December 4, 2018

Dyogena and Lexicon | Rebinding

In this series, I'll be slowly tackling a rework of one of our favorite classes, the Binder. The class was originally a straight update of the class of the same name from D&D 3.5's Tome of Magic, including most of the original vestiges, but as we revisit this class, we'd like to examine its mechanics and its concepts with fresh eyes, improve upon them, and write a whole new list of vestiges.

An early binder post this week with more 1st level vestiges, because we're starting to get a backlog. Enjoy!

Dyogena

Dyogena focuses on sword and board, offering versatile weapons and shield proficiency. For all intents and purposes, she's the early 'fighter' vestige, allowing us to use later vestiges in more interesting ways.

Dyogena, The Spear of Sin
1st-level vestige
A trained warrior of a bygone empire, Dyogena grants her binders skill with sword, shield, and spear.
     Legend. Thousands of years ago, a great empire spanned the continents, unifying its many territories under an unshakable banner. Oracles spoke of the empire's demise at the hands of a wrathful prophet, an instrument of the god's disdain for the wicked regime. In response, the paranoid emperor ordered his governors to execute all holy men that did not swear fealty to him alone. Thousands of priests were slain and the gods themselves wept at the bloodbath.
     Dyogena was one of a legion of soldiers ordered to carry out the massacre. However, when she was to impale Nezare, the martyr, her heart softened, and she instead thrust her spear into his heart, mercifully sparing him of all suffering.
     Historians, however, remember a convoluted story. They paint Dyogena as a cruel warden that tormented Nezare for weeks before his inevitable demise. They even misremember her gender, portraying her as a male soldier. As such, Dyogena's vestige is a effigy of her sins: it is a twisted creature wearing soldier's armor, but is divided down the middle, with a noble celestial woman on the left and a diabolic male fiend on the right.
     Flaw. While bound to this vestige, you have the following flaw: "I always feel irreconcilable guilt when I must take a life." 
Bonus Proficiencies
While bound to Dyogena, you gain proficiency with shields, as well as with battleaxes, longswords, spears, tridents, and warhammers. 
Legion Tactics
While you are within 5 feet of two or more allies who aren’t incapacitated, hostile creatures cannot have advantage on attack rolls against you. 
Coup de Grâce
When you take the Attack action on your turn, you can use your bonus action to make one additional melee weapon attack. On a hit, this attack deals additional damage equal to your binder level. Once you use this ability, you can't use it again until you finish a short or long rest. 
Trait: Bloodstained
You are stained with the blood of saints, which never washes off while you are bound to Dyogena. Immediately after you take damage from a melee attack, you can use your reaction to gain a number of temporary hit points equal to your Charisma modifier, which last until the beginning of your next turn.

Notes
Dyogena serves two important functions as a 1st level vestige: firstly, she grants her binders shield proficiency, which we don't plan to hand out elsewhere. Secondly, her extra attack from Coup de Grad and the extra occasional temp HP from bloodstained should make her feel a bit like a fighter, reinforcing her as an important early melee pick.

Lexicon

Lexicon is the early spellcasting vestige, giving you a bunch of cantrips and 1st-level spells to match other spellcasters at this level.

Lexicon, The First Word
1st-level vestige
An ancient sage and the first god of the written word, Lexicon grants his binders a variety of spells and mastery over the written and spoken word.
     Legend. Before Lexicon, all knowledge could be passed only by speech and example through the generations. Man's oral traditions were rich but fragile, for a single death from a common disease could wipe away untold generations of understanding.
     And so, a wise sage known as Lexicon, who gathered the Words of Creation scattered by K'Sir, devised the means to record information and spare it from oblivion: the Written Word. With a few strokes of charred ash, Lexicon recorded very first word known to man: “Un”, which in that time and tongue would come to mean “me”, or “I am”.
     By naming things, and writing them in certain ways, The Written Word allowed Lexicon to make permanent things that were fleeting and to establish definitive truth. In this way, Lexicon also become the first spellcaster.
     With his great boon of writing and his power over arcana, Lexicon ascended to godhood to take his place along the primordial deities. He believed that his people would record his name forever, extolling his virtues in the annals of history; sadly, this was not the case.
     In time, his tale was replaced by apocryphal ones, and was eventually forgotten entirely. Men today believe that writing has always been with man and that spellcasters have always practiced their trade. Therefore, Lexicon's vestige is like his legacy, faded to near nonexistance, with an outline of ink and the vague impression of written symbols within.
     Flaw. While bound to this vestige, you have the following flaw: “I obsessively write down and record new information.” 
Words of Power
While bound to Lexicon, you learn 2 cantrips of your choice from the bard, sorcerer, or wizard spell list, plus an additional cantrip for each other vestige you have bound. Charisma is your spellcasting modifier for these cantrips. 
Pale Arcana
While bound to Lexicon, whenever you take damage from a spell, you can use your reaction to gain resistance to the damage taken. 
Mystic Utterances
While bound to Lexicon, you know the following spells: burning hands, detect magic, feather fall, floating disk, fog cloud, identify, mage armor, magic missile, shield, sleep, thunderwave, and unseen servant. You can cast a spell from this list without using a spell slot or spell components twice, plus one additional time for each vestige other than Lexicon you have bound. You regain all expended uses when you finish a long rest.
     Additionally, you can cast any spell from this list as a ritual if it has the ritual tag.
Trait: Glossolalia
You constantly speak in a language that mixes all known (and unknown) forms of speech, and your writing at a glance seems to be gibberish. Despite this, your speech and writing is comprehensible by any creature that can understand a language. As well, you can understand and read any language.

Notes
Lexicon's original design called for ritual spells, but in practice, we couldn't figure out how to implement them neatly. After all, rituals are more or less prepared in advance and kept in a book, and the binder's more spontaneous nature made them work better by simply being cast.
     This vestige probably needs a close look at its scalability as we go forward. At 1st level, the number of spells and cantrips it gets access to are pretty on point with other spellcasters, but I'm skeptical the spellcasting keeps up well enough to be desirable. There's several solutions here we can take: offer more (2-3) additional castings per vestige bound, increasing the level at which spells from this list are cast, offer a spell at will, etc. For now, the Pale Arcana feature is a little over-tuned to compensate.

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As always, feedback below is appreciated. If you're discussing the lore for these vestiges, be civil. Otherwise, let us know if we're hitting the mark.

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Changelog:
12/3/18: Dyogena: Coup de Grâce: Spelling fixed
Dyogena: Ordering cleared up; temp HP applies after damage
12/6/18: Lexicon: Mystic Utterances: Ritual casting added

19 comments:

  1. Hmm. Interesting.

    Dyogena is cool, and seems well-balanced- strong enough so you won't feel underpowered, and not outshining other chars (war clerics can also attack twice at 1st lvl). I'm not sure why she qualifies as a vestige from her story, but I guess it makes sense that lower level vestiges are relatively unimportant forgotten heroes.

    I think Lexicon is pretty well done as well. Resistance to spell damage is rarely relevant at the first couple of levels, and becomes a big deal at higher levels. The spells also seem alright.

    Now just 8 more levels to go!

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    1. Dyogena's status as a vestige is really intertwined with Nezare, who'll be a vestige in his own right.

      I might start bouncing around with the next few vestiges, instead of doing one full level at a time.

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  2. Dyogena's entry doesn't really say how she became a vestige.
    Lexicon, to keep his spell casting up with the levels, why not instead of giving a list of spells to choose from, copy the words of power ability for level spells. Let the players once per long rest choose a number of spells from the wizard or sorcerer list, the spell level being equal to half the binder level rounded up. But keep the number of times they can cast as is. Since Lexicon is like the first wizard, I don't see why he shouldn't be able to cast just about any wizard spell since he's seen nearly all those spells' creations (with the exception being modern spells that have to do with technology and guns since he probably became a vestige and lost his God hood long before those spells were created).

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    1. Dyogena is a vestige through her relationship to the martyr Nezare, who'll show up as a vestige later. Hopefully, when I implement him, the parallels to mythology will be abundantly clear.

      Originally, Nezare had the ability to pick whatever spells he wanted from the wizard spell list, but I thought it'd be more directly thematic and much faster to prepare if he had a fixed list. Even with the concern about scaleability, I'd say the quick prepare time is still pretty critical.

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    2. I really like that your intertwining the myths of the vestiges, it makes the overall story even more interesting and creates a lot of nice lore. I love the idea of being a storyteller who is seeking to learn the forgotten history of the world and discovers the stories of all the vestiges.

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    3. I'm also enjoying writing it so that there's unreliable narrators and conflicting messages in the stories. I think it's going to be neat when it's all finished.

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  3. I’m a big fan of lexicon and even though he won’t keep up with spellcasters at higher levels I feel like that’s the point of having higher level spellcasting vestigjs, so that when you bind multiple you will feel like a full caster

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    1. I also have 2 questions, first is does bluetongues disguise self cover up other vestiges signs, sencond is would it be to op to give Coup de Gras multiple uses based on number of vestiges bound so that it would fit the leveling theme of the other first level vestiges?

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    2. To answer your questions:

      Yes, although Bluetongue's disguise self doesn't conceal his own tongue.

      Yes, because the Coup de Gras already scales with +level to damage.

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    3. I might try imposing a rule on myself next time I play a binder that the all the signs show when in disguise self just cuz I think it would make for interesting roleplay, but it makes sense that other signs besides the bluetongue wouldn’t show as a general rule. And I must have missed the extra damage part on Coup de Gras when I looked at it earlier, now that I have read it more carefully I 100% agree with you.

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  4. "Coup de gras" should be "coup de grace"

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    1. Sure enough! And here I had misspelled that for years.

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  5. This stuff just keeps getting better and better each time more is posted. I've been a fan of your work for a while, and have used your stuff in campaigns I run or participate in online quite a bit, since you do a magnificent job of making things much more interesting and flavorful without adding too many layers of complexity or simply making a character too powerful with the options. Personally, I would love to lend a hand with this project if you would allow me, though I understand that you don't really have any reason to trust me or my ability to help here. Nevertheless, it would be much appreciated if you consider my offer, and I look forward to seeing the next post in this series.

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    1. I'm glad you're enjoying everything! This article series has been a real blast for me.

      I was considering putting out an open call for vestiges, but if I'm honest, I'm having so much fun researching mythology and writing these that I'm not motivated to ask for more help.

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    2. Alright, then. If you ever do need anything, let me know, but aside from that, I'm just really excited to see how the end product turns out. I'm especially interested in seeing how the subclasses turn out, since you seem to be shifting the spellcasting to be vestige-based, meaning Eldritch Fate might need a rework, and with the decision to do away with Trusted Vestiges makes it so the Occult Fate will need to be redesigned. The minor spirits could be altered or remain the same, since they serve a specific purpose and the ones that already exist do so fairly well, though it may be interesting to a a bit more on the magic items, as well as maybe have a small guide for DMs as to where information on these vestiges may be found by the party. But those are just my suggestions.

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  6. Mechanically, does bloodstained's temp hp work on the attack allowing the reaction, or does that attack still apply and you then gain temp hp for the subsequent attacks?

    Also a huge fan of your work. I check your page almost every day for new stuff, as well have picked up a few of your classes from the store. Pleasr keep up the good work. ^^

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    1. I've just changed Bloodstained to clarify that it happens after the damage.

      Also, I'm glad you're digging our stuff!

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    2. You should join our Discord! We talk about this kind of stuff all the time!

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  7. Glad to see the continued work! I remember when this site just posted homebrew subclasses M/W/F (not that there's anything wrong with that), and I'm happy with what it's evolved into and where it's going.

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