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I am thinking about bringing in Drizz't Do'Urden as a PC in a future campaign. We'll be starting at 14th level. I'm not too worried about the story, I'll figure that out later. I'm just starting to read the books now, but I'm thinking ranger or fighter.

My question is, what class would fit him best? What paragon path, feats, powers and magic items should I select to give him an authentic feel?

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Wouldn't Drizz't be dead in D&D 4.0, because of the time-lapse between 3.* Faerûn and 4.0 Faerûn? Not that would stop R.A. Salvator... –  C. Ross Dec 3 '10 at 21:08
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Drizz't has his on wiki page. –  C. Ross Dec 3 '10 at 21:09
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Never let Wizard's official canon get in the way of a good story. Our group's campaign is based in our own version of the Realms and we only very, very loosely follow the official canon. It's more fun if your campaign isn't constrained by what the powers that be say should be so. –  BBlake Dec 3 '10 at 23:29
    
@dpatch I'd like some feedback on either of my answers, based on the requirements of your future campaign. While surprisingly the battlemind recommendation of my last answer is incredibly counterintuitive, I think it fits the flowing style of Drizzt remarkably well, being a tossup between that and monk. –  Brian Ballsun-Stanton Dec 6 '10 at 9:00
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Due to party composition issues I've decided against actually playing a Drizz't character. However, if any others are interested, I read the first 5 books and played with many builds over the past few weeks and the whirling slayer barbarian seemed to match Drizz't's attitude and fighting style best. Take multiclass ranger so you can choose the Blade Dancer paragon path, and there's a neat Scimitar Dance feat that works well too. –  dpatchery Jan 7 '11 at 18:45
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3 Answers

up vote 4 down vote accepted

On a more subversive answer, Drizzt is called a ranger, and certainly demonstrates a mastery of nature, but one of the mechanical sub-plots is how angry Drizzt is.

We are forced to consider then: what are the essential characteristics of Drizzt's nature, and how can the mechanics best reflect them, without using the names that blind us to the obvious answers.

Drizzt is fast, angry, precise. He fights with an animal companion of sufficient integrity to be called another PC (for Guen certainly acts as a sidekick in the novels).

Searching the internets for commented on scenes we get:

a Scene i LOVE is the one when Artemis Entreri and Drizzt fight together shoulder-to-shoulder against a lot of gray dwarves, in the Silver Streams book :P. They use a strange rotating dance tactic that i wuold like to introduce in my campaign (using a feat or something else :P). RA you're the best! :*

Without digging out the books again (as they're on the other side of the ocean this presents difficulty) I can say that most of the described fight scenes suggest that Drizzt uses fluid manuvering along with fast swordplay. Depending on book, it's also sitting on top of anger.

Mechanically, we are faced with certain constraining elements: The race must be drow (it feels wrong to reflavour another race when the named race already exists) and it must be able to effectively dual-wield non-off hand weapons or give the appearance of doing so.

This presents us with the following list: * Whirling Slayer barbarian * Two-Blade ranger * The idea of monk (with its expression of whirling flurry of blades) * Slayer (while there are no dual-wielding rules, the stances fit Drizzt's fluid movement) * Battlemind (ignoring the psionic "flavour" the mechanics of battlemind seem to suit being all over the battlefield, supporting your striker companion (guen) and so on.

Slayer has a truly remarkably dex synergy with melee training dex, multi-classing into an off-hand as minor attack. It is partial to two-handed weapons, but we can't have everything.

Stances: Battle Wrath, Duelist's Assault, and Mobile Blade. This is best used with the level 16 boots "Survivor's Boots" (character needs to start at level 15 optimally) MC Fighter, PP Shock Trooper

Speed of Thought Battlemind has significantly less damage spam, but can be optimized for striker level output (recommended in this case.) My best recommendation is just to follow this fantastic guide, use drow instead of goliath (take the stat hit) and just call your hammers scimitars. Scimitars are severely underwhelming in 4e, and I think that flavour wise, lightning lure and brutal barrage, the obscenely fast out-of-turn movement, and the sheer toughness fit Drizzt very well.

The idea of monk is counterintuitive only if you accept the flavour of monk. If you instead understand it as "a combination of drow fighting styles and the expertise of the surface" centered or iron fist flurry of blows could fit Drizzt's style well. And the movement techniques fit him perfectly as he's known for pulling off all kinds of insane maneuvers. Iron soul + wintertouched, alone with starblade flurry (again, call the mechanical requirement a "scimitar" and don't fuss overmuch about trying to match mechanics of something 2 editions past.) Guide here.

Whirling slayer is very important to keep in mind, as there are some fun builds there, but it's close enough to the two-blade ranger to make it a toss up between which powers you want more. I'd like to formally warn you that the ranger drizzt will get exceedingly boring as his most optimal attack (after the inital daily-drop, depending on situation) is twin strike. If you want more sophisticated tactical choices, don't take ranger.

Of all of these, the one that fits drow best is monk, and the one that fits drizzt's flashing style of combat best, surprisingly, is battlemind. While using battlemind would take an almost complete flavour-mechanics divorce, the resulting character will be effective (but not stupidly over-powered), tactically interesting, useful alone or in groups, and fun to play.

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Thank you for this analysis. I am most interested in the fun-to-play aspect, and it looks like another player in the group is already bringing in a two weapon ranger. I still have some research to do and the campaign is a few months off, but I'll necro this and post a link to my character sheet when I have it finalized. –  dpatchery Dec 6 '10 at 12:57
    
Fantastic. I'm happy to try to customize flavour with another question when you have more details. –  Brian Ballsun-Stanton Dec 6 '10 at 22:24
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14th level, drow, two-weapon fighter. Cheesy and stereotyped (but quite quite lethal). I think I can do better than the "default" build. Drizzle has a number of characteristic moves and equipment:

Drizzt's favorite weapon is the scimitar, and he carries two, nicknamed Twinkle and Icingdeath. He also carries a unique Figurine of Wondrous Power which summons his black panther companion Guenhwyvar11. The drow wears a pair of bracers of the blinding strike (obtained from Dantrag Baenre, weapon master of the first house of Menzoberranzan who challenged and lost to Drizzt) around his ankles, making him incredibly quick on his feet. He chose to wear them on his legs instead of his arms because when the enchantment combined with his natural speed, his sword swings became too fast for him to control (making it hard to change directions), and his feet could not keep up, resulting in extremely predictable attacks. Drizzt's attire is generally a cloth tunic, tough pants, soft boots and leather gloves12. Drizzt wears an enchanted suit of mithral chainmail, made by Buster Bracer that he now augments by wearing a spider silk shirt under his armour that can magically protect its wearer from all but the most lethal attacks. Drizzt carried Agatha's mask during his journeys in Calimshan. Drizzt is not above improvising in combat by taking what weapons are available to him. He has also been known to use Mooshie's Longbow and a dagger hidden in each boot.

Moves are not strongly detailed in the wiki, so we'll go with the cheesiest possible combination.

Most build details will be references from This Guide

Ranger, Two-blade fighting style (required, because scimitars don't have an off-hand property.) Prime shot, because of feats in paragon. Background: Cult Escapee, because I find it amusing to characterize Lolth's priesthesshood as a cult, and because the arcana skill represents his time at the academy.

PP options are: Blade-dancer, Pathfinder, Stormwarden, or Ruthless Punisher. if starting at level 16, Pathfinder is my recommendation, as rangers are incredibly squishy, but Drizzle doesn't behave that way. At 14, my recommendation is Ruthless Punisher as it seems to fit his usual enemies of humanoids. Looking at multi-classing, barbarian fits Drizzle's backstory the best, giving us the very sold "berserker's fury" feat that represents the "The Hunter" state he falls into. It costs us 2 points of strength, but we can't have everything. There are two useful powers that we'll be multi-classing into later, that get that lethal feel across as well.

Pre-racial ability scores are a fairly dismal: 16/13/14/10/14/8. The str/dex/con/wis MAD stems from the need for not-completely crappy melee defenses, though this is an argument for potentially trying to build this character as an Essentials build, to simplify all the requirements considerably. The PP and a number of powers require wis, and the barbarian requires con. This is one of the large problems inherent in trying to build a character to a fictional character set in a different edition. Try to get your GM to give you an extra +2 dex, if possible.

Trained skills to taste, I chose: Arcana, Athletics, Dungoneering, Nature, Perception (Barbarian Training), Stealth. Flavour to suit, and choose appropriate background, depending on what emphasis you want.

  • At-will: Twin Strike, Shield of Blades.
    • Twin strike is the must take of rangerhood. Shield of Blades is distinctly underwhelming, but matches Drizzle's flavour, inasmuch as he "hides behind a weaving curtain of steel" at some points in the books. (From what I remember reading them 15 years ago.) It doesn't matter, as 99.9% of the time, we'll be using twin-strike.
  • Encounter 1 (ignorable): Off-hand strike
  • Daily 1: Commanding Confrontation
    • This is an extremely unusual choice. While it's technically a ranged attack (Drizzle must open the fight with a thrown knife from his boot, or a shot from the longbow) the 2+wis mod extra damage on every single attack is just too significant to overlook.
  • Utility 2: Invigorating Stride: shift and second wind as move.
  • Encounter 3: Disruptive Strike: Interrupts are fantastic. Debuffing interrupts more-so.
  • Daily 5: Snarling Wolf Stance: MBA as IR as a stance anytime makes a melee attack against us? Perfect fit for the style of many many flashing blades seen in the books.
  • Utility 6: Mighty sprint (not many really noteworthy choices at this level. Grab anything that looks interesting/fun)
  • Encounter 7: Lashing Leaves: A great power to open up a nova with.
  • Daily 9: Invigorating Confrontation
    • While this means that drizzt will be opening up 2/3 fights with a ranged attack, the flow of 5+wismod THP against elites and solos is just too good to pass up. If you want simple damage, grab attacks on the run.
  • Utility 10: Resume the hunt
  • Encounter 13: Off hand Diversion

Retrain: invigorating or snarling-wolf for Tiger's claw rage, depending if you are OK with the "throw a dagger or shoot a bow to open" mechanic of invigorating.

Feats:

  • 1: Berserker's Fury
  • 2: Silvery Glow (take weapon focus if you don't want to go frostcheese, or if you're in FR and Sehanie != Melikki)
  • 4: Master at Arms
  • 6: **
  • 8: Wintertouched
  • 10: Adept power
  • 11: Lasting Frost
  • 12: Scimitar Dance
  • 14: **

Choice here: Two-Weapon fighting + Two-weapon Opening (if you like crits) versus Prime Punisher + Prime Quarry (instead of scimitar dance, optional) + Called Shot (Retraining).

My recommendation is to trade in scimitar dance for weapon proficiency bastard sword, and just call your bastard swords "scimitars."

Equipment wise, using the old rules, we start with a 15+14+13, and 13th level gold. While Icingdeath and Twinkle are statted, they are level 25 weapons and therefore not appropriate.

However, the "Chill Wind" weapon, Level 15, is a perfect match for icingdeath. An uninsipiring alternative for defensive is the "Shielding Blade" which provides a flat +1 to AC. (Better would be rhythm blade, but that applies only to light blades.

Armor is significantly harder, as the mechanics of mithril have changed over the last two editions. Given that Agile Armor is the closest but conflicts with the more appropriate level 15 item slot, I'll try to find a 11-13 armor that matches with the "damage absorbing spider-silk shirt" Unfortunately, the only decent armor at an appropriate level is "Predator's Hide" Speak with your GM about options here (try to get the hide reflavoured as chain, at least.)

We're now left with a choice between necessary neck slot and the last named equipment on Drizzle, that of his "feet-bracers." The Amulet of Scales seems to neatly suppliment the protection found from the spider-silk shirt, and can be trivially reflavoured to shirt or holy-symbol.

No singular piece of equipment allows an increase in speed and to dance circles around ones opponent. One item that approximates them are "Survivor's boots" that, as a level 16 item, cause you to not provoke in combat, while bloodied.

Item wishlist:

  • Iron Armbands of Power (necessary for melee rangers.)
  • Guenhwyvar

Damage breakdown: Assumptions: have hit the enemy in the previous round, and thus they have vulnerability 5 to cold. The current rules about keywords apply (specifically, if a power gains a keyword, all damage from that power has the keyword.) (Caution, reading the referenced threads will cause headaches) And we're the only ally in range of the enemy

To hit (with Twin Strike): +22 to hit = +5 str + 2 weapon (boo) + 3 enhancement + 7 half-level + 2 master-at-arms +1 prime punisher (prime shot) + 2 combat advantage (lasting frost) Average level 14 monster will have 28 AC, for an acceptable 55% to-hit (unbuffed) or 70% buffed. (60-75% with bastard sword "curvy scimitars").

Damage (twin strike): 1d8+3 +2d6 (once per round) + 5 (called shot, only on hit) + 3 (any humanoid designated as quarry) + 5 cold (through vulnerability) +3 silvery glow

Average damage per twin-strike (scimitars): crit for chill wind: 2d8+3d6+10 (10 ongoing cold is just awesome.) Crit for shielding: 2d8+3d6 (.65 * (4.5+3+7+5+3+5+3) + .05 * (8+3+7+5+3+5+3+9+10.5+10)) + (.65 * (4.5+3+5+3+5+3) + .05 * (8+3+5+3+5+3+9+10.5) + .3 * 4 + .3 * 4) =

43 average damage per round, not counting the many out of turn attacks, minor action attacks, etc...

Another test of this character is whether or not they can solo an equal level elite, as there are a number of quite epic fights in the books that feature that kind of duel.

Sample elite is the Drow Assassin, level 14. Assuming that it's mostly just a sword duel, with the assassin disengaging whenever stinging bolt recharges.

  • Round 1 Assassin:
    • Drow assassin wins init, attacks Drizzt with poisoned crossbow.
    • Drizzt: II, armor of scales, resist 5 poison
    • DA attacks Drizzt: 101-(1-((28-19)/20))*((10.5+6-5)+(10-5)+(15/2-5)) = 90.6 (28 AC, +19 to hit)
  • Round 1 Drizzt
    • Minor, "Named Dread" "I am Drizzt, the protagonist of this story. You don't even have a name. Give up now, and I will show you mercy" for a -2 to all attacks until the end of the encounter.
    • Minor, "Hunter's Quarry",
    • Standard: Invigorating Confrontation. (significantly less damage, from a dagger without frostcheese.) DA @ 206-(1-(30-17)/20)*(2.5*3+4+5+3+7)-(30-17)/20*(2.5*3+4+5+3)/2=190.4 (rounded)
    • Drizzt: Gains effect: +8 THP on hit.
  • Round 2 Assassin
    • moves in,
    • double-rapier, (1-((28-11)/20))*(4.5*2+6-5))+(1-((28-17)/20))*(4.5*2+6-5))=6 , absorbed by THP generated from II due to daily. Flavour is "the shirt's tough fibers deflect the poisoned tip of the assassin's keen blade"
    • Drizzt II: Disruptive strike, DA@190.4-(1-(30-20)/20)*(4.5+8+5+3+7)-(30-20)/20*(4)=174.7
  • Round 2 Drizzt
    • Drizzt: Tiger Claw's Rage (+22 to hit = 3W with wintertouched, should have gotten it by now, not going to fully inform hit chances by leaving it out, if he doesn't have it, minor action to do an attack to get it.DA@ 174.7-(1-(30-22)/20)*(4.5*3+8+5+3+7+5)-(30-22)/20*(4.5*3+8+5+3+5)=136
    • Move: shift 1 square back
    • Action Point: Commanding Confrontation: 136-(1-(30-22)/20)*(2.5*3+4+5+3+5)-(30-22)/20*(2.5*3+4+5+3+5)/2=116.4
  • Round 3 Assassin:
    • DA: Minor, cloud of darkness.
    • 2*Hand crossbow = 90.6-(1-(30-17)/20)*(3.5*4+6-5)*2=80.1+8=88.1
  • Round 3 Drizzt
    • Drizzt: Minor, darkfire, +19 versus reflex. Will assume it hits, CA granted from wintertouched.
    • Move: shift 1
    • Standard: Crippling Shot, 116.4-(1-(30-22)/20)*(4.5+8+5+3+5+7+5)-(30-22)/20*(4.5+3+5+3+5+5)=83.7
  • Round 4 Assassin:
    • Move: shift 1
    • Poisoned bolt recharges, (1-(30-17)/20) * (((10.5+6)/2-5)+(10-5)+(15/2-5)) = 3.8 = 0 due to THP, and due to the resist + thp, most of extra damage ignored.)
  • Round 4 Drizzt:
    • Move, shift 1
    • minor, off-hand diversion (nominally used when frost has faded, but we're working by averages), 83.7-(1-(30-22)/20)*(4.5+8+5+3+5+7+5)-(30-22)/20*(4.5+3+5+3+5+5)=51
    • Twin strike 51-(4.5+8+5+3+5+5)*2= -10 assassin dead

-- I believe this combat illustrates the flavour of the hugely over-powered Drizzt perfectly. :)

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They have one in the (now) old character builder.

Drow Ranger 21st level

Two-Blade Fighting Style/Prime Shot

Paragon Path: Blade Dancer

Epic Destiny: Redeemed Drow

Attributes:

  • 22 STR
  • 15 CON
  • 24 DEX
  • 15 INT
  • 17 WIS
  • 13 CHA

Stats:

  • HP: 142
  • Spd: 7
  • Init: +17
  • AC: 33
  • Fort: 27
  • Ref: 28
  • Will: 23

Feats:

  • Toughness
  • Agile Hunter
  • Lethal Hunter
  • Armor Proficiency (Chainmail)
  • Two-Weapon Fighting
  • Linquist
  • Alertness
  • Drow Heretic
  • Preternatural Senses
  • Heavy Blade Opportunist
  • Two-Weapon Opening
  • Two-Weapon Ambush
  • Scimitar Dance
  • Blind-Fight

Powers:

  • Racial Power: Cloud of Darkness
  • Racial Power: Darkfire
  • Ranger Class Feature: Hunter's Quarry
  • At will: Twin Strike
  • At will: Circling Strike
  • Lvl 2 Utility: Unbalancing Parry
  • Lvl 6 Utility: Serpentine Dodge
  • Lvl 7 Encounter: Sweeping Whirlwind
  • Lvl 9 Daily: Swirling Leaves of Steel
  • Lvl 10 Utility: Undaunted Stride
  • Lvl 11 Paragon Encounter: Cross-body Parry
  • Lvl 12 Paragon Utility: Misleading Bladework
  • Lvl 13 Encounter: Off-Hand Diversion
  • Lvl 15 Daily: Blade Cascade
  • Lvl 16 Utility: Longstrider
  • Lvl 17 Encounter: Blade and Fang
  • Lvl 19 Daily: Threefold Assault
  • Lvl 20 Paragon Daily: Blade Dance
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