February 7, 2019

Æglæca and Korine | 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 have a summoner vestige that gradually became a single-target buffer vestige, plus a teleportation vestige.

Æglæca, Mother Mourn
4th-level vestige
An ancient druid whose son, Grendel, was brutally slain, Mother Mourn offers her binders her boundless grief and command over nature.
     Legend. A powerful druid of the lake, Æglæca was a mother, first and foremost. Though she was beautiful, her son Grendel was born deformed and feeble-minded. She loved him without reservation, as she loved the plants and animals of her domain, and they lived happily in her sanctum beneath the lake.
     One fateful day, Grendel heard the sounds of music and revelry from a nearby keep. The men there were celebrating the accomplishments of their most savage warrior, Beowulf, and when they saw Grendel, they thought him to be a monster and beat him to death. In grief and rage, Æglæca descended on the keep, slaying every warrior she found, but Beowulf the murderer eluded her grasp. She returned with her son's corpse and burned him on a pyre at the lakeside. With his ashes mixing in the air and water, the land turned sour, crops withered, and livestock died.
     Eventually, Beowulf descended into Æglæca's sanctum with his blade to slay the monster's mother and avenge his comrades, but he did not find a battle waiting for him; Æglæca already laid dead, having drank a measure of poison. Beowulf claimed victory (and even decapitated Æglæca as a trophy), but nothing he could do would halt the blight wrought by Grendel and his Mother, which proceeded to consume the kingdom.
     Most histories tell a twisted version of the tragedy of Æglæca and Grendel, painting Beowulf as a blameless hero that battled monsters and saved his land from destruction. Alas, the vestige of Mother Mourn remembers: she eternally cries for her lost son and curses anyone who raises a sword.
     Bond. While bound to this vestige, you gain the following bond: “I will stop at nothing to prevent harm coming to anyone within my charge.” 
Language of the Lake
You know Druidic, the secret language of druids. You can speak the language and use it to leave hidden messages. You and others who know this language automatically spot such a message. Others spot the message's presence with a successful DC 15 Wisdom (Perception) check but can't decipher it without magic. 
Mother's Embrace
As a bonus action, you can extend the Mother’s protection to another willing creature you can see within 60 feet. Until you end this effect on your turn (no action required), the target has advantage on saving throws and any healing they receive is maximized. If the target takes damage, you must use your reaction (if available) to halve the damage they take. You can only target one creature with this ability at a time.
Natural Magic
While bound to Æglæca, you can cast the following spells without using spell slots or spell components: animal friendship three times, speak with animals three times, conjure animals once, water walk (self only) at will, and conjure minor elementals or conjure woodland beings once. You regain all expended uses when you finish a long rest. 
Trait: Bitter Tears
While bound to Mother Mourn, your eyes always stream with tears. Whenever a friendly creature within 60 feet of you drop to 0 hit points or dies, these tears become blood. Until the end of your next turn, you can add your Charisma modifier to the damage of spells you cast. If the creature was under the effect of your Mother’s Embrace ability, you also have advantage on attack rolls you make until the end of your next turn.

Notes
Æglæca is the promised 'Summoner' vestige, which is mostly a summoner in the druid sense. This is mostly because all of the reasonably leveled summoning spells are on the druid list, but also happens to fit the lore I wanted to play with. 
     Anyone familiar with Beowulf will recognize the enigmatic (and unnamed) Grendel's Mother, which Beowulf battles in a lair under a lake. This character always struck me as profoundly tragic: regardless of the sort of monster Grendel might have been, his mother was a grieving parent who got no justice for her son, and was promptly slain by Beowulf. She's not even properly described as a monster (the text is very unclear on this point.) If anyone deserves a second chance as a vestige, it's her.

Next up, Korine:

Korine, The Displaced
5th-level vestige
A renowned planar researcher who discovered the true nature of the Void, Korine offers her binders the power to defy physics, chiefly through teleportation.
     Legend. Korine was a talented arcanist and planar researcher, among the first to study the Void. After years of research, she made a breakthrough realization: the Void is not simply a mathematical constant, a force, or a dividing boundary, but an actual plane of existence, like the Ethereal or Elemental Planes, albeit with even stranger rules. When she revealed her findings to her colleagues, they mocked her and decried her discovery, touting centuries old planar models instead.
     Undeterred, Korine set about crafting a plane shift spell to travel to and traverse this unexplored Void and ameliorate her reputation. The spell, which drew power from an active sphere of annihilation, functioned perfectly, but its result was disastrous. Korine cast her spell in front of an audience of fellow arcanists, and in an instant of magical tumult, she was spread thinly across time and space. But in her last moments, she saw the curvature of space, saw it wrap around, and saw the hideous secrets behind it laid bare. And at last, she saw her place in it all. Then she met oblivion.
     Appropriately, Korine's vestige is only loosely associated with reality: her humanoid figure is disconnected at every joint, floating about in a strange orbit, and open, darting eyes cover every body part in the mutilated cloud. Perhaps, this is her physical personage, which has persisted in the Void. No other creature, after all, has successfully traveled to that strange place, and it is unclear what truly remains of her body or soul.
     Personality Trait. While bound to this vestige, you gain the following personality trait: "I hatch elaborate plans on the fly, but don’t always think out the consequences."

Loose Gravitation
While bound to Korine, the distance of your long jump and height of your high jump are doubled, and you take half damage from falling.

Telefrag
Whenever you cast a spell which teleports you, you can choose to teleport into a space occupied by a creature. When you do so, the creature takes 1d4 force damage for every 10 feet you teleported, up to a maximum of 5d4, and, if you and the creature are within two size categories of one another, it moves into an adjacent unoccupied space of its choice.

Blink
While bound to Korine, you can cast the following spells without using spell slots or spell components: misty step at will, blink once, dimension door twice, and teleportation circle once. You regain all expended uses when you finish a long rest.

Trait: Dimensional Error
While bound to Korine, your body becomes wedged between reality and nonexistence. Your joints, including your neck, shoulders, elbows, hips, and knees, seem to have vanished into some other plane, leaving your other body parts loosely floating in their positions. As a result, whenever you are hit with an attack, roll a d20. On a 20, the attack misses.

Notes
I've always thought that 'Teleportation' is a very neat theme for a vestige/subclass, but it's always a hard one to balance. The big feature for Korine is being able to cast misty step at will, which basically amounts to having a faster movement speed and free Disengage every turn. As a result, she's a relatively higher level, and a lot of the other features she gets are a bit underwhelming by design. It might even be true that she needs additional nerfs to balance how strong misty step at will really is. Thankfully, to use Telefrag effectively, she needs to teleport into trouble, which should keep this one vestige from being the single best one so far.
     Her lore isn't a clever reference to anything (except, perhaps to Ipos, my favorite vestige from 3.5), but we'll see the ramifications of her research in other vestiges to come.

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As always, please feel free to leave feedback in the comments! Developing this class is a community effort, and I welcome everyone to pick apart the mechanics and lore.

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Changelog: 2/7/19: Æglæca: Mother's Embrace: Can only affect one target at a time
2/8/19: Korine: Blink: Levitate 2/long replaced with Blink 1/long

8 comments:

  1. I've also always seen Beowulf as an asshole and Grendel's mother as just a grieving mother. I like to see this interpretation here as well. However, as far as summoners go, this is pretty limited- how about a 7th or 8th level fiend or elemental summoner as well?

    RAW, you can use Mother's Embrace on any number of creatures, can be also used on yourself, and it lasts forever. I'm sure that wasn't the intention.

    There's no "conjure minor woodland being". It's without the 'minor'.

    A feature named 'blink' that doesn't give the spell "blink" is a bit confusing. Other than that Korine seems pretty great.

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    1. Are you thinking Æglæca is too limited in variety, or are you thinking she needs additional summons per day?

      There might very well be room for an 8th-level summoner, but I can't use any spells from XGtE, so some creativity will be required. (Perhaps a focus on summoning only one higher-level fiend, like an inverse guardian angel?)

      Mother's Embrace was intended to be single-target. I've changed it to be as such.

      Lastly, I was thinking about calling it "Blink Teleport", but I thought it was a bit too on the nose. Should I perhaps leave it as-is and replace levitate 2/long with blink 1/long?

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    2. I would absolutely love a vestige that was focused on summoning one higher level fiend. Thematically it might be cool to have a minor friend that has limited functionality but be able to use an action to mutate it into a stronger fiend for a limited time, as a side note I would love to see your take on a eidolist

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    3. Mostly I think Aelgaeca is limited in variety. Elementals and fiends are classic summons which she doesn't have access to.

      For an 8th lvl summoner, I guess one big fiend would work, but you could also give conjure elemental as 8th lvl +Planar Ally +Planar Binding +Magic Circle for a very decent summoner.
      However, Planar Ally is a problem since it is super non-specific, so the vestige could point to a specific creature as the summon for planar ally, creating the same effect at the one you described.

      About Blink- Blink is a very powerful spell, but is works both with the theme and level of the vestige (more than levitate does), so it could be put in. Or the name could be changed. I think it hardly matters.

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    4. love the addition to the vestige line-up. For the Blink feature, maybe rename it to Void Secrets, or Knowledge of the Void, or something like that. Also, would it be to much to make blink a reaction, like it was for Tenebrous?

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  2. These two look really cool, as have all of the other vestiges, I am really excited to see the class develop and the vestiges that we have and how they interact, I did get to start playing with a binder with my group, and well I am loving the class thus far, and can't wait for the next chunk of levels, and given the progress on vestiges was wondering how far off a level 1-10 update might be

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    1. Pretty close, actually. I might prep that this weekend as a bonus for the Patreon.

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