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D&D 3E
Character Concept/Mechanics Help 
25th-Aug-2006 11:40 am
If you are in my gaming group, please don't read behind the cut until after the first game.

Basically, my group is going to have a round robin DM game, where each person takes a session for the same group of adventurers. I am at the point where I am designing my character for this and I wanted something challenging and different. This is where I need a hand.

I need to balance benefits to the flaw I decided to take for my character. He is going to be paralyzed form the neck down, a birth defect that cannot be healed by conventional divine magic (miracles and wishes are a ways down the road, so I think its a challenging aspect of the character to play until then).

Since I am wanting to play a sorcerer-type (to avoid using books), I thought it wouldn't be too much to assume that gaining the Still Spell feat to all my spells would be acceptable. There is also the issue of actual attribute numbers. I would imagine that Str and Dex would be completely useless (other than to have drain attacks applied to), so I was curious if you think it would be too unbalancing to have the option to shift points at a 2 to 1 ration from physical attributes to mental attributes, or give a slight curve to the point by systems in this regard?

Any ideas or input you have for the mechanics of this flaw would be apprecitaed. I also want to take a moment to clarify that I am using the word flaw in purely a mechanical sense (I am not wanting or trying to offend anyone out there who may be handicapped or know someone who is handicapped)
25th-Aug-2006 05:21 pm (UTC)
The completely paraplegic character?

This is not one to last long. As a Sorcerer, you could get Mage Hand, and Unseen Servant, and Prestidigitation, so you wouldn't be COMPLETELY helpless, in the worst circumstances, but it isn't like you could cast Unseen Servant until you're 3rd level. Your familiar might help a little, but it is going to be at least 2 sizes smaller than you, so it isn't like it can drag you around. Minor tasks. Maybe.

Your completely immobile on your own. If whichever PC is taking care of you drops you, you're AC 0 to hit.

Some games have marginally funcitonal characters who cannot move, but this is ridiculous.

If you're not actually a Troll, this idea is pretty awful. Playing lumpy, the guy inable to do anything by himself, isn't a lot of fun.
25th-Aug-2006 05:27 pm (UTC)
To clarify, we are starting at 6th level. I would end up making judicious use of the spells you had mentioned. We also have a lot of role playing in our games, so while the PC may not be combat oriented, his intelligence would not be affected.

In many ways, I am hoping that being immobile will bring the party together to overcome challenges. Simple things such as having a raft capsized and crossing unusual terrain (small tunnels)becomes a unique challenge that will require some quick and ingenuitive thinking.
25th-Aug-2006 05:26 pm (UTC)
Hmmm, a still spell uses a slot 1 level higer so you wouldn't be able to access any 1st level spells with a somatic component until 4th level. That will limit your power quite a bit. Plus you would probably be susceptible to a Coup de Grace attack.

Are the other party members going to haul you around on a litter or something, and why would they?
25th-Aug-2006 05:28 pm (UTC)
One of the party members has a strong maternal instinct and most likely carry my dimuniative character (a halfling).
25th-Aug-2006 05:29 pm (UTC)
Cool idea! I had a similar one, except my proposed character would be deaf and would use silent spell all the time. Definitely a cool way to think outside the box.

I don't know how you work the mechanics of assigning your ability points, but I think shifting things makes sense. I mean, really, paralyzed from the neck down is a pretty serious flaw, so I would hope you could pump up your other scores as a result. I don't think it would be unbalanced - you might have insane intellect, but your AC's going to be like what, 6?

I'd estimate Str & Dex would each be about 2, and then your other scores could be pumped up to the 18-20 range.

Also, what level are you starting at? If your DM(s) are going to make you bump everything up a spell slot for the Still Spell feat, I would hope you are at least starting at 4th level.

Good luck! I'd love to hear updates as to how it goes.
25th-Aug-2006 05:31 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the reassuarance and feedback. I was beginning to think it might have only been interesting in my own head *chuckles* As above, we are starting at 6th.
25th-Aug-2006 05:31 pm (UTC)
Dude, your dex would be 0. You would be helpless and anyone could walk by and coup de grace you.
Your strength would probably also be 0. Again, you are helpless and anyone could walk by and coup de grace you.

We aren't talking about a character with a lot of RP potential with a deep and tragic flaw that makes him/her not so great in combat. We're talking about a character completely and totally useless in combat, and mostly useless out. You are an extreme burden to your party and if I was your DM, I'd outright refuse to allow it.
25th-Aug-2006 05:33 pm (UTC)
This is where I was hoping that the Still Spell Feat would be of assistance. Perhaps going the psionic route would be a better option.

So far it seems that this might be too much of a challenge to make doable, but I would still enjoy some more feedback. The last thing I want to do is make a character that diminishes the fun of the other players.
25th-Aug-2006 07:21 pm (UTC)
It does seem like a rather mad idea, for many of the reasons mentioned, however if you want to try it out...

If I were GMing I would probably let you swap stats out(at the ratio you suggest here) but only taking strength and dex to 6 or above. Why? Well supposing you keep the character to a level when you can be healed you'd still be crippled if they were much lower-not really a healing. They will, of course, be at a temporary value of zero(or one if zero means you can't do anything-but treated as zero for any calculations involving them) though.
As mentioned your AC will be dire, but that's not too bad. I wouldn't allow a reflex save for a paralysed character (although I'm still thinking about that one; maybe a roll but with no base save or something similar). You'd be permanently denied your dex bonus to AC (even though you don't have one there are rules that only work with that stipulation).

Now to making it more playable (some will duplicate-it's all about options):-

1)The leadership feat. Stops you being such a horrible drain on everyone else; you've got your band of servants separate to the PCs, including your henchman who can carry, push or whatever type of transport you end up using.

2)A monkey familiar-has hands and can do little jobs for you.

3)Being able to temporarily move yourself if you increase your scores using spells-cat's grace, bulls strength etc.

4)Gear choices(ignoring cost):
i)Wand of Unseen Servant.
ii)Metamagic rod of Still Spell.
iii)Ring of Sustenance-you won't have to have someone feed you.
iiii)Ring of Telekinesis.
v)some sort of Waterwalking item-so you won't automatically drown if you fall into water.
vi) Hand of the Mage.
vii) Somewhere there's an item that allows more than one wand to be "held" all the time-only one can be used at once still but it would leave you with more selection.
vi)The usual magic user type of items.
25th-Aug-2006 07:23 pm (UTC)
Oh as for number 3-Items that permanently grant such things wouldn't work -part of the affliction; maybe related to why normal magic won't affect it.
25th-Aug-2006 07:52 pm (UTC)
That is a good point and one that I had only thought on briefly. I remember vaguely reading about alternate methods of character advancement. Basically, XP given for doing research or applying other noncombat aspects of your class.

Given his lack of physical ability, my initial inclination would be to say that he was taken in as an apprentice and earned his way through magical application of scribing books, using cantrips to clean, ect. Since we are starting at a higher level, I haven't seriously considered his history yet. At this point, I was looking for input to make sure that my idea wouldn't ruin the game. I am going to take the information I have hear and share it with the other players and see what there reactions are.
25th-Aug-2006 08:04 pm (UTC)
I find it a bit disheartening that so many people feel as if this character would have no hopes of surviving as an adventurer or otherwise.

This is a character concept, breaking out of the box that most players tend to conform to. Most want to be the superhero or the next Legolas or Drizzt.

Here, we have a unique character concept. I mean, do people not see the late Chrisopher Reeves as a hero?

The truth of the matter is that in the real world, people are born with such disabilities or somehow obtain them later in life. These are the same people that defeat the odds and are able to survive and thrive in spite of such circumstances.

They are true heros.

Is it not feasible that such beings would not also exist in our fantasy worlds? Can they not live amongst the "able" bodied and still thrive?

Instead of thrashing the character concept as a knee jerk reaction - how about really stopping to consider all aspects of our beloved D&D, instead of just the combat oriented side?

I am thankful that there are more considerate and open-minded people, such as Inncubus, that can try and offer constructive criticism.

In addition, I am saddened to read that there are people who view such disabilities as a "disease". And to say that he is playing a handicap, not a person, is downright absurd.

Once again, I'll state that this is a character concept. Some people have their characters stutter. Have them be incredibly powerful. Afraid of the dark. Lost princes or nobility. Shield surfing rangers.

This is another trait - perhaps not the easiest to play. However, it adds flavor and dimension. It's a breath of fresh air from the all powerful lost prince with amazing abilities and charm.

Step out of the box, folks.
25th-Aug-2006 09:12 pm (UTC)
Christopher Reeves is a hero, sure. An inspiration. I don't see him traipsing about dungeons and thwarting hostile attacks on himself and his companions, though.
25th-Aug-2006 08:07 pm (UTC)
How about if the character was just paralized from the waist down, ala Professor X? You'd still have the flavor of the disability, but with a mount and some creativity you wouldn't he a burden on the party
25th-Aug-2006 09:08 pm (UTC)
The players also already have at least a 6 year history together, so it is not that difficult to say that someone carries him. With a 6 year history, the group has already learned how to work through the disability and keep things going smoothly.

As for how he got to 6th level, that's a very easy answer. Not all xp comes from killing. There's roleplay xp, xp for discovering things, xp for deeds done that don't require the use of a sword.

I definately think that this character brings great roleplay options, and could really make the game alot of fun.
25th-Aug-2006 11:26 pm (UTC)
I question how the character does really basic stuff. Like move. Or eat. Or anything. Once you answer how the character goes about his daily life (not necesarily dungeon-crawling, but just living) then you have a concept.

I think part of the problem is that you said "I want to play a paralyzed character" rather than "I want to play a character with such and such a personality because he's paralyzed." Think about what you want out of the character: do you want to have someone who by their very nature creates obstacles for the party? Because while interesting and perhaps fun to deal with--basically you're a player that is becoming a challenge for the party. This strikes me more as an NPC (perhaps a long-lasting one) than a player. Someone who the PCs deal with (and helps them in return) rather than someone who deals with problems. Or do you have a concept of a character who's overcome a disability or something and so has a certain personality? With something like this, you need to flesh out the character before you start getting into the mechanics.

In short, come up with a concept rather than a trait--a character rather than a quirk.

...also, I just keep having this image of a character lying face down in the mud trying to shout "magic missle" because someone dropped him. Sounds like it could be a pain in the ass to play, simple because you don't have that many options about what to do.

26th-Aug-2006 12:05 am (UTC)
You have some very good points, Highbulb. The reason I was trying to go the mechanic's route first, is I wanted to see how it can even have been done. There were immediate concerns that I needed to know if there were ways to work around (i.e. locomotion, ability to even cast spells, ect) When I was playing DnD back in High School (2nd Ed), I was more familiar with the game system and the handful of supplements that it had available. I can no longer say that is the case. I don't have many of the books nor am I exposed to the same core group of friends that I used to have (they all gamed in high school, nowadays, some RP, some play online games, some don't game at all...you get the point). Thus the reason for this post....it's an attempt to get ideas that I may not have thought up myself.

Ignoring the posts of people that told me not to attempt this character, there has been some really helpful posts here. I am still on the fence for this concept, but you esteemed gamers have given me a ton of ideas to consider and questions to answer.

Thank you.
26th-Aug-2006 12:34 am (UTC)
6th level sorcerer... So that'll be 6 - 0 lvl. 6 - 1 lvl, 4 - 2 lvl spells per day. Not counting bonus spells.
Or with applying still spell 6 - 0 lvl (cast as 1 lvl spells), 4 - 1 lvl (cast as 2 lvl spells)

You want to eat? Mage hand... Let's say you want to eat 3 times a day?
OK, that's half of your 0 level spells...
Have a drink? Not in combination with a meal... That's another few of those mage hand spells...
Go to the toilet? How often do you do that day? Wait... you can't. So Prestidgitation to clean up the mess. Well that blows the rest of them, and the next level spells as well due to the way human digestion works. If you're talking paraplegic - no control over bladder functions. So it's not like you can hold it in to save yourself a few of those precious spell slots.

Now unseen servant could get you dressed and undressed, I suppose. But you're not going to have any spell slots left for things like that - never mind 'adventuring' spells, forget about ever having a spellslot left unused to cast magic missile.

How many 0 level spells, that's all you've got left, 6 - 0 level spells, does not require a somatic component? How many of those are useful on an at least regular basis.

See that's the point, we're not really talking about just carrying your character around because he/she can't walk or tie his/her shoelaces.
We're talking about total nursing of this character where the other characters will have to do Everything! including wiping of the arse, feeding, washing, dressing, probably even change nappies regularly. Unless you blow all your alloted spells on just managing basic bodily functions.

There is no reason, no matter how long you've been friends with the players, or the characters have known each other, to bring this character along on a deadly mission. A 1st lvl sorcerer could do a better 'job' contributing to the party's survival than this character.
We're not even talking about someone who has been in these situations and have had an accident leaving them paralyzed from the neck down. Perhaps if that was the case, there could be reasons...
26th-Aug-2006 01:14 am (UTC)
I have never once been in a game where the DM actually asked me to notify him when my character was going to take a piss. Those kinds of things can be skipped over. It just gets done, doesnt really matter how. I've also never been asked to notify him when my character wants to eat or wants a snack. Again, it just gets done.
26th-Aug-2006 04:33 am (UTC)
Psionics sound like the answer.

And yes, it would probably work better if the paralization was from the waist down.

Another possibility is to get reincarnated by a druid.
29th-Aug-2006 07:29 pm (UTC)
Your last bullet point is the first thing I thought of.

A little coup-de-grace appetizer followed by some reincarnation soufflé.
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