Friday, January 13, 2017

Radiant Sorcerer Bloodline and Defiling Homebrew Rules

Today should be pretty brief, just an air-drop of a few ideas for some stuff that was brewing in my head over my lunch hour at the code mines today. First is a sorcerer bloodline for Dark Sun, specifically individuals imbued by the destructive power of the sun itself.

Radiant Sorcery 

At 1st level, you are enveloped in a glow whenever you cast a spell from the sorcerer spell list. You become the source of bright light out to 30 feet and dim light for an additional 30 feet until the beginning of your next turn. You can spend 1 sorcery point to cause the corona to flare out, dealing your Charisma modifier in fire or radiant damage to enemies within 5 feet of you.

Sun-Basking Vigor
The heat and blinding rays of the Dark Sun cause you no discomfort and, in fact, are a boon to you. At 1st level, you can regain 1d4 sorcery points by taking short rests in broad daylight, and do not suffer discomfort from the heat of the day. You must still hydrate properly and can be affected by other sources of heat normally.

Radiant Assault
Upon reaching 6th level, when you cast a spell that deals damage to an enemy, you may convert the damage it deals to fire or radiant.

Solar Flare
When you achieve 14th level, your corona becomes far more dangerous and all-consuming. When you use the flare effect of your corona bloodline feature, the range is increased to 15 feet. You also gain resistance to fire and radiant damage.

Once you reach 18th level, you become a vessel for the destructive power of the Dark Sun. By expending 5 sorcery points, you transform into a being of radiance and flame. You are enveloped in an aura of licking flames and searing radiance that deals your sorcerer level in damage to all creatures within 20 feet of you when they start their turn within the aura. Half of this damage is fire, and half is radiant; round fractions in favor of radiant. Flammable objects within the aura catch fire. This aura lasts for 1 minute or until you suppress it as a bonus action.

The bloodline is pretty straightforward and offense-focused. I'm not even entirely sure it's any good, but I'm not convinced it's bad either. Maybe just boring. I'll noodle on it.

Next is the end result of a lot of consideration regarding defiling, but before I post it, I want to talk about the thought process. Defilers are the reason people fear users of arcane magic in the Dark Sun world (though most probably wouldn't know the difference between a cleric spell or a wizard spell). They are persecuted in most civilized territories, subject to either the laws of the sorcerer-kings or torn apart by angry mobs. Everyone knows defilers are bad news, even the good ones; their magic destroys fertile land and kills plant life, and with how hardscrabble life can be on Athas as it is, it's kind of a dick move to make things even worse.

At first, since 2E defilers and preservers were distinct wizard sub-classes, I thought about making the only wizard traditions Defiler and Preserver. But then, the game's gotten a lot more diverse since then; we have arcane tricksters, eldritch knights, bards, sorcerers, and warlocks that are also casters of "arcane" magic (though that distinction is iffy in a post-3E and 4E world). It would have also meant cutting out the existing wizard traditions, which sucks and reduces player options.

So I then tried to come up with rules for defiling and preserving options when a spell is cast. I didn't like having two choices players had to make any time they cast a spell and magnifying the already complicated nature of playing a caster in D&D -- 5E has made it easier than other Vancian-based D&D editions, but that doesn't mean I should regress just for the sake of it.

2E defilers had a much more forgiving experience table similar to the cleric. They leveled up way faster than the preserver did -- the dark side is the quick and easy path to power, right? There isn't a concept of that in later editions due to a single experience table for all classes, and it would be a bitter pill to swallow around the table to say, "Okay, defiler player, you get 10% more experience because you're an asshole."

But defiling also had to be a desirable course of action for people, since it brought power at the cost of destruction to the surroundings. Thus, I opted for this implementation.

Preserving and Defiling

Whenever you cast a spell from the arcane trickster, bard, eldritch knight, sorcerer, warlock, or wizard spell list, you may choose to wrench energy from the ambient plant life around you to fuel its power and restore vigor in the process. To defile, you must be in a region with some measure of plant life. A completely barren desert or salt flat has insufficient life to fuel a defiling attempt. 

For each level of the spell you cast, you destroy a 5 foot radius of plant life to empower the spell (thus, a 5th level spell destroys a 25 foot radius of plant life around the caster) if the territory is fertile. If the territory has only sparse vegetation, you double the radius of the defilement. 

When you defile, you can perform one of the following effects in conjunction with the casting of the spell. 

1. You regain a number of hit points equal to the level of the spell you cast (if you boost a spell using a higher level slot, you regain proportionally more hit points). 
2. You cause the victim(s) of the spell to suffer disadvantage on appropriate saving throws. 
3. You double the duration of the spell, for spells that have a duration. 

The act of defiling is abhorrent in the eyes of most people. By doing so, the ground is rendered infertile and dead for months if not years at a time, and it will almost assuredly make witnesses hostile if they have a stake in the wellness of the land. In the city-states of the sorcerer kings, it is wise to hide the fact that one can cast magic at all if one is not a cleric or druid -- most people do not know the difference between a preserver and a defiler.

It's now something you're always tempted to do if you need that extra boost, but comes at the cost of potentially making an enemy out of everyone around to witness it. The third effect probably needs a more-thorough review; there's probably a spell I'm not taking into account from my mental storage of 5E spells that would break under these circumstances.

Anyway, I think that wraps up the bare necessities to get a 5E Dark Sun game off the ground (I touched on wild talents in a previous entry though I may revisit them). I've already got a crew scheduled to start it at the beginning of March. Should be fun times!

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