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D&D 5E Binder Class Interest Check?

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
I have started work on another full class for 5e, this time a full casting (pact magic) summoning focused class named The Binder.

The concept is a character that binds supernatural entities and powers and then unleashes them to do their bidding. They will have Vestiges alongside their spells, which allow them to manifest the power of something greater than what you can summon.

Instead of having a cantrip that is the round-to-round focus of their battle efficacy, they will be expected to almost always have some sort of thing fighting for them, even if it's just a familiar, and will have vestiges which impart power to one creature the Binder controls. Meanwhile other vestiges will grant them unique summons, and I had an idea that you could occasionally do something really big like summoning a real Power, which shows up and wrecks house for a round, during which you are in a demi-plane and can't do anything or be affected, and then you swap back in and the Greater Vestige or whatever goes away.

For subclasses, I'm looking at the way you summon things as what distinguishes archetypes. So, you've got;

  • The guy who has a beefy pet out all the time in a fight, and the Binder directs the pet but does little themself. Out of combat, the Binder would mostly be the focus, though.
  • The horde bringer, who focuses on stuff like conjure woodland beings, and has the ability to recharge such a spell when critters have been lost, to bring back downed conjured beings, and unique abilities to such a spell into a true horde, that functions differently.
    • The horde takes up space, making difficult terrain for enemies, and can use it's action to force all enemies near it to make a save vs aoe damage/effects, rather than each part of the horde making attacks.
  • The guy who lets beings possess him, becoming a monster temporarily. Class feature to twist any spell that summons a creature, allowing the caster to instead become like those creatures.
  • Spirit binder, who has more utility summons than others do, and whose battle summons create zones and buff/debuff effects moreso than dealing a lot of damage.
  • The Shadow Hand, who animates their own shadow, and is a decent combatant themself. This would be the gish subclass, along with the possessed guy, with a twist that they have a living shadow companion that also fights with them.

Basic class stuff:
  • d6 hit die
  • constitution spellcasting ability score
  • proficiency in con and int saves
  • weird proficiencies, like get polearms and spears, alchemy tools, etc
  • possibly a level 3 choice that determines something about how you summon, and what you're good at other than summoning? I like the idea of like, gaining a musical instrument that allows you to have advantage on checks to maintain concentration on spells that control a creature, or a spear or glaive that feeds life from those you hit to your bound creatures, etc, but I don't want to just steal the warlock's boons.
    • Then again, what if we did that? What if we introduced new Pact Boons, and gave the Binder the Pact Boon feature kinda like warriors getting Fighting Styles?
 

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doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
At level 3 you choose a Vessel, which is the tool you use to bind and channel power. Could be a weapon, a Spellcasting focus, a book, a creature, or even tattoos.
 

77IM

Explorer!!!
Supporter
Then again, what if we did that? What if we introduced new Pact Boons, and gave the Binder the Pact Boon feature kinda like warriors getting Fighting Styles?
I like it. It need not have perfect overlap with the Warlock's selection, either, the way ranger and paladin only get a subset of fighting styles. In particular, Pact of the Chain sounds redundant with the class's other abilities. So you might go with Pact of the Blade and Pact of the Tome and then introduce, I dunno, Pact of the Instrument that lets you do a musical thing.

Note, though, that pacts are kind of weak without their corresponding invocations (Thirsting Blade, Book of Ancient Secrets, etc.), so you might want to build an invocation-like system into the class. And if you're putting that much flexibility into the base class, you might not need something like pacts; just let characters of the same subclass be differentiated by their invocation-like-thing selections.

Also I really like how you've laid out the different subclasses in terms of both flavor and "role." That's a really great way to think about it. Kind of like 4E's role x power source grid, but with more flexibility and less artificial structure.
 



Mannahnin

Explorer
I like the concept! I'm always a bit leery of summoning and additional minion creatures in 5E, as my experience is that they tend to be time sinks in combat, but I've definitely been interesting in seeing 3.5 Binders updated. Have thought about doing it myself, in my more ambitious moments.
 


doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
I like it. It need not have perfect overlap with the Warlock's selection, either, the way ranger and paladin only get a subset of fighting styles. In particular, Pact of the Chain sounds redundant with the class's other abilities. So you might go with Pact of the Blade and Pact of the Tome and then introduce, I dunno, Pact of the Instrument that lets you do a musical thing.

Note, though, that pacts are kind of weak without their corresponding invocations (Thirsting Blade, Book of Ancient Secrets, etc.), so you might want to build an invocation-like system into the class. And if you're putting that much flexibility into the base class, you might not need something like pacts; just let characters of the same subclass be differentiated by their invocation-like-thing selections.

Also I really like how you've laid out the different subclasses in terms of both flavor and "role." That's a really great way to think about it. Kind of like 4E's role x power source grid, but with more flexibility and less artificial structure.
Thank you! I think Vestiges will be like Invocations. There would be different vestiges for different pact boons, but also vestiges related to the subclass, and some that stand alone.
I like the concept! I'm always a bit leery of summoning and additional minion creatures in 5E, as my experience is that they tend to be time sinks in combat, but I've definitely been interesting in seeing 3.5 Binders updated. Have thought about doing it myself, in my more ambitious moments.
Yeah, I’d like to reduce the time sink problem as much as possible without nerfing them. We will see how well it works.
Tome of Magic was amazing, I for one am all for having multiple systems of supernatural power beyond just spellcasters. The Binder and True Namer were amazing. I see no reason not to directly update them to newer systems.
Yeah I even thought about making it not a spellcaster at all, or perhaps giving them only ritual casting but no combat casting, but I’m gonna try it out on a warlock chassis first and see how it plays.
 

DeviousQuail

Explorer
Fyi, I've never played or seen a binder in play so I'm lacking some context regarding class themes. I'll just stick with mechanics that could be helpful.

I can see a basic gameplay loop of the PC's bonus action being used to summon/conjure/alter the "pet" while their action is a choice between cantrip, spell, or charging up a pet's special feature/ability. 5e's summon and pet design have become much better recently, imo, and I would use many of those design choices here. Having the pet act right after the PC in initiative order, a stat block with proficiency bonus or spell level increases to stats, single creature (the horde subclass could make use of the swarm feature to have many pets but only have to control one thing, cutting down on time issues), and use the actions found in their stat block.

Different class and subclass abilities could grant additional features that make each pet customizable without needing to include everything in the stat block of the creature.
 

Iry

Hero
A modal invocation system would probably work well for a Binder class. Something that lets you swap between "active" soul binds, and eventually gain the ability to have more than one "active" soul bind at certain levels (11th, etc). You can even use small invocation trees, like:

Vestige of the Shadow King
Prerequisite: Binder Level 5.
As an action, you call upon the vestige of Larloch, the Shadow King and remove the benefits of any other vestige. While this vestige is active, you gain advantage on all Charisma (Deception) checks. Additionally, whenever you hit with the Ray of Frost or Chill Touch cantrips, the target understands they have been damaged, but cannot determine you are the source of it.

Whispers of the Shadow King
Prerequisite: Vestige of the Shadow King
While Vestige of the Shadow King is active, casting the Suggestion spell does not require verbal or material components. You may cast the Suggestion spell once per short rest without expending a Binder spell slot.
 

Eltab

Is this a moon, or is it a space station?
The vestige of Apollo (Greek god) grants one creature, chosen by the Binder, a bonus to archery weapons, which become magical and gain a +1more bonus to to-hit and damage rolls. Arrows may be imbued with one of three powers - doubled, accurate, or exploding - which the archer can pick each turn. The archer can "ignore the Loading property" (as the Crossbow feat) so he can rapid fire while under the vestige's influence.

Out of combat, the vestige of Apollo grants the target creature proficiency with the Medicine skill.

Is this something like what you had in mind?
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
A modal invocation system would probably work well for a Binder class. Something that lets you swap between "active" soul binds, and eventually gain the ability to have more than one "active" soul bind at certain levels (11th, etc). You can even use small invocation trees, like:

Vestige of the Shadow King
Prerequisite: Binder Level 5.
As an action, you call upon the vestige of Larloch, the Shadow King and remove the benefits of any other vestige. While this vestige is active, you gain advantage on all Charisma (Deception) checks. Additionally, whenever you hit with the Ray of Frost or Chill Touch cantrips, the target understands they have been damaged, but cannot determine you are the source of it.

Whispers of the Shadow King
Prerequisite: Vestige of the Shadow King
While Vestige of the Shadow King is active, casting the Suggestion spell does not require verbal or material components. You may cast the Suggestion spell once per short rest without expending a Binder spell slot.

The vestige of Apollo (Greek god) grants one creature, chosen by the Binder, a bonus to archery weapons, which become magical and gain a +1more bonus to to-hit and damage rolls. Arrows may be imbued with one of three powers - doubled, accurate, or exploding - which the archer can pick each turn. The archer can "ignore the Loading property" (as the Crossbow feat) so he can rapid fire while under the vestige's influence.

Out of combat, the vestige of Apollo grants the target creature proficiency with the Medicine skill.

Is this something like what you had in mind?
This is why I come here.

These are awesome ideas, folks.

one thing I’m blanking on is subclass names, and what to call the subclass (ie vestige is taken, what do you call what method of binding you choose?)

What do you call the binder who lets a being possess them?

What do you call the binder who has a single constantly-bound guardian?

Horde Caller works for the horde binder, but the rest I’m blank on.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
I think the spirit based zone creator is a Shaman, calling spirits who create zones of buff or debuff effects, and whom the shaman can cast spells through.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
.
The vestige of Apollo (Greek god) grants one creature, chosen by the Binder, a bonus to archery weapons, which become magical and gain a +1more bonus to to-hit and damage rolls. Arrows may be imbued with one of three powers - doubled, accurate, or exploding - which the archer can pick each turn. The archer can "ignore the Loading property" (as the Crossbow feat) so he can rapid fire while under the vestige's influence.

Out of combat, the vestige of Apollo grants the target creature proficiency with the Medicine skill.

Is this something like what you had in mind?
I like that, yeah. Basically like a 4e daily power, but with more freedom of design.
 

Benjamin Olson

Adventurer
  • d6 hit die
  • constitution spellcasting ability score

So, scrawny nerd who nevertheless has a primary focus in constitution. I can see how it might make balance sense or what have you, but for me it is a thematic clash.

And really I just don't like this being a constitution caster (or necessarily really the idea of constitution casting). I know 5e has too much Charisma casting already, but if there was ever going to be a Charisma caster the guy who achieves everything by manipulating coercing supernatural entities would be it.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
So, scrawny nerd who nevertheless has a primary focus in constitution. I can see how it might make balance sense or what have you, but for me it is a thematic clash.

And really I just don't like this being a constitution caster (or necessarily really the idea of constitution casting). I know 5e has too much Charisma casting already, but if there was ever going to be a Charisma caster the guy who achieves everything by manipulating coercing supernatural entities would be it.
I don’t think this can possibly be a charisma caster. That’s the warlock. The Binder binds, it doesn’t convince.

And the Con casting comes from the idea that the Binder survives its magic, binds power it shouldn’t be able to control to its own body to master it, etc.

I’d accept an Int caster, but not Charisma. And I see no reason to not make their magic such a physical thing that they use their own vitality to power their magic.
 


Benjamin Olson

Adventurer
Also, says who?
Whoever gave him a d6 hit die.

don’t think this can possibly be a charisma caster. That’s the warlock. The Binder binds, it doesn’t convince.
See, we're at odds there as well. A warlock doesn't "convince" either and should be an intelligence caster, because if his power comes from anything within himself it is the dark knowledge he has mastered with the help of his patron.
 

Marandahir

Crown-Forester
Eh, I always saw the 3.5e/4e/4Essentials Warlock/Hexblade/Binder (CA/CW/ToM - PH1/HotFK/HoS/HotFW) as being the design impetus for 5e Warlocks getting a secondary build choice a la Fighting Styles - Pact of the Blade was an attempt at Hexblade, Pact of the Tome was more the Binder, and Pact of the Chains was more the Core Warlock (though I could see Chains/Tome being flipped for some 4e Warlock > 5e Warlock etc build translations).

I'm not sure we need a separate class for Binder; I'd prefer "The Vestige" as a Warlock patron and give the subclass more 3.5e Tome of Magic Binder-like qualities a la the Hexblade patron does above and beyond for Bladelocks.

That said, have fun with the design. I go back and forth with my own design on whether I feel like the 4e>5e Shaman should be a full separate class that casts like a Warlock but uses Wisdom, or if it should just be "The Primal Spirit" patron for Warlocks…
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Eh, I always saw the 3.5e/4e/4Essentials Warlock/Hexblade/Binder (CA/CW/ToM - PH1/HotFK/HoS/HotFW) as being the design impetus for 5e Warlocks getting a secondary build choice a la Fighting Styles - Pact of the Blade was an attempt at Hexblade, Pact of the Tome was more the Binder, and Pact of the Chains was more the Core Warlock (though I could see Chains/Tome being flipped for some 4e Warlock > 5e Warlock etc build translations).

I'm not sure we need a separate class for Binder; I'd prefer "The Vestige" as a Warlock patron and give the subclass more 3.5e Tome of Magic Binder-like qualities a la the Hexblade patron does above and beyond for Bladelocks.

That said, have fun with the design. I go back and forth with my own design on whether I feel like the 4e>5e Shaman should be a full separate class that casts like a Warlock but uses Wisdom, or if it should just be "The Primal Spirit" patron for Warlocks…
I figure the Hexblade should have been a warlock-themed subclass of a full gish class, so we are quite at odds on this one! 😂

But yeah I feel the same way about the Shaman. I’d love for it to be a full wisdom based caster class, but also for it to be a warlock patron...


Whoever gave him a d6 hit die.
Well, no. That, combined with a Con main stat and prof con saves, means they have middling HP and resistance to con-targeting effects, and speaks to a conflict. Only very hearty/tough people can be powerful Binders, perhaps exactly because the magic is bad for the health.
See, we're at odds there as well. A warlock doesn't "convince" either and should be an intelligence caster, because if his power comes from anything within himself it is the dark knowledge he has mastered with the help of his patron.
Eh, the warlock makes deals. I’d be happy with an Int warlock too, but that isn’t what we got, so, the warlocks magic is based on their force of personality, charm, and social wits. We know that, because it’s based on Charisma.
 

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