The mechanics of Dungeons and Dragons 4th edition are very tactically oriented, and some argue that this comes at the detriment of the role-playing elements. However, the game’s crunch can add to a rich role-playing experience when used as guidelines and inspiration for character development. In my regular game, the game’s mechanics helped guide my character (Ayn Blüd, Paladin of Civilization) through some key growth choices.
I first witnessed an avenger in action during a one shot for a group of friends last summer. The Batman-striker flavor is fine, but I was blown away when I saw my player roll two, TWO D20s using Oath of Enmity. Dungeons and Dragons is a D20 game, so the ability to roll two feels very powerful to me. A month or so later, the “Hero of Faith” multi-class feat was included in Divine Power.
Ayn was on a track of increasing grimness from the beginning, so the Avenger element was a nearly perfect fit. I ret-conned some experiences with the “Silver Order” (that I had also just invented) into his days in the Paladin academy, reworked a few powers and feats, and announced to my group that recent events in the campaign had motivated Ayn to swear an oath to the Silver Order. This also levered his alignment from ‘good’ to ‘unaligned.’ In order to protect civilization, sometimes tough decisions must be made for the greater good.
I found a mechanic that looked fun and was compatible with my character in both mechanic and narrative. In collaboration with my DM, I added elements to Ayn’s background to explain his new ability.
Footnote: while writing this post, I learned that the Hero of Faith feat was nerfed back in the fall. As originally written, it allowed a target to remain subject to the Oath of Enmity until killed or until the end of the encounter. Using a pair of D20s on attack rolls started feeling normal, and I was wondering why everyone didn’t take that feat. Now, the oath remains only until you hit the target, or until the target is killed.
I’m a little bummed, but there is a silver lining. Now I don’t need to obsess as much about singling out an enemy. I had also taken the “Oath of Urgency” feat which allowed me to shift my oath of enmity to a new target. I won’t need (and can’t use) that anymore, but I’m sure there’s something else out there that will add some fun to Ayn.