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!


  • 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. 
  • 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.
  • 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!


  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.


  • 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.
  • 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. 

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.


  • 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
  • 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. 
  • 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.


  • 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.
  • 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. 
  • People are more than happy to help with balance, no matter how long ago a piece of work was released. Thanks!

Friday, January 20, 2017

Bardic College: College of Dirges [Second Draft]

Chances are, when I think something is perfect straight-off, it's way more deeply flawed than I thought.

The original Dirgesinger bard worked great as a proof of concept, but the nitty-gritty needed a lot of polish. While I was proud of how simple and short I made the whole thing, almost every ability needed some level of modification and suffered at least a small bit of bloat because of it.

Ah well, at least it's probably balanced. Probably.


  • "College of the Dirgesinger" is now "College of Dirges," to keep more in-line with naming convention
  • Macabre Melodies now offers a choice of two cantrips, adding thaumaturgy as a possible cantrip you can learn. 
  • Sorrowsong has been reworked, and now costs an action to use. It can deal psychic damage that scales with your Bardic Inspiration, and applies Incapacitated on a failed save. It's balanced to feel like an empowered vicious mockery that consumes a BI die to use. 
  • Death's Defiance has been tweaked, only allowing for one successful usage per short or long rest. 
  • Sorrowsong got changed quite a bit, which introduces a strong chance of it being buggy. It seems like it works, to me, but v0.1 also seemed perfectly fine. 
  • Pre-release bug checks are a great thing, I should do them more often. 

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Bardic College: College of the Dirgesinger [ROUGH DRAFT]

After that last bardic college, I figured I'd try another one. It's good to up the bard content of this blog, y'know?

The dirgesinger is an old 3.5 favorite, coming from the pages of Libris Mortis as a bard-focused prestige class, and generally being the way to capture a necromantic bard. The concept of a bard playing music compelling enough to raise the dead was always cool to me, and I felt 5e needed a better way to capture that than playing a Lore bard with heavy refluffing.

Also of note: this is the first project in a long while to end up with only two pages. I've been trying to make the abilities I write more concise and less long-winded, and this seems like a step in the right direction.


  • Death-themed cantrips and spells, high on flavor and low on complication. 
  • Cast sorrowful songs and funeral dirges, making your enemies weep and bring voice to the dead.
  • Stave of death with your music, by serenading death itself!
  • I'm not sure where the power balance on Sorrowsong is. If anything, it could be too weak, because I tend to keep rough drafts conservative on ability strength.
  • Death's Defiance seems at odds with the fact that this class option gets spare the dying, but I'm feeling that it makes for a more tactical and thematic bard experience, to give the bard multiple options to address the would-be death of a comrade. 
  • I don't know why, but I keep writing halflings in really depressing situations for the intro paragraphs. It works so well, I just can't help myself. 

Friday, January 13, 2017

Bardic College: College of the Crossroads [Second Draft]

It's funny, sometimes I see problems in my content that just don't exist. I thought flavor was weak in the rough draft this one, but you guys unilaterally disagreed. I'm betting it's because I've been staring at this option off and on for about half a year.

BUT, that's not to say the rough draft didn't have issues. Rough drafts always have issues. That's why there are second drafts.


  • You can now summon or dismiss your Precious Instrument similar to a warlock's pact blade.
  • Silver Tongue no longer requires you to be holding your Precious Instrument, because it needed a little streamlining.
  • Fiendish Tempo doesn't negate resistance or immunity, because that's just a bad mechanic to add when there's already a feat that confers it. 
  • Infernal Orchestra and the Fiendish Instrumentalist have been buffed, as the ability now summons twice as many instrumentalists, and the instrumentalists have their damage and to-hit slightly increased.
  • Nothing right now, aside from me still sucking at monster math. I'm beginning to believe that monster math is more of an art than a science, anyway.
  • Always bug-check old content for mechanics you thought were a great idea half a year ago, that you've since learned are a terrible idea. 

Monday, January 9, 2017

Bardic College: College of the Crossroads [ROUGH DRAFT]

Sometimes, I sit on projects for a really really REALLY long time. If you look, you can see that I made a reference to this project in July of last year.

True to its name, the Bardic College of the Crossroads is a Devil-Went-Down-To-Georgia deal, gaining infernal musical power through besting a devil, or simply by cutting a deal or stealing from the forces of Hell.

Originally, I planned to have this as a sort of answer to a warlock's pact, with options dealing with the fey and great old ones, but I ended up feeling this was ill-advised for a couple of reasons. For one, it made the option feel very indistinct, like it didn't know what it was trying to do. For two, the Glamour Bard UA came out and undercut me with a fey bard. Such is the price of going on hiatus and dragging my ass, I guess.

What's worth playing about a Crossroads bard? Well:


  • A precious instrument that is the source of your powers, made of gold, silver, ruby, or similar.
  • Self-focused Bardic Inspiration powers to keep you (and only you) safe from harm.
  • Conjure a band of backup demons, good for helping in combat AND cheating at fiddle contests.
  • Surprisingly, flavor might be weaker than I'd like. It IS a rough draft, though, and usually you guys are very good at helping me with flavor. 
  • Bard capstones are hard to balance against one another, but I think this one was just about right. If it's too weak, it'll be easy to tweak and rebalance. 
  • Apparently I'm sitting on a wealth of almost-finished work. Time to fix that. 

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Otherworldly Patron: The Fungal Lord [Second Draft]

First draft went well, seems like. Naturally, I have to fix a lot, but the flavor seems spot-on.

I'm making just about all the changes I expected to make, but thanks to feedback I now have a really good idea of how to execute them. Funny how that works.


  • Sleeping Spores is now Psychoactive Spores, and introduces a stun instead of sleep.
  • Decompose can now eat objects, and is now a bonus action to allow corpse-eating on the go.
  • Mycelium-Blooded has been reworked, and now offers a standard package of resistance to poison and advantage on saving throws against poison and disease.
  • Swapped the placement of Psychoactive Spores and Decompose, as they both seemed better tailored for the other's level niche.
  • Psychoactive Spores may still be weaker than intended, but I wanted to avoid giving everyone a chance to attack the creature with advantage. Either one advantage hit, or one instance of the creature losing its turn, is ideal now stuns an enemy until the end of their next turn if they fail a save, regardless. That level of suck seems appropriate for a 6th level power that resets on a short rest, but it still may be more powerful than I'm thinking. 
  • May still want to throw some more health onto Decompose, but for a bonus action it isn't bad.
  • Just don't mess with sleep mechanics. It's never, ever, worth it. 

Roguish Archetype: The Corsair [Third Draft]

One of the biggest things I wanted to do during my absence was update older content. So much of what I make can use additional iterations, especially with the quantity of good feedback it has been collecting.

The Corsair has always been one I've been meaning to update. I didn't leave it in a good place, and the familiar it introduced stole the spotlight and bogged it down with math.

So, I fix that by just getting rid of the damn thing. Here's what I did.


  • Removed First Mate, brought Dirty Fighting to 3rd level to give a distinctive feature early on that wasn't a nightmare for everyone involved.
  • Added Lookout feature, to give this pirate a good fluff ability and to keep the option from being centered almost exclusively on combat.
  • Moved familiars to an optional rule, because they should still be there, but should definitely be about as useful as a wizard's familiar. 
  • Added a Feint-like ability to Dirty Fighting, to introduce CHA-dependence at an earlier level.
  • Maybe I bunged something up without noticing in Lookout, but I'm betting not. This seems pretty water-tight to me.
  • Half-year turn around time for project updates? Maybe I want to do these sooner instead of later.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Otherworldly Patron: The Fungal Lord [ROUGH DRAFT]

Well! That was a long break.

Life needs have to come before homebrew needs, though, so I put the blog on the back-burner for a couple months while I moved to a new state. The good news is it's been a great couple months for coming up with ideas, so expect plenty more content soon.

The first thing that came to mind was this one, a warlock subclass for any of the various fungal entities that inhabit your D&D world. A warlock-by-way-of-druid, the warlocks of this patron practice a dark yet natural magic of decomposition and re-creation, growing fungus in themselves and others to bolster their defenses or raise hulking fungal servants to fight for them.

Now, the breakdown:


  • Spells that reflect many properties of mushrooms, from sleep and confusion, to plant growth and contagion.
  • Render weakened foes unconscious, or kill them and consume the bodies! Dead bodies make great plant food.
  • Better yet: Raise the dead as your very own spore servant, using the Spore Servant template found in the Monster Manual. 
  • I'm not sure how you'd know when a creature has dropped below the threshold described by Sleeping Spores. I'd make your character inherently know, but that would seem slightly game-y and require extra work of the DM to make the homebrew function.
  • I'm unsure of the hit point balance of Decompose and Mycelium-Blooded. I tried to keep it conservative, but I feel like Decompose could be 10/20/25 without being ridiculous. 
  • Spore Servant could probably be used to raise some really weird and powerful things (even though the CR is capped at 6 to keep it equivalent to conjure fey), but it would only be for an hour and the feature inherently destroys the creature's body after it's done. It's intentional that a Spore Servant doesn't require concentration, to bring its point of balance slightly higher than conjure fey and thus worth a long rest level 14. 
  • That I'll probably have to go back and re-make everything with my new template eventually, once I finally get neurotic enough.