Thursday, January 15, 2015

5th Edition D&D: Steampunk Wizard

Daisy Geartwitch is here!  But first, read this little update...

From the DMG, you can download the 45 page PDF file for a measly $1.99.  Here's the description:

Fantasy author J. D. Brink first discovered Dungeons & Dragons more thirty years ago.  Finally, with the advent of the Dungeon Masters’ Guild, he can now share some of his own game innovations with fellow players of the world’s greatest roleplaying game.  

Contained herein are more than 40 pages featuring custom game rules, a new experience point system, and 16 new feats for players.  But that’s not all. 

A Cthulhu warlock, steampunk mage, Shinto samurai, and rogue spymaster: these are just 4 of 10 characters created from new takes on existing classes, complete with detailed backstories and decision descriptions.  Ten characters meant to provide players and DMs with new inspiration for developing their own worlds and the heroes to save them.     

What's in the book started here on the blog as a creative exercise in character creation for the 5th edition of D&D.   

I also used to have some cooler, more specific images for the blog, but they weren't acquired by strictly legal means.  (Turns out Google is not a magical copyright-granting fairy.)  So sorry, the images are gone.  But you have a good imagination, right?

So using the creation guidelines outlined in the book (which includes a bonus feat for everyone), I made up some PCs both for my own inspiration and for yours.  Hopefully they'll give you some new ideas for your own game.



“I admit she’s talented.  Perhaps too talented for her own good…” – Guild Master Gursh McWyld

Wizard (3)
Alignment: LG 


HP: 21
AC: 15
PROF: +2
SAVES: INT (+5) WIS (+3)
              ADV vs. magic
INIT: +6  (includes small size)

RACE: Rock Gnome
* Int +2,Con +1
* Languages: Common, Gnomish
* Darkvision
* Gnome Cunning
* Artificer’s Lore
* Tinker

BACKGROUND:  Guild Artisan
* Guild Membership in Tinkerers’ and Alchemists’ Guilds (though not liked in either)
* Tinkers’ tools
* Alchemist kit

* Arcane Recovery 
* Arcane Tradition: School of Transmutation
-- Transmutation Savant
-- Minor Alchemy

* Spell DC (13)  Spell Attack Mod (+5)
* Spell Slots: 1st (4) 2nd (2)
* Prepare 6 spells
* Known Cantrips: Mending, Shocking Grasp, Dancing Lights
* “Spellbook” Spells (plans and formulas for devices and alchemical mixtures)
-- 1st Level: Find Familiar, Grease, Chromatic Orb, Identify, Color Spray, T’s Floating Disc, Fog Cloud, Feather Fall, Shield
-- 2nd Level: Web, Cloud of Daggers, Blur, Locate Object

* Arcana (+5)
* Investigation (+5)
* Insight (+3)
* History (+5)
* History (+7) on magic items, alchemy, devices, etc.
* Bonus Languages: Dwarven, Elvish, Halfling

* Lightly armored

FAMILIAR:  Klick-Klack, the clockwork owl

* Tools, belt pouches, & satchel (arcane foci)
* Light crossbow with bolts, 2 daggers
* Studded leather armor
* Tinker’s tools, alchemist’s kit
* Traveling clothes, working overalls
* Selma the donkey (with cleverly locked saddle bags)


Daesimach Geartwitch—Daisy for short—is herself rather short; she is a gnome, after all.  And while she had generally been regarded with respect and a smile among her own people, she found the greater world to be less receptive.  Was it because she was a gnome?  Perhaps elves and dwarves, even halflings, were better respected in the human lands?  Not only was she a gnome, but she was also female.  It was jealousy, her friends told her, played an equal role to these, if not more so. 

Daisy was presented to the Pact of the Philosopher’s Stone Guild (alchemists) and the Turns of the World Guild (Tinkers and Artificers) with great enthusiasm by her mentor, the great gnome master Cagghai Pennybottom.  She became a guild member on his recommendation, and to say that she was excited would be a terrible understatement. 

Perhaps the excited, ingenious young girl didn’t realize that her great success and new ideas might be an insult to some of the older, less talented guild members who had always thought themselves important.  Those jealous old men clearly couldn’t compare their own abilities to this young, inhuman, female prodigy.  Pennybottom’s command of respect was the only thing that kept Daesi in good standing with the Guilds’ more rancorous chiefs for as long as it did.  And when the old gnome master disappeared, it wasn’t long before Daisy found herself in ill-favor among her “peers.” 

She seeks now to find out what happened to Cagghai Pennybottom.  Not to restore her respect to those petty guild masters, but to discover and, if necessary, rescue her friend and teacher from whatever fate has befallen him.

Like most gnomes, Daisy is generally cheerful and innovative of mind, but she has learned to distrust the baser motives of the human world and its inhabitants, be they human or not.  She feels more at home in communities of the shorter races—dwarves, halflings, and gnomes—and this is where she can finally feel free to be herself.  She otherwise spends too much time guarding her emotions.  Therefore, despite the miracles of craft and chemistry that she is capable of, Daisy generally does not live up to her true potential.  The only friend she feels completely at home with is the mechanical owl Klick-Klack, her homemade clockwork familiar.


As with all of these D&D character creations, I wanted to do something different with the class.  Here I’ve made a wizard, always my least favorite class.  Wizards are traditionally too fragile and, in the beginning levels (which is where I prefer to play), they tend to be one-trick ponies.  (Can you say magic missile?  I hates me some magic missile…)  It seems like everyone who’s ever made a wizard made the same damn boring character and stocked up on the same damn spells, first and foremost being magic missile.  (Notice Daisy doesn’t use it, though it would fit her well as self-propelled darts of some kind.)

I wanted to make a wizard who wasn’t a spellcaster in robes, but instead is a gadgeteer and craftsman (or craftswoman, in this case).  And though it does kind of conform to the stereotype, it seemed most appropriate to make her a gnome.

The most important thing about this character is that her spells are not incantations, but are clockwork, steampunk, or alchemical gadgets and effects!

Her “preparing spells” at rest is mixing potions, and winding up and preparing machines.  A few spells (like Mending) are as much talent as minor magical effects, but mostly I imagine her throwing breakable glass vials and releasing tiny devices to achieve her magic.  Feather Fall, for example, might be spring-loaded wings, a small parachute, or propellers with claws for grabbing peoples’ backs.  Shocking Grasp could be metal conductors in her gloves hooked up to a chemical battery and/or routed through the metal studs of her leather armor.  Chromatic Orb and Fog Cloud are chemical mixtures in small glass globes.  Color Spray is a strobe light that shines through a prism.  Cloud of Daggers is a swarm of wind-up, free-flying, bladed propellers.  I chose all of her spells based on the idea that they could be imagined this way (and specifically didn’t take magic missile!).  I also assumed that in her three levels of adventuring she’d picked up a few extra spells for her spell book in the form of formulas and design schematics, so she’s got a few more than you might expect.

In her creation, I replaced the persuasion skill from the Guild Artisan background with Arcana, given the nature of the guilds she’s part of. Besides, Persuasion isn't befitting this character's social awkwardness, which is also reflected by her low Charisma score.  These experiences do, however, make her good at reading people, thus her Insight skill.  I also tweaked the background to give her two toll proficiencies, one in each of her areas of expertise.

Also fitting the theme is her homemade familiar, Klick-Klack the clockwork owl.  (Inspired by the original Clash of the Titans movie, my favorite as a kid, but I believe that owl’s name was Boobo).

I actually made up Daisy over a year ago as part of my character creation exercises on my blog.  The other wizard on this list, Kurzette, I made up just a week ago for this book.  And now that I’m revising Daisy’s story, I see the eerie similarity in their personality and story.  I guess inventive, shy nerds have a lot in common, eh?  (Including talent!  Break out of your shells, my fellow shy nerds!  Trust me, there’s nothing to be afraid of!)

This character is one of my favorites from this exercise and I have already developed her into a central hero in my future series of fantasy adventure novels.  (If only I could escape the day job to get them written!)


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. Don't know why the spam filter removed this post because it was correct! Thanks, mysterious stranger! You found the source for the top image!

  2. This is the credit for your first photo, found through a search.

    1. Thanks for the search, Elle! I actually don't see that image on that site, but the mysterious stranger commenting above also found it and that site notes a copyright to Julie Ray, so you must be right! Thanks for the effort!