For Pony!

Welcome to Iconic Design, where we discuss the creation of exciting new character builds for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game!

 Picking characters to write as Iconic Designs is sometimes rather difficult. Sometimes I know certain characters will have powers and abilities that will be better represented by new classes that aren’t available yet; for example, I’m waiting for the Advanced Class Guide to do Wolverine and Nightcrawler. Other times I’m not certain whether or not a build will be interesting, like Tyrion Lannister or today’s character. But sometimes you REALLY want to destroy everyone and everything with sweet, delicious fire. And that’s when you create Richard the Warlock.

Background

Richard the Warlock hails from a web comic called Looking for Group, or LFG for short. His character is affectionately designed as a parody of Forsaken mages and warlocks from World of Warcraft. Without going into too much detail, Richard is a sociopath who un-lives for three things: death, destruction, and panic-wide panic. He’s like the spellcaster equivalent of Stitch. Over the years he’s had a lot of explanation on his various powers and abilities, enough where I think we can do him justice.

 Build Concept

But that said, Richard is one of those characters who isn’t going to be a particularly interesting character in terms of what classes we use to recreate him. Virtually all of his powers and abilities stem from sorcerer/wizard spells, and since we never see him consult a spellbook there’s no doubt that Richard is a single-class sorcerer. If there’s one thing we can say about Richard, however, its that there is not much divergence in his spellcasting: he does not have a particularly wide array of spells at his disposal. For that reason, I feel comfortable giving Richard the Crossblooded Sorcerer archetype: it allows Richard access to two different bloodlines that each have character-appropriate powers at the cost of reducing the number of spells known at his disposal. It’s a pretty fair trade for this character, I think.

  • Sorcerer (Crossblooded): Richard’s bloodlines are arcane and undead.
  • Race: Richard was a human in life, 100%. From here, you have a choice: the lich template or the zombie lord template (Bestiary 4). Personally, I think the zombie lord template is a better fit than the lich template, as we’ve never seen whether or not that jewel Richard carries can truly be considered a phylactery or not. If you’re a player looking to play Richard, my best suggestion is to make Richard a dhampir instead of a human. In order to make this swap as painless as possible, I’m going to assume that Richard has traded away his human bonus feat in this build: dual talent seems fittingly appropriate.  

You know, it occurs to me that this is the first full spellcaster that I’ve done on iconic design. Nifty.

Early Levels (1–7)

  • Classes: Sorcerer (Crossblooded) 7
  • Feats: Combat Casting (1st), Intensify Spell (3rd), Spell Penetration (5th), Improved Initiative (Bloodline), Elemental Spell: Cold (7th)
  • Abilities: Bloodline Powers (arcane bond: amulet, metamagic adept 2/day), Bloodline Spells (chill touch, false life, vampiric touch), Crossblooded Drawbacks (–2 on Will saves, one less spell per level)
  • Spells (3rd): fireball, vampiric touch
  • Spells (2nd): false life, flaming sphere, scorching ray
  • Spells (1st): burning hands, chill touch, mage armor, sculpt corpse, shocking grasp
  • Spells (0): acid splash, arcane mark, bleed, detect magic, ray of frost, prestidigitation

 Well, Richard’s a sorcerer. A crossblooded sorcerer. I don’t think there’s much explaining I can do here. From what we see of him in LFG, Richard favors spells that deal cold damage and fire damage as well as spells that allow him to do grisly, horrible things to his enemies. We never see Richard using many of the “iconic” powerhouse spells of Pathfinder, which is why staple spells like invisibility and fly aren’t on his spell list. No, Richard’s spell list is 100% tailored for death, which is just how he likes it.

 Many of Pathfinder’s best damaging spells are fire spells, but we see Richard flexibly using both fire and cold magic as it tickles his fancy. To this end, I made sure that Richard has the Elemental Spell metamagic feat. Although I personally loathe this feat and think that it is dreadfully overpriced for what it does, it is fitting for this build. This is the only time you’ll ever see me recommend Elemental Spell. This. One. Time. Speaking of spells, you probably noticed two things: one, this build doesn’t make use of Richard’s undead bloodline arcana and two, this build doesn’t make use of Richard’s arcane bloodline spells. Yes; nowhere in the Crossblooded archetype does the ability state that I need to be balanced in my selections. I’ll take what magic powers I want out of these builds, thank you. Just like Richard would.

 My final choice was to give Richard an arcane bond with his mystic jewel amulet. I like this choice of bloodline powers for several reasons, the biggest being that it implies that Richard could have had a familiar and merely retrained out of it. And as we all know, Richard certainly did have a familiar at one point, though you won’t see any trace of Hctib here!

Mid Levels (8 –14)

  • Classes: Sorcerer (Crossblooded) 14
  • Feats: Combat Casting (1st), Intensify Spell (3rd), Spell Penetration (5th), Improved Initiative (Bloodline), Elemental Spell: Cold (7th), Heighten Spell (9th), Preferred Spell (11th), Improved Initiative (Bloodline), Empower Spell (13th)
  • Abilities: Bloodline Powers (arcane bond: amulet, metamagic adept 2/day, grasp of the dead 1/day), Bloodline Spells (animate dead, chill touch, false life, true seeing, vampiric touch, waves of fatigue), Crossblooded Drawbacks (–2 on Will saves, one less spell per level)
  • Spells (6th): disintegrate
  • Spells (5th): cone of cold, icy prison, true seeing
  • Spells (4th): animate dead, charm monster, ice storm, wall of ice
  • Spells (3rd): fireball, lightning bolt, marionette possession, vampiric touch
  • Spells (2nd): false life, flaming sphere, frost fall, scorching ray, spontaneous immolation
  • Spells (1st): burning hands, chill touch, mage armor, sculpt corpse, shocking grasp
  • Spells (0): acid splash, arcane mark, bleed, detect magic, ghost sound, ray of frost, read magic, prestidigitation

 Its important to note that this is the first snapshot of the build that ends on an even level, which means Richard actually has 7th level spell slots, but no 7th level spells known. Levels like these is where those metamagic feats we’ve been taking really shine: you can upgrade your spells to fill in those higher-level spell slots instead of simply casting a lower-level spell in a higher-level slot. If you’re going to do that, you might as well get something out of it, right?

Richard’s spell list remains mostly damage-dealing spells with several noticeable exceptions. Charm monster was chosen for Richard’s ability to make friends with some of the most random, bizarre creatures in his world while marionette possession is an ability that perfectly replicates a spell Richard used for an entire arc in the comic. I don’t have much else to say about these choices save that they’re wicked and dreadfully fun to blow stuff up with.

Endgame (15+)

  • Classes: Sorcerer (Crossblooded) 20
  • Feats: Combat Casting (1st), Intensify Spell (3rd), Spell Penetration (5th), Improved Initiative (Bloodline), Elemental Spell: Cold (7th), Heighten Spell (9th), Preferred Spell (11th), Improved Initiative (Bloodline), Empower Spell (13th), Spell Perfection (scorching ray) (15th), Quicken Spell (17th), Iron Will (Bloodline), Dazing Spell (19th)
  • Abilities: Bloodline Powers (arcane bond: amulet, metamagic adept 2/day, grasp of the dead 3/day, school power (evocation), arcane apotheosis), Bloodline Spells (animate dead, chill touch, energy drain, false life, finger of death, true seeing, undeath to death, vampiric touch, waves of fatigue), Crossblooded Drawbacks (–2 on Will saves, one less spell per level
  • Spells (9th): energy drain, mass icy prison, meteor swarm
  • Spells (8th): incendiary cloud, polar ray
  • Spells (7th): control undead, delayed blast fireball, finger of death
  • Spells (6th): disintegrate, transformation, undeath to death
  • Spells (5th): cone of cold, fire snake, icy prison, true seeing
  • Spells (4th): animate dead, black tentacles, charm monster, ice storm, wall of ice
  • Spells (3rd): fireball, lightning bolt, marionette possession, vampiric touch
  • Spells (2nd): false life, flaming sphere, frost fall, scorching ray, spontaneous immolation
  • Spells (1st): burning hands, chill touch, mage armor, sculpt corpse, shocking grasp
  • Spells (0): acid splash, arcane mark, bleed, detect magic, ghost sound, ray of frost, read magic, prestidigitation

I’m going to be 100% honest here: I chose black tentacles not because it was ever something Richard has used, but because in my heart of hearts I know that it is something he would use. And that’s just as important sometimes. Transformation replicates Richard’s eaten the soul of a monk once. But again, nothing really wild or out of the ordinary in this build. Despite having a relatively small pool of spells to work with, Richard is extremely flexible in how he uses them. He can transform his fire spells into cold spells, unleash a volley of spells quickly with Quicken Spell, and make those spells extremely deadly with Dazing Spell or Empowered Spell. I selected scorching ray with Spell Perfection because Richard has been known to use ray spells more than any other, and as a low-level spell scorching ray is ripe for altering with his metamagic feats. Thanks to arcane apotheosis Richard is able to unleash eight rays in a round, four fire, four cold, all empowered and one set quickened at the cost of one second level spell and one fourth level spell. There is madness here, but you’re not going to be thinking about it when eight rays of death are striking you in the face.

And there you have it; a functioning build for Richard the Warlock of LFG! I really want to hear your thoughts on this build: did you think that this was a build worth showcasting despite its linear nature or do you think I should limit myself to crazy multiclass builds that practically require a P.H. D. in system mastery to dream up? Is this a build that you would use in your campaign, or are the limited number of spells known too much of a turn-off? Leave your answers and comments below, and I look foreward to the next time we meet at Iconic Design!

Alexander “Alex” Augunas has been playing roleplaying games since 2007, which isn’t nearly as long over 90% of his colleagues. Affectionately called a “budding game designer” by his partner at Radiance House, Alexander is the author of the Pact Magic Unbound series (Radiance House) and a handful of other Third-Party Products. Before founding the Everyman Gaming blog, Alexander gained notoriety for writing the GM’s Guide to Challenging Encounters, which remains accessible to this day. His favorite color is blue, his favorite Pathfinder Race/Class combination is undead kitsune zombie master cleric, and his favorite pastime is pretending that race/class combination made the smallest amount of sense.

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4 thoughts on “For Pony!

  1. This is really good, although I personally would have made Richard Arcane/Elemental (cold) and let his undead template handle the undead aspects. This lets him Metamagic like crazy and any spell that deals elemental damage can be swapped to deal cold damage on the fly, removing the need for Elemental Spell. If you were to do this, you could throw in Racial Heritage (Half-Elf) so he could use Paragon Surge as I expect Richard is exactly the kind of person to abuse that spell.

    • I don’t agree with the paragon surge bit: Richard is VERY limited in his applications of magic and throwing around whatever spell he wishes is out of character for him. His mage is almost entirely based around killing people with cold, fire, and sometimes random types of energy.

      As for the bloodlines, Arcane and Undead fit him better, even if having Elemental (cold) would be a more powerful choice. In the long run, Arcane’s bloodline powers are MUCH better than Undead’s (except for grasping hands which is awesomely cool) which is why you don’t see Richard with many (hint, any) of those abilities.

  2. While Richard doesn’t vary his normal spellcasting much, he does almost always have some spell or ritual that he can cast to aid the group when necessary. Honestly, I see him using more akin to maximizing his death dealing ability. Like using Paragon Surge to cast Acid Fog or Freezing Sphere, or Chain Lightning when he wishes without needing to know those spells.

    As for the bloodlines, I just feel possessing the Undead Bloodline is kind of redundant for him. It largely does nothing for him that an undead template doesn’t already do, while he’ll at least use the Elemental Bloodline.

    • Except he won’t use the Elemental Bloodline’s bloodline powers because I spent all of Richard’s Bloodline Powers on Arcane Bloodline powers.

      The Undead bloodline arcana is good as is its list of bonus feats and associated skill. I stand by my selections.

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