Lately I have come upon the realization that beyond the conventional 20th-level characters or epic characters of D&D 3.5 that the E6 variant may be the best “system” to model, adapt and construct superhero characters into the realm of the traditional D&D realm. While functioning at a significantly lower level, as a result of the boundaries of E6, the access to what is effectively unlimited feats presents the ability to flesh-out & make much more durable superheroes than one might find in a traditional D&D game. Through feats like Toughness, Improved Natural Armor, Roll With it, Thick-Skinned, Extra Spell, Open Minded and much more we may find ourselves able to apply a greater customization to these comic books characters.
The purpose of this thread to mull over such a concept and see what comes about. I have my own ideas, which I will present below and would love to hear thoughts, criticisms and ideas regarding some of them. For the purposes of this though I am making some assumptions regarding the E6 variant, the most prominent being that there are no 4th-level or high spells. What this means is an Artificer stops progressing, spell-wise, at 4th level. But with that said let us progress. The Fantastic Four
Reed Richards “Mister Fantastic’
Middle-Aged Changeling Enchanter 5/Chameleon 1
Approaching Reed Richards I wanted to focus on some signature abilities as well as try to imagine how he would operate within a traditional D&D setting. The first was his versatility in power. While he is, in almost every way, a Transmuter for the purposes of his build I opted to use Enchanter for its “social proficiency’ variant from UA as to gain access to Chameleon. Reed has access to third level Wizard spells and access to all 2nd-level divine& arcane spells via Chameleon which means he can effectively craft anything that would be presumed to be high-magic. For feats a huge selection would naturally be magic item creation and spell-boosters, but for combat I figured aiming him towards grappling seemed to be a solid way. So in terms of his role on the battlefield he uses divination spells to analyze the situation and than transmutation spells to alter himself into a grapplemancer.
Within the scope of a D&D realm, and with the build above, I re-envisioned Reed as a hyper-brilliant wizard who the kingdom did not trust at all for his eccentric past. Because of his social skills & such he uses lesser-minds to secure funding and in some ways is an intellectual con-man. Beyond this though the kingdom does use him as a consultant for arcane or planar-based problems/phenomena such as the trip that resulted in a burst of planar energy changing him from a Human into a Changeling.
Sue Storm ‘The Invisible Woman’
Middle-Aged Human Seer 4/Ghost 2 (using Savage progression)
For Sue Storm I wanted to really build around the idea of force, so I decided to go with the ghost template as not only can it be re-imagined as a force-like being but presents a lot of abilities & access to superb feats. Being a Seer she acts as a divination expert and because of her undead/incorporeal immunities as well as 1d4 Telekinesis (CL 12) she’s actually the most powerful of the four (which seems in line with the comics as well). For feats the traditional route of psionic power boosters is taken but she also takes a large smattering of the ghost feats in Ghostwise (especially any that allow the manipulation of ectoplasm). In combat she typically uses the Astral Construct power to form walls/barriers to protect the others as well as throwing around her Concussion Blasts & her Telekinesis ability.
In the campaign setting I imagined Sue as being an investigator for the kingdom who was placed with Reed as to keep tabs on him. She eventually falls into a romance with him and leaves her job, becoming Mrs. Richards. And than on a planar trip a supernatural burst of planar energy transformed her into a partial-ghost.
Johnny Storm ‘The Human Torch’
Innix-Blooded Human Battle Sorcerer
The Innix-Blooded template from Monster Manual 5 grants Johnny the fire subtype which is realistically the most important part of his character. He is immune to all fire damage & effects, so from there we can begin to dissect his character. His abilities are rather limited as they are prominently all fire-related so Sorcerer jumps out as a solid choice and with it being charisma-focused it fits his personality. Because spells per day/known really don’t matter in E6 because of feats I felt using the Battle Sorcerer variant gave a nice boost to the character. He can wear armor during battle, wield a weapon (I would chose a rapier for thematic reasons) and fits into a thematic redesign for the character as I’ll touch on below. For feats the standard spell-boosters are chosen with focus towards evocation & fire. For standard combat some feats that represent a noble-style fencing are picked up and some social manipulation feats are thrown on for good measure.
Johnny, in a D&D campaign setting & in relation to the other characters within the four, jumped out to me as a military officer of the kingdom. He is a battle-mage who’s duties were to scorch enemies, fairly simple. When Sue quit after her romantic entanglement Johnny was assigned to supervise her & Reed during missions, one in which a burst of planar energy gave him the Innix-Blooded template.
Ben Grimm ‘The Thing’
Mineral Warrior Earth Dwarf Dungeoncrasher Fighter 6
Ben was reasonably easy to build as the prime qualities of his character are being super-durable and super-strong. Dungeoncrasher means he can reasonably apply an average of fifty or so damage during a bull-rush which should be enough to take down most monsters the team will face in a few rounds. With the Thick-Skinned feat he can boost his DR 8/Adamantine to DR 16/Adamantine which in E6 is crazy defense, and with enough applications of Improved Natural Armor Ben never has to wear armor. For feats Ben Grimm has access to a wide range of combat feats (possessing a +6 BaB) so he becomes a true combat machine.
Ben Grimm to me could be seen as a foreign military officer who was called upon by Reed to act as his private security after Johnny was assigned to supervise his missions. During one such mission a burst of planar energy granted Ben the mineral warrior template.
Victor Von Doom ‘Dr. Doom’
Middle-Aged Human Artificer 3/Archivist 3
Victor is a complex build as there are so many factors to his character. The most prominent was his gift for inventing which I figured the first three levels in Artificer represented well. He is given the skills to match his aptitude towards ‘technology’ and can utilize any 1st-3rd level spell in the game for his benefit. Following that I wanted to touch upon his gifts of mysticism and felt Archivist was a superb choice. Archivist allows Doom to approach divinity, occultism and mysticism in a scientific/intellectual manner, provides him with bonuses towards knowledge (Dark Knowledge), the ability to cast any 2nd-level divine spell and do so in armor. For feats the traditional spell-boosts and item creation ones are chosen with feats dedicated to knowledge picked up as well.
Within D&D Victor would be a villain, a classical villain in every way. He’d despise Reed Richards for getting more publicity as a genius than him and in a way I imagine him as a ‘stay in my mage’s tower’ sort of king. I also imagine him using a lot of effigies of himself or even maybe Warforged in battles to emulate the DoomBots of the comics.
The rest of the iconic villains for the Fantastic Four are higher CR characters/creatures. E6 is fairly solid at emulating some characters but someone like the Silver Surfer is a bit beyond its capabilities (and thus would represent a high-level outsider or something akin to it).
Professor Charles Xavier ‘Professor X’
Old Aged Human Telepath 5/Thrallherd 1
Charles is a very easy build to construct as psionics, especially Thrallherd, do a phenomenal job of emulating his powers. Most of the telepath’s powers can help Charles do what he does and with feats like Mindsight he is a threat of his own. Because of the Thrallherd’ distinct ability he is also surrounded by 1st-level characters who can represent young mutants.
Professor X is easy to see as the headmaster of a supernatural university for those gifted in special ways. He also leads a team of supernatural heroes who fight against evil in the campaign. Fairly easy stuff to adapt.
Ororo Iqadi T'Challa ‘Storm’
I am honestly stumped here. The Druid’s spell list is fairly close to her abilities but the animal companion, Wildshape and entire animal-focus of the class makes it a bit weird to align with her. Any ideas or thoughts would be appreciated.
Scott Summers ‘Cyclops’
Human Warlock 4/Crusader 2
With Scott I wanted to focus on his two prime abilities, blasting & leading. For blasting four levels of Warlock will grant him a +3d6 ray and with invocations he can shoot that ray 250ft., see through darkvision & invisible foes and gain a bonus to spot & search in addition to constantly having an active Comprehend Languages for writing. After that two levels of Crusader allow him to pick up some White Raven maneuvers as to help in leading the X-Men. Standard ranged-combat feats are picked up with some really nice ones like Mortal Bane, Maximize SLA and Psionic Shot can help him go “nova” when he needs to against a foe.
I imagine Scott as the third in command of the X-Men, after Charles & Storm, with him taking the command during battles because of his capabilities in leading his allies.
Kalastar Telepath 6
Jean is a harder hero to adapt but I feel that Kalastar helps represent the Phoenix entity inside her and Telepath lets her use her signature powers. To help her go “nova” she uses Over-channel and for her feat selections the standard psionic power-boosts are chosen.
In the formation of the team Jean seems to be an auxiliary character who supports the others but doesn’t fall into any direct role. She serves as a main character in the X-Men and a teacher at the university.
Human Spell-thief 6
This is an easy choice as it is pretty much the only way to represent Rogue’s ability. Six levels of spell-thief allow her to steal up to third level spells (the highest in E6), spell-like abilities, energy resistances and other such things. Rogue probably also uses the variant for spell-thieves that lets her steal both spells & powers. It also gives her a BaB +4 & +2d6 sneak-attack which makes her quite the fighter in a battle. For feats I imagine choosing combat-based ones that would help her combine unarmed fighting with sneak attacking, as well as infiltration ones might be picked up.
Beyond serving as an instructor at the university I imagine Rogue, with the build above, would serve primarily as an infiltration expert & partner with Wolverine whenever he is with the X-Men.
James Logan “Wolverine”
Wild-Hunt Shifter Ranger 1/Barbarian 1/Warblade 2/Warshaper 2
This version of Wolverine ends up focusing on his prime ability, durability. Beyond even Ben Grimm from the Fantastic Four as shown above Wolverine can become temporarily immune to damage through a combination of the Troll-Blooded feat and Shifter Resiliency. For the build it is one that pulls together a lot of things. Ranger gives skills, trap-finding (with an acf) and favored enemy (with arcanist chosen because of the setting). Barbarian allows us to give Wolverine pounce & whirling frenzy. The two levels of Warblade provide some maneuvers from Iron Heart, Stone Dragon & Tiger Claw. Finally Warshaper ends the build by granting immunity to critical hits & stunning, morphic weaponry as well a flat +4 bonus to strength & constitution (which are pretty big in E6). For feats everything under the sun regarding combat that he can meet the prerequisites for as well as almost every shifter feat as to boost his shifting ability, with infiltration-based feats rounding off the build. Applying Toughness as many times as needed can also help make him into an indestructible force of the wild.
Within the X-Men I see Wolverine as the purest analogy to a solo D&D character. He assist the team whenever he is around and acts as a combat training because of his ability to temporarily become immune to all damage thus allowing them to go to their extreme. But sometimes he goes off on his own for a solo adventure to gain some experience points.
Dr. Henry Philip "Hank" McCoy “Beast”
Feral Human Artificer 4/Barbarian 2
The Feral template helps transform Beast from an ordinary human into the blue-fur covered creature he is within the comics. Four levels of Artificer come into the help represent his high-level of intelligence and aptitude towards ‘technology’ and ‘science.’ Finishing off the build comes two levels of Barbarian for pounce, whirling frenzy ad improved trip as to help in conjuring his animal side.
At the university he acts as a head lecturer with his duties towards the X-Men being a magic item creator & back-up support during battles as he can reasonably carry his own during a fight.
Bobby Drake “Ice Man”
Human Battle Sorcerer 6
A fairly traditional adaptation as he can specialize his powers to all ice/cold spells and use the Winter’s Blast reserve feat to last during long battles. It is a shame there are no real ways to grant him the cold subtype (and if anyone has any ideas I’d love to hear them) for immunity to cold/ice. The Battle Sorcerer variant is chosen as to give him some better aptitude towards combat & on missions with the X-Men.
Remy LeBeau “Gambit”
Just like Storm I am stumped here. He seems like a fairly traditional gish flinging around blast spells and using a quarterstaff during battles but I don’t know. I heard of a nice idea of using the Explosive Rune spell on playing cards as to simulate his defining weapon but that would require his enemies to read the card for it to explode so… (that or him to use a dispel magic afterward, and that just seems like too much work for his power). Maybe a build like Monk 2/Sorcerer 4 using Ascetic Mage could work? Any thoughts or ideas would be appreciated.
Piotr Rasputin “Colossus”
Goliath Dungeoncrasher Fighter 6
A similar build to Ben Grimm from above but to get Colossus’ armor ability I think using the Bend Vestige, Improved Binding and Practiced Vestige feats to be able to summon full-plate at will works fairly well in my mind. After that it is a matter of pumping up his natural armor bonus through Improved Natural Armor feats, picking up a whole lot Toughness feats and than combat feats focused around unarmed combat, bull-rushing and throwing foes.
At the university Colossus acts as a physical trainer and combat coach for the students, and with the X-Men is a heavy support combatant during battles/missions.
Betsy Braddock “Psylocke”
Human Soulknife 6
As much as I would love for Psylocke to be a Psychic Warrior with the Summon Weapon ACF from Mind’s Eye everything about her abilities & powers seems to point towards a Soulknife. And with six levels she doesn’t end up too bad within E6. She’ll have some skill in infiltration and athletics through skills and be able to immediately summon a psychic, keen katana which in E6 is really nice when taking feats applied towards getting criticals. She’ll want to take the Hidden Talent ACF from Mind’s Eye for something useful (like Inertial Armor) but in general she’ll operate well with enough feats (which is E6’s strength).
At the University she’ll act, just like Colossus, as a physical trainer and combat coach and function as an infiltration/stealth position with the X-Men during missions.
Erik Lehnsherr “Magneto”
Old-Aged Human Wizard 5/Tainted Sorcerer 1
Magneto is a fairly standard concept as he fits well with a high-level mage within E6. Through Tainted Sorcerer though we can have sacrifice his own life force as to power his spells which seems in keeping with some scenes in the films (like his attempts to power the machine in the first X-Men film). For feats your standard selection of meta-magic & spell-boosters are a common choice. For some crazier adaptations throwing the Vampire template on top of him can turn him into a really powerful but fun NPC in a world shared by the X-Men.
Much like Dr. Doom above Magneto is a traditional & classical villain. He operates from bunkers pulling supernatural characters to his side as to ignite a war between the gifted ones & the “ordinary’ folk.
Raven Darkhölme “Mystique”
Changeling Rogue 3/Monk 2/Fighter 1
A character built for infiltration and assassination Mystique works well as a D&D character. A first level in Rogue using the Changeling acfs will grant her impeccable skill in social skills with further levels helping in providing more sneak attack dice. Two levels of Monk fill in to grant some unarmed combat skill and to grant access to Ascetic Rogue and finally a last level in Fighter allows Mystique to pick up the Hit & Run tactics acf from Drow of the Underdark as well as trade out a feat for another sneak attack dice. Regarding feats most combat-based ones that can apply to her quick style of unarmed fighting are picked up with social-feats thrown in there as well.
Mystique acts as the cohort to Magneto and functions as the infiltration/assassin for him when needed.
Victor Creed “Sabertooth”
Feral Wild-hunt Shifter Ranger 1/Barbarian 1/Warblade 2/Warshaper 2
Almost built exactly like Wolverine their abilities are so similar in style that I figured they’d probably do okay being effectively the same character. The biggest difference is that while Sabertooth will have higher physical attributes his mental stats won’t be as great as Wolverine’s so… For feats he takes any feat that’ll help his style of reckless combat as well as any infiltration/sensory-based feats.
Sabertooth works occasionally as a mercenary for Magneto or other villains within the campaign setting. Whenever he can we’ll end up fighting Wolverine which effectively is a battle that goes on as long as they are shifting, and thus immune to damage.
Goliath Barbarian 2/Warblade 3/Soul Eater 1
A rather difficult build to put together because Omega Red’s signature ability of radioactive poisonous spores doesn’t exactly transfer all that well into D&D, but I think through the Soul Eater prestige class we can emulate such an ability. The first two levels of Barbarian are to get pounce, whirling frenzy and improved trip, followed up by three levels of Warblade as to snag primarily Iron Heart maneuvers finally ending with a level in Soul Eater for the energy drain ability. We conclude with a combatant who is fearless, both strong & tough, has considerable skill in combat and most of all can inflict one negative level each round if struck by his tentacles (which we’ll get through the Deep-Spawn feat from Lords of Madness). Ideally, and I believe this build does it, this version of Omega Red is still a credible threat to the Wolverine above (and pretty much any other character in E6) because of his potent energy drain.
I envision Omega Red being a special operative, frozen away underground, only to be thawed out when a kingdom needs the decimate in a battlefield.
Steve Rogers ‘Captain America’
Lesser Aasimar (Half-Celestial 1 savage progression) Human Paragon 1/Cleric 1/Human Paragon 2/Crusader 2
A really fun character to adapt into D&D via E6 there are some hurdles primarily in how to adapt the Super-Soldier Serum. Using a simple-ordinary base Human the best we can get (using 32 points) is: Str 16, Dex 14, Con 14, Int 12, Wis 12, Cha 12. They are nice stats but don’t jump out as amazing, so we look at templates & such to see if we can apply something. The first possible option is Lolth-Touched from Monster Manual 4. Typically reserved for chaotic evil characters if you can re-flavor that than we could get a fearless Steve Rogers with a stat array of (using 25 points): Str 18, Dex 14, Con 18, Int 12, Wis 12, Cha 12. Those are significantly better than the stat array above but there is a third option to explore. Using a Lesser Aasimar as the base race (Steve Rogers is fairly celestial so it isn’t too crazy) we take a single level in the Aasimar to Half-Celestial savage progression template offered in WOTC’s website which could get us (using 25 points): Str 16, Dex 14, Con 16, Int 12, Wis 12, Cha 12. It isn’t as strong or tough as the Lolth-Touched template but if offers +1 natural armor bonus, disease immunity, +4 bonus against poisons, Acid/Cold/Electricity Resistance 5, Lesser Spell Resistance and some Spell-Like Abilities (Bless 1/day, Protection frm Evil 3/day, Aid 1/day & Detect Evil 1/day) which I think all come together to really present the Super-Soldier serum signifigantly better than a Lolth-Touched Human. After that we slap the Human Hertiage feat from Races of Destiny to give Steve the Human subtype and we’re good to go. Approaching what classes & such to build Steve around I thought a while on what type of character he would more than likely be within D&D and cleric jumped out at me. Instead of a deity Steve draws his faith & power from his nation (which helps us represent in the comics when Steve abandoned his superhero responsibilities when America let him down). A nice combination with Human Paragon, as to reflect Steve’s perfection and grant some nice customization in skills, a free feat & a +2 bonus to a stat (intelligence more than likely). Steve doesn’t have a huge wisdom modifier and realistically I imagine most of his spells being personal buffs for combat. After all of this we follow it up with two levels of Crusader for some rather nice maneuvers as to give Steve his ability to lead allies in combat. For feats every combat-enhancing feat he can get he’ll probably have as well as any moral-boosters & shield-fighting ones too.
Within D&D Steve Rogers works very well as a classic adventurer being sent by a kingdom to go rescue a noble or stop a wizard from perfecting a devastating magic item.
Tony Stark ‘Iron Man’
Middle-Aged Human Artificer 5/Warblade 1
A far harder build to construct that Steve Rogers and yet somewhat similar in the approach. Tony Stark is the ideal Artificer and so a bulk of the build will be in that class. While he won’t gain access to 4th or high spells I figured he absolutely needed the Retain Essence ability at 5th level as to simulate being able to pull experience points out of scrap magic items in a cave. The last level is in Warblade as to not only give Tony a +4 in BaB but to provide some nice Diamond Mind maneuvers keyed off of concentration. For feats besides magic item creation ones (which he’ll get every single one) a focus towards intelligence-based unarmed combat is probably wise.
Within D&D Tony more than likely fills the exact same role as in his own comic book domain. He outfits & engineers his kingdom’s military with new & amazing magic items for war.
Ghaele (6th-level version of the progression)
There are some traditional ways to go about building Thor, the first that jumps to my mind is a Dwarven Cleric but I think going in an unorthodox manner can actually present us with a pretty unique version of the divine warrior. Now I like using the progression of the Ghaele as found in Savage Species as it affords Thor some nice features. Racial traits-wise no bonus/penalties to stats, 50 ft. move speed and both darkvision & low-light vision. 5d8 hit die, +5 BaB, +4 on all saves and 5 levels of 8+int skill points with a pretty solid skill selection. After that he gains a whole list of SLAs (11 each at 3/day & 7 at 1/day including some heavy hitters like Wall of Force), Spell Resistance of 14, stat bonuses (+2 str, +2 dex, +2 int, +2 wis, +2 cha), +2 natural armor, a constant Tongues effect, Acid/Cold/Electricity Resistance 5, a protective aura (which acts as a heightened Protection Against Evil out to 20ft.), and finally cleric spellcasting (including access to the Air, Animal, Chaos, Good & Plant domains) up to his level. I mean all of that is significantly better than a standard cleric build and really plays up the outsider feeling around Thor. After sixth level feat selection is basically anything that improves spellcasting, improved combat, and improved your hammer.
Within a D&D game Thor could be seen as a banished outsider than has had his power diminished as to gain humility from the mundane world and thus began being a superhero.
Bruce Banner ‘The Hulk”
Changeling Egotist 6
A really hard character to get down in E6 because how limited the system is with polymorphing & such, but I believe there is a way as found in Races of Eberron. Both the Body Control and Extra Powers Known (which grants a 5th-level Egotist Metamorphosis) acfs should allow Bruce, if he can lower the initial power point cost of Metamorphosis by 1 which he should be able to within E6, to transform into a creature of seven hit die or less (still looking for suitable suggestions for a base ‘Hulk’ creature though???). Beyond that psionic powers like Vigor, Hustle, and Animal Affinity go a long way in turning Bruce into a combat beast. The other quality aspect of this build is it retains Bruce’s intelligence and with some choice power shopping via Extended Knowledge he can pick up powers like Object Reading, Sensitivity to Psychic Impressions, Psionic Suggestion and Read Thoughts all which provide Bruce with some versatility outside of combat. For feats the standard power-boosters and unarmed combat-based fighting are good choices.
Within D&D Bruce might be hunted by a kingdom as a result of damaging something or someone during one of his fights as the Hulk. He could be a tragic adventurer trying to lay-low as a healer but always being drawn into battle because of his need to save the day.
Clint Barton ‘Hawkeye’
Human Ranger 6
Clint seems rather easy to pin down as six levels in Ranger not only grant him a much needed +6 BaB for picking up feats but also skills like Hide, Listen, Move Silently and Spot for his archery & infiltration duties. Animal companion will be traded out, favored enemy will more than likely be Humanoid (Humans) or Arcanist, and near the end of his build he gains access to 1st-level spells which can go towards buffing his archery skills. The bulk of his feats go towards ranged-based combat feats.
Within D&D it is easy to see Hawkeye as something akin to a typical adventurer simply kept on retainer by a kingdom. He is a specialist who is sent in to deal with problems, which is pretty much the classic D&D adventurer.
Natalia Alianovna Romanova ‘Black Widow’
Human Rogue 6
In many ways Black Widow seems like the archetypical Rogue within the Marvel universe so I saw no harm in taking a practical approach to her via six levels of Rogue. She’ll nab +3d6 sneak attack, +4 BaB and a lot of great skills. Regarding feats she’ll focus on anything that makes her better at infiltration and combat feats that revolve around acrobatics/tumbling.
Just like Clint above she falls into pretty much the same role as him as a professional adventurer as hired by a kingdom.
Middle-Aged Human Rogue 2/Fighter 1/Rogue 3
An almost quaint build for realistically the greatest spy/special forces operative in the Marvel universe, Nick Fury being rather mundane lends himself well to the more mundane builds but where the real optimization can be found is pumping Open Minded over & over again as to have maxed ranks in nearly every roguish skill imaginable. After that it would simply be providing him with feats to make him a threat in both close & ranged combat.
Within D&D someone like Nick Fury would possibly be an advisor or security to a high noble/king and thus lead his own department within a kingdom (where-in he employs such characters like Hawkeye & Black Widow). He’d also probably gain, over the years, a reputation for being the deadliest person on the planet.
Peter Parker ‘Spider-Man’
Lolth-Touched Human Shaper 6
Lolth-Touched not only has a great amount of spider-themed flavor but pumps up Peter’s physical abilities to a great degree. And choosing psionics was simply a matter of him being an intelligent being and the fact that so many psionic powers fit the scope of his abilities. For feats I’d say any power-boosters and feats that help towards his defensive/acrobatic style of combat.
In D&D he’d be a poor commoner who happened to also be a hero after he was bestowed great powers by a magical spider bite. Occupational-wise possibly a struggling painter but because he lives in the most active city within the kingdom he commonly has to rise to action.
Those are just some of my ideas but what do you folks think?