View Full Version : D&D 5e/Next Changeling is a Teen Paranormal Romance Author that Really Gets into Character

2015-12-06, 12:55 AM
I was hoping to get some feedback for a character concept I am fleshing out. It is a long post, but I am looking for feedback of how I can make this character concept more fun and maybe even survivable! It is a somewhat tongue-in-cheek concept about a budding changeling author who acts out the role of protagonist in his own stories. If that interests you or you are bored enough, please read on. If not, I totally understand.

Thank you in advance for your time and feedback.

As Saitama (One Punch Man) says, keep your character exposition to 12 words or less. My current DM has taken this to heart, demanding all his players have a one sentence description of their characters that is 12 words or less.


Penn N. Wordworthy, Changeling Lore Cleric
(The "N." stands for "Name"; as in Penn Name Wordworthy... get it? It's a pen name.)

12 Word or Less Character Exposition: Changeling is a teen paranormal romance author that really gets into character.
More than 12 Word Character Exposition: Penn sees himself as a divine author, living out the life of a protagonist in service to the whims of the "Powers that Be". Whether these powers are a supreme editor, a collective readership, or the troll-like musings of an extraplanar repository of lore, Penn does not know. However, he uses his magic and faith in the grand adventure he is a part of to drive his companions forward, even if they aren't the protagonist.


27 Point Buy: Str 10, Dex 13, Con 10, Int 13, Wis 15, Cha 14

The build for this character is pretty general right now: get a Wisdom of 20 by 19th level (either through ASI or feats) for maximum number of cleric spells prepared at 20th level, be good at social interaction, be somewhat survivable in combat, try to inspire teens with your paranormal romantic exploits.

I was considering going for the DMG's alternate cleric, giving up armor and weapons proficiencies (besides the quarterstaff) to gain the Unarmored Defense of the monk, presented as a divine blessing. Seeing Penn as more of a scholar than a warrior, I thought it would fit the character better to go without a lot of warlike equipment, but I still wanted him to be someone survivable. With a Wisdom of 20 at 19th and perhaps a +1 or +2 from Dex, he could be sitting with a rather decent AC of 16 or 17. The Divine Strike provided by the Lore domain would give his quarterstaff a nice boost to damage, but Penn is far from being a front-lines combatant.

I want to make him sociable, but I don't want to unnecessarily dump points into Cha beyond the 14 already in there. Changelings get proficiency in Deception for free, and Lore domain provides proficiency in Performance for free. Either cleric or a background could provide proficiency in Persuasion, and I think that would be enough to be considered "good" in social interactions. Maybe pick up Insight, but part of me thinks Penn would play better as accepting most things at face value due to his character investment (like Mitch, on the Grinder). Knowing which languages to pick up for the character would also be important to flesh out, especially since he probably won't use his Shapechange ability to turn into a race unless he can speak its native tongue.

As far as background goes, I was considering using the Entertainer feature "By Popular Demand", but that would only work when he is "out of character" at the time... unless, he is IN character for someone who is also a performer? (head hurts a bit) Since Lore domain provides calligrapher's supplies and painter's supplies, Penn will be trained in both writing and illustrating his manuscripts. However, I am unsure if that includes bookbinding or other mundane, non-adventurous things player characters rarely have to worry about. Other suggestions for fun Background features or tool proficiencies that would work with this character concept would be amazing.

As far as spells go, I have pieced together a full list of spells Penn would pick up over the course of his adventuring career. The majority of them are cleric spells he can change daily, but some of them are fixed spells gained from the Lore domain (bard and wizard spells).

Spells Known/Prepared by 20th Level with a Wisdom of 20:
Cantrips: copy, empathy, guidance, mending, prestidigitation, spare the dying, vicious mockery
1st-Level: detect magic, detect poison and disease, diction, dissonant whispers, Elonia's glamer, healing word, protective amulet, secret page
2nd-Level: calm emotions, death recall, detect thoughts, lesser restoration, locate object, suggestion
3rd-Level: amanuensis, anesthesia, comfort, feign death, Isolde's answer, sending
4th-Level: blessed forgetfulness, death ward, locate creature, music of the spheres, phantasmal killer, siren song
5th-Level: commune, dream, modify memory, oathbinding, scapegoat
6th-Level: find the path, mass suggestion
7th-Level: nymph's beauty, pool of deeds
8th-Level: glibness, storm
9th-Level: call, wish

Trying to figure out Penn's mechanics, I realized I would have to borrow some spells from 3rd party The (not really) Complete Tome of Spells and I would have to make my own domain, the Lore domain, to get all of the spells and abilities I needed to really bring the character concept to life.

List of 3rd Party Spells Used: http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?471074-Are-These-Cleric-Spells-Balanced and http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?471077-Is-Nymph-s-Beauty-from-The-(not-really)-Complete-Tome-of-Spells-Balanced&p=20162859#post20162859
Lore Domain: http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?471069-PEACH-Lore-Domain


When building Penn, I wanted to make sure I hit all the sweet spots of a somewhat split personality character pretending to be other characters that are engaged "unknowingly" in a narrative as it plays out around them. I decided to break his list of spells up into General Paranormal Spells, General Romance Spells, Book Spells, Breaking the 4th Wall Spells, and Deus ex Machina Spells. Below is a description of each category of spell and their use/impact in regards to why Penn selected them as spells known/prepared.

These spells allow the "character" to engage in paranormal activity, but is limited in scope and scale to exclude flashy or outlandish magic.

Mind Games
The majority of teen paranormal romance seems to center around playing mental games with the protagonist or love interest. To this end, detect thoughts, suggestion, blessed forgetfulness, modify memory, and mass suggestion all provide a means for reading, manipulating, or modifying someone's thoughts. For offense, vicious mockery, dissonant whispers, phantasmal killer, and dream all provide ways of harming someone with psychic damage. In addition, the dream spell, along with sending, can be used to telepathically speak to another creature.

Sometimes an author slips up and adds something to a character's repertoire of powers that is either inconsequential or doesn't exactly fit. For this reason, prestidigitation provides a number of "paranormal" abilities that do little but to set the protagonist apart from other brooding adolescents.
These spells allow the "character" to affect the mood of others and otherwise manipulate the world to fit the author's hyper-sensual and over sexualized idea of what fantasy literature should be like.

All of the Feels
As adolescence is a period of heightened emotions, it is natural that a majority of the romance-based powers the protagonist wields keys off of this. The empathy spell provides a base ability that allows the protagonist to "understand better than anyone" how a target feels. Spells like calm emotions, comfort, and glibness help to put other characters at ease around the protagonist.

Let Me Watch as You Sleep
The spell anesthesia has a few special uses since it allows you to render a creature unconscious and insensate (unable to physically feel). It is great for performing painful surgery but even better for creepily stroking the face of your sleeping love interest.

Magnetic Personality
The protagonist needs to give off a "vibe" that draws others, particularly love interests, into their orbit. Spells like Elonia's glamer, music of the spheres, and siren song serve this purpose by making the protagonist appear almost unearthly in appearance, in addition to making "music" play in the background. Finally, the call spell allows the protagonist to call forth an ally or love interest from across the greatest of distances. Sure, the protagonist won't travel 1,000 miles to see you, but he can offer the next best thing.

The spell oathbinding provides a mechanical means of not only making a promise with magic but also backing it up with the threat of psychic pain. "I promise, I will always come back to you... or suffer 1d10 psychic damage."

I'm Sexy and I Know It
The spell nymph's beauty makes you so damn sexy, you blind people. If you go a little NC-17, you can disrobe to cause psychic damage because you are so hot and naked, provided you haven't already blinded those around you. This spell is not recommended for use during romantic encounters.
These spells deal with writing, book making, and other production elements of being an author.

The Writing Process
At its core, writing is a labor of love. However, thanks to magic, it can be a labor of love... and magic! A spell like diction allows you to write out loud so you don't have to suffer the indignity of writer's cramp. Sometimes, when you have writer's block, it is good to read other people's works and perhaps use copy to selectively "borrow" a bit of the good stuff for your own work. The secret page spell keeps others from "borrowing" from your own body of work, and amanuensis lets you start turning out volumes in mass once your latest book is complete. The mending spell makes sure your 1st edition always remains in mint condition, just in case you need to sell it for some quick gold.
These spells allow the "character" to "break the forth wall" and learn information normally unavailable to main characters or to gain an edge mechanically where they otherwise would not, thanks to them being the author of their own story.

3rd Person Perspective
Sometimes in order to keep things interesting, an author writing in 3rd person will give little glimpses into the lives of secondary characters. This makes the story feel more complete, and allows the author to seed clues, red herrings, and other fun bits for the reader to enjoy. Spells like death recall, allow the author to see up to the last 10 minutes of a non-player character's life right before they died, which is great for letting the reader know anyone could die at any moment and foreshadowing who the villain might be. Spells like Isolde's answer and pool of deeds can help give some exposition on secondary characters, love interests, and antagonists.

A Little Luck
The guidance spell provides a small mechanical edge that always makes sure the protagonist has a better than average chance of success. After all, who wants to read a book about someone who fails all of the time?

Uncanny Hunch
Since protagonists always seem to be able to find what they need at the right time or avoid traps or hazards that might catch secondary characters unaware, spells like detect magic, detect poison and disease, locate creature, locate object, and find the path are clear winners for any protagonist looking to make it to volume II. In addition, the commune spell allows a "character" to almost speak directly to the writer of their story (or the great editor in the sky), gaining a clear understanding of who to trust, who not to trust, and whether or not Count Mulligan really is the vampire the party has been hunting. "I don't have any proof, yet, but I know he is the Fanged King!"
These spells allow the "character" to get out of a corner the author has written them into and rewrite bits of the story to fit the narrative, even if it does use "the machine of the gods".

Don't Kill My Favorite Character!
Love interests, secondary characters, and even antagonists sometimes steal the hearts of readers, who become very belligerent when those characters die. To avoid angry readers, the spare the dying and healing word spells help to keep such characters alive for the next volume. The lesser restoration spell provides the quintessential "get out of a mess" card by alleviating a number of maladies (including anything sexually transmitted). Finally, the spell protective amulet allows your protagonist to safeguard a love interest or secondary character against their own unfathomable yet misunderstood power.

Fudged It a Little
Occasionally an author needs to rework a story arc to make the reader believe something happened when, in actuality, something entirely different happened instead. Spells like feign death, death ward, and scapegoat help to provide the author options for when navigating the often convoluted path towards a bestselling teen paranormal romance book series.

It was a Dark and Stormy Night...
The storm spell provides the ambiance most readers have come to expect in the teen paranormal romance genera. Being able to conjure forth a storm with random intervals of lighting can be great for introducing a brooding character from unknown parts or setting the scene for a climatic final confrontation at the top of a clock tower.

The Ultimate Deus ex Machina
The wish spell exemplifies the ability of the author to get the protagonist out of hot water simply by deeming "... and then this happened." It is also great for miraculously bringing back allies believed to be dead, villains believed to be defeated, and love interests believed to be beyond reach. However, an author must use this writing tool carefully; less they alienate their core group of readers.

If you have made it to the end, you deserve a hug. I would love to hear any feedback or ideas you have about this character concept. Thank you again for reading this and taking the time to reply.

Gideon Falcon
2015-12-07, 06:45 PM
I like it. The idea of a changeling with a shaky hold on his identity is a fun one to begin with; as is the classic roleplaying changeling (roleplayception). This combines them, with a heaping helping of metafiction as the cherry on top. I'm not familiar with 5E myself, but if there's any sort of Vampiric Touch or Bite of the Werewolf type spells, it would help introduce some of those other Paranormal elements- you can't have a hackneyed paranormal teenage romance without vampires and werewolves, after all.