Yes, this week I’m doing something silly. The idea occurred to me during a recent road trip. Behind the wheel of a car for hours on end, I had to have something to think about, and a Fifth Edition D&D version of Forrest Gump came to mind. Once I started thinking about it, Gump has a lot more talents than I initially thought.
And to be clear, all references are to the movie version of Forrest Gump, as I’ve not read the books the character is based upon.
I’ll provide some explanations below, but first, his stats:
Forrest Gump — D&D style
Human (variant) Fighter 4 /Monk 2
Alignment: Neutral Good
Background: Folk Hero
Strength – 12 (+1)
Dexterity – 16 (+3)
Constitution – 16 (+3)
Intelligence – 8 (-1)
Wisdom – 18 (+3)
Charisma – 16 (+3)
Passive Perception: 13
Hit Points: 55
Armor Class: 16
Melee attack: +4/+6 (for Finesse weapons)
Ranged attack: +6
STR – +4
DEX – +6
CON – +3
INT – -1
WIS – +3
CHA – +3
Religion – +2
Insight – +6
Animal Handling – +6
Survival – +6
Persuasion – +6
Ping pong paddle
Languages: Common, Southern (Alabama dialect)
Fighting Style: Protection
Martial Archetype: Battle Master
By now you’re either chuckling or shaking your head and saying, “No way,” but stay with me. I had hours to think all of this through, so I have reasons for why I created Gump the way I did.
First off, Gump was in the army, so I figured he had to have at least one level of Fighter. But he also saw action, which means he had some experience, thus a few more levels in Fighter. I felt Second Wind and Action Surge went along with his swiftness, notably while running long distances, and Protection for Fighting Style seemed to fit his general attitude when dealing with others (remember how he saved a bunch of his buddies while in the army and how he punched one of Jenny’s boyfriends?).
As for Gump’s Martial Archetype, try not to laugh, but I went with Battle Master. Why? Not because of any skills he showed in combat, but because of his talent at ping pong. As a Student of War, his proficiency with an artisan’s tool goes to … you guessed it … the ping pong paddle. And he utilizes his Superiority Dice to triumph in ping pong tournaments through such Maneuvers as Precision Attack, Evasive Footwork, and Lunging Attack. Admittedly other Maneuvers are possible for a ping pong champ, but I thought those three fit well.
But a Monk? Yeah, things get a bit more iffy here, but think about it … what else fits? Rogue? Nope. Definitely not a spell caster, though I admit Cleric or Paladin have a certain draw to them. Though he shows a little anger, he doesn’t rage, so he’s not a Barbarian. Yet he can move fast and shows some ability at using his fists. That plus his (hopefully soon-to-be-obvious) high scores in Dexterity and Wisdom mean he is prime Monk material.
Obviously not a high-level Monk, yet Forrest does shows talents in Unarmored Defense, especially considering he made it through Vietnam with only a “million-dollar wound” to the buttocks. His Martial Arts ability is more questionable, but there are a few brief moments during the movie in which he shows some skill in being able to handle himself in this department. Unarmored Movement seems a natural, and his limited Ki abilities are mainly an extension of his unarmed training from the military.
But from where did Forrest receive his Monk training? I’m thinking from his mother. While he’s not a militaristic monk, he does show signs of being more of a spiritual monk, of one who has spent time looking inward.
As for choosing the background, I considered Soldier, but Folk Hero felt better to me. It’s true Gump didn’t fight off a horde of orcs to save Greenbow, Alabama, but he did become something of a small-town hero when he became a high school and college football star. To me that seemed a modern equivalent to the Folk Hero.
About his prime statistics … for Strength I gave him a 12 because he never showed any real signs of physical strength other than maybe shoving around a drunk, yet he’s usually in pretty good health. That combined with his military background made me think he’s no weakling, just not overly powerful, about average or barely above.
The high Dexterity came down to one issue: Ping pong. You don’t get to be a world famous ping pong player with a lousy Dex.
Constitution? Well, Forrest can run for long periods of time, and he’s not afraid to spend hours upon hours on a riding lawn mower or a shrimpin’ boat. That must mean he has solid endurance levels.
As for Intelligence, Gump is no genius. Even he admits to this. I might have gone even lower, to a 7, but I figured I’d give him the benefit of the doubt, an 8, mainly because that’s as low as a character’s stats can start when using the point-buy system for creation.
The 18 in Wisdom might be a sticking point, but a large part of the movie is about how wise Forrest happens to be despite his lack of smarts. Whether you agree or disagree with the various messages from the film, there’s little doubt the movie’s creator expected the main character to come off as wise.
Concerning Charisma … most people seem to like Forrest, at least once they get to know him. His simple ways provide a rustic likability that appeals to a lot of folks, though not necessarily to everyone. If you doubt this, keep in mind how enraptured all those people were who sat and listened to Gump’s stories at the bus stop.
Now let’s talk about alignment. Good, I think, is obvious. I leaned towards Lawful at first, in no small part because of his military background and his general attitude of wanting to do the right thing. But then I got to thinking about some of the situations Forrest found himself in. Taking off to run across the whole country, especially without telling anyone first, that’s not exactly something someone Lawful would tend to do. Forrest also took chances with his business, being a shrimpin’ boat cap’n, and a Lawful individual might have thought better of doing so. Gump obviously isn’t totally Chaotic, so I went the Neutral route, though I still think he probably has Lawful tendencies.
About Forrest’s Skills and Tools, I think Insight is a natural, with Persuasion being not far behind. Religion is a little less obvious, but Gump was a churchgoer, as evidenced by his time singing in choir, and as I’ve said, he did seem to have a spiritual aspect. Survival and Animal Handling seem a stretch, I’ll admit, but they come from the Folk Hero background and Forrest did have a somewhat rural or small-town past. As for the tools, the ping pong paddle is another obvious choice, one which I think he wields somewhat like a weapon, and then there’s the riding lawnmower which he spent hours and hours and hours upon.
And lastly we come to the Feats. Was anyone ever more lucky than Forrest Gump? I think not, which means the gods shined upon him the Lucky Feat from an early age. Then there’s the fact Forrest is quite speedy on his feet, and though his Monk abilities help him here, I believe he warrants a little extra, thus the addition of Mobile to his Feat list.
So, there we have it. Again, a silly exercise, but sometimes thinking about such things can give us a new perspective upon a game. Let me know what you think in the Comments section.
And while you’re at it, Stay Nerdy!