Creating Gideon Jura in DnD 5e
An invincible DnD character? One who won't die from hits left and right? AND they're a frontline fighter AND a spellcaster? This week, we build Gideon Jura, a Planeswalker from MtG. And he checks all the boxes.
When you love a game like DnD enough, you start viewing various things with that perspective. You start trying to build movie and television heroes and villains in DnD, making sure to flavor and get everything they can do just right.
I don't remember when the thought crossed my mind, but at some point an idea struck me: why don't I create Gideon Jura?
I would love to remember the context behind the thought, considering that he's not my favorite Planeswalker. Definitely not my least, but he's not my favorite. Maybe I just thought the task of creating an invincible character was appealing?
Come to find out, he's not very difficult to build.
I've been playing around with various versions of this concept — even loosing the Gideon focus once I figured out the mechanic. But an amazing friend of mine is running a one-shot this weekend and instead of sticking to one of my core five — I need to write a blog post about them someday — I decided to go full on with the Gideon concept.
"Invincible" is used loosely here, but you can at least simulate it.
All you need... is temporary hp.
Not an "amazing" concept, sadly. But it's such an easy thing to add to any character and have a mini-Gideon clone.
In one of the campaigns I'm in (Curse of Strahd) one of the characters can use the Inspiring Leader feat, and I feel like this use made me realize temporary HP's potential. I always thought the feat never gave enough HP, but it's actually good enough to soak most hits. Then I got to play around with Fiendish Vigor during the Baldur's Gate 3 beta and it confirmed that that "little" bit of temp hp is actually pretty good.
When I was originally coming up with the concept, I focused heavily on Fiendish Vigor. I don't mind a two level dip in Warlock for it (I love Warlocks, sue me), so I played around with that for some time. Combined with a Warlock sub-class that actually grants False Life, you have lots of temporary HP generation, with an at-will spell to grant hp.
Armor of Agathys is another good way to do this if you can manage to get it and it fits the flavor. During a solo run, I flavored most of the build you're about to see and Armor of Agathys as "controlling time."
Avoiding damage all together
While trying to build Gideon's abilities in the beginning, I ran across Goliaths and realized there was more than one way to accomplish my goal, one that would stack with temporary hp: damage reduction. Goliath's have an ability — Stone's Endurance — that allows them to soak 1d12 damage once per short or long rest.
This idea briefly led me to Abjuration Wizard. But, on paper, to me, Arcane Ward just doesn't work out as well. (There's not enough Abjuration spells I can cast!) If your experience with this is different, let me know. This class seems perfect for a Teyo build, though, so at some point I'm going to find a way to make it work.
But now, I've landed on another means of damage reduction: Clockwork Soul Sorcerer. At level 6 they gain a class ability called Bastion of Law. For the low, low price of one to five Sorcery Points, you can create a magical ward that can reduce damage by a number of d8s equal to the SP spent.
And with that, I have everything I need.
Kytheon Iora, my Gideon one-shot build
I needed the Clockwork Soul's level 6 ability. I just felt like it was imperative to have. Luckily, we were building Level 7 characters for this one-shot.
Damage reduction + temp hp just feels great, but Gideon can actually deal some damage. It didn't feel right for Kytheon to not have armor, either, so I chose to do a single level of Fighter. As a bonus, I get Second Wind (another way to deal with taking damage). This makes my build Fighter 1 / Clockwork Soul Sorcerer 6.
My DM was gracious to provide us with a healthy heaping of magic items, so I chose Bloodwell Vial (duh), a +1 Longsword, Mithral Half Plate, and Potion of Fire Giant Strength. I was also able to get something else to help enable invulnerability: Outer Essence Shard. It seems a bit redundant with the Bloodwell Vial, but each serve their own purpose. The Vial gives me back 4 SP, while the Shard grants 3d6 temporary hits to yourself or anyone you want within 30ft whenever you use a Metamagic option.
The Test Run
I'm learning and getting accustomed to solo rp. I have too many character ideas and not enough campaigns. I run them through "The Dead Don't Sleep" when I first make a solo character to see how they function, and I decided to run Kytheon through that as well.
I won't bore you with the details of the dungeon, but there's a few things I want to point out that I learned from it.
- Bastion of Law fu**** me. Twice. Both times I rolled, I got a 1. Lol
- Speaking of Bastion of Law, I'm unclear of whether you can use it while incapacitated. Kytheon got swarmed by some creatures who can paralyze. I let myself use it because no action seems to be needed. Speak with your DM before it comes up.
- ... but I still love the thought of Bastion of Law. A ward of 2 seems good for my level. In an actual party of 3+ people, 2 may be all I have to use, as I plan on Extending Aid, Mage Armor, or False Life, and using the rest to Quicken certain spells in combat.
- At the end, during the boss fight, I should have remembered Kytheon has Counterspell. Use all your invulnerability tricks!
- When you're down to just a few temp HP (1-3), don't worry about "saving" it. Do what you can to put another level's worth of temp HP on you. Don't let the Pheonix Down Syndrome hit you here.
- Remember that you can sacrifice spell slots for SP. I converted a second-level slot to SP at some point when I ran out, and it proved invaluable when I needed a temp hp boost later on in the fight. I was able to Quicken Protection from Evil and Good and get a few extra temporary HP, and still swing with Booming Blade.
Playing Gideon as early as possible
If I have the flavor of this right, you can start playing Gideon right at level one. As he grows, he becomes stronger in his magic, but in the beginning it does start off very minimal.
As I did, start with Fighter. Depending on how fast you want Bastion of Law, you can take up to three levels of Fighter early on. My pick of Fighter subclasses for Gideon is Battlemaster, as it provides a few more ways to avoid damage.
If you start out as a human or a custom lineage, also think about taking take Eldritch Adept for Fiendish Vigor. At early levels, that's all the False Life you'll need, really. While my build does not feature it, if I was doing a real campaign, I would 100% have it. Fiendish Vigor will be great for overworld travel, or that one specific scenario where you've somehow used up all of your spell slots and all of your sorcery points, and you'd still like to have some temp hp.
Weave in a few Sorcerer levels as you progress to allow for all the crazy shenanigans. Any class who can get False Life will also be suitable depending on how you want your invulnerability to work.
That's all I got. I have a public copy of Kytheon's character sheet on DnDBeyond for your viewing pleasure. Once we run the one-shot, I'll make sure to update you all on what I find out.
If you have any other things you want me to build or discuss, just leave a comment or contact me on Twitter @GatlingXYZ.