Sunday, March 26, 2017

Birthright Bestiary

Have another Birthright thing. I've been distracted by work and life, but managed to do this in my spare time between sessions agonizing over Ghostwalk mechanics.

I intend to expand upon it, particularly the Unique Creatures section (which at present features only a 5E conversion of the Gorgon). One of these days I may get over my hangup of using public domain art; even credited it feels like theft even if it's really not.

I may also have a serious grump-face when I see homebrew products featuring stolen artwork. There's too much of it out there. Harumph harumph.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Birthright Archetypes

I polished off and collected my first series of Birthright character options this evening and placed it up in the links bar for everyone to consume. Contained herein are the following options:

  • The Bloodline domain for clerics
  • The Knight-Errant archetype for fighters
  • The Umbral Warden archetype for rogues
  • The Mebhaighl Scholar tradition for wizards

As well as three spells usable by aforementioned spellcasters. Enjoy, feedback welcome, etc.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

New Dark Sun 5E in Links Bar!

I've put together my Dark Sun homebrew stuff into the Links bar for consumption, applying some feedback I received to the finished product. I do reference that you need Volo's Guide rather than reprinting that information in the document. I doubt WotC would have a freakout in the astronomically remote chance somebody there drives by this silly blog, but better safe than sorry and reprinting it is kind of a dick move.

Enjoy, additional feedback welcome as always.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

The Knight-Errant

Another of my Birthright archetypes in development is the knight-errant. I wasn't too thrilled by the Purple Dragon Knight/Banneret introduced in the Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide, and wanted to try a more Cerilian-themed archetype. Playing to the systems I converted and/or created is another added bonus.

Of course, fighter archetypes tend to be pretty annoying to design. They usually end up shackled to the idea of superiority dice or act like a hybrid of other classes. I wanted something that felt like a traditional knight, even if it could also be one that isn't necessarily a landed lord. With a bit of surgery, I sliced and diced bits of the Witch Knight I made into this, reflavored accordingly.

Plus, a squire. Everybody likes squires!


The knight-errant encompasses any titled warrior with a knowledge of the upper echelons of society. As representatives of their respective regents (or themselves regents) they can take the role of questing knights, warrior-emissaries, or bodyguards to prominent nobles.

Right of Sanctuary

When this archetype is selected at 3rd level, you may request sanctuary for you and your allies when visiting the abodes of titled nobles or other influential entities. The right of sanctuary is a long-respected Cerilian tradition, though certain human cultures (particularly the Vos) do not necessarily pay it heed. Your hosts may request service of you in exchange for their hospitality, but to do so is often considered bad manners.

Sanctuary includes lodgings (though they need not be comfortable) and food (though it need not be palatable) for a period of 24 hours. While under sanctuary, you are expected to obey the rules of the host and not disrespect or dishonor them in any way. Your allies are also subject to this expectation. Breaking the right of sanctuary is a grave insult to the host and word of the knight-errant's iniquity will follow them for a period of no less than one month (unless such word is prevented), during which time no other hosts will provide sanctuary.


As a titled warrior, you gain the service of a squire. This individual accompanies you on your travels and is primarily suited to tending your gear and steed, as well as helping you into your armor each day.

Your squire is of a race and gender of your choice, and uses the ability scores and starting equipment of a Guard (do not modify ability scores for race). You replace their proficiency bonus with your own (affecting their attack rolls, skills, and saving throws accordingly), and apply your proficiency bonus to their AC and damage rolls. Their hit point maximum equals their normal maximum or four times your fighter level, whichever is higher. When you gain an ability score increase through level advancement, your squire also gains an ability score increase to be distributed to your liking. Your squire rolls for initiative like any other creature, but you determine its actions and behavior.

If your squire is slain in battle, they may be returned to life normally, or you may petition a regent for a new squire. After a period of one month traveling with you, this prospective squire gains all of the abilities granted through this feature.

Armor Specialization

At 7th level, choose one type of armor (light, medium, heavy) with which you are proficient. While wearing armor of this type, you gain a +1 bonus to AC.

Mandate of War

Upon reaching 10th level, the knight-errant can call for special dispensation to levy troops. When the knight-errant attempts to muster armies as part of a domain action (whether as the regent or as a lieutenant) they halve the Gold Bar cost for mustering non-mercenary units.

When attached to a unit as a commander, the knight-errant grants the unit an additional +1 bonus on battle resolution checks.

The knight-errant, and allies fighting alongside the knight-errant, gain advantage on initiative checks.

People's Champion

When the knight-errant reaches 15th level, they inspire those around them to greater heights by virtue of their deeds and skill. As a bonus action, the knight-errant may grant proficiency with any one skill in which they are trained to any ally who can see and hear them until the end of the knight-errant's next turn.

Furthermore, the knight-errant gains proficiency in any one saving throw of their choice.

Strength of Arms

An 18th level knight-errant lives and dies by the sword in the name of the quest. Whenever the knight-errant of this level successfully strikes an opponent in melee, they gain temporary hit points equal to the better of their Strength or Dexterity modifiers. If the attack is a critical hit, you gain temporary hit points equal to your fighter level.

Designer Notes

The Squire is the answer to who is taking care of the horses and helping the fighter into their full plate armor every day. You ever try to put that stuff on? You're not getting into it by yourself even if you are pretty well trained at wearing and maintaining it. Best I could ever do is a mail shirt without help, and that was back when I was ten years younger.

Don't look at me like that. I was a young nerd, you think I didn't try to put armor on whenever I got the chance at various festivals and fairs?

The Squire could be a bit of a hindrance/extra annoyance to track in combat, as it is a fairly weak combat pet. Of course, if it dies under focused assault, you probably won't be getting a new one any time soon unless your party is capable of raising the dead.

Right of Sanctuary might have some redundancy problems.

Armor Specialization seems boring and stacks with the Defense fighting style, so it may need rethinking. But then, having something not-complicated is kind of nice. I left it open in case there were Dexterity-based knight-errants that wore light or medium armor (as could be the case with Brecht or possibly Khinasi knight-errants). There's some redundant wording in there as well (of course the fighter is proficient with all armor), but it might be worth calling out in the case of multiclassed fighters.

Mandate of War is mostly there for mustering and battlefield boosts, but the initiative advantage is a solid party-wide boost. It might be too good and I might need to pare it down to just the knight-errant. In fact, I'm almost positive I will in version two.

People's Champion really only comes down to two choices: Dexterity or Wisdom. Until Wizards starts stuffing additional monsters with Intelligence and Charisma saving throw abilities, they will remain the most common saving throws (up there with Constitution, with which the fighter is already proficient).

Strength of Arms isn't as punchy as some of the other 18th level fighter archetype abilities, but by this point the knight-errant's squire is a pretty reliable damage boost on a given round, provided it's with the party.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Birthright Interlude: The Bloodline Domain and New Spells

Taking a brief break from Ghostwalk to churn out some more Birthright content that I've been tinkering with on the side. Today I present the Bloodlines cleric domain, a religious sect that can be part of any faith whose adherents attach themselves to blooded scions as advisers, chroniclers, and bodyguards. Alternately, they hunt and slay blooded individuals in accordance with their god's ethos.

Naturally, this domain only works in the Birthright setting, and most specifically with the conversion I made.

Bloodline Domain

The Bloodline domain is available to any deity of Cerilia. Its exact tenets vary from faith to faith, but those who follow this religious doctrine are sought out for their expertise in matters of lineage and inheritance. Some are scholars of the divine bloodlines, and others are holy (or unholy) champions venturing forth to battle blooded foes.

The domain's mandate means that even clerics of opposing faiths and gods will meet to share knowledge and records of the scions they meet in their travels, or catalogue the affairs of powerful blooded entities, the awnsheghlien and fabled ersheghlien.

Bloodline Domain Spells

1st - amanuensis, detect divine blood
3rd - enhance ability, zone of truth
5th - clairvoyance, tongues
7th - death ward, locate creature
9th - blood boil, legend lore

Archivist of Lineages

Your clerical order is extremely proficient in the histories and relationships of noble bloodlines and keeps a quasi-religious text with them at all times known as the Archive of Lineages. Each cleric maintains their own copy of the Archive, which contains abbreviated family trees and major historical events regarding some of Cerilia's most storied families.

It is the duty of each Archivist to catalogue the affairs of scions they encounter, and expand their copy of the Archive. If the cleric's copy of the Archive is damaged or destroyed, their first priority must be to repair the book or create a new copy to take with them on their journeys. Without it, the cleric cannot prepare any new spells.

Bonus Proficiencies

When you choose this domain at 1st level, you gain proficiency in History. If you are already proficient in History from another source (such as being Anuirean) you instead gain proficiency in Persuasion.

You also gain proficiency in heavy armor.


At 1st level, you possess the knowledge of how to more effectively engage blooded foes. You gain a +2 bonus to damage rolls with weapon attacks against creatures with a bloodline score. Additionally, you have advantage on Wisdom (Survival) checks to track blooded individuals, as well as on Intelligence checks to recall information about them. Furthermore, you have advantage on saving throws against effects from a scion's blood abilities.

Channel Divinity: Blood Augment

When you reach 2nd level, you may use your Channel Divinity to boost the effects of a bloodline's power. As an action, you may choose one target within 60 feet of you that possesses a Bloodline ability score. For 1 minute, that target adds their Bloodline modifier to the result of attack rolls, skill checks, and saving throws. If you are a blooded scion, and your target either lacks a Bloodline score or their Bloodline score is weaker than your own, you may instead apply your own Bloodline modifier in place of the target's modifier.

Shared Glory

Starting at 6th level, when either you or an ally within 60 feet uses a blood ability, you and all allies within 60 feet of you gain temporary hit points equal to three times the Bloodline modifier of the individual activating the ability.

Divine Strike

At 8th level, you gain the ability to infuse your weapon strikes with divine energy. Once on each of your turns when you hit a creature with a weapon attack, you can cause the attack to deal an extra 1d8 radiant damage to the target. When you reach 14th level, the extra damage increases to 2d8.

Bloodline Transference

Upon reaching 17th level, the cleric gains special powers as they relate to the ebb and flow of bloodlines. By spending at least 1 hour with the corpse of a slain scion that has been dead for no longer than 1 week, the cleric may transfer that scion's Bloodline to a new unblooded recipient. This recipient must be present for the rite, and the departed scion cannot already be divested of their divine blood by another source (such as being slain by a tighmaevril weapon). The recipient immediately gains a Bloodline score of 11 with the same derivation of the slain scion. If the slain scion's Bloodline score was less than 11, the recipient's score is equal to that value. If the dead scion is later returned to life, they will do so without their bloodline!

This does not give the recipient stewardship of the scion's holdings or provinces, though the recipient may later attempt to lay claim to them as the "blood heir" of the departed. The ceremony of investiture must still be performed to formalize the transference.

The cleric may not use this ability more than once per week. Some faiths view this as a masked form of usurpation if used irresponsibly and will react accordingly.

Designer Notes

There's a few places I see improvement needed. Bloodline Transference is an "in-the-field" version of basic investiture mechanics, but comes very late in the domain's progression and thus I didn't see this as a huge danger. It's not a combat benefit, which may make this domain lag a bit behind in raw power compared to some others.

Also, Bloodbane's damage bonus doesn't scale well as-written, so I also tinkered with it adding the cleric's Wisdom modifier to damage. It still might not be good enough, so I am considering improving it at level bands (+4 damage at 6th, +6 damage at 11th, +8 damage at 17th).

Archivist of Lineages is a pure ribbon. I loved the idea of the wandering priest with the huge tome bearing the names of every noble family tree from Anuire to Vosgaard and having the sacred duty of chronicling every offspring, legitimate or otherwise. Whole adventures could arise from the need to learn the truth about a given regent's progeny, or urging (after first finding) a bastard scion to take up the mantle of rulership to vanquish a corrupt parent.

New Spells

These were made to support the above domain. There's also like a thousand versions of amanuensis out there. Mine's probably too stingy for a first level slot, so I'm leaning towards increasing its duration to an hour, adding it to the wizard spell list, and making it a ritual.


1st-level transmutation
Casting Time: 1 action
Range: 30 feet
Components: V, S, M (a quill with a silver point worth at least 10 gp, plus adequate parchment or paper to complete the copy)
Duration: 10 minutes

By means of this spell, you may copy written texts from any non-magical book, parchment, or other written medium. The quill that is the component of this spell animates and rapidly transcribes the text as a perfect copy of the original over the course of the duration, completing one page per minute (up to ten pages per casting of the spell).

The spell cannot copy diagrams or illustrations, nor can it transcribe magical texts, duplicate spell scrolls, or create glyphs of warding. Where such banned items occur, only a blank space will be revealed in the copy.

Blood Boil

5th-level transmutation
Casting Time: 1 action
Range: 60 feet
Components: V, S, M (a small vial of snake venom)
Duration: Concentration, up to 1 minute

This spell, created as a bane to blooded scions and awnsheghlien everywhere, ravages the body and cripples the victim's divinely-gifted abilities. Choose a target that you can see within range that is not undead. The target must succeed on a Constitution saving throw or suffer 5d6 points of fire damage and 5d6 points of poison damage as their blood becomes a burning toxin within their veins. If the target is a blooded scion, the damage is increased to 5d8 fire and 5d8 poison.

On the initial round that the damage is suffered, the victim cannot activate any blood abilities or use powers related to their divine heritage. At the end of each of its turns, for as long as you concentrate, the victim can attempt another Constitution saving throw to end the secondary effect.

Detect Divine Blood

1st-level divination (ritual)
Casting Time: 1 action
Range: Self
Components: V, S
Duration: Concentration, up to 10 minutes

For the duration, you sense the presence and location of individuals possessing a bloodline within 30 feet of you. If you sense a bloodline in this way, you may use your action to pinpoint individuals with a bloodline of any strength, determining its derivation and relative strength (tainted, minor, major, great, true).

The spell can penetrate most barriers, but it is blocked by 1 foot of stone, 1 inch of common metal, a thin sheet of lead, or 3 feet or wood or dirt.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Ghostwalk is Hard, Y'all.

Converting this is a bear. Many of its conceits are mired in the systemic chassis of 3rd Edition and it's been difficult to extricate the bits I need from the setting and keep them remotely familiar.

I've had some successes. I think the basic idea of the Eidolon class is solid enough, though its abilities need significant work. I wanted to talk more about other bits I've changed over into 5th Edition.

What is a Ghost?

Unlike the standard ghost monsters, Ghostwalk ghosts are not completely undead, but certainly not among the living. When someone refers to a ghost in Manifest, they do not mean a shrieking spirit of the damned that withers all who behold it -- such creatures are unknown in Manifest, though undead such as wraiths and specters still haunt defiled burial grounds.

Rather, ghosts of Ghostwalk are a unique manifestation of the deceased's will to carry on. For reasons unknown, only the souls of humanoids can endure in this fashion; monsters, outsiders, and dragons are not governed by this cosmological law, and their souls either immediately depart this world or are part of their physical remains.

So You're Dead. Now What?

A ghost is considered a humanoid of its corresponding type, though it also gains the ghost descriptor. Certain feats, spells, and creatures have special effects on ghosts, or can only be used while you are a ghost. Ghosts obviously do not age, do not require food and drink to survive, and are immune to diseases.

A ghost does not necessarily need to sleep during a long rest though they may willingly enter a sort of torpor. However, every ghost has a compulsion they must satisfy during this period of time. Some may need to listen to a particular tune, behold a certain sight or person, indulge physical pleasures such as eating or drinking while fully-manifested, or haunt a particular location. A ghost that fails to do this at least once a week risks succumbing to the Calling, which drags them to the True Afterlife.

A ghost exists in one of three states: ethereal, incorporeal, and fully-manifested. They may transition through one or more of these states as they adventure or are affected by certain magic.

An ethereal ghost is formless and invisible to all but ethereal creatures or those with magic to see into or transpose themselves onto the Ethereal Plane. Ethereal ghosts can pass through unwarded solid objects, but cannot harm or be harmed by creatures on the Material Plane. Ethereal ghosts cannot wear or use physical equipment unless it is present on the Ethereal Plane or possesses the ghost touch quality.

An incorporeal ghost is weak in both realms, and is considered in a state of flux. Incorporeal ghosts can pass through objects as though they were difficult terrain, and has resistance against damage from sources on the Material Plane. However, all creatures save other partially-manifested ghosts have resistance against damage from an incorporeal ghost. Inorporeal ghosts cannot wear or use physical equipment unless it is present on the Ethereal Plane or possesses the ghost touch quality.

A fully-manifested ghost is, for all intents and purposes, completely on the Material Plane. They suffer and deal full damage to creatures, though their appearance is still clearly that of a ghost -- slightly translucent flesh, a haunting gaze, and possibly the physical marks of their death.

While within the Manifest Ward, all ghosts are forced into a fully-manifested state. Some spells, magic items, or feats used outside of the Ward may temporarily duplicate this effect. Outside of the Ward, which extends above and below the surface of the city of Manifest as well as outward toward the ring of trees at its periphery, a ghost cannot willingly become fully-manifested without aforementioned magical aid.

The Ethereal Current and the Veil of Souls

When a humanoid dies, their soul appears on the Ethereal Plane a short time after (around ten minutes, if you require a specific time frame). Their soul is carried along a flow of otherworldly mist known as the Ethereal Current -- resisting this pull is possible, though most departed souls either lack the will or desire to do so.

These currents flow like a river toward Manifest and the entrance to the Land of the Dead. The Veil of Souls is a metaphysical barrier, and upon reaching it the soul can choose to remain on the Material Plane or pass into the True Afterlife -- a realm from which only resurrection magic can extract them.

Death and Resurrection

The cosmological proximity of the next world in relation to Manifest means that the rules of resurrection are somewhat more lax. Oft times, the cost of securing the services of a priest or druid capable of raising the dead is exorbitant, compounded by the expensive material components.

While within the boundaries of the Manifest Ward, the material component costs of spells such as raise dead, resurrection, and true resurrection are annulled when used on individuals in a ghost state. It is a relatively simple affair to raise the dead here, provided a spellcaster powerful enough can be located. For this reason, those with the power often do not advertise such; they would quickly find themselves overwhelmed with petitioners begging for loved ones to be returned to them, and not every deity smiles kindly on constant prayers to upset the natural order of life and death (however peculiar it may be in Manifest).

A ghost can be injured and driven to a state of "true death." When a ghost is killed, their soul immediately departs for the True Afterlife as though they succumbed to the calling, and must be raised from the dead via magic.

The Calling

The Calling is the need for the departed to gravitate toward the True Afterlife. Even ghosts with a strong will can find themselves yearning to venture to the beyond.

Certain spells or effects in the world may trigger the Calling, as well as a ghost failing to satisfy its compulsion after a period of one week. When such a situation occurs, the ghost must make a Charisma saving throw with a DC equal to 10 + its current level of the Calling or advance one further step on the track.

You reduce your level on the Calling track by one after completing a long rest while satisfying your compulsion, being subjected to certain restorative magic, or completing a task that cements your grasp on the Material Plane such as vanquishing a powerful foe.

The Calling Track

  1. You can no longer grasp objects given to you from this point on, and they pass straight through your body when you try to grab them. This does not affect equipment you are already carrying or wearing, or attacks meant to cause you harm.
  2. Your will wavers as you struggle to fend off the Calling, and you suffer disadvantage on all Wisdom saving throws.
  3. The Calling forces you into a partially-manifested state if you are fully-manifested. You can no longer fully manifest.
  4. As you fall deeper under the sway of the Calling, you become closer to a state of undeath. You may be turned or commanded by clerics, and are vulnerable to radiant damage.
  5. The Calling weakens your grasp on the world even further, forcing you into an incorporeal state. You can no longer partially or fully manifest in the Material Plane.
  6. You are drawn to the True Afterlife, no longer able to resist the Calling.

Elves and the True Afterlife
Unlike most humanoids, the souls of elves and half-elves that submit to the Calling or do not choose to become ghosts meld with one of the spirit trees surrounding the city of Manifest. This does not affect the ability to later raise the elf from the dead, but elves may not want to return to life after achieving such a state of oneness with the souls of their people.

Ghost Appearances

When a ghost appears on the Ethereal Plane after its death, it looks much like its corpse at the moment of its death. Depending on the circumstances, the appearance of a ghost can be merely unsettling or completely horrifying. This appearance persists across different states of manifestation; there is no way to repair any apparent damage, nor does this result in a loss of hit points for the ghost while they exist on the Material Plane. Any severe damage, such as the loss of a limb, may impair the ghost in significant ways.

Should the cause of death not bear hallmarks of severe trauma, such as death by natural causes, a heart attack, or spells that kill the target with psychic damage, the ghost does not suffer any inconveniences aside from being dead.

Most adventurers, however, tend to die due to terrible injuries such as sword wounds and magical spells. When attempting Charisma skill checks using Deception, Performance, or Persuasion on creatures not used to dealing with ghosts, you suffer disadvantage on the roll.

The most unfortunate ghosts are those that suffer grievous and terrible deaths from massive weapons, being devoured by dragons or other monsters, being consumed by fireballs or dissolved by acid, or dying due to aggressive flesh-consuming diseases. Even to those citizens of Manifest that deal with ghosts on a daily basis, beholding one of these poor souls causes instant revulsion. You suffer disadvantage on all Charisma skill checks made to positively influence creatures, though you have advantage on Charisma (Intimidation) checks. It is advisable for such a ghost to hide their features when possible so as to avoid creating public disturbances.

What Next?

Obviously this is all just converted material. I need to determine the degree of awfulness surrounding the level-swapping mechanic from the Life Epiphany (that is, when you are dead, you only gain levels as eidolon or eidoloncer, and when raised you can trade out levels for another class that is not one of those two). It has the potential to bog down play a lot unless you bank XP rewards when players take downtime.

I also need to do some minor setting stuff like giving Ghostwalk's pantheon of deities appropriate domain selections. The eidolon and eidoloncer obviously need to be completed and polished up.

I backed off of creating new demihuman subraces. I feel like there are so many of those out there now that adding more for this setting would be superfluous. Even in Birthright I felt like I could justify it, but here I don't feel like it's needed after some consideration.

As always, I like feedback and constructive criticism. I haven't done anything risky here yet, just converted known quantities.