Welcome back to the Month of the Artificer here on Codex Anathema. As stated in the original post, we were planning to take advantage of the new class in order to re-create a Marvel superhero. I hope you spent some time trying to guess which one, and the answer is right there in the featured image in case the title didn’t give you the clue you needed. Let’s welcome Peter Quill, aka Star-Lord, to the world of Dungeons & Dragons.
«Oh, I’m sorry. I don’t know how this machine works.»
Before we start, it’s best if we are reminded of the rules we set as our standard in order to transform pop culture icons into D&D characters:
- This will be done following the rules for the 5th Edition. Core rules, official supplements and Unearthed Arcana content are fair game.
- Sometimes we’ll pick a rules element for mechanic purposes. If it’s just for that, we’ll probably suggest flavorful re-doings for such elements.
- The build is not meant to be optimized, but to reflect the character as much as possible.
- Finally, we will follow the step-by-step character creation process as it is shown in the Player’s Handbook, but brace up for the unexpected when it comes to going beyond first level.
And now let’s set our goals. What are Star-Lord’s features? In the Guardians of the Galaxy movies, Peter Quill is half-celestial and half-human and he has superhuman abilities (allowing him to physically withstand the exposure of the Power Stone without dying); due to his parentage, Star-Lord is able to manipulate energy and matter; as a result of being raised among Ravagers, he has picked up their skills of the trade (thievery and evasion) and finally he is not only an accomplished pilot of the Milano, but also a plucky and resourceful hand-to-hand combatant as well as an expert marksman with his two Quad Blasters. In the comics, though, there are some differences. I must admit that I only became a fan of the series after I watched the movie, so I’ll stick to that version for the purpose of this article. In the end, even though he is doubtlessly a powerful super hero in his own right, Star-Lord’s true strength is derived from the solidarity and teamwork of his super crew and chosen family, the Guardians of the Galaxy.
Something good, something bad? Bit of both?
Our very first step is selecting the race. Even if he looks totally human, Peter Quill was actually born the son of a Celestial. This technically makes him a half-celestial, but «Volo’s Guide to Monsters» gave us the aasimar, so that’s what we’re going to use. This will provide not only with a well placed Charisma boost, but also with the ability to fly for a limited time and darkvision. Among the subraces, though, I can’t decide which is the most appropriate because obviously none is a perfect (or even close) fit.
Raised by one of the Ravagers, and having dedicated his whole life to different types of intergalactic burglary, Rogue is hard to miss as the most fitting class for Mr. Quill. His first level in this class will provide the very useful Expertise feature, as well as Sneak Attack. For the skill selection, we’re considering Athletics, Perform (dance off, anyone?), Persuasion and Sleight of Hand (or as I call it in this case, «troll-handling»). We are keeping Deception and Stealth on the side because they are granted by his background.
We have now the race and class, so it’s time to arrange the ability scores. We need to consider it’s hard to be a rogue without focusing on Dexterity, but we also need to acknowledge Star-Lord’s powerful magnetism, leadership and self-awareness, so Charisma comes as a close second highest ability score. For the rest, I think Intelligence should come in third place (after all the plan to face Thanos was his, not Iron-Man’s) and Constitution and Strength follow with no particular order or reason for one to be higher than the other. Finally his pluckiness makes Wisdom his lowest score (keep in mind he gets overwhelmed easily and starts acting without considering consequences many times).
Fourth step is «Describe your character». Alignment refers to its moral compass, and even if he starts as a very Chaotic Neutral character, after his encounter with the heroes who would become his partners, he has evolved towards Chaotic Good. From the Criminal background, we selected the most appropriate details, including personality trait («The best way to get me do something is to tell me I can’t do it»), an ideal («I’m loyal to my friends, not only any ideals») and a bond («I will become the greatest thief that ever lived»). As for the Criminal Contact feature, the Ravagers fit as a bespoke glove.
Woo! Almost ready. Star-Lord’s most signature equipment includes his Jet Boots, Space Helmet and Quad Blaster. The first ones are a pair of rocket-powered hover shoes that enable sustained flight and levitation. They feel like Winged Boots to me. The seconds ones are actually a mask with numerous special effects: size-altering (the helmet can be unfurled and retracted into an unknown space on his head), oxygen supply and pressure support. Since these features are not that relevant in a D&D setting, we’ll just give him a mask to cover his face. For his blaster, we’ll have a hand crossbow. All of them will get serious improvements as he levels up… and you, my reader, are about to find out how.
I think it’s good, except it sucks
And now, let’s see where to go as we increase character level. We’ll add Rogue levels at 2nd and 3rd to get the most useful tools of the trade for a specialist thief (we’ll actually select that as the rogue archetype), including Cunning Action (explaining his reactive speed), Fast Hands and Second-story work (which you can describe as he using his boots’ propulsors). But from 4th level on, between his trinkets and supportive role in his adventuring group, I think Artificer is a best fit. Sorry, bards of the galaxy.
As an artificer, Peter Quill gets many features to emulate abilities and equipment: Magical Tinkering serves as a short-range lantern and message-recording devices while Infuse Item can provide with interesting options related to what he can do with his equipment: Boots of the Winding Path provide with the best mobility option just as his Jet Boots; Repeating Shot allows him to blast his enemies more quickly; Goggles of Night act as the sensors in his helmet; and a Wand of Secrets can be that very particular item he holds at the beginning of the first Guardians of the Galaxy movie when looking for the sphere holding the Power Stone. Magic Item Adept and Savant just makes him even better at what he does with those and additional items, and features such as The Right Tool for the Job and Tool Expertise turn Star-Lord into the perfect handyman to keep the Milano in perfect condition.
We can reflavor Flash of Genius as those powerful magnets he continuously uses to hamper his enemies, describing it as distracting your nemesis when it actually is providing a bonus to your allies. Spell-storing Item can actually have the same description, as a trinket that can be activated by anyone (this one makes me feel a little more Rocket Raccoon than Star-Lord, but…).
There’s another detail to incorporate into the build: the Artificer specialization choice. It’s clear that Artillerist is a better pick, since the Alchemist requires mixing reagents and the Battle Smith has a companion, both talents that Star-Lord clearly lacks. By having the Eldritch Cannon as the tiny version so he can hold it in his hand as his Quad Blaster (and two of them later on) it not only fits: it actually makes a lot of sense. We can even apply the same to Arcane Firearm, and Explosive Cannons match very well his magnetic traps.
Finally, and only to round up, let’s select his spells from the list considering how useful they are when cast on his companions and not only his targets, and also when they provide him with extra mobility, very important in his low levels, when he doesn’t have his equipment yet. Think of expeditious retreat, jump, longstrider and sanctuary as his 1st-level selection and aid, heat metal and web as his 2nd-level choices. Obviously fly and haste become 3rd-level staples, and freedom of movement will be his 4th-level one.
- Race: Aasimar (VGtM 104)
- Classes: Rogue (PH 94), Artificer (ERftLW 54)
- Background: Criminal (PH 129)
- Feats: Inspiring Leader (PH 167)
- Equipment: Winged Boots (DMG 214)
So, what do you think? Are you planning to give Star-Lord a shot as an artificer? Do you have any other ideas to better represent him, such as bard? C’mon, a-holes, it’s showtime! Hit the comments below with all you got!