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D&D 5E <Homebrew> Archivist Class (Soliciting Feedback)

Gradine

Final Form (they/them)
Hello! I've been working on some homebrews of some old classes re-envisioned for 5th edition. A lot of these have plenty of their own homebrew versions available on DMs Guild or Reddit or what have you, but I wanted to try to take a somewhat different approach with these classes rather than strictly following the original builds. The Archivist is the first class that I've got a finished rough draft of, which I've hosted here.

This is a more rough-and-tumble approach to the Archivist than is typically found. Re-envisioned as a practical, adventuring sage, this Archivist is a half-caster that can hold their own in a fight. While maintaining their identity as a master of monster lore and tactician on the battlefield, the Archivist is more than just a source of combat bonuses. The Seeker is a skilled martial fighter in their own right; with stronger weapon and tracking skills, they are a master monster hunter. The Cryptocosmologist is dedicated to protecting the prime material plane from outsiders intent on doing it harm. The ritual-casting Theologiser takes their study of the Divine to new heights, learning to combat the undead much as a Cleric does.

Any and all constructive feedback is appreciated! I'm less concerned about balance issues; as long as it's not weaker than the weakest class or stronger than the strongest class, I'm content. The applies to the archetypes as well; if canon Rangers can have its Beastmaster and Gloom Stalker, then this class can too. Mostly, I'm looking for feedback on coolness factor. Does the class seem interesting? Fun to play? Do the different archetypes feel appropriately... well, archetypal? Does it do enough to distinguish itself from other versions out there?
 

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aco175

Legend
At first glance it seems a bit weaker than it should. This is better than the other classes that are way overpowered. I like the concept and flavor and can see fill a role in the party.

It needs to be able to have healing spells on their list. If I'm taking this over cleric, then I need to be able to heal. Maybe an ability to let other use their healing in combat, but I would just add the healing spell to their list. Being half-caster already means that they are weak healers.

Playing levels 1-5 I can only use me Dark Knowledge power to grant +1 to hit until my next turn- at the cost of my action. I would think about making it a bonus action and give me a choice at first level. Maybe +1 to hit or +1d4 damage- or let the other player choose for his PC. Also make it a bonus action. The foreknowledge power at 11th level could be at 2nd level and grant disadvantage after the initial attack has been made or to grant an ally advantage to hit. I also have had good use out of powers that grant +1 to a die roll and now you make the save or make a crit or hit. It becomes a fun trick to aid other PCs.

There are no cantrips. I would also think about adding some cantrips. There are not a lot of damage spells on the list so having even sacred flame that scales would help. Add a couple utility ones like prestidigitation and light.

Still mind at 7th level lets you have advantage on charm and frightened, but could be just advantage on all saves that are Wis and Int. I find that there are not that many and it would be fine. Not like advantage to Dex or Con saves.

Consider adding a feature that lets you choose a spell from other sources to add to your list like the bard has. One or two spells by 10th level help to flavor the class and lets you take a bit of specialization if needed.
 

Gradine

Final Form (they/them)
Thanks for your feedback!
At first glance it seems a bit weaker than it should. This is better than the other classes that are way overpowered. I like the concept and flavor and can see fill a role in the party.
Great! I was aiming away from being overpowered; I feel like it's easier to beef up than detract.
It needs to be able to have healing spells on their list. If I'm taking this over cleric, then I need to be able to heal. Maybe an ability to let other use their healing in combat, but I would just add the healing spell to their list. Being half-caster already means that they are weak healers.
Cure Wounds is on their spell list, and Theologisers get it as a free spell known. I didn't want to lean too heavily on their healing abilities, to reflect that their skillset is more about attacking and destroying monsters, with their defensive skill set being less developed.
Playing levels 1-5 I can only use me Dark Knowledge power to grant +1 to hit until my next turn- at the cost of my action. I would think about making it a bonus action and give me a choice at first level. Maybe +1 to hit or +1d4 damage- or let the other player choose for his PC. Also make it a bonus action. The foreknowledge power at 11th level could be at 2nd level and grant disadvantage after the initial attack has been made or to grant an ally advantage to hit. I also have had good use out of powers that grant +1 to a die roll and now you make the save or make a crit or hit. It becomes a fun trick to aid other PCs.
This is a good point. I have made the +1 hit a bonus action (meaning the Archivist gets to benefit from it twice), and have set Foe to 1st level as well (starting at 1d6, increasing to 1d8 at 6th level).
There are no cantrips. I would also think about adding some cantrips. There are not a lot of damage spells on the list so having even sacred flame that scales would help. Add a couple utility ones like prestidigitation and light.

Consider adding a feature that lets you choose a spell from other sources to add to your list like the bard has. One or two spells by 10th level help to flavor the class and lets you take a bit of specialization if needed.
I did not intend for the Archivist to be much of a magical attacker. I thought about including a few utility cantrips, but then no other half-caster gets cantrips, and giving them some feels like making them rely more on their magic. The Seeker and ultimately the Theologiser should have no trouble contributing offensively on their own, outside of Dark Knowledge. For the same reason I didn't give them something like the Bard's ability to pick and choose spells; this Archivist is ultimately not a spellcaster first. Not even the Theologiser, really.
Still mind at 7th level lets you have advantage on charm and frightened, but could be just advantage on all saves that are Wis and Int. I find that there are not that many and it would be fine. Not like advantage to Dex or Con saves.
I've been struggling with Still Mind for a bit. One of my least favorite things in 5e is when a new class ability is completely pointless because your race already does it, and I want Gnomish Archivists (a not unlikely combination) that gets nothing of interest at 7th level. Still working through this one.
 

Looks cool. Overall I find it appealing and distinictive while still having a broad enough theme that it could support a healthy variety of subclasses and character concepts.

The biggest issue I see (and maybe I'm just missing something) is that the non-Seeker subclasses would be the only character options in 5e with no upgrade in their no-resource damage potential. Everyone else gets cantrips that upgrade, or an extra attack at level 5, or Rogue sneak attack dice, but they are stuck with a single unupgraded attack with simple weapons and hand crossbows as the fallback all game long. My recommendation would be giving one subclass attack cantrips and one some sort of lesser sneak attack equivalent (or something like the once per round weapon attack bonuses some clerics get), and probably giving the base class Rogue/Bard weapon proficiencies.

Also is the intent that the Archivist's Dark Knowledge Tactics and Foe unlocks damage bonuses for "their allies" but not for themself? This neither makes particular lore sense (the Archivist has the knowledge why can't they also use it directly?) nor is it in line with how most 5e abilities work. I don't think either of these abilities are so powerful that also letting the Archivist take advantage of them themself is going to unbalance anything. Tactics should probably be a 1d4 bonus, or at least something better than a flat +1 (which is both hardly good enough to be worth the character's action much less a resource besides, and not really in keeping with 5e's avoidance of lots of tiny incremental bonuses). In 3.5 I think it was against all creatures of the same type and lasted a minute, so if you are narrowing it to one round and one target it seems like you can safely up the bonus.

Finally I think the Truenaming ability has a few issues. One is that, lore wise, either you inexplicably suddenly have the enemies True Name, and can probably accomplish something greater than stunning them for 3 rounds, or else you don't have their True Name. Maybe you just use your knowledge to guess something similar to their True Name and know how to stun them with even that? Secondly, set number of rounds effects aren't really the norm in this edition and 5e players aren't generally used to counting rounds of being effected by things, and three rounds is often as not just the rest of combat (and if this is a solo enemy they done, stunned 3 rounds might as well be stunned for a minute). Thirdly there is very little point to making readers do math of dividing character level by 5 for an ability when the character is already 15th level. Just say three rounds and at level 20 four rounds, if that really is the optimal math. Personally I'd make it a 1 minute stun, and then it could have out of combat, get-past-the-guard uses as well. Maybe they get additional saving throws on their turn any round they took damage if 1 minute seems too powerful.
 

Gradine

Final Form (they/them)
Looks cool. Overall I find it appealing and distinictive while still having a broad enough theme that it could support a healthy variety of subclasses and character concepts.
Thanks!
The biggest issue I see (and maybe I'm just missing something) is that the non-Seeker subclasses would be the only character options in 5e with no upgrade in their no-resource damage potential. Everyone else gets cantrips that upgrade, or an extra attack at level 5, or Rogue sneak attack dice, but they are stuck with a single unupgraded attack with simple weapons and hand crossbows as the fallback all game long. My recommendation would be giving one subclass attack cantrips and one some sort of lesser sneak attack equivalent (or something like the once per round weapon attack bonuses some clerics get), and probably giving the base class Rogue/Bard weapon proficiencies.
This is a good point. I'll tinker around with it; I think granting the Theologiser Sacred Flame would make a bit of sense, and then finding a good analogue for the Cryptocosmologist.
Also is the intent that the Archivist's Dark Knowledge Tactics and Foe unlocks damage bonuses for "their allies" but not for themself? This neither makes particular lore sense (the Archivist has the knowledge why can't they also use it directly?) nor is it in line with how most 5e abilities work. I don't think either of these abilities are so powerful that also letting the Archivist take advantage of them themself is going to unbalance anything.
The intent is for the Archivist to be able to take advantage of the abilities as well. I believe that counting oneself as an "ally" is language that is used elsewhere in 5e, but I may be mis-remembering. I will clarify that in the next draft.
Tactics should probably be a 1d4 bonus, or at least something better than a flat +1 (which is both hardly good enough to be worth the character's action much less a resource besides, and not really in keeping with 5e's avoidance of lots of tiny incremental bonuses). In 3.5 I think it was against all creatures of the same type and lasted a minute, so if you are narrowing it to one round and one target it seems like you can safely up the bonus.
Yeah, boosting the early game abilities (to which I'm now including Foe) to be more worth the bonus. I like the idea of adding an extra die to the roll (ala Bless or Bardic Inspiration). I'll play around with it. And see what looks good. I will say that if the Tactics bonus is more than a +1 than I'll probably keep it as an Action rather than a Bonus.

I also want to make the Archivist shine against helping to bring down tough boss monsters, but I also don't want them to be able to completely trivialize solo encounters either. At least not regularly.
Finally I think the Truenaming ability has a few issues. One is that, lore wise, either you inexplicably suddenly have the enemies True Name, and can probably accomplish something greater than stunning them for 3 rounds, or else you don't have their True Name. Maybe you just use your knowledge to guess something similar to their True Name and know how to stun them with even that? Secondly, set number of rounds effects aren't really the norm in this edition and 5e players aren't generally used to counting rounds of being effected by things, and three rounds is often as not just the rest of combat (and if this is a solo enemy they done, stunned 3 rounds might as well be stunned for a minute). Thirdly there is very little point to making readers do math of dividing character level by 5 for an ability when the character is already 15th level. Just say three rounds and at level 20 four rounds, if that really is the optimal math. Personally I'd make it a 1 minute stun, and then it could have out of combat, get-past-the-guard uses as well. Maybe they get additional saving throws on their turn any round they took damage if 1 minute seems too powerful.
This is a great suggestion and one I will likely be incorporating!
 

niklinna

Looking for group
I don't really play 5e; I tried it early on, and the combat model and spells just irk me (it didn't help that in my play group a single combat could drag on for hours of play time).

But, you have designed a class I find really intriguing and would be keen to play! It really conveys the feel of a generalist who dabbles in magic of various kinds and makes it work through cleverness and luck. I can particularly imagine this class shining in a darker or horror-themed campaign.

I agree with lots of things folks have already said above. I spotted a few typos (references to ranger spells and such).

I'd recommend downplaying the emphasis on divine magic in the flavor text; it initially made me think this was an INT-based cleric type class, which it really isn't. You might even find that non-divine spells fit this class well, and add them to the spell list (or subclasses). I expect you'll be tuning the spell lists, so I won't comment on those other than to say what's there fits well.

The three subclasses are nicely thematic. Seeker looks to be the most martial, and has decent support for it. I haven't played enough to know if Fast Hands is really as good as Countersummon or Obsequist, but it comes over a bit plain by comparison in feel/tone.

Cryptocosmologist has a very clear, very particular focus, more arcanist, not so martial or divine. It might be too particular, limiting the class's usefulness against enemies that aren't extraplanar. Forbidden Metallurgy's usefulness will depend on the DM and prevalence of magic items—it will either be very handy, or superfluous. It might be good to have two specialty spells known at each level—Planar Binding is pretty tough to pull off! But the ones you have are nice and thematic. Lacking martial weapons or rituals as the other subclasses do, I feel this class could benefit from gaining just a few cantrips, even starting with only 1. Or an ability that lets you use Dark Knowledge to cast any cantrip from a list for this subclass (just once, or maybe for a minute or so)—meaning you don't get unlimited uses, but you have a lot of flexibility. That might be too much, but it would certainly be unique.

Theologiser seems to lean more to exploration & support with rituals and the more healing-oriented/divine bonus spells. This makes the three subclasses very complementary—nicely done. (It also highlights Crypto's lack of an early tentpole feature; Cryptocosmology & Forbidden Metallurgy pale in comparison, and the additional spells are too few.) I'm tempted to urge you drop Holy Weapon from this subclass, but, it shows up late enough that I don't think it's a real issue.

My initial thought was to separate the martial/spell-cantrip/ritual support out from the thematic subclasses, kind of the way Warlocks do with the pact boons vs. their patrons, but after writing all the above, I like the way you've done it.

One last shot: the level 20 capstone is singularly unimpressive. Give it something with a little more oomph!

All that said, again, I love this class. It's very flavorful and seems like it will be effective in many party compositions.
 
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niklinna

Looking for group
Hm, comparing Archivist to other half casters, it seems a little weaker. (And I get that you don't want to go full caster.) Paladin & Ranger get bigger hit dice, more armor & weapons, a fighting style, and some powerful class abilities (well okay Paladin does :p). Those clearly aren't applicable to the concept here, of course, but the other abilities might need a boost to match. Lore Mastery, in particular, might benefit from scaling with level, adding a 2nd and maybe a 3rd lore. I can see why you left out fighting style from the base class, but maybe the Seeker subclass should get that?

Another idea, for flexibility, might be to give Archivists one prepared spell in addition to their known spells, so they can improvise a little (improvisation seems very thematic). Maybe it could scale a little bit. Archivists use their Intelligence, after all, but aren't as practiced as preparing many spells the way Wizards are.

Amanuensis is mostly a ribbon feature, I guess, but definitely has some uses in espionage, investigation, and other time-sensitive activities. But, "a paragraph" is really broad in scope. It would be better to specify its scope in words of text. Yes that's fuzzy too, but it's a lot less fuzzy than a paragraph, and this could be interpreted as shorthand...hm, which only someone trained it could read, too! That would be pretty cool, if you made that explicit, even.

Decipher Script is very cool. It's nice to see "exploration" type activities that are actually useful (albeit situational). I can also see a class/subclass feature allowing an Archivist to notice or discover clues about a disguised foe—whether by cosmetics/costume, shapeshifting, or illusion—or about architecture—hidden passages/safes, and the like.
 

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