"How many of those little knives have you got?" [Ral] frowned. "Where were you keeping them, anyway?"
Hekara blinked. "I'm a razorwitch. I didn't tell you?"
She held up an empty hand, twisted it with a flourish, and was suddenly holding a double-ended, diamond-shaped blade by the tip. Another flourish, and there was a second one beside it, then a third and a fourth. She opened her hand, and the steel had vanished before it hit the ground.
"That's handy," Ral muttered. The blades were sharp on both sides, he noted, and up close he could see her fingers were thickly cross-hatched with tiny cuts. All Rakdos are mad. "All right. Try not to kill anyone if you don't have to. We don't know who is actually working with Garo and who's just doing their jobs."
"Sigh," Hekara said aloud. "Buzzkill."
I love Magic: the Gathering. I'm not the best at it but I have fun, and the cards, stories, and lore intrigue me. I've thought about how I would make some of the Planeswalkers and other characters in 5e but had never had the chance to put it into action.
When creating a character for Curse of Strahd, I searched through classes trying to get inspired, doing my best to steer clear of my favorites: Warlocks, Wizards, and Sorcerers. I rely on them a lot, and while they are fun each time, I wanted to try something new.
When I ran across Eldritch Knights, I instantly thought of Hekara, a Razorwitch from Ravnica and a member of the Rakdos Guild.
Roven, the Razorwitch, was born!
I based this entire build around the Eldritch Knight's level 3 class feature: Weapon Bond. This ability is similar to Warlock's Pact of the Blade: the character can summon a weapon to their hand. Pact of the Blade requires an action and can summon practically any weapon to them or bond with an existing magical item. Eldritch Knights, on the other hand, can summon one of two bonded weapons as a bonus action, each item requiring a ritual to be cast on them for an hour to forge the bond. I chose EK because I've never played a fighter before and I wanted to be able to toss as many daggers as possible.
Further inspired by Reddit posts about reflavoring spells, I decided to try my hand and go all in. Physical manifestations, verbal components, the whole works. I wanted this to not even look like a default class.
Before progressing further, I need to talk about how I reflavored the class to fit my needs. Luckily, this requires no real handwaving or DM approval: it's all visual fluff.
Roven is in touch with what I like to call the Blade Pantheon, a group of deities that manifest as bladed weapons: daggers, swords, knives, scythes, etc. When he casts a spell, he summons a specific deity and they manifest the desired effect based on what they represent. Due to who Roven is to me personally, he has an Air theme, which influenced the names of his weapons and the Pantheon. I went through Pinterest and made a gallery of each deity with their physical manifestation. As of this moment (we're at level 6, approaching level 7), I have these deities in the Pantheon:
- Squall, the Viscious
- Aether, the All-Seeing and All-Knowing
- Downdraft, the Warding
- Aurora, the Fatale
- Miasma, the Adler
- Cloudburst, the Galvanizing
- Aeolian, the Chaotic
- Iris, the Illusion of Calm
- Poot, the Ringmaster
Here's my Pinterest board for Roven and the Blade Pantheon.
For cantrips I selected Light and Sword Burst. Roven is a Halfling and almost no one in my party had Darkvision, so we would need a light source. Sword Burst just seemed fun.
"I summon Aurora, the Fatale! Let your beauty guide the way." In his outstretched hand, a beautiful bright, shimmering blade appeared. Wasting no time, Roven tapped the pebble -- as if he were knighting it -- and it began to shine almost as bright as Aurora herself. Aurora vanished with a *clang*, sounding somehow more beautiful than the others. Roven picked up the pebble and tossed it down the hole...
Roven grinned, stretching both hands out to his sides. The twig blights didn't know what was in store. "I summon Squall, the Vicious!" he shouted. A metallic dragon burst forth from some other dimension, razor sharp scales slicing the air. "Consume those around me with voracity!" Squall picked up speed, circling Roven a few times, and slashing each twig blight around him into pieces.
I apply this treatment to the 1st Level spells he learned as well: Magic Missile, Shield, and Color Spray. I only picked spells that I felt could have effects manifested from a blade deity.
"I summon Aether, the All-Seeing and All-Knowing." Roven held out both hands, letting the scythe softly clang into existance and rest on the palms of his hands. He gripped the handle with his right hand and swung the blade in front of him, three spectral blades now hovering in the wake of Aether. "Show my enemies their fates." His voice was calm but his gaze pierced. The spectral blades each began vibrating violently before launching out towards the zombies, each taking one and striking them in the chest.
Roven's eyes widened, watching the wolf charge towards him. "Help me, Downdraft, the Warding!" He dropped one of his daggers just in time for Downdraft's physical form to *clang* into existance, the handle of the massive blade now residing in the hand that dropped his weapon. Their was a brief yelp and Roven peeked over Downdraft's massive blade to see that the beast had collided with the other side. He let out a sigh of relief.
"I summon Aurora, the Fatale!" He beckoned and she appeared: Aurora clanged into his hand. He gripped the handle, bringing her as close to his face as he could, one eye hidden behind the blade while the other surveyed the pests before him. "Shine your light on those unworthy to behold you." His side of Aurora dimmed ever so slightly, while the other was suddenly engulfed in a flash of brightly swirling, pulsating lights.
To remain accountable, spells that have a material or somatic component all require Roven to hold the manifested deity, which ensures that the hand is free and unoccupied.
Of my builds, this one is ready to go at level three once you're able to select the subclass. Any further levels are for customizing to your taste, but here's what I did:
- At Level 4, I took Magic Initiate. I wanted to have fun and roleplay, and also use a bit more magic in combat. I picked up Shocking Grasp and Booming Blade, and took Ray of Sickness as my first level spell.
"I summon Cloudburst, the Galvanizing! Lend me a conduit to unleash your wrath!" As soon at its name was called, Cloudburst burst into his hands, a loud clang echoing throughout the room. He wasted no time in stabbing the nearby goblin, it's body convulsing as thousand watts of electricity coursed through it.
"I summon Cloudburst, the Galvanizing!" He held up his dagger as a tribute, lightning striking but with very little sound, oddly. He slashed the kobold with the dagger, a deafening silence surrounding them. "Strike them down if they move." It was a command for Cloudburst, but a threat from himself. Would the kobold obey?
Roven narrowed his eyes, holding an open hand to his side. "I summon Miasma, the Adling. Gouge the stomach and pollute the blood." Miasma clanged with a sickening, bubbling sound. Before he could let the wolf react, he tossed the blade at him, a purplish ooze dripping from the hidden crevices, leaving dead grass wherever the ooze touched.
- At Level 5, there's nothing to plan. I did end up switching out Color Spray for Protection from Evil and Good. I realized that, as a front-line fighter, I needed to use my spells for damage in battle. I'd reconsider Color Spray at level 18 though because of the improved War Magic class feature.
"I summon Downdraft, the Warding! Protect Siegnar from those not of this realm!" Roven opened his hand as Downdraft clanged into it. Flipping the blade right-side up, Roven knighted his friend (despite being only three-feet tall and Siegnar being well past seven). Downdraft emitted a soft hum and floated out of his grip, hovering around Siegnar on it's own. "It's going to be okay." He nodded triumphantly, and headed back into the fray, hopeful that Downdraft could keep the undead away.
- At Level 6, I picked up Warcaster. I grabbed this mostly for the cantrip-as-a-AOO, but it also helps so that I don't need to drop a dagger to perform somatic components. It also combos with Booming Blade, so there's that.
I have plans for future levels, but they aren't solidified yet.
- Level 7 is a big one for Eldritch Knights: War Magic! I also plan on switching out my non-Abjuration and -Evocation spell for Shadow Blade. Shadow Blade ups my damage by a lot, and I can cantrip + swing as needed. For reference, "Iris" is Shadow Blade's deity.
- The only thing certain about Level 8 is upping my Dexterity by one point, whether that be through ASI or a Feat. I'll probably choose the latter and pick one that has a nice roleplaying ability attached to it.
- Level 9 and 10 are up in the air. I know that CoS reaches these levels. I'll end up basing my decision around what we need in-game. One of my plans is to multiclass into Wizard, as I don't feel as if I need the class features from those two EK levels.
For stats (pre-Tasha's), I picked Stout Halfling as my race (+2 Dex, +1 Con) and started with the following using Standard Array:
- Strength: 10 (+0)
- Dexterity: 17 (+3)
- Constitution: 14 (+2)
- Intelligence: 14 (+2)
- Wisdom: 12 (+1)
- Charisma: 8 (-1)
Roven started off as a Chaotic Neutral Rakdos-like circus performer. He threw daggers at everything and just wanted to watch the world burn. His daggers were old and rusty, the handles digging into the palms of his hands daily. He's wrapped in bandages and the parts that aren't are scarred or bruised. He's a masochist.
Having never really played a physical character, I wanted him to be on the front lines. Being a Chaotic Rakdos character meant he didn't care that he was bleeding or that he fell into a spike pit. He laughed it off like he was a member of the Adams Family.
As we played more and more, I realized he wasn't truly Neutral. In fact, Roven was more Chaotic Good. And given his "tragic backstory" -- he was robbed and left for dead, the culprits leaving behind the daggers he uses today after having a mental break -- it was revealed that he ran first and got hurt so no one else would. Roven has the highest HP in the party (though, only a single one more than the party cleric) and tends to deal the most damage. Not to mention he has two attacks, Action Surge, and Second Wind. I've really only played magic users before, so these abilities were eye-opening. I'll definitely keep Fighters on my list of classes to play with in the future.
That wraps up this week on Let's Roll. I have some ideas of characters that never saw daylight and ones I solo RPed I'd love to write about, but I'd also love to hear what any flavor or character ideas you'd want me to write up! Contact me here in the comments or on Twitter @GatlingXYZ.