Heroes on Demand: Riswynn Stonekeep, Dwarven War Cleric

Welcome once more to Heroes on Demand, your leading source for ready-to-play characters for a number of different role-playing games.  For this week, we’ll be taking a look at where the cleric currently stands in the wake of its long history in Dungeons & Dragons, evolving and changing through the editions from a walking healing station to a class that can stand shoulder-to-shoulder with a fighter on the front lines of battle.  And while Moradin may not be the most exciting of gods in the D&D pantheon, that doesn’t mean his worshippers are quite so stoic, especially when it comes time to take up arms against the foes of the dwarven people.  So grab your warhammer, offer a quick prayer for to the gods of battle, and ready yourself for glory as we introduce…

"Defy that with Moradin holds sacred, and you'll learn just how wrathful stone can be."

“Defy that which Moradin holds sacred, and you’ll learn just how wrathful stone can be.”

Riswynn Stonekeep
Game: Dungeons & Dragons (4e Essentials)

Class: Cleric (Warpriest)
Level: 1
Race: Dwarf
Class Abilities: Healing Word, Storm Domain
Racial Abilities: Cast-Iron Stomach, Dwarven Resilience, Dwarven Weapon Proficiency, Low-Light Vision, Stand Your Ground
Languages: Common, Dwarvish
Alignment: Lawful Good
Deity: Moradin

Ability Scores: Str 12, Con 16, Dex 10, Int 14, Wis 18, Cha 10
Defenses: AC 18, Fort 14, Ref 14, Will 15
Initiative +0; Passive Insight 19; Passive Perception 14
HP 28; Bloodied 14; Surge Value 7; Surges/Day 10

At-Will Powers: Blessing of Wrath, Storm Hammer
Encounter Powers: Channel Divinity (Smite Undead or Storm Surge), Create Water, Dwarven Resilience, Healing Word, Thundering Steel
Daily Powers: Lesser Aspect of Wrath

Trained Skills: Dungeoneering +6, Endurance +2, Heal +9, History +7, Insight +9, Religion +7
Feats: Disciple of Stone
Equipment: Warhammer, heavy shield, chainmail, adventurer’s kit, bottle of dwarven spirits, holy symbol, 5 gold pieces

Background: Where most priests of Moradin adhere to the god’s tenets of creation and protection of home and clan, Riswynn was inducted into a more confrontational sect of Moradin’s worship, a militant order of battle priests that embraced the chaotic fury of battle and turned such reckless strength against the many enemies of the dwarves.  Though she was at first considered to be something of a runt by her family, Riswynn grew into a doughty warpriest that made up for her lack of height with a warrior-spirit that enabled her to outlast broader dwarf soldiers in times of battle. Her actions have brought much honor to her family’s name, even if she eschews the trappings of rank and wealth that such an esteemed family as hers has earned.

Design Notes: Since the early days of Dungeons & Dragons, the cleric has frequently been relegated to the role of healing up the party after a fight, often devoting much of their daily spell slots to healing magic.  3rd edition tried to mitigate this by allowing clerics to convert their prepared spells into healing magic.  However, with the advent of the Warpriest option, you can have a cleric that is an effective front-line fighter and still able to heal allies during battle without having to sacrifice combat options.

Calling Riswynn tough is a bit of an understatement.  She’s got a high Armor Class and her non-AC defense scores are pretty solid across the board.  Being able to take her second wind as a minor action helps keep her in the fight, especially when backed with her Disciple of Stone feat, and her daily power can make her a formidable opponent during a major battle.  She’s first and foremost a “battle cleric,” and should be engaging the enemy head-on as soon as possible.  She’s rarely going to act first in a combat, but that’s not exactly a bad thing since it gives her a better chance to react to the enemy’s tactics and direct her divine might to where it can do the most good for the party.  She’s not too good at making basic melee attacks though, so her ability for battlefield control is limited.

For advancement ideas, taking Shield Finesse isn’t a bad idea as it will offset the skill check penalties from her heavy shield, allowing her to make better use of her race’s natural bonus to Endurance checks.  The Dwarf Battle Priest feat from Divine Power will provide temporary hit points when using her Healing Word power, and temporary hit points are always useful for a front-line combatant.  Battle Hardened from Player’s Handbook 3 will make Riswynn quite hard to affect with fear-based effects while making her a bit quicker to get into the fray.  Or you could really embrace her party role as a leader by taking the Resourceful Leader multiclass feat from Martial Power 2 to add another trained skill, such as Intimidate as well as giving her allies an extra perk to their action points whether they hit or miss.

For Character Themes (if allowed), Dragon #399 offers two solid options for Riswynn, the Hospitallar and the Noble.  The Hospitallar might need a bit of tweaking in regards to its background fluff, but the Shield of Devotion power offers a quick minor heal to an ally and give her a boost when it comes time to make an adversary pay for attacking her comrades, while the optional utility powers play more to the cleric’s role as a healer, particularly the level 10 power.  Noble offers a free movement effect that also bolsters her allies’ defense scores, while the level 5 benefit is good for a free magic item (not a bad thing in 4th edition).

Character image is originally from Races & Classes by Wizards of the Coast, and was modified by forum poster Mad_Jack on the Wizards’ Community forums.

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