Unique PC Features

29 August, 2010

Here at the Jaela Daran Fan Club, we go above and beyond what is expected (many times crossing into the unnecessary). As a DM, I encourage dropping or retraining items and features that are constantly forgotten or don’t see enough use. This is especially bad in 4th edition, in paragon tier and above, because of the sheer amount of immediate interrupt powers, monster passive abilities, and PC situational feats. You have a feat that does +1.5 damage against aberrations but only while bloodied and concealed? You deal 3 damage every time you push, but only have one item daily that pushes? You forgot what Improved Warforged Resolve does, again, you worthless automaton?!

"If only I had a way to get both temporary and real HP as a minor action!"

Anyway, I’ve found that if a player enjoys a situational effect, they remember it more often. This includes both features of their character builds and roleplay benefits that they earn. Here’s a list of boons granted to my PCs that actually saw constant use.

The Fall Down the Stairs Spell

A quest reward from a powerful mage, its in-game effect was to nullify the ridiculous regeneration and damage reduction of a particular enemy. Its visual effect was to make the guy look like he fell down several flights of stairs. When the fated combat encounter began, the players were pleased to see that in the center of the game map… was a flight of stairs.

Dynamic Hair (Passive)

A power granted by an eleven master of wind magic, this spell allowed the Sorcerer’s hair to move dramatically, as if there was a perfectly-timed breeze, or they were walking through a door into an air conditioned room. I’d imagine that female PCs would be able to pull this off better and sexier.

Neverending Mug

While not really a feature, I believe this deserves a mention. I pulled this one from a 3e sourcebook. It’s a mug that generates a random amount of ale per day, usually good for one person. Could be a holy dwarven relic. At least one person in an average party will enjoy this thoroughly, if not more than one.

Wrestling Federation Championship Belt

This item didn’t even do anything. Really. But once the Warlord got his hands on ¬†certain belt in a treasure hoard and declared it to be this, battles started including flying elbow drops, pins, and dropkicks. And of course, it also included quoting the Ultimate Warrior, Hulk Hogan, the Rock, etc. It was awesome.

Ritual Assistant

The elves gathered by the fire, discussing what had to be done. Finally, they gathered the arcane components and asked all those having arcane knowledges to stay. All others were to depart, so not to disturb the ritual. The Orc said to the elven leader, “I’ll help too.” Matter of factly, the elf looked at the berserker and responded with, “how the hell are you going to do that?”

While dressed in nothing but a loincloth and ritual paint, the Orc Berserker had the ability to assist in rituals. Most of the time, it was by chanting “ooga-chaka” repeatedly and pumping his two-handed axe up and down in the air. Mechanically, I let him use his Athletics check, so he was frighteningly as good, in most cases better, than all the other ritual-assistants.

Closing

As a DM, when you understand a PC enough, you know what he can and can’t do easily. They develop certain traits, and soon, you start accepting them. Once the Warden rolled a 1 against that candelabra, everyone at the table accepted that he had a hard time hitting inanimate objects. The rogue that I play is a crossbow bolt magnet, and that fact is proved over and over again, every time enemies with that weapon type come into play.

Extra features make things more interesting, and gives the PC and the party something to talk/laugh/tease/complain about.

If you’re here, post a comment if you can think of a unique PC feature that isn’t in the rulebooks, but everyone at the gaming table accepted. Thanks for reading.

-Lancar

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