300th Post: Creating King Leonidas

by Ameron (Derek Myers) on February 4, 2010

Today marks our 300th post. To mark the occasion I challenged Wimwick to a contest. Create King Leonidas as depicted in the movie 300. We chose level 16 and used the RPGA character creation guidelines. We have to use character builder and he has to be legal. Let the best man win. – Ameron

The challenge was simple: recreate Leonidas as represented in the movie 300. Sounded like a great idea to use for our 300th post. Of course the challenge was to create a better version of Leonidas than Ameron. Below I’ve outlined the thinking behind my major decisions. I’ll also say for the record that I love this character and look forward to playing him in a Dungeon Delve soon. – Wimwick



The first question I asked myself was what class is Leonidas? As King of Sparta it made sense to very quickly consider the Fighter. However, as King Leonidas is more than just a defender on the field. In all I considered the Fighter, Warlord, Barbarian and Ardent. The Barbarian and Ardent were the first to be eliminated as neither class came with training in shields. Further Barbarian powers primarily require two-handed weapons and the Ardent appears to be a ranged class. Though thematically either of these classes could be made to work, the powers suggested otherwise. This left the Fighter and the Warlord, in the end I opted to go for a hybrid build allowing me to take the best of both classes.


After watching 300 again it was clear to me that Leonidas is more than just a Fighter, he’s a Warlord. He’s an awesome soldier, but his men look to him for leadership. He commands his men to fight and they do. He decides tactics and battle formations. He inspires. His 300 men will follow him anywhere because they are loyal to their king.



This proved to be a tougher choice than I anticipated. The debate was optimizing Leonidas for combat or create the character representing attributes that made sense. I choose the later option, starting with a lower initial Strength in favour of a higher starting Constitution, Dexterity and Wisdom. I put a small allocation towards charisma to represent the natural force of personality that is represented by Gerrard Butler’s portrayal of the character. What I really would have liked was about another 10 points to play with.


When you’re creating a hero of legend like King Leonidas, you want to make all of his abilities above average. But with point buy that’s not possible. I decided that his Charisma and Strength had to be his best scores. He’s the king. He exemplifies what’s best in all Spartans. His force of personality is what makes him truly great. He’s also highly Intelligent using logic and tactics to accomplish his goals in and out of combat.



Not much to say here. I debated training in Diplomacy and then I recalled the scene where Leonidas kicks the messenger down the well and thought Intimidate was much more appropriate.


Throughout the movie Leonidas uses Diplomacy (discussions with the priests, the council, his men and Xerxes himself). He also used Intimidate. I opted to leverage his background (noble) to give him training in Insight as well.

Feats and Powers


I was looking for several things from the powers: pushing enemies, providing bonuses to allies and anything that required a shield to be equipped. My focus on selecting powers was to consider the phalanx and that Leonidas would have allies all around him.


When choosing feats and powers I looked for anything that let Leonidas command his men or help defend them. So I choose powers that let allies attack, powers that keeps soldiers alive and on their feet, and anything that provided a defensive bonus.



The Frostwolf Pelt was a given as this is a major part of the back-story we are given about Leonidas. The Aftershock Spear has a great property for criticals that I thought worked with the character.


For me, this was the hardest part of building Leonidas. I knew he needed a really powerful spear. He can use the Hungry Spear as a heavy thrown weapon (using his Strength rather than his Dexterity). I opted to give him the Medallion of Death Deferred as this seemed to provide in-game mechanics for the final scene of the movie when he rises after being hit with multiple arrows.


Now that you’ve seen each of our builds, which do you think is better? Keep in mind that we are only using the movie 300 for reference. What do you like or dislike about each of the builds? Are we on the right track or did we really miss the mark? What would you have done differently?

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1 DanTracker February 4, 2010 at 4:26 pm

I’d say that I like him best as full warlord rather than the hybrid. The warlord build took advantage of the existing proficiencies and added much more leadership and formation style fighting than the hybrid fighter/warlord. I imagine that others of his 300 may have been hybrids, some multiclassed and most fighters or rangers and rogues.

However, i see this as a problem of the hybrid system and multiclass system. I can imagine that he began as a common rogue, then grew into the skillset of a ranger. As he surpassed those marks he reached to being a true soldierly fighter, and then began to learn the elements of leadership that would lead him to being the warlord. So, in that transition he would have been a fighter-warlord and then fighter/warlord, and then warlord-fighter until he truly reached the point of being fully a warlord, placing his skills and abilities to use as a leader of soldiers and rising far above his initial station when he began the walk from his home to the training grounds of the Spartans.

so, while i think the fighter/warlord was in him, i think that the character illustrated in the movie was the warlord, pure and fully fledged.

2 Rook February 4, 2010 at 9:20 pm

Nice post guys, I love this idea. I gotta say I’m going with the full warlord as well. I can’t wait to see what my wife says about this. She is a gamer, but more importantly, she is a HUGE Gerrard Butler fan and adores that movie.
So I’ll just thank you for her now, because I know she’ll love it.

And Here’s to another 300 posts! Cheers!
.-= Rook´s last blog ..4e Magic Item Use: A Compromise =-.

3 Dungeon Newbie February 5, 2010 at 6:58 am

I think that the Wimwick guy is better as although i know nothing about this sort of stuff his description sounds fitting to the movie Leonidas

4 Ameron February 5, 2010 at 10:22 am

I toyed with the idea of making him a Fighter, or even a Fighter/Warlord hybrid, like Wimwick suggests, but in the end I felt his personality (Charisma) and leadership had to be the focus of this character.

Thanks, Rook. This seemed like an interesting way to mark our 300th milestone and put together an article that actually had some substances. We didn’t want to merely post something that was just us bragging about ourselves (“Look at us, we have 300 posts. Aren’t we awesome?”)

@Dungeon Newbie
Fair enough. I think Wimwick’s take on Leonidas is probably has a greater damage output, but mine is the leader in terms of game mechanics and in terms of leading his troops.

5 skallawag February 5, 2010 at 10:28 am

Congratulations on your 300th post!
Good attempt at King Leonidas on both parts. I would have to agree that the full warlord is the way to go.

Ameron’s stat in Int and Cha more closely resemble what Leonidas portrayed. Intelligence in the part of fighting in a narrow area to provide a combat advantage, stacking dead bodies of the dead enemies and then using the bodies to their advantage. Charisma to lead 299 other men to certain death against impossible odds, each unwavering and feeding off the confidence of Leonidas.

I’m not sure where Wimwick was going with selecting History as a skill, but I liked the choice of the Dwarven boots, even though I would have picked the Boots of Striding myself.

All in all, very entertaining 300th post and keep up the good work!

6 Wimwick February 5, 2010 at 11:15 am

@ Everyone
Thanks for the feedback. It was a tough balancing act to get the character right. In the end the focus was Sparta and how Leonidas was the ultimate soldier. This resulted in the hybrid build, but it is the one thing I wrestled with throughout the creation process.

@ Skallawag
With the hybrid build I was limited in my class skills. I really don’t see Leonidas as being trained in diplomacy, he’s the king of Sparta, not Athens. The reason I went with a lower intelligence is some of his decisions were very rash, for example when he kicks the messenger down the well. This isn’t a well thought out decision, but it’s something that his wife (the real intelligence behind the operation) supported. Leonidas was shrewd enough (wisdom) to realize this.

As for the boots, I wanted something that would support a phalanax attack system. So dwarven boots worked. Any attacks that granted him movement were always shifts, not full moves. He’s in light armour so there is no movement penalty incurred, as a result I eliminated boots of striding.

If I could change one aspect of the character it would be charisma. Perhaps sacrificing a few points from strength and wisdom.

@ Ameron
I’ll concede you may be closer to Leonidas, but only a little bit closer. Let’s just agree that together these two would make a deadly combo on the battlefield.

7 GRANT February 6, 2010 at 12:24 pm

I have to disagree with the general opinion here and say that Leonidas is more of a fighter-warlord than a true warlord. The hybrid choice seems to be the way to go, at least in my opinion. I preffered Ameron’s ability score choices, feeling they were more like the leonidas in the movie, but i feel the warlod-fighter is the way to go.

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