Wolverine as an Advanced D&D Character
Two days ago I was treated to Logan. The movie is the latest in a long line of X-Men movies and, after the abomination that was X-Men: Apocalypse it was a welcome addition to the genre. That being said, Hugh Jackman never disappoints, and once again he brought the iconic character of Wolverine to life on the Silver Screen in a strong and robust way.
Of course, as a Comic Book Nerd as well as a Gaming Geek, I have often wondered why the two don’t cross over more often. Yes, there are a few Batman games, and a few Marvel games; however, generally speaking, they can be counted on one hand. Yes, there is Legendary, Crisis, Marvel Munchkin, Dice Masters – but they all seem to be card (or dice) games. Where is the X-Men minis game (there is a little known Batman one) or Superhero RPG?
One of the potential reasons could be because the characters are so difficult to do justice to in a game. They may be too large for life, and thus hard to portray. Alternatively, maybe the licenses are too expensive, who knows?
Well, off the back of watching Logan, I’ve decided to try and do something I haven’t done since a Space Opera campaign when I was a kid. I’ve decided to recreate one of the X-Men in a game.
For this, my Dad (who participates quite a lot in RPG based blogs) and I have stepped back in time to look at Advanced D&D. We wanted to look at Versions 3.5 and 5, but we thought why not look back to the beginning, how we used to try and recreate characters as a kid?
What Would Wolverine Look Like as an Advanced D&D Character?
Please excuse the basic table but:
Naturally the above doesn’t go into any additional magic as he wouldn’t have any (he is a basic Fighter, as Barbarians didn’t exist in AD&D). It also doesn’t go into any specific items as those will vary on how you want to play the character.
Let’s look at what it does go into though –
Basic Details, Level, and Alignment
We had to do some research to understand how tall and heavy Wolverine is meant to be. He is, and this is quoting the Google Rich Snippets here, 5’3 (one foot shorter than Hugh Jackman is) and meant to weigh 200 lbs without his skeleton. This, once you add on his skeleton becomes 300 lbs. Name-wise, it felt more D&D-esque to go with his original name of James Howlett. It would seem a bit strange going up and down the Sword Coast as The Wolverine.
Level-wise, AD&D characters start getting really awesome at Level 10 so, naturally, Wolverine should be Level 20. This may be overkill, but he is an elite soldier. This couples hand-in-hand with an alignment of Chaotic Good. We had some debate as to whether he should be Chaotic Good or Chaotic Neutral, and Good came out on top. Namely, he never does anything evil and it never even crosses his mind. Okay, so he kills a shed load of people – but all in the name of Good, so that’s what counts.
We debated a bit as to whether Wolverine would be a Monk or a Fighter. In the end, we went with Fighter as Monks denote a certain level of self-control that we are not sure Logan has. From a philosophical perspective, he feels like a Fighter more than the zen demeanour of a Monk.
Wolverine is strong, fast and difficult to kill. For a character such as Logan the Constitution goes off the charts – so 19 felt natural. It felt like the right kind of thing to do. As well as that his Strength is always pushed to the absolute maximum, so 18 there. Dexterity, on the other hand, well it actually occurred to us that Wolverine heals at a rapid pace, and we know that because he gets hit – a lot. He kind of sucks at getting out of the way of things. Thus his Dexterity is fast, but not abnormally so.
Looking at his other three statistics, however, he is not a people person and so this results in a low Charisma. Wolverine is also not known for his Wisdom or Intelligence, I mean, let’s just look at a few quotes:
“If you want to shoot me, then shoot me!”
“You’re a dick.”
“I’m going to cut your god-damn head off. See if that works.”
“Go f**k yourself.”
Those are all taken from the X-Men movies, to be fair he does have a few more profound moments in the books; however, it is hard to argue that they denote high Intelligence or Wisdom. That being said, he is a strategic genius, so although I’ve noted a lower Intelligence and Wisdom, they are not “break-the-game” low.
This is where it gets interesting. Without just “having mutants in the D&D world” how do we use the rules as they were written to create the Wolverine?
The thought process initially went “can we make him part Troll to get the rejuvenation?” to which the answer was a resounding “no”. There were no rules in Advanced Dungeons and Dragons to have a Half-Troll character. Even if we could, it would affect height and weight so much it wouldn’t really be Wolverine.
So after more discussion, we decided to go with a Ring of Rejuvenation. Yes, it is kind of cheating, but it also works at around 5 hit points per round. This makes him as good as a troll without actually being one.
The above suggestion (in the statistics) is using the AD&D claw rules (which are meant for animal claws but use your imagination), and assuming each claw is the same as three daggers. This gives our D&D Wolverine an attack of 3D4+2 (with the strength modifier) each turn. This seems fair, and also pretty lethal. It also means that our Wolverine cannot be disarmed, as his weapons are claws, nor does he get any negatives for hitting with his off-hand. AD&D was great for claws because they didn’t define how big they should be, yet still included rules, allowing us to define their size.
There is one final perk these claws have. Against zero level characters, a Fighter can have as many hits as his level per weapon. Our Wolverine is level 20. That means he can have a whopping 40 attacks per turn. Before you disagree or think this is overkill – just watch this video.
So What Do You Think?
There are plenty of other ways of doing Wolverine in later versions, so this is just a question to the AD&D players – but what do you think? Have we missed something? How would you do it? Let us know in the comments below.
Well, I like the work you put into this piece. I’m afraid I must contest some of your assumptions. As follows,
1) I agree Logan is Chaotic Neutral. If he does good along the way, it is happenstance, not Design.
2) His Class would be a Ranger. His tracking and survival skills along with stealth, and two weapon fighting style make it the perfect class. (Early Logan could argue multi-classing into barbarian to get the rage effects) Monk is way to disciplined. Fighter isn’t potent enough. (Fighter might be good for Colossus)
3) His claws would be nothing more than cestus that can’t be dropped or broken. (D4+Str mod) per arm. 4) His stat line would be a little closer to Str:17, Dex 14, Con:20, Int:11, Wis:18, Cha5
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Some interesting points, and a couple of points for debate as well. If you include the Unearthed Arcana, the later AD&D module, then yes – a ranger would totally make sense and I see why you would suggest it; however, looking at the core rules it didn’t feel like the right option and ultimately came down to a decision – do we want him tracking or more berserk-esque? We went with the latter, although there is no reason why Wolverine couldn’t be played as a ranger if you wanted to play him that way (although under standard AD&D rules, a Ranger has to be good).
On a side note, I really wanted that Barbarian Rage effect from Version 5, and have to admit I was a bit disappointed when I realised that AD&D only has a barbarian as a monster in the monster manual. Gutting. It’s a shame that Advanced Dungeons and Dragons was so restrictive…but that does explain why they made V2, V3, V3.5, V4, and V5.
I don’t think the Cestus, as a weapon, was brought in until Version 3.5(?) in which case three daggers felt about right; however, I may be wrong.
Constitution 20 and Intelligence 11 are great shouts. I will have to question giving Wolverine a Wisdom of 18 though? He is impulsive and ultimately doesn’t come across as wise (unless you count the “so this is what it feels like” moment in Logan). I was actually considering dropping his strength way down – maybe to 15 or 16 as I don’t think we ever see him lifting huge amounts. What would your thoughts be on this?
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Firstly, the Ranger was a class under AD&D PHB (the Barbarian was UA)
Wolves was average intelligence, but Wisdom which has been always used for perception allows for him to have that score. You are right about the cestus not being introduced until later AD&D versions. (2nd ed Fighters manual, gladiator kit first appearance) as three daggers not able to be used per hand, a short sword damage line would probably work)
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Yeah, the Ranger is core AD&D. Barbarian isn’t (as you said). That is fair reasoning on the Wisdom, but I don’t know – I still struggle to think of a “Wise” Wolverine. Three daggers in each hand would be impossible to carry, granted, but not if we treated claws like daggers? You know, took the dagger rules and applied them to three claws on each hand. That would be 3D4 per hand, plus the strength modifier.
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Well, consider that giving him d6+mod equates to arming him with a white dragons claw in each hand (all four claws per attack equate to the d6, not d5x4 per swipe as in MM) also you need to perceive Wis as perception as well as learning from mistakes. The level headed element comes into play from the alignment. Any lawful alignment would be level headed. Temper filled Wolvie, Chaotic.) ‘buff said/
Also – kudos. You really know your D&D!
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I’m not really a D&D guy and only have a superficial understanding of the rules nuances, so the article is more interesting in a theoretical than practical way for me, but you might be interested in this:
Marvel (and X-Men) miniatures game by the same people (Knight Models) behind the Batman Miniatures game.
Oh yeah, back in the day I owned this:
and friends owned Champions.
Seems the latest reboot of MSH failed back in 2012
Champions/HERO seems to be surviving quite happily though, if not going strong today.