NOTE: This is a build that grew from our new Stream on Saturday nights around 7 PM called COLD BREW where we take a subject and do what we do best; brainstorm ideas. This Saturday the 24th we will discuss CLERICS. Come join us with your personal builds and ideas to help us conceive some crazy characters. ALSO see the main article talking about using Barbarian and RAGE mainly as a catalyst for transformations. Not only did we mention VENOM, but several other great ideas.
There will be a character sheet and rundown of build at the end of article.
Sir Bruce of the Emerald Banner was a renown wizard in the High Kingdom. He had chosen the school of Transmutation against his father’s wishes (He had been an Evocation Wizard of his own renown). He had survived many battles; proving his worthiness in many conflicts. But his love was research.
He had convinced the crown to fund a great many experiments into magic items to save more of his peoples lives on the field. But the General, who the crown had placed in charge of the project, one Thaddimus ‘The THUNDER’ Rossivon, was more interested in weapons of amazing destruction. As much as Sir Bruce could, he fought against this, but, if he were to continue his other many research subjects, he would have to prove useful in creating something for battle more than an effective shield.
Rossivon paired him up with a younger wizard who had shown promise, Squire Emilio Blonksky; an evocation wizard like his father. In fact, the young progeny was being trained by him. The Squire was running experiments in fusing elemental power to human subjects which set Sir Bruce against him immediately. Seeing that they would do it anyway, he stayed with the project to try and control the dangerous and arrogant kid.
But, Sir Bruce had found something more powerful than simple elemental theatrics. His research had began to show promise in making stronger, faster, more able soldiers. A vitual Super Knight! This pleased the General greatly. He was not pleased, however, with his slow progress. Pushed to edge of exhaustion and not willing to test on human subjects, Sir Bruce began to test the magic on himself.
Somehow, he had tapped into a pure font of magic from some other plane that enhanced the physical structure of his body. The results were short lived gaining him mere minutes with a stronger arm, quicker legs or a heightened sense of awareness. The General kept pushing him harder and harder. And, as Sir Bruce knew it would, rushing results would cause mistakes.
In one of his solitary experiments, Sir Bruce tapped into this otherworldly magic and began irradiating himself with it. One slip and, suddenly, he could not stop the flow of magic from filling his body. The pain was excrutiating. So much so that he blacked out; finding himself naked in a field outside of the castle. Once he collected himself, he stole a cloak from a clothes line and followed the strange noises back into town. The sight was horrifying. No enemy ever had done the kind of damage Sir Bruce was witnessing. A gapping hole in the wall. Many of the guards bludgeoned to death. Stories about a massive, hulking monster rampaging through the streets.
On top of that, word was the beast had killed Sir Bruce! It became all too clear. the experiments had went too far. He was the monster and he had to keep them thinking he was dead until he could figure this out. He began gathering supplies and, hiding out in an abandoned tower in the old woods, tried to figure out what had happened, where the magic had come from and if he could reverse it.
He attempted to stay hidden, but he found certain stimulis’ set off a rage with in him and he would begin to transform into this monstrosity that destroyed with no remorse or conscience. The General continued using Sir Bruce’s notes to try and figure out what had happened. He had realized that the wizard was still alive and the experiment was a success. Now he had to recreate it.
Sir Bruce tried to stay close, but it became impossible without being found out. He wouldn’t become a test subject for the General or his pet wizard. So, he packed up everything he could and began traveling as far away as he could.
Two things came of this. One thing he found was that he had some unresolved issues with his father. He had been abusive both physically and mentally. This was not a good combination with this beast that wanted so desperately to be set loose. The night terrors he was use to having because of this translated into him transforming into that monster. He would also transform during moments of severe emotion and pain. Once it started, there was no stopping it and he never knew how long he would be out and the monster would be IN.
The second thing he heard second hand. Word is another monster was seen not too long after Sir Bruce’s ‘death’. This came with news of the young squire’s death. He could only deduce that the General and young wizard had made a ‘breakthough’. It was obvious that this new monster was Blonsky as this one was far more horrid than the first and much more brutal. The General also began using Blonsky in newer battles in conflicts that they had just recently instigated.
Now Sir Bruce has to, not only find out how to reverse his own monster problem, but irradicate Blonsky and stop the General from waging war across the realm.
So, obviously, the above is just an example. But it sets the high points.
In researching transmutation magic, an accident happened. The source of the magic could come from anywhere and work into any storyline you or your DM has in mind. But the bottom-line is that our man-monster begins as a Wizard of the School of Transmutation. This made sense to us as Bruce Banner in the comics was a learned man and you don’t find many me more learned than a Wizard.
Choose the SAGE background with Investigator feature. This gives him more languages and skill choices that will benefit him greatly. The Investigator feature will allow him to know where to go to find a ‘cure’.
The best feature of the School of Transmutation is the Transmutter Stone. It would be wise to pick one of the resistances for your lower levels
You should probably begin playing him no lower than second level: Level One Transmutation Wizard/Level One Barbarian. Of course, much like our other transformative builds, we will use the Barbarian Rage to give agency and structure to our ‘HULK’. Just like my Jekyll/Hyde build, I would go The Path of the Berserker for all the same reasons.
But, first, let’s talk about the Hulk in the room. The main reason most don’t build a Wizard/Barbarian build is that, while in rage, your character can’t cast spells and can’t concentrate on them. But, let’s get real. You only have so many rages. You may be inclined to lead with your Wizard Spells and, once the enemy is softened up, your ‘Hulk comes in for the finisher. It’s your ‘Ace in the hole’ to pull out when things get hairy.
And I know you still are wondering how to make it work by the numbers. And that’s where we suggest a transformative mechanic to do just that. When choosing where to put your top two stats, go ahead and place the highest in Intelligence and the second highest in Wisdom; just like you were building only a Wizard. You could put the second one in Constitution or just save the third highest for this. Go put the lowest stat number in Strength. And how do we have a Barbarian with a weak Strength stat? We don’t. The only time we use the Barbarian stats is when he Rages. This is the transformation. SO when he Rages/Transforms, flip your character’s Intelligence score with his Strength. This way, he is weak as a Wizard and not too smart when he transforms/rages.
I think follow the hit dice for whatever class you’re leveling up. So his hit points may be a problem, but at least he’s getting the d12 hit points half the time. If you really want to get difficult, you could keep two different hit point totals, but I don’t think this would be prudent.
For flavor, you may play the Banner side as reluctant to go into rage and need to be…well…coerced into the change much like we see with Banner/Hulk in the comics. Imagine this. Your enemies target your wizard, like they will if they’re smart, with either another magical barrage or with an attack by your marshal characters. Damage is done. The smoke clears or the hammer strikes and suddenly the change is triggered and your whimpy, frail looking Wizard is suddenly a roided out barbarian giving as good as he gets.
You could use the Wizard spells to close the distance once your done with any bombardments. Invisibility, Dimension Door, etc keeps you from being seen until it’s too late. Suddenly appearing as the Barbarian in full on Rage in a way they can’t prepare for. “Where did the Wizard go?”
There are many places this warping magic could have come from. Here a just a few suggestions:
- A parasitic power from the Far Realm
- A demonic curse from the Abyss; maybe another of the meddling of Therizdun, the bound god.
- A renegade spirit from the Feywild looking for a bit of fun?
- A splinter of a god of wrath like Demogorgon.
- The spirit of a barbarian warrior unwilling to give up his rage
Maybe you could take cues from the golden age Thor who was cursed to live life as the weak Donald Blake, but when a warrior was needed, he slammed his walking stick down transforming him into Thor and the stick into his hammer. The stick becomes a staff.
I like the newer versions of Hulk and him being haunted by his past abuse and the uncontrollable rage that stemmed from it. This brings me back to another article I will need to do in the near future. For I believe the Barbarian’s rage can come from any strong emotion which opens up a whole myriad of possibilities for roleplay and character development.
Below you will see the numbers we came up with for a 20th level character that has followed a split progression between his learned self and his hard to control rampaging wrath. Let us know what you think or what you have done or would do with this kind of transformative character.