Path of the Baba Yaga - A John Wick Subclass
I know what you’re thinking, “John Wick as a Barbarian subclass? Everyone knows it should be a Monk “. I’ll admit that the Monk was my first thought. I mean what else could John Wick be? He’s deadly with any weapon, knows Kung Fu (or Gun Fu depending on who you ask) and can jump around like a ninja. As I was turning it over in my head, the more I thought about it, the more it just didn’t feel right. I threw the question out to the amazing people on our Discord channel to get what their thoughts were. Of course, Stephen was the first one to respond and immediately said Barbarian. No way, I thought to myself. A barbarian is a big dumb brute that hits things with its sword. John Wick was a suave assassin in a black suit, not some neanderthal wearing a loincloth and nothing else.
Once I moved past my bias against the barbarian (I’ve mentioned it in a couple of articles and a podcast), I began to see his point. Babs (also on our Discord. She’s funny as hell and you should follow her on Twitter) suggested making it a Dexterity-based barbarian, and after doing a bit more research, I was sold on the idea. So while you may not agree now, take the time to read through the subclass. You may feel that it still doesn’t work, but who knows, you could be pleasantly surprised.
From the Class Description:
Path of the Baba Yaga - A John Wick Subclass
You have been trained by to use your speed and agility to be a deadly weapon. Trained in the use of ranged weapons and hand to hand combat, you are a deadly force no matter where you are on the battlefield. Whether with a knife, gun, or hand to hand combat, you excel in one thing, and that is killing.
You’ve watched the movies, seen Keanu kill people in a million different ways, including with a pencil, so I think this is an apt description of what the character would be able to do. Let’s take a look below and see how it plays out with the abilities we give Mr. Wick the Barbarian.
For those that don’t want my thought process behind the Winchester Hunter:
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We need to make the switch over to a Dexterity-based barbarian, so the subclass starts by doing that! We tend to think of barbarians as hulking masses of flesh that like to pound things into the ground, but for the Wick subclass, we focus more on agility and speed. Starting at 3rd level, when you make a melee weapon attack using Dexterity instead of Strength, you gain your bonus to the damage roll that increases as you gain levels as a barbarian, as shown in the Rage Damage column of the Barbarian table. Pretty straightforward. I originally gave advantage on Dexterity checks and saving throws, but advantage in Dexterity is extremely powerful, especially for the 3rd level, so I didn’t make that change (Thanks for the insight on this Stephen!).
So we all know that John Wick kills a lot, and I mean a LOT, of people in the movies, and he does most of his killing by shooting them. In the 1st movie alone, he shoots and kills 59 people, and by the end of the 3rd movie, he has shot and killed 230 bad guys. So we need to give him some sort of gunslinger ability right? Yes and no. John also kills people with a variety of other “thrown” items, including axes and knives, so it seemed silly to just limit this ability to just guns since we have bows, crossbows, javelins, daggers, etc to use as ranged weapons in D&D. Therefore, you can add your rage damage to all Ranged weapons and any Thrown weapons.
You're Not Going Anywhere
At first, I had the 6th level focusing on hand to hand combat, with advantages, damage bonuses, and magical properties. Two things were wrong with this idea. First, I had given a monk class ability to the subclass and that is a no-no, at least according to Stephen, and I always try to follow his advice. Second, after reviewing the movies and looking at kill counts, I realized he only killed 9 people with his fists. He does, however, kill 20 people in a variety of up-close and personal ways such as snapping their necks. Not only that, but he takes down countless people with his crazy Kung Fu skills. Grappling is the closest ability to Wick Fu (trademarked by me), so at the 6th level, you have advantage on all Grapple checks. This is doubly important when we get to out 10th level ability…
So great, you can grapple a creature at 6th level, but where’s all the cool stuff that John does after he is all up in the target’s face? It’s at the 10th level! Once you got your opponent grappled, here’s what you can do to fuck up the bad guy’s day.
Arm Strike - John disarms countless people. I love how he’s smart enough to pick up dropped weapons and use them when he runs out of bullets in the gun he is currently using. Other movies handguns seem to have countless bullets in the clip.
Head Butt - Because headbutting someone is fun.
Kneecapping - Ever get kicked in the front of your knee? For those of you that don’t know, it’s not supposed to bend backward.
Leg Sweep - Seems like the weakest of the abilities, but once the enemy is down, you and your friends can beat the crap out of them.
Takedown - This is my favorite and John does this all the time. Once he gets the target on the ground, things get very bad for them. Not only that, but John also uses the takedown as a defensive maneuver when things aren’t going is way. It gives him time to regroup and regain the advantage.
I love the knife fighting scene in the third movie. It’s a humorous moment when John and the bad guys both look around and realize that there are a shit-ton of knives surrounding them. They then proceed to use seemingly every knife there in the intense three-minute scene. John uses at least four or five of the knives multiple times to kill different bad guys. Most movie knife fights are more one on one combat situations, where the two combatants circle each other, with very little action until the 15-second death scene at the end. Here, they are throwing knives all over the place for at least 2 minutes.
The best way to adapt this to D&D was the Triple Threat. I was originally going to go with a rapid-fire type ability, but after some debate, this is where the ability landed. Now, when you hurl that dagger or hand axe at someone, you can target up to three creatures as long as they are within 10 feet of each other. Being able to throw three daggers at three targets in rapid-fire fashion would be fun, but if you wanted to use the ability more than twice in combat, you’d have so many daggers on your belt it would probably pull you pants down.
So there it is The Path of the Wick. Love it? Hate it? Have an idea how to make it better? Let me know in the comments below, or wherever you see this posted!
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