It’s been a long time since I’ve enjoyed an anime as much as Overlord.
A web novel that was rewritten as a light novel series before being adapted to an anime and a manga, Overlord is the story of a young man who ends up drawn into his favorite MMORPG, becoming the character he always played. While this may sound like another take on the same concept as Sword Art Online or Log Horizon, the premise of Overlord is sufficiently different that it offers a refreshing twist on the idea of “living the game.”
What sets Overlord apart can be summarized as follows:
- The protagonist, who goes by his guild’s name of Ainz Ooal Gown, is the only one drawn into the game. Insofar as he knows, no one else who played the MMORPG has been similarly brought into it. The search to see if he’s the only one is the reason behind much of what he does.
- The world Ainz is drawn into is different from the one in the original game. The new world that he finds himself in is a low-fantasy world, in stark contrast to the epic-fantasy world that he had previously played in. Because of this, his considerable power seems magnified in comparison.
- As the master of his guild, its locale, subordinate NPCs, and considerable treasury have all been retained in the new world. All this on top of Ainz being an undead spellcaster who has hit the level 100 cap.
The series, in other words, is a power-fantasy. Normally I’d be somewhat dubious about a show where the main character was so much stronger than any potential opposition. After all, it’s boring when there’s no challenge to be had. However, the show cleverly ameliorates this problem by the fact that Ainz approaches the unknown situation he’s found himself in from a position of extreme caution. Since he treats most every situation as though it could potentially be a threat to him, his subsequent victories feel earned, even when they’re a foregone conclusion. Just look at him layering these defensive spells:
Of course, there show finds a way to introduce a legitimate threat or two over the course of its run. But for the most part the fun comes from watching Ainz acclimate to his new position and begin to flex his authority. With as much power and resources as he has, it’s inevitable that he’ll make a huge impact on the world he’s found himself in.
What was also a bit of unexpected fun was realizing just how much the magic in the show is based off of D&D Third Edition! While the specific spells are mostly different, the way that magic works is quite obviously based on the d20 System. For example, spells are classified among ten “tiers” (e.g. spell levels 0-9), metamagic feats are openly used (e.g. spells can be invoked as “Maximized” or “Widened”), and there’s even said to be a super-tier level of magic which is “more like a skill than a spell” (e.g. epic-level spellcasting).
It’s this last point that let me put a rough figure on Ainz’s level in D&D terms. Given that he can use an epic-level spell four times per day, that’d require at least 40 ranks in Knowledge (arcana). That means that he’d need to be anywhere from ECL 37 to level 46. Since his level from his original MMORPG is said to be 100, it’s simplest to place his level at 40.
While I thought of writing up a stat block for Ainz, making a character with that much power is a bit unwieldy. Moreover, the novels have been coy with showing us his full range of powers. While we’ve seen some of his skills and special abilities, the novel series (which far eclipses the anime and manga) is still ongoing. As such, it seems easier to focus on another character that’s shown what they can do, and doesn’t break the bank in terms of character levels.
For that, we turn to…
Clementine, 10th-level Slaughterer
A former member of the Black Scripture, the covert ops branch of the human-supremacist Slane Theocracy, when we meet Clementine she has already betrayed her country, murdering a highly-placed official and stealing a powerful magic item. Her motivation for doing so appears to be entirely for her own amusement, as Clementine is sadistic and cruel. One of the most powerful warriors in the world, she enjoys little more than tormenting those who are weaker than her.
Although Clementine was eventually killed by Ainz Ooal Gown, he allowed local officials to dispose of her body. He later realized that this might have been a tactical error on his part, as resurrection magic does exist in this new world. As such, it’s possible that Clementine might turn up again; although she’s unlikely to challenge Ainz again, she could still be the doom of most anyone else.
The world that Overlord takes place in is one that has a level cap for native characters. Ordinary people can’t rise above 4th to 6th level or so, and even the greatest of heroes have a hard limit of 10th to 12th level. Thus, Clementine is very close to the peak of her ability, if not already there.
Available Character Points: 264 (level 10 base) + 6 (human bonus feat) + 24 (levels 1, 3, 6 and 9 feats) + 10 (disadvantages) = 304 CP.
Clementine’s disadvantages are Broke (Clementine cares little for money, and being on the run has made it hard to accumulate funds anyway), Hunted (the Theocracy is determined to eliminate her for betraying them), and Irreverent (she cares nothing for religious faith or institutions, as demonstrated by her perfidy towards her old unit).
Ability Scores (28-point buy): Str 12 (4 points), Dex 16 (8 points; +1 4th level), Con 14 (6 points), Int 12 (4 points), Wis 10 (0 points), Cha 15 (6 points; +1 8th level).
Human (9 CP/+0 ECL)
- Fast Learner, specialized in skills for one-half cost (3 CP).
- Bonus Feat (6 CP).
Basic Abilities (186 CP)
- Light armor proficiency with the Smooth modifier (6 CP), all simple and martial weapons (9 CP).
- 10d8 Hit Dice (60 CP).
- +10 BAB (60 CP).
- +7 Fort, +7 Ref, +3 Will (51 CP)
- 0 skill points (0 CP).
Exactly why some people in this world are able to ascend to such great heights and others are not is nebulous. It’s noted that many of the individuals who do can claim exceptional parentage – some tracing their lineage back to the gods themselves – but there are still considerable numbers who’ve attained their prowess through sheer effort alone.
Bloodthirsty Fighter (20 CP)
- Finesse/may use Dex bonus to calculate attack rolls, specialized for one-half cost/only when using light weapons or unarmed strikes (3 CP).
- Bonus Attack when fighting with two weapons, corrupted for two-thirds cost/may not be used with a shield (4 CP).
- Luck with +4 Bonus Uses, specialized for one-half cost/only for attack rolls, corrupted for two-thirds cost/may not reroll failed attacks (4 CP).
- Augment Attack, +1 to attacks with punching daggers (6 CP).
- Improved Initiative +2 (3 CP).
Clementine is an extremely aggressive combatant. She enjoys toying with her foes, wearing them down a piece at a time while delighting in their growing fear and desperation. In game terms, she’s likely to use whatever called shot rules are allowed to perform disabling attacks.
No One’s Fool (18 CP)
- Defender/dodge bonus, corrupted for increased effect/only when wearing light armor or no armor (6 CP).
- Block/melee (6 CP).
- Fast Learner, specialized in skills for double effect (6 CP).
For all her sadism, and disinterest in anything besides that, Clementine is not stupid. In addition to her ability to weave her way through a battle without difficulty, she will also pay attention to the local power-players in whatever region she’s in.
Beyond Mortal Limits (80 CP)
- 10 wilder progression levels (Cha-based, restrained and studies limitations), corrupted for two-thirds cost/does not provide any powers known (20 CP).
- 10 caster levels, specialized for one-half cost/only for wilder progression (30 CP).
- 6 powers, each one augmentable (18 CP).
- Easy metamagic feat (6 CP).
- Streamline, specialized for double effect/only for the Easy metamagic feat (6 CP).
While powerful warriors lack the magical abilities of wizards, clerics, or other spellcasters, they have their own form of power: martial arts. These abilities are distinct from magic, allowing physical combatants to push themselves beyond what they could ordinarily accomplish.
We see Clementine use a grand total of six martial arts abilities: Impenetrable fortress, flow acceleration, stride of wind, greater evasion, ability boost, and greater ability boost. The first two have effects that are self-evident, allowing her to block strikes that should have enough force to overbear her and let her dodge incoming attacks with supernatural speed, respectively. The remaining four aren’t specified with regard to what they do, though we can make guesses based on the names.
- Impenetrable fortress functions as per empty mind, but only for Reflex saves made for Block checks. It grants an initial bonus of +4, rather than +2.
- Flow acceleration functions as per defensive precognition.
- Stride of wind functions as per psionic lion’s charge.
- Greater evasion functions as per mental barrier, but grants a dodge bonus.
- Ability boost functions as per animal affinity, but makes no cosmetic changes.
- Greater ability boost also functions as per animal affinity, but in addition to having no cosmetic changes, is treated as a 3rd-level power that costs 5 power points to manifest, and grants a +6 enhancement bonus rather than +4.
- Chain shirt.
- 2 +1 spell-storing punching daggers (typically loaded with fireball and lightning bolt).
- 2 masterwork short swords.
- 200 gp.
As a major character, Clementine should have PC-level wealth. Because of her Broke disadvantage, however, she has much less gear than she would normally. She typically keeps only what she can carry on her person, as she’s used to moving from place to place at a moment’s notice. This usually includes a set of diverse weapons, just in case she runs across enemies resistant to piercing damage.
- Hit points: 8 (d8 1st level) + 40 (9d8) + 20 (Con bonus) = 68 hp.
- Alignment: Chaotic Evil.
- Speed: 30 ft.
- Init: +3 (Dex bonus) +2 (improved initiative) = +5 initiative.
- Saving Throws:
- Fort: +7 (base) +2 (Con bonus) = +9.
- Ref: +7 (base) +3 (Dex bonus) = +10.
- Will +3 (base) +0 (Wis bonus) = +3.
- Armor Class: 10 (base) +4 (chain shirt) +3 (Dex bonus) +3 (Defender) +2 (martial art) = AC 22, touch 18, flat-footed 14.
- Attacks: +10 (BAB) +3 (Dex) +1 (Augment Attack) +2 (martial art) +1 (weapon enhancement bonus) -2 (two-weapon fighting) = +15/+15/+10 punching dagger (1d6+2/19-20/x3).
- Power points: 88 (level 10 wilder base) +10 (ability bonus) = 98 pp.
- Skills: 0 skill points (0 CP) + 13 (human bonus) + 13 (Int bonus) +26 (Fast Learner) = 52 skill points.
|Escape Artist||3||+3 Dex||+6|
|Knowledge (local)||3||+1 Int||+4|
|Martial Arts (cut the strings)||13||+3 Dex||+16|
|Move Silently||3||+3 Dex||+6|
|Sleight of Hand||3||+3 Dex||+6|
Normally I assign characters twelve class skills, plus Craft and Profession. In Clementine’s case, I’m relaxing that rule a bit, since she’s a character with very limited magical abilities and is operating under a level cap.
Cut the Strings (Dex)
A vicious martial art, Cut the Strings teaches that living bodies are little different from puppets. Rather than whacking away at an enemy indiscriminately, far better to strike at their vital areas and cause them to collapse helplessly, oftentimes while still alive. This fighting style thus focuses on speed and dodging, while allowing a practitioner to get close enough to land precise, crippling blows.
- Requires: Weapon Focus (punching dagger) or similar point buy.
- Basic Techniques: Attack 2, Defenses 4, Power 2, Synergy (initiative).
- Advanced/Master Techniques: Blinding Strike, Combat Reflexes, Crippling, Improved Critical (punching dagger).
- Occult Techniques: Inner Strength, Light Foot, Serpent Strike, Vanishing.
- Known: Attack 2, Defenses 2, Power 1, Combat Reflexes, Crippling (Dexterity), Improved Critical (punching dagger).
Clementine is a “striker” sort of character, similar to Bell Cranel; she focuses on quickly getting into melee range and making multiple attacks. If she is facing opposition capable of fighting back, she uses her “martial arts” powers to enhance her abilities until she’s reliably outclassing them. After that, she takes her time wearing them down.
For all her prowess, however, Clementine has little defense against magical attacks. If she fought a powerful spellcaster, she’d likely boost her offensive abilities to cut them down as quickly as she could. While she prefers to play with her enemies, she will kill them without delay if she feels legitimately threatened.
Of course, that isn’t something that happens very often. While Clementine is fine with facing weaker foes in groups, she makes sure to fight enemies who are near or at her level one-on-one if at all possible. To date, it’s a strategy that’s served her well; it was only when faced with the overwhelming might of Ainz Ooal Gown that Clementine’s luck – and her life – ran out.
…should she be brought back back, she’ll not likely make that mistake a second time.