A while ago I wrote about using Superhero tropes in D&D. That struck a chord with a fair few folk, and ChattyDM’s picked up the mantle to make Superheroes the topic of the month for the latest Blog Carnival. Way to go, Phil! :D Continuing the theme of superheroifying D&D, this time around I’m going to look at that most venerable of superhero tropes – the Secret Identity – and how you could apply it to your D&D character.
“You boy!”, the Whitecloak waved a hand at the stablehand, “Tend my horse, and make sure he’s fit to ride in an hour. The Grey Gauntlet is still afoot, and I have sworn to capture him before nightfall. Make haste, fool!”
The stablehand bowed low as he took the reins, taking care to hide his still Gauntleted right hand in the shadows……….
Take mutants out of the mix, and roughly 90% of all Superheroes have a Secret Identity. Perhaps it’s a way for them to have some kind of normal life away from the times they wear their underpants on the outside (Clark Kent/Superman), or a means of protecting those closest to them (Peter Parker/Spiderman). In some cases, the Secret Identity possesses a certain level of power and influence (Bruce Wayne/Batman and Tony Stark/Iron Man); in others, without the costume they’re just another face in a crowd (Bruce Banner/Hulk). These are all elements that could be used to add another dimension to your D&D character, and with 4e’s new, simplified multi-classing mechanism it’s easy to burn one (or more) Feats to represent the two facets of your hero’s life. We’ll take a look at a few examples Real Soon.
The modern Superhero genre has far from a monopoly on having characters with Secret Identities. From Zorro and the Lone Ranger to the Scarlet Pimpernel, there’s a long history of heroes who hide their identity for various reasons while committing acts of daring do. In Carry on Dick, the Highwayman Dick Turpin is really the local vicar, played by the incomparable Sid James. And no, I can’t believe I’m referencing a Carry On film either.
These can all be used as inspiration for your fantasy character. Perhaps your dashing thief-by-night is really the local priest (Rogue/Cleric), or the valiant champion of the poor is no other than the evil mage’s son (Paladin/Wizard). Playing a Pit Fighting Gladiator is fun, but playing a Pit Fighting Gladiator who’s really the arena owner’s wife (Fighter/Warlord) is even more fun!
It all adds up to more plot potential for the GM, and the opportunity to play one character with several dimensions. If the hero wants to keep their alter ego secret, there’s plenty of mileage to be had out of scenarios where it’s put at risk, leading to that climactic scene where your hero unmasks.
The ideal race for a hero with a Secret Identity is, of course, the Doppelganger, but provided your GM is willing to accept that a simple mask hides the identity of your Dwarf (the only one in the village!), then go for it.
And you could play the Lone Ranger who really is a Ranger. How cool is that?