Skinwalker – Otherworldly Patron

I made this for the forums and after a second look a few days later, I decided to put it here, too. It’s made for someone, who wanted to include the druid’s wild shape feature to the warlock class and asked the forum, what would be appropriate. So I simply made up a new subclass.

The Skinwalker

The warlock made a pact with a powerful shapeshifter or beast god, like Malar of the Forgotten Realms. This pact concentrates of attaining the ability to change into various beasts. This is much like the Moon druid subclass in many cases, but overall, this subclass is less powerful in most regards.

At 1st level you get the shapeshifter subtype and can grow either claws, fangs or a horn as a bonus action. Claws go with d4 finesse and light, the bite with d6 finesse and the horn with d8. You have proficiency with all kind of natural attacks. Additionally your beasty nature allows you to roll animal handling and charisma checks with advantage, as long as you interact with beasts.

Your pact spells could be:
1st – Beast Bond (EE Player Guide), Longstrider
2nd – Pass without Trace, Moonbeam
3rd – Bestow Curse, Nondetection
4th – Locate Creature, Greater Invisibility
5th – Commune with Nature, Reincarnate

At 3rd level you have to take a new form of a pact boon, Pact of the Beast. This will be your wildshape-kinda feature, even though it is more restricted. You can only use it once per short rest and have to spend a spell slot to do so. Otherwise it works like wildshape, even though you can use it as a bonus action (but not spend spell slots to heal yourself). And even though you should name it differently, you also get the Circle Forms.

At 6th you get the Primal Strike like a Moon Druid.

At 10th level when you’re in beastform, you have resistance to non-silvered, non-magical weapons to increase the unholiness of the shapeshifting nature. Your natural weapons also count as silvered.

At 14th level you can use your form of wild shape as often as you want, as long you have spell slots. You can even change your shape when you’re still in another.

You can add some druidic spells as invocations, like speak with animals at-will, conjure animals once per day by spending a spell slot, etc. I would choose those, who would make your warlock more like a leader of a pack or an animal master.

Since Wild Shape levels with the character, the other features aren’t too impressive, but it should be a good way to embrace the beast while remaining a warlock in all other aspects. Polymorph wasn’t added for a reason, since there is already an Eldritch Invocation for this and it should be only be usable once per day, since this spell packs a lot of power.

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Warlock – Overview

Sorry for the great delay, Christmas and other stuff kept going on and on and on and so I was pretty unmotivated to do the blog. Even though I played a lot of D&D in this time and in the end have a lot of experience to share. I won’t have much free time (at least without decreasing my time playing D&D), but at least I’ll try at least one per week.

This was definitely a really big piece of work, since I had no idea how I could make it even remotely viable. But now it’s done! Wohoo, only one more to go, even though it’ll be a lot of subclasses there… dammit. As always my personal opinion and somehow I think an overview isn’t too accurate here, since the warlock class is much harder to grasp than most other classes, since there are way more ways to customize it.

This is an overview, so I’ll just categorize each class in certain categories to see how it cuts and give a personal grading. The end-grading won’t count the multiclass-strength in (for obvious reasons) and is more like an overall impression than a mathematical derivation.

Any feature in italic is from a subclass and a abbreviation will say which one (in the warlock’s case AF for the Archfey, FI for the Fiend and GO for the Great Old One). And red features means there is a flaw or a minus in said category.

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Multiclass-Strength:

  • Brings Pact Magic, which is pretty useful for high class warlocks with some levels in another spellcasting class
  • Invocations can bring some pretty nice basic effects, which will enhance the warlockish experience even with few levels up to the high tier
  • since the warlock’s features lacks in focused power and excels in power over time, you can easily balance the focused power out by taking another class
  • good combinations with every class
  • the capstone isn’t to sneer at, but you won’t find it too sad not to have it until you’re in a lengthy and really difficult dungeon crawl

Offensive:

  • Pact Magic: Some offensive potential here and depending on pact much more incoming. Especially the Eldritch Blast cantrip will be useful in that department.
  • Eldritch Invocations:
    • Agonizing Blast: Obviously more damage.
    • Devil’s Sight: Increases the chances to make damage, especially after making it harder for a lot of enemies.
    • Eldritch Spear: Increased range means more chances to make damage.
    • Lifedrinker: Obviously more damage.
    • Master of Myriad Forms: Well, sometimes you really want claws, I think.
    • Minions of Chaos: More guys to make your damage.
    • Sculptor of Flesh: Become something to increase your offense.
    • Thirsting Blade: More attacks means more damage.
    • Witch Sight: Counters these annoying illusion defensive spells, like invisibility in any form.
  • Pact Boon – Pact of the Chain: The more powerful familiars can be pretty nice, if you’re still on low-levels and cornering one guy and don’t want to waste more resources than needed. But in the end they’re still not combat material, but at least they share the functions of a normal familiar, too, like touching enemies for you.
  • Pact Boon – Pact of the Blade: Warlocks aren’t good melee characters, but this pact make them decent, like a bard. It’s less about making yourself a great combatant and more about making you more diverse. And as long as you don’t have a magical weapon as a pact weapon, you can choose the right weapon at the right time and use it, regardless of what it is.
  • Expanded Spell-list (FI): More offensive spells can make you a spell-slinger for a couple of turns. And if you know you have time for a short rest afterwards, you will make your wizard-buddy look at you with envy in terms of damage.
  • Hurl Through Hell (FI): It’s like another offensive Mystic Arcanum. Only needs to hit with an attack, so any spell with an attack roll is fair game, too.

Resource-Management:

  • Pact Magic: Spell slots which will be regained after every short rest! Cool!
  • Mystic Arcanum: These don’t use up your spell slots, even though they’re powerful. A nice exception of the rule.
  • Eldritch Master: Nice to have, since it shortens the time to regain spell slots once a day.
  • Pact Features (AF, FI, GO): Most of them are regained at a short rest or at-will, so you can use them without too much worry.
  • Pact Magic: Too less spell slots for situations, when you want to cast as much great spells as possible. And even with regaining those slots after a short rest, it’ll slow down the exploration phases, if you’re the only caster with utility spells, which consumes the resource ‘time’.
  • Mystic Arcanum: This red is only compared to other main-spellcasters, since you end up with less high-level spells and can’t use higher spell slots to empower them.

Support:

  • Pact Magic: Not the best spell list for this kind of work, even though the Archfey brings some neat spells and invocations can bring others.
  • Eldritch Invocations:
    • Bewitching Whispers: Less enemies to worry about and more allies for all kind of usage.
    • Chains of Carcer: Lessen the enemies (even though only special types) for a round or two.
    • Dreadful Word: Another one which will decrease your enemies.
    • Mire the Mind: A genuine debuff.
    • Otherwordly Leap: Increasing your jumping distance is a standard way in dungeons to get these hovering bastards, like Flameskulls.
    • Repelling Blast: Push those enemies to the tank, which will save your back line some trouble.
    • Sculptor of Flesh: Make one enemy into a beaver, so he won’t do much until the spell ends.
    • Sign of Ill Omen: Debuff are as good as buffs and with less enemies even better.
    • Thief of Five Fates: Another debuff.
    • Witch Sight: Even if your allies can’t use it, you can at least tell them.
  • Expanded Spell-list (AF): The Archfey makes it possible to learn some support and avoiding fights entirely with the Sleep spell at low levels.
  • Hurl Through Hell (FI): Sometimes an enemy brings a mean aura or another nasty effect. With this you can at least get one round of breather.

Survivability:

  • Pact Magic: Some defensive buffs and temporary hit points here, plus some debuffs. Nothing too directly and some of the greatest defenive buffs are missing in this spell list.
  • Eldritch Invocations:
    • Armor of Shadows: Mage armor without spell slots on yourself? Be prepared 24/7!
    • Ascendant Step: Good for melee only opponents which can’t reach that high.
    • Bewitching Whispers: Make one enemy into a friend.
    • Chains of Carceri: Hold that one fiend, fey or celestial which want to slam you.
    • Eldritch Spear: Keep your distance to the danger as long as possible.
    • Fiendish Vigor: Gives you practically additional hp.
    • Mask of Many Faces: Sometimes your best bet is to take the form of an enemy, like a city guard, to survive.
    • Master of Myriad Forms: Aquatic adaptation safes lifes. And of course the ‘look like an enemy’ thing.
    • Minions of Chaos: Have something between you and your doom.
    • Mire the Mind: The slower the opponent, the faster you get away.
    • One with Shadows: Vanish if you’re not needed and there are shadows nearby, which is pretty often the case.
    • Otherwordly Leap: If you can jump over something the enemy can’t, you win. And of course you can position yourself in the first place somewhere much harder to attack.
    • Repelling Blast: Especially useful with multiple Eldritch Blasts: Push them back and move back afterwards for maximum use.
    • Sculptor of Flesh: Be either a spider, rat or bird to run away or beef up as a T-Rex!
    • Sign or Ill Omen: Disadvantage with attack rolls against you? Bought!
    • Thief of Five Fates: At least some protection… even though it’s minor.
    • Witch Sight: Those invisible ambushers will have a harder time to ambush. Invisible.
  • Fey Presence (AF): Even though charm and frightened aren’t the best debuffs, you can count on it to keep you safe versus a lot of trouble. Except undead and dragons.
  • Misty Escape (AF): Get damage once, be sure to survive afterwards. Teleport and invisible at the same time are two great ways to mitigate further damage.
  • Beguiling Defenses (AF): While you love to charm, you hate being charmed. And not only being immune to it but to redirect it back to the sender is a very nice thing to do.
  • Dark Delirium (AF): Only one opponent and again it becomes charmed/frightened, but in this version, the enemy is practically out of combat until it breaks.
  • Dark One’s Blessing (FI): Killing stuff and getting temporary hit points. Since temporary hit points are as good as normal hit points when taking damage, you’ll like them.
  • Dark One’s Own Luck (FI): Since it only applies to ability checks and saving throws, you will most likely use it in life-threatening situations.
  • Fiendish Resilience (FI): Since you can choose the type, you can practically prepare after every short rest for the next fights. Oh, there is a green dragon out there? I should better take a poison resistance. And even for bludgeoning, piercing or slashing damage it’s great, since silver or magic weapons aren’t too common.
  • Hurl Through Hell (FI): Use it to single out the most annoying enemy and send it away for a round.
  • Entropic Ward (GO): Even though it gives you advantage on one attack roll if it succeeds, the warlock doesn’t have a real damaging spell, which relies on an attack roll. So just use it for the disadvantage for one enemy attack.
  • Thought Shield (GO): If you ever find yourself in the Underdark, you will love this ability. Resistance to psychic damage and to share the rest is a great way to combat aberrations on an even ground and of course illusions will hurt less.
  • Armor Proficiency: Only light armor, which is better than no armor, but since Dexterity isn’t a main ability, you’ll feel the difference in AC.

Utility:

  • Pact Magic: A decent amount of utility spells in this list and the pacts adds some more. It misses the sheer amount of the wizard, but brings some overall useful stuff. And misses long range teleportation spells entirely.
  • Eldritch Invocations:
    • Ascendant Step: Levitate to places you won’t reach otherwise.
    • Beast Speech: Talk to pets and other animals to gather information.
    • Beguiling Influence: More Skill Proficiencies!
    • Bewitching Whispers: Compulsion can do that much.
    • Book of Ancient Secrets: Make your average warlock to a above average dungeon crawler by adding rituals to the mix. From any list.
    • Devil’s Sight: The better darkvision will make you a great scout… at least that’s what your party will think.
    • Eldritch Sight: At will Detect Magic without using 10 minutes for a ritual cast. You will love it.
    • Eyes of the Rune Keeper: Your DM will hate you for this, since ancient writings aren’t supposed to be read. But at least you can read any message your enemy left behind. At least unless the bloody mess made it unreadable.
    • Gaze of Two Minds: Scout ahead with two people… kinda. And of course to make an ambush and time it just right, while hiding somewhere your enemy will never see you.
    • Mask of Many Faces: Look like any humanoid you want. Like the townmaster!
    • Master of Myriad Forms: Be any humanoid you want. Like the king, after kidnapping him.
    • Misty Visions: Minor illusion for maximum usage outside of combat.
    • One with Shadows: Infiltration succeeds.
    • Otherwordly Leap: Jump to places you won’t reach without using resources.
    • Repelling Blast: You can push objects around and that makes it useful.
    • Sculptor of Flesh: Polymorph Shenanigans makes great exploration experience.
    • Visions of the Distant Realms: Like Eldritch Sight, only better. And the need for a higher warlock level.
    • Voice of the Chain Master: If you want to talk with someone without being there.
    • Whisper of the Grave: Dead people can tell you a lot. Especially concerning their deads.
    • Witch Sight: This is not the king, but a shapeshifter!
  • Pact Boon – Pact of the Chain: With a familiar with several special abilities, dungeoneering and some urban strategies becomes much easier. Having an imp go invisible to follow a goon back to headquarters to get the whole band? Easy!
  • Pact Boon – Pact of the Tome: Of course it depends partly on the cantrips, but since most cantrips are meant to be useful, I didn’t saw the need to put it in other categories. But the real power of this feature is due the Book of Ancient Secrets Invocation, which enhances your utility tenfold.
  • Fey Presence (AF): You know, you can choose the effect to make a conversation go more smoothly?
  • Dark Delirium (AF): If you want to let a guard being less on guard, don’t use drugs but dreams!
  • Dark One’s Own Luck (FI): If you have that one ability check which would fail otherwise, you can use this feature after seeing the result to correct it. If you’re lucky enough.
  • Expanded Spell-list (GO): Even though the new spell selection is very versatile, the most interesting options are in the utility-department, like detect thoughts.
  • Awakened Mind (GO): Telepathy at-will, even if you don’t share a language. Great ability, which have a lot of possibilities, the best part is the fact, that you can organize the party in a silent manner. Or use it to deceive someone or at least get the attention.
  • Create Thrall (GO): Only for humanoid targets, but if you ever need a spy, you can simply make you one. But only charmed, so it’s still less than a total control.

Grading:

Multiclass: Fantastic
Offense: Good to Great (FI)
Resource Management: Great
Support: Bad
Survivability: Decent to Good (AF, FI)
Utility: Good to Great (GO)

Overall: Good

Multiclass warlocks are pretty common in the forums, mostly because you can grasp some really nice features with only a few warlock levels when focusing on another class or instead take a few level in another class, to enhance your warlock build. This is possible, since the warlock class is much more customizable than your average class, so the customize option ‘multiclass’ just add to that strength.

One of the strengths of the warlock are the Invocations, which enhances any category you feel is lacking, but at the same time every warlock have one problem: The power of the moment. Without short rests a warlock lacks a lot of power, since he have less resources but it’s easier to regain those. So for short and hard encounters the warlock loses out against every other class, while on a long adventuring day with the common 3 short rests, he will be at least reliable and at the end have more spells left than the other arcane casters.

But first you need to get to this point, since other classes lacks the means to regain resources early in the game and you don’t want to go on an adventure, while your companions hit rock bottom of their power.  So at the start you will be underwhelming, then you become reliable and in the end it all comes down how well you build up your warlock.

I suggest the warlock class for everyone who likes having options and not too specialized. For those who wants options and be specialized, I suggest a warlock-multiclassing, which are very common these days as ideas on the forums. You can combine the warlock with any other class to make it work better in one department.

 

The wizard’s overview will have to wait, since I never got the chance to speak about the other books and want to finish the game reports of the Tyranny of Dragons campaign I’m mastering. Even though we didn’t get that far there, sadly.

What makes the warlock different?

I already said, that the warlock is an entirely different class than any other. That mean, while you can somehow categorize the other classes into some generic groups (like fighter, paladin, barbarian as the front-liners, ranger and rogue as the skirmishers/artillery, bard, cleric and druid as the support/healer and sorcerer and wizard as the arcane support/blasting), the warlock might be everything and none to it.

The basic of this view follows the fact, that the warlock uses a lot of unique mechanism, while other classes has some very basic commonalities, like Extra Attack for the weapon based, spellcasting trait, etc. So this means, that despite all differences, you can get a bit of insight what these class are supposed to do.

The warlock is supposed to be a main-caster in a way, but lacks spellcasting. He uses Pact Magic, which is quite different. He isn’t as squishy as a standard wizard/sorcerer, but have the basic defense capabilities of a rogue. And with the Invocation mechanism, he can be pretty well customized on a basic level (means there will never be need for a new kind of subclasses, which would replace standard features like Pathfinder archetypes do), be it in focusing on damage, utility, spellpower or other departments.

And of course he has practically 2 subclasses, one pact which would be the real subclass and the pact boon, which doesn’t have anything to do with the pact in the first place, but will affect many builds as much if not more than the choice of fey, fiend or great old.

This makes the options of customization fourfold: Known spells, Invocations, subclass, Pact Boon. A fey warlock with the pact blade will feel much different than one with the pact tome, since the focused went from enhanced weapon damage (and the utility to use the weapon you want unless you got another item bounded) to utility-magic focused type, even though both excels in mind-affecting and tricky spells. And if you would change to the pact of the fiend instead, you got your weapon plus a bunch of offensive potential.

 

So even when writing my overview I just get the feeling, I can’t really pin down this class as good as others. Even though the cleric is problematic, since his domain will give him a huge jump and change the class focus for a great mileage, the warlock is just more complicated. And if you get into feats and other non-class dependent customization, you can do about anything with this class, even though it might not excel in it. But if a warlock would be a better fighter than the fighter, I would definitely complain about it.

But for most people who are looking forward or have already fun playing a warlock, this variety might be exactly the reason why to. Personally, I’d like to play a fey pact blade warlock, combining a charming personality, swashbuckling and a bit of useful spells, even consider to not take Eldritch Blast as a cantrip or even if I do, to ignore the Agonizing Blast Invocation, since there are so many other nice ones there.

Bound to level

Since time issues and the fact, that the warlock is unlike any other class, I’ll postpone the overview for now, I try to make it happen any day, but make it so, that I first write a less time.consuming post and afterwards put some time into drafting the overview piece a piece.

For today like to talk about levels and level-bound traits. These came up when playing and after seeing some postings about it, I thought that it might still be confusing. And sometimes not even that clear.

First, I want to explain, that I will not talk about the traits, which are entirely bound to classes, where the improvements are part of the class table (like Wild Shape, Aura Improvement, Extra Attacks, etc.), but where the character level seems to be the deciding factor or at least could be.

Second, I will take on the ability score improvement trait, which is now bounded to class, instead of character level, simply because I think this is somehow viable to talk about in this post.

Third, every DM is free to make changes to it, so if you don’t feel like this is a good or logical choice, you’re free to disagree. But you should expect that others don’t agree to your disagreement and stay cool about it.

Cantrips: Taken from this site here:

With cantrips, does a MC caster use their character or class level for determining damage? A multiclass character uses character level to determine the damage of a cantrip. -J

Cantrips comes from multiple choices, starting with spellcasting classes, races (like the high elf) or feats (Magic Initiate). Since the offensive cantrips are meant to rival multiple attacks at some point, they become stronger with rising level, but why should it be character level be the basic?

OK, there are multiple ways to get them and even if a high elf isn’t needlessly a wizard, it doesn’t mean that he won’t put some work into it. Same for a ranger/wizard or other combination of caster/non/less-caster class. Even though you might suspect, that it would be illogical if the fighter picks up the wizard class after having a lot of fighter levels and have as lethal cantrips as an non-evocation wizard of the same level.

Multiclassing shouldn’t punish or reward players ideally and dishing out damage per round is somewhat crucial for staying competitive through the levels. Extra attacks are the way for melees and these don’t stack, so why would cantrips do it in any way? Counter-question: How much does it hurt? Since cantrips are still often inferior to weapon choices of weapon-focused class (at the at-will department), you often needs some basic traits of these classes to make them stronger, limiting either your options (like warlock Invocations) or the need to take some levels (like Arcane Tradition of Evocation).

I don’t really see any damage here, especially since most cantrips aren’t that reliable in comparisons to other at-will features.

Warlock Invocations prerequisite: This is a thing, which is asked quite often. Do you need the specific character or warlock level to choose those high-level invocations? RAW it doesn’t become clear, but if you look at those features, it seems kinda unfair to other classes to make this 2 level dip into warlock something which gives you some features you wouldn’t be able to get when multiclassing into another class. Jeremy Crawford answered in his twitter (source):

The intent is that a level prerequisite in a warlock invocation refers to warlock level.

Intend doesn’t needlessly means that it’s meant to be a rule. I would decide on a case to case basic here, a valor bard/blade warlock who seeks to increase the damage a bit with the Lifedrinker-Invocation might get another treatment as a paladin who seeks to do the same. It’s about how much the party might need it (if you run official modules with 3 characters, you might consider that this is within reason or if the player of the tank is leaving the party due personal circumstances and no one could otherwise be that melee-prescience).

But for the most part, I agree.

Ability Score Improvements (or feats): In 3e and 4e these were bounded to character level, now they’re not, which is bad for multiclass characters. At the beginning, a great “Why?!”-wave came around and after all that time, some don’t even tried to understand. There were a lot of change-requests, house rules and the like flowing around (like feats at 1st level, bounding the ASI at character level and such).

Before house-ruling something, I suggest trying it out first. It’s really not that bad. And there are some reasons not to be so fast to expand it:

  • The team are unlikely to be composed of idiots, since they got the job in one of the greatest companies in the gaming business
    • classes aren’t design to have the ASI at character levels, which would lead to dead levels (means no benefit), if the normal ones are taken away
  • Multiclassing brings other features, seems even logical that characters wouldn’t have the resources to improve abilities or learn a new feat in the meanwhile
  • Most feats are terrifying strong and define characters quite strongly. In most cases, you will feel the benefits of a feat much more than the benefit of a ASI, at least that’s what I experienced so far. They can easily match up to class features in terms of benefits and are often even more overwhelming than those at the mid-levels
    • I do think, the human variant is the more D&D-like human (at least 3e upwards) and the standard is the one you only tend to use when feats are not allowed. Since feats are so strong, a lot of (PC-)Adventurers are actually human.

So why should you even expand to those without thinking things through and not even trying to use the actual rules at this point? Of course there might be good reasons, like having less PCs than normal, but I run a campaign with 3 PCs and advanced standard rules (means multiclassing allowed [nobody wants to], variant human [one] and feats [at least 2 will take a feat at 4th level instead of ASI]) and even if the start was hard, they managed.

So, that’s it. If I missed something, please feel free to comment and I’ll add it.

Lacking Capstones

Today I talk about our capstones. A capstone is a feature you gain when you reached the level cap, in D&D more specific the level cap in one class (means 20th level for now). The only D&D edition which made great capstones were 4e, Pathfinder got it right and made at least decent, but often not too great, capstones. In 5e, most are lacking.

Here I categorized them to usefulness:

Great and useful anytime

  • Barbarian’s Primal Champion (+4 STR and CON and the cap get increased to 24 for these two abilities)
  • Paladin’s [Ancient] Elder Champion (regain 10 hit points per turn, 1 action casts can be reduced to bonus action, enemies within 10ft have disadvantage to saving throws vs. your paladin spells and Channel Divinity).
  • Rouge’s Stroke of Luck (turn a miss into a hit or make a failure in a ability check to a natural 20 once per short rest)
  • Wizard’s Signature Spells (have two 3rd level always prepared and cast them once per short rest for free at 3rd spell level)

Useful in most cases

  • Cleric’s Improved Divine Intervention (100% chance that your god will help you once a week)
  • Fighter’s 4th attack (great at combat, otherwise useless)
  • Paladin’s [Devotion] Holy Nimbus (10 radiant damage per round for enemies within 30ft, advantage on saving throws vs. undead and fiend spells)
  • Paladin’s [Vengeance] Avenging Angel (Fly speed 60ft and 30ft fear aura).
  • Warlock’s Eldritch Master (regain once per day after 1min all expended Pact Magic spell slots)

Rather lacking, even though useful sometimes (like builds and cases)

  • Druid’s Archdruid (unlimited Wildshape for moon druids and spellcasting with your mind alone unless the material components cost gold)
  • Ranger’s Foe Slayer (once per turn WIS-mod. to attack or damage vs. favored enemy after seeing the roll but before knowing the result)

Useful when running into a lot of encounters

  • Bard’s Superior Inspiration (get one inspiration back when having none when rolling initiative)
  • Monk’s Perfect Self (get 4 ki points back when having none when rolling initiative)
  • Sorcerer’s Sorcerous Restoration (regain 4 expended sorcery points after a short rest)

Some of them would definitely rank higher, if there were only one to two changed details. Like the warlock’s Eldritch Master, if it’d only cost an action. Pact Magic slots are regained after an hour rest, too, after all, even though a minute is much better in that regard, I wasn’t that whelmed.

So why aim for the capstones after all, if most of them are underwhelming? Maybe high level campaigns in planning have a lot of encounters one after another, so regaining resources with initiative roll will have that much impact. Maybe the 21th+ levels will bring some juicy bonuses when you stay in your class and the ‘not-capstones-anymores’ are just a milestone to real power.

I personally think after gaining so much levels in one class, you can simply go all the way. Why would a character even bother at that point to pursue another path?

Let’s get a Rest!

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One of the most likeable changes in 5e is how they handled the short rest. This mechanism first appeared in 4e, for recovering some of your resources, so you would be able to get back into action with full hit points (using healing surges) and all encounter powers, to seriously kick some asses. An extended rest came, after most healing surges were spent or the situation arose. A short rest were only 5 minutes long.

 

Between the testplay and the actual 5e, the short rest grew from 10min to 1 hour, making it harder to actually rest in most dungeons, after raising the monster’s aggro. When 5min can be a pain, 1 hour is certain death and the effects are even lesser, at the first glance: You can spend hit dice, which is after 4th level less than the average healing surge (worth decreasing over the levels) and regain some resources, but not every character as much.

 

So let’s see, which things are regained during short rest!

  • Dragonborn’s Dragon Breath
  • Barbarian’s Relentless Rage’s (11th level) DC get reset to 10
  • Bard gets Bardic Inspiration back, after hitting 5th level
  • Cleric’s (1st level) and Paladin’s (3rd level) Channel Divinity uses
    • Knowledge Domain’s 17th level feature (Visions of the Past)
  • Druid’s Wild Shape (2nd level)
    • Circle of the Land’s Natural Recovery once a day (2nd level)
  • Fighter’s Second Wind (1st level)
  • Fighter’s Action Surge (1st level)
    • Battle Master’s Superiority Dice (3rd level)
    • Eldritch Knight can perform a weapon bound (3rd level)
  • Monk’s KI-points (2nd level)
  • Rogue’s Stroke of Luck (20th level)
  • Sorcerer’s Sorcerous Restoration (20th level)
  • Warlock’s Pact Magic’s spell slots (1st level)
    • Bounding a weapon due Pact of the Blade (3rd level)
    • Replace the tome of Pact of the Tome (3rd level)
    • Archfey’s Fey Presence (1st level)
    • Archfey’s Misty Escape (6th level)
    • Archfey’s Dark Delirium (14th level)
    • Fiend’s Dark Ones Own Luck (6th level)
    • Fiend’s Fiendish Resilience (10th level)
    • Great One’s Entropic Ward (6th level)
  • Wizard’s Arcane Recovery once a day (1st level)
  • Wizard’s Signature Spell (20th level)
    • Divination’s Third Eye (10th level)
    • Illusion’s Illusory Self (10th level)
    • Transmutation’s Shapechanger (10th level)
  • If you’re able to regain hit points again due the Healer feat
  • Gaining temporary hit points due the Inspiring Leader feat
  • Superiority Die of the Martial Adept feat

 

Fist impression: The Ranger won’t get anything special besides hit points out of a short rest, while the Sorcerer and Rogue just get features after hitting 20th level. Those three classes are very good, if you’re looking for a more fast paced game, while the warlock’s power-curve will definitely rise comparing to most characters, the more short rests he can plan into his resource management.

 

But the real problem lies in the 1 hour. While the DMG will be have alternative rules for short rests (because, as we can see, not all classes gets as much out of it as others, you shouldn’t just decrease the time value), I’ll definitely stick with this hour. Why? Because there are times when resting is logical, sometimes it isn’t. You won’t take a rest, if you’re right before the final boss room, because he might notice you in that time, even though you did everything to remain stealthily (like the Silence spell).

An hour is long enough to consider random encounters (not only combat ones) and all these factors makes the resting more of a logical and tactically decision and my player’s like to play like that most of the times. And if the danger is less present, hey, take a rest. 😉
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Let’s Rock with Roles!

Finally I got this written, now see, what I was writing about the last few days: Roles!!!

In D&D 4e a lot of players were repulsed by the introduction of the class-roles, even though the books said, that they existed long ago and the classes were more built around those roles. Personally, I didn’t care about it, it just made party building that much easier. But since being classified as a role makes it much harder to actually visualize a different build, I thought: Let’s group any class into a group!

Here I will make a difference between combat-roles and outside-combat-roles, since every character should be able to participate in battle, while Social Interaction is often made by a single character. And I’ll dip into the archetypes a bit, without in-depth explanation, there are some builds out there, which makes it much clearer, if you prepare for a specific campaign.

Here the combat-roles:

Defenders are the typical front-liners, which can take punishment, are able to hold a line, protecting the backrow, and of course brings some punishment to the foes. In 4e he’s a very tactical role, in most previous editions, he is just swinging a weapon around hoping that his damage and presence is enough to fulfill that role.

Strikers are able to bring a humongeous amount of damage fast to the enemies. His main-role is to defeat the biggest threats as fast as possible or kill those off, which got some amount of damage from the Controller to lessen the numbers of enemies.

Leaders brings buffs for the party, leading how the battle will go on. AC-buffs for grindy battles, damage buffs for fast ones, the right buff at the same time is one of the most powerful thing. And of course he’s healing the party, ensuring their lifes while deciding effectively, who can participate how long in the thicks.

Controllers got are effects and strong debuffs. They often have damiging powers, which are able to get a lot of enemies in one sweep, they can change the battlefield to the party’s liking and make powerful foes to helpless ones (like stunning the same opponent consequently for 5 rounds).

No class is a pure build on these 4 basic roles and I chose the 4e terms, since Pen and Papers aren’t MMORPGs and therefore these roles have different ways and things to offer, than the correspondentive MMO-Role (Tank, Damage Per Second [DPS], Healer, Crowd Control)

Outside of Combat, these roles are more defining (not counting all possible, but those who I personally think are important):

Knowledge is power, and the Bookworm have all kind of knowledge skills paired with above average Intelligence (this is why they’re most often wizards), if the party needs more explanation, z

With a Brawn, you don’t have to worry about any physical challenge: Climbing a mountain path? No problem. Carrying the petrified Rogue out of the dungeon, while a cockatrice is at your heels? Piece of cake! Breaking a door? D’oh, rolled a 1!

Everyone who is a main-magic user is able to fulfill the Caster-role, when mundane tools ad tactics won’t work, just use a spell! There is treasure at the bottom of the lake and monsters which guard it? Water Breathing! We have to storm a fortress, overtaking the walls, fighting the guards and traps and get weakened to the final fight? Divination to find the treasure room, Dimension Door to shortcut! Some problems aren’t even remotely as easy to solve without a caster, like traveling to the City of Brass in the fire plane. To look for a portal which travels to it, getting to said portal while fighting off anything which is in the way or might think, that it’d be unwise to open a gate to the elemental fire? Annoying!

Without a Face, a person looks funny, a party looks poor. This is the guy who takes all the Charisma-based skills, to be able to smoothtalk, bluff or even force himself and his party members out of the most dangerous situation. A silvery tongue to a slippery guy. Or girl.

The Sneak(y Guy) is someone, is able to sneak ahead of the party for scouting, preparing ambushes or finding a way into a building (like climbing up the walls of a castle, take out the guard post and drop a rope for the rest). Sneaks and Spotters are natural enemies, even though a lot of Rangers fulfill both spots so well, that he should be his own archenemy.

Spotters are the ones who pumped everything in their Perception scores to be able to spot and search for everything. No enemy unseen, no treasure unfound, no DM slightly to really annoyed. There are reasons, why there is so many stealth options around.

Trappers are most often the Sneaky Guys as well and are responsible for traps and often locks as well. Since the Rogue (and later some rougish base classes) in 3e was the only one, who could find and disable magical traps, he was normally the trapper, in 4e and 5e everyone with an ability score to find traps (WIS or in 5e WIS or INT) and the right skill training/proficiencies can be a trapper now. Or leave the finding to the Spotter, even though it wouldn’t hurt to have him concentrate more on enemies.

Now that we know our roles, let’s see how our classes in 5e are to be categorized.

Barbarian

Combat-Role: The classic Barbarian is a more offensive, less defensive version of a Fighter and is therefore a Striker. Right? Actually, I think he shifted to be a Defender with a Striker secondary role. While Raging he can take a humongous deal of punishment to weapons, due his resistance to slashing, bludgeoning and piercing damage, as a Totem Warrior with the Totem Spirit of the Bear it extend to all damage except psychic and Danger Senses protects him even further. His Reckless Attack makes him a better target, provoking enemies to attack him rather his allies, Feral Instincts let him get a higher initiative, so he can better choose where to build up the front line. Most of his features makes him harder to kill or influence, better at being where he needs to be to protect others or helping out his allies or hindering his enemies, in both paths. On the Striker side he only get 2-3 attacks, a single reliable attack with advantage, a smallish bonus damage for Rages and a stronger Critical Hit, which only have a higher chance when using Reckless Attack. Enough Damage to be a threat to enemies, not enough to be an actual Striker, comparing with other classes.

Outside-Combat-Role: When there are no heads to smash, a Barbarian makes a wonderful Brawn, using his Rage feature to get Advantage on Strength rolls himself for a turn and much later Indomitable Might to always get high rolls. There is no special synergy with other roles, even though it’s common to let the strong guy make the intimidation with his muscle and charismatic Barbarians are always kinda neat and works well with the Berserker’s Intimidating Presence.

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Bard

Combat-Role: As a class with good support, Bard’s were always the Leaders, even so their healing abilities came first at 3e pretty weak, in 4e stable and in 5e they’ve become main-casters with any vital healing and revive spell in their spell-list. The Bard’s features allows him to support his party in many ways, buffing them, removing mind-affecting affects and some other stuff. Due his Bard College and Magical Secret’s feature, he can easily fill some parts in other roles.

Outside-Combat-Role: Of course the Bard is your archetypical face, but he can get into other skill-depending roles due his skill-monkey features, so if you’re asking yourself, which ability to boost second after Charisma, you should consider which role outside of combat is still unfilled. Bard’s in the past were known for their aptitude in being the Bookworm, now there are less features for it, but the spell-list do have the vital divination spells. And as a main-caster he can fulfill the Caster role pretty well, having many diverse spells even outside combat and using spells from other classes as well.

So the Bard could fulfill any role quite easily.

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Cleric

Combat-Role: If the Cleric wouldn’t be a Leader, no one would. He have the most healing and removing condition spells and a bunch of buffs. Depending on domain he could take any secondary role, even though it’s easiest to him to become a secondary Controller.

Outside-Combat-Role: Clerics are obviously Casters, even though they’re lacking the flexibility of a Wizard, they have other great spells, which makes a combination with a Wizard that much powerful. Since 5e doesn’t require the Cleric to have a high Charisma score, his Face value dropped as well, even though they’re still good as Bookworms, if INT wasn’t dumped. Since WIS is their main ability, clerics makes good Spotters, even though they can’t get proficiency with Perception on their own, so you have to get it otherwise. For most other roles they’re mediocre or just bad, depending on their armor.

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Druid

Combat-Role: In one way or another the Druid was always stuck between being a Leader or a Controller, even though I’d put him in as a Controller, since his healing was lacking compared to a Cleric and his spells to control the battlefield and deal with multiple enemies are so great.

Outside-Combat-Role: Wild Shape makes the Druid the perfect Spotter and even as a Sneak, he can use this feature. No guard post will take any notice of a squirrel in a tree, as long they don’t have reasons to fear a Druid and even then it might be a ‘friend’ of said person and killing it would only summon the Druid’s wrath, right?

Druid’s get enough knowledge skills to stand in as a Bookworm and outside in nature he’s most likely the best Caster in the game. And Wild Shape can make him a decent Brawn at some point, in Circle of the Moon even a great one (a Rhinoceros certainly helps you with breaking doors).

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Fighter

Combat-Role: As the archetypical Defender, the Fighter is supposed to have all the stuff you want a Defender to have. In pre-3e being at the front and hitting stuff was enough, in 3e he got Bonus Feats which could grant him special attacks without risk (like Disarming, Trip, etc. But hey, most spent them in Two-Weapon Fighting and ways to increase the damage) in 4e he got straight up powers to do his job. In 5e he get… the option to be a Defender. Unlike the Barbarian, who is a Defender at default, the Fighter do have the basics to be a Defender, but can easily be a Striker as well. For Defender take the Protection Fighting Style and the Battle Master archetype, for Striker the Champion archetype and any other Fighting Style (even though Defense won’t make you a better Striker). And the Eldritch Knight is a Striker with the ability to become a tertiary Controller. Pretty much Striker focused…

Outside-Combat-Role: Since old times a Fighter was always a Brawn, even though DEX-Fighters became popular in 3e and 5e makes it easier for them to survive without down-classing STR-Fighters too much. But after that, the Fighter do not have any special aptitude of being anything useful outside of combat, which means you have to choose your ability scores and background wisely, to be not a burden, when violence won’t help.

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Monk

Combat-Role: Some might ask themselves, why Monks are in the first PHB, when this is so western heavy fantasy, but this goes some way back and the class is popular. I think because they’re deadly Strikers, which can deal a lot of attacks per turn, allowing them to hit the enemy almost every turn and when hitting is no concern, dealing a massive damage over time. Their features allows them to shake of effects which would hinder them, avoid damage if needed and to actually outrun foes, when they’re low on hit points. Since there is so much protection, he could stand in as a Defender as well, the Way of the Open Hand supports this, while Way of the Shadow makes him a more sneaky version of the Striker and Way of the Elements could bring him into either Defender or apprentice Controller direction.

Outside-Combat-Role: Monks are normally good Sneaks and Spotters, since their DEX and WIS is generally high and they have both proficiencies available. The Way of the Shadow brings a lot of Sneak options, which is great. In previous editions, they could be Brawns, too, but that will be now more the exception than the rule, since STR isn’t as necessary as before. The other roles don’t lie on the way of being a Monk.

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Paladin

Combat-Role: Since old times, Paladins were the defenders of good, justice and the weak, so you should suggest, that they’re Defenders as a combat-role. Actually they’re more of Leaders, if we just take the Paladin’s features into account, Lay on Hands, a lot of supportive auras, etc. The real defending comes from the spells, especially those with Smite in their names, which can inflict several conditions depending on spell, which hinders the opponents to act as they want. And there is a lot of Striker potential, seeing how many ways the Paladin has to increase his damage, he’s able to real burn out a lot of resources to deal a humongous amount of damage, if he rolls critical, he could one-hit even a deadly foe. So it depends how you play if the Paladin will be more of a Striker, Leader or Defender. So I guess there will be a lot of Striker Paladins out there…

Outside-Combat-Role: If the Paladin is not a Face, nobody should. He use Charisma for his Paladin features, so it’d be higher than average, he got useful skills and from a role-play point of view, everybody with a pure heart should be friendly to a real Paladin. Most Rogues and other less morally inclined characters might have some problems here and there. As a secondary role, being a Brawn fits the classic Paladin, who wields a sword or a hammer as the main weapon, while wearing a shield.

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Ranger

Combat-Role: Rangers were like highly specialized strikers in pre4e, since the Favored Enemy feature granted extra damage from the get-go, while in 4e they were definitely Strikers. Normally a Ranger was more like a warrior-type skill-monkey, a bit squishier than their Paladin and Fighter comrades, so they often stacked to ranged combat, which is a Striker part. And even in 5e, most combat-oriented features are more Striker focused, like a Striker oriented Fighting Style of choice, Foe Slayer or the subclasses, especially the hunter. The spells are some self-support to be more strikerly, a lot of utility and some group support. It’d be safe to say, that the Ranger is a Striker.

Outside-Combat-Role: The Ranger truly shines outside of combat as the most likely best single-classed Sneak, using three features which strengthens stealth (being stealthy while traveling at normal pace in your favored terrain, being able to get a +10 when lying in ambush and being able to hide as a bonus action), combining Ranger and Rogue might be a powerful option. Even as a Spotter he get some features, like Primeval Awareness and Feral Senses and as a Beat Master, he can have a great Spotter as a companion, so he don’t need to do it by his own. And he open up the tracking department, which isn’t an as important role, since most adventure’s will get you were you want, but open up new options. As a Bookworm, he’s more of a specialist for his Favored Enemies, using that feature to get advantage to the rolls.

Finally, since his spell-list is much about utility, he is a decent Caster in the wilds.

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Rogue

Combat-Role: Striker. Sneak Attack, a lot of features to get out of trouble while providing no special support to other, no questions.

Outside-Combat-Role: Like Bards, Rogues have a lot of skill support, so he could be any role, except the Caster. If we pick the Roles he fulfills with the least effort, it’d be Trapper and Sneak, getting the first at the start and some supporting features like the Cunning action or the Thief subclass, even though an Arcane Trickster is even more potent, using magic to support this build while being able to even cast the Mage Hand spell stealthily.

Sorcerer

Combat-Role: This is a tricky one, in 3e the Sorcerer could be a real mean Controller, while the Striker role is also possible in 3e and the main focus in 4e. In 5e I’d stick to the Striker with the option to widens the area of effect to multiple enemies, taking care of some of the Controller’s tasks. Mainly because of the options of Metamagic, Twin Spells is a real mean thing, making it possible to leash at two opponents with strong spells, but the features also enhances his damage capabilities with some self-buff methods.

Outside-Combat-Role: Having a high Charisma score and at least some viable skill proficiencies, a Sorcerer is making a good Face, especially with some spells like Friends, Enchant Person and Disguise Self. His lack of spell-variety is making it hard to see him as a great Caster, especially since his spell-list is less about out of combat utility. The other roles aren’t fitting without some work.

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Warlock

Combat-Role: The Warlock is trapped between being a Striker and Controller, because he can up his damage a bit by taking the Agonizing Blast Invocation and other Eldritch Blast enhancers, but most of his effects are more about debuffs and some battlefield control. So I’d personally see him as a mainly single-target Controller with Striker tendencies, since he has a lot of features, which are more Striker-like.

Outside-Combat-Role: The warlock can be a powerful Caster, using Rituals as main-focus and Invocations for some real utility outside combat and resetting spell slots due Pact Magic. Most of the Warlock’s features, Invocations and falls into the Caster department. After that, Face for high Charisma.

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Wizard

Combat-Role: As you thought, having access to 7 subclasses and the broadest spell-list, the Wizard is pretty good at shifting his focus to be what the player want, but in the end, his spell-list is clearly that of a Controller, while having access to all kind of damaging spells, which enriches the Striker aspect. But that’d mean to leave out some of the best tactical advantages, a party can get at any time. And most Arcane Traditions are more about being a Controller.

Outside-Combat-Role: As an INT-based class, the Wizard is the archetypical Bookworm, who also can use his magic, to be even more knowledgeable. And nobody can be a better Caster than a Wizard, even though he lacks some stuff, the Cleric and Druid can do, but the Wizard has magical answers to almost every problem.

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(OK, nowadays 1d6… they got too healthy!)

After reading this, you’ll see that most classes are what they’re promising, while some have potential or even main-builds which might be surprising. But