3 Iconic Fantasy Characters Who Dumped Constitution
Over at Nerdarchy the YouTube channel Nerdarchists Dave and Ted go the distance to examine the health, stamina and vital force of fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons characters. The mere thought of dumping Constitution in 5E D&D or any edition of the game — or any game at all — is anathema for many players. Say what you will about being weak or clumsy or dumb, a character with poor health faces some tough obstacles in any game incorporating physical danger. Is a 5E D&D character with low Constitution doomed? Here’s three fantasy characters who suggest anything but, so let’s get into it.
Role models for 5E D&D characters with low Constitution
One of the most popular characters to emerge from the Dragonlance novels Raistlin grew to become an incredibly powerful wizard and perhaps the most powerful mortal in the world. Not bad for a character whose lifetime of poor health plagued him with sickness. Becoming a full fledged wizard through the setting’s Test of High Sorcery resulted in even more health problems.
Raistlin often fell victim to bouts of violent coughing during his adventures. His frail health affected him from the very moment of his birth, when he was so close to death the midwife who delivered him felt he should be allowed to die as a mercy. Because of his poor physical health Raistlin focused on developing his mind. His natural aptitude for magic led him to study wizardry and through his ambition and sheer will developed incredible magical might.
It’s worth noting despite his low Constitution and frailty he was not averse to danger. Sometimes through stubbornness and often because of his desire for power Raistlin was unafraid to plunge into peril right alongside his companions, making him a terrific example of an adventuring wizard. When his health issues became more acute he turned to herbal concoctions to soothe the symptoms and it was not uncommon for him to push beyond his limits if for no other reason than to show the others he’s as capable as any of them.
Like Raistlin this protagonist of Michael Moorcock’s sword and sorcery stories suffered from poor bodily health. He relied on herbal drugs for strength and developed his intellect by taking advantage of his culture’s vast repository of knowledge. Although he is the emperor of his people he comes to recognize the flaws in their way of life and sets out to understand the wider world.
Elric possesses magical prowess, able to accomplish sorcerous deeds as well as call on and summon powerful entities for aid. He is also a warrior and while his health prevents him from sustained exertion the herbal remedies he employs enable Elric to hold his own in physical combat with arms and armor.
Eventually Elric claims the sword Stormbringer, a powerful artifact and the inspiration for D&D’s Blackrazor. Stormbringer confers strength, health and fighting prowess to Elric so he no longer needs to depend on drugs. The sword also requires souls, which ultimately brings about Elric’s doom. But it’s worth noting Elric’s adventures carry him far and wide before he comes across Stormbringer and he survives incredible ordeals despite his physical weakness.
This character from Fullmetal Alchemist makes another terrific role model for characters with low Constitution. Izumi possesses tremendous power as a martial artist and alchemist — one of the few characters able to perform alchemy without the aid of a Transmutation Circle. Her low Constitution manifests through overexertion. While Izumi is more than capable of defeating powerful opponents with her prodigious strength her battles leave her crippled with fits of pain and coughing blood.
Unlike Raistlin and Elric, Izumi comes across as infinitely more caring and kind. Her aggressive nature notwithstanding she is helpful to others either directly or through encouraging people to help themselves.
Izumi’s Constitution issues stem from events earlier in her life, which make for an amazing example of showing how and why a character’s ability scores are what they are when their story begins. What I dig most about her is how despite her physical challenges Izumi not only excels in both martial arts skill and alchemy she remains humble, nurturing and committed to the notion of facing life as a human first and powerful alchemist and warrior second.
Ready to dump Constitution in 5E D&D?
Your mileage may vary but I think there’s as much reason to dump Constitution and play a character with poor health as any other ability score and associated ups and downs. Characters in 5E D&D or any RPG typically don’t boast high ability scores across the board so something’s got to give, right? I’ve played characters with exceptionally high and low scores in every ability including Constitution. In fact everyone in a group I played with (including the DM) scoffed at the Shadow Magic sorcerer I played who had a 6 Constitution. Everyone was sure they’d perish and certainly no punches were pulled. And the character survived! It was challenging at times but this was part of the fun for me. Take care, watch your health and whether you’re a wizard or a warrior take a nod from one of these fantastic characters and consider how a low Constitution might contribute to make your next character better. Stay nerdy!