Building Character with Rage-Mages and Crossbow Paladins

Welcome to Building Character – a new and frankly ill-conceived series of my weirdest character build ideas. This will be a fun chance for me to get out some of my more bizarre concepts without having to actually end up playing them, and also a way for me to share some of the stranger concepts I’ve actually played for.

Just as a quick note – these are meant to fun or funny, not particularly effective. I aim for functional, but beyond being “playable,” don’t expect too much in terms of power.

In any case, let’s get on with the show!

 

To begin with, let’s take a look at one of my most recent concepts… and one of the few I’ve actually gotten to play. Introducing the…

Overchannel Rage-Mage

Class. Wizard
Subclass. Evocation
Race. Half-Orc
Key Mechanic. By using Relentless Endurance you can use Overchannel much more than another Evocation Wizard.
Notes. Requires Player’s Handbook only.

While I did get to play this guy, I didn’t get to play him for an extremely long amount of time. Even so, he was super fun during that time and comes highly recommended.

Now, to pull this build off, you need a few things. Firstly, you need a good Intelligence to make your spells as powerful as possible. Then, you need a good Constitution so you can survive killing yourself for power.

In practice, this build centers around using Overchannel as much as possible. For those who are unfamiliar, Overchannel is the capstone of the Evocation Wizard, which causes their spells (up to 5th level) to deal maximum damage. The first use is free, but each use after that costs health. You start by taking 2d12 necrotic damage per level of the spell, and that then increases by 1d12 for each subsequent use of the feature. This resets after a long rest.

So, you get one big spell for free. After that though, you’ve got to hurt yourself. But, as a half-orc, you can use Relentless Endurance to push your Overchannel capabilities to the max. Keep blasting away with max-damage spells until your racial kicks in and drops you to 1 hit point. Then get the hell out of there… or do one more spell, if that’s your style.

I really like this build for a few reasons. One of the largest, though, is the narrative aspect of it – this is the closest I could get to a rage-fueled spellcaster without homebrew. As this character, you can effectively “enrage” and grant yourself increased power, albeit with a cost. Being a half-orc both nestles in well with this fantasy, and allows you to better protect yourself from accidental death – in theory. I recommend a contingency spell with the activator of “drop to 1 hit point” to do something like teleport you away or otherwise protect you. Or don’t, and go down in the biggest blaze of glory possible.

 

And for our second contender, a concept that is really pushing the lower bounds of the word “functional” from the intro, its the…

Vampire Hunter Paladin

Class. Paladin
Subclass. Oath of Vengeance or Oath of Devotion
Race. Variant Human (best option), or any other
Key Mechanic. Have you ever wanted to be a ranged paladin? Well this isn’t quite that, but it gets close.
Notes. Requires Player’s Handbook only, doesn’t work without feats.

The biggest problem with the “ranged paladin” idea is that Divine Smite doesn’t work on ranged attacks. How do you fix that, you ask? Simple – you can’t. So, instead, we have to make the most of our ranged ability while still using melee attacks.

And so we have the hand crossbow. It has the light property, and doesn’t require two hands. If you grab Crossbow Expert with your V. Human feat, you can use it in melee range without consequence, and you can even make attacks with it as bonus actions after smiting with your main attack action.

The best set up I can see is as follows. For stats, you pump Dexterity up as your attack stat, followed by Charisma or Constitution (depending on your preference). Unlike other paladins, your Strength will most likely be a dump stat.

Then, equipment. Your main melee weapon is a rapier, with your off hand holding a hand crossbow. If possible, I’d cart around a heavy crossbow as well for if enemies are too far away. For armor, I’d go with studded leather – it’s the only thing that makes full use of your Dexterity.

For subclass choice, the Oath of Vengeance seems the most fitting thematically, and it works well mechanically too – hunter’s mark is a helluva spell. However, the Oath of Devotion is surprisingly good too… their Channel Divinty option to bless a weapon actually doesn’t mention what type of weapon, so you can live out all your holy-crossbow dreams.

However, keep in mind the drawbacks of this build. For one, you only have one shot with your hand crossbow before it has to be reloaded – something that requires a free hand (that you don’t have). So you have one shot before you likely have to give up an action to reload, and even the Crossbow Expert can’t help. Additionally, you can’t cast spells while wielding your rapier and hand crossbow. This shouldn’t be too much of an issue, as your spell slots are just smite-fuel anyway, but it still sucks.

But hey, such is the price of being a badass.

 

And that does it for today! Tune back next time for the mimic warlock – and as much as I’d love for that to be a homebrew subclass option, I’ve tried it and trust me, it does not work.

Have any weird ideas of your own? Send them to me! Just email me at suggestions@lawfulgoodrogue.com and if they seem interesting I’ll do my best with them. Just don’t expect miracles!

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