Monster Analysis: Lionel "Chod" Gayheart the Bardbarian

Thanks to @sketchingsprw for this art piece!

  • Half-Orc Bardbarian (Level 15: Level 10 Barbarian, Level 5 Bard)
    • Totem of the Duck, College of Valor
  • First Appearance: 99 Masquerade
  • Armor Class 18
  • Base speed 40 ft
  • 136 HP, 57 damage taken

In a bar brawl laced with more subtext than your aunt’s passive-aggressive Facebook post, Lionel the Bardbardian happily took on Grog in a Whitestone tavern while Pike, Percy, and Keyleth looked on.

Goin’ Quackers

The PHB has two paths available to the barbarian: Path of the Berserker and Path of Totem Warrior. Grog is a Berserker, which comes with Frenzied Rage, Mindless Rage, Intimidating Presence, and Retaliation. Kevdak and Lionel, on the other hand, were Totem Warriors. A totem warrior has an animal as their inspiration and from whom they draw their special abilities. Kevdak was a Totem of the Bear, which is how he had resistance to all damage except psychic. Grog now wears Kevdak’s bear tattoo on his back because, as he said, that s***’s behind him.

Matt created Lionel’s Totem of the Duck subclass, allowing Lionel to channel several special abilities through his connection to ducks.

  • Frantic Flail (action, modified Intimidating Presence): flailed his arms like a duck at his opponent to scare them away. Vox Machina were wise enough to not worry about it.
  • Off a Duck’s Back (reaction): halve damage taken once per round. He used this to reduce the physical damage from Grog’s elbow to the ribs dealt and the fire damage from Keyleth’s Heat Metal spell.
  • Commune with Ducks (modified Commune with Nature): A variation on the totem barbarian’s Spirit Walker, Lionel could use a ritual to to draw information from ducks regarding the environment, instead of the land, as is typical from Commune with Nature. (Kevdak’s would have been Commune with Bears.)
  • Lionel’s Wave Kick may not have been a totem feature, but still seemed appropriate for the duck theme. Or at least a Kung Fu enthusiast.

Winning them Over

Lionel wasn’t just a barbarian. He was a Bardbarian, with at 5 levels of bard and a force of personality that won most of Vox Machina over immediately. The PHB again offers two paths to bards: College of Valor and College of Lore. The Lore college (the specialization of Scanlan, or Ace, Lionel’s employer) focuses on access to extra spells, extra skill proficiencies, Cutting Words, and the ability to inspire oneself. Lionel’s College of Valor background speaks to his more martial or combative nature, tying in well with the barbarian.

Unseen in this episode, in addition to his usual weapon and armor proficiencies from barbarian, he gained proficiency with shields. We didn’t get to see any of Lionel’s bardic abilities, but at level 5, he would have been able to grant allies inspiration dice usable to their damage roll or temporarily AC boosts via his Combat Inspiration, in addition to the standard bonus to D20 rolls. Higher level bards from the College of Valor get Battle Magic (which allows them to attack as a bonus action after casting a spell as their action) and a second attack (which Lionel already has from being a barbarian).

The BATTLE

Okay, so it was just a harmless bar brawl, at least from Lionel’s cheery perspective. Grog initiated the fight in an attempt to take vengeance on Scanlan’s replacement muscle, very much to Lionel’s excitement. Although Grog easily could have finished the duck-walker, Lionel’s mid-combat ingenuity, showmanship, and happy naiveté mentally broke the goliath, who actually walked away from a fight.