January 3, 2019

Revisting | 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.

If you're in the know, you probably already know that we've posted a PDF of the binder, levels 1-5, on our Patreon. Go there, throw us a buck, and get to playtesting!

Included in that document is the reworked Minor Spirits. To say that the last take on minor spirits had a poor reception would be generous. People want minor spirits to have more varied powers and our second take on minor spirits should accomplish just that.

Compromise Approach

As I mentioned in the last article on minor spirits, the old implementation was problematic for a couple of reasons, but it missed how much people relied on the minor spirits for utility functions (especially the blade spirit). We didn't do a good job in that aspect, so this time, rather than doing "bonus action + possible ribbon", we'll do "bonus action + action utility power or alternate use". This should keep things looking much more interesting across the board, since every vestige will have one thing baked in to make them unique.

Here's the feature and the list:

Minor Spirits
Beginning at 2nd level, you can use the runoff energy from your binding ritual to enlist two minor spirits to your service, selected from the Minor Spirits list. These spirits manifest faintly around you, though you can cause them to become invisible or return it to visibility as an interaction on your turn.
     You can bind additional spirits to your service as you gain additional levels in this class, as shown on the Binder table. When you gain a level in this class, you can choose to replace a minor spirit you can bind with another. 
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Minor Spirits
These minor spirits are presented in alphabetical order. If a minor spirit calls for an attack roll, it uses your spell attack bonus, and if it calls for a saving throw, it uses your vestige save DC. 
Blade Spirit
The remnants of an intelligent item's soul, a blade spirit manifests as a faint, ethereal weapon. As a bonus action, you can make a melee spell attack with it against a target within 5 feet of you, dealing 1d8 slashing damage on a hit.
     Additionally, you can use your action to transform your blade spirit into a shield or melee weapon with which you are proficient or return it to its normal form. You can’t make a melee spell attack with your blade spirit while it is transformed. 
Chill
A chill is a minor elemental spirit resembling a multifaceted snowflake. As a bonus action, you can make a ranged spell attack with it against any creature within 30 feet of you, dealing 1d6 cold damage on a hit.
     Additionally, as an action, you can also use the chill to freeze a handheld object, create an icicle, or extinguish a torch or small campfire. 
Glitch
Abruptly shifting and flashing, the glitch is a time-lost spirit from a distant era. As a bonus action, you can make a ranged spell attack with it against any creature within 120 feet of you, dealing 1d4 force damage on a hit. The glitch ignores half cover, three-quarters cover, and invisibility as it clips through solid objects.
Grue
A ravenous spirit that haunts dark places, the grue is feared for its stealth and acidic saliva. As a bonus action, you can use the grue to cause a creature within 15 feet to make a Dexterity saving throw or take 1d6 acid damage. If the target is in darkness, it has disadvantage on its saving throw. 
Haunt
A haunt is a spirit of regret or woe which haunts a place following its death. As a bonus action, you can use the haunt to cause a creature within 30 feet to make a Dexterity saving throw or take 1d6 necrotic damage.
     Additionally, as an action, you can use the haunt to project faint, ethereal noises or create up to four ghostly lights which move as you direct. These effects must remain within 30 feet of you and last until the beginning of your next turn. 
Lantern
A minor divine spirit of pure goodness, a lantern manifest as a fist-sized ball of light. As a bonus action, you can use the lantern to cause a creature within 30 feet to make a Dexterity saving throw or take 1d6 radiant damage.
     The lantern sheds light as a torch. You can use your action to brighten the lantern such that it sheds bright light in a 40-foot radius and dim light an additional 40 feet until the beginning of your next turn. 
Stone
A stone is a rocky, hovering elemental spirit, the smallest unit of living elemental earth. As a bonus action, you can make a melee spell attack with it against a target within 5 feet of you, dealing 1d8 bludgeoning damage on a hit. Alternatively, you can throw the stone up to 30 feet as in improvised weapon. After being thrown, the stone returns to you at the beginning of your turn. 
Spark
A spark is a minor elemental spirit, resembling a small blue bolt of crackling lightning. As a bonus action, you can make a ranged spell attack with it against any creature within 30 feet of you, dealing 1d6 lightning damage on a hit. You can repeat this attack roll against a second target within 5 feet of the first if both targets are wearing metal armor. 
Strange
The shifting, incomprehensible form of a strange must originate in a far-off dimension whose rules differ from our own. As a bonus action, you can use the strange to cause a creature within 60 feet to make a Wisdom saving throw or take 1d4 psychic damage.
     As an action, you can use the strange to cloud the thoughts of a creature within 30 feet with bizarre images, making it impossible for its thoughts to be read or for it to use telepathy until the end of your next turn. 
Torchling
A torchling is a flickering, living flame, a minor elemental spirit of elemental fire. As a bonus action, you can make a ranged spell attack with it against any creature within 60 feet of you, dealing 1d6 fire damage on a hit.
     Additionally, as an action, you can use the torchling to start a fire, melt snow or ice, or boil water.  
Totem
A totem is a manifestation of an animal spirit. As a bonus action, you can make a melee spell attack with the totem’s bite against a target within 5 feet of you, dealing 1d8 piercing damage on a hit.
     Additionally, you can use your action to channel your totem's animal instincts, allowing you to make a Wisdom (Perception) check that relies on scent with advantage.  
Wisp
This wisp is a faintly-glowing spirit of capricious fey energy which produces poisonous spores. As a bonus action, you can use the wisp to cause a creature within 15 feet to make a Constitution saving throw or take 1d8 poison damage.
     The wisp shines light as a torch. As an action, you can cause the wisp and its light to be visible only to yourself until the end of your next turn.

Lodges are Gone!

And we've also revisited the subclass themes, since many people were completely thrown by "Lodges". It might be a tad ham-fisted, but we're sticking to our guns and calling them our close second-contender "Esoteric Cults". Here's two those that we've included in the playtest PDF:

Esoteric Cults  
Cults of binders are founded on forbidden, lost, or transgressive knowledge that sets them apart from conventional wisdom. While some cults meet regularly in secret, assembling in private lodges or covert hideaways, others do not meet at all, its members united only by a shared philosophy or obscure dogma. Each cult keeps its own mysterious rituals for induction, proceedings, and most importantly, binding. As these occult secrets are passed to binder initiates, they can master new, enigmatic powers, unknown to all but their order. 
Order of the Black Binding
The Order of the Black Binding sees the nature of the soul as not unlike that of the Void itself: unknowable, fractal, and ultimately hollow. With their special ritual implements and ink made of lodestone, they can form special black seals with which to entrap vestiges deeper into their souls, capturing more of the vestige’s essence and allowing them greater control of the binding process. 
Society of the Stygian Seal
Initiates to the Society of the Stygian Seal learn the story of Erebus, The Shadow Interminable, a vestige of singular age, profound implication, and terrible portent. She is a vestige inextricably linked to the creation and destruction of the multiverse, the latter of which is prophesied to be heralded by her sign, the Stygian Seal, being fixed in the sky for forty days and nights before the multiverse is to be unraveled. Initiates of the Society seek Erebus’s sign and the ritual means to draw her true form from the Void to hasten the end of the multiverse, and by extension, the coming of a new, more perfect world, uncorrupted by the shortfalls and compromises made by the primeval gods of our multiverse. By drawing parts of the Stygian Seal, binders of the Society can pull forth voidstuff, a manifest absence in space, and shape it to their whims.


8 comments:

  1. I love the update on the minor spirits! Quick question, the original 3.5 binders abilities were identified as supernatural, which came with some benefits. I understand 5e does not distinguish between different magic types, however I was wondering if spells gained from vestiges could be considered as innate spell casting with the special advantage of not requiring spell components. 5e does accommodate this distinction and I feel it better conveys the esoteric element of their magic, as well as, further distinguishes them from warlock patrons and invocation type spell casting. What do you think?

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    1. The phrasing we're using for all spell casting is you can "cast the ____ spell once, without using a spell slot or spell components", which puts it directly in the realm of innate spellcasting, but doesn't explicitly call it out as such. It's not set up quite the same way as in 3.5, but it doesn't need spell components.

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    2. Does that mean the binder won't need to pay for expensive components, or simply won't get spells which require them?

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    3. A little of both. All the spells we give them won't require expensive material components, but we won't be giving them too many spells which need them. They certainly won't be getting raise dead, for example.

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  2. What about thunder damage? Is there not a spirit for that? I was assuming you were doing one of each type. Otherwise, really great job.

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    1. Is that the only damage type we missed? I could have sworn we missed one or two.

      In any case, I don't normally like to mess with thunder (or force) damage for free unless they're very low damage, since very few creatures have resistance/immunity to it.

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    2. Isn't radiant about as uncommon to have resistance/immunity to and much more common to have vulnerability to though?

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  3. yea, could we get a spirit like a weaker shatter spell. have it break glass ice, mirrors, ect.

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