Popcharacter Maker Volume One: Intro and Rayla

Hello and welcome to the first article of Lich Lair’s new recurring column: Popcharacter Maker. In this series I, Amara Balkrana, will be sharing some of my favorite characters from pop culture, and showing you how to make playable versions of them in 5e D&D! There is a lot of things out there that you can draw inspiration from to make characters that are interesting to play both mechanically speaking and in their story.

Before we get into it I’d like to describe what this column is and what it isn’t, or more specifically what it’s trying to do. One thing that I want to do with this is share character builds that I made that aim to mimic characters from various pieces of media.

Now, when I say character builds, what I don’t mean is some power-gamed monstrosity that attempts to make a mess of things at the table, in fact, some of my ideas may be the complete opposite of that in that they are not practical at all. Something else I’m not going to try to do is create a 1-to-1 copy of the character I’m mimicking. That would require lots of homebrew and that’s not really what this is about. No, the most important thing to me is capturing the feel of the character, and while a lot of that has to do with how you role play, I think I can get us a large part of the way there by creating a mechanically interesting character based on the character I’m mimicking. They will likely end up with some extraneous abilities, as is the nature of D&D with the countless number of spells and class abilities, but I think that’s okay. It just adds to what you can do with the character should you decide to try it out.

Now that the introduction is out of the way lets get to the good part. I’ve been obsessed recently with The Dragon Prince, which you can watch on Netflix. The fantasy world in it feels ripe for adventure in the same way a D&D world does and I love it. So I figured who better to be the first character we make than my personal favorite from the show: Rayla. Also, minor spoilers for The Dragon Prince ahead, you have been warned.

Rayla is a Moonshadow Elf assassin who isn’t really ready to be an assassin. She end’s up joining the gang after helping them escape her fellow assassins.

So how do we make her in D&D? Well, lets start with her race. Moonshadow Elves aren’t an option among the normal elf subraces, so we’ll have to improvise. I’m honestly not sure why but wood elves feel like the best substitute out of the three options in the Player’s Handbook. Drow is out for obvious reasons and high elf just doesn’t feel right for Rayla. Not to mention the +1 to wisdom that wood elves get will be useful later. Wood elves are not traditionally horned and lacking a finger on each hand, but this is your’s and your DM’s world, there is no reason they can’t be now.

Regarding her background, it’s a difficult choice, but I think that soldier is this best choice for her given that she was raised by a trained assassin. None of the other’s really stick out to me as a good option.

With her race and background chosen, it’s time to discuss her class. The strongest candidate is rogue given that she is a trained assassin, but I would like to put forward another option: monk. Rayla is shown to have nearly supernatural speed and agility, and I think that the best option it give our version of her those same abilities is monk. But why chose just one? Both rogue and monk make sense for her so why not both? That’s right, we’re multiclassing.

So, with our character planned out I think it’s time to get into the details of our abilities.

Standard Array is 15, 14, 13, 12, 10, 8. We’re going to want dexterity to be our highest stat followed by wisdom for our monk abilities. Let’s also keep in mind our racial stat boost +2 dex +1 wis. Given our racial stat boost it’s posible for us to get +3s in both dex and wis if we distribute our stats as follows.

  • Strength: 8 (-1)
  • Dexterity: 14+2=16 (+3)
  • Constitution: 13 (+1)
  • Intelligence: 10 (+0)
  • Wisdom: 15+1=16 (+3)
  • Charisma: 12 (+1)

We managed to get both of our main stats up to 16 using the two highest in the Standard Array. I decided to put the next highest, 13, into constitution because Rayla did a pretty good job dealing with the tightening wristband throughout the first season. Strength is our dump stat, as we won’t be relying on it too much, and the 10 and 12 in charisma and intelligence are honestly interchangeable depending on if you want to play a slightly smarter Rayla or a slightly more charismatic Rayla.

Ok, 1st level, here we go. We are going to start with rogue, as it offers proficiency in more things and gives us access to Rayla’s weapons.

Let’s talk proficiency. We are given proficiency in a lot of things as a rogue.

  • Light Armor
  • Simple Weapons, Hand Crossbows, Longswords, Rapiers, Shortswords, and Longbow (from being an elf)
  • Thieves’ Tools, one Gaming Set and vehicles (land) (from the soldier background)
  • Dexterity and Intelligence Saving Throws
  • Athletics and Intimidation (from the soldier background), Perception (from being an elf), and our choice of four from Acrobatics, Deception, Insight, Investigation, Performance, Persuasion, Sleight of Hand, and Stealth

Of the skills, we are given two decent ones by our background, and of the options, the only ones that I view as crucial to Rayla are acrobatics and stealth. The other two are up to you. Oh also common and elvish.

Next let’s talk equipment. As a rogue you should take the two shortswords offered by your starting equipment instead of the other weapons. Which pack you take is up to you, though I think that explorer’s is not only the best but makes the most sense. And finally we get free leather armor, a couple daggers, and thieves’ tools, all standard to the rogue. You also get a number of things from the soldier background but the important stuff is your common clothes and your 10gp.

Your first level abilities are expertise, sneak attack, and thieves’ cant. For your expertise I think that acrobatics is crucial for one of your two options, and the other is up to you, but stealth is another really good choice.

At 2nd level we are going to immediately multiclass into monk because we want to get monk core abilities quickly. We don’t get any new proficiency but we do get unarmored defense and martial arts. So you can get rid of that leather armor you got at 1st level, as your unarmored defense will be better and Rayla doesn’t really wear armor. At least I don’t think what she’s wearing is armor. It certainly doesn’t look like it, it just looks like a uniform but I don’t think it would offer much protection.

3rd level grants us ki and unarmored movement, bringing your movement speed up to a whopping 45 feet. Ki doesn’t give us much yet, but flurry of blows will certainly increase Rayla’s lethality.

4th level and we get deflect missiles, which is a nice ability to have. But more importantly this is when we chose our monastic tradition. This is what is going to make up the majority of the character. I feel that the best representation of Rayla is the Way of Shadow. It grants limited magic that all has to do with stealth that I feel is comparable to the Moonshadow Elves’ innate magical connection to the moon. It gives us some abilities that Rayla never displayed in the show, but they are cool abilities nonetheless, and they still capture the feel of Rayla.

5th level is when we get our first ability score improvement, and I feel that our best option here is to increase our dexterity to 18. We also get slow fall, another nice monk ability to have.

6th level we’ll go back to rogue and pick up cunning action, which saves us a little bit of ki because we won’t be needing to use step of the wind unless we want to jump.

7th level we get our roguish archetype, and as Rayla is an assassin, assassin is the obvious choice here.

8th level we get our 2nd ASI and increasing dex to 20 is as good an option as increasing wis to 18.

This is where I’m going to stop the level-by-level breakdown, partly because I trust that you get the point and partly because I’m tired of writing. Though I will say that I think that the best divide between rogue and monk you could do, assuming you take this character all the way to level 20, is monk 11 rogue 9. The 11th level way of shadow ability makes for a perfect capstone to this build considering that it is very similar to Rayla’s own invisibility that we do see in the show.

Source

In the end we will end up with 3 attacks per turn, or 4 if you use flurry of blows, each doing 1d8+5 damage, a pretty good amount of sneak attack dice at 5d6, and a bunch of useful survival abilities like uncanny dodge and evasion. Not to mention stunning strike, which combos well with sneak attack. We’ll have a speed of 55 feet and the ability to dash as a both an action and a bonus action, allowing us to move faster than most other characters. One unfortunate thing about this build is that it only offers 4 ASIs whereas a standard single class would offer 5. This is unfortunate but I don’t think it’s a huge deal as it’s still enough to get 20 dex and 20 wis or 20 dex, 18 wis, and a feat if you want one. We’ll have a below average amount of hit points, with 20d8 hit dice and +1 con, but I think we can be just as survivable as characters with more hit points considering the pretty high armor class and those aforementioned survival abilities.

Anyway, this has been my version of Rayla from The Dragon Prince for 5e D&D. You are free play this build in your own game and to adjust it however you want. I hope you enjoyed this, and I’ll have to get to thinking about what character I’ll make next.

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