The recent Unearthed Arcana article on Monk Traditions had a couple of neat ideas, but the one I’m most enamoured with was the Way of the Kensai. But this was less for its mechanical advantages, and more because it finally allows you to create the archetypal spiky-haired anime protagonist with mysterious powers and an unfeasibly huge sword.
There are several things in the Kensai path that help this along, but by far the biggest of them is the fact it grants the ability to use dexterity for attack and damage rolls with any martial weapon. Previously any character wanting to use a greatsword effectively had to pump up their strength, but now the skinny waifs can be just as deadly – even if it looks like they’d struggle to pick their weapon up from the floor.
Of course, it would be fairly simple to just roll up a standard Monk and be done with it, but that isn’t quite what I’m going for. If we want to properly emulate all the special-snowflake angst that is a true anime protagonist’s birthright, we’re going to have to mix things up a little.
Locking Away the Sword
The appropriate multiclass option for this character also appears in an Unearthed Arcana article – specifically the Underdark-focused pact option for Warlocks. The ‘Undying Light’ patron gives us almost everything we need, including a touch of magic (for fancy special attacks), a mysterious connection to an otherworldly power and a strange sword bound to our character’s soul.
For the purposes of this build – which we’ll take up to level 7 – we only need a couple of levels in Warlock to get everything we need for the moment. This included the Pact of the Blade (for the aforementioned spooky weapon), a couple of spell slots that recharge on a short rest and two Eldritch Invocations.
There are plenty of cool invocations that you can grab, but I’ve decided to go for Fiendish Vigor – which gives him a little more survivability in close combat – and Beguiling Influence – good for replicating his ability to become oddly popular despite being rather annoying and whiny.
The final piece of the puzzle comes from yet another source, though at least it’s in a published form this time. Volo’s Guide to Monsters gave us access to a whole load of new races, including the angelic Aasimar. This not only ramps up the ‘mysterious origins’ angle, but also gives our character the chance to sprout wings and start doling out radiant damage every time he hits something.
Winter is Coming
Stat-wise, ‘Winter Lightblade’ (that’s anime enough, right?) is a bit all over the place. The Aasimar subtype we chose has bonuses to Wisdom and Charisma, and while that’s great for pumping up our secondary stats it does leave our attack comparatively weak.
This is countered by being incredibly versatile. Winter can deal decent ranged damage with Firebolt, has a respectable AC (especially if he uses one of his attacks as an unarmed strike for the +2 bonus) and is incredibly nimble.
Best of all he’s really, really fun. He’s a skinny dude wearing a robe who is still able to kick ass in combat, using a huge sword that he can summon from thin air. Oh, and when he gets really annoyed he can grow freakin’ angelic wings and start laying down a whole load of radiant smack.
Winter is fun to play and has oodles of potential plot hooks that both the DM and the player can latch onto, especially if they’re anime fans.