In How To Be we’re going to look at a variety of characters from Not D&D and conceptualise how you might go about making a version of that character in the form of D&D that matters on this blog, D&D 4th Edition. Our guidelines are as follows:
- This is going to be a brief rundown of ways to make a character that ‘feels’ like the source character
- This isn’t meant to be comprehensive or authoritative but as a creative exercise
- While not every character can work immediately out of the box, the aim is to make sure they have a character ‘feel’ as soon as possible
- The character has to have the ‘feeling’ of the character by at least midway through Heroic
When building characters in 4th Edition it’s worth remembering that there are a lot of different ways to do the same basic thing. This isn’t going to be comprehensive, or even particularly fleshed out, and instead give you some places to start when you want to make something.
Another thing to remember is that 4e characters tend to be more about collected interactions of groups of things – it’s not that you get a build with specific rules about what you have to take, and when, and why, like you’re lockpicking your way through a design in the hopes of getting an overlap eventually. Character building is about packages, not programs, and we’ll talk about some packages and reference them going forwards.
You don’t have long on this earth. THE FASTEST SINNER WILL EDIT THE TEXT. MISSION ONE. WHATABURGER! A MIDNIGHT MEAL WITH THE DEVIL
THE CARBUNCLE ATE ITSELF! FIRST HOWDY!
LET’S GET THE MONEY. GODS PLAY DICE WITH THE UNIVERSE, WHY DON’T YOU GIVE HER A CALL. FIRST SHOWDOWN ATTACK, Crank it To 11! WORLD IS A FUCK
Round the first: Grind!
It’s Labor Day.
Let’s talk about Guilty Gear.
Content Warning: I’m going to have to put some disclaimers up for some political information around Bridget and trans identities before I get into the meat of things, so if you’re not interested in that and you’re already aware of this situation just jump three paragraphs.
Content Note: I’m a firm proponent of how your version of a character is your version and there’s a lot of complexity at work when discussing this character, especially discussing the way the story extends into the past. Particularly, I’m not a Bridget Purist, and I think that treating this current version of the character as if this is now the proper and correct interpretation of this incredibly silly story’s canon and anyone doing anything else is basically creating an orthodoxy and is pretty shitty. But in this article, I’m going to use she/her for Bridget and write about the current version, who’s a trans girl rather than the complicated arrangement prior, or the current situation where a body of Japanese audience perceives a difference that’s not conveyed in English. If you have a personal connection with an interpretation of Bridget, that’s okay, and nobody wants to take it away from you.
Content Note Note: I’m doing Bridget because it’s tricks month, it’s timely, and also, Bridget uses a yoyo, which does tricks. It’s only after I started work on it I figured I should make it clear this isn’t me making a 2000 word ‘tr*p’ joke. Not that I think that joke is an inherent evil but trust me, the trans girls making that joke don’t have time for a cis boy repeating the joke.
Content Note Note Note: When I started on this article I was pretty neutral on this conversation but finding these images resulted in being exposed to a truly fantastic amount of transphobic pissbaby shitmoaning so let me be clear, if you’re one of those people, yes, I do want to take Bridget away from you. You personally feeling victimised and excluded by this videogame character is a 100% good thing and I hope you wander in the wilderness for forty years.
We’ve talked about Guilty Gear before on How To Be, when I covered May, and in the intervening time since then the Guilty Gear universe has not gotten more sensible, more simple, or more coherent. It is still a place where all of Japan is an internment camp, you can be given an afro at the barber’s mid-fight and where a superweapon for destroying the world was distracted from the course of violence by a particularly good burger, which I am sure a number of my friends will consider a good deal. It is a silly world, and in that world we get Bridget, a character who I guess we best can summarise as a bounty-hunting street fashion drippy nun-girl with an intelligent, sentient teddy bear that asserts he is not a Gear.
Gears are a thing, it’s…
Jesus christ, okay, so Gears are an artificial race of creatures created in the Guilty Gear universe originally made to advance evolution but then they got turned into weapons of war oh who could see that coming and oh now they’re pissed about it oh no who could see that coming, and then there was a hundred years of war with our own creation and that’s before the game fiction starts. That’s backstory. Oh, and they’re illegal now, but some of the main cast are Gears, and Australia is still making gears, and they were led in their crusade by a giant lady gear who has what I can only really describe as a big pointy blue dong as part of her design.
Bridget is a… deep breath… uh… Bridget is one of a pair of identical twins and has an AMAB cis brother, but she was assigned female at birth because of a belief in a curse then over several years started trying to make her way outside of that village as a boy who still liked her aesthetic and only recently kind of said something to the effect of ‘oh heck I think I might be trans,’ and a lot of people around her went ‘yeah we can tell,’ making her possibly the highest-profile example of an AFAB trans woman, and all this while she wore a giant handcuff as a hula hoop and used a yoyo to capture villains to make money.
I told you Guilty Gear didn’t start making more sense while you were away.
With that in mind let’s not get caught up in trying to make coherent sense of the setting and instead talk about the mechanics of the character we’re trying to examine. While last time when we looked at May we were talking about a character iconic for being a gorilla, someone who, when not pressured to do otherwise, will just pound a repeated offense into you and demand you correctly respond to it, this time we’re talking about a character who’s been designed as balanced. Bridget is extremely mobile (in weird ways), can protect a large area (in weird ways) and can initiate strong pressure situations (in weird ways). In exchange for that, she doesn’t do a lot of damage with any individual attack and she isn’t super tough.
She does wield a yoyo as a weapon of choice and sometimes sends her teddybear into battle to attack things or, more realistically, tank a hit by interrupting someone else’s super, at least if I’m understanding what goes on in these videos right. She isn’t a king hitter, but she takes command of the space around her and can push you back into places you don’t want to be. She isn’t visibly wearing heavy armour, but she can go where she wants.
Glossary Note: Conventionally, the term used in D&D for this mechanical package is race. This is the typical term, and in most conversations about this game system, the term you’re going to wind up using is race. For backwards compatibility and searchability, I am including this passage here. The term I use for this player option is heritage.
The Essential Bridget
Oh boy, she’s a melee control character with reach and high mobility, I bet Talen’s going to say she’s a druid.
(No, she’s not, as much as I love that idea).
There are three things that I think can be easily extracted from Bridget as a character in this context that can be applied uniformly across all possible ways to approach making this character. The first is her weapon choice, and the second is Roger. The third is a sort of idea of what her heritage probably isn’t, so let’s approach those in that order.
First up, her weapon of choice is a weapon on a cable with long reach. It doesn’t put direct force behind it but relies on being thrown, or arced, or wrapped around something, allowing indirect application of force. This is a category of weapons that handles this just fine, and it’s flails. Bridget doesn’t do a lot with her off hand, no shields I can see, so it seems to me that she’s probably wielding it as a single two-handed weapon, which means starting with the Spiked Chain (if you want to spend a feat on it) or if you’re willing to interpret the baggy sleeves as a type of shield or buckler, the Alhulak, for a +3 proficiency bonus flail. Either way she’s got access to flail support in the form of Flail Expertise, which lets you convert slides into prones.
This is something you can do a lot with if you support it. Obviously, any power that includes slides becomes more desireable, since it means you’ll be controlling where opponents can go. Going forward I’m going to assume the spiked chain, because it gives you more reach and therefore, more control, and it gets to be a li’l spicy later on with feats like Dragging Flail (you slide them, which prones them, then you slide them again), and Repel Charge (if you lock an opponent in the right spot, the only thing they can do is charge you, and you get a chance to put them right back where they started without hurting you). Repel Charge is a paragon feat, but it’s a lot of the fun of Polearm Momentum without the same demand for multiclassing — well, Dragging Flail does want you to be a Fighter.
Next up is Roger. Roger is a small combat bean that gives you more presence, and as with May before here, is desireable to both soak up hits and make attacks on its own. The bear is literally the Terminator if you look at how he dresses and behaves. This is an easy one to nail down — take Fey Beast Tamer, and take Owlbear. This is going to be useful for the same kind of space control as the flail; enemies can’t move through an occupied square by your Owlbear, which means positioning them around it further limits their options, but also, attacking the Owlbear causes you no long-term harm and you can bring him back easily.
Finally, there’s the question of heritage. And honestly, I think that if you’re just going ‘Hey, I like how Bridget looks and I want to use her aesthetic and yoyo and bear as template to build my character,’ go for it, do what you like. But if you want to make sure the gender identity component of Bridget’s story is important to your character, you need to have a good think in-setting about what that means. In a lot of magic-based settings, ‘transition’ can be a very different thing than it means in our world, but also, it means that some cultures that don’t really have gender differentiation aren’t going to be good fits. Heritage can be a place to get access to mobility options as well, with heritages like the Shadar-Kai and Eladrin giving you teleports.
Particularly I’d recommend away from any thoughts of ‘ah, I need to check with the DM which is the most transphobic culture,’ but at least, consider that specifically the Shardmind (who are genderless) and Changelings (who can freely change gender presentation) are probably not good fits. Again, don’t go putting yourself in the path of shitty setting experiences for the sake of a D&D character, but again, be mindful that if you’re digging into this space it warrants being thoughtful.
Also it’s a little cheeky, but… you can probably get a lot of mileage out of a half-elf, picking up Eldritch Strike (if your best stat is con or charisma) to get an always-available at-will opportunity attack slide.
You’ve got all sorts of room in these builds to pick up skills that work well for your vision of Bridget. We don’t get a world of personal life information, because, well, she’s from a fighting game.
A Creature of Enmity, Let’s JIVE
The Avenger feels like a very natural fit with Bridget to me, especially because of all the strikers it’s the one that trades spiky damage with incredible reliability. You don’t get critical failures very often when you play an Avenger, and they have a wonderful at-will attack with Overwhelming Strike. This power lets you start with the flail malarkey at level 1: If you hit an enemy with the strike, you immediately get to shift, and instead of sliding the enemy after you, you can prone them where they are, putting them at a perfect distance: Too close to charge you, but too far away to attack you.
This is a lot more ad-hoc than the Polearm build, but it’s also more free; you don’t have to pick up a big feat chain or have heavily demanding mechanical ability score requirements to pull it off. You really can start with ‘Avenger + Flail + Owlbear’ and pick up things that are good enough. The virtue of the flail over the polearm is that while the overall power is less focused, even being able to do half of it with a quarter of the investment is still really good.
Crash Into Tomorrow, Roger From The Future!
Bridget’s high-mobility, high-reach build and the presence of Roger could also be used to represent a battlefield commander — someone who can choose where she stands, and help direct her allies around her. She’s certainly big on helping out her friends and being in the path of danger.
The Warlord is an iconic 4e class. I love it so much and it gets to thrive when you can give it more characters on the board to throw around. Roger, as an owlbear, has a meaty d12 attack and that means you can take advantage of great powers like Lamb to the Slaughter. By bringing a body that can charge and be granted attacks, you have a lot of control over where your enemies can be, without making demands of your teammates who may have different needs.
Note that the Warlord isn’t a class with a lot of at will slides; plenty of its powers slide allies, so you can still take advantage, but you might want to look at the feat Rending Chains Student so your Viper Strike gets a slide as an at-will attack.
Feel Your FUllest, Precious Girl! Let The Heavens Fall!
I love the Ardent and I’m going to take advantage of that here. I’ve talked about the glory of Forward Thinking Cut, which is still great, but the real treat here for a high-mobility, don’t-go-where-I-don’t-want-you-to is the power Unsteadying Rebuke. This is basically an at-will off-turn attack slide, where if you’re not planning on a big next turn lets you pass up your Standard action to instead interrupt someone off-turn and knock them on their ass. But what’s even better than that is you can augment it to reposition an ally (good) or to slide everyone adjacent to the enemy you slid, which means you can bowl an enemy into a group of other enemies, and knock them all over.
This is in addition to a bunch of other things that the Ardent can do that exploit the question of mobility. If you reposition yourself and your bear and an ally, you can do tricks like Forward-Thinking Cut repeatedly, which – oh I already mentioned that. I like that power a lot! Also, your mantle rewards you for provoking attacks of opportunity, but also not getting hit by them, which further plays with the way you want to make sure there are paths through your enemies.
There’s a weapon build of the warlock that uses a flail and has a summon too, but it’s very explicitly mystical in a way that doesn’t feel to me like a great fit with Bridget. She wears a nun hoodie after all. Another option is to look at the Fighter or Knight and make her as a tank and go with the dodge-rolls-only style of evasion described here.
I can’t see a way to make her a druid unless you interpret the bear differently and have her turn into the bear, but really, that’s a reach.
Bridget is an adorable character, and thinking about the long reach of a chain weapon has been a lot of fun.
Well, that was… you know that wasn’t nearly so hard to explain. Huh. Well, time to go look for images to populate the article with…