It's time for another list of character concepts, and this time the main theme is puns! Why? Because puns! Obviously these character concepts are mostly focused on a joke, but they can make for fun and interesting characters to play as well, or just wacky side characters a party might encounter. This article is definitely tongue-in-cheek though.
The focus in this part 1 of probably many more pun ideas is animals. Now the puns won't be just name based, I focused on combining classes with animals. So no "Miss Teak" for a druid, or "Sir Prise" for a knight, but class and beast combos, as you'll see below. Each concept will have an idea of how to create a character with the name, but you can obviously fill them in as you like. But this is all about the puns, because who doesn't love puns? Based on all the faces that looked like -.- I've seen in my life, everybody loves them. Those expressions are clearly expressions of "You clever girl.", and the groans I heard were obviously groans of "Why didn't I think of that glorious pun?". Clearly.
Let's start with my personal favorite first: the owlemental. Elementals come in many forms, from creatures of pure elemental energy, to beings able to control the elements. Both could work in owl form, and both can be amazing looking. Imagine an owl made of pure, flaming elemental fire, or a half-bird, half-humanoid being able to control all the elements.
This archetype can be used in many different ways too, from a simple monk to a primal power, and from an elemental sorcerer to a cute, little owl with the power to control all the elements with a flap of its wings! Muahahaha! No? Just me? Alright then, moving on.
Bards: masters of charisma, and musical geniuses. What better way to enhance that by turning them into cats? You could take these in all sorts of different ways, from a proud, humanoid lion with a deep, majestic voice, or a small, Puss-in-Boots-esque character with huge eyes to charm any opponent. Of course, there's also Scatman, and how could you not use Scatman? A strange, but somehow intriguing character who inspires everybody with their scat singing genius. Skipidi-ba-ba-ba-dooo!
This one has been done to death in World of Warcraft with Tauren clerics or paladins, but I'm mentioning it anyway. This one probably works best if you just don't acknowledge the joke. A minotaur clad in radiant armor or priest robes seems odd, but innocent enough. Then just watch the faces of the people in your group and wait for the penny to drop.
You're exploring a foreign planet, and everything has gone smoothly. You've done tests, created a makeshift base, and are now exploring more of this strange landscape. Suddenly you hear a noise from an unnatural looking cave. The noise gets louder and louder, it clearly comes from multiple pairs of feet. You take a defensive position, ready to strike at what might come out, and as soon as you perch behind a rock, two giant, insect-like creatures pop out. Giant mandibles snap shut with a loud crack, one swings two axes in the air in a motion of intimidation, and the other one takes aim with a strange looking bow, pointing across the landscape in search for you. You realize you're face to face with a Fightermite and a Huntermite!
This is the moment your players will likely look at you with either great admiration for the magnificent puns you've just bestowed them with, or they will leave the room without saying anything, clearly in awe of the puns' magnificence, and in need of a moment to regain their composure.
There are many dog-like beings in many different fictional universes. What better way to utilize them than by creating a paladin character, and making the dog-like features of whatever species this character belongs to look like a dingo? They're cute, fluffy, and will strike all evil with ferocious vengeance like a good dog. Their weaknesses may be a detriment to them though. Ear scratches are too hard to resist, and a bowl of food is very tempting too.
Okay, these may seem weird, but hear me out for a second. Remember Disney's Robin Hood? (If not, go watch it! Also, minor spoiler alert.) Remember the bow shooting competition, and how Robin was disguised as a stork? Storks and cranes are similar enough, so ta-da! Cranger!
On a more serious note, there are plenty of bird species in works of fiction to make this pun work even better. I, for one, think a cranger can look awesome.
The rangerbil, on the other hand, is just a cute, little creature with the ability to cover you in arrows from the cover of grass. How could you not have an army of them? They'll block out the sun with their splinter-like arrows. Alright, they'll block out part of the sun, but that part will be covered in a dark shadow! Spooky!
For those who want to really take this pun further, play a rangerbil by using the Mouse Guard roleplaying game. Alternatively, adapting the Ratfolk in Pathfinder could be a viable option too.
A rhino trying to be all sneaky-peaky-like, perhaps by using a bush on its horn as a terrible disguise/camouflage outfit. Do I even need to say more? I think not.
What about a frogue? Frogs can be sneaky, they're definitely creepy (depending on the type), plus they can just leap their way to Nopeville if they have to get out of a sticky situation. Just make sure there are no crangers around. Things'll get awkward.
Sparrogue's definitely the easiest to really use though. Like the Cranger and the Owlemental, there's plenty of bird species to play around with to create a rogue that looks somewhat like a sparrow. The Kenku in D&D for example, or the Tengu in Pathfinder.
Yes, I went there, like everybody else before me. A monk who is also a monkey, get it? Get it? Of course you do. But you can really turn up (or down, depending on how you play it) the cliche by using the drunken monk.
Okay, this pun was mostly just an excuse to draw and animate this magnificent gif of people clearly in awe of the magnificent monkey!
Okay, I know you're probably thinking "These are way too silly, and too much of a stretch.", and yes, they are silly. Silly's basically my middle name, but hear my out for a second. First, the jaguarlock, it's an obvious one, and it's easily adaptable as there are plenty of cat-like species in most works of fiction. There's the Tabaxi in D&D, and regular Catfolk in Pathfinder, for example. How could you resist this pun? You can't, of course.
But the warlockingbird is where the coolness creeps in. For those who don't know, mockingbirds are birds that mimic the sounds of other birds, insects, amphibians, and reptiles. See where I'm going with this? A warlockingbird uses dark powers to mimic others, perhaps taking over their lives or destroying reputations. Or perhaps, similarly to the mockingbird, the warlockingbird learns parts of other languages and uses them to their own advantage. There's plenty of fun to be had with this punny concept.
Commandog, a dog who is a commander. It's cute, it's deadly, it's a commandog. Enough said, right? But there are plenty of ways to apply this too. You could be a werewolf or perhaps a gnoll, or perhaps just a cute, cuddly puppy with warpaint on their face and a little beret, ready to bite all the ankles and pee on all the carpets of the enemy.
The commandodo, on the other hand, is probably way more of a stretch. But like many of the bird related puns earlier in this article, there's plenty to play around with to make it fit. Plus, the whole "dodos are extinct because of humans" might pose a tinsy tiny teeny weeney problem for those commandodos that hold a grudge.
These are easy too, and can be adapted in many ways, especially the cobrawler. Sure, you could go for a literal cobra with a strong powerful tail, ready to beat up anybody that underestimates them, but with so many serpentine species out there in all sorts of works of fiction, there's far more to play around with than a regular old snake. D&D even has the Yuan-Ti, they're practically begging for this pun to be made into a character.
Zebrawler, a little more difficult, but at the very least it would make for an exotic mount to replace a warhorse. Just imagine travelling to a distant land, exploring some ancient city, and being in need of a fresh mount to take you to the next. You find some stables, and expect to find warhorses, messenger horses, and anything in between, but instead you stand face to face with *insert dramatic music* a zebrawler! No? Okay, moving on.
Rafiki from the Lion King. Seriously, that should be all I need to say to explain Shamandrill. It's perfect. He's a shaman and a mandrill. Don't let the Lion King fool you, they may call them baboons in the movie, but Rafiki is most definitely a mandrill (just with a tail, he's mutated as stated by the animator, James Baxter).
A shamanatee, again, how could you not use this pun opportunity, this oppuntunity, to introduce a manatee character into your story universe. If you have no clue what they look like, stop reading this right now, open a new tab, and search for images of manatees. They're perfect for an Atlantis-esque exploration story, or even just as a really strange inhabitant of some mystical lake in a forest.
Last, but not least: the muskedeer and hippopotamusketeer. Okay, these are probably too much of a stretch. I mostly just like how 'Hippopotamusketeer' sounds. But it can still be done.
A muskedeer is easy enough. You take a centaur, give it deer horns, a fancy hat with an even fancier feather, a rapier sword, and bam! Muskedeer. Think Cenarius from the Warcraft universe, but with a fancy hat.
A hippopotamusketeer's simple too. To bring back Disney, there were hippos in the army of Prince John in Disney's Robin Hood. But you could even adapt the elephants of Jungle Book into a group of suave hippos. You could even name one Hipporthos, and the other Hipathos (Porthos and Athos are the names of two musketeers for those who missed the reference).
These character concepts are obviously mostly a joke, but they can make for really memorable characters in both serious and less serious campaigns. The immediate reaction will usually always be a humorous one, but with the right character background and development they could quickly turn into a lovable or feared character. Besides, who can resist the eternal lure of the pun? Now that you know all of these, surely you have to use them somehow. The puns compel you. Enjoy.