Dungeons and Dragons Character Concept: Wizard of Oz Part 4 – The Lion

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Are you stumped for what you want your next D&D 4e character to be? Wish you could somehow adapt one of your favorite characters to a medieval, high fantasy setting? Look no further, in this series I’ll be taking Frank L. Baum’s beloved characters and turning them into D&D badasses.

Oh, and if you missed Dorothy, The Scarecrow and the Tin Woodsman you can still find them in the archives.

What this is: This is a character progression loooooooooooooosely based on a character from the Wizard of Oz, it will allow you to create a character that is reminiscent of The Lion.

What this is not: This is not a way to simulate The Lion exactly. Dungeons and Dragons doesn’t lend itself to quadruped protagonists, despite all those angry letters from PETA.

As we go through, keep in mind that if you actually use the character, then the character will be yours. If you decide to not take a power I suggest, or swap out a feat, I won’t die… well, my body won’t, anyway. These characters are somewhat tied to an off-beat D&D setting, but with a little tweaking can fit into any standard D&D game.

The Pitch: The greatest war the Other Zone ever saw was that of the speaking Animals of the Mystic Forest versus the forces of the Dark Sorceress. The warrior king of the Animals, The Lion, led a valiant charge against the Sorceress’ monkeybat shock troops. In the end, however, the Animals were overwhelmed. As his troops prepared to die valiantly in battle The Lion made a decision. He yelled for retreat, thus saving his remaining soldiers.

They never forgave him for that.

His subjects never formally ousted him, but soon the Lion became a king in name only. Finally the Lion decided to leave his broken kingdom, swearing that one day he would destroy the Sorceress and reunite his people.

The Lion joins the rest of the party when they explain that The Sorceress and the Magus Magnificus are enemies. Seeing an opportunity the proud king lends his strength to the group.

With the character concept done, let’s dive into the progression. A number in parentheses means that page in the Player’s Handbook, (PHbII XX) Means that page in the Players Handbook 2, FR (XX) Means that page in the Forgotten Realms Players Guide.

Level 1:

Ability Score Array: 12 STR, 11 CON, 14 DEX, 10 INT, 17 WIS, 10 CHA
Unlike a couple of the other characters I didn’t want to give The Lion a “dump stat” since he needs a high wisdom and dexterity, the only real choice was charisma. I chose this array because, although it doesn’t crank our primary stat as high as it’ll go, it imparts no negative modifiers.
Race: Eladrin
Probably not what you were expecting, right? In our previous progressions we’ve taken some liberties with the characters for the sake of making interesting and flavorful combinations, this is no different. The central reason for making The Lion an eladrin is that it tacks on the fey origin, I want the lion to be a mystical creature of the woods, and as such should be affected by things that affect faerie creatures.
Eladrin Bonus Skill: Intimidate
The king can roar.
Class: Druid
Wild Shape, the druid power that allows you to turn into an animal doesn’t stipulate duration, nor does it say anything about having to return to humanoid form. Thus with a little flavor change we can say that The Lion’s animal form is his true form, and on those rare occasions where he must be incognito or when he decides to use his non-beast powers, he can take the form of a beguiling fae-like youth, reminiscent of an eladrin.
Primal Aspect: Primal Predator (PHbII 83)
With the eladrin boost to DEX as well as the extra mobility Primal Predator is the best choice here.
1st Level Feat: Defensive Mobility (194)
We’re going to try to make our Lion a highly mobile melee controller. Sometimes that will mean provoking opportunity attacks. This feat gives us extra security in those cases.
Trained Skills: Athletics, Endurance, Insight, Intimidate (Race), Nature, Religion
At Will Powers: Pounce (PHbII 85), Savage Rend (PHbII 85), Storm Spike (PHbII 85)
Encounter Powers: Darting Bite (PHbII 85)
Daily Powers: Savage Frenzy (PHbII 85)
As you can see we took beast-keyword powers almost exclusively (with the exception of the at-will you’re required to take). The Lion will mostly stay in animal form, although as the adventure progresses he may learn to appreciate his humanoid capabilities as well.
Rituals: Animal Messenger, Magic Mouth
Gear: totem, long sword, hide armor, adventurer’s kit, 35 gold in ritual components.
The king starts out with a totem he wears as a badge of his abandoned office, he also has a longsword that materializes at his side when he decides to turn into a biped. Lastly he can use some of his golden fur to create potent effects through ritual casting.

Level 2:

Utility Power: Fleet Pursuit (PHbII 86)
Feat: Sun Elf Grace (FR 137)
For our first utility power we’ll take another movement-enhancing power. Sun Elf Grace is nice to have and it encourages you to use Fey Step strategically, rather than relegating it to emergency getaways.

Level 3:

Encounter Power: Predator’s Fury (PHbII 87)
A power that combines control, movement and damage, what’s not to love?

Level 4:

Ability Bumps: +1 CON, +1 WIS
Feat: Primal Fury
At 4th level we get a solid bump to wisdom and constitution, as well as netting a feat that makes a lot of sense for a predatory animal. It also makes me think that a tiefling druid would be pretty good too.

Level 5:

Daily Power: Roar of Terror (PHbII 87)
I’m seriously not even going to take the time to explain this choice.

Level 6:

Utility Power: Stalker’s Eyes (PHbII 88)
Feat: Powerful Charge (197)
His majesty is likely to do a lot of charging, especially since the at-will beast powers can be used on a charge. Stalker’s Eyes gives you a nice bonus to perception, however it must be activated in humanoid form.

Level 7:

Encounter Power: Latch On (PHbII 88)
Latch On is a good option if you have some critter running circles around the party, although here you sacrifice your own mobility it still sets up the striker for the smash.

Level 8:

Ability Bumps: INT +1, WIS +1
Feat: Combat Reflexes (194)
If you’re doing your job as a controller, monsters will have to risk provoking opportunity attacks, Combat Reflexes further penalizes mobility-based enemies who dare leave your threatened area.

Level 9:

Daily Power: Feral Mauling (PHbII 89)
Feral Mauling is excellent against hard to hit enemies, because even if you miss you still drop their defenses for a turn. Also, it’s called “Feral Mauling”.

Level 10:

Utility Power: Armor of the Wyld (PHbII 89)
Feat: Toughness
Is it cheap of me to select toughness at 10th level yet again?

And Level 11?

By this point you’ll likely know where you want the character to go. But here are a few suggestions:

  • Bloodmoon Stalker (PHbII 96) is the obvious choice, it provides healthy bonuses to you while you are in beast form and has some excellent beast-keyword powers
  • Shiere Knight (PHbII 26) could play out interestingly, since it allows you to use an action point to teleport, giving you an additional beast-form-ok ‘ports in an encounter. Also its powers, which must be used in humanoid form, have a great “BOW DOWN TO THE KING!” feel to them.

Hopefully you enjoyed this article and the ones that came before. So what’s next for Character Concept?
I have no idea, but I’ll probably come up with something.