July 7, 2021

Bone Knight Redux 2.0

Martial Archetype
Comments from the Finger: It's not deja vu! Thanks to some comprehensive feedback, we've decided to swiftly revisit the Bone Knight with yet another redux. Fingers crossed this one is flawless!

Bone Knight

A bone knight, or an osteoth, is a warrior that has undergone an agonizing transmutation ritual, granting them the ability to fully control their bones. Naturally, this power is hideous and disfiguring, but allows them to grow bone protrusions for weapons and armor, changing their skeleton’s size and shape at will. Mastering this ability is a feat of endurance and creativity, but results in a fighter whose most powerful weapon is not sheathed at their side, but sheathed within their flesh.
Many fighters believe the osteoth ritual is a mere myth, a flight of fancy traded around campfires, but the process is indeed real, preserved among moldering tomes and in the minds of deranged wizards. With some resourcefulness, the procedure can be replicated with the contents of any alchemist’s lab, with a generous fatality rate of nearly half.

Adamant Ivory
Starting when you choose this archetype at 3rd level, you can sprout plates of bone from your skin. While you are not wearing any armor, your Armor Class 17. You can use a shield and still gain this benefit. At higher levels, your Armor Class increases as shown in the Adamant Ivory table.
Additionally, when you take bludgeoning, piercing, or slashing damage, you can use your reaction to shield yourself from the damage. Expend a Hit Die, roll it, and decrease the damage taken by the number rolled.

Adamant Ivory
Fighter Level Armor Class
3rd 17
5th 18
10th 19
18th 20

Bone Blades
At 3rd level, you have total control over your skeletal structure, allowing you to sprout blades of jagged bone from each of your palms or wrists as you would draw a weapon. These bone weapons have your choice of the statistics of a longsword, shortsword, or scimitar. You can’t be disarmed of these weapons. You can retract these weapons as you would sheathe a weapon.
Starting at 7th level, your blades count as magical for the purpose of overcoming resistance and immunity to nonmagical attacks and damage. Additionally, once per turn when you hit a creature with a bone weapon, you can expend a Hit Die to extend the bone into the target. Add the Hit Die and your Constitution modifier to the weapon’s damage roll.

Hardy Constitution
By 7th level, your bones and their marrow have grown more robust, granting you a formidable healing factor. You regain your total number of hit dice when you finish a long rest.

Starting at 10th level, you can shift your skeletal structure as an action to transform your appearance. When you do so, you determine the specifics of the changes, including adjusting your height and weight, the shape of your face, the presence or absence of your teeth, your posture, and so on. You can even change your size from Medium to Small or vice versa. The extent of these changes only extends to your bone structure: you can’t change your skin color, hair length, or clothing using this ability.

Improved Ivory
By 15th level, your bones are as hard as steel and as plastic as copper. When you expend a Hit Die to use your Adamant Ivory feature to reduce damage or use your Bone Blades feature to deal additional damage, you can expend two Hit Dice at once. You subtract the total from the bludgeoning, piercing, or slashing damage you take, or add the total and your Constitution modifier to the weapon’s damage roll, respectively. 

Master Osteoth 
Starting at 18th level, when you roll initiative and have fewer than half your Hit Dice, you regain 1d6 Hit Dice. Additionally, on your turn, you can expend 3 Hit Dice to regain a use of your Second Wind feature, or expend 8 Hit Dice to regain a use of your Action Surge feature (no action required).


  1. Love the use of hit dice in this, I feel like 5e doesn't use them enough.

  2. My group often end up using a lot of hit dices (and that's with a cleric and potions) Using HD as a resource for class features is bad design imo. Unless you regain them on short rest, or have a DM that only throws one or two encounters at you a day.

    Compared to something like Battlemaster this is pretty weak.Just give them a new resource.

    1. Also, keeping the unarmoured defence in line with 5e standard seems better. The 17 AC with progression feels weird.

      This feels like a step backward, the last version was pretty solid, though suffered a similar problem with resources.

  3. Restructure seems odd. The class affects bones but this affects bones, skin, and muscles to change the appearance of the creature. This may be a bit nit picky, but it doesn't seem to fit with the other abilities.

  4. Hello, comprehensive feedback here. I really hope this doesn't come across as negative, I'm half doing this again for the sake of tradition, and the other half because I think a tweak or two could make this a solid choice.

    - Overall - This feels much more like something I want to play mechanically as well as for RP, like the last version but upgraded. It has a couple inherent challenges but at the end of the day, I like it.

    - Hit Dice as a Resource - this is a class that really wants a healer in the party, and it seems like there's no way around that. Using hit dice seems polarizing, and personally I think it seems risky at low levels, but more than useable at mid to high levels.

    The increased ways to spend hit dice even over the last redux makes me think you might need to give more back. Something like Hardy Constitution giving a free roll or two on a short rest would go a long way. That said, maybe you've got playtest evidence that the resource doesn't run dry too fast?

    - Changes - flat armor is a positive change. Bone Knight is no longer railroaded into a Dex build, and capping out equal to +2 full plate makes it stay relevant.

    A Hit Dice parry instead of 'heavy armor master: the sequel' feels better, but adds more drain to that already precious resource.

    Bone spurs and spine crush being simplified into 'more damage on hit' will streamline turns, and allies in melee won't hate you. Again, it uses more hit dice than before, draining them faster. But why lock it behind level 7? Battle master can start adding d8s and conditions at level 3. Doing more damage without those other effects and spending a more precious resource to do it seems balanced to my mind.

    Master Osteoth feels like a capstone now.

    - Integrated Equipment - I don't know if there's any way around this, but fighters who can't use magic gear are nerfed fighters. If you know your GM won't give out magic items beyond +1 or +2, this subclass keeps you relevant. If not... less damage, less defense, less options. And you could abandon the bone gear for magic items, but the idea leaves a funny taste in my mouth, and the subclass at that point is a fighter who gets more hit dice.

    A way to consume a magic weapon or armor to gain its bonuses for your bones would solve that. Maybe it could fit in alongside the level 10 feature. Fear the Flame Tongue Ulna. Respect the Sternum of Resistance. Maybe... just avoid the Cast-Off Pelvis.

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  6. I'm *loving* the flavor here (dunno if you've read Worm, but this is a cool take on the villain Marquis), and like the overall mechanical structure, but find myself *very* underwhelmed with the mechanics themselves:

    * 3rd is a bunch of free mundane items, which are ribbons, then the ability to burn your *very* limited-per-day HD to do relatively minor effects. Basically a fixed-ability Battlemaster, except you have less uses *per day* than they have *per short rest*, it reduces your healing capacity, and you only get half of them back the next day.

    * The armor eventually becomes effectively free +2 plate, which is a reasonable ability, but your weapons stay just "magical" with no way to enchant them. Needs something like Warlock's blade bond to let you carry enchantments to your bone blade.

    * 7th is welcome but underwhelming. You're still probably not getting the same uses/day that a Battlemaster would from their abilities, and you're still harming your own healing.

    * 10th is a weaker variant of one of the starting Warlock invocations. It does let you change Size (which can be fraught, especially since your clothes don't change! Do you get the benefits like Enlarge?) and your changes are physical, not illusory, but they're *minor* in comparison to Disguise Self.

    * 15th just lets you burn thru your very limited resources faster. At this level the raw numbers still feel underwhelming (especially the damage reduction, which can still roll 1+1)

    * 18th seems okay.


    If I were taking this as a skeleton (no pun intended) to work off of, I'd probably start by reusing the UA psi die - call it a Bone Die instead.

    3rd) Get bone armor and weapons as per this class. Gain Bone Die - starts as a d6. Can roll it as a reaction to reduce damage, and add it to 1 attack/round as bonus damage. If you roll max, die decreases in size; if you roll 1, die increases in size (to starting size as max). If it shrinks from a d4, it's inactive until long rest. Spend 1 HD as a bonus action to return it to its starting size (even if it's currently inactive).

    7th) Bone weapons become magic, as per this class. Also gain the ability to bond a magic weapon, as per Blade-Pact Warlocks, to use it (in bone form) instead. Also, this is often a cosmetic/RP ability for fighters, so move the Disguise Self down to this point, but make it more like actual Disguise Self - can change *any* aspect of physical appearance, but it's physical rather than illusory, and you can't change your clothes. (Drop the Size change, other than the height adjustment that DS can already do.) Also, bone die bumps up to d8.

    10th) This is usually a combat ability for fighters. Pull the "full HD restore on long rest" up to here. Keeping the flavor of the original ability, you can spend an action and 1HD to gain Enlarge/Reduce as per the potion (1hr, no conc), and again it's physical rather than magical. (No times/day limit besides your limited HD pool.) Also, bone die bumps up to d10.

    15th) Keeping the original spirit of "make your bone abilities better": before you would roll your bone die, you can burn a HD to treat it as having rolled max. (Inclined to say this *doesn't* reduce the die size like rolling a natural max does.) You finally have enough HD that this isn't super painful!

    18th) Keep as-is. Also bone die bumps to d12.

  7. This is based on the Osteomancer from Dragon #317, isn't it?