January 24, 2019

Nezare and Elozahr | 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.

This week, we've got one 4th-level vestige, the HP/thorns tank, Nezare, and the 5th level vestige, Elozahr, who is all about blasting people with ice while maintaining concentration.

Nezare, the Broken One
4th-level vestige
Wronged by his friends and enemies alike, the hateful Nezare grants his binders his thorny flesh and boiling blood.
     Legend. In ancient days, Nezare was a commoner turned cleric, an ordinary man who discovered that he possessed extraordinary blessings and a singular divine connection. He traveled the land and amassed a small band of followers. Together, they lived on alms and preached a peaceful message of forgiveness and complete devotion to faith, but quickly garnered enemies.
     The wicked emperor ordered a slaughter of holy men to purge Nezare and his followers. When the soldiers came for Nezare, his followers abandoned him one by one, leaving him to die.
     It is the fashion to retell the story of the Broken One in gory specificity, improvising the details for maximum shock value. Though his ultimate execution -- brutal torture and impalement in front of a crowd by a soldier named Dyogena -- is always the same, the tortures and tribulations he endured on his way to the stake become more gruesome with each telling. In this way, his suffering should heighten his martyrdom, but it seems his vestige would not agree. The vestige of the Broken One appears as a maimed and mutilated sheep, hateful of all holy men.
     Flaw. While bound to this vestige, you gain the following flaw: "I despise all saints, clerics, paladins, and priests." 
Martyr's Path
While bound to Nezare, your hit point maximum increases by your binder level plus your Charisma modifier. 
Blood Sacrifice
Once on each of your turns, when you hit a creature with a melee weapon attack, you can spill your own boiling blood to deal additional damage to the target. When you do so, choose a number of d8s up to your Charisma modifier of additional radiant damage to add to the damage roll. You take 3 damage for each additional die added to the roll. 
You can use your bonus action to regain hit points 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: Thorny Flesh
While bound to Nezare, your flesh toughens and sprouts long, sharp thorns. Whenever a creature within 5 feet of you hits you with a melee weapon attack, it takes piercing damage equal to your Charisma modifier.

Mechanically, this vestige is based on a class we're working on called the Martyr, which is actually a Con-based caster that burns HP to smite and cast spells. This package neatly serves a dual-purpose, giving straight tank builds more HP and allowing other builds to burn HP for risky high-damage builds. Though the martyr class is going to take some work to get right, this lighter version of the mechanics should be a lot less turbulent for gameplay.
     As for the legend, everyone play nice in the comments.

Next up, Elozahr:

Elozahr the Blue
5th-level vestige
Elozahr, the legendary founder of the Evocation School of magic, grants his binders frigid arcana and his steely concentration.
     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, the rules of arcana were fluid, and only those of patient countenance and forceful will could tame arcana. With time, the cleverest spellcasters learned to tame magic, channeling it into spells with direct intent.
     Elozahr the Blue was one such spellcaster. Patiently and deliberately, Elozahr sculpted his spells from ice, first creating the cantrip ray of frost and then the spell ice storm. With decades of work and the assistance of his apprentice, Evocatia the Red, he perfected his masterpiece, a spell so powerful that few mages could lay claim to it: cone of cold. He traveled to his apprentice's scorching, iron tower to test her mettle with this new spell, but instead discovered that Evocatia’s familiar was a sinister fiend, who tempted her with secrets of flame. Outraged, Elozahr froze her tower solid and shattered it to bits.
     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 Elozahr found that his apprentice carried with her a flame tongue meant to slay him, so he struck first with an icy blast.
     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. True to his work, Elozahr's vestige is a sculpture of a mage, carved from black ice, whose voice is like a howling wind.
     Personality Trait. While bound to this vestige, you gain the following personality trait: “I spend much of my time in deep concentration, speaking slowly and methodically when I must speak.” 
Inheritance of Frost
While bound to Elozahr, you know the ray of frost cantrip. Additionally, you can add your Charisma modifier to damage rolls you make with spells that deal cold damage. 
Crystalline Arcana
When you cast a spell that affects an area and requires your concentration, you can choose a number of Medium or smaller creatures equal to your Charisma modifier to be protected from its effects. A 5-foot cube gap in the spell effects opens around each chosen creature. These creatures do not need to make saving throws against the spell. Additionally, for the spell’s duration, these creatures are immune to the effects of the spell within its area and ignore conditions, such as difficult terrain, created by the spell. 
While bound to Elozahr, you can cast the following spells without using spell slots or spell components: sleet storm twice, ice storm once, and cone of cold once. You regain all expended uses when you finish a long rest. 
Trait: Hoarfrost
While bound to Elozahr, your skin, as well as your clothing, weapons, and armor, are covered with a thick frost, and your breath is visible, as if on a cold night. Whenever you begin concentrating on a spell, this frost grows into large ice crystals on your skin. As long as you maintain concentration, you can subtract the spell’s level from the damage taken. Fire damage ignores this ability. 

Elozahr is our second evocation wizard vestige, who chiefly exists to give binders an avenue to get the classic wizard spell, cone of cold. Binding him alongside Evocatia and Lexicon essentially allows you to convincingly cosplay a straight classed wizard or sorcerer, which checks one big box on the binder's to do list. (A similar combination of Dyogena, Orzi, and Rostam lets you do this for fighters, which is another big checkbox.)
     For the lore of Evocatia and Elozahr (and for Dyogena and Nezare, for that matter), I wanted to show off that vestiges can have conflicting legends. There's not a correct narrative, either because there never was one in the first place (like, everyone was pointing fingers when Evocatia and Elozahr were still alive), because history has forgotten the true guilty party, or because the story is now more fable than history, and fables are more interested in teaching a story than conveying truth.

- - -

1/24/18: Nezare: Boiling Blood: Limited to 1/turn; damage decreased to d8s
Elozahr: Inheritance of Frost: +Charisma to damage, not +Intelligence


  1. I love it! I refresh my phone in class every few minutes, waiting for these binder posts!

  2. But, minor note, it says korine at the top, a teleportation vestige, but has elozahr instead

    1. Oh, ha! I had a last-minute lineup change and forgot to change the title. I feel rather silly. I'll change the post's name

  3. As a question though, will there be any optional rules with vestige compatibility, like the old binder, if so, nezare/dyogena or evocatia/elozahr would most definitely be Haha, doesn't get more incompatible then killing each other

    1. I'm going to include Ancient Grudges as a variant rule. For this class, it's actually serves a dual purpose of making the lore feel important while also keeping the binder from being too focused on one mechanic:

      For example, since Evocatia and Elozahr both make you blastier, forcing you to keep only one means you can't get too blasty. Similarly, Nezare and Dyogena both make you tankier, so forcing you to keep only one means you can't get too tanky.

  4. Is intelligence the stat intended to be added to cold damage for Elozahr? It seems like you guys have been standardizing everything to charisma.

    1. Argh! That's a copy-paste error from an earlier draft of Evocatia. I'll change it to Charisma to match

  5. I'm a bit concerned about Nezare. While also bound with Dyogena and Orzi, you can attack for approximately 3*(1d8+6+5d10)=114 damage on one turn (for the cost of 45 hp).
    Sure, it's a glass cannon strategy, but it seems somewhat too good at that (dealing way more damage than a standard paladin or fighter might at 9th level). Also, Blood Sacrifice, like a palaidn's smite, possibly works too well with crits.

    I'd say Nezare's blood sacrifice should be limited to 1/turn, otherwise it's simply too abusable.

    As for Not-Korine, Elozahr seems good. I personally hate both sleet storm and ice storm, but they are rather standard spells in 5e, and Elozahr works them well.

    1. I think you're totally right about Nezare's burst potential. I'll push it to 1/turn, but it makes me wonder: should the damage dice be d8s instead of d10s as well?

      Unfortunetly, we're stuck with sleet storm and ice storm for Elozahr (I'm also not a fan, but they we're the only ice spells on the list). Thankfully, however, they pushed me in a direction of focusing the vestige on concentration spells, which is a lot more unique than it was originally.

    2. (I've dropped it to d8s for now, given that the Thorns effect is also improving DPR pretty significantly.)

    3. d8s also seem to be a good balancing factor.

      I've checked for any ice spells; There really are none fitting at lvl 3-4. Not even with elemental evil, and not even including your own list of elemental spells.

      Snowball Swarm could've replaced sleet, but unfortunately it's not SRD...

  6. Loving the vestiges and growing more and more excited for the full class with each update, looking forward to be able to try out the playtest version, though with the frequency of when my group can get together it is anyone's guess whether I get to do the playtest or the full version comes out first

    1. Can't agree more. I just started playing a Cheese Whiz, but the next chance I get I will be rolling up a binder. Also, enqueso you're wondering, the puns have been coming one brie-hind the other.

  7. Sidebar: For the archetype name, what about Cabal?

  8. Please do not vandalize our properties! Your stickers were found on peoples personal belongings! The adhesive is not easily removed...

    1. That doesn't mean it was them, it means someone bought their stickers and put them on peoples stuff