For the better part of the last year I have spent a large volume of my gaming time becoming addicted to League of Legends. More than just fun game play, Riot Games does a wonderful job of packing compelling character concepts and back-story behind every one of their champions. One particular champion that I have had my interest peaked by was that of Yorick, the Gravedigger. Yorick is a lumbering hulk of an undead thing, summoning forth ghoulish horrors to aid him in striking fear into the hearts of his foes.
The question then struck me: Could we make our own version of Yorick in Mana Punk?
While League of Legends may have their own specific background and core concepts driving Yorick, he will be taking on an even more amplified theme when we create him for the world of Zethyria. Yorick is a lumbering beast that is just as comfortable summoning undead minions to aid him as he is swinging a massive shovel to crack some skulls. I feel that there are specific capabilities that any embodiment of Yorick absolutely must have:
- Massive physical presence – Yorick’s size should strike just as much fear into the hearts of his foes as his potentially dreadful countenance. A strong monolithic form will also boost his shovel-swinging capabilities.
- Summon undead minions - No self respecting gravedigger would be caught dead (heh!) without his minions and Yorick is no different. While he may not be able to directly summon ghouls / ghosts as his source inspiration does, we can definitely give him the henchmen he requires.
- Uses magic to magnify his own fearsome presence - I suspect that any shovel-wielding mad man, wanting to chase others through the graveyard at night with his zombie henchmen in tow, will want to use magical skills to give them an even greater edge than they already may have if at all possible.
When I think “massive physical presence” , a wide variety of races come to mind. The Cyclops is a monolithic monster of raw muscle and physical power, unfortunately hindered by depth perception issues and rather savage refinements. The Ogre, gifted with the ability to regenerate (thus making them even more dangerous in combat), rarely embraces magical paths outside of the Shaman in their primitive cultures. Ogres also tend to me more intellectually limited than we are shooting for. The last, and potentially best, option is the Giant. The giants of Zethyria are a nomadic species, roaming the landscape as loners.. rarely involving themselves in the affairs of society. Giants are powerhouses of strength standing more than 11 feet tall. Yes it is true that they are a bit slower thinking than some other races, but their culture does not limit their intellectual capabilities (as are some of the other more savage races).
When I think “Undead Minions” only one thing comes to mind: Necromancer. The Necromancer is the master of recycling, putting what they perceive as wasted resources to use once more. Making our Yorick a Necromancer grants him command over his own rotting henchmen and imbues him with a selection of spells to directly augment his combat ability.
While the Mana Punk game system doesn’t actually have a “Shovel” weapon classification already, it is relatively simple to create one (with the permission of your Game Master). Anytime I think shovels being used as a weapon, I always have the mental image of the shovel’s scoop (the flat pan part of the shovel head) smacking someone across the face or back of their head. Any non-edged (i.e. blunt) weapon, wooden or metal, used as a striking implement is a Club by game system standards and this fits nicely with the conventional uses for a shovel. While shovels do technically have an “edge”, this edge is rarely sharpened enough to count as a slashing weapon, is the wrong shape to use as a piercing weapon… and isn’t long enough to use as a pole-arm. This immediately gives us easy weapon skill classification for our shovel weapon: Clubs.
Giants have a racial bonus to Wilderness Survival and Medicine active skills, both of which line up nicely with our over all character concept. An 11 foot tall necromancer is rarely going to be invited into standard social circles, immediately giving us use for Wilderness Survival. Medicine can be used to not only make sure that someone is dead (before turning them into a mindless minion), but also supplements any possible skills I want to contribute towards the benefit of my fellow adventurers.
Spells & Abilities
Our driving idea is not to have our Yorick deal combat damage with his spells, but instead use his spells as tools to hinder or otherwise debuff his foes while caving their skulls in via shovel. Premonition (plus the modifier Cloud of Fear) allows a mage to literally strike fear into the hearts of others, causing a target to quake in their proverbial boots at the sight of giant Yorick. Other spells like Freezing Air allows a mage to chill his victims to the bone with the icy chill of the grave, causing them to move slower and react slower in combat. Earth Mover speeds up the whole pesky “grave digging” process, allowing us to quickly bury any evidence or victims we may leave behind.
We can take a small bump in starting budget with our giant necromancer, granting him 20 gold to work with for buying gear. This will allow him to go beyond the normal “Kitchen Sink” starting kit and buy some much needed armor, as well as that shovel we so desperately need. Some upgrades can even be made to these items, having them crafted out of special materials to even further improve their effectiveness. It may seem frivolous to have a shovel made from Zoarium (a.k.a. “Mana Steel”, a magical metal that glows a subtle blue when in proximity to magical effects), this upgrade actually lends us a massive edge: a “Mana Steel Shovel” will actually damage astral entities, something a mundane weapon cannot do. This suddenly broadens our combat effectiveness by a wide margin, allowing our Yorick to fend off ghosts or wraiths he may encounter during his midnight strolls through the graveyard.
The final results of our character generation is Yorick – The Gravedigger (ZIP File). Included in this zip file is the character generator spreadsheet (posted here on our website) that I used to actually create Yorick, allowing you to see my “homework” (including all of the math happening behind the scenes) as well as a formatted PDF character sheet with Yorick’s final skills, stats, gear, spells and all. The PDF is ready to print out and be used in your next game session, if you happen to get the craving to roam the graveyards at midnight in search for souls to reap.
We hope you enjoyed this Gravedigger Edition of Building A Concept. Please make sure to stay tuned for even more crazed character ideas and downright odd race / archetype combinations!