December 27, 2018

Evocatia and Rostam | 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.

Moving right along to 3rd level vestiges! Big power spike at this level, so these two vestiges offer fireball and heavy armor.
Evocatia, the Red
3rd-level vestige
Evocatia, the legendary spellcaster for whom the Evocation School of magic is named, grants her binders wild, fiery arcana.
     Legend. All wizards know the story of Evocatia and Elozahr, the ill-fated mages that founded the School of Evocation.
     In the days before the schools of magic, all spellcasters projected pure, unformed arcana in the form of protospells, whose effects shifted from moment to moment. With time, the cleverest spellcasters learned to tame magic, channeling it into spells with direct intent.
     Evocatia the Red was one such spellcaster. Studying under the tutelage of the venerable Elozahr the Blue, she forged spells from flame, creating first the cantrip fire bolt and then the spell burning hands. Yet, her talent and ambition knew no bounds, and soon she crafted her singularly devastating masterpiece: fireball. With her new spells in hand, she went to visit the icy tower of her mentor, but discovered that his crystal ball was fixed to scry upon her―surely, the old man meant to copy her spells and steal them for himself! In rage, Evocatia burned the tower to the ground.
     The two wizards worked in secret to outdo one another, each laying the foundations for their own schools of magic. At last, Elozahr and Evocatia met on the field of Armistal to parlay and found their school together. But Evocatia saw that the scoundrel Elozahr brought with him staff of frost to slay her once and for all, and so she struck first with a burst of flame.
     Summoning all their canny and arcane might, the two wizards unleashed a torrent of wrath upon each other. When all was done, nothing remained of Evocatia and Elozahr but dust. Evocatia's vestige, a manifestation of her ambition, is but a burning effigy of a wizard built of magic wands and discarded spellbook pages.
     Personality Trait. While bound to this vestige, you gain the following personality trait: “I don’t shy away from using overwhelming force to solve problems, especially when it involves fire.” 
Inheritance of Flame
While bound to Evocatia, you know the fire bolt cantrip. Additionally, you can add your Charisma modifier to damage rolls you make with spells that deal fire damage. 
Fire Spin
As a bonus action, you can launch yourself in a spiral of flame. When you do so, you can make a melee spell attack against a creature within 5 feet of you, dealing fire damage equal to 1d4 + your Charisma modifier on a hit. You then move up to 10 feet in any direction without provoking opportunity attacks.  
Pyromancy
While bound to Evocatia, you can cast the following spells without using spell slots or spell components: burning hands twice, heat metal once, scorching ray twice, and fireball once. You regain all expended uses when you finish a long rest.  
Trait: Inferno Within
While bound to Evocatia, your skin is hot to the touch, and flickering embers can be seen within your mouth, nostrils, and eyes. You have resistance to fire damage.

Notes
The entire launching point for Evocatia was: let's give this class fireball. It's the single most iconic 3rd level spell, which alone can make any class feel like a wizard. Everything else kind of spirals out from there. 
     This spellcasting format is also how we intend to approach all spellcaster vestiges. It's most similar to innate spellcasting, and it has some interesting consequences, like the fact that the binder doesn't actually get spell slots.

Rostam, Armor Infernal
3rd-level vestige
Mythical armor of indescribable evil, Rostam will appear about his binders and shelter them from harm.
     Legend. All the legends of Rostam the paladin tell of his seven great deeds in the demon land of Mazandaran, but a few make passing mention of his impregnable armor: black, stout, and indescribably hideous.
     Rostam was a brave knight, to be sure, but he was no match for the demons of Mazandaran; he was not even a match for the deserts of that land. After a week of wandering aimlessly through the sands, Rostam was on the verge of death from dehydration, when he came across a lone woman, a devil in disguise. She offered him a pact for his soul: she would give him food, water, and enough strength to slay the demons. Rostam accepted, and was bestowed a living suit of infernal armor, hideous, hairy, and indestructible.
     Guided by his infernal plate, Rostam went on to complete his seven deeds, and further to earn a reputation as a fearsome and savage warrior. Each new battle brought Rostam greater glories and new, terrible crimes. He slew every foe he met; one story even claims that he butchered his own son in a fit of rage.
     In his last and bloodiest battle, Rostam fell into a deep pit of spikes, and many spikes skewered him between the plates of the armor. Rostam himself bled to death, but the armor was not yet finished. It moved of its own accord, wading through the battlefield, slaying friend and foe alike, cackling with infernal cadence. Rostam's vestige is therefore not the hero himself, but the hideous armor, which bleeds from every joint, the corpse of the so-called hero still within.
     Flaw. While bound to this vestige, you gain the following flaw: "Once I draw blood, I don’t stop fighting until my enemies are dead." 
Bonus Proficiencies
While bound to Rostam, you gain proficiency in heavy armor, as well as with flails and morningstars. 
Mortal Bargain
While bound to Rostam, whenever you drop to 0 hit points, but are not killed outright, you remain conscious and do not begin making death saving throws until the end of your next turn. If you take any damage while at 0 hit points, you instantly fall unconscious and suffer one death saving throw failure. 
Fiendish Resilience
Whenever you take bludgeoning, piercing, or slashing damage while wearing heavy armor, you can use your reaction you reduce the damage taken by 1d12. You can further reduce the damage by an additional 1d12 for each vestige other than Rostam you have bound.
     Once you use this ability, you can’t use it again until you finish a short or long rest. 
Trait: Hideous Armor
While bound to Rostam, you use your action to summon his hideous, infernal armor around you, along with any melee weapon with which you have proficiency. The armor is full plate which cannot be destroyed, which you can wear without penalty, regardless of your Strength score. This equipment vanishes when you dismiss them as an action, or when you are no longer binding Rostam.
     The armor seems to be alive and is terrible to gaze upon. If you make a Charisma (Intimidation) check while wearing this armor, you can treat the result as 10, or your binder level plus your Charisma modifier, whichever is higher.

Notes
Rostam is based very loosely on the epic of a Persian hero by the same name. Of course, in the legend, his armor is merely hairy and not literally evil, but I thought the mythological revisionism in this case was permissible.
     This vestige ended up being a general tank, instead of merely an AC tank, since we opted for DR rather than a temporary AC improvement (as per the shield spell) for the Fiendish Resilience feature. Hopefully this is a change for the better, since it makes the kit feel more complete

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As always, your feedback in the comments below is appreciated. The back and forth we have down there has done a lot to improve this class.

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Changelog: 12/28/18: Evocatia: Inheritance of Flame adds Charisma, not Intelligence, to damage
Rostam: Hideous Armor: Notes that you can wear summoned plate armor without penalty, no matter your Strength score and specifies when the weapon and armor vanishes.

17 comments:

  1. I like these! Looking forward to hearing more about the class's changes.

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  2. I really love evocatia, I think the mechanics are awesome and to story is amazing. Rostam is also really good mechanics rose and the story is super cool, I personally don’t like wearing heavy armor in games so I probably won’t play him but if I did I totally would

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    1. As a side note I’m having trouble picturing what the hideous and hairy (mostly hairy is what I’m having trouble with) armor would look like, that may be a good one to have artwork with in the final product

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    2. Yeah, so this is a weird thing from mythology: nobody really knows what Rostam's armor was really supposed to be. It was described as impervious and hairy, so in my version of the tale, it's devilskin -- not worked hide, but literal skin, with hair still upon the chest and arms.

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  3. Question, what is the Spell Save DC and Spell Attack Bonus for Evocatia? Also I think it's weird that for Evocatia that Inheritance of Fire uses Intelligence while Fire Spin uses Charisma

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    1. After rereading some posts I figured out the save DC and bonus, really glad everything for the binder has the binder tag so it's easier to find

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    2. you will still use charisma for the attack roll on fire bolt it’s just the damage rolls for fire spells that the int will be added to, probably to keep it from feeling to much like a warmage or warlock

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    3. Adding the Intelligence modifier was a mistake; it should add Charisma. Thanks for pointing that out!

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  4. 1- there's a typo (missing new line) in the beginning of Evocatia's description.
    2- Rostam slew, not slayed.

    Evocatia is rather straightforward; not much to say about her. I suppose Elozahr is gonna be a 5th lvl vestige with cone of cold? or 6th with wall of ice?

    Rostam is really cool, and is PERFECT for my campaign (which had a paladin who fell and became a deathknight because of his artifact demon-platemail).
    The thorns-retaliation guy is planned for a higher level I guess?

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    1. Has slain? Did slay? Might have wanted to be slaying??

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    2. Elozahr is 5th level (with cone of cold being the big spell) and the thorns dude is at 4th level.

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  5. You mentioned you are play-testing a low level Binder. What level did you decide to assign the 2 vestige binding? You said you would possibly move it up to 3rd level. Also, did you decide to move the archetype up to 2nd level?

    Btw, loving the vestiges and happy to see diversity in the mythology. I was concerned it was going to be too greek heavy.

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    1. The second vestige bound comes online at 5th. After much debate, I've concluded it's the responsible thing to do. Archetypes are still starting at 3rd, but they're getting a makeover, since Lodges didn't go over exceptionally well.

      In terms of origins, I'm trying to spread these around the globe, touching on as many cultures as I can. So far, we've done an Aboriginal tale (Bluetongue Lizard), a Chinese Myth (Hou-Yi), a remix of a minor Christian character (Dyogena), a Persian paladin (Rostam), and a Greek demigod. No plans to do any more Greeks, though I've got a particular Roman in mind.

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    2. I hope that you keep the jealous love goddess as a subclass because I love the idea of that one

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    3. It's sticking around, but I won't be including it in the [REDACTED] on Patreon this month.

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  6. Are the vestiges from the original binder sticking around, or possibly being reworked?

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  7. I gotta say I get streamlining the vestiges to be more thematically coherent but without those little random abilities it feels less like an actual legend and more like "the rogue one" and "the wizard one".

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