I’ve been perusing the D&D Player’s Strategy Guide since I received it as a Father’s Day gift this past Sunday. My reading hasn’t been focused on building the best character, as I have already done that. Of course my best character may not be your best character and that’s ok, I forgive you your delusions.
One of the interesting sections in the Player’s Strategy Guide is the “How To” section that runs through page 62 – 81. The section covers everything from gaining the highest initiative, being the best healer and having the most hit points. What it doesn’t offer is how to build a character that can’t be killed. As a result here is my take on how to build a character that simply won’t die. Over the next couple of weeks we’ll run some variations on this theme of “How To”.
When attempting to build this type of character it might be tempting to pick the class that provides the more hit points or the highest defenses. Defenders easily fall into this category and they make a good choice. In my mind any class can be built so it can’t die, though some will have inherent advantages that others don’t. The class I’ve selected is the Assassin which will become a little more apparent when I discuss some of the powers available.
In building a character that can’t die selecting a race that’s already dead is a good place to start. The Revenant brings some interesting racial features to the table that allow you to keep your PC alive much longer than anyone deserves. Additionally, the Revenant receives a bonus to Constitution and the Endurance skill.
Dwarves and Warforged make good alternate options which also receive a bonus to Constitution and have unique ways to gain healing. Dwarves are able to use Second Wind as a minor action, and Warforged can take Warforged Resolve to gain temporary hit points.
Any feat that grants extra hit points, more healing surges or higher defenses is going to keep you alive longer.
- Dwarven Durability
- Defensive Mobility
These feats are all solid considerations which will keep your PC on his feet. However, as good as these feats are they will only keep you alive a few more rounds, alone they won’t allow you to avoid death. For that you need to dig a little bit deeper
This is where the Revenant shows its strength again. Revenants have the racial power Unnatural Vitality, which allows them to choose to make one standard action when they are dropped to zero hit points before they fall unconscious and make their first death saving throw. This is a great class feature that has several feats built around it. The first feat is Death’s Quickening that allows a minor action in addition to the standard action. The second feat is Death Scorned, which increases the amount of death saves the Revenant can make before dying to 1 + Con modifier (5 max). While I disagree with the maximum number, this feat allows a Revenant to avoid dying for 2 rounds longer than any other race assuming every death save is a failing roll. If you’re avoiding death, two more death saves is a great place to start.
There are a number of Paragon Path’s that could be selected. Some, like the Dreadnaught, grant more hit points. The Paragon Path that I prefer is the Revenant racial Paragon Path, Avenging Haunt. At level 16 this Paragon Path allows you to stay conscious with your Unnatural Vitality until you die. This Paragon Path combined with the Death Scorned feat allows the Revenant to continue acting for five more rounds after hitting zero hit points. This assumes that along the way the Revenant doesn’t roll high enough to expend a healing surge via the death save system, or use their second wind or receive healing in some other form. In short assuming your PC gains no extra healing he won’t die until reaching his bloodied value as expressed in negative hit points.
There are a number of magic items that can aid in keeping your character alive, below is a small sample.
- Cloak of the Walking Wounded allows the PC to expend two healing surges instead of one when using the Second Wind option. It’s a great way to go from bloodied to close to full hit points quickly.
- The Raven Cloak grants resistance to cold and necrotic. The real advantage to this cloak is the daily property that allows a re-roll (with bonus) to any failed saving throw. If that saving throw was a death save there is a +10 bonus to the roll. At worst your condition doesn’t change and at best you have a 50% chance of expending a healing surge.
- A Ring of Invigoration allows the PC to expend a healing surge as a free action if they are reduced to zero hit points.
As I mentioned above I’ve built my character around a Revenant Assassin. In selecting powers I was careful to select ones that allow for movement through teleportation, in many cases allowing me to teleport or take two movement actions per turn while still getting a standard action to attack. Additionally, several Assassin powers allow the PC to go insubstantial and all damage taken in this form is halved which is a great way to live a little longer. In looking to create a PC who is able to laugh at death any powers that grant bonuses to defenses or temporary hit points should be high on the list.
Focusing your utility powers on skill powers based on endurance is another way to keep your PC in the fight. Many are immediate actions that either grant the use of healing or damage resistance. You might not use them often, but when you do they will keep you alive a few more rounds.
This is my take an a character that can’t be killed. While the full stat block hasn’t been presented I think enough of an idea is present to demonstrate the characters ability to survive. Have you experimented with the idea of creating a PC that can’t be killed? Have you created a PC who is extremely resilient and durable? What builds have you utilized in designing the PC?