Sunday, November 29, 2020

Padraig O'Malley

I have wanted, for quite a long time now, to make a halfling bare-knuckles brawler in either D&D or Pathfinder. I have wanted this mainly because I think it would be hysterical to play what is essentially the embodiment of the Notre Dame mascot -- for some reason, halflings always have Irish accents in my minds -- but also because it would be a challenge to make an effective fighting character when starting from the standpoint of "penalty to strength and lacks reach."

Unfortunately, the challenge proved too great for many years. The closest I could come was do dual-class between Barbarian (for the Rage) and Monk (for the martial arts), but those had the twin problems of conflicting alignments and reduced progression in both classes. I tried it with straight Fighter, but while the extra feats were nice, the standard D&D Fighter tended to be an armored tank, not a supple pugilist. 

Then the Advanced Class Guide introduced the aptly-named Brawler class, and I knew I'd found my holy grail. A hybrid of Fighter and Monk, it gave me the best of both worlds: a good Base Attack Bonus progression, d10 hit points, and slew of class features specializing in unarmed attack (Improved Unarmed Strike at lvl 1, Flurry of Blows at level 2, etc). Then I discovered the Mutagenic Mauler archetype, whereby the Brawler would drink an alchemical elixir to make like Mr. Hyde and gain bonuses to a physical stat and natural armor. 

Then things got crazy. The campaign I was in used the World is Square rules, which does away with a lot of the annoying Feats that you have to take to get to the good stuff, like Weapon Finesse or Improved [Whatever], and that made the idea of a halfling Brawler not just viable, but downright deadly. Now I could make attacks based off Dexterity instead of Strength and being small was an advantage due to the AC bonus and the Underfoot alternate racial trait. 

But what made me laugh hysterically was the realization that my bare-knuckles brawler could also be a _wrestler_. Halflings with the Brawler favored class can get a +1 to the Combat Maneuver Bonus to Grapple... and I could take a feat at second level to make me a nasty grappler... oh, and did you realize that not only do Dan Bongs give you +2 to Grapple, but that bonus is untyped? Meaning that it stacks if you have a second dan bong in your other hand? And that all Brawlers get Two-Weapon Fighting for free at second level? And that there's no restriction on what size creatures you can grapple?

With that, I present to you Padraig O'Malley. He's currently 3rd level in our game, and if he can't punch it unconscious, he'll grapple it... and even if it's able to escape the grapple, that's a good way to tie up the enemy's actions so that your party can retreat/regroup/heal. Oh, and it's a REALLY good way to prevent spellcasters from casting spells. My ultimate goal is for him to grapple something ridiculously huge, like a dragon or the Tarrasque. He'll be the guy trying to headbutt it into submission as he clings tenaciously to its ear. 

Here's his character sheet (PDF).

Here's the image I used as inspiration:

And here's his backstory, as requested by the GM (he wanted plot hooks and why we were adventuring in a hive of scum and villainy. It's worth noting that this game is set in the World of Greyhawk

Padraig O'Malley was born in the Shireland, a halfling community in the Duchy of Tenh, to an impoverished family of farmers and sheepherders some 31 years ago. He was the oldest of three boys, and while not the strongest or the smartest of the lot, he was certainly the quickest. The rowdier boys in the Shireland did their best to pick on him, but they quickly discovered that he had a quick jab, a nasty right hook, and a wicked eye for shot placement, and he was soon left alone. 

However, his younger siblings were not as skilled as he. His middle brother Coinneach was fair of face and slender of build, and was often the target of jealous rage by the jilted suitors of the girls he was wooing. Ronan, the youngest, was small and weak but had a sharp mind, and his parents hoped that he could be apprenticed to the Church, or perhaps even to a wizard. They couldn't have seemed more like victims if they'd tried, and Padraig spent much of his early life trying to protect them both. 

One day, while driving the sheep to market, both Coinneach and Ronan were assaulted. Ronan was beaten unconscious, and  Coinneach had his face disfigured by a club. They both lived, but  Coinneach was blind in one eye and Ronan was left traumatized by the assault. 

In the words of Padraig, "This be where ah lost me fookin' temper." He went to the local tavern and... spent all the money he had on the most expensive bottle of liquor he could find. Then he went into the forest, found a faerie ring, and stepped into it. 

When he woke up the next morning, he was a different man. Older, meaner, sharper around the edges. The years spent in the faerie mound had taught him the secret fighting art of Boo-Tin as well as the knowledge of how to mix Poitín, a special liniment guaranteed to relax aching muscles and strip paint off walls (90% alcohol by volume). Padraig then went back to town, found the villagers who had assaulted his family in a nearby inn. He drank the Poitín, kicked the door open, and shouted "Me name's Padraig O'FOOKING Malley, and I'm here to kick the arses o' the blaggards what hurt me brothers!"

Padraig doesn't remember much after that. It's all a red-coated haze. He knows that he beat several of them to death, and one of them was the son of the local Sheriff, and so he regretfully went on the run. Several villages over, he settled in a part of the Shireland near the border to the Bandit Kingdoms, doing menial farm work.  He met a bonnie lass named Dægeseage (Daisy) and settled down with her. Padraig and found contentment. 

One day he came back from a hard day of work in the fields to find that the cottage he and Dægeseage lived in had been ransacked, the front door hanging open. He rushed inside, fearing the worst, only to find that the woman he loved was gone. The local constables weren't of any help, stating that it was likely a slaving party from the Bandit Kingdoms and that his wife was gone forever. 

Padraig quietly mixed a fresh batch of Poitín, locked up the cottage, tendered his resignation to his employer, and walked into the Kingdoms. He didn't know where to look, but that kind of thing never stopped him before. He'd walk until he found someone and ask them if they knew anything, and if they gave him any trouble he'd kick a mudhole in them. If he has to punch everyone inside the Bandit Kingdoms, that's fine with him; it keeps his mind off his grief. 

Why yes, I do speak with an outrageous Irish accent when playing Padraig. However did you guess?

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