Dozens and Dragons

Character idea: Ratcliff Boatdriver

A Character I Would Play in an rpg


I have a file full of characters, most of whom I will probably never get to play. Perhaps I’ll start a series here where I share some of these rapscallions and heroes, starting here and now with Ratcliff Boatdriver.


Captain Ratperson Boatdriver was an actual rat who lived on The Cacophony, a slaver’s ship, and who who suffered from reverse lycanthropy due to an unexpected (is there any other kind?) wild magic surge from a young woman being transported in the cargo hold. Which means that Ratperson Boatdriver was a rat who would from time to time turn into a human.

Ratperson organized the slaves, and the rats, in a revolt and overpowered the slaver crew and threw the captain overboard. Ratperson Boatdriver went on to captain that ship the rest of his days with the sorceress at his side. He established democratic socialism among the freed slaves, the rats, and those among the original crew who were worth saving. And they all flourished and enjoyed safety, freedom, and liberty under the Boatdriver banner aboard The Cacophony.

Ratperson had many rat children, none of whom–so far as we know!–are werepeople. And he had two human children, one of whom was a wererat: Ratbone Boatdriver inherited her father’s shapeshifting and eventually The Cacophony. She carried on the Boatdriver legacy of piracy and community.

Ratperson’s son, Ratlock, did not inherit any form of lycanthropy nor any kind of aptitude for sailing or piracy. Turning his back on the family business, he eventually became a successful artisan known primarily as the owner and proprietor of Boatdriver’s Fine Wines and Cheeses.

Which brings us to our hero, Ratcliff Boatdriver, son of Ratlock. As a child, his father’s wealth protected and provided for him. Restless from a young age, he grew up idolizing his grandfather and aunt, and wanted nothing but adventure on the sea at the helm of The Cacophony.

As he neared adulthood, Ratcliff used his father’s riches to purchase a fishing boat he named The Ruckus. He spends his days out on the water trawling and setting and checking traps, and selling his catches at Boatdriver’s. But he still dreams constantly of leaving the shoreline far behind and taking to the open sea and claiming his birthright: Captain Ratcliff Boatdriver of The Cacophony, champion of the oppressed, scourge of tyrants everywhere!


My main context is Dungeons and Dragons 5e, which frankly sucks for this kind of thing. If this were Fate or Risus, I’d have no trouble coming up with a few aspects / clichés:

But, D&D doesn’t let you build characters. It forces you to work against its system of classes to realize your vision.

So here we go, let’s try it.

My first two thoughts are Swashbuckler Rogue, natch, and Drunken Master Monk. I actually love the speed and battlefield utility of a monk here. I can imagine him wielding a fishing spear as a weapon. The subclass gets proficiency with brewers supplies, which I’d flavor as learning wine making from the family business. And the other low level subclass features are great for brawling on the poopdeck.

I would probably take the Guild Artisan background, only because the Sailor background doesn’t seem to offer that much besides flavor, and grab cartographer’s tools. I imagine my guild would be the Fishmongers guild to smoosh in a little bit of the flavor of the Sailor background: I work on a boat!

I’m not too worried about race for this build, but would maybe go Halfling for Lucky, Brave, and Nimbleness, all of which seem great for a derring-do, swashbuckler kind of fellow.

And here’s some fun: I always allow my players to take a feat at level one to neutralize variant humans, so I’ll allow myself the same privilege and take Magic Initiate (wizard).

For my two cantrips I’ll take Booming Blade, which will be baller for a speedster battlefield controller, and probably mending for flavor. Gotta keep those sails and ropes in tip top shape!

And then I’ll take Find Familiar for my 1st level spell. Because Ratcliff has an intelligent rat companion. Maybe a second cousin of his, the son of one of Ratperson’s rat children. Perhaps this branch of the family has a similar but divergent naming convention, and his name is Personford.


« older | 2020-10-20 | newer »