Friday, July 31, 2015

My Template - How I Make My Stuff

Lots and lots of people ask how to make stuff done in the PHB style, and how to make homebrew look official.

It's not easy. Truth is, it kind of sucks at first, until you learn how to do it. But, once you get it into a formula, it's mostly a matter of creating the proper mechanics, finding (and cropping) the right art, and producing the whole enchilada.

If you're new to making professional-looking homebrew, I'll break it into three steps:

  1. First, required reading. Read The Mousefolk Guide by reddit's /u/skybug12. It tells you the general ins and outs of how to do things in the PHB style, requiring only light-moderate Photoshop knowledge and some serious patience.
  2. Be sure to download the brushes, fonts, and other miscellaneous materials that /u/skybug12 includes as part of his guide. These are especially important - you cannot duplicate the PHB style without this pack.
  3. Lastly, to make it even easier and to get access to elements of the pack above, be sure to download the template that I use to make everything here. Included in this template are:
    • Text columns and headers complete with formatting
    • Graphical element for the Optional Rule sidebar block
    • Graphical element for the Expanded Spell List
    • Graphical text element for the Monster Stat Block
    • Example pictures for picture elements on the page, to give a general idea as to how they're done.
Sounds simple, but is actually a massive pain in the butt to generate in the first place (especially the monster stat block, hoooooly fuck was that hard). Feel free to use the template for your own content, just be sure to credit me when you use it, same as I credit /u/skybug12 in my homebrew. 

Happy homebrewing!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Otherworldly Patron: The Dead King [ROUGH DRAFT]

The Dead King or Queen is a powerful entity with sway over undeath like a dead god, lich, or death knight. Whatever the nature of this creature, it is willing to make pacts with mortals to imbue them with the ability to cast potent necromantic spells, creating warlocks in life that will serve them in death.

Mortals may make a pact with the Dead King in order to more fully master life and death, or to attain the reliable protection that only a handful of loyal undead can provide.

Special Mechanics:

  • Death-themed spells that fit within warlock spell slot schema.
  • Gravesense - Cast speak with dead at will at first level, know where dead folks are.
  • Master of Death - Cast empowered animate dead once daily. Balanced to be roughly identical to the necromancer wizard's level 6 feature.
  • Bone Armor - When a minion is next to you, you can cause it to take half the damage from an incoming attack twice (scaling up to three times) per combat, with a tHP bonus if this kills the minion.
  • Corpse Explosion - Instantly kills a minion to deal 9d6 (median 31.5) damage + poison to adjacent non-undead creatures, save takes half. Is able to be activated as a reaction on a minion's death, refreshes with a short rest. Balanced off of Cone of Cold, as warlock short-rest level 14's are approximately similar to a slightly-better-than-level-5 spell. 
Balance Concerns:
  • Master of Death giving a warlock a buffed animate dead as a class feature leans strong for a level 6, but important to the progression. This is counterbalanced somewhat by both the level 10 feature and the level 14 feature actively weakening the in-combat ability of Master of Death in order to function, the first of these arriving just after Master of Death can be cast with level 5 slots.
  • The verbage of these features opens the up to synergy with the Mystic Arcanum (level 6 spell slot) option create undead, but this is intentional and I can't (yet) see any way in which this could be abused.
  • Bone Armor's tHP bonus may be a bit much, but it's intended as a trade-off for both its limited uses and how it actively harms a minion.
  • Corpse Explosion is the only level 14 damage short-rest ability. As said above, it's (about) a level 5.5 spell, balanced off of Cone of Cold + a status effect. When compared to the fiendlock's level 14 Hurl Through Hell (long rest, single-target, 1 turn removal, no save, median 55 damage), the ability Corpse Explosion (short rest, multi-target, no removal, costs a save, median 31.5 damage) does ~45% less damage, is better on two counts and worse on two counts. About as balanced as I can make it given the incredibly diverse nature of level 14's. 
Version 0.1 (rough draft)

Link to the reddit thread.

Alternate Familiars for the Great Old One chain pact

Those that follow the Fiend get an imp or a quasit, depending on inclination. Those who pact with the Archfey get a pseudodragon or a sprite.

What do the insane few that pledge their soul in service of a Great Old One receive? Nothing. Nada. Bupkis. Until now.

Featured here are the Gibbering Orblet, Albino Penguin, and Flumphling, all well-suited to being forms that any warlock's chain pact familiar could take, but tailor-made for warlocks that follow a Great Old One.

Special Mechanics:

  • Gibbering Orblet - Gibbering (save vs disadvantage on attacks), Poison Spittle (ranged attack w/ save vs poison), Phasing (automatic disadvantage on attacks vs orblet, can take no actions)
  • Albino Penguin - Blindsight (great for shared senses / seeing through illusions), Swim Speed, Fear (as a Quasit)
  • Flumphling - Advanced Telepathy (can hear others' telepathy), Telepathic Shroud (cannot detect its or master's thoughts w/o consent), Tendrils (weak melee w/ weak damage-over-time), Stench Spray (save vs stink, poison with AoE potential)
Balance Concerns:
  • Gibbering Orblet may be leaning a bit strong, and Albino Penguin may be a bit weak comparatively. This is roughly okay (but not ideal), though, as the familiars presented in core materials don't have anything approaching balance with one another.
  • Lack of Magic Resist sidebar - As per what a tweet from Mike Mearls says, warlocks are not intended to get their familiar's Magic Resistance despite the text in the familiar sidebars (i.e. the imp's sidebar on page 69 of the MM). I have not included the sidebars here to conserve room, but you can assume similar sidebars exist for the Albino Penguin and Flumphling.
  • My grasp of monster math is still pretty sketchy, but some people on reddit at least prodded me in the right direction. 
Version 0.2

Link to the reddit thread

Monday, July 27, 2015

Optional Rule: Invocation Drawbacks

Invocation drawbacks are flavorful debuffs that come with every invocation your warlock takes - the small price your warlock pays for brokering for power with outsiders like your patron.

These drawbacks are for roleplaying purposes only, and have no mechanical benefit or detriment to how your warlock functions. They are just for fun, and for you to expand how you roleplay your warlock's burgeoning madness and deformity.

Special Mechanics:

  • Aside from obsessing over strange things and occasionally turning uglier than usual, none. 
Balance Concerns:
  • Some drawbacks may be somewhat more dramatic than others, but not to an unreasonable extent. 
Version 0.1

Link to the reddit thread.

Otherworldly Patron: The Umbral Lurker

Warlocks who make a pact with the Umbral Lurker gain control over shadows and darkness itself by authoring a deal with the nightmares that live in the shadows of the deep, dark places of the world. Entities such as Lloth and Strahd are capable of entering umbral lurker pacts with mortals, issuing their dark powers to worthy vessels. A warlock with this pact can be a dark practitioner without remorse, a noble soul treading a troubled path with purpose, or a mischievous trickster with the night on their side.

Special Mechanics:

  • The ability to manipulate shadows in a wide variety of ways. Also: the ability to conjure a shadow pony.
  • Servant of Darkness: See in the dark, turn out the lights! Improves existing darkvision.
  • Living Shadows: Have your shadow friends eat your enemies, and spit them out elsewhere.
  • Shadow Prison: Lock someone down in darkness and do some damage. Does on average twice the removal of Hurl Through Hell, but 60% of the damage.

Balance Concerns:
  • Not technically a concern with balance, but warlocks can take the Misty Visions invocation to cast silent image at will, and silent image is also on the spell list here. The invocation is still viable, though, because casting silent image off the spell list requires a spell slot, but is easier for the warlock to access without investing in an invocation.
  • Living Shadows gives a ribbon (fluff ability) in addition to its crunchy ability, unlike other warlock level 6's, but I'm pretty sure that's alright. The ability overall is balanced like a reversed Misty Escape that potentially deals damage and a condition, but is harder to use because it requires a save and you being in dim light or darkness.
  • Shadow Prison is intended to be a midway point between Hurl Through Hell and Dark Delirium, and it functions very similar to such. However Dark Delirium is a short-rest power and Shadow Prison is a long-rest, so Shadow Prison has the possibility of being very slightly underpowered for what it is. 

Version 0.5

Link to the reddit thread.

Otherworldly Patron: The Divine Arbiter

The Divine Arbiter is an angel, archon, actual god or other celestial presence willing to pact with mortals to gain empowered individuals in their service.

A warlock who makes a pact with such a being may be a driven zealot, a lost soul seeking redemption, a simple individual grasping power to defend those important to them, a redeemed warlock from a darker pact, or any other concept you'd see making sense.

Special Mechanics:

  • Access to powerful buffing spells, which all require concentration, allowing you to only have one up at a time.
  • Holy Conduit allows you to share the healing ability of your hit dice, but you will have less hit dice to heal yourself.
  • Spiritual Armor summons a set of medium armor and a shield, giving the warlock slightly more AC than the invocation Armor of Shadows.
  • Radiant Shield allows you to throw said shield Captain America style, delivering justice to the upside of bad-guy craniums. 
Balance Concerns:
  • Dealing with hit dice other than in their designed way is always tricky business, but I tried to keep what they do fairly reasonable and within the bounds of a (still very useful) warlock level 1.
  • Spiritual Armor provides the ability to equip a shield when using a two-handed pact weapon, but a shield used in this way only provides +1 AC. This seems reasonable to me, as it keeps the some of the intended +AC from the class feature that puts it over Armor of Shadows, but still decreases it in recognition of using a two-handed weapon. 
Version 0.5

Link to the reddit thread.


So, a few of you know who I am and what I do vis a vis homebrew, and that's great! You don't have to read this, you can skip right to looking at the other stuff.

Really, you can skip this and look at my straight at my homebrew anyway, I'm fairly sure I physically can't stop you.

So for those persistent or inquisitive few still reading this: First, congrats on being a cut above those other schmucks. Second, I guess I really should quit the foreplay and just discuss what I'm doing here.

This blog is dedicated to my homebrew for Dungeons and Dragons 5th edition, which as of my writing this is the latest version of Dungeons and Dragons. "Homebrew" is content unaffiliated with Wizards of the Coast or Hasbro, and is considered unofficial and is entirely up to the DM (Dungeon Master) whether or not to allow it in any given game.

DMs usually disallow homebrew based on two main issues: Whether or not it is balanced, and whether or not it is thematic. I can't really speak to my material being thematic for every single game, but I can attempt (with your help, of course) to balance my content such that any DM or player would be comfortable picking up and running it. I do try and keep my material themed such that it would be allowable in most cases, but that's pretty hit-and-miss and there's not much I can do about that.

If you see a balance concern or just like the stuff, leave a comment and I'll address it and release a patch, either in the same blog post or in a new one, if the change is major enough.

All of my content is free and not intended for sale, and I credit the artists I use work from at the end of each document. However, I intend to take PayPal donations for the hours I spend working on and balancing these things (as soon as I can figure out how to make the button, anyway), so if you want to pitch a few bucks at me so that my homebrew can transitively buy me a sandwich, that'd be pretty cool.

Lastly, thanks for coming here and reading my spiel. I couldn't make the quality of work I try for without you and people like you, so just being here and checking my things out really does help.

Hope you enjoy what you see here, and don't be afraid to comment!