Thursday, November 3, 2016

Catamaran - New Class Options Draft 1

Over the course of creating both the Catamaran setting and working with the players to create their characters, several new options for class archetypes that fit well within the setting became apparent. Below are the first of these in first draft form, so they're pretty rough (and derivative mechanically). But hopefully they are at least interesting. All feedback and comments very much welcome as I'm still getting a handle on 5E as a system.

Shark Totem

The following additional selections are available to barbarians on the Path of the Totem Warrior.

Totem Spirit
While raging, you gain advantage in melee combat when attacking enemies that are already wounded. The spirit of the shark makes you a fearsome killer when you detect the scent of blood.

Aspect of the Beast
You gain the speed of the shark. You gain a swim speed equal to your normal movement speed.

Totemic Attunement
While raging, you cannot be charmed, confused, or frightened and you gain blindsense with a 10 foot range.

Voice of Keruna

(Note: Bards in this setting get their magic by harnessing the voice of the goddess Keruna, the dead goddess whose corpse formed the island cluster the players live on. So bards are deeply tied to the culture and are held in high regard. They're a mixture of peacemakers, journalists, and secret police serving the greater good).

Bards who choose this path seek to develop the power of the words of Keruna instead of more worldly skills, seeking to inhabit the powers of the dead goddess. These are rare among the people of the Sea of Keruna and are universally treated with respect.

Bonus Proficiencies
At 3rd level, you gain proficiency in three of the following: Deceit, Intimidation, Persuasion, or a language of your choice. 

Voice of Creation
Starting at 3rd level, when you inspire an ally they also gain a number of temporary hit points equal to a roll of your inspiration die. Note this occurs when they get the inspiration die, not when they use it.

Voice of Thunder

At 6th level, you gain immunity to thunder damage and can ignore the thunder resistance or immunity of any creatures you strike with thunder damage. Any attack or spell you use that deals thunder damage is also considered to deal radiant damage. You are immune to the deafen and silence conditions. You are always considered to have thunderwave as a prepared spell. 

Voice of All
At 14th level, You are always considered to have speak with animals, speak with plants, speak with dead, and tongues as prepared spells. You may cast any of these spells by expending a bardic inspiration die; the level of the spell slot used to cast the spell is equal to half the maximum value of the inspiration die (so using a d10 will cast the spell with a 5th level spell slot). You gain resistance to radiant damage.


You use learning and observation to your advantage, taking the materials of the natural world and bending them to your will through science. Others may see your skills as being akin to magic, but your work is not based on any power arcane or divine. Instead you use chemistry, physics, and other fields of study left ignored by most, finding power in rarely held knowledge.

Master of Science
At 3rd level the rogue gains proficiency with the alchemist’s and tinker’s kit. If you are already proficient in these kits, you may apply double your proficiency bonus when using them.

When you choose this archetype at 3rd level, you learn gadgets that are fueled by special dice called cunning dice. You learn three gadgets of your choice, which are detailed under “Gadgets” below. Using a gadget requires an action, but the specific type of action varies from gadget to gadget.

You learn two additional gadgets of your choice at 9th, 13th, and 17th level. Each time you learn new gadgets, you can also replace one gadget you know with a different one.

Cunning Dice
You have four cunning dice, which are d8s. A cunning die is expended when you use it. You regain all of your expended cunning dice when you finish a short or long rest. You gain another cunning die at 9th level and one more at 17th level.

Saving Throws
Some of your gadgets require your target to make a saving throw to resist the gadget’s effects. The saving throw DC is calculated as follows: Gadget save DC = 8 + your proficiency bonus + your Intelligence or Dexterity modifier (your choice)

At 9th level, you have developed a unique invention that does what others can only do through magic. Choose one spell of 2nd level or lower from any spell list; you can recreate that spell’s effect through science twice per long rest with a spell level equal to your Intelligence bonus (minimum 2). The selected spell is considered to only have a somatic component, thus making you immune to silence, and this ability is not affected by anti-magic fields or similar effects. You should work with your DM to select a spell that makes sense and to craft the fiction that explains how it works, such as home brew healing potions for cure wounds spells or some manner of explosive for thunderwave.

Scientific Breakthrough
At 13th level your cunning die increase in size to d10s. At 17th level they increase to d12s and if you have no cunning die when you roll initiative, you gain one cunning die.


You use some general poison antidotes to help an adjacent ally fight off the effects of poison. As a bonus action you can give one of your cunning dice to the ally you assist and they can add it to a saving throw against any manner of poison made on their next turn.

Armor Piercing Shot
As part of an attack action, You use a specially devised arrowhead or bullet with your ranged weapon, adding your cunning die to your attack roll. The target must be wearing at least medium armor or have a natural armor bonus of +3 or more.

As an attack action, you toss a primitive explosive device into up to 30 feet away. Creatures within 10 feet of the device take fire damage equal to the cunning die spent on the attack, but can make a Dexterity save to take half damage. Multiple cunning dice can be spent on this gadget to increase the damage.

Fire Bomb
As an attack action, you throw a flammable bomb that lights all creatures within 5 feet on fire. They must make Dexterity saves or take fire damage equal to your cunning die each round until they succeed at the Dexterity save, or take an attack action to extinguish themselves.

Glue Bomb
As an attack action, you throw a stick glue bomb, affecting all creatures within 5 feet of the device. The targets must make a Dexterity save or suffer a penalty on all Dexterity saves equal to your cunning die until the next round.

Poison Strike
As a bonus action, you coat your weapon in one of your personally made poisons. You may add a cunning die to the damage of your next attack made with that weapon.

Scatter Shot
As part of a ranged attack, You use a specially designed fragmenting round to do additional damage to an enemy. You may spend your cunning die to add it to the damage of a ranged attack.

Smelling Salts
You use some smelling salts to help an adjacent ally regain their senses. As a bonus action, you can give one of your cunning dice to the ally you assist and they can add it to a saving throw to break free of any manner of mind-affecting spell or ability made on their next turn.

Smoke Bomb
As an attack action you release a smoke bomb at a point within 30 feet, releasing a cloud of smoke ten feet in diameter. Creatures in that smoke suffer a penalty to Perception and ranged attack rolls equal to your cunning die. Ranged attacks passing through this smoke suffer the same penalty. The smoke lasts for until the beginning of your next turn.

You dose an ally with a stimulant that reduces pain and increases alertness. As a bonus action, you grant an adjacent ally temporary hit points equal to the amount rolled on your cunning die and a bonus to all Perception checks equal to your cunning die as long as those hit points remain. These hit points fade after a short rest.

Weak Point
As a bonus action you can point out the weak points of constructs to an ally, granting that ally a bonus to an attack roll made during their next turn equal to your cunning die and allowing their weapon to count as magical for that attack.


  1. Totem Spirit (Shark) runs pretty close to always-on advantage in combat, which kind of erases Reckless Attack. Maybe only against bloodied creatures? (Yes, we all know bloodied is not a formal rules term in 5e, you know what I'm saying.)

    Totemic Attunement (Shark) makes me sad because that is quite a raft of immunities-while-raging. Reducing it to advantage on those saving throws + blindsense would probably still be competitive, or some kind of mitigated immunity.

    Voice of Creation needs a duration limit on the temporary hit points.

    Voice of Thunder is basically five distinct features. The first one is an immunity, so I dislike it on principle when resistance is a viable option. Fortunately thunder resistance and immunity are nearly nonexistent in the MM, so ignoring them is more nearly trivial than it appears. Immunity to deafening and being silenced are fine, even if they're still more immunities. Gaining thunderwave as a free Spell Known is fine. All together, this feature is incredibly powerful.

    Voice of All is basically fine.

    How does Master of Science interact with Expertise?

    Bomb probably needs to get beefed up with a bit more damage. Harder to judge about Fire Bomb.

    At least in comparing Poison Strike to Battlemaster maneuvers, it's granting the baseline benefit to which almost every maneuver adds some kind of condition or other effect. I don't know if this comparison is valid per se, but Poison Strike probably needs beefing up a bit. Likewise Scatter Shot.

    I assume constructs are not nigh-ubiquitous in setting, so Weak Point is probably underpowered. Admittedly, you wind up with nine gadgets, so you can eventually spare a pick for this.

    I hope this helps. If not, feel free to ignore.

    1. Reposting this as a reply to Brandes so everything formats better. Because I'm picky like that, except when I'm up past my bedtime.

      Yeah, I wish they still had bloodied. That's what I really wanted to use.

      Advantage on saves works for Totem Attunement.

      Voice of creation hit point duration is probably until the next short rest.

      Voice of thunder is a lot of different pieces, but each individual piece is so small (since thunder damage is super uncommon) I felt it needed a bundle for the theme to pay off. I could make the immunity to thunder damage resistance, but I'm not sure it's going to come up enough to feel like much of a pay off then. This seems more like a Menw in Pendragon "Useful 5% of the time but totally awesome when it is useful" sort of thing, which i think is fine as part of a power with other weak facets that show up more often.

      My reading of Expertise is that it applies to skills or thieves tools and can't apply to alchemist tools or tinkers tools. Am I reading it wrong?

      Yeah, bomb does feel underpowered. I originally had it as cunning die x3 damage. It does have a large area of effect than other bombs, but that may not be sufficient.

      Maybe let poison strike put the poisoned status on the target? I'm hesitant to make poison strike and scatter shot get more bonus damage as combined with sneak attack they can probably already get pretty vicious. But poisoned is pretty hoss.

      Weak point is totally underpowered. Maybe the cunning die also adds to damage?

    2. The thing is, they still _occasionally_ use "when your current hit points are less than half your maximum hit points," which is a longwinded way to do the same thing - but also does weird, weird things with temporary changes to your maximum hit points (not common, but not unknown).

      Until next short rest duration is basically fine. There might be some weird corner-case exploit that is why WotC usually assigns a hard time limit, but whatever.

      In real, at-the-table effect, the third and fourth features (also-radiant, immune to deafened and _silence)_ are the big producers. Not every DM is into neutralizing PC casters with _silence,_ but the mechanic is there and super accessible to NPCs. (For that matter, more NPCs should be tossing around the mighty mighty *thunderwave,* but that's neither here nor there.) Still, you make a good point of superficial strength vs relatively less real throughput.

      Turns out you're right re: Expertise. My bad. There are probably going to be other ways to get Expertise-like bonuses for other kinds of tools, but those rules are strictly playtest for now (the UA Feats article).

      I don't know offhand what the right scaling on a per-short-rest AoE should be. I can say that the two real guidelines - as I see them anyway - are the Warlock class and the Spell Damage table (DMG p.284).

      Poisoned until the beginning of your next turn on a failed save is probably fine - on the upper edge of okay, but still probably okay. Poison damage should apply even on a success. (Based on how Battlemaster maneuvers work.)

      My thinking on Weak Point is that its closest cousin is the Monster Slayer feature of the Monster Hunter fighter subclass, in the UA Gothic Heroes article. Consider allowing Weak Point to work against all non-formless creatures, but when used against constructs, the bonus die is maximized.

    3. Thanks for the feedback Brandes, the class archetypes are much stronger for it.

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