Personal NPC and LORE inspired fantasy character builds

Here is one for players who are interested in a different form of play style. If you like rushing as fast as you can to 100 in Ultimate, then this is not for you. If you enjoy disciplined character development, challenges and building a character that could exist in the lore and history of Grim Dawn then read on.

I have myriads of characters at different stages of development and enjoy playing all of them. Every now and then I feel the need to play a character that has limited resources to present a different aspect to the character progression. For instance, I have a character called “Yellow Canary” who is only allowed to equip yellow items. Another is “Green Hornet” who can only equip green items etc. Obviously these personal disciplines cannot be enforced in game and must be maintained by you. You can of course cheat, but then you should not be playing such a design in the first place.

Why would you do this you may ask? Before you berate the concept, give it a try. It really gives the game new challenges and a lot of depth and gratification.

I came up with the idea of creating another challenge sort of character and have based it around the idea of an initial CLASSLESS build that can eventually slowly introduce masteries and finally skills when it becomes apparent that progression is no longer possible in the current state.

Meet - “Jane Doe”


My character is currently classless at level 43 and is about to enter and kill the Loghorrean and has been absolutely intense in battles to reach this point. You quickly learn how to optimize position, retreat, attack, reposition etc. to the gain the best advantage with your limited resource pool and can add great insight into the strategy of some of your existing and more powerful characters.

My idea and strategy is to play as far as I can with no class through veteran,elite,ultimate. When that becomes a stalemate, I will select a mastery for her and FILL the mastery bar. i.e., Jane has learned a mastery, but cannot use skills until the mastery is full and so forth for the second mastery.

My NPC and lore, back story etc. for her is …

Edwin of Devils Crossing

“Jane is the daughter of cook Edwin at Devils Crossing. She had often been present when her father was giving much needed supplements to the many weary travelling heroes and had many opportunities to eavesdrop on their tales of the Grim Dawn horrors. Determined to make a difference to the struggle and being naturally strong she decided to join the battle. Arming herself with her father’s old axe and a battered shield she found in Angrim’s junk pile, she set out into the unknown.”

“Jane initially only had her own wits and physique to keep her alive and effective in the battles. While being able to handle most of the incoming horrors, she was fully aware the she needed some training to be able to kill the real monster masters. Later in her pursuits into Malmouth she reunited with a old family friend, an inquisitor named Creed, who was able to train her in the arts of warfare and help her to understand the power of devotions from long lost shrines, eventually enabling her to become the familiar hero we all know as JANE OF THE CROSSING’”

Old family picture in Devils Crossing cookhouse - their last meeting


I found that the standard Explorer set fitted very much with her father’s looks and theme and is actually a very good low level and easy set to get equipped with here and has some really useful resistances.

It is not easy progressing as classless, but some things can really help. Remember that you only have a few slots that you can assign a shrine devotion skill to as you will have NO skills from masteries. I currently have the following (These are quick shrines to get, but you can go your own way)

  1. Aetherfire from constellation Imp on granted right hand Fireblast skill from Searing Ember.
  2. Dryads Blessing on constellation Dryad on Troll Rage relic on left hand.
  3. Bull Rush from constellation Bull on granted left hand Lightning Nova skill.
  4. Scorpion Sting from constellation Scorpion on movement Rhans Might.

The challenge is to resist the temptation to enable mastery and skills as far as you can.

These ideas and concepts are NOT PHYSICALLY enforceable in game lore and history I know, but hey, who is stopping you making your own lore and stuff in the game - at the end of the day it is your game and fantasy.

I hope maybe I have inspired some other custom challenge builds with lores and some nice looks.

Angrim’s Brother - Was he a bad seed?
Sybil’s Father - Revenge for Milton?
Collin Travervin - Mountain Deeps protector in honor of his sister?
Annabel - Daughter of Harmond (Devils Crossing) a returned with Aetherial damages?

The ideas go on and on and are endless. As I have stated there is no way to enforce the rules of a custom designed character in game, but if you are from the classic RPG world, then your character is real in your head and that is what matters.

Jane attack with just basic component granted skills lightning and fire - kicking ass


Further lore memoirs of “Jane of the Crossing” …
Jane meets Julius Crowley in the Tomb of the Watchers


Having no masteries and skills to help her, and being reliant on only her wits and current equipment, she soldiered forth. The battle was nasty and quickly became a prolonged fight to the death.

Determination prevailed and “Jane of the Crossing” finally put an end to the demonic Crowley 's bloodline.

Julius Crowley - after Jane eventually took his head off and just before sinking her axe into his vile heart

Many more dangers lurk in the this tomb.


Very interesting! Different type of role playing.

1 Like

Ive finally found someone like me!! This kind of stuff is my jam!!! IM OBSESSED with building weird/unique characters based off specific limitations and lore! I would love to partake in this journey with you man!!! Ill have to get a build of my own going and post it here to expand on this trend and give it more momentum.

Id love to see what else you come up with!


great roleplaying stuff. should have been included in the fanfiction archive of internet. speaking of which, i see a pitifully depressing number of grim dawn fanfics on the net. most gd-ers are more interested in number crunching for builds. gd really needs a stronger fan-made stories/roleplay/merchandise. the gd lore is too good to be left forgotten in the annals of hack-slash looter arpg’s.

however, for roleplaying purpose, i think normal-veteran-elite is the only viable difficulties that allows much room and tackable challenges for role-play driven characters. ultimate is only for min-maxers due to how it is designed. i remember deus ex human revolution difficulty settings named the easiest difficulty as storytell mode or something like that. for players who just want to enjoy the story without complicated min-max gameplay.

you don’t have to purposefully gimp jane doe by doing classless run in earlier phase. you say that jane doe is naturally strong, so soldier class is perfect for her. just pick the normal soldier skills that feels realistically close to your character fighting style according to the lore.

though you probably chose to play a masterless class for the challenge (and combining in with roleplay challenge to simplify things). just like how you play yellow/green only builds. feels like forcing dark-soul style speedrun challenge into your gameplay. but if you have fun doing it, that’s great.

now i can imagine some random gd player role-playing occultist char that frustratingly want to find the power that every occultist wants to have: huge chaos rr.


Great stuff, I wish I could enjoy the game as much as you do.

BTW, someone posted classless build before that actually killed Theoden Marcell on Ultimate.

1 Like

Definitely an interesting approach to breathe some new life in the game if you get the itch. Musashi the Vagabond of Cairn! <- The build mad_lee is referring to. Pretty awesome classless build worth looking at if you haven’t already.

1 Like

I wanted to make a build using only common gear from that vendor in Fort Ikon. Would call him “White Trash”

You must’ve been like, oh no Thunderstruck of Kings again? :rofl:

Post those builds btw, it’s a valid achievement if you manage to clear something in only yellow.


You are correct, this sort of play style only really suits itself to Normal-Veteran-Elite modes. If a player manages Ultimate in this style, then I take my hat off to them as they clearly have above mortal perseverance and pain tolerance :persevere:. I enjoy the game for the adventure and what can be accomplished with resources that you find, craft or inherit from other characters. I have been playing since the game’s start and have some 2049 hours playtime. Funny enough, out of my 28 characters there is only ONE that is actually at level 100. A lot are in the 80 and 90 range, but I have no urgent rush to get them to 100. Fortunately Grim Dawn caters for all sorts of builds and play styles. You can rush to be godlike at Ultimate 100 in the minimum time using a web found build or just take your sweet time and explore the world figuring it out yourself. There is no right or wrong here, it is your game and Grim Dawn caters for it all.


Yea, the current mad rush to get max Ultimate 100 with BIS in zero time is what actually destroyed Diablo 3 for me. The concept of only one or two viable endgame builds became quickly boring and a game killer. Yes, there are players that enjoy this form play style and there is no problem with that. What Grim Dawn does though is to allow you to create and experiment with resources that are not BIS that can surprisingly really kick ass in end game as well. Look forward to see your lore character and strategy.

1 Like

Ive already got a couple of ideas. Going to have to do a little reading up in the lore notes but im looking forward to nerding out with it tonight! Ill share anything I can manage to come up with in this thread with you! Thanks again for some refreshing content, my man!

No class and no uniques, yeah, but I’m sure you can clear Ultimate in all yellow or even white with the right classes.

Captain Somer of Homestead

As a member of one of Erulan’s elite ruling houses, an individual had certain customs, courtesies, duties, and responsibilities to uphold. These might once have ranged from various political and diplomatic functions, with the occasional detour into secrecy and espionage. It was thus a failure in the proper execution of these last two, in conjunction with the Aetherial Invasion of Malmouth, which led to the fall of House Somer.

In his youth, Aldous was a bright and promising child whom all believed would succeed his father, Hans, as Lord of House Somer. As it happened, though, his younger brother Cassian was chosen as Lord when the time came, his bride Lillian of another noble Erulan house. In the years that followed Cassian and Lillian had a baby girl- Matilda. The two doted on her as she grew, and were often over-protective, wary of the Empire’s watchful eyes and eager institutions, but they could not seem to keep Matilda out of trouble, for she was a tomboy who chased adventure at every chance she got and never had to fear the consequences due to her privileged position as a member of Erulan’s ruling elite houses.

Though her family often feared Matilda’s rash decisions and impulsive behaviors would tarnish their reputation, Cassian and Lillian could not bring themselves to lay the blame on her and would always find another source upon which to unload their fury and blame. More often than not some poor low-class citizen was the object of their wrath, and would become the scapegoat in the wake of Matilda’s recklessness. Through it all, Aldous watched and wondered how it could have been that he was passed over by his father as the heir to House Somer- His brother Cassian could not even control his own child.

Many years passed. Aldous had taken to his studies of medicine and shieldworking, overseeing a facility producing shields for the Imperial army in the Steelcap District of Malmouth. It was an honorable position, but anything short of ruling House Somer shamed Aldous still. As it stood, Matilda was in line as successor to her father Cassian, however her troublemaking had only gotten worse, and eventually saw her incarcerated in the custody of the Imperial Prison. As she was a child of privilege, other houses in the ruling elite took it as an opportunity to topple House Somer, and the word was sent to withdraw any option for release. She would have only one other option to serve her sentence- her will bound to the Black Legion by the Luminari as payment for her dishonorable behavior.

Matilda, ever the headstrong tomboy, chose to serve in the Black Legion. Cassian and Lillian were devastated, and retreated to the family house on the outskirts of the city. Shame had fallen on all of House Somer, and kept them from showing their faces at court. They took to sending envoys and mouthpieces to represent their interests at court instead. The torment of losing their daughter to the Luminari’s Black Legion was too much. Though Aldous was a Somer, and thusly humiliated as a member of the house, inside he secretly enjoyed the poetic justice of this sentence. After all, he should have been Lord of House Somer, this would not have happened under his watch… But his father had chosen Cassian, and that choice had brought this down upon them all.

Cassian approached Aldous then, and offered him the only thing that could have possibly made Aldous care. He was willing to relinquish all his lands and titles, handing over Lordship of House Somer to Aldous, all if he would just bring Matilda back to him. Aldous contemplated this. It wasnt all that great of a deal, since House Somer’s reputation had been dragged through the mud by this ungrateful little whelp of a “girl”, Matilda… But maybe, just maybe, with the right friends and the right positioning… Aldous just might be able to rebuild House Somer into it’s former political and diplomatic might…

So it was that Aldous agreed, and set off to infiltrate the Black Legion and bring Matilda back to Cassian. This, however, turned out to be a short-lived prospect, for Matilda’s will had been bound to the Black Legion by the Luminari, and although Aldous was able to abduct Matilda, once they were a safe distance from the Black Legion headquarters, Matilda refused to return to her mother and father with Aldous. Thus Aldous was forced to return empty-handed, to the shame and scorn of his brother, and lost his position overseeing shieldworking at the house facility in the Steelcap District.

Last picture of Aldous and Matilda, parting to go seperate ways prior to the Grim Dawn;


Stay tuned for pictures and story of Aldous’ journey since returning to Malmouth, and the Aetherial Invasion!


As the Aetherial Invasion erupted and engulfed Malmouth in chaos and destruction, Aldous was quick to take the opportunity to escape- After all, there was nothing left for him in this city. House Somer was in shambles, and he couldnt help but laugh because now the whole city would be in shambles as well- Truth be told, some part of Aldous was actually glad for it. Had he believed in karma, he would have attributed the motive of the Aetherials to be guided by its hand.

Quickly boarding a small dinghy at the first signs of warning, Aldous slipped out of the harbor with a swift wind at his back. He had learned the art of sea travel as a youth in his studies, as this was often a talent commonplace amongst the high class citizens. He was thankful for it that day, though there was little he could do against the winds, which bore him south so fast he could not have changed direction had he tried. Aldous didn’t mind. He wanted to get as far away from the city as possible.

With his whole world upturned, Aldous searched for a new purpose in life. His mind kept returning to Matilda. Though in his previous life he had resented Matilda, Cassian, and Lillian, both Cassian and Lillian were likely dead, and with Matilda the only family he had left a strange sense of loss and sadness overcame Aldous. One thing was certain- Cairn was about to change, and not in a good way. It would take every man woman and child to fight back against this menace. In that, Matilda was positioned well- A capable warrior in the Black Legion, which had overnight become an institution that Aldous was thankful existed.

He would set out to find Matilda once again, and upon crashing outside Devil’s Crossing, he entered town with that exact mission on his mind, only to find the local populace struggling to fight the Aetherials! Impossible! How could they have spread this far south already! Aldous would have to take the fight to the Aetherials sooner than he expected, and would have to make finding Matilda a secondary objective. And so, his fight began. Already skilled at handling a shield, Aldous felt extremely comfortable with his shield arm and had competent training with a mace in the yards as a boy. This coupled with his understanding of medicines would aid him greatly in his adventure.

It seemed that Devil’s Crossing first required assistance eliminating this Warden Krieg… Aldous trained hard every day, slaying hundreds of Aetherials and fighting tooth and nail across the wilderness and through Burrwitch, dispatching his enemies methodically until confronting the Warden in his Prison…

Aldous takes the fight to the Aetherials!




Having dealt the killing blow to Warden krieg, Aldous returned to Devil’s Crossing to inform Bourbon the deed was done, and then moved on in his journey to find Matilda, traveling to Arkovia…


As Aldous fights on, he discovers the Rovers, who are struggling against a different kind of epidemic- Opportunistic raiders that are capitalizing on the widespread instability and civil unrest plaguing Cairn in the aftermath of the Aetherial Invasion. This disgusts Aldous, and he agrees to aid the Rovers while he is on his journey to find Matilda.

His first true test, a murderous pit-fighter, Boris;

Surprising boris with a wide outward arcing strike, Aldous knocks his weapons aside…

…and delivers a lightning-quick killing blow, center mass…


…felling Boris of the pit, and ending his bloody games for eternity.

Many and more of this Darius Cronely’s gang members are slain on the way. Fleeing in mad terror, Cronely’s lower ranking gang members take to jumping off of cliffs in order to escape Aldous’ wrath- Better to die falling than having thier bones crushed by his mace;

A hot-shot named Slocum pulls a dirty trick, attempting to shoot Aldous close range but Aldous deftly moves in low and fast to pulp Slocum’s abdomen with a well-placed mace strike.


His shield arm fully functional, Aldous keenly deflects deathblows which would otherwise deal mortal wounds;


Moneybaggs Martin is met, metal to metal, sending sparks flying!

A mace is too much for Martin’s blade to stay, however, and with a snapping crunch his body is tossed aside like a rag doll;

Wait a minute… This one seems different… Dont tell me, the Aetherials have spread this far as well?!

Now it’s personal! It seems the entire world stands between Aldous ever finding the only family he may have left, and these damned Aetherials! They just wont quit. Time to force a few more into retirement!!!


Nice try, but youll have to do better than that! Aldous’ shield arm is second to none!


THIS ought to seal the deal!!!


Who’s next?


Aldous faces off against Darius Cronely;


Darius’ new powers make it an unfair fight, and Aldous is nearly outnumbered a9nd outmatched;



Aldous bats away a near-killing blow with a lucky counter…


…and uses the opening as an opportunity to throw a wide arcing strike- But Darius sways back, the strike missing by mere inches


Pushing the advantage, Aldous presses Darius, who is off balance, knocking his defenses away and delivering the finishing blow!


With Darius Cronely’s gang destroyed, Aldous resumes his journey in search of Matilda, traveling across Twin Falls and heading towards Homestead… Next time…


Very nice, love the close-up action shots!

1 Like

Thanks man, it definitely takes time to put this together, but props to @MikeHeydon for really bringing this style of gameplay to life! It’s a ton fo fun and I am having a blast. About to post the venture to Homestead, then share the Grimtools for Aldous…

Aldous ventures on, pushing through the smuggler’s pass, he is met be heavy resistance of Aetherials and Tolls locked in deadly combat. He uses speed and guile to sneak through most of the chaos, but is stopped dead in his tracks by a blood curdling shout of challenge from a monstrous troll, Voldrak the Destroyer!

Sometimes, it is best to run!

The humongous troll is unimaginably strong, and his blows threaten to rip the earth apart where he strikes, but he is slow to recover, and Aldous takes the advantage of speed to the enemy in a flurry of blows to its legs and chest;

Voldrak barely notices, and prepares for another devastating attack. Aldous risks a final quick strike to the creatures legs

For all its strength and power, Voldrak is not very accurate (thank the gods), and Aldous nimbly rolls out of the way of a powerful downward slam that cracks the earth and sends debris flying into the air, showering rocks and dirt down around him;

The beast is terrifying in its might. Aldous knows this fight could be his last, and wastes no time to go on the offensive, launching another counterattack while the giant is recovering;

Missing the beast with his own heavy downward strike, Aldous is faster to recover however, and whirls back, away from the enemy, sending a reeling upward backhand strike out to meet the monsters giant metal helmet with a resounding bell-ringing sound, the impact sending a jolt upwards through his arm

Voldrak, now furious and desperate to crush this pesty human beneath his tree-trunk sized mace, throws all caution to the winds and swings the weapon back with reckless abandon, preparing to deliver a catastrophic blow

At the lasst minute, Aldous does the unexpected and rushes the troll, barrelling into it and delivering the deathblow- punching his mace through Voldrak’s unmentionables;

With Voldrak dead and rotting, Aldous wipes the blood, sweat, and green muck off his armor and limps out of the Smuggler’s Pass. Beyond, he encounters some more fighting between Aetherials and the trolls, and is able to slip through undetected. Here there are signs of people, but no one to be seen… it seems someone must have abandoned a small makeshift campsite near the rift… How curious… He travels on through the Mountain Deeps, and Prospector’s Trail, upon which he runs into a small detachment of Black legion troops, and asks them if they know Matilda Somer.

“You mean Captain Somer? A tough bitch, that one. Last I heard she was organizing the defenses up in Homestead to weather the storm against all these new threats”.

Aldous agrees to help the Black legion operatives in hunting down some local monsters in exchange for directions up to Homestead. Culling the ranks of humanity’s enemies couldnt hurt along the way, besides, with each passing day Aldous feels himself growing more and more compelled to cleanse Cairn of it’s enemies. And so he heads back out into the fray, to eviscerate more enemies, beast and Aetherial alike!


Ok, this is quality stuff.

Malmoth Approved!


Finally, having gotten directions to Homestead, Aldous arrives at its doorstep only to be ambushed by swarming Aetherials. Fighting hard to end them, he dispatches them one after another in a blazing series of fights, and at last their champion arises to challenge Aldous’ advance. This one, a twisted amalgamation of troll and aetherial, wielding a heavy plate of metal shielding that Aldous eyes admirably. He should like one for himself, if only he had the Physique to wield it! That this enemy hefts it about as though its lighter than dust is no small feat, and testament to its power. After Voldrak, however, Aldous is not afraid to fight the power!

Ducking a slicing attack that would have taken off his head, Aldous prepares to strike back

Hurtling his mace underhanded, he manages to slip beneath Harrath’s defenses, the head of his mace finding purchase in vital unprotected path of skin between its plates of armor and causing grievous wounds

Defeated, Harrath falls to the ground, his now aimless emberguards wandering and throwing pyrotechnic projectiles wherever there is movement. The black Legion in Homestead open the main doors and are quick to extinguish this threat.

At long last, Aldous has his reunion with Matilda (Captain) Somer, and makes amends for the past. The two agree to fight aside one another from this day forth!

Aldous Somer
Cleric in training, now in command of Homestead’s Security;