Thursday, December 14, 2017

Otherworldly Patron: The Monstrosity [ROUGH DRAFT]


Download a selectable-text, printsafe version here!

Well, that took a surprising amount of time!

First, sorry for the small hiatus. December took me by storm, and managed to upset my carefully-laid plans. However! We're back on track, and starting off all that is the Monstrosity, a patron I've made as a Christmas gift for a friend of mine, with whom I share a long and enduring love of films with giant rubbery Japanese monsters smashing models and cardboard cities.

In the world(s) of D&D, a monstrosity is something kaiju-like. Think of the tarrasque, neothelids, purple worms, and similar, monsters both immense and apocalyptic, terrifying portents of nature's wrath.

A pact is struck with these creatures not typically with their consent. Similar to a Great Old One pact, the monster may not even have knowledge that the pact has been struck, but rather the warlock draws on the beast's power through consuming its magically-imbued blood, offspring, or essence.

What destructive tricks does this kaiju-caster have? That leads us to:

FEATURES:

  • Unleash your Destructive Potential to damage anything, anywhere!
  • Frighten your enemies with a Monstrous Roar, as a bonus action OR a reaction.
  • Transform into a nightmarish Monstrosity Spawn, tear up the town, and probably never get invited back. 
  • Customize your monster form and give it the terrifying visage that suits your patron.
CONCERNS:
  • Balance is questionable with Unstoppable Rage and Spawn of the Monstrosity. 
  • I feel like there may overall be a better way of implementing Spawn of the Monstrosity. 
  • Word of Ruin involves casting a buffed 6th-level spell once per long rest, which isn't something other invocations do. I don't think it's imbalanced, per se, but it's definitely a concern. 
WHAT I LEARNED:
  • If you hit a bump in the road and have to slow down, that's fine, just keep going! Homebrew rests for no one. 

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Otherworldly Patron: The Fathom Horror [Third Draft]


Download a selectable-text, printsafe version here!

After I released both the Fathom Horror and the latest draft of the Ancient Dragon, I had a gradual realization that this material was the least future-proofed it could be. As can be seen in earlier drafts of both patrons, invocations found in Unearthed Arcana had changed the face of how certain warlocks functioned and their power level, and I attempted to accommodate those changes in the material I produced.

Ultimately, I decided just not to touch either option until Xanathar's Guide to Everything came out and included the finalized version of those UA options. What followed was a grueling waiting game on my part, both for Xanathar's, and to see how its invocation options were inevitably received.

Now that some of the hubbub around the new book has died down, I finally feel comfortable in continuing the revision cycle on these warlock options. The Fathom Horror is first up, because I love it so dang much, but expect the Ancient Dragon to be close behind!

All that in mind, let's see what all this time waiting led me to change:

CHANGELOG:

  • Jellify has been tweaked slightly, to keep the ooze it creates from being able to eat metal.
  • Removed Anchor of Drowned Sailors and Aquatic Adaptation invocations, as both conflicted with new material present in Xanathar's.
  • Anchor of Drowned Sailors is now a sidebar rule, synergizing with Improved Pact Weapon found in Xanathar's. 
  • Young Sea Drake has been rebalanced, tweaking its HP, making its Torrent Breath an at-will ability, and allowing it to share its Marine Camouflage with whoever it is riding. 
  • All invocations have been made patron-agnostic, meaning that any warlock with the right features can now use these invocations!
CONCERNS:
  • Still unsure of how the young sea drake feels. Monster math has always been a weakpoint of mine.
WHAT I LEARNED:
  • When a class' whole game is about to change, maybe wait before releasing content for it. That's why I still haven't released a single ranger option. =/

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Roguish Archetype: The Archaeologist [Third Draft]



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Sometimes, with the content I produce, things get lost in the shuffle. Good, flavorful options fall behind and don't get updated properly, and don't quite get to that finished-n'-polished stage I like to have my whole library at.

The Archaeologist rogue was definitely one of those options. As strong with flavor as it was, it never quite got to where I was happy with it. I kept coming at it, revising it, and giving up, because I just couldn't seem to make it work. 

So when a Walrock-level Patreon backer (thanks @DrMoradin!) asked me to revise this option, I knew what I had to do:

I gutted 90% of this option, and started over fresh!

I've learned a lot of things about making class options function well recently, and I've put everything I've learned to work here on this project. As it stands now, the Archaeologist is fully functional, well-flavored, and likely will be a treat to play. 

CHANGELOG:

  • Field Training has been modified slightly, giving a slower climbing speed that scales with existing climbing speeds.
  • Intelligent Combat is now Explorer's Tricks, using a number of points equal to your INT mod + 1, that confer mostly non-combat benefits as rewards for being a researcher!
  • The Ruin Researcher feature, a similarly non-combat feature, which grants a level of archaeology-type knowledge whenever you want to spend your short rest studying a ruin that you find yourself in. 
  • Get out of a bad spot with Fortune's Favor, and spend those handy explorer's points to dodge some nasty nat 1's!
  • Paragon of Adventure has been fully reworked, and how provides all the explorer's points you could ever need, every short rest.
CONCERNS:
  • Lots of changes means at least a few bugs. Always.
  • Explorer's Tricks are powerful, but their usage is few and far between. I wonder how they'd feel in actual play. 
  • Fortune's Favor might not be powerful enough? Or could it be too powerful, with a full INT mod and Paragon of Adventure?
WHAT I LEARNED:
  • As much as it hurts, if it's not working, sometimes you just have to throw out what you've made and start over.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Stronghold Expansion: Patreon Rooms [ROUGH DRAFT]



November's Patreon-backer reward is here!

This month, I made a collection of five new rooms for Strongholds, all which have been requested multiple times by fans and followers. And, not to pat myself on the back too hard, but these are some of my favorite rooms so far, having really cool themes and being applicable to a wide variety of strongholds. So far, we have:

FEATURES:

  • The Maze: A great way to get your enemies lost! Feeding to a minotaur or other monster is optional.
  • The Meditation Chamber: Cool off, relax, and get some extra ki while you're at it. 
  • The Portal Conflux: Ever wanted a series of wormholes to transport you wherever you please? Well, now it's yours. 
  • The Safe Room: The world outside is a scary place, but you don't have to be there! Find perfect safety in a hidden room made of solid mithril that contains all the amenities of life.
  • The Topiary Garden: Human servants got you down? Grow your own! And then, as an added bonus, glue them together Voltron-style to make a giant attack tree!
CONCERNS:

  • Maze is pretty good, but it's also very situational. Were it not for that last point, it'd definitely be worth 2 room points. 
  • The Safe Room and Topiary Garden may have hidden side effects living in their verbage. Probably not, but editing is appreciated!
WHAT I LEARNED:

  • I've got a lot more strongholds content left in me! I've got a great idea for a much larger expansion, but that'll come later on. 

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Stronghold Expansion: Bastions of Eldritch Power [ROUGH DRAFT]



Download a selectable-text, printsafe version here!

Surprising no one: people like Strongholds! In fact, people like it enough that they've used Patreon to commission even more Strongholds content from me.

So if it's what the people want, well, I just gotta make more of it. Thanks to IceAssassin77, a Walrock-level backer, for requesting this work!

We started off thinking: What if warlocks had strongholds that centered around their themes? Not necessarily "evil," but certainly cult-ish and otherworldly, a place where forgotten powers could contact the Prime Material and bleed over into more mundane planes of existence. And so, we added two new structures, some associated rooms, new hire-able minions, and some related items!

What specifically got added? Well:

FEATURES:

  • New Structures: The towering Ziggurat and the elusive Coven, enabling you to work your magics in as secretive or obvious a manner as you see fit.
  • New Rooms: Invocation Chamber and Illusory Shroud, which call out to the eldritch powers for aid, or hide your structure entirely from prying eyes. 
  • New Hirelings: Cultists and Cult Fanatics, just in case you're a charismatic individual looking to make a compound in the middle of the hinterlands.
  • New Optional Rule: Rituals and Sacrifices, enabling you to use cultists, spellcaster hirelings, and sacrifices to empower your ritual spells. 
  • New Items: Mordenkainen's Mystical Model and the Rings of Rooms, giving your structures a pair of helpful, magical dodads. 
CONCERNS:
  • The Invocation Chamber is pretty good, for what it is. I'm wondering if it should be made into a 2 room point Room (with the Ziggurat adjusted accordingly). 
  • The Cultists and Rituals optional rule is very all-encompassing, while attempting to be flexible. I'm sure there's something this rule might be able to break that I haven't thought of yet. 
  • The wording on the new items has to be pretty elaborate, because neither of the items does just one simple thing. I'm wondering if there's a way to streamline that. 
WHAT I LEARNED:
  • Smaller, piecemeal Strongholds expansions are a lot of fun to make! I should see if I can't make another of these sometime soon. ;)

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Martial Archetype: Dragoon [Fourth Draft]



Download a selectable-text, printsafe version here!

November looks like it'll be a month for mostly revisions, with a few new promising pieces of new content coming out. Xanathar's Guide to Everything will be out (very) soon, and I'm going to wait a little bit before releasing anything that might conflict with its new rules.

However! I've got a good backlog of projects like the dragoon that are just begging for revision. After releasing it last month, I felt so incredibly close to having the dragoon complete, fully formed and ready to use, so I just had to revise it again as soon as I could. With the witch out of the way (for the moment), that time is now!

I'm really happy where this one has ended up, aside from the fact that I'm barely able to fit its rules in two pages. Still, minor complaints compared to how this has shaped up.

Special thanks to Vileo Sufora and Marc Darville for giving me some very valuable balance insight on the last draft, couldn't have done this without you guys!

CHANGELOG:

  • "Uses of Dragonslaying" is now "dragonslaying points," because, while I took some convincing, that's just much more clear in the end.
  • Aspirant Step now requires a bonus action, and Avoidance requires a reaction, to make them eat in important ways at the action economy.
  • Avoidance now works on certain CON saving throws, allowing you to use it on all forms of dragon breath.
  • Syntax changes which, while not exciting, are very important all the same!
CONCERNS:
  • A lot of tiny fiddly bits where changed this draft. I'm hoping I didn't accidentally break something.
WHAT I LEARNED:
  • All in all, fighter options are easier to balance than I originally thought. It's easy to despair at something when you don't know its balance math, but when you know where to look and what to look for, it ends up becoming pretty simple. 

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Class: The Witch [ROUGH DRAFT]



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Man oh man, have I been looking forward to releasing this.

Just in time for Halloween, spooky/scary month culminates with the Witch, the first full class I've ever released! An impressive endeavor clocking in at 14 pages of content and three full subclasses, the witch joins the ranks of Strongholds and Merchants as one of the larger projects I've ever worked on.

The witch weaves both natural magic and the arcane, carrying on a magical tradition that harkens back to the first casters to receive magic from the gods. A witch can curse or heal, dispense potions, fly on brooms, animate their house to walk on chicken legs, and much, much more!

Let's see if I can't list off everything this class does:

FEATURES:

  • Casts with INT or WIS, enabling you to play either an academic or a wild witch!
  • Jinxes! Magical effects halfway between Invocations and Channel Divinities.
  • Make potions with Brewcraft and Imbue Potion, two companion features for all your potable needs.
  • Dark Moon, Full Moon, and Half Moon Coven subclasses, focusing on cursing and stealth, healing and inspiring, and trickery and illusions, respectively!
  • Familiars as a core feature, with increased durability and the capacity to sass-talk their witch.
CONCERNS:
  • Oh, so, so many. Where to start?
  • Is INT/WIS casting a good idea?
  • Are jinxes roughly balanced, against one another and in general?
  • Is the Beast Skin jinx too derivative of the druid's Wild Shape? 
  • Are the number of spells per day right? They're midway between sorcerers and wizards, but still!
  • The spell list seems large, but is smaller than the wizard and missing some of their more esoteric spells. Is that reasonable?
  • Are all the various subclass features balanced roughly against each other?
  • Is Light of the Half Moon too powerful for what it is?
  • Is Dream-Eater too similar to the GOO warlock's level 14?
  • Is the idea of 1 free subclass spell per long rest a good or bad idea?
  • Does the class do a good job of capturing flavor?
WHAT I LEARNED:
  • Building a class is exponentially harder than a subclass in every single way. I can see why Wizards sticks to subclasses, most days of the week. 

Friday, October 20, 2017

Divine Domain: Winter [Fourth Draft]



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Winter is coming! And I can't believe it took me until the fourth draft of this to drop a Game of Thrones reference.

The Winter cleric, like the Dragoon fighter, has always been a fan-favorite that nevertheless didn't end up where I really wanted it to be. Certain abilities seemed weaker or less compelling than they should be, but the flavor and concept were strong enough to give it a lasting, endearing quality.

It wasn't a huge surprise, then, when our first Walrock-level backer on Patreon requested a revision of this domain (and another subclass, coming later)! I've always been meaning to get back to it, so I put Spooky/Scary month on hold for one project, dusted this option off, and took a fourth crack at getting it right.

So thanks @DrMoradin for requesting this project! It's been a surprising amount of fun to revise, and it was great to have your playtesting feedback to draw upon as I did so.

And if you, too, want to become a patron, you can always do so by clicking the button on the sidebar. Or the identical one right here:

Become a Patron!

Now, let's see exactly what I did:

CHANGELOG:

  • Swapped Armor of Agathys with Fog Cloud on the spell list, as AoA got very broken at spell levels higher than 5th. 
  • Cold Snap has received significant changes. This ability is now a bonus action instead of an action, is a 5-foot radius AoE instead of single target, and no longer removes the target's ability to take actions on a failed save. 
  • Rime has received a small buff, as the ability was somewhat lackluster before, but now also causes its targets to take your WIS modifier in extra damage from attacks until the end of your next turn. 
  • Blizzard has been reworked, now scaling in damage off of storm of vengeance. Blizzard now incorporates this math as well as the improved Rime. 
CONCERNS:
  • The verbage may be a little long-winded in places, might need to stealth-edit some of that later. 
WHAT I LEARNED:
  • Now's probably a great time to do a whole slew of revisions. Especially considering all the rough drafts I just released!

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Our Patreon is now live!


Thanks to all your encouragement and effort, we've finally been able to launch our Patreon!

Patreon is a very important platform for our work, allowing us to use more of our time to continue homebrewing, working on the larger projects like Strongholds and Merchants that our community loves so much.

You can become our patron by clicking on this button, or on the other Become a Patron button that now lives on our sidebar:

Become a Patron!

As a reward for new subscribers, we offer nine additional background options as a complement to those already included in the Player's Handbook, giving players the ability to be anything from Minions to Madmen, Fey-Snatched to bonafide Lawyers!


This content is only available on our Patreon, as will be other future subscriber-only content. Planned for next month: new Stronghold room options, available to subscribers!

And again, our deepest appreciation for allowing us to get to this point. Your support and enthusiasm really, truly mean the world to us, and we'll keep making quality D&D homebrew for as long as you keep enjoying it. 

Friday, October 13, 2017

Primal Path: The Slasher [ROUGH DRAFT]



Happy Friday the 13th, everyone!

Spooky/scary month continues with my first-ever option for the barbarian, the Slasher! A horrifying reaver powered by the dark energies of death, the Slasher is compelled to murder innocents that stray to the wrong parts of the world. An almost-definitely evil character, the slasher has many features that harken back to a certain well-known murderer I probably shouldn't name for copyright reasons.

Now where's that list of class options I haven't done yet? Oh, yes:

BarbarianRanger, Sorcerer, Wizard

FEATURES:

  • Grapple while you rage as a bonus action or reaction, and hold close those who would probably like to get far, far away.
  • Sense the blood of your victims, and find them where ever they may hide. 
  • Teleport to where they least expect you and burst forth effortlessly from within hiding spaces.
  • Just. Never. Die. Keep coming back when you really should be dead.
CONCERNS:
  • The grapple/fear synergy is probably too strong. Any ways of weakening it while remaining true to the theme?
  • Shadowmorph might need to be more concise.
  • Unkillable may be too powerful, but it seems like it's probably fine. Having ~10 hit points is probably not going to keep you up forever. 
WHAT I LEARNED:
  • I actually started this off as a fighter option before thinking, wait, why wouldn't this be a barbarian? It's surprisingly easy to port options between those two classes. 

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Race: Scarecrow [ROUGH DRAFT]



Halloween is here!

Well, in 23 days, depending on when you're reading this.

In any case, this month is the perfect time for me to develop some spooky/scary character options. Previous years, I've done the Awakened Undead and the Vampire. This year, Scarecrows (and maybe something else secret, if I can get around to it)!

Scarecrows, as with their representation in the Monster Manual, are living spirits bound to constructs of wood and hay, created by nefarious practitioners of the Old Ways of magic. Used as dispensable minions, scarecrows naturally become unbound from the will of their masters upon their masters' death. Now animated abominations that wander the world, scarecrows often find some small solace in the ability to achieve a perfect disguise as an ordinary, inanimate version of themselves.

FEATURES:

  • Lore, names, and backstory! All the elements of a well-rounded race writeup.
  • Frighten your enemies with a glance. If it works on crows, it should work on orcs. 
  • Modified Living Construct feature, to illustrate with more clarity what does and does not work on the character. 
  • Never, ever worry about disease or poison, but you should probably worry about fire. 
CONCERNS:
  • Though I previously gave the same feature to ghouls under the Awakened Undead, I'm still concerned that Claws may be a little much. The alternative would be to give proficiency in the sickle, and make the sickle count as a finesse weapon.
  • I can't tell if the benefits this race receive are too weighty. Race balance is still hard for me.
WHAT I LEARNED:
  • Spooky/Scary month is apparently a thing now. Figures that my favorite time of year should have some of my favorite content!

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Martial Archetype: Dragoon [Third Draft]



It's back by popular demand, and refitted with new features!

I actually revisited this one specifically because several people asked me to over Twitter (@WalrockHomebrew). I've been meaning to do so for a little while, but I had a lot on my plate to sort through until I saw that the demand was there.

Fighter Martial Archetypes are something I've always had a bit of trouble with. There's little uniformity in terms of features, and it's hard to draw a meaningful, consistent power level from the provided spread.

So, I experiment. Over and over and over again. And eventually, maybe, I get it perfectly right.

This might not be one of those times; I did add a whole lot of moving parts here, after all.

You know the drill by now. Find all the broken bits, and I'll fix 'em up.

(special thanks to @DrMoradin for helping me suss out what to do with this one, and providing invaluable playtest feedback!)

CHANGELOG:

  • Aspirant Step has been reworked into three different abilities, loosely modeled on the Battle-Master's superiority dice!
  • Wing Clip your enemies to bring those pesky fliers down to your level.
  • Dodge that dragon's breath with Avoidance, and even ignore that half-damage-on-a-miss that lingers around. 
  • Replaced Ascendant Strike with Always Ready, adding some much-needed flavor and rolling its benefits into making Aspirant Step initially more enticing. 
  • Needle of Heaven no longer shoots you 400 feet in the air, which got pretty wacky. Instead, you can wombo-combo an Aspirant Step and Wing Clip with it. 
CONCERNS:
  • Some of the phrasing is pretty convoluted, and I'm betting there's a more elegant way to put a lot of what I wrote.
  • I added the balance math of the "Improved Combat Superiority" feature to the core Dragonslaying feature, but still have features at the levels ICS functions at. However, this archetype doesn't have the additional maneuvers (for a total of 9 instead of this archetype's 3) that are normally granted to a Battle-Master, so I'm hoping that evens out. 
WHAT I LEARNED:
  • I always try to have my ear to the ground and do stuff people will enjoy. Turns out, Twitter is great for that. 

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Druid Circle: Circle of the City [ROUGH DRAFT]



Completed classes I have yet to generate a subclass for:

Barbarian, Druid, Ranger, Sorcerer, Wizard

One down, four to go!

A really interesting thing about subclasses in 5e is the very different conceptual space each of them take up. A rogue, for example, mostly gets abilities in their subclasses that work to further the fluff of being a rogue, as the majority of their crunch and damage progression comes from the class itself.

Dramatically less so with the druid. Most of what makes up a Druid Circle is entirely crunch, with fluff taking a back seat. Indeed, most of a druid's progression beyond base spellcasting and cantrips comes from their choice of circle, be that damage progression from the Land's spell slots, Moon's forms, or Twilight's damage scaling, or healing progression as with the Dream's definitely-not-lay-on-hands.

One of the trickier parts of formulating a druid is inserting fluff alongside necessary crunch. A Druid Circle may have fluff, but it also absolutely has to have a Thing It Does that no other Druid Circle does. So much of the design space in terms of crunch is already well-occupied, leading one to have to be pretty creative when making an entirely new type of druid.

FEATURES:

  • Have a street-based familiar, including pigeons and raccoons! No one should have to face the mean streets of a city by their lonesome. 
  • Use your familiar to fortify your allies, but good luck convincing the party cleric to let a raccoon climb all over her. 
  • City-based spellcasting, giving you an assortment of city spells, similar to what a land druid receives.
  • Push through crowds effortlessly, and take the faces of those you have seen. Not in a literal sense, more in an expend-two-uses-of-wild-shape sense.
  • Be one with the city itself, and learn to commune with it as you would nature. 
CONCERNS:
  • Some of this is intentionally derivative of the Land druid, as I intended this as a sort of counterpoint to its wild-based magic. Don't want it to be too much of a knock-off, though.
  • The pigeon's Natural Messenger ability may be a little powerful, but eyeballing it I don't find it to be much worse than a raven's mimicry. 
WHAT I LEARNED:
  • A whole lot, actually. Designing druids is very difficult for similar reasons as wizards, because what has already been done with the class crunch-wise (including UA) is already very comprehensive, but there's still a little wiggle-room left that can be elaborated upon.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Roguish Archetype: The Daggermaster [ROUGH DRAFT]



Unsurprisingly, it's been a busy time for me and new content. When I take a hiatus, I usually generate a backlog of ideas that I come up with, half-finish, and then move on from before completing, because that's just kind of how my mind works. When I get back to work on my homebrew, then, it usually becomes a pretty simple task to complete my assortment of half-done ideas, give them a proper treatment, and produce some new content.

The daggermaster was a paragon path in 4e and a prestige class in 3.5, and both times (naturally) focused on using daggers to their fullest potential. In 3.5, 4e, and 5e, a dagger is usually an inferior weapon to use, strictly speaking, its utility in 5e coming mostly from the thrown property, making it an effective offhand weapon for when an enemy is just out of reach, and honestly not much else.

One of the popular conceptions of the rogue class is a character with a daggers in both hands, which is odd considering that such a build is usually suboptimal. The daggermaster has traditionally been the answer to this: part mechanical solution, part carnival knife-thrower, and part person-who-is-way-too-into-their-knives, the daggermaster has been a fan favorite in both editions immediately before 5e.

And now, with luck, I might be able to produce a viable 5e version of this beloved classic.

FEATURES:

  • Use daggers for everything! Say goodbye to your thieves' tools, you won't be needing them.
  • Trickshot anything you see, from the apple on someone's head to the sword in their hand. 
  • Two-Weapon Fight, but only with daggers because we need to make sure you're not just using this as a convenient 3-level dip. 
  • Hide knives anywhere you feel like, no one will ever find them. 
  • Strike with incredible accuracy, from far, far away! Give your daggers slightly better range than a hand crossbow.
CONCERNS:
  • This has a lot front-loaded at 3rd level, but most of what's there are ribbons aside from Two-Weapon Fighting and the trickshot disarm. Not sure how much that matters.
  • Unerring Precision is very good. I crunched the numbers though, and it does about as much as a dual-wielding thief rogue. Less up-front, but it catches up by the 5th round of combat. 
WHAT I LEARNED:
  • It's nice to do something simple and knife-y after making new invocations, spells, and all those bizarre sea-themed warlock features. 

Monday, September 25, 2017

@WalrockHomebrew is now on Twitter!

In the interest of letting you all know about the newest homebrew as soon as it happens, Walrock Homebrew is now on Twitter!

Expect periodic updates whenever new content goes live, as well as occasional asides about the goings-on of the homebrew community and D&D 5e in general.

Follow us (@WalrockHomebrew) today by clicking this link!

And don't be afraid to @ me, I always love getting questions, comments, and critique.

Roguish Archetype: The Shadow-Weaver [Third Draft]



Man, have I not thought about this one in a while. One of my favorite roguish archetypes (along with the ninja), and definitely one of the ones most in need of a rework.

One of the fortunate/unfortunate things about doing this for as long as I have is that I learn so much about how things are balanced. Eventually, I start seeing the glaring mistakes earlier on, and either have to whistle and pretend they don't exist, or sigh mightily, go back, and start revising them.

What IS handy, though, is this allows me to update to more modern templates I have developed, standardizing the look of my material while I rework it from the ground up.

So how did everyone's favorite shadow-assassin-counterpoint-to-the-arcane-trickster change in this most recent iteration? Well...

CHANGELOG:

  • Doubled the length of the Shadowy Organization table, and fixed some of the sillier choices. Sorry, members of the Venom Cave.
  • Added Phantasmal Force to the spell list, because why wasn't that there before.
  • Shrouds are no longer a smite-type ability, and instead act as a vehicle to confer Sneak Attack. Less potent than before, but also more in-line with how rogues typically scale. 
  • Heart of Darkness is now Eyes in the Dark, because Heart of Darkness honestly didn't do much. It was one of those ideas that sounded better in my head, and EitD gives a good little bit of fun utility not represented by the spell list. 
  • Black Agony is now Deathly Shroud, because the idea of calling in shrouds for damage needed to be represented somehow. Deathly Shroud strikes me as a more thematic ability than Black Agony's "hey you do extra damage," anyhow. 
CONCERNS:
  • I basically changed everything except Gloomstride, so there's liable to be some mistakes in there. That's just how it goes, really.
WHAT I LEARNED:
  • Dang did I used to have a real problem letting images collide with text. Now every time I see that, it annoys the pants off of me. Revision revision revision!

Friday, September 22, 2017

Race: Awakened Undead [Fourth Draft]


Available on the DM's Guild (pay what you want) at this link!

The dead rise yet again! Just like this blog, really.

This time, they come with reinforcements in the form of two additional subraces, plenty of rules-tweaks, and updated DM's Guild friendly public domain artwork!

Lots to love here, so why don't we take a look at what's different.

CHANGELOG:

  • The Bloodless feature is now a core race feature, because that made much more sense. 
  • Revenant's Unnatural Vitality got a buff, no longer requiring death saving throws and instead functioning off the presence of temporary hit points. 
  • Ghost's Withering Touch has been nerfed, taking away the CON-mod bonus, so very sorry, ghost monks.
  • Ghosts now have resistance to being grappled, because have you ever tried to hug a ghost?
  • Ghouls have been added! Bringing with them two different flavors of natural weapon and an ability/unfortunate compulsion to feed. 
  • Mummies have also been added! With an additional feat it you really want to cuuuuuuuurse your foes.
CONCERNS:
  • Most of these races still trend fairly strong, though they're definitely less powerful than a good deal of what Volo's offers. Looking directly at you, Yuan-Ti Pureblood. 
WHAT I LEARNED:
  • A few nifty Photoshop tips and tricks to make the art work better together, and that it's almost certainly time to bring some subclasses onto the DM's Guild as well!

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Otherworldly Patron: The Fathom Horror [Second Draft]



This one's been kicking around in my head for a long time. Way, WAY before I did the Codex of Waves, which I honestly half-did to support this (and another) project.

It's very satisfying then to be able to finally revise it and make it into a version I'd allow in games. Doubly so because this patron also has elements of me experimenting with Unearthed Arcana modifications to the warlock, like the Eldritch Smite invocation for the Pact of the Blade, and my figuring out of what the answer to that should be for the chain pact.

All in all, I find it in a pretty nice place. The balance of it feels just about as it should, though I'm certainly not the best judge of that. Look it over and give me your thoughts, same as always, and we can make it even better.

CHANGELOG:

  • Pelagic Tentacle now says what it does with flying/falling creatures, and includes an addendum to let you use it to give your falling friends a slimy, extradimensional hand.
  • Brine has been made overall more useful, with the original effect being transitioned into a bonus of sorts. 
  • Jellify now gives you a grey ooze friend if you kill someone with it, so go out and murder your way into having a lil' slime buddy today. 
  • Anchor of Drowned Sailors applies benefits to ALL pact weapons, making it more versatile and a direct competitor with Eldritch Smite. Technically you could double up both invocations, which is great I guess if you want to blow all your spell slots in one round. 
  • The Young Sea Drake has been retuned, giving it a knockback breath and almost-invisibility, neither of which cost spell slots. 
  • Verbage tweaks for two spells, for clarity. Not exciting, but probably important!
CONCERNS:
  • I think the balance on Brine is solid, but it may be situationally very powerful. I don't think that's important enough to make it outright overpowered, though. 
  • The sea drake is essentially a pseudodragon + warlock scaling, escape abilities, and almost invisibility. I'm hoping it's useful enough in its present state to warrant an invocation. 
WHAT I LEARNED:
  • Changing these spells kinda sucks, because now I have to go back and change them in the Codex of Waves as well. Grumble grumble grumble.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Otherworldly Patron: The Ancient Dragon [Third Draft]



Always wanted to update this one. Got into a conversation the other day that got me thinking about it, and it just kind of went from there.

One thing I didn't like about the v0.2 of this patron option was that it tried too hard to be dragon-agnostic, creating a spell list that attempted to address every type of dragon possible. What it generated was something of a bland mess that had a lot of holes and no central feel.

So, I made six spell lists instead, one for each damage type of dragon (almost; acid and poison have to share).

It was a huge pain in the butt. I hated it from a simplicity-in-design standpoint. But it was the right call, I think, to preserve the feeling of this patron.

But, of course, that's not the only thing that got changed. Changelog!

CHANGELOG:

  • Diversified and reformed the spell list(s), trying to keep a central idea of dragon-ness while showing deviation across the various dragon-types.
  • Moved Ancient's Breath (now Breath of the Ancients) to 1st level, and included a note saying that yes, dragonborn can and will have two different flavors of breath.
  • Added Dragonscales at level 6, a shield type ability that does what I was trying to make shield do, without costing a spell slot. 
  • Reworked Blood of Dragons making it less dependent on coming into contact with a specific type of damage. 
  • Minor reworks to Draconic Apotheosis, to make it function with the new Blood of Dragons and Breath of the Ancients.
  • Added Invocations, including the much-loved dragon chest, small buffs to the Pact of the Chain pseudodragon, a Pact of the Blade weapon, and more!
CONCERNS:
  • I'm not sure of the damage ramp on Breath of the Ancients, could use another look. 
  • Blood of Dragons may be too good, and also, is it clear? Could also use a look.
  • The pseudodragon invocation (Dragonling) may have unintended consequences, maybe?
  • Giving heavy armor to warlocks is probably an okay call, given that this invocation matches numbers with Armor of Shadows pretty well, but I'd still like to have Knight of the Beyond be looked at. 
WHAT I LEARNED:
  • Usually, it's worth doing the big, stupid, extra-work-pain-in-the-ass thing to preserve flavor.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Expanded and Exotic Weapons [Sixth Draft]


Available on the DM's Guild (pay what you want) at this link!

The thing about making an expanded weapons list is it can (and will) just keep expanding as new ideas come up. I guarantee this sucker will be just about as long as the Strongholds project when I'm done with it. But for now, I'm happy that I can squeeze it in to four action-packed pages of content, all done up in public domain artwork and ready for the DM's Guild.

Six whole drafts, though! Can you believe it? I sure can't.

So let's see what got changed.

CHANGELOG:

  • DM's Guild compliant public domain artwork!
  • Minor tweak for trading expanded weapon proficiencies: the traded weapons must have the same damage dice.
  • Brass knuckles are back in! Just about as good as a light hammer, without connecting to unarmed combat rules in any way (it's for the best, really).
  • Added a special property for the sword sheath allowing it to be drawn with the same object interaction as the sword it's paired with.
  • Changed the sap, yet again. Less rolling (hopefully) means more fun.
  • Added the spiked shield and the monk's spade to the exotic weapon list! Both have been widely requested, so it's good to have them on there. 
  • Added magical version of the monk's spade, the spiked shield, and the spiked chain as a little bit of bonus content.
CONCERNS:
  • Spiked shield does some wacky things vis-a-vis AC and being wielded as a weapon primarily. I'm pretty sure that's okay because it costs a feat, though. 
  • I'm unsure of the balance on the monk's spade, with its bonus action shove. Could use some more eyes on that. 
  • Sap is always a little wacky, but I love it so it has to be in. I blame the Thief series of computer games.
WHAT I LEARNED:
  • Everything's an ongoing project. I just wish adding new content didn't raise so many balance concerns. 

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Otherworldly Patron: The Fathom Horror [ROUGH DRAFT]



I'm not dead yet!

It's been a while, but I'm back with a brand-new warlock patron option. Before my long and unplanned hiatus, this was one of the things I was looking forward to the most, and (in fact) part of the reason I developed the Codex of Waves in the first place.

First, though: apologies for the absence. Life has twists and turns, and homebrew (sadly, much as I love it) is usually the first thing to end up on the back burner. If I'm on hiatus in the future, I'll do a much better job of labeling it as such, as I had more than a few concerned messages asking me if I was physically alright during my time gone.

While gone, my DM's Guild presence grew surprisingly. Both Merchants and the core Strongholds options have become Electrum best-sellers, putting them in the top 1.3% of most-sold content on the DM's Guild. Now, as they're pay-what-you-want, that doesn't mean I'm necessarily selling them for anything above $0, but it's still nice to know that they've become very widely-used and well-reviewed rulesets.

But enough about things that aren't this warlock, I'm sure you're all very interested to hear the intricacies of forming a pact with the nightmares beneath the waves. Here's the features list, then:

FEATURES:

  • Class features that epitomize the grossest parts of undersea life, from conjuring horrid tentacles to transmuting your foes into sea jelly. 
  • All-new invocations based on the Warlocks and Wizards Unearthed Arcana, allowing you access to near-infinite treasure maps and the ability to bean your foes with an enormous anchor. 
  • Spells directly from Codex of Waves, referenced here for your convenience.
CONCERNS:
  • Lots of points of balance that might be wacky. I'm primarily unconcerned with the spells because I've had them looked at so much already, but the long-term effects of Brine and Jellify might need a critical eye.
  • I did a couple new things with invocations here. I'm not sure if that's good or bad, but Sea Serpent and Anchor of Drowned Sailors could definitely use a look.
WHAT I LEARNED:
  • Let people know I'm not dead before I go on hiatus next time. Whoops. =x

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Looking for Art!

So, as part of moving to DM's Guild, I've been looking for a reliable artist behind the scenes for a while.

For every class option I release, it'd be nice to have a personally-created image to go with each of them. This is something I've always wanted for my work, but it's finally possible with income from the DM's Guild to make this a reality.

If anyone is interested, I'd be willing to pay $35-40 per piece, as long as it meets the appropriate art style (i.e., sufficiently similar to works found in the Player's Handbook, or cool enough that I'd consider it anyway). I'd also be willing to credit you fully with an art credit and a link to a blog or profile that has at least as much visibility in the credits as my own blog link.

This would also be reliable work, as every time I'm about to release an option, I'd be looking to commission (and pay for) a new art piece.

If you're interested, let me know in the comments, or by messaging /u/the_singular_anyone on reddit! Show me your profile, or link me some of your existing works, so I can get a better idea of the art that you create.

The first thing I'm looking at commissioning is the Common Man paladin, so if drafting up a Soviet-esque hero of the people sounds like fun to you, let me know.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Stronghold Expansion: Traders & Merchants [Second Draft; DM's Guild Variant]


Available on the DM's Guild (pay what you want) at this link!

It'd be awfully silly if I was to host content on the DM's Guild and omit the largest thing I've ever made, wouldn't it?

It took some searching, some editing, and some doing, but Traders & Merchants has been updated to use entirely public domain artwork. It was a difficult process (and one that unfortunately doesn't pay dividends in new content or rules updates), but it needed to be done as I continue to move from fair use art into public domain art.

What changed? Well, about that...

CHANGELOG:

  • 32 pages of new artwork!
  • Made Quality and Legendary Merchants operate off of a d20 (to improve probability distribution).
  • That's it.
  • Exciting, right?
CONCERNS:
  • Gimmicks present in some Legendary Merchants may need balancing or adjusting.
WHAT I LEARNED:
  • I never want to re-do 30+ pages of artwork ever again. 

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Prestige Class: Vampire [Fifth Draft]


Available on the DM's Guild (pay what you want) at this link!

With April here, I'm finding myself in interesting times.

I'm starting to transition my work to the DM's Guild, meaning I'm remastering and putting the finishing touches on old favorites, modifying them to use public domain works rather than utilizing images under fair use, and updating rulesets to fix old mistakes and create finished works.

I'm also starting up a new job and a new side project or two, so my ability to produce more homebrew is slowing down substantially. Making new homebrew is always important to me, but for now expect to see a few remastered projects coming in before entirely new work starts appearing again.

This time, the Vampire gets the remastering treatment! I've always been almost-satisfied with the vampire, but after four drafts I decided it was as good as it was going to get, and I needed to let it lie.

The benefit of having half a year between drafts is I've had a good deal of time to think of finishing touches, and of what truly final tweaks the vampire needed to be an ideal prestige class offering. And on that note:

CHANGELOG: 

  • Added Vampiric Quirks, a table of mostly-fluff quirks that help define your vampire and introduce additional minor weaknesses or visible traits that draw in from vampire lore while allowing your character to be distinct!
  • Added a sidebar rule for Prestige Classes, because PrCs are a lot more niche of an option and require some additional explanation.
  • Vampiric Arcana is now Spellcasting, allowing synergy with features, items, and similar that require the Spellcasting class feature. 
  • Granted Elementals exemption from being fed upon, because it's very hard to find the blood in a fire elemental. 
  • Added a sidebar explaining Sanguine Strikes / Smite synergy, because that was a question that came up often.
  • Retooled Blessing of Form, tying Mist Form to the spell gaseous form, increasing the blood cost of all forms, and introducing transformation limits to Wolf Form so you can't wolf-tank a monster, drop to 0 wolf HP, then reassume your form and keep wolf-tanking it. 
  • Moved Blessing of Darkness to 5th level, allowing Sinister Nourishment (the ASI ability) to stand alone at 4th. Most ASIs similarly stand alone, and it was a bad idea to double up anything at 4th level. 
CONCERNS:
  • I was almost tempted to make this option entirely without Sanguine Strikes, but I dialed that back. That would be a much larger retooling that I'd need immense feedback and brainstorming on, and the end result probably just wouldn't be worth it.
WHAT I LEARNED:
  • Once you stockpile a lot of it, public domain art is actually surprisingly easy to make work for an option like this. 

Monday, March 13, 2017

Worldbuilding Option: Fortresses, Temples, & Strongholds [Fourth Draft]


Available on the DM's Guild (pay what you want) at this link!

Yup. I finally updated it, yet again!

Easily the most popular thing I've ever made (though the Common Man paladin gives it a run for its money), the stronghold rules here have sort of become the gold standard on the internet for building structures in D&D 5e. And, while I'm proud of that, it's also pretty easy to chalk it up to stronghold rules being a massive pain in the butt to make.

In this iteration, I added a ton of suggestions from you guys, updated it to my newest template, and of course swapped in public domain art to facilitate hosting it on the DM's Guild. Let's run down exactly what got updated in this pass, as we do:

CHANGELOG:

  • Added rules for rebuilding damaged structures, which seems to be a pretty common occurrence for adventurers.
  • Added nine new rooms! So a if you've ever wanted a bank, baths, a boutique, catacombs, a clock tower, planar docks, a lighthouse, a mill, or sewers, you're in luck!
  • Updated Traders and Merchants rules to coincide with how that expansion has progressed.
  • Added Secret Passage and Teleportation Rune room modifications, by popular demand.
  • Adjusted pricing on room modifications, making them by and large more affordable.
  • Added hirelings from Volo's, which has notably more than quadrupled the spellcaster hirelings list.
  • Added rules for a flying stronghold falling out of the sky, as that appeared to be a big old question mark last draft.
CONCERNS:

  • I've got a ton more content that I had to cut off here, such as rules for building canals and roads, because I just couldn't make it work to my satisfaction. I'll probably add it in sooner or later, but knowing how these things go, it might end up being later.  
WHAT I LEARNED:
  • I actually like the public domain look for this option way, way more. Looks more relaxed, austere, and less overall eclectic. 

Monday, March 6, 2017

Spells: Codex of Waves [Second Draft]


Available on the DM's Guild (pay what you want) at this link!

Well, that was exciting! My first all-spell supplement seemed to be very well received, although not without issues of both balance and sloppy editing on my part.

Needless to say, though, those have been fixed (to the best of my knowledge) and the Codex of Waves appears more ready than ever to be used by actual spellcasters in actual games of D&D 5e!

Also, as I'm sure you read from the very large text at the top, this title has been submitted (or rather, is in the process of being so) to the DM's Guild! Thanks also for all the knowledge you fine folks laid on me about the DM's Guild, as it helped me go into the submission process with both eyes open, knowing full well what to expect.

What'd I change, though? What makes v0.2 better than the rough draft? Well...

CHANGELOG:

  • Bigby's blistering barnacles now allows you the (rather gross) option of removing them with an action and a Strength check.
  • Bless vessel now requires a creature that uses it to gain advantage on a check or save to actually be on the vessel somehow.
  • Flowsight is now a divination spell.
  • Pressure sphere has been fully reworked, requiring a bonus action to crush your target's head each turn and allowing your foe the chance at a Dexterity check to escape its clutches. 
  • Red tide is now 5th level instead of 6th, but otherwise remains unchanged.
  • Ripple now has a reasonable damage progression, similar to other cantrips.
  • Water tentacle has been re-worded partially, substituting your spellcasting ability score for the inherent Strength score it previously had.
CONCERNS:
  • The DM's Guild is still a fairly daunting process, and I'm not fully familiar with it yet. There remains the possibility I missed something up. 
  • As for the spells, none as of yet. Small editing errors are the most likely issue, going forward. 
WHAT I LEARNED:
  • It's cool to finally be published, in a fashion. I'm excited to see where this blog will go from here. 

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Donation Received!




February is over, which means that all the money I collected that month goes straight to the ACLU!

We totaled $30 throughout most of the month, which I'm happy to hand off to an organization that'll always be fighting the good fight, likely for longer than I'm even alive.

Thanks again to everyone who donated! Homebrew blogging isn't exactly the world's most profitable business, but it feels good to use what it receives to help create positive change in the world.

Spells: Codex of Waves [ROUGH DRAFT]



Up until now, I've only occasionally touched on new spells. Making new spells is imprecise, and can affect multiple classes in wide sweeping ways. As such, I like to avoid it whenever possible.

Problem is, I use homebrew to fill holes left by the core rules, and magic in D&D contains very few spells that pertain to water, and very, very many that pertain to lightning and fire. That in mind, I made 19 new spells (including several I've ported from Stormwrack, because everyone loves Stormwrack) that more fully encapsulate the use of water in magic.

Are they balanced? Hopefully! This is a rough draft, after all, tell me what could use some fixing.

FEATURES:

  • 19 new spells, including all-new creations and classic spells brought over from Stormwrack!
  • Spell lists for every casting class, dividing these new spells along thematic lines.
  • Public domain artwork, which represents my first steps towards publishing on the DM's Guild!
CONCERNS:
  • 19 spells is a heck of a lot, I'm sure there's some balance errors in there.
  • Some spells I kind of had to eyeball a bit as to what spell level they should be. Your mileage may vary, tell me if you disagree.
WHAT I LEARNED:
  • Public domain art is easy enough to find and work with, but I'll still miss the fancy, fantasy-specific art I'm used to. :(

Friday, February 17, 2017

Stronghold Expansion: Traders & Merchants [Second Draft]

REMINDER: Any donations to this blog for the month of February will be passed on to the ACLU, in full. 
Donations can be made to the blog, or to the ACLU directly at the link above.
I'll try and keep a running tally with each release. So far we have $30 to donate! Great job!
 


Bet you wondered where I went, didn't you?

One of the difficult parts of updating old content is when I've switched over to a new template since making it. For the previous version of this project, I had my second-iteration template. Now, I'm using a third-iteration template with different sizing and standardization that pretty much exactly replicates the PHB. That's great and all, but what it really means is that I need to re-do every page of a project if I want consistent sizing and aesthetics with my newest content.

And that's a problem if a project is 23 pages long. Even more so, when you inflate the project to 32 pages after working on it.

Almost twice as long as the core Strongholds rules, this is now officially the biggest project I've ever worked on, and hopefully contains a merchant for just about every situation.

What made this pile of insanity worth doing? Well, since you asked...

CHANGELOG:

  • Added 8 new merchants, including legendary merchants, rare super-merchants a player can stumble upon once in a lifetime!
  • Added new and altered items to all merchant inventories, to make the lists more representative of what they're supposed to be. 
  • Added a Quantity column, so players will have a hard limit on how many throwing knives they can purchase. 
  • Removed Very Poor and Very Good merchants, folding them over into Poor and Good qualities.
  • Merchants are now determined by a d100 roll, allowing for food merchants to show up more often than potion merchants.
  • Fixed textual errors referring to incorrect sources and similar.
CONCERNS:
  • I've added more than I've ever added to just about any project to date. I'm betting there'll be a mistake or two somewhere.
  • I might need to change the probability numbers on the legendary merchants, to make encountering a time traveler or the devil himself significantly less common than say, an enchantments merchant.
WHAT I LEARNED:
  • I'm not looking forward to updating the Strongholds core to the new template, I'll tell you that much. Although it'll probably be way easier than this, tables are an absolute nightmare to format. 

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Monastic Tradition: Way of the Zen Archer [Second Draft]

REMINDER: Any donations to this blog for the month of February will be passed on to the ACLU, in full. 
Donations can be made to the blog, or to the ACLU directly at the link above.
I'll try and keep a running tally with each release. So far we have $30 to donate! Great job!
 
 



Monks are a massive pain in the behind to do anything with.

You've got the ki system, of course, which itself isn't so bad. But then you've got Martial Arts, a list of weapons which do/do not synergize with that feature, Flurry of Blows vs. the basic MA bonus attack, and a whole lot of hidden balance math that can be upset when you try and do something obscene like make monks synergize with using ranged weapons.

There's a reason the Kensei has to kind of be a mess and include "kensei weapons," is what I'm saying.

But! I have the advantage of being able to release multiple incarnations of one class archetype whenever I feel like, allowing me to fix and update much faster than a UA release.

That said, this version of the Zen Archer greatly improves the balance and feeling of the original, making the whole experience of being a bow-or-crossbow monk a much cleaner, more flavorful experience.

Hopefully.

CHANGELOG:

  • Incorporated Martial Arts directly into Bonus Proficiencies, because trying to pick and choose how the feature interacts with MA without explicitly stating it was a losing battle.
  • Spiritual Archery no longer has a bonus action attack, now using a bonus action to increase the damage of your attacks directly. It still has a Flurry of Blows equivalent option, but it waits until 5th level to coincide with Extra Attack. 
  • Immaculate Lance has its math rebalanced, giving it a higher front-end damage but lower back-end damage. It also has new verbage to allow it to be cast using 0 ki, similar to the Sun Soul monk's Searing Sunburst, and now deals no damage on a successful save. 
  • Exquisite Accuracy now only negates disadvantage, allowing advantage from things like true strike to persist. 
CONCERNS:
  • Some people expressed vague concern over Stunning Strike being available at range, but after looking it over a couple of times I can't find anything that makes it inherently gamebreaking. The most imbalanced thing I can find is pulling off a Stunning Strike / Immaculate Lance wombo-combo, and that requires careful planning and about half your ki at the level it becomes available. 
  • True strike continues to be marginally useful, but is handy if you're using your action for something other than attacking. It synergizes well with Immaculate Lance, if nothing else. 
  • The new Spiritual Archery makes advantage and disadvantage a bigger deal than it would be for a regular monk, but that doesn't seem balance-breaking by its nature. 
  • I'll miss the spirit arrow. Ah well, these mechanics are much smoother. 
WHAT I LEARNED:
  • I deeply, deeply miss how relatively easy it is to make something like a rogue. Maybe next time. 

Friday, February 3, 2017

Monastic Tradition: Way of the Zen Archer [ROUGH DRAFT]

REMINDER: Any donations to this blog for the month of February will be passed on to the ACLU, in full. 
Donations can be made to the blog, or to the ACLU directly at the link above.  



I really and truly love playing 5e. Having played both 3.5 and 4e as well, 5e is definitely my favorite edition to date, in my opinion running smoother, cleaner, and more intuitively than either of its WotC predecessors.

One of the problems I do have in 5e is the holes in material, but that's bound to happen in any relatively-new system. Most of what I do here is try and patch the holes that I perceive to exist, making 5e be (in the end) a more complete system with a fuller range of options.

In this case, the hole I'm filling is the ranged monk. The only ranged options available for monks are to either be a sun-bolt hurling Goku, or to rules-abuse the UA Kensei into using martial ranged weapons that can deal Strength bludgeoning damage. Neither seems like a real great way to make a bow-monk, and that's where homebrew comes in.

More than just a monk with a bow, a Zen Archer is a spiritual ranged attacker that focuses on making impossible shots and striking foes with bolts of pure ki energy. A Zen Archer attempts to make every shot count, channeling their mastery of mind and body through a bow or crossbow to dispatch foes from far away.

What makes this monk different and fun to play? Well...

FEATURES:

  • Curve arrows around walls to make impossible trick shots, striking dead those who would hide from you. 
  • Fire conjured bolts of ki from your bow, with the ability to supercharge them using ki points!
  • Launch a powerful lance of radiant ki that you can empower with additional ki points.
CONCERNS:
  • Some of the abilities may be a little verbose. I tried to cut them down a bit, with mixed results. 
  • Unsure of the damage balance on Immaculate Lance, it may need to be higher. Tried to base it off of what the Sun Soul got at that level, but a burst effect is hard to balance against a line effect. 
  • There might be usage errors here and there. A lot of this is emulating core monk features in a different direction, similar to what the Kensei does, which even the Kensei didn't do especially clearly. 
WHAT I LEARNED:
  • Monks have a LOT of working parts, and it's particularly hard to design a subclass without running afoul of some of them. 

Monday, January 30, 2017

Temporarily Political

I like to keep homebrew separate from my personal life. It's why I never sign my projects with my actual name, and it's why I only bring in the goings-on of my life when it extremely impacts my ability to do homebrew.

Sadly, right now is one of those times. Let me explain:

I'm fortunate enough to be married to a wonderful woman, my best friend in the entire world. She and I met at a board game club over nine years ago, hit it off, and have been together ever sense. We stand by each other, make each other laugh in good times and bad, and love each other so deeply that it's profoundly hard to explain with a mind more accustomed to writing "MELEE WEAPON ATTACK, +5 to hit, reach 5 ft., etc etc."

More than anything, it's our passion (each in our own way) to help others. I work in education, and she works in environmental protection. We plan to have a family some day, to raise kids, play games with them, and help them explore and find wonder in the world. We both find very real, very true value in creating more love than we take.

The problem is this: We are both American, but she is not a citizen.

And this is a time when it is very, very hard to not be a citizen.

The reasons behind her non-citizenship are legitimately too complicated for me to explain here, involving a marital dispute and bureaucratic idiocy. One would think naturalization through marriage would be a non-issue, as well, but it is not. Among many other issues, a mutual friend of ours, attempting naturalization through marriage, was compelled against his will to have a prostate exam (link is gross, of course) if he wanted to become a citizen of our country. This is on top of multiple interviews, having his green card constantly in jeopardy, and just a general not-knowing if having his paperwork in the system makes him even more of a target for the powers that be.

He started his struggle for naturalization years ago, and his citizenship is still up in the air. He, too, may be forced out of the country and away from his wife, if things continue as they are.

For people like my friend and myself, the fate of our loved ones is very literally at stake, here. If there was a more personal fight that could be fought, I struggle to imagine it.

My long-running point? Here it is:

Any donations to this blog for the month of February will be passed on to the ACLU, in full.


If you would like, you can follow the link above and simply donate directly to the ACLU yourself. Either would be appreciated, and even a small amount will help people like my wife and I, and indeed all the various immigrant groups that have been targeted, and whichever unfortunates will be targeted next.

Thank you for your time, and thank you for reading my blog. Homebrewing material for you all means very much to me, and there's nothing I enjoy more than reading stories from strangers half a world away who get joy from the work that I do.

Whether or not you choose to (or even can) give, I appreciate you all. All of us are stronger together, and we all have a part to play in making the world a better place.

Stay safe, stay strong, and happy homebrewing.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Martial Archetype: Brawler [Third Draft]



These days, I really try to finish up options with a second draft. Any changes a second draft needs can be appended to it with subsequent sub-versions.

But that only works out like, half the time. Any time I change a full ability, we need a new draft, so here we are.

The Brawler has been a challenge (and probably will continue to be so, if I made mistakes here), but the standard fist-fighter is something I've always enjoyed playing in fantasy games. I find the best archetypes that I make are those I care personally for, and right now the Brawler is in a place that I'm very proud of, thanks in no small part to the input from you fine folks.

But let's not have that stop us. If there's something that needs changing, this is the place to tell me!

CHANGELOG:


  • Fisticuffs is now Counterpunch, trading out the push/prone ability for the ability to literally roll with the punches. I find this one to be much more flavorful, and has the advantage of pushing home DEX dependence. 
  • Dodge and Weave is now Defensive Footwork, which is just a name change, really, but one that makes more sense for what it is now. 
  • Made Fist-Fighting incompatible with shields to keep it from being strictly better than Two-Weapon Fighting. 
CONCERNS:
  • There's a lot of kit added at 3rd level, but two pieces of it (the unarmored defense and the progressive damage die increase) are background detail, setting up the pieces for the rest of the class to work, rather than anything active and confusing.
  • This class option has a pretty tight reaction/bonus action economy, but it's not overburdened significantly.
  • The STR/DEX dependence makes this class option a little M.A.D., but fighters of all classes can handle that just fine.
WHAT I LEARNED:
  • There's sometimes a much more thematic ability out there, though it just might require thinking outside the box a little bit. 

Friday, January 27, 2017

Martial Archetype: Brawler [Second Draft]



Making a fighter is hard for a lot of reasons.

Heck, making anything is hard, but that doesn't stop me from doing it, and all you brave souls from helping.

Fighters, though. As one of you pointed out, they only have three options, and each approaches the class from an entirely different angle. Very little overlap, very hard to balance. And on top of it all, fighter subclasses are beholden to being played with several different Fighting Styles. You can have an Eldritch Knight with a bow, a heavy-armored Battlemaster, a Champion with light armor and a rapier, and so on.

So, I made the (I'm sure will be contentious) decision and just eliminated that choice for this particular option.

It seemed to me that the Brawler was a martial archetype that really gravitated towards a single Fighting Style. So rather than attempt to shoehorn all the other Fighting Styles into the brawler, I simply made the Fighting Style it was trying to emulate and spun the rest of the class off of that.

All I ask: If that decision sucks and you hate it, be sure to tell me why!

CHANGELOG:

  • Added Fighting Style: Fistfighting, which incorporates part of what was Fisticuffs and eliminates how Fisticuffs was trying to bend over backwards for Two-Weapon Fighting.
  • Added a Restriction for taking this Martial Archetype, requiring Fistfighting to be taken as a Fighting Style at some point (probably as a 2nd level fighter).
  • Fisticuffs now contains part of Fracas, allowing the ability to shove in fights as a core component of this class.
  • Dodge and Weave no longer involves the Dodge action or armor restrictions, so you can be a full-plate Brawler if you really, really want to.
  • Impressive Physique has been adjusted and now only deals with Performance, Intimidation, or Athletics, allowing single (not double) STR to replace CHA for Performance or Intimidation.
  • Fracas is now Bear Hug Vice Grip because it has been modified to only deal with grapples, granting disadvantage on attacks targeting you by those you're grappling. 
  • Fistfighter's Momentum now adds proficiency bonus to STR and CON for tHP, as it didn't seem like max 10 tHP was enough for a 15th level feature. 
  • Fists of Fury is now Knockout Punch, which can cause your unarmed strikes to simply drop a creature unconscious. FoF adding additional attacks was more or less unnecessary, as a high-level fighter with a bonus action attack makes five attacks a turn, anyway.
CONCERNS:
  • The shove mechanic might be added a bit early with Fisticuffs, but it costs eating advantage, which I figure makes sense for something that can possibly confer advantage (through prone).
  • Changed a lot = a lot of potential errors, etc etc
  • Making an archetype exclusive to a fighting style may or may not be a great idea. It runs contrary to the overall theme of the fighter, but it seems like it just might be the correct way to make this option.
WHAT I LEARNED:
  • There's probably a reason no one has made a fist-fighting fighter yet, but I'm crazy enough to want to see it through. 

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Martial Archetype: Brawler [ROUGH DRAFT]



It occurred to me that I haven't done many fighters. I mean, I haven't done any barbarians, monks, druids, rangers, or wizards yet, but only having one fighter Martial Archetype still feels like a glaring oversight.

This one draws inspiration from the "Brawling Fighter" presented in 4e's Martial Power 2, which was easily my favorite fighter to come out of 4th edition. At face value, it was a fighter that had a dash of controller in it, a martial weapon-user that could punch or grab with a free hand, dealing damage while keeping enemies close. As an added bonus, with a simple monk multiclass feat (which were a terrible idea from a game design perspective, but I digress), you could make a perfectly serviceable fistfighter or wrestler.

The biggest challenge here was keeping this option distinct from the monk, and having it be decidedly a fighter. I feel I accomplished this pretty well, even if I did horn in on monk territory here and there, but look it over and tell me what you think.

FEATURES:

  • Scaling unarmed strike and unarmored defense, to keep yourself light, agile, and aggressive. 
  • Three viable fighting styles! Either two-weapon fight with fists, hold a weapon in one hand like a duelist, or wear light armor for additional defense.
  • A variety of features centered around core combat maneuvers, such as grapple, shove, and dodge.
  • Builds well with unarmed-centric feats, specifically Grappler and Tavern Brawler.
CONCERNS:
  • Unarmed strike is always wacky, it not being a weapon attack and all. It might interact poorly with something in a way I haven't thought of. 
  • There are a lot of qualifiers in play (when doing X and not wearing Y), and I might've fudged something up somewhere. 
WHAT I LEARNED:

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Sacred Oath: Oath of the Midnight Hour [Third Draft]



Should I have made this a new release, or just updated the version I released less than a day ago?

Not as if there are any rules to this thing I do.

I'm issuing this as a new release because of the extensive changes made to v0.2 which, while a step in the right direction, still wasn't quite right. A lot of the mechanics needed some TLC, but the end result here seems much more polished.

Did I say "end result?" That's never really right, and certainly not up for me to decide. Tell me what you think.

CHANGELOG:

  • CD: Death Whisper is now CD: Shadowblade, because encouraging players to spam their bonus action every single turn for nothing isn't necessarily great design. 
  • Ebon Smite has been removed, as it was a contentious feature people either loved or hated. I figured it was best to take it out and fold it over into CD: Shadowblade. 
  • Nightcloak is now a Channel Divinity, affecting only you and stifling any noise you make, including speech. 
  • Midnight Blessing has taken Nightcloak's place and now gives a few passive benefits and a helpful ribbon to your whole party. 
  • Umbral Jaunt has been reworked, again, and is now a sort of retributive attack, in keeping with the shadow-assassin-paladin theme of this Oath. 
  • Living Nightmare makes you less huge and more sneaky, hiding you to all those but the one you are attacking, and feeling similar to you being a living phantasmal force
CONCERNS:
  • Shadowblade might be a little confusing, but its usage is pretty straightforward after the first glance.
  • Lots of changes, means lots of potential for mistakes. As always. 
WHAT I LEARNED:
  • No limitation on how many drafts I can release how often, but I really should try and not make this sort of thing happen again. 

Monday, January 23, 2017

Sacred Oath: Oath of the Midnight Hour [Second Draft]



So, that took quite a bit to update!

Thematically, the rough draft Oath of the Midnight Hour was very strong. It also held some promising mechanics, but needed a great deal of polish, just as any rough draft does. Fortunately, I found the time to make this shadowy dark paladin a hopefully more balanced and viable shadowy dark paladin.

Variant paladins are one of my favorite things to make, as they have so much potential to be rich in flavor while keeping true to what makes a paladin a paladin. Making one is always a creative pleasure, and I truly enjoyed putting the extra detail into this particular Oath.

CHANGELOG:

  • CD: Swarm of Shadows is now CD: Death Whisper! Swarm of Shadows was clunky and not as on-theme as it could be, while Death Whisper inherently scales better and lends itself well to the assassin-like kit of this Oath.
  • Nightcloak and Umbral Jaunt switched places, each of them being better suited to the position of the other. I changed up the wording and mechanics a bit, to help them accommodate their new positions.
  • Umbral Jaunt now functions in reverse, teleporting you to a damaged ally, rather than teleporting a damaged ally to you. This turn of mechanics allows Umbral Jaunt to feel all-in-all more paladin-y. 
  • Added a sidebar for Ebon Smite, explaining possible interpretations of the alternate Smite, and methods to better fold it over into play.
CONCERNS:
  • CD: Death Whisper allows a paladin to be extra-bursty. A paladin can theoretically drop their multi-attack, however many smites they'd like, and Death Whisper on the same turn. This isn't appreciably different from dropping multi-attack, smite(s), and a spell-based smite (such as blinding smite) though, so it's probably alright, and being bursty fits the feel of being a shadow assassin paladin just fine. 
WHAT I LEARNED:
  • People are more than happy to help with balance, no matter how long ago a piece of work was released. Thanks!