Over at Nerdarchy the YouTube channel we create a lot of video content. There’s thousands of videos celebrating our passion for fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons and other tabletop roleplaying games. (But yes, mostly D&D. We love the game!) One of our favorite videos to make are the Adventurers League Character Build Guides. We come up with a character concept and put it together soup to nuts. Along the way we explain why particular choices get made, building a character from 1st-20th level. Mechanical elements certainly factor heavily into decision making but practical reasoning and roleplaying share equal importance. For a little inside baseball it is almost always the latter ideas where a CBG begins. At the moment we’ve got 32 CBGs over at Dungeon Masters Guild, all pay what you want. Nine of them have achieved copper bestseller or better status, and there’s also four other PWYW products over there, which are encounters or adventures you can drop right into your 5E D&D game. Today I’m here to share one of my favorite CBGs, one I’ve been playing in a wonderfully fun game run by Esper the Bard on his YouTube channel.
Character Build Guides for any scenario
The Extreme Adventurer Character Build Guide began with the idea for a character who adventures as a vocation. Dungeons filled with treasure and danger await discovery. This 5E D&D character aims to travel the world and hit all the hottest spots to overcome the challenges within. Tomb of Horrors, Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan, Castle Amber, White Plume Mountain, Temple of Elemental Evil — all these and more are destination vacations for the Extreme Adventurer.
“The Extreme Adventurer might be one of our more tongue-in-cheek character builds. Think Indiana Jones meets American Ninja Warrior contestant. Our Extreme Adventurer is all about exploring bigger and better dungeons that others haven’t conquered yet.”
When we started creating these character build guides we decided to make them Adventurers League legal. This way each guide maximizes accessibility for players everywhere. If you are not familiar this means characters are created using the Player’s Handbook and one other book. Xanathar’s Guide to Everything makes a fine +1 source because it is filled with many new subclasses and a ton of new spells. It’s easy enough to customize one of our CBGs with options from additional sources for non-AL play.
I’ve used many of our CBGs as both Dungeon Master and player. If I’m honest my favorite part of the process is coming up with the creature versions for each character build. I’ve used just about every one of them at some point or another as an antagonist, ally and in the case of the Zen Archer a hireling. The Illrigger crew from my Spelljammer campaign found this NPC to be incredibly capable, holding their own along with another NPC crew member and a player character who were all shunted off to the Nine Hells when they discovered the surprise effect from slaying a void dragon.
For my version of the Extreme Adventurer I played them as a 4th level character in a live stream game hosted and run by Esper the Bard. You can check out our game session on his YouTube channel here. Jovan Musk performed admirably! Even though I participated in the creation of the character build guide, this was quite a while ago and I’d forgotten many of the details. I’m here to tell you the CBG was super helpful! Mechanically the character was terrific but it was the flavor that really helped with roleplaying. I even stuck with their penchant for granola and a healthy meatless diet, which came up in during the game naturally. That was a wonderful roleplaying treat.
One of the criticisms we’ve seen here and there about our 5E D&D Character Build Guides is they’re too theoretical. We build each character from 1st-20th level, and the comments we sometimes see are this is not useful because the vast majority of game play takes place at lower levels. I’m here to tell you this is part of the design process! We put a lot of thought into each step of the way to make sure these characters don’t only come online until high levels when multiple conditions are met. In fact in more than a few cases by the time we get around to choosing their starting class the character already has a pretty interesting and impressive collection of skills and abilities.
In Esper’s game, Jovan Musk is a 1st level ranger, 1st level monk and 2nd level rogue. We delved a dungeon where this Extreme Adventurer fought an undead beholder, encountered traps and puzzles and put their goliath Strength to the test moving an incredibly heavy object. Guess what? Jovan kicked butt in combat (didn’t get hit a single time!), successfully found and disarmed a trap and helped solve a puzzle with his skills and features. The session segued into heavy roleplaying and social interaction after the dungeon delve and here again contributed value to the party.
Adventurers League and beyond
If you’re interested in the Extreme Adventurer or any of the other 5E D&D Adventurers League Character Build Guides we’ve come up with, here is a link to the CBG playlist at Nerdarchy the YouTube channel. The Extreme Adventurer CBG I’m using to guide Jovan Musk’s adventuring career might make the perfect character for your next campaign, and you can find all our PWYW DMG products here.
Are there any character concepts you’d like us to explore in future Character Build Guides? Have you played any of the ones we’ve created as a player or DM? I know at least one DM out there put an entire party of heroes to the test with the Mind Breaker. Personally, one of my very favorite ones is the Master of Undeath. The Pale Master creature in there was super fun to come up with and a terrific challenge for heroes to face.