Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Prestige Class: Vampire [Fourth Draft]

When the changes get smaller, the drafts get closer to completion. And this draft is full to the brim with small changes, which I take to be a good sign.

Incidentally, this is the first draft of the vampire I'd actually play. For most things I design, that's v0.2, but prestige classes are pretty special for a lot of reasons.

But about those small changes: What are they? To the changelog!

What I Changed:

  • Hit dice are now d8s, in accordance with the highest hit dice given to full casters.
  • Undead Fortitude no longer requires you be wielding no shield.
  • Sanguine Strikes now caps the spell slots it can use at 3rd level, bringing it in line with what a paladin's Smite offers and not making the class inherently better for casters. 
  • Somber Elegance is now Eyes of the Enticer, and has been rebalanced in line with other similar charm effects.
  • Minor verbage changes throughout, and a sidebar added on the last page explaining the details of multiclassing.
  • I almost feel as if I didn't change enough. Everything feels very balanced and flavorful, though, so I'm not sure what I would change. 
What I Learned:
  • This is easily the most satisfying project I've worked on, now that it's nearing completion. Prestige classes are hard, balance nightmares, but I'll definitely do one again sooner rather than later. 

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Prestige Class: Vampire [Third Draft]

This last round, I got feedback loud and long about how people wanted a vampire, but that the Crimson Blessings were wacky and made the vampire feel as if it had no direct progression, among a host of other gripes.

And that's great! When you have gripes, I get to fix gripes. Crimson Blessings are no more, replaced with a scaling pick-one-of-three-blessings reminiscent of the totem barbarian, and all of the other gripes have been fixed.

But wait, this sounds like I'm getting into the changelog already, and I haven't even thrown up the header yet. Let's fix that:

What I Changed:

  • Well, that thing I said, above.
  • Total blood points have increased, now scaling at 5/10/15 instead of 2/4/6/8/10. 
  • The drawback from having no blood has been changed to levels of exhaustion instead of leaving you paralyzed in the middle of wherever, at the whims of whatever.
  • Hit dice back up to 1d10, in lieu of the blessing that would let them be increased. 
  • Blood drinks per target per day is now a function of the target's size, rather than its CON score.
  • Somber Elegance and Blood's Vigor have been compressed into the Blessing of Blood, Lifeblood, and buffed up to a reasonable level.
  • Wolf Form has been buffed, to make it an ample competitor for Mist Form and Bat Form.
  • Vampiric Celerity has been folded over into Deathly Reflexes.
  • Predatory Gaze has been reworked and rebalanced. It now costs an action and two blood points.
  • Somber Elegance returns as a charm spell, the spiritual successor to the nix'd Dark Beckoning, built off the charm available to the vampire monster. 
  • Someone pointed out this prestige class needed a level 4 stat increase, and they were completely correct. Added a variable stat increase a la the Rune Scribe's Living Rune, named it Sinister Nourishment, and made it function off of your daily consumption of blood.
  • Changed Vampiric Siring to Curse of Eternity, now raises a minion from a properly prepared body, with the additional fluff power of being able to turn your friends into vampires if you can, y'know, kill them with your bite first. 
  • I'm not 100% on how the respective options for each blessing balance against each other. If someone could look at that and tell me what they think, that'd be great. 
  • Blessing of Darkness comes in at 4th level, the same time as the stat increase. It's pretty weak though, but I'm not sure if it's okay to double-up on a stat increase or not. 
  • Curse of Eternity has a small mechanic that functions off of total character level, which nothing else in the game does aside from multiclass spell casting. Still, it enables you to raise a vampire spawn at a level which would be appropriate for it, and prestige classes are a little different anyway - I'm leaning towards saying it's probably okay. 
  • Overall feel. Does it feel solid, like it has meaningful progression? Let me know!
What I Learned:
  • Modularity is nice, but not when it comes at the expense of feeling like you're making progress. 
  • A player character conjuring a minion should be assumed to conjure a CR's worth of minions equal to 1/3 of their character level (based off of create undead and similar). Thus, a level 15 character should be able to conjure CR 5 worth of creatures, or one vampire spawn. 
  • All classes are "about" something. A prestige class needs to also be "about" something, and it has significantly less time and space to carry the same fluff weight a normal class has. 
  • Prestige classes are still really hard. =( =( =(

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Walrock Template v0.2 - More Toys, More Tools!

My last template was, as it turns out, really well-loved by a wide variety of homebrewers. 

That's always nice. So I made you another, updated template with better stuff.

As with the last template, be sure to do the following before using this:
  1. Read /u/skybug12's Mousefolk guide, which you can find here.
  2. Download and install these fonts and brushes.
After that, you can open up and use the template in Photoshop just fine.

This template includes the following:

Class Table

Class Table

Expanded Spells
(Full Caster)

Expanded Spells
(Half Caster)

Spell Formula

Spellcasting Table
(Third Caster)

Monster Stat Block

Optional Rule

Spell Formatting

Formatted Titles
and Text

Happy homebrewing!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Prestige Class: Vampire [Second Draft]

Prestige classes are complicated things.

Essentially, you're making an entirely new class in miniature, and expecting it to slot in near anywhere along another class' progression. Damage needs to be kept consistent with whichever class the PrC's levels will be replacing (which, ideally, is any of them), and the options afforded by the PrC have to be appealing without being imbalanced.

Basically: It's a massive pain in the ass. And yet, I love every second of it.

The Vampire is a perfect candidate for being a prestige class, being something that can apply to any character. This second draft aims to solve a few of the problems the rough draft presented, rounding out what the PrC offers and making it feel more substantial and fleshed out.

This is one of those times I fully expect to do several drafts. That in mind, let's look at our friend, the changelog.

What I Changed:

  • The vampire has actual vampire spells, with the Vampiric Arcana class feature. They're all basic utility things, none of which do combat damage, but it gives the vampire a spell progression and helps round out that aspect of the character.
  • Unlike anything else in 5e, you choose your casting stat out of Wisdom, Intelligence, and Charisma. From what I can tell, PrCs in 5e are supposed to be roughly stat-agnostic, so this keeps to that particular piece of design schema without breaking too much (or getting involved in the wonky "Spell Level + 12" saves that the Rune Scribe has).
  • Removed Minions of the Night, placed another Crimson Blessing at level 5 in its place. More streamlined, better use of features, and the Crimson Blessings are fun enough that this is a logical choice. 
  • Changed Vampiric Siring to keep you from raising a CR 13 monster because holy fuck what was I thinking.
  • Added the crimson blessings Masquerade and Vital Blood. 
  • Touched up verbage here and there, to keep things working well and making sense.
  • Does it do enough damage? Sanguine Strikes is very good at covering that particular gap, but the Vampire prestige class mostly contributes utility rather than raw combat power.
  • How does it feel? Does the prestige class feel right, for what it is?
What I Learned:
  • When making something from this much whole cloth, a million little mistakes pop up. It's good to have nit-picky eyes to help me spot them. 

Roguish Archetype: The Jester [Fourth Draft]

A fourth draft? Well, the confusing morass that was applying sneak attack damage to spells sure needed one, and so a fourth draft is what we've got!

I tightened up what needed tightening up, I fixed what was inelegant, and what we have now is a beautiful, fun archetype that synergizes very, very well with existing rogue mechanics.

And how does it do that, you ask? To the changelog!

What I Changed:

  • Harlequin's Mask no longer gives charm immunity. Rather, it gives you the ability to cast vicious mockery as a bonus action (thus intentionally competing with Cunning Action much as the Mastermind rogue does with the Help action). When cast in this way, vicious mockery deals no damage, thus keeping DPR similar.
  • Arcane Buffoonery and Jesting Magician now only grant three spells each, keeping your total arsenal of spells down to three (and then six) specific spells per short rest, that can each be cast once. 
  • Cruel Comedy has been completely reworked. It now additionally buffs vicious mockery, giving you advantage on your next attack after using it, thus allowing you to use vicious mockery to get sneak attack damage without directly applying the damage to the cantrip. The charm immunity of Harlequin's Mask now finds itself here, as charm immunity is much better as a 9th level feature in any case. 
  • I better damn well have this right after four drafts. 
What I Learned:
  • Keep It Simple, Stupid. I was trying to make the features more elaborate to shoehorn together two things that don't work. Rather, use what already exists more fully to make the new stuff function.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Roguish Archetype: The Jester [Third Draft]

With a third draft, I think the jester is finally either complete or very well nearing completion. Mechanically sound, balanced, and with abundant flavor, this definitely looks like a rogue archetype worth playing.

A lot changed in this draft, and not all of it obvious, so let's have a look at the changelog to see what's what:

What I Changed:

  • I used an entirely new template for this! Based off of the formatting I used on the Vampire PrC, the type is smaller and the headers are a closer match to what the PHB uses. Overall, it's cleaner and gives more room to add graphics and features while maintaining readability, which is always a good thing.
  • Fixed my Photoshop (finally) to allow for high-resolution PDFs. A great thing, which will mean I'll probably have to go back and high-resolution all of my previous work (a less great thing). 
  • I added faerie fire and feather fall to Arcane Buffoonery, and enthrall, mirror image, and misty step to Jesting Magician. I capped Arcane Buffoonery at "choose four spells," and Jesting Magician at "choose five" - one less than Jesting initially got, but the fact that you can choose from a list means it needed the minor rebalance. 
  • Cruel Comedy can now be used defensively as soon as you are the target of an attack. This means a gamble for the jester: Do you wager that the enemy is going to fail its Wisdom save, and then miss on its attack against you while it is suffering disadvantage, or do you expect that the enemy will make its save or hit regardless, and take the damage while using Uncanny Dodge to mitigate it? 
  • Cruel Comedy also has had the verbage changed up on the qualifiers for vicious mockery's sneak attack, which should make it come up more often. 
  • Cruel Comedy doesn't have the clearest, most intuitive verbage for the aforementioned sneak attack, but I truly believe it's about the best I could do. Making sneak attack apply to spells with saves is hard work. 

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Prestige Class: Vampire [ROUGH DRAFT]

In the latest Unearthed Arcana, it has been revealed that prestige classes are officially a thing in D&D 5e!

Well, un-officially. Sort of. The rune scribe sure looks cool, though.

In that vein, I emulated the rune scribe's design to make my own prestige class - something fitting the concept and the dark n' spooky holiday season that's almost upon us.

And so, I give you the Vampire prestige class. The longest and toughest project I've worked on to-date, and one that promises to involve even more work once you folks tear into it.


  • Vampiric strengths and weaknesses! Jump on people and drink their blood in pitch darkness, but stay the heck away from running water. 
  • Blood Points! A side resource that you drink blood to fill, and that you expend to fuel your vampiric powers. Just don't run out when you take a long rest. 
  • Build-your-own-vampire! Crimson Blessings allow you to mix and match different vampiric powers to make a unique vampire all your own!
  • SO MANY CONCERNS. Is it balanced? Does it work right? Is it not powerful enough / too powerful? This is the first thing I've made nearly from scratch - I really hope it works out. 
  • Crimson Blessings are all roughly balanced against one another, but there exists a possibility that some are strictly better than others. 
  • Vampiric Siring doesn't feel right just yet. It's a total fluff power, but still - something feels off about it. 
What I've Learned:
  • Prestige classes are hard.
  • Prestige classes are VERY hard.
  • Prestige classes are REALLY REALLY COOL. 

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Roguish Archetype: The Jester [Second Draft]

So, other than one major hiccup, the rough draft was mostly okay!

Well, as mostly-okay as rough drafts ever are. It had a bunch of bumps that needed ironing out, but iron them out I did, and we have a rather promising second draft before us.

So let's take a look at the changelog, then, to see why this is so much better.

What I Changed:

  • Midway through the rough draft, I changed Pratfall to Cruel Comedy. Pratfall almost perfectly emulated another core rogue feature, which didn't seem like anything close to good design, and so I changed it.
  • Cruel Comedy is designed to compete with Uncanny Dodge somewhat - when hit by an attack, you can decide whether to ignore half the damage or to cause minimal damage and disadvantage on the enemy's next attack. When taking damage from a spell, however, it's more of a no-brainer, and you can insult the asshole who hit you to your heart's content. 
  • I streamlined Cruel Comedy from the rough draft - instead of emulating vicious mockery, it now just casts vicious mockery. This is a trade-off, as it decreases the damage done from 1d10 to 1d4, but it also has a massive buff because...
  • Cruel Comedy now allows you to apply Sneak Attack damage to vicious mockery once per short rest. This can function off a standard casting, or the revenge-casting that Cruel Comedy provides. 
  • Jesting Magician now buffs the spell slot level of spells cast from Arcane Buffoonery to 2nd level - which is nice for color spray, and not much else. 
  • Included a sidebar on the last page directly addressing the multiclassing spell slot weirdness. 
  • Spell progression here is still weird, which makes sense because I've been doing weird things with the archetype. I don't think it's terribly unbalanced, though - you may get extra spells, but only four with any direct combat application, and your spell level caps at 2nd level rather than 4th. 
  • Other than that, not much. I think this archetype is good to ship!
What I've Learned:
  • Roguish Archetypes are weird. Unlike paladin oaths and warlock otherworldly patrons and pacts, rogues have most of their combat potential stored in core features of the class that cannot be directly altered, really. Thus, roguish archetypes are great for flavoring the core experience of being a rogue, which is essentially what they do in canon materials. 
  • It's really, really fucking hard to find pictures of high fantasy festivals. Seriously, try it. It's even more bananas than finding a non-sexy female necromancer. 

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Roguish Archetype: The Jester [ROUGH DRAFT]

It's not a warlock! It's not even a paladin!

It's a rogue! Or, really, it's a Jester.

The Jester was a fan-favorite of 3.5, a comical magical rogue who utilized tricks, arcane know-how, and grease paint to entertain, beguile, and frequently annoy both friends and foes alike.

There was some hullabaloo from people involved with 5e about the Jester early on in its production run, and seeing it as a genuine subclass in the core rules seemed like a possibility. Sadly, though, this was not in the cards, which brings us to this offering, here and now.


  • Charisma-based spellcasting similar to the inherent magic some races get. No spell slots here, just spells that you can cast once per short rest. 
  • Being clumsy to escape damage: it's not a bug, it's a feature.
  • Burns so sick they hurt your enemies' brains. 
  • Face-paint and high-level death avoidance.
  • Roguish Archetype design schema is kinda weird. Most archetypes (including the new Mastermind) follow a two-combat / three-utility delineation of class features, regardless of the level those features are awarded at. However, Swashbuckler and Arcane Trickster break this hard, themselves having only one utility and four combat powers. In the end, I shrugged my shoulders, said "meh," and attempted to have almost every feature in this archetype have both a utility and a combat purpose. 
  • Multiclassing with this is inherently weird. Unlike the 1/3 caster options like Arcane Trickster, this has no spell slots, and the spells are cast entirely as a function of class features. Therefore I'd consider this not even a fraction of a caster option when determining multiclass spell slots - it's zero caster. 
  • Arcane Buffoonery and Jesting Magician give more spells than you'd normally have at your equivalent level of Arcane Trickster - however, you have no choice in which spells you receive, and ultimately get less spells overall. 
  • I considered allowing vicious mockery to synergize with sneak attack, because that'd make some amount of thematic sense, but decided against it on the grounds that it might break the game in unexpected ways. So: would it?