PopCharacter Maker Vol. 4 – Green Lantern

In today’s article, I am popping in because I asked really nicely and I also am a huge Green Lantern fan. Strap in, my emerald knights, because no evil is about to escape our sight, in brightest day or blackest night… And if you don’t know what I’m talking about here, just know one thing: there is no movie. It never got made.


So I’ve always been a huge Green Lantern fan. There are two things I especially love about the Green Lanterns: one, that they can literally make any object, any construct, any thing they can possibly imagine; and two, that all that awesome power and fearsome versatility can be yours just by slipping a tiny little ring onto your finger.

No, not that ring.

Technically the Fellowship of the Ring was published 14 years after the first issue of Green Lantern, so…

I don’t care what’s in your filthy pocketses. I don’t judge.

Sometimes it’s difficult to make a character from other media or fiction fit into a D&D-style universe, but as always reflavoring is your friend here. A corps of intergalactic police officers armed with the most powerful weapon in the universe on their fingers, operating on hyperadvanced alien technology, probably doesn’t fit into Faerûn… but a magic ring, crafted by an impossibly clever artificer, does. Or you can even just explain it all away due to sorcerous abilities. Never mind that I will be using neither of these classes below.

Anyway, all this to say that I’ll be going with a particular flavor concept, but my focus is primarily on the mechanics, and you should feel free to bribe your DM to accept whatever flavor changes you want. Preferably with food. Food’s always good.


Test Piloting

Okay, quick summary here. We’re going with a…

Hexblade Warlock 3 / Conjuration Wizard X

You can see where I’m going with this. Pact of the Blade/Chain allows you to summon a wide variety of objects or animals, respectively, and the Conjuration Wizard specializes in even more summoning of myriad kinds.

If you are looking for an alternative, any spell that allows you to summon, or shape them from a particular substance, is good. In this case, the strongest summoning spells that the wizard doesn’t get are Conjure Fey and Conjure Animals (but in return, the wizard gets almost everything else), so consider a Ranger or a Druid, perhaps.

Trust me, there are all sorts of GLs out there. The ’80s were a weird time. 

Using the standard array for ability scores, we want to pump up our GL’s Charisma. A Green Lantern’s ring channels raw green willpower, and can only be wielded by the strongest-willed beings in the universe. Frankly, I feel like Charisma represents most of the other emotions in the Emotional Spectrum well. Perhaps the only exceptions are Hope and Compassion, which could possibly be represented by Wisdom, and Avarice, which should really just be a negative Intelligence modifier if you ask me.

Is it convenient that Charisma is also the spellcasting ability for the Warlock, and if we go Hexblade, their main attacking slot too? Yes! Incredibly so. I’m not going to question gifts dropped in my lap, okay?

Especially not gifts like these.

We also want to pump Intelligence, because Green Lanterns need to be intelligent enough to use their rings to defeat other… foes… Okay, no. We want to pump Intelligence because otherwise, this character’s spell save DC for the majority of their spells goes down the toilet. You now have two options:

  1. Make him a smart GL and give him high Int so he can come up with interesting, intelligent, and complex constructs to use in innovative ways. Or, in D&D terms, cast spells more.
  2. Make him Hal “Boxing Glove” Jordan and redirect his ability scores toward Dexterity and Constitution for survivability. Instead of creating constructs like Web or Mirror Image, your Green Lantern is instead going to focus on straightforward weapon-style constructs and simple shields. That, and a healthy dose of plot armour, are all they need to save the day!
Which’ll it be?

Sorry, enough waffling. I’m going with Option 1: the Smart GL. Here are the rest of their stats at Level 1…

STR DEX CON INT WIS CHA
81013141215

This character is sadly going to be very MAD. Even the Hexbladepact stuff only just about brings them to the edge of survivability. We keep Constitution as high as we can to maximise HP, and put our points into Wisdom next so they have a chance of making saves against mental effects. If you are more concerned about evading physical effects, such as traps or Fireballs, swap those DEX and WIS scores. Green Lanterns don’t need to be strong, unless you’re building Kilowog.

What race are we choosing? There are a few optimal choices. Tiefling is great for the +2 CHA bonus, and choosing Mammon or Mephistopheles gives you Mage Hand. The functionality of this spell is one of your most defining features as a Green Lantern – you have to have this spell. So, getting it for free is great. Being a Half-Elf is also amazing for the same bonus, especially if you go with High Elf ancestry for the wizard cantrip (which goes once again to Mage Hand).

But honestly, any race works. I’d go with Variant Human myself, but that’s because I’m a feat monkey. Or more importantly, a cantrip monkey. Magic Initiate is my best friend. But surprisingly, this build doesn’t need many feats at all. More on that later.


In Brightest Day…

Any background works. The skills are the ones you want to be good at, nothing more. If you’re playing true to the cop archetype, you’ll want Insight, Intimidation, Perception, and Persuasion – the City Watch background might suit you, or Guild Artisan.

Which class do we start with? It’s a no-brainer: both classes get Wisdom saves, but the Warlock gets light armor, simple weapons, and more choices to pick skills from. Further, the Warlock is eminently more survivable than the Wizard. We’ll stick with Warlock until level 3, and go no further.

At Level 1 you get your Otherworldly Patron. I’m going with Hexblade for this one with an eye towards eventually getting Pact of the Blade for instant weapons and the ability to add your Charisma bonus to your attacks. Attacking with your construct weapons is a classic move of almost all the Green Lanterns, but especially the greatest of them all, Hal Jordan. This Patron also nets you medium armour so that you won’t die within the first round of battle.

If you’d rather go with Pact of the Chain for construct animals, your Patron can be very different. The Celestial Warlock has a great light-and-fire based theme going on, which can very easily be colored green, and the Lurker in the Deep’s spectral tentacle approximates a construct weapon well.

Image result for green lantern construct animal
Who needs swords when you can make puppies??

At Level 2 you get Eldritch Invocations. Again the choice varies. If you’re going to be firing energy blasts from your ring, you’ll want Agonizing Blast for sure. I like to add Repelling Blast to this, to keep some distance between you and your foes. And if you’re going with Pact of the Blade, you’ll want the Improved Pact Weapon at Level 3. But you can’t get it yet! Choose two Invocations now, and replace one of them next level.

Some universally great options for Invocations available at your maximum Warlock level (3) are, in alphabetical order:

  • Devil’s Sight: Your ring burns through all darkness with its emerald light.
  • Eldritch Sight: Ring, scan the area…
  • Mask of Many Faces: The ring creates a hard-light disguise for you.
  • Misty Visions: Hologram projection technology.
  • Voice of the Chain Master

At Level 3 you finally make the choice of your Pact. But in reality, you’ve been preparing for it this whole time! Pact of the Chain allows you to use your ring to create a construct minion or animal that does whatever you need it to, while you fire off blasts of willpower from your ring from afar. Pact of the Blade means you’re a roving emerald warrior, summoning weapons to your hands, rushing in, and slashing at foes with blades of pure willpower energy. It’s a great look.

At Level 4 we multiclass to Wizard. What about ASIs and feats? I hear you cry. Well, it’s your choice. I prefer to jump to the Wizard features as quickly as possible, but you may want to take an extra level in Warlock for that extra cantrip, extra spell known, and an ASI or feat. The first two are far surpassed by what going Wizard gets you, but the last point is one I concede can make a lot of difference. Just remember that depending on your DM, higher levels can sometimes take much, much longer to reach.

Though we won’t get our first ASI until level 7 at this rate, a word. This build is really stat-hungry, and it’s possible you won’t take any feats at all, as you’ll be wanting a 20 for CHA and 18 for INT, or the other way round depending on your tastes. That said, War Caster or Resilient (CON) is always a good bet, as many spells at higher levels require Concentration. Mobile is good for hitting and running too.

At Level 5 we get our final characteristic feature. Choose the Conjuration Arcane Tradition, and revel in what it nets you: Minor Conjuration!  

Starting at 2nd level when you select this school, you can use your action to conjure up an inanimate object in your hand or on the ground in an unoccupied space that you can see within 10 feet of you. This object can be no larger than 3 feet on a side and weigh no more than 10 pounds, and its form must be that of a nonmagical object that you have seen. The object is visibly magical, radiating dim light out to 5 feet.

This is great. This is exactly the kind of versatility that a Green Lantern has, and although it’s limited in several ways, it’s definitely the best that 5e can give you. Remember, you can make anything. That’s crazy. It’s overwhelming. You could come up with a hundred different ways to solve a problem, to flavor an RP scene, and to express yourself as the creative force that only a Green Lantern is capable of being.

By this point, you’re now (at the very least) able to create any small-to-medium sized object; and any weapon at all, or a variety of animals that do your bidding. That’s not to mention what you can do with your cantrips and spells. Let me repeat: any. Go crazy now. You’ve earned it.


Beware My Power

The variety of spells you get from this build allow you to really customise your character and how they operate. At level 5, you will have 5 cantrips and will know 12 spells.

Let’s talk about cantrips, since their infinite use makes them just as much part of your character as any class feature. The best cantrips you can use for this character are:

  • Mage Hand: Energy hand that lets you perform long-range telekinesis? That’s basically half of what a ring is. Check.
  • Prestidigitation: Performs many of the minor functions of a Lantern Ring. As usual, lots of juicy flavor packed into this one.
  • Eldritch Blast: Turn this green and it’s a ring blast. Then spruce it up with Invocations as usual.
  • Green Flame / Booming Blade: Don’t take this if you take the Thirsting Blade invocation, but otherwise boosts your damage and is also great for flavor. 
It SAYS Green Flame! Right there!
  • Light/Dancing Lights: Green Lanterns glow. A lot. Mostly flavor.
  • Minor Illusion: Hologram projection technology, again.
  • Message: Use the ring to communicate with others.

How about spells? For this character, their main schools are going to be Conjuration, Evocation, and Illusion. Most of the effects a Ring can produce are physical in nature, not mental. As such, look out for spells that produce physical phenomena in the same way Power Rings do. Perhaps the most obvious are Wall of Force, Bigby’s Hand, Maximilian’s Earthen Grasp and Otiluke’s Resilient Sphere. It’s a pity that they’re so high level.

At lower levels, many Evocation spells can be reflavored appropriately. In order to cast Scorching Ray or Fireball, you might create a dragon’s head construct, which opens its maw and fires a gargantuan ball of emerald flame at your opponent… You get the idea. 

Utility spells also accurately mimic the less flashy capabilities of a Power Ring. Comprehend Languages is essentially the same as its translation function; Mage Armor, Shield, Absorb Elements or Armor of Agathys simulate a Lantern’s protection aura; Tenser’s Floating Disk or Unseen Servant allow the ring to carry larger items and perform more complex tasks.


Green Lantern’s Light

A lot of superheroes are actually surprisingly difficult to create in 5e, but it overjoys me to say that Green Lantern isn’t one of them. As a lifelong Green Lantern fan, I encourage all of you to give this hero a spin in your next one-shot or, hell, even your next campaign! I currently play a Blue Lantern at 14th level in a campaign set in modern times, and I am loving it. This character is incredibly versatile, and has an answer to literally every scenario.

Thanks to Amara for letting me ramble at you guys for this week!


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