January 10, 2019

Orzi and La Diablesse | 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're finishing up 3rd-level vestiges with Orzi, which gives binders access to much-needed Extra Attack, and then we're pushing right on to 4th-level with, La Diablesse, a debuffer that focuses on charms and fear.

Orzi, the Maimed Duelist
3rd-level vestige
Once the world’s greatest blademaster, Orzi lends his binders his incredible speed and peerless skill with one-handed blades.
     Legend. Conflicting legends tell of how the Maimed Duelist lost his arm, but all relate his singular, almost supernatural skill with a blade, even despite having lost his dominant sword-hand.
     One legend recalls a rivalry between Orzi and the demon-knight Rostam over the affections of a maiden, culminating in a duel. Orzi struck true time and again, but Rostam's impenetrable armor repelled each blow until Rostam retaliated with a single strike, felling Orzi and severing his arm at the shoulder. Another legend recalls Orzi's conflict with a dire purple worm, who encroached on his lands. In a great battle, the beast bit Orzi's sword-arm, turning it black and numb within seconds. Rather than succumb to the venom, he cut off his own arm and struck the monstrosity dead with his one remaining arm.
     With but one arm remaining, Orzi trained relentlessly to become stronger than before, a shieldless blademaster. He invented a new, evasive fighting style to turn his opponents’ strength against them while avoiding their deadly blows. For this style, an endless record of lethal duels, and a reputation for blinding speed, Orzi is remembered as history's greatest blademaster. Likewise, his vestige is a humanoid blur swinging a lightning-quick blade.
     Personality Trait. While bound to this vestige, you gain the following personality trait: "I neglect my non-dominant hand, preferring to use just one hand whenever possible." 
Bonus Proficiencies
While bound to Orzi, you gain proficiency with hand crossbows, rapiers, scimitars, shortswords, and whips.  
Fighting Style: Dueling
When you are wielding a melee weapon in one hand and no other weapons, you gain a +2 bonus to damage rolls with that weapon. 
Extra Attack
You can attack twice, instead of once, whenever you take the attack action on your turn. 
Trait: After Image
While bound to Orzi, you move with an unearthly speed that leaves a lingering trail behind you. You can use your Charisma, instead of your Strength or Dexterity modifier, for attacks and damage rolls with finesse weapons.
     Additionally, as a bonus action, you can move 15 feet in a flash, without provoking opportunity attacks. 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.

We thought it was critical that a binder should be able to keep up with martials at 5th level when Extra Attack came online, so Orzi mostly exists to fulfill that role. The focus on Dueling comes as a result of needing to contrast with Rostam, who is all about heavy armor. Therefore, a more mobile, more Dex-based approach was called for.
     If you're following closely, you'll notice that Orzi's design is a bit strange, in that it deviates from the vestige template. In order to fit everything in, we snuck the Active ability into the Trait. It'd be nice if we were able to segregate these ideas into their own features, but I think we still accomplished what the template seeks to ensure: that we have a manageable number of features with a good mix of abilities.

Next up, La Diablesse:
La Diablesse, the Devil Woman
4th-level vestige
A creature of equal enthralling beauty and terrifying ugliness, the Devil Woman offers her binders powers over enchantments.
     Legend. Long ago, the Devil Woman prowled the night, seeking to lure men to their doom. Appearing as a beautiful stranger at the annual harvest festival, La Diablesse is said to have cut a striking figure in the latest fashion, with a flowing dress and wide-brimmed hat. Intoxicated and infidelitious men at the festival would flock to her side (sometimes encouraged by potent enchantments) and be lured away from the firelight, deep into the wilderness. Once far from help, the Devil Woman would reveal that her true nature: her face was like that of a rotting corpse and her eyes burned like coals in their sockets. Her body was an amalgamation of beast and man, with one leg resembling that of a cow. The terrified and disoriented men that saw her usually became hopelessly lost, plunging into ravines or falling prey to wild animals by sunrise.
     Though the stories paint the Devil Woman as little more than a cunning monster, she once was an ordinary woman that was horribly cursed. The circumstances before her curse, however, are muddled by the passing of centuries. Perhaps she was once a beautiful maiden, cruelly punished for her infidelity by a vengeful witch. Or perhaps she was the victim of a poorly-worded wish or infernal pact that saw her exchange her natural beauty for unnatural enchantment magic. Regardless, it seems her vestige only remembers the abhorrent monster she became, manifesting as a hideous figure wrapped in beautiful garb to conceal her face and cloven foot.
     Flaw. When you bind this vestige, you gain the following flaw: "I constantly seek validation from others, especially in regard to my appearance." 
Whenever you roll initiative, you can use either the Beguile or Scare ability below. These abilities require concentration, as a spell, but you can concentrate on these abilities and a spell at the same time. You make only one saving throw to maintain concentration on both. If one of these abilities is active, you can use your bonus action to cackle loudly, extending its duration for one round.
     Beguile. Choose one creature you can see that can see you within 60 feet to make a Wisdom saving throw. On a failed save, the creature is charmed by you until the end of your next turn.
     Scare. Choose one creature you can see that can see you within 60 feet to make a Wisdom saving throw. On a failed save, the creature is frightened of you until the end of your next turn. 
Waking Nightmare
As an action, you can project a horrifying image of the Devil Woman into the mind of a creature you can see within 60 feet. This creature makes a Wisdom saving throw and has disadvantage on the save if it is charmed by you or frightened of you. On a failed save, the creature must use its reaction to make a weapon attack against a target of your choice that it can see within 5 feet of it. If there is no target within range, this ability has no effect. 
While bound to La Diablesse, you can cast the following spells without using spell slots or spell components: darkness twice, suggestion once, fear once, and phantasmal killer once. You regain all expended uses when you finish a long rest. 
Trait: Cloven Hoof
While bound to La Diablesse, one of your legs transforms into a cloven hoof, a mark of her enduring curse. By leveraging this curse, you can use your action to cause one creature that you can see within 60 feet that is frightened of you to instead be charmed by you, or vice versa.
La Diablesse is a character from Carribean folklore, but she might be more accurately called a monster. It's one of those cases where a monster isn't one of a race of similar creatures, but is a singular malicious entity that exists to punish a certain type of person. This made writing her lore challenging, since she doesn't have a traditional backstory, like many mythological figures have (her story, like any good monster story, mostly focuses on the set up and reveal, not the monster's origin).
     Mechanically, I think the big feature (which helps this vestige feel like it's 4th level) is Waking Nightmare. The other three features all focus hard on imposing charmed and frightened on targets, but Waking Nightmare can (conceivably) also improve damage output. The big thing we have to decide on here: does the final sentence of Waking Nightmare, which cancels the effect if there is no target within range, nerf it too much?

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I'm definitely looking for feedback this time. An Extra Attack vestige was a mandatory addition to the list, but Orzi's development was a massive challenge, so I'm looking to hear how we did. Similarly, figuring out how to make La Diablesse fit as a debuffer with her theme proved to be tough.

- - -

Changelog: 1/10/19: La Diablesse: Waking Nightmare: Requires a Wisdom save


  1. I'm a big fan of the first one. The second one is also interesting.

  2. Cool ones. Orzi reminds me of Benedict of Amber- the world's greatest weapon master with a missing arm. He might be slightly lackluster on his own, but since he can come with another vestige I'd say he's quite alright.

    And La Diablesse actually almost seems Lovecraftian, which is very neat, and her abilities seem great.
    I'd say that not having a target for Waking Nightmare isn't too bad- La Diablesse already gets a 4th lvl and 3rd lvl spells, and WN is really good when it works.
    Also, it says "weapon attack", so you could use it to make someone shoot. I'd say that's enough for the effect not to be too weak.

    1. It also says to attack someone within 5 feet of the targets sight, so bows wouldn't be all that good

    2. Whoops, missed that. Well, that restriction can be removed I guess.

      Even without removing it the ability seems fine, though.

    3. my only problem is that its a 4th level vestige, but it's waking nightmare ability is very similar to Crown of Madness, a 4th level spell. The differences being CoM AutoCharms the creature if it works, it uses the creatures action instead of reaction ( more useful in my opinion, in CoM, you can use your action to save a party member being hit, in Waking Nightmare, you cant), and finally CoM doesnt have the 5 foot range limitation. The only upside i can see is that with the current wording of waking nightmare, it could hit itself, but that is more likely a bit of oversight than a feature.

    4. Crown of madness is a 2nd level spell. Waking nightmare is not a bonus action to use instead of an action, does not require concentration, and one successful save does not prevent the effect for future round.

      Also waking nightmare does not necessarily require the creature to be charmed/frightened, so it can be used against immune targets. And works on non-humanoids, unlike CoM.

      There are lots and lots of differences.

  3. I really like orzi, the only thing I’m concerned about is how realistic a melee build is going to be for the binder, are there going to be higher level vestiges that augment all forms of martial combat(as in extra damage of some sort) or are all of the martial vestiges going to be adding another form of combat and thus have limited synergy

    1. From here on out, none of the vestiges are going to be exclusively dedicated to one fighting style. I wanted to keep all of the fighting-style-focused vestiges at 2nd level or under, but Orzi slipped through to 3rd. In fact, the number of martial vestiges from here on out is going to be smaller -- you'll get vestiges like the Teleporter and the Thorns vestiges which complement melee with their niches and incidental damage, but none which focus on one type of combat.

  4. My only critique is a preference. I'd rather get the Devil lady's hot coal eye sockets than a cloven hoof as trait.

    1. Then what happens if you bind both Hou Yi and La Diablesse?


    2. Good point. I'm assuming this type of eventuality would come up sooner or later when binding several vestiges, so why not tackle it now? Perhaps a combination of the two traits? Or, maybe they shift back and forth and one becomes dominate when the ability is being used? In any event, at some point I'm sure there will be a case when 2 vestiges have overlapping traits and it can manifest somehow without much conflict.

    3. The cloven foot is a much more important detail about her design whenever she's represented in fiction. I didn't even have time to talk about all the other cool details related to it! The legend normally warns that you can tell a woman is La Diablesse if she walks with one foot on the grass, so as to conceal the sounds of her hoof.

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  6. For Orzi I would say maybe give something more substantial as a trait.

    Right now the speed doesn't really add any "wow factor" like the other ones.

    Unfortunately I cant really think of what would be a good replacement. Maybe something with the armed that was severed?

    1. Yeah, that's a good note. Unfortunately, it really needs to do the Charisma for finesse attacks thing and it also needs an active ability that focuses on mobility -- too many of the other important parts of the vestige were tied up already. If we're going to change it (and I'm not against coming up with a different/better mobility thing), it needs to hit those mechanical notes.

    2. I like Orzi's trait, but I would modify it to be a constant ability. Binders tends to have a lot of limited use abilities to keep track of, which can become complicated. Maybe like this...

      Additionally, as a bonus action, you can move 10 feet in a flash, AoOs provoked by this movement are made with disadvantage.