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Friday, March 29, 2013

Custom Hellknight Oath for #dndnext Paladin


Yes, I'm homebrewing a lot of stuff lately as you can see, but no I'm still not making up things, just using the existing material rearranged to my convenience.

Fun fact about these latest two "custom" things, the Nature Deity and this Hellknight Oath, is that before recognizing the need of making them for two of the campaign characters, I had the Nature Cleric as a Warden Paladin, and the Hellknight Paladin as an Arcanist Cleric..! Yes.

What convinced me that I needed to invert the two is that I still wanted the Arcanist Cleric to have good armor (and that's why I used Mountain Dwarf mechanics for the otherwise nearly human character) and good Charisma, while I didn't want the other guy to be very combat focused, and I needed him to have low Charisma, making him ineffective as a Paladin.

It was one of those cases where you put small clothes to a large person and large clothes to a small one, and only later realize that instead of adapting them, it would be better to just swap them! :-D

So this Hellknight Oath Paladin is exactly what you think it is. Basically a variant Blackguard with Fire-based spells and features. I call it like this, but the case of my character is actually a bit different, since the "oath" was kind of forced onto him, not chosen. He's basically possessed by a devilish force, but to stay on topic with the Paladin Oaths, which state the "paladin type", I thought Hellknight was flavorful and accurate enough.

Without further ado, here's what I come with, explanations later.



Oath of the Hellknight 

More often extorted or bestowed rather than chosen,
the oath of the hellknight is literally a pact with a devil.
The doom of these knights is to serve as the heavy cavalry
of the legions of a hell prince in Baator, battling angels
and demons alike.
  Alignment: You must be lawful evil.
  Channel Divinity: You gain the Storm's Fury (dealing Fire
damage), Dreadful Aspect, and Rebuke Undead options.
[Rebuke Undead can be changed into Rebuke Devils.]
  Blackguard Spells: Add the following spells to
your spell list.
  Spell 
  Level   Domain Spell 
  1          flaming sphere (in the form of a fiery devil)
  2          hold person
  3          fireball
  4          wall of fire
  5          insect plague

_________________________

So as you can see, this time I borrowed from the Blackguard (Dreadful Aspect) and the Storm Cleric (Storm's Fury), changing the elemental damage to Fire. The spell list was fine to build, and the detail of reflavoring the flaming sphere into a minor devil summoning is the icing on the cake, just as the Rebuke Devils option!

Feel free to use and comment!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Custom Nature Deity for #dndnext Clerics


As I mentioned in my last post, I have a character that direly needs to be a nature-themed Cleric for story reasons, and that I arranged as a Warden Paladin. I was quite happy with it, but then I realized I should have made him at least moderately charismatic, while the character was actually famous for being very lacking in the Charisma department.

So looking at the Warden Paladin package I realized something quite straightforward: isn't it a very similar set of features compared to the Cleric's Deity?

So the process of creating a new Deity was half-way done: I just needed to move the Warden elements and replace those of another Deity. I chose The Trickster as a base because it's the one that fitted the concept of the character the most, by having Cantrips and Spells borrowed from outside the Cleric spell-list, two extra Skills (the character was quite skilled), and light armor (good since the character was dexterous).

So here we are. I know the name of the "Deity" is lousy, but well... Feel free to suggest me another one! :-D



The Wild

  Armor and Shield Proficiencies: You have
proficiency with light armor and medium armor
except scale mail, mithral shirt, and mithril scale.
  Cantrips: You know the shillelagh cantrip,
plus one cantrip of your choice from the cleric’s
cantrip list.
  Channel Divinity: You gain the Nature's Wrath
 and Lay on Hands options. If you are not
evil, you gain the Turn Undead option. If you are
evil, you gain the Rebuke Undead option.
  Disciple of Wilderness: You gain two of the
following skills of your choice: Handle Animal,
Recall Lore (Natural), or Administer First Aid.
You also gain proficiency with simple and martial
ranged weapons.
  Domain Spells: You always have the following
spells prepared, provided you are able to cast
cleric spells of the given level. They do not count
against the number of spells you can prepare each
day.
  Spell 
  Level   Domain Spell 
  1           entangle
  2           barkskin
  3           protection from energy
  4           stoneskin
  5           wall of stone
  Suggested Equipment: Leather armor, quarterstaff,
 longbow, 50 arrows, holy symbol, flask of holy water,
adventurer’s kit, belt pouch containing 14 gp and 8 sp.
________________

As you can see, I chose the shillelagh spell for flavor reasons, but there were other good guesses as well (s (I was tempted by druidcraft but it was too flashy for the character).

The Domain Spells and Channel Divinity are straight out of the Warden Oath Paladin, but again, one could replace at least Lay on Hands (which was ok since the character is primarily a healer), with something else such as Divine Shelter or Spiritual Vestments.

The exceptions in armor with addition of some medium ones is balanced by the fact I removed proficiency in martial finesse weapons too, and is of course for flavor reasons, but it can be overridden easily.

Drop a comment or two if you use this in play, but I guess there's not much to say about it, just words of praise for D&D Next current linearity of design which allows "home-brew material" such as this to be perfectly in line and balanced with what we have!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

A Murder of Rogues #dndnext


Hello freaks!

Again the focus of this roguish blogger is on #dndnext Rogues. But it's actually really on a different class compared to the last time, since the playtest packet has been updated with lots of changes, since.

This latest incarnation works very very well for me personally, in that even if it doesn't have my favorite feature from the previous one (Slippery Target, which marked the first time a Rogue could be deadly without actually attacking), it still manages to be a pretty good incarnation of my concept of Rogue. So let me stress it again: if I like it so much even without my favorite feature, it must be pretty darn cool!

So what's so cool about the new Rogue?

Rogue Schemes. The new incarnation of Rogue Schemes is incredibly cool. But if you know me, you also know that if I think it's cool, it doesn't mean it's cool as it is, but as it can be...

Monday, March 11, 2013

The Fighter is dead, long live the Warlord! (aka The #dndnext Fighter..!)


Yes sirs, this is my Provocative Order of the week (let's see who gets this).

I didn't even want to hear the podcast that was incriminated for the "killing of the Warlord in D&D Next", because reading a few comments already made the situation quite clear to me.

Let's state some fundamental points first, about what I disapprove:

  1. I don't approve arguments against "martial healing": HPs are abstract in the inner workings of the game already, such as their recovery during rests. So yes, Warlords should heal HPs at some point. Or at the very least prevent HP loss pro-actively and/or reactively (which is actually something stronger than healing).
  2. I don't approve the use of Feats to build a Warlord type of character: it kills differentiation among Warlords. So a Warlord should be viable by selecting in-class options only.
Apart from this, as you may have noticed, I would be quite happy if the Warlord became part of the Fighter class, but my whole point about this matter is that, in my view, it's more the Warlord taking a rightfully earned commanding position between the two classes, and actually BECOMING the new Fighter. Because true, it will be called Fighter on the class entry, BUT:

Which class concept is more heroic:
  1. A fighting man, who excels at fighting?
  2. A master of warfare, who excels at fighting, and is knowledgeable about tactics and strategies, and who can command and lead by example other men into battle from the front line?
Yes, what I'm saying is that the Fighter as it has always been, is a derelict idea. D&D was originally a miniature wargame. The "Fighting Man" class from which the Fighter derives is nothing but the most basic representation of what it says in the title. A fighting man. The troops.

Note that I'm not denying at all the possible heroic factor and story potential of a plain, combat-focused warrior (I wish the class would be called like that) aka Fighter. What I'm saying is that the Warlord archetype already INCLUDES the Fighter archetype. I would simply see the combat-focused Fighter as a Warlord that doesn't lead others but uses warfare knowledge to better his/her skills and fight first-handedly always, without leading anybody. A Fighter class that could permit specialization as a classic Fighter or as a Warlord, is thus, IMO, a Warlord first and foremost, because if it includes the possibility to become a true leading Warlord, it must also embed the "flavor and story" of the Warlord as a de-facto standard even for the NON-Warlord Fighter. Which is exactly what I always wanted for D&D Fighters, since I was like eight years old.

Note that I thought they had saved the Fighter some weeks ago (all this post is about the Fighter class being "saved", flavor-wise, by the contribution of the Warlord). Because some weeks ago, in a Q&A, they said something wonderful about the Fighter. Which was that the Fighter was no mere fighting man, but someone who lived following "The Way Of The Warrior" (another of the countless reasons for which I ask myself why the hell they want to call the class Fighter and not Warrior, but I digress).

See, the Way Of The Warrior is a broad concept that in Fantasy tries to engulf real-world concepts such as Bushido, Chivalry, and so on. Well, all these "higher ways" of warfare include and sometimes emphasize KNOWLEDGE over just force or skill. And many of these also include the leading and commanding skills as part of the whole "Warrior Way", among many obvious reasons also because no warrior can be a soldier forever, if not by being dead (or undead, better yet), but especially because difficult battles can only be won through good strategies, tactics, and troops' morale: they're won through good leaders. So what I say is that a class that follows the Way Of The Warrior is actually much more akin to the 4e Warlord than to the Fighter of any edition of D&D.

See, another fact is that Fighter and Warlord share exactly the same "thematic niche". Which we could summarize as the "army niche". And in this army niche, the Fighter represents the Soldier, while the Warlord represents the Officer. But people, things like these are or should be covered by Backgrounds, not Classes.
Classes exist to differentiate characters that accomplish things in different ways, and coming from different thematic niches. A Fighter and a Warlord not only come from the very same thematic niche, but even if they don't do the same things, they accomplish these different things IN THE SAME WAYS: they fight in the front lines, armed and armored, knowing about warfare, tactics and weapons. So what differentiates them is JUST their actions, and as cause or consequence of this, perhaps their personal inclination. But that's actually the same difference you can find between a protective sword-and-board Fighter and a deadly fullblade-wielding slayer Fighter: they perform different actions, achieve different effects, but they come from the same niche, and do their thing in the same way: the way of the warrior. Well I say the 4e Warlord is simply one of the paths that the Fighter can follow, or better yet, that all the possible types of Fighters actually stem from the much richer Warlord archetype, just most of the times focusing on direct combat and not leading.

Whichever way you want to see this matter, if the Warlord becomes an in-class path of the Fighter, without requiring expenditure of Feats to reach the desired archetype, it will be far from dead. Because then the same phenomenon could stem from Ranger, Rogue, Paladin, Barbarian... And we'll finally, truly, have many and awesome types of Warlords, those that the people wanting a Warlord class are calling loudly for.

UPDATE: The missing "grunt feel".

A point that @Evil Gnome rightly brings up is that this "updated concept" of Way-of-the-Warrior-master Fighter with leading capabilities wouldn't have the necessary "grunt feel" to satisfy the people who want that feel.
I'd like to clarify that to me, the "grunt feel" is all-important and is a very big part of the Way of the Warrior that the Fighter embodies. Perhaps even its whole underlying spirit. And I say the Fighter "embodies" it, because other martial classes follow The Way too, but don't commit their whole lives to it like the Fighter, because a Paladin commits first and foremost to an ideal, a Ranger to the wilderness, a Rogue to selfishness, and a Barbarian to the power of his/her emotions.

Rightly because the Fighter is or should be a true embodiment of the warrior ideals, even the most leading-focused Fighter, aka Warlord, is or should be a true beacon of "grunt feel". Take King Leonidas in 300: would you say he is low on "grunt feel"..? I would dare you to state that in front of him..! :) But he's a warlord first and foremost. And this doesn't at all make him less of a true Warrior/Fighter, on the contrary, it makes him an example for other Warriors/Fighters.

So to wrap these thoughts up, I think that the Fighter shouldn't be "a grunt class", in the sense of "just being a grunt", like a common soldier or town guard. But it should be "THE grunt class", in the sense of consciously and completely committing to the Way Of The Warrior, which actually teaches how being a "grunt" is something very noble, useful, and necessary, both in warfare and in the warrior's everyday life. So I'd argue that this new take on the Fighter actually "ups the grunt-ness level", quite as much as the 300 movie did to the world's idea of "perfect warrior". :)

Friday, March 1, 2013

Of #dndnext Rogues and... Terence Hill..!


Hello guys!

Some of you may have noticed I didn't post anything in a long while, and as I had declared on Twitter once, it's mostly because of real life, not because I lost any interest in the hobby.

I actually haven't got any time to play D&D Next recently (#dndnext), but I did examine the latest playtest packet throughout. And I must say that I'm starting to really love what the designers are doing.
And as the title suggests, I'm mostly happy of what they have finally done with the Rogue class.

In all the editions of D&D until the 4th, the Rogue has always been a tough class to play. Which is to say, an underpowered class. I know, it can be the subject of heated discussions, but we're talking opinions here.
Even during 3rd edition, in which the Rogue actually got some good damaging potential, it was crippled in one way or another. And with the advent of 4th edition, it simply became like every other striker class, with a lot of overlap with the Ranger, which could actually do/be the same with just some reskinning.

What I always felt very lacking in D&D's Rogue though, wasn't actually the power level. After all, the players who dig Rogues, will play Rogues even if they're underpowered (although I don't think that's fair).
What I felt the designers never quite accomplished with the Rogue was nailing the flavor of it.

There are two possible Rogue flavors to be nailed, in my opinion:

  1. The sensu-strictu D&D Rogue/Thief.
  2. The real-world/real-fantasy Rogue.