April 16, 2019

The Brand

Dark Matter is officially in Beta!

This means it's basically done, so now's a great time to get the PDF or preorder the hardcover. But act fast: you can only preorder the hardcover for the next two weeks!

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Otherworldly Patron
Comments from the Finger: The Mouse demands your soul.

The Brand

You've struck an eldritch bargain with a titanic corporation, and their CEO has bequeathed you sinister powers and occasional discounts. When you commune with your patron, they appear in the form of the brand's mascot or face, whether that be a cartoon mouse, a muscular figure, or an enigmatic logo. The Brand's reach is wide, its influence pervasive, and its motives anathema to all mankind.

Brand Expanded Spell List
The Brand lets you choose from an expanded list of spells when you learn a warlock spell. The following spells are added to the warlock spell list for you.

Spell Level Spells
1stgrease, silent image
2ndmagic mouth, ray of enfeeblement
3rdbestow curse, major image
4thblight, compulsion
5thcloudkill, geas

Corporate Discount
Starting at 1st level, you can purchase any item from a business for 10% off. This discount is non-transferable; you can only purchase items for yourself using it. If you give away an item purchased using this discount, you lose this discount for the next item you purchase.

Company Man
By 1st level, your loyalty to the Brand affords you a level of supernatural protection. When you make a saving throw, you can use your reaction to gain advantage on the save.
     Once you use this feature, you can't use it again until you finish a short or long rest.

Subliminal Marketing
By 6th level, you can project an image of the Brand's mascot into someone's mind as a bonus action. Choose a creature you can see within 60 feet to make a Wisdom saving throw. On a failed save, the creature sees the brand's mascot in their peripheral vision at an unoccupied location they choose. At the start of the creature's next turn, they must use their action to make an attack or cast a spell targeting this space.
     Once you use this feature, you can't use it again until you finish a short or long rest.

Employee Benefits
Beginning at 10th level, your long-standing loyalty to the Brand has afforded you a suite of benefits. When you finish a short rest, you regain one expended hit die. Additionally, if you are blinded, deafened, incapacitated, paralyzed, or poisoned, that condition is ended. Lastly, once per day when you finish a short rest, you can recover a spell granted to you by an invocation which normally recovers on a long rest.

Vulture Capitalist
By 14th level, when you cast a cantrip that deals damage, you can spend one gold piece to literally throw money at the problem. You launch the coin with the spell (consuming it), dealing an additional 1d6 damage to one of the spell’s targets.
     Additionally, you can turn anything into profit. When you reduce a creature to 0 hit points, their body falls in a spray of gold coins, which equals 20 times its challenge rating.

Changelog: 4/19/19: Corporate Discount: Non-Transferable clause clarified
Subliminal Messaging: Bonus action to activate
Employee Benefits: Also recovers a spell use that would normally only recover on a long rest


  1. If I played this, I would be doing it only to get the Scott Pilgrim coin explosion. As a matter of fact, if that was the only special ability of a fighter sub-class, I would take that sub-class.

  2. Eh, I'm not sure what to think of this one. The 14th feature is excellent, and the discount is also nice - though I don't get how "you can't purchase items for other creatures" is enforceable. If I buy something, leave the store, and then give it to a friend, does the 10% of the cost magically teleport out of my pocket? Does the universe retroactively un-give me the discount? How would the universe know if I intended to give something to someone else, especially if maybe not even I knew I'd share it, e.g. buying a potion for myself but then later using it on a wounded ally? Also, aside from those two features (though Subliminal Marketing is also OK in this respect, just not quite as strong flavorfully), the level 1 save advantage feature and the level 10 short rest bonus don't really have that capitalistic feel to them.

    I would maybe lean into the idea of the class gaining and spending money a bit more - perhaps by spending a small amount ("Making an investment into the health of both you AND the company!"), you can gain a second use of the save advantage before you need to take a short rest, or perhaps company management pays you a small bonus when you redeem your Employee Benefits if you've killed a creature since your last rest (with an anti-Bag Of Rats clause, of course - perhaps tie it to CR because CR is already being used in the 14 feature?). Just some thoughts on how you can maybe double down on the class's flavor, up to you if you wanna do anything in that vein.

    1. Giving a benefit just for spending money would be highly abusable: you could bounce purchases between party members to trigger it without actually spending any money at all. What I could imagine rewarding is getting richer: let's say, your Company Man gets an extra use if you've earnt more money by X amount than you've given away since your last rest (and NOT "if you've earnt X amount of money", because that's also something players can trigger just by selling acorns to each other back and forth).

      I imagine Corporate Discount _was_ intended to teleport the 10% out of your pocket if you violate it because warlock patrons can do that and more, but I fear that would necessitate more bookkeeping that it's worth. You'd effectively need ot keep track of two separate inventories, one for things you bought - as well as the price you bought them for - and one for everything else.

      An alternative I could propose is, admittedly, stolen from an item from Neverwinter, but I think it'd be fitting: the ability to summon an extraplanar shopkeeper every once in a while. No grossly op, but it'd be interesting to be able to purchase basic equipment and sell items anywhere you please by having a temporary company stall poof into existence wherever you happen to be. Maybe make it stealthproof by adding that items you haven't paid for disappear when the stall does, just to make sure.

    2. *theftproof

      Why did I write stealth, I don't even know...

    3. I'm not sure what you mean by the first paragraph. If you mean the thing I mentioned about resetting the 1st level save feature, it's not a "procs whenever you spend money" thing, it'd be a "once per short rest, when you use this feature, you can spend X GP (similarly to the first part of the 14 feature) to have it not count as consuming a use", so you can get 2 uses per SR instead if you cough up the money.

      I think the reasoning behind the "not purchased for someone else" clause is so that you can't have the party walk into a shop, grab a bunch of stuff they want to buy, and then do the eldritch equivalent of telling the cashier to put it all on your card. I agree that it would be too bookkeeping- and technicality-heavy to be actually implemented like this in any sort of purchase-heavy game.

    4. Yeah, sorry, I definitely misunderstood you then. I thought you did mean it in the "it tiggers whenever you spend X amount of money" way.

  3. I love the concept, and the first and 14th abilities are just great, although I feel the gold earned should equal the hitpoint maximum for ease of use(For example when using built NPCs instead of monsters) And perhaps provide a non-violent way to earn this gold for the campaigns where fighting is rare.
    In fact I kinda feel the 14th level ability and the 1st level ones should swap, with the save advantage becoming usable a number of time equal to your Charisma modifier? It somehow feels stronger and more level-appropriate. I also believe more of this subclasse's skills should revolve around money. Perhaps even "buying" spell slots once a day, or allowing you to cast any other spell from the warlock spell list for a cost, using a spellslot. Basically, anything that will force the player to spend the cash they earn through their abilities.

  4. Awesome. Now I want to play a 5e shadowrun-esque game.

    Subliminal message does not specify action to activate.

    Employee benefits aren't great, but this IS a warlock so you'll want plenty of shorts anyway, making this better.

    To sum up, it's been a nice blog, and it's a shame you will have to shut the website because of a Disney lawsuit.

  5. So, where Dark Matter backers get beta access?

    1. BackerKit. Also, you should have an email from BackerKit with a download link

  6. Time to play Black Hat inc's representative