JRPG Protagonists as D&D 5e Characters

The classic JRPG protagonist is a recognizable character. He (it’s a male) is a teenager, with one surviving parent, a weakness for girls he met three seconds ago, and an outrageous hairstyle. So let’s build a character like this in Dungeons & Dragons, 5th edition (5e).

What should the character be able to do? The Grand List of Console RPG Cliches gives us some tips about their lives, but we’ll focus on traits that D&D can model:

  • Garrett’s Principle: your character will need to hunt high and low for loot. This sounds like the Investigation and Perception skills.
  • Hey, I Know You!: the character is a Magnetic Hero and will attract traveling companions easily. This sounds like a high Charisma.
  • “Silly Squall, bringing a sword to a gunfight…”: they can wield weapons and elemental magic, but start with a sword.

So this sounds like a charismatic swordfighter and spellcaster. We might be tempted to create an armed Bard, and…

Nope, we’re going with Warlock.

Xanathar’s Guide to Everything includes a new Warlock pact, the Hexblade. This is a big, big boost to the Pact of the Blade, and lets us use CHA for our melee attacks and damage. So we’ll create a level 1 Variant Human, assigning our stats like this: STR 12, DEX 14, CON 13, INT 8, WIS 10, CHA 15. Our racial stat boosts go to CON (14) and CHA (16). We choose Sylvan as a bonus language, Perception as a skill proficiency, and take the War Caster feat for easier melee spellcasting. Unfortunately JRPG heroes typically aren’t too bright, but our STR(Athletics) roll will be okay at higher levels.

We choose a Hexblade Warlock. Our skills will be Investigation and Nature. Our starting spells are Eldritch Blast (a warlock’s bread and butter) and Thunderclap for cantrips, giving us some straightforward single-target and AOE damage options, and Hex and Shield for offensive and defensive power at 1st level. Thanks to the quick recovery speed of warlock spells, we can use Shield once per encounter, every encounter, or we can mix it up and Hex targets for extra damage.

Our backstory is that the character found a rusty old sword out in the forest, and that the old priest in town recognized it as a “Spirit Sword”: the chosen weapon of a great hero! Not realizing his own destiny, our PC takes on a quest, to go find this great hero and deliver the blade to them. We’ll take the Outlander background to reflect the rustic origins of our hero, giving us Athletics and Survival (plus a musical instrument).

The Hex Warrior feature of this Warlock Pact gives us proficiency with medium armor, shields, and martial weapons. We equip the character with a Longsword, Chain armor, a Shield, an Explorer’s Pack, an Arcane Focus, and a Healer’s Kit, with 10 gp left over.

Final stats of interest: Initiative +2, AC 17, and 10 hit points. This is middle of the road for durability, but we have staying power thanks to a decent AC. Our longsword attack is at +5, doing 1d8+3, and we can Eldritch Blast at 120 ft for 1d10. For boss fights, we can amp up our damage in a couple of ways: Hexblade’s Curse (1 minute duration) gives us +2 damage, improves our critical threat to 19-20, and gives us 4 HP back if we get a kill. The Hex spell, while requiring concentration, lets us do a further 1d6 necrotic damage per attack and can apply disadvantage to ability checks (like STR - if we choose to shove someone). Our CON save is only +2 at this level, but War Caster gives us advantage (effectively a +5 or so) to concentration checks.

Higher levels don’t make us significantly more deadly. By 6th level, our Pact Weapon attack (still a longsword) attacks at +8, doing 1d8+5 damage. What we do gain is a number of mobility options via spells: teleportation via Misty Step and Thunderstep, Fly, and Mirror Image for another in-combat defensive option. For invocations, Agonizing Blast keeps our ranged damage up, Maddening Hex syncs with our two curses, and Improved Pact Weapon gives us a magic sword (or longbow, which will do exactly the same damage, but out to 150 feet). We can apply Hexblade’s Curse once per short rest to a target, then spam Maddening Hex between attacks. This isn’t a second attack action, but it’s not bad.

The starting character sheet can be found here: character-sheet-L1.pdf