A shtick (Yiddish: שטיק) (or schtick) is a comic theme or gimmick.
Whenever I create a character, I always choose a theme or gimmick–a shtick–that I hang the mechanics and personality–and often backstory–around. This is more focused than a character concept. I want do that cool thing in a specific way and build upon it. Most of the time, it begins with a single game mechanic that extrapolates well–and generally surprises the DM. I want to highlight a couple sample shticks I used for my D&D characters, but there might be more in the future…
Polearm Master is a great feat, as I mentioned last time. Since the polearm is the focus, I took a more well-known polearm–the barbazu‘s glaive–and gave it to my character. How did he come upon the glaive? His brother used it to slaughter his friends and family. What is he doing with it now? Hunting down his brother and the devil from whence it came, protecting innocents from evil along the way. Oath of Vengeance paladin sounds like a great fit here–a reason for vengeance and the hunting and foe-targeting abilities. This shtick gives me–and the DM–lots to work with, without over complicating the backstory.
Booming blade and green-flame blade are favorite spells of mine. The build you have heard about is for Velkyn Stormsoul, a moon elf Tempest cleric. As he increases in level, the damage from booming blade stacks with damage from Divine Strike, which can all be maximized using Destructive Wrath–an extra 5d8 thunder damage at 17th level from a cantrip. His personality and goals came from the deities selected with the Tempest Domain and a trip to the Forgotten Realms wiki–rediscover the power of flight as his goddess commands.
How do you develop your characters? What shticks do you use?
Thanks for the positive responses to the Hacks articles–I will continue to write them and I hope you continue to read them!
But… what do I know…?