First off, I just want to say, I love the rogue-like game Hades by Supergiant Games.
I’ve been playing it for a while. And, it just had its 1.0 release. So, to celebrate, I’ve put together a character build for Hades’ protagonist, Zagreus.
Here’s the .pdf of his 1st-level character sheet:
If you want to play Zagreus, use this as the starting point. But the best part is I’m going to outline the character progression from 1-20.
So, without further adieu, let’s build Zagreus in Dungeons & Dragons 5e.
First things first, here’s a break down of how Zagreus’ character build looks.
The main thing to remember is this is a multiclass build using the Warlock and Fighter classes. It’s primarily focused on martial prowess. So, Zagreus has a lot more levels in Fighter than Warlock. And, his Warlock levels enhance his combat capabilities.
How are we multiclassing?
Well, the Fighter/Warlock multiclass isn’t groundbreaking. And, we’re going to use the common combination of Hexblade Warlock and Battle Master Fighter. So, you’re need the Player’s Handbook, Volo’s Guide to Monsters, and Xanathar’s Guide to Everything if you want to use this character build.
By 20th-level, Zagreus is a Hexblade Warlock 4 (meaning 4 levels in the class) and Battle Master Fighter 16.
So, with the primer out of the way, let’s get to the level progression.
Zagreus’ Level Progression
I’m going to list out how we’re going to progress Zagreus level-by-level. Here’s the order:
- 1st-3rd Level: Warlock
- 4th-6th Level: Fighter
- 7th Level: Warlock
- 8th-20th Level: Fighter
Now, there’s a reason behind each of these. So, let me go into greater detail.
Character Creation & 1st Level
To start, I chose Fallen Aasimar for Zag’s race.
Thematically, if fits in with his being the son of Hades and (spoiler!) the human Persephone. Mechanically, it gives us a bonus to Charisma. We also get a bonus to Strength, but that’s more of a bonus.
We also get darkvision, resistance to necrotic and radiant damage, the Healing Hands feature (a stand-in for healing between rooms in the game), the Necrotic Shroud feature, and a few racial spells. They’re not all that thematic, but they are useful. So, we’ll just have to go with it.
Next, I used the Standard Array (15, 14, 13, 12, 10, 8) to allocate Ability Scores. I like using this as it’s a basic and universal method of distributing stats. But, if you want to tweak your build, by all means, use Point Buy or Roll.
Here’s how I’d stat out Zagreus:
- Strength: 13 (+1 from Aasimar) = 14
- Dexterity: 15
- Constitution: 12
- Intelligence: 8
- Wisdom: 10
- Charisma: 14 (+2 from Aasimar) = 16
I want to prioritize Charisma for our Warlock, our first chosen class, abilities. Specifically, a higher Charisma means Zagreus is better with his Hexblade weapons.
We’re also going to choose the following for Zag’s equipment:
- Light Crossbow (Adamant Rail from the game)
- 20 bolts
- Crystal as our Spellcasting Focus
- Dungeoneer’s Pack
- Leather Armor
- Spear (Eternal Spear)
- 2 daggers
I’ve already mentioned it. But, Zagreus starts off as a Warlock. This gives us our Otherworldly Patron choice which, again, is the Hexblade.
Now, I know Hexblade isn’t the most thematic for Zagreus in the context of Hades. Hell, Warlock in general isn’t all that thematic. But, mechanically, it fits him very well.
Anyway, this is going to give him access to spells (which I’ll list out later) and Hexblade features Hexblade’s Curse and Hex Warrior.
Hexblade’s Curse correlates with using your Cast in Hades to increase damage against enemies you’ve hit with it.
Finally, we’re choosing Noble as our background. Now, I know it’s not the best background. But, come on. Zagreus is the son of Hades, the God of the Underworld. That’s about as noble as it gets. And, I feel that the Position of Privilege background feature fits seeing as Zagreus is the son of a god. Who wouldn’t try to accommodate him?
The equipment…isn’t all that important from the Noble background. It’s just filler.
…I’m also tweaking what skills we get from the background.
So, from Warlock, we get to pick two skills from Arcana, Deception, History, Intimidation, Investigation, Nature, and Religion.
I chose Intimidation and Religion. Zagreus is a tough guy with great Charisma and he’s the son of a god. They…kind of make sense.
Now, normally, the Noble background gives you History and Persuasion proficiency. I’m scrapping that in exchange (something you can totally do) for Athletics and Stealth. Athletics because Zag is a very physically fit person. And, Stealth to reflect his frequent attempts at sneaking out of the Underworld.
So, Zagreus is proficient in
Alright. Now that we have the base for our D&D 5e build for Zagreus, let’s get to the level progression.
At 2nd Level, Zagreus takes another level in Warlock.
With this, we get our second spell slot (yes) and Eldritch Invocations. Now, we only get two invocations for the entire of the character. So, I picked two that help with our Fighter levels later down the line.
I went with
- Armor of Shadows: lets you cast mage armor at will, without using a spell slot
- Fiendish Vigor: lets you cast false life as a 1st-level spell at will, without using a spell slot
We’re trying to bolster Zagreus’ survivability as much as possible in the early levels.
3rd level is another level in Warlock.
Here, we get to choose our Pact Boon. If you’re at all familiar with Hexblade Warlocks, you probably saw this coming. But, we’re taking Pact of the Blade.
Basically, this lets us summon any type of weapon as an action. Zagreus is proficient with the weapon and its attacks count as magical.
This lines up perfectly with the game. If you don’t know, you choose a weapon before each run in Hades. So, you can see why this fits well in this character build.
Another fun thing we get to do is switch out one of our Eldritch Invocations. So, we’re going to change our Fiendish Vigor for Improved Pact Weapon from Xanathar’s Guide to Everything.
This does a lot for Zagreus’ build.
It turns any weapon summoned from the Pact of the Blade into a spellcasting focus (say goodbye to that crystal from earlier). It also gives that weapon a +1 to attacks and damage (unless it already has that bonuse). And, it can be a shortbow, longbow, light crossbow, or heavy crossbow (a better stand-in of the Adamant Rail from the game).
Here’s when we finally take our first level in Fighter.
Our proficiencies don’t change all that much at this point. So, I’m going to skip over that.
But, we do get the Fighting Style and Second Wind features.
Second Wind kind of correlates to Zagreus’ Death Defiance. But, only so far. The real treat is Fighting Style.
I chose Dueling as Zagreus’ Fighting Style. In my opinion, it’s the best and most thematic option. Also, as a spellcaster, Zagreus needs at least one hand free for Somatic components. So, wielding a weapon in one hand gives you options in combat.
We’re going to take another level in Fighter here.
This gives us Action Surge. So, now Zagreus basically has two actions per rest.
Another level in Fighter gives us our choice in Archetype. And, we’re going with the Battle Master.
Part of the gameplay in Hades revolves around moving and controlling the battlefield with your weapon of choice. So, the Battle Master Fighter is the perfect fit.
With this we get the Combat Superiority and Student of War features. The latter isn’t all that important, so choose what you want. I went with Potter’s Tools because that’s Greek, right?
Anyway. With Combat Superiority we get access to three Maneuvers. I went with
- Pushing Attack – A lot of attacks push enemies in Hades
- Parry – Some abilities in the game trigger Revenge (damage-back) damage
- Sweeping Attack – Quite a few weapons in hades have area-of-effect attacks
We’re going to bounce back to Warlock here. But, this is our last level in Warlock.
The biggest reason for this is to get our first Ability Score Increase (ASI) And, we’re going to increase our Charisma by +2. This puts our total at 18.
The rest of our build follows Fighter all the way to the end.
Here’s the outline with a brief description of each level.
- Ability Score Increase: Charisma +2 (Total = 20)
- Extra Attack
- Ability Score Increase: Feat (Resilient: +1 Dex [Total = 16], Dexterity)
- Know Your Enemy, Maneuvers: Disarming Attack, Riposte
- Ability Score Increase: Dexterity +2 (Total = 18)
- Improved Combat Superiority
- Extra Attack (2)
- Ability Score Increase: Feat (Mobile)
- Indomitable (2)
- Ability Score Increase: Feat (Tough)
- Relentless, Maneuvers: Lunge Attack, Evasive Footwork
- Ability Score Increase: +2 Dex (Total = 20)
So, that rounds out Zagreus’ character level progression. Now, I’ve neglected spells. Let’s take a look at that.
We don’t get a ton of spells from our Warlock levels. But, we do get a few.
To start, we get two cantrips. I went with
- Eldritch Blast (obviously)
I chose friends as a stand-in for Aphrodite.
One of the core mechanics in Hades is choosing boons granted by the gods on Mount Olympus. They each factor into different ways for playing the game. So, I tried to correlate spells with the gods in the game.
We only know two spells starting out. So, I chose
- Hex (again, obviously)
- Expeditious Retreat (Hermes)
Hex is another stand-in for using your Cast in Hades since it gives you bonuses against a specific target. Now, I will say you could switch out expeditious retreat for thunderwave as a stand in to Poseidon (his boons involve a lot of knockback). Either is a great, thematic choice. I just went with the former in case Zag needs to get out of dodge.
As Zagreus levels up, he gets up to five spells known. So, for the sake of brevity, here’s the final spell list:
- Misty Step (Hermes)
- Shatter (Zeus)
- Cloud of Daggers (Artemis/Ares)
Artemis and Ares grant abilities that involve shooting additional arrows with each attack or sending whirlwinds of blades towards enemies. So, either works for cloud of daggers.
And that’s it for our D&D 5e Zagreus character build.
Are you going to try this build? Or, do you have thoughts or suggestions on it? Leave a comment to let me know.