In 4th Edition D&D, a starting character has three large layered choices for making a character more conveniently. You have their Ancestry (“race”), you have the toolset for solving problems they have for their basic skills (“class”), and then you have the little third layer, the layer where you get to refine those two things with extra stuff that isn’t worth a lot, but does bring with it some inherent difference: the theme.
For me, themes are a secret sauce component of 4th edition D&D. They’re a place that you can fill out things a character should be able to do, small bonuses that aren’t necessarily as uniformly available. If you have a striker who you think of as needing to be able to shield someone, one person in particular, the Guardian theme is there for you. If you want to add some sneaky stabbiness to a straightforward fighter, there’s a Yakuza. I’ve used the Werewolf and Werebear for a lot of stuff, and there are sometimes whole themes that carry a concept that are more important than the other two choices to make sure you can hit a specific feel.
But also themes aren’t ironclad, either. Some are very specific, like membership in a specific organisation and some are very general. Themes feel to me like seasonings: The biggest problem we have with Themes right now is not enough of them and not varied enough. Themes are there to do the job of helping you cement some element of your character design that needs to grow, but also can’t be done with the slow progress of feats.
And while working on this, I found this.
This artwork rules. I have this problem when I see art and because I create in game spaces, I immediately think ‘hey that’s rad, I’d love to make a game that looks like that.’ And you can’t, that’s a thing, you can’t just take art you like and use it, even though people can just take rules they like and use them. Seems a bit rude on me, I guess. But anyway, point is, I saw this and went: Damn, that gives me ideas.
Thing is, this art is for something. It’s art from 2018 for a Zine called Dames. And that zine has an iteration, currently on Kickstarter, right now. With that in mind, here’s a link to this Kickstarter, and I recommend you check it out and see if you like it. It’s a zine full of knightly ladies. That looks cool!
And now, inspired by this bangin’ artwork, I’d like to present you with The Passionguard.
“What stands between you and forever may just be me; yet I will not yield”
Do you burn within with a powerful vision of how the world should be? Is there hope and love in your heart, and a desire to wield it to make life better? Would you stand in the doorway, would you keep out the danger, would you walk the line, would you refuse to die and refuse to yield, for love’s sake?
If so, you may be a Passionguard.
Building A Passionguard
The Passionguard is meant to add a courtly flourish to a character, that sort of ‘knightly’ air to a character whose dedication to love. It lets you create a character with heavy armour, where other class needs may pull you towards them, and lets you channel the character’s emotional needs and values into combat.
Passionguard characters typically want to be melee weapon wielders, and their abilities reward defenders and strikers, but some leaders and controllers can get value from the theme.
The Passionguard is a character who has an ideology that they seek to make real in life, and that ideology is somehow related to the protection and care of another. With that in mind, any given Passionguard is expressing their ideology by ensuring that someone is safe.
Note that this does not need to be the Passionguard’s romantic paramour, and Passionguards are in no way limited to one or two such. A ward can be meaningful to the Passionguard in a variety of ways. Some examples are a student the Passionguard is teaching, someone politically important the Passionguard wants to see succeed, or even a sibling or family member the Passionguard refuses to let come to harm.
|Ward the Charge||Passionguard Utility|
|Your practice as a passionguard keeps an ally safe, and encourages them to stay by your side.|
|Trigger: You roll initiative|
|Target: One target ally|
Level 21: Up to two target allies
|Effect: For the rest of combat, chosen allies get +1 to all defenses, as long as they are adjacent to you, or flanking an enemy with you. As long as chosen allies move towards you, they get +2 speed.|
Level 5 Feature
The Passionguard is a character whose ideals and ideology drive them, personally; they are not necessarily surrounded by magical energies protecting them. That means that as this drive pushes them, they learn to protect themselves with some armour training.
Knightly Armour Training: You get a bonus Armour Proficiency feat. You do not have to fulfil the ability score prerequisites of the feat you choose.
Level 10 Feature
The Passionguard is a beacon of hope and safety – even just being able to make eye contact with your chosen Ally can give both of you the strength to overcome obstacles.
Benefit: As long as you and your ally chosen by your Ward The Charge power can see one another, you each get +2 bonus to saving throws.
Once again, the artwork in this post is the work of Floh Pitot, obtained via Artstation, and used without permission. Does it look cool to you? It looked cool to me! It’s used as part of the Dames Zine which is currently live on Kickstarter, right now! Did you forget about me mentioning it? Well now here’s another convenient link!