Quick note: This article is chock-full of links, which offer a lot more depth. Click em!
Something neat has happened in the past,
when Wizards of the Coast officially put out a book, officially merging their two coolest universes together officially: MtG and D&D.
This text is divided into three parts: Inspiration, Design, Stats.
is the one card that helped me get 5 victories in my first (and best) M20 Ranked Draft over on MtG Arena (which you can watch here) and so it instantly won a spot in my heart.
Two years ago, for a few Pathfinder games I played a Brawler that I miss very much (you can find out all about Antoine here). After playing with the Lavakin Brawler MtG card in the draft, I felt like it could be a playable character, or at least an NPC for D&D 5e.
So, as I sit here in my favorite café, over-caffeinated and ready to design this new creature, I realize that I have a lot of 5e reading to do (which is something I quite enjoy doing anyways). There are some pre-existing magma monsters in a lot of TTRPGs already but I want to make sure I make this Lava-kun unique.
Let’s look at the MtG M20 card first, and de-construct it:
First of all, neat.
Second, I got the art of the card directly from the artist’s twitter, which I am using without his permission.
The name. Lavakin Brawler. “Kin” indicates that she’s part of a race of lava people (who also hold the secret to a white fabric immune to fire and heat).
Brawler indicates her class. There’s no official Brawler class in D&D 5e, but there was a great one in Pathfinder 1e – which was mostly a mix between a fighter and a monk. A quick Google search also indicates that many people have already taken the pain to create a homebrew Brawler class. The problem with homebrew, however, is that things are not always balanced.
So, for the sake of balance I’ll try to stick to official D&D 5e material as much as I can, or to things found on D&D Beyond.
Creature type: She’s an Elemental Warrior, so I’ll see if I can stick to the 5e elemental rules for her class. Warrior was an NPC class back in 3.5, which complicates things just a bit, but again it’s just a name.
Next is her mechanic. When she attacks, she gets stronger if there are more elementals present. Really neat.
Lastly, the flavor text makes me feel like she’s more of a Monk than a Fighter. She’s also a “Common” rarity so she’s not an epic-level threat (which I know little of since my campaigns usually get abandoned by the time the characters reach level 4).
So, my 1st idea was to think I could simply create a Fire Elemental Monk monster race. The one problem about that is this: looking at the rules provided over at Roll20.net, the Fire Elemental feels like they’re pure, intangible fire. A monster made of flames. While if we look at the beautiful art of the Lavakin Brawler, we can see that she’s solid, and made of magma, not flames.
Jesse writes: “They’re essentially the flamekin race as seen in an older MtG set, Lorwyn / Shadowmoor”. Thanks Jesse!
I took a look at Earth Elementals and they seemed a bit more appropriate, although not something you could play as.
I also found the Magmin and Lava Child monsters which I didn’t find suitable (although interesting). Looking specifically for magma monsters I found a Magma Mephit and a Magma Paraelemental which were very inspirational.
While the Genasi are offspring of a genie and a mortal, I feel like the Lavakin should be their own race.
Moving forward, I’ve decided to draw heavily from the Earth Genasi – Magma template.
Disclaimer: this is not play-tested and might be unbalanced.
3-The Lavakin Race
Standing stoically on the battlefield, a tall and stocky individual stares down its adversary with eyes of hot ember. Her hair, made of flames, dances in the wind. A moment of respite in the battle let her prepare her next move.
She brings her hands together to better focus her ki and concentrates. Small cracking noise can be heard coming from her body. A moment later and her black, rocky skin is lined with open cracks in which you can glimpse flowing lava.
She raises her fists and steadies her feet in a battle-ready position she learned in the monasteries of her people. Arrogantly, she raises a hand and gestures to her enemies, inviting them to fight – if they still stomach it.
You can speak, read, and write Common and Primordial. Primordial is a guttural language, filled with harsh syllables and hard consonants.
Ability Score Increase
You have explosive power and fluid movements. Your Strength score increases by 2, and Dexterity score increases by 1.
Lavakin mature at a slower rate than humans and reach adulthood in their 40s. They live longer than humans do, up to 200 years.
Naturally attached to the fire element, Lavakin tend towards the Chaotic alignment. However, many tribes have a deep martial art attached to a rigid monastic tradition which can somewhat cool their emotions, making them more neutral.
Lavakin are generally built like humans, standing anywhere from 5 feet, up to 7 feet tall. Your size is Medium.
Your base walking speed is 30 feet. However, water is your weakness and greatly hinders your movements. You move at half-speed when passing through wet terrain (DM’s discretion). You can swim in lava as if it was water without taking damage, and can burrow in magma. Being on an active volcano will also confer tremorsense for 20 ft. and let you move an additional 10 feet of your base movement speed.
You are immune to fire damage but are vulnerable to water damage.
Aspect of the Volcano
As a bonus action, you can crack your skin open slightly to reveal the flowing magma within. Any equipment you are wearing or holding and in contact with the cracked skin will take fire damage (DM’s discretion). You can hold this ability for a number of rounds equal to your constitution modifier + your character level and must have a long rest before you can use it again.
While using Aspect of the Volcano, your body will glow, shedding bright light in a 20-foot radius and dim light in an additional 20 ft..
You can also localize the cracks on an arm or a leg alone. Once you reach 3rd level, while having this ability active you start to emit intense heat. A creature that touches you or hits you with a melee Attack while within 5 ft. of you takes fire damage equal to your character level.
When fighting next to other Lavakin, your mind is more focused. You have advantage to attack rolls when another Lavakin is within 10′ of you.
Lavakin Monk character sheet
Here’s a 1st-level rolled character suggestion for your consideration, using the “standard set” of 15, 14, 13, 12, 10, 8.
Level 1 Lavakin Monk Character Sheet
Thank you for reading! Note that this can be very unbalanced as we’re just starting to design races. If you spot any mistakes or would like to suggest any changes, feel free to comment below.
The next post by Étienne will be the Lavakin Brawler as a Monster.