terraria’s Journey mode. For those of you looking for a brief summary of what Journey mode will include, this article will give you the bare-bones details that we know so far. I highly suggest that you do watch Chippy Gaming’s video, even if just for a look at some of the freshly updated sprites and backgrounds (do I spy a bunny-shaped cloud?).

Here’s what we know so far.

Journey mode is both a character difficulty mode and a world type. This means that “Journey” appears when you select whether your character is softcore, mediumcore, or hardcore, and you select “Journey” when choosing whether your world is in normal mode, expert mode, or master mode.

In order to change/experience all the features listed below, you must be a Journey character in a Journey world (as far as we know). I’ll touch on this later because Chippy’s video has some interesting (unconfirmed) implications. One thing is confirmed: you cannot play a Journey character on a non-Journey world.

Feature 1: Quick Start

Starting in as a Journey character in a Journey world starts you off with a few items to help you get started – iron tools (possibly lead, depending on the world’s ore type), a summoning weapon, a unique pair of very weak wings, and a few other things.

If these few items aren’t enough for you, Journey mode lets you enable godmode.

Feature 2: Building Changes

Journey mode features a unique change to building. By collecting a certain number of a single item you can “research” that item to duplicate it infinitely. This means that in order to duplicate torches, you must place 100 torches into the research menu before you can spawn them infinitely. All items that you place into the research slot and research are consumed. For example, if you research 99 torches, all of them will be consumed but you won’t be able to spawn them infinitely until you research that last torch. As this would imply, you don’t have to research an item all at once: you can work towards researching them over time.

Additionally, Journey mode offers the player the option to increase block placement range without the need for reach-extending accessories. In fact, you reach *much* further than you normally can even with reach-extending accessories when you have this increased block placement range active. We’re not sure whether or not this effect will stack with reach-extending accessories.

Feature 3: World Modification

If you’re anything like me, you constantly wished you could turn off corruption spread: well wish no more! In Journey mode, you can turn off “infection” spreading. Whether this also turns off hallow biome spreading, we’re not sure, but we imagine it would.

This isn’t all, though. In Journey mode, you’ll be able to change the time of day. Want good lighting for a build project? Make it day! Want to see what your new lamps look like? Make it night! Certain buttons seem to allow you to stop time or make it go extra fast. Additionally, though Chippy doesn’t cover it, there is a weather menu available. Presumably, this will let you change the weather to any number of things (including the new windy day event).

Additionally, Journey mode lets you change the difficult at will, from journey difficulty (x0.5 difficulty) all the way up to master difficulty (x3.0 difficulty). The final feature of world modification we have confirmed is the ability to change enemy spawnrates. They can be disabled, normal, or x10 the amount, and anywhere in between. If you want to play a hard difficulty with fewer monsters or an easy difficulty with massive hoards, you can.

Playing a Journey World as a Non-Journey Character

As I prefaced, each of these features can be changed only if you are a Journey character in the Journey world. An implication of some of Chippy’s wording in his video is that you can still play a Journey world as a non-Journey character, though you cannot edit the above features. This has not been confirmed, but if true, this would be big for creative freedom in Terraria 1.4

Imagine if you will, a Journey mode world where it’s always night, x3.0 difficulty, and x10 monster spawns. Imagine, now, spawning into this world with 10 of your friends as hardcore characters and seeing who can survive the longest. Being able to mix character difficulty with the modifiable nature of a Journey world will definitely allow for some unique play experiences. Did someone say more community adventure maps?

So there you have it: a first look at Journey Mode in Terraria 1.4. I highly recommend you check out Chippy Gaming’s video on the matter if you have the time. Keep in mind that not all of these features are confirmed as I have assumed them to be, and even still there might be some features in Journey mode that Chippy wasn’t even allowed to have on screen. It’s only about one week now until we can see for ourselves!

May 17th, 2020 Edit: Much to my dismay, Journey Mode worlds are only playable by Journey Mode characters. But, with tModLoader support, there’s not much we can’t do in Terraria now 🙂

Happy journeying!

Dungeons and DotA: Creating Bane

Bane is a ranged Intelligence hero whose roles are support, disabler, nuker, and durable. In battle, Bane is excellent at single-target lockdowns that take opponents out of the fight (and sometimes out of the realm of the living). The lore on Bane is pretty strange: Atropos, also known as Bane or the Bane Elemental, is essentially bad dreams in physical form. After stealing some of the goddess Nyctasha’s secret deity sauce, Bane came into physical form to spread terror… and then eat that terror. Bane basically eats fear for breakfast. Is there anything more chaotic evil than spreading sheer horror because you like how it tastes?

Bane’s abilities revolve around this “mmm nightmare tasty” philosophy. Let’s take a look at them now.

Bane’s first ability is called Nightmare. Briefly putting the target to sleep, Bane disables an enemy for a few seconds or until they are attacked by anyone other than Bane. This nightmare can transfer from one unit to its attacker, but this level of nuance is (to my knowledge) unobtainable in DnD 5e.

Bane’s next ability, Brain Sap, is Vampiric Touch but at a range, basically. It just steals health. Moving on.

His passive ability is Enfeeble, which makes any ability he uses also give lowered magic and status resistances to the target.

Finally, Bane’s ultimate is Fiend’s Grip. This attack keeps an enemy (and yourself) immobile, damages them heavily, and steals some of their mana. I can’t think of a single mana-stealing ability in DnD 5e, so don’t get your hopes up for that part specifically.

Luckily for us, these abilities are all fairly easy to replicate. The biggest difference between these abilities and the ones we will have for our own DnD 5e Bane is that our abilities will be mostly melee. But worry not! Using a mix of spells and class features, you won’t be far from taking on the twisted guise of Atropos himself!

Race

Bane is an elemental of sorts, but no Genasi fits his type. Now, Bane does also have a vaguely centaur-ish appearance to him, but to call him “half-man-half-horse” seems inaccurate – as he is no parts man, and certainly no parts horse. In terms of race, we really don’t have a good choice. If you prefer looks, choose Centaur from Guildmaster’s Guide to Ravnica (official sourcebook, but not AL legal). For the sake of this guide, we will be choosing the unconventional choice of Duergar (or Dark Dwarf).

Centaur? Not quite. Dwarf? Nope. Just pick whatever, really. I won’t tell on you.

This race is the best for optimization, but also fits with the themes held by other “dark” races – sunlight sensitivity, gray (often depicted purple) skin, nighttime prowlers – generally dark fellows. The various bonuses to magic resistance provide the Duergar with mental fortitude as well, a feature that I’d imagine Atropos possesses in order to withstand the nightmares he spreads.

Class

With a character like Atropos, you’re probably expecting Warlock, Death Cleric, maybe even some Shadow Sorcerer. These are all incorrect. Absurdly, this build I’ve devised creates Bane very closely and efficiently, but is a multi-class (big surprise there) of Battle Master Fighter 5 and Lore Bard 15. You can split these up how you want, but I’ll go ahead and warn you right now: this build does not fully flesh out until at least level seven, depending on how you break down the levels.

Another warning: this build makes use of feats. If your table (for some reason) doesn’t allow for feats, it’s best to sit this one out.
As a final note: technically, this build is possible if you only put levels into Lore Bard. Everything that you get from Battlemaster Fighter helps with this build as I would play it, but it isn’t the only way.

Fighter

These five levels into Battle Master are for a few things. The level one proficiency with all armors and weapons is generally useful, and so is a fighting style. For fighting style, I recommend either Dueling or Defense. The level two action surge is a classic and also generally useful. To be honest, though, we’re in fighter for two things: multi-attack and fighting maneuvers.
As a level three Battle Master, you’ll get to choose three maneuvers. To truly be the best single-target-lockdown-machine that you can be, you’ll want to take Trip Attack and Disarming Attack. You’re third choice is up to you, really.

These few levels into fighter make no sense right now, I get that, but trust me: this is quite essential. It also provides Bane with a bit more optional tankiness, which is accurate to his “durable” role and helps while playing, as single-target-disables tend to make you a target yourself. If you decide to forgo these levels, you’ll be much more vulnerable and less effective as a single-target-lockdown machine, but more effective as a spellcaster, so the choice is yours.

Bard

Most of the standard Bard features are direct upgrades of other features, so I’m going to skip covering all of them individually.

Practically, Lore Bard is going to be the avenue through which our Bane comes into being. Lore Bard provides all of the most essential features. Level three gives us expertise and our Lore Bard feature “Cutting Words.” Cutting Words is going to basically be Bane’s ability Enfeeble. Just as Enfeeble lowers resistances, by using your inspiration die to lower enemy ability checks and saving throws, you’ll be disabling quite well right off the bat.

The expertise we get is also important. See, Lore Bard gives us three skill proficiencies of our choice, and third level lets us turn one skill proficiency into expertise with that skill… Pick the Athletics skill for one of your Lore Bard proficiencies and then choose it for expertise. You might see where I’m going with this.

At sixth level, we get Additional Magic Secrets for being a Lore Bard. You’ll definitely want to pick up Vampiric Touch from this as it is exactly Brain Sap but melee. Theoretically, you could cut some levels, slip in Sorcerer metamagic, and cast it at a range, but that just isn’t worth it. Future Magical Secrets will be used for whatever spell you’d like.

Reflavor your “Vampiric Touch” to be just taking a big chomp out of the enemy.

Spells

The spells you take will really help fill out Atropos. I recommend for early game you take Sleep, which is a simple version of Nightmare but the closest we’ll get. I also recommend Bane (haha). In all seriousness, the Bane spell provides even further penalties to saving throws and ability checks, just like Enfeeble. Hold Person can function as your early-game Fiend’s Grip, seeing as how it just lacks the damaging component. There’s also the spell Catnap, but for the life of me I can’t think of a use for it because it only works on willing creatures.

This is what it looks like when you give a nightmare to a floating ball of light… apparently.

Later on, you can pick other enchantment spells like Confusion and Dominate Person that fit with Bane’s theme. The spell Enervation works like Brain Sap, but you’ll need to take that as one of your magical secrets Bard spells. Of course, there are many, many more spells you can take that fit Bane (Ray of Enfeeblement, anyone?), but this list is just a small number. On their own, many of these spells already fill the role of single-target-lockdown abilities.

Equipment

Though in DotA 2 Bane is wearing basically nothing, we won’t be so scantily clad for the purposes of DnD 5e. Heavy armor is nice for high defense and making your armor class less Dexterity-dependent. In terms of weapons, absolutely equip yourself with some kind of one-handed weapon. Technically, you could forgo a one-handed weapon and take a shield instead for this build. Regardless, you’ll need a free hand.

Feats

The most important feat for this build is Tavern Brawler. You absolutely need this feat. Anything else is up to you!

Ability Scores

This build would be Multi-Ability Score-Dependent if it weren’t for the proficiencies provided by Fighter. With heavy armor proficiency, you can focus your two highest attributes to be Strength and Charisma, in that order. Constitution is a good third-highest score to have, like always. Dexterity will be completely useless to us, so don’t bother – that can even be your dump stat if you want.

What’s The Deal With Grappling?

Buckle up. This is a big one.

If you aren’t familiar with the various mechanics of DnD 5e, you might be confused at the way this build has escalated so far. Now I will make all intentions known plain as day: you will be grappling. A lot. And nobody will be able to do anything about it.
This build is an amazing grappler for so many reasons. Firstly, you cannot grapple someone two sizes larger than you. This means that because our Bane is Medium sized, we could grapple a large target but not a huge one… except we can, as a Duergar, grow in size. The Duergar’s innate spellcasting to enlarge makes their size Large, meaning that we can grapple creatures who are Huge or smaller! Have you ever wanted to grapple a Fire Giant?

Being Large also makes you deal an additional 1d4 damage with weapons and get advantage on Strength checks (including, for example, Athletics checks). Keep these bonuses in mind for the future. Side note: use of Duergar innate spellcasting still requires concentration, so you won’t be able to cast many spells while enlarged.

Secondly, grappling in DnD 5e doesn’t make use of saving throws (which many enemies often have proficiencies in or legendary actions to immediately succeed on). Instead, grappling requires a free hand and a contested roll. This means that the target has to roll either Athletics or Acrobatics against your Athletics skill (with our Atropos having Athletics expertise) and try and get a higher result. Just to restate what I’ve already said: because grappling is a contested roll and not a saving throw, creatures cannot pass the check via legendary resistance.

But we aren’t even near being done. If you have a free hand, you won’t be attacking with your one-handed weapon, you’ll be attacking with your empty hand for unarmed damage. Now, remember, the Tavern Brawler feat makes your unarmed attacks deal 1d4 damage, but that isn’t all. When you make this attack, you will also use the Battle Master maneuver Trip Attack.

Thanks to the maneuver, our Bane will add a superiority die (1d8) to the damage of the attack, so our unarmed attack deals 1d4+1d8 damage (plus your Strength modifier). Because we used Trip Attack, our target must pass a Strength saving throw or is made prone. If the target is under the effects of the Bane spell, they’ll subtract 1d4 from this result. If you choose to use your Lore Bard feature Cutting Words, they’ll subtract an additional die up to 1d12. Sadly, knocking targets prone with this maneuver only works on targets who are Large or smaller regardless of your size. With multi-attack, if you miss the first attack, you can try again!

Now that you’ve made an unarmed attack (and hopefully made the target prone), you can use your Bonus Action to grapple them thanks to Tavern Brawler. As I’ve already mentioned, with expertise in Athletics you’re already at a stark advantage over your opponent. Though Bane (the spell) doesn’t work on ability checks made, you can use your Cutting Words (if you haven’t already) to reduce your opponent’s roll. Basically, once you move in for the grapple, you’ve got this under control.

Fiends Grip: The Ultimate Grapple Combo

Let’s stop right here: at level seven (at the minimum), you’re able to make an unarmed tripping attack as a Large creature for 1d4+1d8 damage plus your Strength modifier, then force the target into contested rolls for grappling while you have expertise in Athletics, and you can subtract their roll by 1d6. We’re not done.

Assuming everything has gone off without a hitch, you’ve made one Trip Attack maneuver and made your target prone, and now you’ve successfully grappled the target. Because the target is prone, it must spend half of its movement to stand up. Because the target is grappled, it has 0 speed. The target cannot stand up, has disadvantage on all attack rolls, and you have advantage on all attack rolls against it. You can also drag the target.

Fiend’s Grip looks a bit different in DotA 2 than it would in DnD.

On the next turn you can choose to hit it with that one-handed melee weapon (for +2 damage if you took dueling!) or you can use Vampiric Touch. If you choose to use Vampiric Touch, you have advantage on the attack roll. Because it requires you to touch the creature, you can use the hand you are grappling the creature with to cast the spell. Oh, also, the Grappled condition isn’t a spell so you don’t have to worry about losing concentration.

If the target you’re grappling happens to be Huge, you’ll need to use one attack action to make the “shove” attack instead, which again is a contested roll between your Athletics skill and their Athletics or Acrobatics. Because you have multi-attack, this attack action only uses one of your attacks. Without considering action surge, any spells cast beforehand (except Enlarge from Duergar), any help from allies, and any magic items, you have a combo that can completely shut down almost any creature (Huge or smaller). There is no escape from Atropos and his fiendish grip.

I’m terribly sorry that this article is getting out so late, but hopefully it was worth it! I am beyond thrilled with how this build turned out. Initially, I expected it to be another generic, fairly boring guide about which spells you should use, but the unconventional twist has made this build flat-out terrifying for single targets. So, next time you want to play a Bard who isn’t some string-strumming wet noodle, give this build a try. And as always, I wake from dark dreaming.

 

I’ve recently finished up all Heroes whose names start with the letter A! You can find all of them here:

Abaddon
Alchemist
Ancient Apparition
Anti-Mage
Arc Warden
Axe

Additionally, consider dropping by our podcast at 2:00pm EST every Friday on twitch.tv/heavyshelf for a conversation on what’s big each week in gaming.

Terraria 1.4: Looking Back and Looking Ahead

When Terraria released in 2011, me and many other at-launch players were thrilled with what we got. Can it get better than this? This was my first time experiencing an open world, sandbox game of this type.

Over the years, Terraria has changed in many ways. It’s hard to believe it’s going to have been 9 years since it first released. With the final (for real, this time) update, 1.4 or ‘Journey’s End,’ scheduled to come out on May 16th, 2020, I figured I’d look back on how far Terraria has come.

May 16, 2011

Version 1.0 of Terraria is released. From pots that you can break, a Nurse and Arms Dealer NPC, to the Eye of Cthulhu, Skeletron and the dungeon, and hellstone: This update laid the foundation of everything.

Within its first 9 days, the indie game sells over 200,000 copies.

June 23, 2011

Terraria has received multiple updates in the past month. This one specifically brings 23 potions. In the updates prior, Terraria added the infamous wizard named Tim, the King Slime, and and the first vanity items. A mysterious enemy, the Voodoo demon, appears in the underworld for the first time. At that time, it was only used for killing the guide.

After a month, Terraria has now sold over 432,000 copies.

December 1, 2011

Terraria 1.1 drops. The Guide Voodoo Doll now summons the Wall of Flesh. Hardmode is added. New ores and items are added, along with mechanical revamps of old bosses. Players can equip wings, and items now have modifiers. Clowns blow up blocks.

This update changed everything people knew about what it meant to be in Terraria’s late game. I remember my old base being blown to bits, overrun with wraiths, my Arms Dealer fell down the hellevator – it was a hectic time. The best wings are the only wings available: Demon or Angel Wings. Hallowed armor requires all cobalt, mythril, and adamantite armor pieces to craft.

By this time, Terraria has already sold over 1 million copies.

December 15th introduces the Frost Legion and Santa Claus, along with presents, in the Christmas Update.

January 17, 2012

Terraria receives its ‘final’ update. Bugs are fixed. Pet Bunnies are introduced into the Collectors Edition. ‘Redigit,’ Terraria’s lead developer, announces that this will be the last update the game receives.

March 26 and 27, 2013

Terraria is released on the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360. It would later release on the PS Vita, Playstation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo 3DS, Wii U, and various mobile devices.

September 15, 2013

From the silent void, a trailer drops: Terraria 1.2 is announced. The game looks completely new, with new biomes, new music, new enemies, and new backgrounds. The crimson is teased. The post-plantera dungeon is teased. In a trailer that lasts nearly 2 minutes, Terraria fans find out for certain that the game isn’t done yet.

By the time this announcement hits, the game has sold over 3 million copies.

September 30, 2013

Terraria 1.2 launches. Honestly, there’s too much here to list off. Over 1,000 new items are added. Summoning is added as a new sub-class. The Terra Blade becomes Terraria’s strongest melee weapon, forged from improved versions of the 1.0 strongest sword, Night’s Edge, and the 1.1 strongest sword, Excalibur.

Many people don’t leave their computer for a full day.

October 25 and December 20, 2013

Terraria receives its two hallmark wave events, with the Pumpkin Moon in the Halloween update and the Frost Moon in the Christmas update. Unlike goodie-bags and presents, these events are accessible year round.

May 8, 2014

Terraria receives new content, mostly aquatic. Pixel Piracy crossover content is integrated, along with the frightening new boss Duke Fishron. 22 new potions are added, and so is fishing. In a later update achievements are added, and to this day the fishing-related achievement Supreme Helper Minion! is still the least acquired in Terraria, with less than 2% of players managing to get it.

March 10, 2015

The Terraria: Otherworld trailer launches. The spin-off title would have its development officially canceled on April 12, 2018.

June 23, 2015

The Terraria 1.3 official trailer launches. Expert Mode introduces an all new way to experience the challenge of Terraria. Everything established in 1.2 is expanded upon, with new and updated invasions added on top. Terraria Youtuber ChippyGaming summarizes the feeling of the trailer long after the fact: ‘It’s been 4 years and this trailer still fills me with hype for Terraria.’

When the trailer is launched, the game had already sold over 12 million copies.

June 30, 2015

The 1.3 update hits. The end game is extended, with all new best armors and weapons. Throwing is introduced as a pre-hardmode player class. The new final boss, the Moon Lord, sparks wide discussion regarding Terraria’s hinted lore. The best melee weapons are the Terrarian, a yoyo-type weapon introduced in the new update, Star Wrath, a heavily upgraded version of an earlier weapon, and Meowmere, a nyan cat meme sword.

July 1, 2015 – July 30, 2018

Minor updates here and there, most notably Dungeon Defenders II crossover content. Terraria development is mostly quiet regarding big updates.

July 31, 2018

A new sound track, ‘Windy Day,’ is released on Youtube. This is the first of many spoilers to come, which are later teased in tweets, discord messages, and teaser clips.

June 10, 2019

The Terraria 1.4 trailer drops, titled Journey’s End. The final text teases for a 2019 release date.

The hype train is full speed ahead.

November 19, 2019

Terraria’s 1.4 release date is pushed back to sometime 2020. Team member Loki posts the following:

Re-Logic has never been about cutting corners or leaving things short of our goals throughout the history of Terraria – and with Journey’s End being the final update, that philosophy needs to be underscored even further as we do not necessarily have a 1.4.X update coming ‘to pick up content that we didn’t have time to finish’.

April 1, 2020

No, this isn’t an April Fool’s day prank: Terraria surpasses 30 million copies sold across all platforms. Nearly half of these sales are on PC. Terraria becomes the 13th best-selling game of all time, and the only one out of the top 19 best-selling games of all time not to be bundled with a console.

The release date for 1.4 is still unknown.

April 12, 2020

Redigit announces that Terraria 1.4 will release May 16th, 2020. Exactly nine years after Terraria 1.0.

To think that development might have stopped in 2012 is baffling now. Many features are confirmed, many are speculated, and many are completely unknown. A new title screen teases a ‘Journey’ game mode, right next to Normal, Expert, and the new ‘Master’ game modes.

Many believe this Journey mode to be the creative-esque mode developer Cenx has talked about. Some see this to perhaps be akin to Minecraft’s Peaceful mode. Others wonder about a sort of ‘story mode.’

What’s next?

Looking back, Terraria has come a long way. If you were to tell me eight years ago what the game would be now, I don’t think I’d believe a single word. Looking ahead, it’s difficult to guess how Terraria’s journey will end.

These nine years have been a journey for everyone who played and everyone who developed Terraria. You can never really ‘finish’ a sandbox game, and you can never really ‘finish’ your own journeys along the way. I initially suspected Journey’s End might finish off with a loose story – a connection between the lore elements of the game that were only hinted at. What is the Corruption? Why does it spread? Who is the Moon Lord? Why was the dungeon built? The more I’ve thought about it, the less I see this as the answer.

On May 20, 2019, Redigit and Cenx held an AMA about Terraria, in celebration of its 8th anniversary. When asked about piecing together Terraria’s Lore, Redigit had this to say:

Lore always took a backseat to gameplay in Terraria. There are some things I always envisioned being a certain way, but the game never really talks about it. Terraria is the kind of game where you make your own stories, and I don’t think that will change. If we make a sequel we will definitely plan things ahead of time so the story will make more sense.

 

This indicates to me that Terraria does have a loose story, just not one that has been capitalized on, so to speak. Maybe this Journey mode is about ending the lore-related conspiracies. Maybe it’s about saying once and for all what’s-what in the realm of Terraria. I don’t think so.

Journeys don’t end just because the travelling is done. That’s why I think Journey mode will be a creative-esque mode. Not just one where you can place blocks, but one where you can create your own dungeons, NPCs, and maybe even enemies. After all, a mode where players make their own adventures would be a great way to end this nine-year-long adventure we’ve all been traveling together on.

I don’t have any clue if this prediction is right, though. Re-Logic has always surprised me with the thoughtfulness and depth of their major updates, and I doubt 1.4 will be any different.

If you enjoy the content we create here, consider dropping by for our podcast at 2:00pm EST every Friday on twitch.tv/heavyshelf for a conversation on what’s big each week in gaming.

Dungeons and DotA: Creating Axe

Axe is a melee Strength hero whose roles are Initiator/Durable/Disabler/Jungler. Despite this range of roles, his abilities are simple: kill things, bring more things to kill, and then kill them more. Mogul Khan is more than an axe-wielding maniac: he’s the axe-wielding maniac. When his superiors said he wasn’t axe-wieldy enough, he killed them and took their place. Over and over again. Now, Mogul Khan is the only member left in his army, meaning it’ll finally be a somewhat fair fight for whatever army he decides to take on next. Axe respects honor and authority, but only if someone is strong enough to maintain either (his previous leaders clearly weren’t). For this reason, Axe falls into Lawful Evil (or Neutral Evil, considering willingness to kill authorities).

Before I continue praising the power of Axe, let’s see how he does what he does.

Axe’s first ability is Berserker’s Call. This shout forces nearby creeps to attack him and gives him bonus armor, allowing for great crowd management.

Axe’s next ability is Battle Hunger. Axe’s bloodthirst is contagious, and marked enemies are slowed and take damage until they kill another unit. For every unit suffering from Battle Hunger, Axe gains movement speed.

The third ability is Counter Helix. Axe has a chance to retaliate when hit, dealing damage to nearby units.

Axe’s ultimate ability is Culling Blade. With this single blow, Axe insta-kills targets below a certain HP threshold or deals massive damage assuming they survive. The cooldown for this is reset if it kills.

These skills have a certain level of nuance unobtainable in DnD 5e. However, the bulk of them are not only replicable, but easily so. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the most straight forward Dungeons and DotA guide yet: Axe.

Race

Technically it seems that Axe is an Oglodi, along with Disruptor and Warlock, but for DnD Axe is a hobgoblin. Just look at him. The Saving Face feature that Hobgoblins get will also help us later. Finally, an easy selection for race!

Hobgoblin from DnD (left) and Oglodi from DotA 2 (right)

Class

We’re going to go 3 levels into Champion Fighter and 17 levels into Berserker Barbarian for this build. As always, break these up however you see fit. Personally, I take the fighter levels early on because every bonus we’ll get from these will be a lasting help.

It is important to mention that you could theoretically just go all levels into Barbarian for the same effect (kind of). In my mind, this choice just doesn’t make the cut. While Primal Champion is one of the best capstone abilities, going this route gets us further from a mechanically accurate recreation than I’d like.

Fighter

Fighter is a great choice for Axe in many ways, mostly mechanically speaking. At fighter level 1, we get a fighting style, which is already a great opportunity to maximize ourselves to un-axe-ceptable levels. You’re going to want to select the Great Weapon Fighting fighting style. With this, you can reroll 1s and 2s made on the damage dice for a two handed or versatile weapon. Another bonus at level one is Second Wind for a little extra tankiness.

Level 2 gives the infamous Action Surge (no, DM, that is not the end of my turn) and level 3 gives our subclass bonus. By going Champion Fighter, we get Improved Critical, making our attacks crit on a 19 or 20. Some of you might see where this ends up…

Barbarian

We’re sticking in Barbarian for a long time, so I’ll only cover some of the features. Barbarian level 1 gives us Rage and Unarmored Defense. Both of these are going to be important parts of recreating Mogul Khan. Rage provides us with physical damage resistance (like the bonus armor received from Berserker’s Call). Unarmored Defense, on the other hand, is just a lore-friendly depiction of Axe.

Axe’s anger is par for the course when it comes to Barbarians.

We choose the Berserker subclass at Barbarian level 3 for obvious lore reasons. Truth be told, the greatest benefit this gives us isn’t seen until level 14. While Frenzy is a cool ability, Intimidating Presence at 10th level is literally the opposite of Berserker’s Call. We endure such disappointments for the 14th level feature Retaliation, allowing our Axe to perform a melee attack against creatures that hit us while within 5 feet of us. This lacks the AOE of DotA 2’s Counter Helix for now, but is otherwise a good fit.

By Barbarian level 5, we also get Fast Movement. This small buff to non-heavy-armored move speed is going to be our replacement for Battle Hunger. Sadly, there’s no class feature or spell that is within easy access to emulate all the effects of Battle Hunger.

The recreation of Culling Blade, Mogul Khan’s signature ultimate ability, comes in multiple stages (just like in DotA 2!). If you haven’t already guessed, instead of a class feature being Axe’s ultimate, it will just be a critical melee attack. With 3 levels for Champion Fighter, we currently crit on a 19 or 20; a 10% chance for our attack to deal double damage (by way of rolling another damage dice).

Once we hit level 9 Barbarian, we deal an additional damage die with our weapon when we crit, so two initial damage dice plus another die. This increases again at 13th level and 17th level. If you want to see the theoretical single-attack damage output from rolling a 19 or 20, skip down to the section after Abilities Scores titled ‘The Culling Blade.’

Equipment

Mogul Khan does not need armor (though you could pick it up, it isn’t quite lore-accurate: choose medium armor if you choose any at all). He does not need potions. All he needs is a great axe. While it is not recommended, you technically don’t even need friends to use this build. There is no team in Axe.

Feats

As is usual, melee builds make great use of feats to keep up with magic users. Axe is no exception, really. By splitting our levels 17/3, we only get 4 Ability Score Improvements to make use of feats. Additionally, if you put 3 levels into fighter first, you get your first Ability Score Improvement at character level 7. So, there is a trade off that makes this build shine later than others.

The first feat I recommend for making Axe is Martial Adept. This feat allows us to choose a two Battle Master maneuvers with a d6 superiority die. The first Battle Master maneuver we’ll be choosing is Goading Attack. Successful use of this maneuver gives disadvantage to a single target attempting to attack anyone other than you. This is our Berserker’s Call. While it doesn’t allow for taunting multiple units, creeps aren’t much of a thing in DnD 5e. The additional once-per-short-rest limitation is expected of DnD features.

The second maneuver we will take is Sweeping Attack. This allows us to, when we hit a creature with a melee weapon attack, attempt to hit another creature within 5 feet of the first. The beauty of this is that Berserker Barbarian’s Retaliation allows us to make a melee weapon attack. This means that, when hit, you can choose to do a sweeping Retaliation attack – just like Axe!

Is it dangerous to 360-spin an axe? Yes. Does Axe care? No.

The second and final feat I recommend is Great Weapon Master. The option to take -5 to hit for +10 damage is pretty great, if I do say so myself. And if this -5 makes you miss, you can use Hobgoblin’s Saving Face feature to add up to 5 to your roll. The additional synergy it provides with allowing for a bonus attack after kills and crits is also helpful. This allows us to not have to Frenzy every time we rage without losing the Frenzy benefit. Additionally, this attack-after-crit can be seen as Culling Blade’s cooldown reduction.

Ability Scores

As a Barbarian, you really need just high Strength and high Constitution. If you are going for unarmored defense, consider Dexterity as your next highest score.

The Culling Blade

For this example, let us assume that our Axe is a level 20 Barbarian/Fighter multiclass, as is discussed above. With 20 Strength and the above feats, here’s what our Culling Blade looks like.

Combat begins and, like usual, you rage. You don’t, however, choose to go into a frenzy. On your turn, you make your way over to some foolishly confident warrior and decide to attack using Great Weapon Master to deal +10 damage. You can choose make this a reckless attack for advantage.

If you attack twice and hit twice, you’ll deal 1d12 + 19 damage per attack, rerolling 1s and 2s once. If you attack twice and only hit once, but that hit is a crit, you’re damage is still very high. It doesn’t matter that you chose a -5 to hit, a 19 or 20 is a critical hit and always hits, regardless of modifiers.

For the critical hit, you’ll deal 1d12 + 19 damage from the initial attack, then an additional 3d12 damage from the crit. Every one of these d12 can be rerolled if they land on a one or a two. That’s 4d12 + 19 damage – and you get to attack again as a bonus action for landing a critical hit. The average damage of this single attack, without considering rerolls, is 45 damage. 10% of the time when you attack, this is your average damage.

If you were to get absurdly lucky and attack 3 times, critically hitting twice (a 1% chance), you’d get an average of 90 damage in a single round of attacks, again, not counting rerolled 1s and 2s. After this, you can use Action Surge.

Culling Blade when it insta-kills (left) compared to when it injures (right)

It isn’t that dealing this much damage is unreasonable or even unusual, but that it is reliable. By using Frenzy and Reckless Attack, you can seriously increase your chances of landing a critical hit over the course of a battle: no spell slots, no components, just Axe.

I really enjoyed the relative simplicity of this build and it’s definitely one of my favorite character conversions. Finally we have a DnDotA build that can recreate a hero without extensive reflavoring – how nice! If you found any glaring issues in this article or had any ideas for recreating Axe of your own, put them down in the comments below. And as always, from the Red Mist, Axe returns!

This concludes all the heroes whose names start with A! Find the rest here:

Abaddon
Alchemist
Ancient Apparition
Anti-Mage
Arc Warden

Additionally, consider dropping by for our podcast at 2:00pm EST every Friday on twitch.tv/heavyshelf for a conversation on what’s big each week in gaming.

Dungeons and DotA: Creating Arc Warden

Creating Arc Warden

Arc Warden: He’s Electric (boogy woogy woogy woogy).

Arc Warden is a ranged Agility hero whose roles are Carry/Escape/Nuker. His abilities combine micromanagement, debuffs, and high damage to control the enemy in a myriad of ways. Being a sort of avatar for one of the supreme primordial aspects of the universe, Arc Warden (or ‘Zet’) is concerned with nothing more than saving all of existence. Ya’ know, real casual stuff. Dire and Radiant are going to end the world, and it’s up to Arc Warden to stop it. With this greater-good philosophy, and being a literal warden to retain the structure of the universe, Arc Warden has the distinction of being the first ever Lawful Good hero to be converted to DnD 5e!

As always, lets first do a rundown of what Arc Warden is capable of.

Arc Warden’s first ability is Flux, a ranged attack that slows and damages targets but is less effective if the target is around other enemies.

His next ability is Magnetic Field, a protective barrier for allies.

The third ability is Spark Wraith, which summons a little dude who patrols an area for an enemy and gives them a slowing zap when he finds them.

Arc Warden’s ultimate is Tempest Double. With this, he creates a copy of himself with its own item (and ability) cooldowns.

When I first looked at this ability spread, I was worried that Arc Warden would be the first character I couldn’t truthfully recreate in DnD 5e. With some more research I found a way to replicate most of his abilities, though it is excessively clunky. So prepare to reflavor some stuff, but don’t be too worried: Zet is here to save the universe!

Race

DnD 5e is seriously lacking in “shattered remnant of primordial energy” races, so just go Warforged. Envoy works, but so does Skirmisher, so either subrace will be okay. Technically, Envoy gives freedom in ability score increases that will be helpful for this build, but I prefer the relative lore accuracy of a skirmisher.

Class

Unlike with past articles, the class of Arc Warden is best not dwelt on too much. For this build, you’ll be taking 2 levels into Great Old One Warlock, 2 levels into Trickery Domain Cleric, and the rest of the levels into Shadow Magic Sorcerer.

Like always, I recommend you go into the levels however you see fit. Personally, I’d take the first level of Trickery Cleric at level one then save the second level  towards the end. From there,  I’ll go into Warlock then Shadow Sorcerer. This all sounds very strange, but it is definitely intentional, so keep reading.

Warlock

The two levels into Great Old One Warlock are for nothing more than Eldritch Blast and an invocation. I get that this is kind of a meme, but hear me out. By picking Great Old One, our Zet gains the ability to telepathically communicate with others – more fitting for primordial energy than what is offered by other patrons at level 1. By sticking in for 2 levels, we get the choice of 2 Eldritch Invocations. If we choose Lance of Lethargy as one of them, we’ve already got an excellent replica of Zet’s Flux ability.

By going this route, we avoid using unfitting cantrips (like Ray of Frost) and still slow targets. Moreover, by picking Eldritch Blast we can replicate the damage over time effect of Flux, attacking a target multiple times for incremental damage rather than once for loads of damage. For the hardcore Arc Warden roleplayer, Eldritch Blast also gives you the opportunity to, like Flux, diminish your damage when your target is with other enemies by attacking other targets. It may seem unreasonable for a two-level cantrip dip, but the mechanical bonuses and accuracy with the lore is worth it to me.

As far as starting spells and other cantrips go, it is also completely up to you. Pick whatever.

Sorcerer

No, you didn’t misreading anything. Arc Warden is a Shadow Magic Sorcerer, not a Storm Sorcerer. I have two main justifications for this choice. Firstly, Sorcerer has the widest selection of elemental themed spells regardless of subclass chosen: there is no penalty to the number of lightning and thunder spells available because we don’t choose Storm Sorcerer. Secondly, Shadow Magic gives us (along with loads of features we’ll never need) the closest thing to a Spark Wraith we’ll ever have. More on that later: for now, let’s look at what you should pick up in the early levels of Sorcerer.

Level 2’s Font of Magic feature is nice, but let’s be honest, the Metamagics at level 3 are the only thing we care about here. You could pick up Twinned Spell and another one of your choice (personally, I’d go with Careful Spell). To be honest, no particular Metamagics are essential. Twinned Spell is highly restrictive in what it can alter (and you can only twin Eldritch Blast from levels 1-4).

Shadow Magic Sorcerer level 6 gives us the only feature I’ll talk about in length: Hound of Ill Omen. By spending 3 sorcery points as a bonus action, you create a hound to hunt down a single target. Because this little pup has its own initiative and turn order, you get to recreate the multi-tasking required to play Arc Warden – fun!

Arc Warden creates his own friends. How shocking!

Hound of Ill Omen is, for all intents and purposes, our Spark Wraith. This feature has loads in common with Spark Wraith: it is autonomous, it hunts down a single target, multiple can be made, and it can even hunt down hidden targets! The only issue is the fact that it’s a dog, so, I dunno, reflavor it to be a Manectric or something. As an added bonus, it gives its target disadvantage on saving throws against spells you cast.

Once you get past level 6, Shadow Sorcerer has nothing more for us. The ability to teleport in shadows is cool, but it’s not in Zet’s repertoire. Theoretically, you could go deep into Warlock after level 6 Sorcerer, but in doing so you’ll forfeit many themed spells. Speaking of spells, let’s take a moment to look at all the spells we’ll get along the way.

Spells

In terms of cantrips, Lightning Lure and Shocking Grasp fit with Arc Warden’s theme, but to be honest Lightning Lure sucks. Early to midgame spells should include Witch Bolt, Blur, Lightning Bolt, and Storm Sphere. The purpose of Blur here is to recreate Arc Warden’s second ability, Magnetic Field. Sadly, this version only helps you avoid damage, so it isn’t quite a wholesome recreation.

Magnets – how do they work?

By late game, spells like Chain Lightning and Synaptic Static can be cast. It’s also later that we can cast the next discount Magnetic Field with the spell Globe of Invulnerability. This spell does actually protect your allies… but only from spells of 5th level and lower. Maybe I missed a big spell that emulates Magnetic Field (and please let me know if I did!) but I was having serious trouble finding a generic protective orb spell that could affect multiple people.

Trickery Domain Cleric

To prevent unnecessary bloat, I’ll keep this section brief. By going Cleric at your first character level you get medium armor and shield proficiency, which means Composite Plating for the Warforged and a chance at higher AC. Whether or not you want to do this is completely up to you.

The level 2 channel divinity option of Invoke Duplicity is Zet’s Tempest Double feature. Though with this feature you don’t duplicate spell slots, using Twinned Spell you can effectively double the spells cast as if you had more spell slots. It’s a makeshift work-around.

This is getting out of hand. Now there are two of them!

The reason that I save this for the end is because it’s Zet’s ultimate, so fitting with DotA 2 it’s the last thing you unlock. Practically however, the benefits provided by Invoke Duplicity is completely negligible, so you could put it anywhere in the build. Again, if there is a spell or other class ability that gives you more than an illusory duplicate, please let me know!

Equipment

As a Warforged you won’t need any armor and as a spellcaster you won’t need any weapons, so enjoy your light equipment load!

Now, you might be wondering about the difference between choosing Darkwood Core integrated protection versus the Composite Plating. The difference depends entirely on how high your dexterity is.

If you have 20 Dexterity and light armor proficiency at level 8, you’ll be touting a cool 19 AC with no shield. If you have at least 16 Dexterity with Medium Armor Master and no shield at level 8, you’ll also have 19 AC. In my mind, the chance you’ll have a 20 to spare on Dexterity is fairly low, and if you have medium armor proficiency from Cleric you’ll also get shield proficiency.

Regardless, if you have 1 level into Cleric (even when multiclassing) you will gain medium armor and shield proficiency, so it’s inevitable to have a shield and high AC. What you control is how much Dexterity you need to do it.

Feats

If you are able to pick a feat, Elemental Adept in lightning is probably your best choice. Besides this, there’s nothing that our Zet absolutely needs from feats. If you chose Composite Plating you could benefit from Medium Armor Master, too. Some DMs may argue that it isn’t valid, so be sure to check with them first.

Ability Scores

Because Sorcerer will be providing most of your damage through spells, a high Charisma is essential. Besides this, at least 13 Wisdom is needed to multiclass into Cleric. Finally, having a high Dexterity depends on your choice of Darkwood Core or Composite Plating integrated protection.

This review is, honestly, the most underwhelming in my opinion. While being able to recreate Arc Warden is cool, the mechanical limitations of DnD prevents true recreation of many of Arc Warden’s more in-depth abilities. That being said, there are plenty of other guide articles I made that work well both in recreating the original DotA 2 hero and in creating a fun, effective DnD 5e character. You can find each one here:
Abaddon
Alchemist
Ancient Apparition
Anti-Mage

And as always, what was none becomes one again.

Dungeons and DotA: Creating Anti-Mage

Anti-Mage is a melee Agility hero whose roles are Carry/Escape/Nuker. After a bad experience with rabbits being pulled from hats, this fellow decided that the only answer to magic was murder. Anti-Mage was educated among the monks of Turstarkuri, shortly before they became thralls for the Dead God. Now, he enjoys hunting necromancers, hunting magic users, and long walks on the beach. What’s so interesting about Anti-Mage is his indiscriminate code of ending magic and magic users. His strong unwavering values put him solidly into Lawful Neutral. Continue reading “Dungeons and DotA: Creating Anti-Mage”

Dungeons and DotA: Creating Ancient Apparition

Ancient Apparition is classified as a ranged Intelligence hero whose roles are Support/Disabler/Nuker. Kaldr, the Ancient Apparition, is not necessarily a character. He is, according to his bio, “an image projected outside of time.” His purpose unknown, his final form incomprehensible; what we see now is just a glimpse of what Kaldr is. Continue reading “Dungeons and DotA: Creating Ancient Apparition”