D&D-izing Galvatron from Transformers: The Movie
While scheduling social media posts recently I came across a great D&D meme inspired by Transformers: The Movie. I mean of course the 1986 animated film and not the Michael Bay series of movies. To each their own but for my two energon cubes the animated movie rocked then and still rocks now. I saw it in the theater when I as nine and every so often I’ll watch it again for fun and it still holds up. One of the best parts of the movie is the transformation of Megatron into Galvatron, an upgraded form bestowed by Unicron after the Deception leader was nearly destroyed in a deadly assault against their Autobot enemies. At this point in fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons there’s so many character options without even delving into third party stuff and it got me thinking what the villainous minion of Unicron might look like in 5E D&D terms. Curious? Here’s a hint.
Decepticon leader Reborn as a 5E D&D powerhouse
For this exercise in D&D-izing a character from pop culture or fiction I’m taking a different approach. Usually we break things down into at least a rough character build guide. The last time we D&D-ized a character here on the website was Spider-Man and that was a ton of fun. But I feel like it will be more fun and useful to consider all the different possibilities and let people decide for themselves. It should be quite evident how I would create, develop and play this character myself by the end.
The way I imagine Galvatron especially as a 5E D&D character does not even touch on special skills or perks granted by this part of character creation. If I’m not mistaken Megatron was originally created to fulfill a military role so Soldier makes sense. Both Megatron and Galvatron are leaders too and a Noble seems like the sort of person who understands power, authority and how to wield them effectively. Picking up after his transformation you might consider Galvatron an Acolyte of Unicron and the liminal period between nearly being destroyed and encountered Unicron might make him a Haunted One.
There’s only one official 5E D&D race option to consider. Although I hate the trope of warforged being robots this much beloved character race option makes the most sense right? Introduced to 5E D&D officially in Eberron: Rising from the Last War this species blends organic and inorganic to become living humanoids. The Transformers are a species of sentient, living robotic beings mostly originating from the machine world of Cybertron so there’s solid footing to stand on. But a recent Unearthed Arcana provides an even more appropriate option. Reborn are beings who have died and yet somehow live. The race option’s features and flavor match up perfectly with Galvatron, a being reborn through the power of Unicron, the godlike Transformer of planetary proportions. If nothing else in addition to being humanoids Reborn can also be either a construct or undead type. Obviously for Galvatron the construct makes perfect sense.
The flexibility of Ability Score Increases presented as the Custom Lineage option in Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything also works great for this exercise. Since I’ll be highlighting all the various class features for players to consider when creating their own version of Galvatron as a 5E D&D character then players can adjust their ability scores to match whatever choices they decide to make. Reborn also encourages players to think about potentially Lost Memories they experience from their previous life and when it comes to Reborn Origins it’s a no brainer — an immensely powerful entity revived and rebuilt Megatron as Galvatron and the same can be said of this character. This even makes a convenient way to incorporate a truly epic backstory. Reborn can tap into their Knowledge from a Past Life to help succeed at tasks and their Deathless Nature wonderfully captures this particular character’s living robotic being quality.
So many options! For me the essential components for Galvatron start with the particle accelerator cannon, ruthlessness, arrogance, hunger for power and tense relationship with his master Unicron. These factors already make me lean very heavily towards warlock. I’ll start there.
- Otherworldly Patron. The Celestial seems like a good fit thematically since Unicron is a sort of cosmic entity but these warlocks are all about the Upper Planes with healing powers and radiant damage. Next! The Fiend sounds a lot closer to Unicron, who’s all about destruction. A case can be made for The Great Old One and I particularly dig the idea of a 5E D&D Galvatron with Create Thrall.
- Pact Magic. Warlocks spam eldritch blast and when it comes to Galvatron’s particle accelerator cannon I can’t think of a better representation for 5E D&D. Choose whatever other spells along the way but embrace the power of inexhaustible force damage!
- Eldritch Invocations. By 7th level Galvatron’s eldritch blast emitting particle accelerator cannon deals extra damage at longer range with several opportunities for further control. Going all the way with a warlock’s schtick makes sense mechanically and thematically.
- Mystic Arcanum. For a 6th level option mass suggestion feels appropriate for bending minions’ wills. Forcecage makes the most sense for a 7th level spell out of the options available. I could imagine Galvatron trapping an enemy in an energy field of some sort. Dominate monster at 8th level fits the concept and foresight makes a great, long lasting passive self buff. If I’m honest I’d multiclass for anything beyond 7th level at most.
- Artificer Infusions. The only core class feature offering abilities I imagine a 5E D&D Galvatron might incorporate. Arcane Propulsion Armor is cool and I’d allow the character’s own construct body to meet the suit of armor prerequisite. The same goes for Armor of Magical Strength, Enhanced Defense, Repulsion Shield and Resistant Armor.
- Artificer Specialists. Armorer does a fantastic job replicating the powerful physical attributes of Galvatron but I can’t discount Artillerist. If I were playing this character I’d ask the Dungeon Master if my Eldritch Cannon could be the character themselves transforming into the powerful weapon instead. Because Transformers. I’d totally allow this when I’m the DM.
I don’t see anything here to inspire my imagination when it comes to D&D-izing Galvatron. Barbarians aren’t exactly known for their ranged combat prowess, which flies in the face of this arm cannon blasting powerhouse.
I wouldn’t exactly call what Galvatron does for his minions and allies Bardic Inspiration. Maybe it’s due to the strong start with warlock but even this most versatile 5E D&D class doesn’t speak to me in terms of this exercise in character creation.
- Divine Intervention. Several times in Transformers: The Movie Galvatron invokes the name of his master. The chances of intervention are slim but nevertheless there’s a chance. This is the only core class feature I can imagine Galvatron has from the cleric class.
- Divine Domains. Unicron is quite godlike in many ways and with all the options here there’s a few to be considered. Blessed Strikes is an optional class features from Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything and makes those rote 8th level cleric features more flexible. I’d allow for the extra damage to be force damage if the character winds up focusing on eldritch blast. Order Domain gives Galvatron the power to command others with extreme authority. Peace Domain… I’m joking. Peace. Ha!
Transformers means Wild Shape right? Maybe this fits for lots of Transformers but Megatron and then Galvatron’s schtick is transforming into a big weapon. Beyond this possible draw for many players nothing from this class or subclasses feels like it adds to a D&D-ized Galvatron to me. Next!
- Fighting Style. Defense, Superior Technique and Unarmed Fighting all offer nice benefits that don’t rely on weapon attacks because again, my idea of Galvatron starts and stops with spamming eldritch blast.
- Second Wind. A deep reserve of stamina to keep fighting certainly proves useful. Megatron used to run away when things turned against the Decepticons but Galvatron is the kind of warrior who stays until the enemies are laid waste.
- Action Surge. It’s the best feature in all of 5E D&D. Every character can make awesome use of it.
- Martial Archetypes. It’s a big, big stretch but I’d consider Arcane Archer features applied to eldritch blast instead of arrows. Likewise for a Champion’s Improved Critical.
There’s features I can imagine Galvatron possesses but getting them means accumulating a bunch more than I can’t. While I could consider making exceptions and house ruling other things to apply to eldritch blast there’s too much kludgy monk stuff for me to feel comfortable applying this thinking to the class features here.
The most powerful class all around if you ask me but not for D&D-izing Galvatron, at least not from the core class. Oath of Conquest or Oath of Vengeance might be worth acquiring other features not necessarily very useful for this particular character though.
- Favored Enemy. Clearly constructs is the choice to make here. Favored Foe is probably much more popular though since it increases rangers’ damage output and it affects eldritch blast.
- Fighting Style. Defense is the only one that makes sense.
- Primeval Awareness. Extend this to include constructs and now we’re talking. I’d house rule this to only detect constructs.
- Ranger Archetypes. Hunter makes the most sense thematically and mechanically for a 5E D&D version of Galvatron.
A lightly armored and highly skilled individual who sticks to the shadows and conceals their presence goes against everything Megatron and Galvatron stand for. Next!
Manipulating powerful energies isn’t exactly Galvatron’s method but careful spell selection and reflavoring as buffs and other effects thrust upon him by Unicron could work.
Sorcerous Origin. Clockwork Soul hits the construct vibe and includes great utility and buff spells along with ways to impose their will upon the world around them.
Warlock and to a lesser extent sorcerer cover all the arcane magic I can justify. Sorry wizards.
Now it’s up to you — how do you envision Galvatron as a 5E D&D character? All things considered I kind of dig the idea of a multiclass warlock and artificer with some heavy house ruling to represent one of the most powerful Transformers ever.