I guess everything started many years ago. Stan Lee created Earth's Mightiest Heroes, one of my favorite groups of super heroes. A few decades later, Keith Baker created Eberron, my favorite campaign setting ever. A few years ago, my players turned their characters into their own version of the Avengers. And now, having watched the movie four times already, I think it was a perfect time to write this.
How would the Avengers look like if they were instead Eberron's Mightiest Heroes? The idea is to "re-create" the famous superheroes as D&D 4e characters, of course, with a little eberronian feeling. I must warn this is not an optimized version of the character, but a flavorful one which main intent is to find evocative details which reminds us of the superhero when playing it.
Let's start with the First Avenger: Captain America. Being a soldier, what better that making him come from Rekkenmark? The best military academy in Khorvaire is the alma mater of our first member of the Avenger Initiative, which becomes Captain Karrnath. Just as the Last War started to unfold, some generals and warlords at Rekkenmark saw with distrust the experiments held at Atur Academy, which dealt with forbidden necromantic arts. They all agreed to embark some artificers and sane wizards to create a perfect soldier. Rumors have House Cannith researching automatons, so Karrnath needed some inner resource to deal with those for-sale war machines before they were ready. Rekkenmark's Head Warmage Ioseff Reinsteni came with a solution in the form of a unique potion: if it worked, he'll work tirelessly to recreate it again. Now the generals needed a volunteer, but most fit soldiers were being dispatched to the frontiers, and local farmboys were already showing signs of malnutrition because of the early and long winter coming. In the end, one patriotic boy was selected for the experiment, which was foiled by Reinsteni's nemesis, but not before the potion was applied to the boy, Steffan.
Next thing we know is that the Rekkenmark High Council of War selects Steffan to take a ship directly to the north-eastern shores of Aundair... through the Frostfell. What happened really, no one knows. Legends arose, of course, most of them dealing with the Flying Aundairian, the mysterious ghost ship. No one heard again about Captain Karrnath, until a Wayfinder expedition to the Prime North discovered his ship, with its whole crew frozen to death. The ship was returned to the government of Karrnath. The grandson of Ioseff Reinsteni, Erskine Reinsteni, managed to get him back to life.
The rest comes as about you want to play it
So, it seems we need a shield-bearing protective character with the ability to toss the shield as a ranged attack. Ok, that is as easy as it sounds: we'll have him as a human fighter with a returning heavy shield (and proficiency with it). Captain America is also the leader of the Avengers, planning strategies and giving them instructions in combat. Call me crazy, but that sounds a lot like a warlord. Sadly, as much as I'd like to create him as a fighter/warlord, fighter powers offer some options when using a shield, and warlord powers do not offer too many ranged attacks (except for the skirmishing build, which uses ranged weapons, not thrown ones). But since he's as charismatic as intuitive, we'll have him grab some multiclass feats. Now let's see what else we can do.
On the Ability Scores, we need a maximized Strength, of course. Second highest score is a tie between Constitution (because of the empowered stamina the Super Soldier serum imbued Captain with) and Wisdom (his natural guidance for knowing the best way to solve problems). I'd like to give him a higher Charisma, but since it is not needed as a score, it got dropped to fouth place. We already said he's a natural and competent leader, so how he could do that with such an average charisma? Ah, that's where skills will solve our issues. Since I'm not a great fan of the Captain in the comics, I'll have to point out that, in the movie, he starts as a very shy kid just wanting to get into the army. His confidence is revitalized by the fact that people turn to him, and how to tap into this new "charisma" is something he had to learn. That sounds to me as skill training. Not by someone teaching him, but he finding a way to inspire others, overcoming his lack of confidence in himself.
That brings us to skills. You'll later see we gave him two warlord multiclass feats, which will allow us to select Diplomacy to train as a class skill. Besides, we'll keep Athletics (you must admit he knows how to jump!), Endurance (as if we need some excuse to maximize that) and Intimidate (more of a "how can I say no to him when he's angry?" than an "I'm such afraid of him when he's mad!"). Fighter gives us two more skills, which I chose History (after all, he was in Rekkenmark, right?) and Streetwise (that one I can't really justify, but I can't imagine people refusing to answer some questions from him on the street).
Now with the Feats. I'll just mention the ones I really see as Captain's. You can see the rest of my choices downloading the character sheet from the link at the end of this entry. Stout Shield and Encouraging Shield give the character higher defense values based on how well he knows to protect himself with his shield. Defensive Challenge, Shield Push and Hindering Shield are all about getting the most out of using the shield and Ubiquitous Shield gives me that spinning around while defending look Captain does so well. Basically, pick any feat with "shield" in its name to provide more defense. We'll take care of offense with the powers selection. For the multiclass choice, I picked both Inspiring Leader (maybe more for the name than for anything else) and Student of Battle (which you'll have to re-flavor as avoiding allies to take damage instead of healing them after they got hit... that really depends on how you handle hit points).
And that's how we arrive to Powers. Basically, I looked for powers with "You must be using a shield" requirement. Tide of Iron and Shield Feint are good at-wills, and Shield Bash, Shield Edge Block and Sudden Shield Bash are nice-enough encounter powers. For dailies, I'll stick with Unexpected Shield Bach, Shield and a Hard Place, and Unstoppable Force. Each one of them makes me picture perfectly the Captain doing something really special with his shield. Utility powers will give him some defense options, just as feats did. Shield Deflection, Shield Wall and Interposing Shield are the best evocative choices I could think of.
We finish the character with the magic item selection. I just picked several that just are there because, with the exception of the shield, of course. The ideal is to have it being a Throwing one. The paragon version is of level 16, which guided our character level too. The rest of the magic items, the same as with utility powers, will give him more defense options in most cases.
And since we have the character already in 16th level, we had to choose a paragon path. There is only one that almost screamed to me while I was looking among all the available: Shield Adept. The Action Point benefit and overall features are not awesome, but anything that improves the shield use is a good choice.
You can download here the Captain Karrnath's character sheet and file. As you'll see, he's equipped with a javelin. Don't picture him using one... it's just a way to cheat the power cards so he can have a weapon for his attacks. Just have him toss his shield everytime you can and warn your DM that you'll use the javelin stats instead.
Next entries will include "Ironforged", "Dragonhawk Eye" and the "Black Scorpion". I'm receiving suggestions for The Hulk (maybe a shifter barbarian) and Thor (a storm sorcerer based in Strength somehow?).