I love playing against type. For that matter, I love playing to type as well, but this isn’t a post about that. If you’re looking for a blogpost about how to optimize your INT 22 Wizard out the wazoo, I’m afraid you’re going to have to look elsewhere. No, this is all about the Other Guys.
You know the ones. The characters who are anything but their class archetypes – the smelly ugly CHA 5 Dwarf Bard, the STR 6/WIS 18 Halfling Fighter (who happens to be a Katana Master), the Paladin who wears muddy leather armour and swears like a trooper. These are the ones who are interesting.
You don’t have to penalize your most important stat to play against type, but there’s a lot to be said for putting it in second (or even third) place. Your Wizard doesn’t have to be the cleverest. But he could be the strongest.
Which leads us neatly to this guy.
The STR 18 Wizard is a wondrous thing. Possessing the physicality of a member of the Martial professions yet a keen mind belonging to one of the Arcane, he feels truly neither one nor the other. The sword-wielders fear his magical prowess yet his weedy Arcane peers mark him out as untrustworthy and a pretender to the noble profession. After all – who heard of a Wizard with muscles?
Perhaps he was trained as a Blacksmith before being selected by the local Wizard as his new Apprentice (the last one exploded), or a member of a Barbarian clan who was born with the gift to see the Magic of the Universe ™. He could be a follower of Kord, dedicated to perfection in body as well as mind. Or he could simply be really, really strong. Whatever the reason, he has the muscles to back up his Arcane prowess, and that ain’t a thing to be sniffed at.
When it comes to character generation, the easy route (and the one I would take) is to play a Human. That +2 attribute bonus, extra Feat, etc, are just too good to pass up. There’s nothing wrong with choosing a different race though – Genasi, Dragonborn and even Dwarf as all good starting choices. But not Halfling. That’s just wrong.
Spend a Feat giving him Weapon Proficiency (Greataxe) so he’s got something to lean on, pick a Background Option which unlocks Intimidate as a Class Skill (such as Bearer of the Heirloom from Martial Power 2) and you’ve got a Big Scary Guy who looks every inch the barbaric warrior. At least, until he launches a Fireball at your hairy ass.
Using 4e D&D’s high-stat philosophy, it’s more than possible to generate a STR 18/INT 16 Human Wizard using point buy. For a hero such as the one pictured above, stats of STR 18, CON 12, DEX 10, INT 16, WIS 8, CHA 12 would work fine.
The STR 18/INT 16 Wizard is only one attribute bonus less efficient than your typical INT 18 Wizard but with a STR of 18 instead of the usual 10 he is much better at the physical side of things. The only weakness is the low hit points for someone able to go toe-to-toe, so take Toughness as the free Human Feat and you’re good to go. He might not be as capable as a Fighter when it comes to close combat, but he’ll certainly be able to hold his head high and stand his ground.
Choose Spells to fit your concept, and he’s ready. One STR 18 Wizard full of magical ripply muscled goodness.