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.

10 comments:

  1. Hey, this again. Nice update, though there are some interesting things I want to point out.

    Adding extra expanded spells for the Dragon makes sense, so that isn't a big problem for me.

    Breath of the Ancients' Warlock+Cha scaling means that you do get punished for Warlock dips... but then again same as Fiends, so no problem there. (I was worried that it'd be less powerful than Dragonborn's breath, but the dice are actually quite close)

    No issues with Dragonsclaes, though I ask if it is supposed to block Magic Missiles.

    Blood of Dragons second point is... ehh... odd. Though I get it (dragon getting angry) it's quite specific. (Definition of AoE also counts - Is Flaming Sphere an AoE?) Also, it doesn't exclude yourself so you can do something like Self-Fireball in a middle of the crowd and get the damage.

    For Dragonling, you should point out if the Dragonsclaes feature is 1/SR use or if it takes your Dragonsclaes. The Breath of Ancients thing has no problem, considering you can cast Touch spells from your familiar.

    Dragoontooth Glaive shouldn't have the extra dice now, as WotC spun off all of those dice into the Eldritch Smite invocation (but keep the weapon. I don"t agree that they took the weapon away)

    Knight of the Beyond is a bit odd. Warlocks usually go for Dex, so somehow getting heavy armor without getting Medium is odd.

    Once again, this is a great homebrew so please continue doing this.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. >Breath of the Ancients

      IIRC, I scaled the level 6 version of that off of dragonborn breath, and I scaled THIS version of it off of the level 6 version. Doesn't entirely surprise me that the numbers are similar.

      I didn't really think about warlock dips not getting much out of it. Fixing that isn't the most necessary (because fiend pact, like you said), but it's still something to think about.

      >Dragonscales

      From what I understand, blocking magic missiles specifically is a legacy mechanic for shield - it does it because other editions did it.

      I'm okay with Dragonscales not doing that. It strikes me as a more magical-type thing that is more at home with the Shield spell anyway.

      >Blood of Dragons

      Yeah, it is a bit odd. I'm pretty sure I need to revise the trigger there, especially because (as you pointed out) self-AoEs can trigger it. "Oh no, I almost burned myself, now I'm angry" is something I'd like to avoid.

      >Dragonling

      I was trying to imply pretty heavily that it eats your cooldown same as if you used it yourself, but I should probably outright say it.

      >Dragontooth Glaive

      I'm trying to set up these weapon invocations as a midpoint between Eldritch Smites and the weapon invocations as listed in Wizards & Warlocks UA. I loved the idea of the unique weapons provided by individual pacts, but I also like the better balance on the smites provided by Eldritch Smites.

      Pact of the Blade is in a really weird design space right now. I'm hoping with the release of Xanathar's there will be a little more clarity as to what one should do with warlocks.

      >Knight of the Beyond

      I should probably throw Medium in there, as well. Ideally I wanted KotB to allow AC scaling through STR without having to take a multiclass dip, but it'd make sense to allow the full armor progression.

      It is a bit odd, but it's roughly equivalent to Armor of Shadows in balance, so I don't think it's entirely out of place.

      >Once again, this is a great homebrew so please continue doing this.

      Thanks! And thanks also for your great critique. I've got no plans of stopping any time soon, and I'll be releasing new content as time permits.

      Delete
  2. I think out of all the types of homebrew you do, you've done the most for the Warlock. I really like this one.

    There isn't anything wrong with Breath of the Ancients. The fact that the damage isn't rolled can be a strength actually, there's very few sources of truly consistent damage. A level 3 warlock with 18 CHA (Or level 4 with 16 CHA) can reliably toast an entire group of goblins with the breath weapon.

    There's a lot of overlap on the spell lists but that's not a bad thing. Even if the new options aren't any more powerful than the old ones, more options still increases the power. Plus, the overlapping spells are both flavorful and draconic. Dominate person also fits with Warlocks in general. Lots of control and elemental damage. This is just a thought but maybe allow radiant/necrotic dragon pact warlocks to deal radiant/necrotic (whatever's relevant) with chromatic orb.

    Dragon scales is fairly powerful. It's just a reaction but there's very few flat bonuses to AC in 5E. If you're running plate armour with Knight of the Beyond and a 20 Charisma, that's 23AC with no other boosts.

    I feel like Blood of the Dragons should clarify that you can't use your own spells to get enraged. Damage resistance is nice and because of the way 5E handles elements it's not too powerful. In fact, Radiant resistance is pretty much worthless in 5E (the only monsters that use it are angels and Coatuls, all of who are good). Maybe Radiant/Necrotic warlocks get both?

    Dragon Apotheosis is a nice capstone, kind of like the Paladin Oath capstones. Who doesn't want to fly around, scaring people and roasting fools? There isn't really much else I can say on this one, it doesn't offer anything that's overpowered or would upset the game. Flight sucks to handle at low levels but if the DM can't handle flight at 14th level they need to hit the books again.

    Ancient's hoard is my favourite invocation and possibly the favourite invocation from any of your warlock homebrews. Leomund's secret chest always felt really weird to me, it's got pretty high cost requirements for what it actually does. Also, it's one of those spells that's really cool but you'd probably pass over for something more useful like fireball.

    Dragonling is a bit too specific for my taste (you have to be this pact AND take this boon AND use this companion). I'd prefer it if it affected all possible familiars (behold, my amazing, radiant FROG). Other than that, there's nothing wrong with it mechanically.

    Dragon lore adds some really nice utility plus legend lore is basically Plot Hook: The Hookening. I feel like it shouldn't be a Pact of the Ancient Dragon exclusive though, I could make a good argument for any other patron being able to offer this bonus.

    The thing with Dragontooth Glaive is that the glaive is a weapon that the pact of the blade warlock can summon and PotB warlocks are automatically proficient in the weapon they summon. The attunement mechanic also works exactly the same as a PotB weapon. You could clear up the invocation a lot by saying you can create a PotB weapon out of the tooth of a dragon and when you do this you have access to a dragon smite. Opening it up to new weapons might be cool actually. I could take Dragontooth "Glaive", make it a maul, take knight of the beyond and wear a suit of armour made out of stone and play as Havel the Rock from Dark Souls.

    Knight of the Beyond is actually better than you might think because it frees up a stat. You can put those DEX points into CHA for more blowing-crap-up or CON for more not-being-blown-up.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. First, thanks for the in-depth critique!

      >spell list overlap

      Yep, that's by design. I didn't want "difference for difference's sake," I wanted a consistent theme that still demonstrated the differences between types of dragons.

      I could probably do something different with the radiant/necrotic lists and Chromatic Orb, though.

      >Dragon Scales

      I should specify that it doesn't stack with other spells and abilities that create a temporary one-round bonus to AC. It's not grossly overpowered (because the Shield spell exists), but I should prevent the two from intermingling.

      >Blood of Dragons

      Definitely needs some work. I think a new model for it could be:

      Gain resistance to your patron's damage type, and one other damage type on the Draconic Patronage list of your choice. In addition, when you take damage of either of these types, your next attack that hits within one minute deals 2d6 additional damage of your patron's damage type. You must complete a short or long rest before you can benefit from this additional damage again.

      >Dragonling

      Yeah, it is fairly demanding as to how you build your warlock. It'd be thematically really odd to see a dragon warlock with Pact of the Chain and any other familiar than a pseudodrake, though. Dragons don't really hold truck with fiends, spites seem a little off-theme as well, and why go chain pact if you'd get a non-chain-pact familiar?

      >Dragon Lore

      If I'm going to keep that as a general invocation for all patrons, I should probably change the name.

      Doesn't stop things like Devil's Sight from existing for everyone, though, so eeeeeeeeeeh...

      >Dragontooth Glaive

      Y'know, I agree. I hate that this pidgeonholes you into one specific style of weapon.

      I feel like WotC is really trying to decide what to do with Blade Pact, and the individualized weapons aren't quite working out. I need to make a more generalized version of this invocation, definitely.

      >Knight of the Beyond

      But you're still required to put points into STR to wear heavy armor, and if you're going STR-based blade lock, you'll still need Dex for saving throws and initiative, as well as some of the better skills out there.

      Blade Lock, especially STR based, is still really MAD, this just lightens the load a little bit.

      Delete
  3. I think this is a really good update to one of my favorite patrons you've made! Knight of the Beyond is a pretty good invocation since it makes warlocks less MAD, but I don't think it's overpowered. You still need a minimum of 15 Str to use the wear plate, so any warlock using a finesse weapon won't want to take it. I think it's a nice alternative for more Str based warlocks compared to Armor of Shadows.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Bladelocks are gonna be pretty MAD no matter what I do. STR bladelocks, doubly so.

      I really like the idea of a magical dark-knight kind of character, though, and Knight of the Beyond is my stab at enabling that playstyle for warlocks.

      Delete
  4. Well you have done great arrengements since last time I read it. I think it's almost perfect.Breath of the ancients is just as a dragonborn breath damage scaling but a bit stronger (the problem about dragonborn's breath was low damage at high levels). The blood of dragons feature should specify that you enter in rage if the damage taken is same type as your dragon ancestor (if this was your idea), the heavy armor invocation maybe is a bit overpowered, I would remove the nonweight trait or remind the strenght prerrequisite. As for the dragonling, it would be nice granting also the ability to speak to the pseudodragon (as the imp and quasit and sprite can speak too, being way ahead from pseudodragons). The only "but" I'd say to your class is that it seems designed with multiclassing on mind, as if the pact was designed for a dip. I think classes are better flavored if designed to run the class for your whole career. Nevertheless, I really love this class, you are a genius.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. >Knight of Beyond

      I gotta figure that if I don't say anything about eliminating the STR requirement for armor, you still need to meet it. Proficiency in anything doesn't eliminate its other requirements.

      The no-weight thing is essentially a ribbon (a fun, flavorful thing with next to no balance impact), from my perspective. Granted, I don't really use carrying weight in my game unless the players try to carry something obscenely heavy, but I don't feel like it'll imbalance the game if the warlock gets a little extra carry weight.

      If anything, the allowing-stealth bit of it might be overpowered, but I put that there to keep it on-par with Armor of Shadows as a choice.

      >Dragonling

      I like granting it the ability to talk, that's fantastic. A definite plus to flavor that allows it to feel even more dragon-y.

      Thanks for your help with this, by the way!

      Delete
  5. Another idea for the knight of the beyond is granting him with a +1 scale armor, made from the very same scales as your patron), including proficiency in medium armor, and without disadvantage in stealth checks, and rising the prerrequesite to 7th level. That wouldn't "free" a stat (maybe the main thing here), being also a high AC trait, same flavor, and less OP (although ou should change the main pic, lol)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'd want to avoid static bonuses to AC, as those can stack up pretty quickly, especially with things like Dragon Scales.

      Armor of your patron's scales would be pretty cool though. I'll keep that in mind as I revise this option.

      Delete