December 20, 2018

Asklepios and Hou Yi | 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.

With the 1st level vestiges all wrapped up, it's time to move onto 2nd level! Tilo, the Colossus was released super early as a template for others to follow, but he's been revised a bit in that post to match the lineup of vestiges today.


Asklepios will be the only proper healing vestige and will likely be the only one grounded in Greek mythology. 

Asklepios, the Physician
2nd-level vestige
The father of all medicine, Asklepios and his serpent grant their binders supernatural healing and unsurpassed medicinal knowledge.
    Legend. All great physicians stand on the shoulders of their predecessors; so too was it with the first physician. Asklepios apprenticed in the art of healing under his adoptive father, but did not surpass the dull thinking of his peers until a wise snake taught him the secrets of Medicine.
    While Asklepios was walking through the woods, he deeply punctured his leg on a splintered log. A wise serpent came to his aid and constricted his wound, teaching Asklepios the first of many secret principles of Medicine. By way of thanks, Asklepios took the serpent with him, coiled on his staff, and the two traveled together from then on.
     Asklepios learned much from the serpent and the two founded the first temples of Medicine, where healers could learn the true art of mending bodies, curing illness, and easing the mind. Asklepios even created a salve of medusa blood that could raise the dead from the underworld. The God of Death shuddered at this, for it was the first time that souls were wrenched from his grasp, and conspired with the God of Lightning to strike down Asklepios.
     Ironically, when the bolt of lightning struck Asklepios, the salve he carried resurrected him. Lightning struck again and again, slaying Asklepios dozens of times until the salve was depleted. Though Asklepios laid dead, his temples would remain, and the symbol of his serpent-entwined staff would forever remain the emblem of Medicine. His vestige is this very image: the staff speaking with the voice of the Physician and the serpent chiming in with profound medicinal insight.
     Ideal. While bound to this vestige, you gain the following Ideal: “Do No Harm. I have taken the oath of a physician, swearing to do no harm to those in my care. (Good)" 
While bound to Asklepios, you know whether each creature you see has all its hit points, more than half of its hit points, less than half of its hit points, or less than 10 hit points. You also know if a creature you see is cursed, poisoned, or diseased. 
Doctor’s Orders
As a bonus action, you can use your borrowed anatomical knowledge to point out the most vital area to strike a creature within 60 feet. The next attack made against that creature before the start of your next turn adds 1d6 to its attack and damage roll. This ability has no effect on constructs, elementals, oozes, and undead. 
Physician's Balm
You can use your action to touch a humanoid, which regains hit points equal to your binder level plus your Charisma modifier. You can use this ability three times and regain all expended uses when you finish a long rest. 
Trait: Serpent Staff
While bound to Asklepios, his serpent materializes and coils on your arm, or on a staff, tool, or a weapon you are holding. You can use your action to touch a living humanoid with the serpent-coiled item, restoring one hit point and ending one disease afflicting the creature. You can use this ability a number of times equal to your Charisma modifier and regain all expended uses when you finish a long rest.
     Additionally, Asklepios's serpent whispers knowledge in your ear. If you make a Wisdom (Medicine) check while bound to this vestige, you can treat the result as 10, or your binder level plus your Charisma modifier, whichever is higher.
Initially, it wasn't clear if the binder needed a healing vestige. After all, it's first appearance in Tome of Magic grounded the class as being fundamentally arcane, which in the world of D&D is pretty far away from healing magic. Perhaps an arbitrary distinction, but one that most veteran players will innately understand.
     However, the core idea of this class being able to fill roles that were left unfilled in the party meant that healing was an unmistakable gap in the earlier version of the binder (and to some extent , the 3.5 binder, which had only one vestige with minimal healing potential.) Of course, we didn't want to overdo the healing and provide something more powerful than the paladin or cleric, so we're hopefully on the right side of that line.

Hou Yi

A fun counterpoint to Tilo's heavy weapon focus, Hou Yi is the principle archery vestige.

Hou Yi, the Archer
2nd-level vestige
A legendary archer that shot down many suns, Hou Yi grants his binders his eagle vision and his skill with the bow.
     Legend. In the early years of the world, the deep flaws in its creation manifested as terrible catastrophes, each more cataclysmic than the last. In one such catastrophe, ten suns rose over the horizon, boiling the seas and scorching the land. It seems the gods were powerless to stop it, so the great hunter Hou Yi rode to the peak of the highest mountain with his bow. One by one, he shot the suns down, which crashed to the earth, forming islands where they landed.
     As thanks for his great deed, the gods bequeathed Yi a boon of apotheosis, an elixir that would grant whoever drank it eternal life and propel them to godhood. Instead of drinking it immediately, Yi hid the potion in his home, hoping that he might find a way to bring his wife with him to godhood.
     However, Yi's jealous apprentice, Feng Meng, attempted to steal the elixir for himself. Rather than let the thief take the potion, Yi's wife drank it instead, ascending and becoming a goddess of the moon. Yi was furious, having lost his wife and his own bid at immortality, so he battled his apprentice to the death. However, having used all but one of his arrows to slay the suns, Yi could not slay his apprentice, who drew close and beat him to death with a club.
     Yi's vestige is a battered and bruised amalgamation of eagle and man, with piercing eagle eyes and broken arms.
     Ideal. While bound to this vestige, you gain the following Ideal: “Challenge. I will rise to any test that presents itself. (Neutral)” 
Bonus Proficiencies
While bound to Hou Yi, you gain proficiency with blowguns, hand crossbows, heavy crossbows, longbows, and nets. Additionally, your long range with ranged and thrown weapons is doubled. 
Fighting Style: Archery
You gain a +2 bonus to attack rolls you make with ranged weapons. 
Sunkiller’s Quiver
Whenever you would draw a weapon, you can summon the antique, but exquisitely crafted longbow and quiver used by Hou Yi. The quiver contains an unlimited supply of regular arrows and 9 sunkiller arrows. This equipment lasts until you dismiss it on your turn (no action required) or you are no longer bound to Hou Yi.
     A sunkiller arrow deals fire damage instead of piercing damage and deals an additional 1d4 fire damage on a hit. When a sunkiller arrow hits a target, it explodes in a 5-foot radius sphere and is destroyed. The arrow can be fired at an unoccupied space within its range. Each creature other than the target within the blast radius must succeed on a Dexterity saving throw, taking half the damage rolled on a failed save or no damage on a successful one.
     Once a sunkiller arrow is used, it can’t be used again until you finish a long rest. 
Trait: Eagle's Eyes
While bound to Yi, your eyes are replaced with that of an eagle's, bordered by resplendent feathers. Because of this, you can use your Charisma, instead of your Dexterity modifier, for attacks and damage rolls with ranged weapon attacks.
     Additionally, if you make a Wisdom (Perception) check that relies on sight, you can treat the result as 10, or your binder level plus your Charisma modifier, whichever is higher.

Once I read the Chinese legend of Hou Yi, I knew he needed to be a vestige. Shooting down nine suns was too cool not to include in this class. From there, the vestige basically wrote itself.

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As always, feedback is appreciated. I've got a backlog of vestiges, so I'll probably be releasing more next week while I work on patching the minor spirits and finalizing the class table.

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Changelog: Hou Yi: Sunkiller's Quiver: For consistency with Rostam, feature now specifies when the equipment vanishes.


  1. As always the legends are both amazing and both have really cool features

  2. Are there any plans to create more vestiges after the ones previously mentioned. One of the things i really liked about the previous binder was that, with there being so many vestiges, i (as a dm) could make many of them something that a player would have to discover, like a wizard finding new spells, rather than tem just having access to all of them straight away. I deliberately printed the old book of binding without the vestige pages. Is there likely to be enough vestiges in the end that I could use them this way?

    1. Good question. Yes and no.

      For the real, legitimate, official binder book: no. I want to keep it short enough that players and DMs can digest things easily.

      However, I think we'll keep writing vestiges on the blog at least for a little while. Fun references to pop culture (I'm definitely bringing back my old vestige, The Dude, He Who Abides, for example), and more vestiges that work off MHP classes. So, with time, your approach will probably be doable as well.

    2. I feel like Askelpios should let you cast Spare the Dying.

    3. This comment has been removed by the author.

    4. Serpents staff is pretty much a better but limited use spare the dying

    5. Yeah, this is pretty much the exact reason that I didn't include spare the dying; I wanted to give a feature that made it easy to get allies back up and spare the dying was a tad bit redundant after that was added.

  3. Doctor's orders seem simply too good. Compare it to bardic inspiration: Bardic inspiration can also be to a save or ability check, and can be used when you know it's needed, but Doc's Orders add to both attack and damage, and are unlimited in use.

    At the very least, I think doctor's orders need to be downed to 1d4 to make sure it doesn't outshine a bard in buffing.

    Hou Yi is really cool!

    1. I can get behind a 1d4, but I'm worried that'll be too weak. The current feature looks at bless as a starting point and considers that the binder already gets the means to deal about 1d6 damage as a bonus action; therefore, this ability is balanced as adding only adding the +1d6 to hit, which is good, but only applies to one hit.

      I'm of two minds on this one. I think I might need convincing one way or the other, if anyone wants to chime in.

    2. Hmm. I see why just adding 1d6 damage would be underpowered, but I really think as-is it's on par with unlimited inspiration.

      How about +1d6 damage and make the attack crit on 19-20? It fits the doctor theme very well, but doesn't help where bardic inspiration does.

      However, after giving it some though, and seeing that this works for only the next attack, and inspiration can be used when needed, it would also be ok staying as it is.

    3. It doesn’t seem any more powerful than bless which adds 1d4 to every attack roll and saving throw for 3 creatures at a first level spell slot

    4. Bless requires concentration, doesn't add to damage, and is an action to cast.

    5. But it can be used multiple times per round, and stays active as long as you maintain concentrations so it doesn’t eat up multiple BAs, also the damage is something a binder would gain as a BA anyways from a minor spirit

    6. I think I'm going to leave it as-is and do some playtesting on it. (I'm rolling up a binder right now, as it happens)

  4. I love Askelpios! I've always felt that serpent healing was under-represented in spite of the fact that serpents have long been held as a symbol of immortality and healing, and the almost lay on hands feel of the healing and curing abilities alongside a genuinely interesting application of medical expertise makes it compelling as an off healer support and as a boon to any other healer in the party.

    Hou Yi intrigues me, as, to my knowledge, only the Warlock with Xanathar's can gain access to ranged weapon attacks based on a mental score. What I find to be an interesting niche for this class is the ability to functionally use any magic item the party might come across effectively (Especially if the DM hand waves class requirement while attuned to thematically appropriate vestiges), and this really contributes to that.

    Twofold question though, in a campaign where firearms are common, would Tilo grant martial firearm proficiencies along with other martial weapons, and if so, should Hou Yi offer some firearm proficiencies as well?

    1. I think in a campaign with expanded weapon options, we'd be better off to describe the weapon proficiences offered by type: Hou Yi is all martial thrown and ranged weapons, Tilo is all martial weapons, Dyogena is martial versatile weapons, etc. I might have to include rules for that in the eventual class, especially since I'm playtesting the binder at level 5 in a Dark Matter game soon, but I'll leave it as-is in the vestige for now.

  5. Does the ability that treats a roll to a skill work with adding your skill? Like the flat 10 to perception, do i get to add my skill and proficiency to it? Meaning at later levels, like level 15 and 20 CHR, do i get to treat every roll like a 20 and also get to add my wisdom and proficiency, if able?

    1. As written, it affects the total result of the check, not the die roll. So, if your roll + modifiers is less than 10, it becomes 10.

  6. Ideal. While bound to this vestige, you gain the following Ideal: “Do No Harm. I have taken the oath of a physician, swearing to do no harm to those in my care. (Good)"

    I'm surprised that no one has mentioned this. Why would Asklepios offer advice on how to cause extra damage to enemies? I realize, of course, that Doctor's Orders is for player feature balance, and that the ideal is intended to be fluff. But ideals are important, especially in 5e.

    Given that Asklepios doesn't have an 'out', like the peace paladin's freedom to attack irreversibly evil creatures or creatures that are potentially causing grievous harm to innocents, he has no reason to help in combat at all. I would almost say that Asklepios would be a bad vestige to pick if the player knew that combat was likely, and certainly if the player had combat-oriented vestiges bound.

    This pushes my buttons particularly because I really like the idea of a class that values compassion and the sanctity of life, since it's so rare in D&D parties. Murder hobos are easy to build mechanically, and I do think it's worth thinking about when real alternatives present themselves.