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D&D 5E Interest In A More Esoteric 5e?

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
So, every custom class I’ve built for 5e has been inspired to some degree by European esoteric traditions.

More ritual magic, more kinds of books that record techniques and methodologies, more mixing of ritual and mysticism with mundane skill, and nearly every character able to learn new techniques, rituals, and spells, the way wizards learn their spells.

So far I’ve got

Binder: mix of Warlock and Wizard, focused on binding and summoning. Short rest casting with Wizard style spells known/prepared and ritual casting.

Swordmage: mystic/esoteric warrior, replacing the monk. Inspired as much by Thibault as by Shaolin Monks, encompassing the 5e Monk and the 4e Swordmage, with a mix of techniques and spells, all of which can be learned from other Swordmages.

Assassin: Subterfuge, infiltration, mobility, gadgets and poisons, and esoteric rituals. Gets Ritual Casting but not Spellcasting, and can do massive damage a few times per day.

Captain: less necessarily esoteric but still full of flavorful abilities, downtime features, and with options to get weird. ability to teach other PCs how to do team combos, and gain followers who can do downtime tasks for the team.

Archer: uses “focus” to take careful aim with further esotericism in the subclasses mostly. Can learn techniques like a Wizard.

Additionally: anyone can learn basic techniques, and even some rituals, regardless of class. Pretty much all characters have stuff they can learn during play.

Does any of this interest anyone here other than me?
 

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Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/They)
This sounds rad as hell! I am one million percent onboard with adding more esoterica into D&D - I much prefer that approach to "magic," and ritual casting is something I'd be thrilled to see more of. These classes all sound conceptually awesome. Not sure I quite grokk the Captain, is it like a semi-esoteric Warlord? As someone who adored the Essentials Executioner, your Assassin sounds up my alley, though I'd prefer a short-rest-based nova over a long-rest-based one. Combining the monk and swordmage is an inspired move. I'm curious about what these "techniques" look like. Overall, sounds awesome and I'd love to hear more.
 

vincegetorix

Jewel of the North
I'm interested for sure; there's nothing less magical/mystical that 5e's magic! :p

As for the Captain, I see it as more of a mystic general ala Zhuge Liang from Rot3K, mixing warfare and esoterism. A class that can play with the flow of battle by influencing morale or the weather, bending fortune to their advantage and positioning their troops according to sacred geometry and the silver/golden ratio!

There's a few more ideas:
  • Geomancer, with the knowledge of ley-lines and the presence of (again) sacred geometry in Nature.
  • Oracle, mix of bard, diviner and cleric, a class based on ritual communications and prediction. Can change ''Arcana'' to take another form (based on Tarot)
  • True Namer, master the music/words of creation.
  • Some kind of Artisan who pushes its craft beyond worldly limits.

I'd also vote to switch swordmage to swordsage from the Bo9S, where you had the classic unarmored mystic weapon master.

EDIT: I'd start by butchering the Martial Maneuvers (rituals?) from 4e and some of the UA mystic disciplines to create non-spell rituals.
 
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doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Assassin as a 20-level class instead of a Rogue subclass? I'd be interested to see it. Same for the archer, it sounds very different that what I would envision.

And the Captain - that sounds very different from any other class I've seen.
yeah the captain has a lot of room to grow, and one of my inspirations is how I run leader type enemies, where they use legendary actions to allow their whole team to move and do something.
This sounds rad as hell! I am one million percent onboard with adding more esoterica into D&D - I much prefer that approach to "magic," and ritual casting is something I'd be thrilled to see more of. These classes all sound conceptually awesome. Not sure I quite grokk the Captain, is it like a semi-esoteric Warlord? As someone who adored the Essentials Executioner, your Assassin sounds up my alley, though I'd prefer a short-rest-based nova over a long-rest-based one. Combining the monk and swordmage is an inspired move. I'm curious about what these "techniques" look like. Overall, sounds awesome and I'd love to hear more.
Techniques would vary by class, but I don’t want to repeat 5e exhausting list of little abilities, necessarily. Not sure yet where the balance is, there.

The assassin is strongly influenced by both 4e Assassins, and a key ability would be “Lethal” which lets you knock a target to 0 when your attack drops them to HP equal to or less than your assassin level.


I'm interested for sure; there's nothing less magical/mystical that 5e's magic! :p

As for the Captain, I see it as more of a mystic general ala Zhuge Liang from Rot3K, mixing warfare and esoterism. A class that can play with the flow of battle by influencing morale or the weather, bending fortune to their advantage and positioning their troops according to sacred geometry and the silver/golden ratio!
For sure. Mechanically, I’m still seeing the Presence aura I proposed in the Marshal thread, and a couple basic gambits, and then some strong rest based “rituals”, and some kind of strong “lead the charge” type ability.

One thing I like the idea of is the “War Sage” archetype, who is a scholar and poet, and has cool downtime research stuff with benefits when adventuring, and eventually gets a library and a couple scholars to do research for them.
There's a few more ideas:
  • Geomancer, with the knowledge of ley-lines and the presence of (again) sacred geometry in Nature.
  • Oracle, mix of bard, diviner and cleric, a class based on ritual communications and prediction. Can change ''Arcana'' to take another form (based on Tarot)
  • True Namer, master the music/words of creation.
  • Some kind of Artisan who pushes its craft beyond worldly limits.
An alternate artificer would be nice. I’m not sure I have a strong handle on what the Truenamer would do round-to-round but I’d be happy to help design it if you’ve got a solid pitch. Oracle and Geomancer are very sensible ideas.
I'd also vote to switch swordmage to swordsage from the Bo9S, where you had the classic unarmored mystic weapon master.
Swordmage, Swordsage, Mystic, there’s a lot of ways to go.
EDIT: I'd start by butchering the Martial Maneuvers (rituals?) from 4e and some of the UA mystic disciplines to create non-spell rituals.
Martial Practices, yeah. Anything from a hidden bivouac to a meditation ritual that enhances the reflexes or senses, etc.

I wonder what we can do to let magic and techniques be a little more…malleable?
 


doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
About Downtime and non-combat features.

One thing I'd like to do with this project is to give each of these classes more features that speak to a specific identity. The Archer is the only one whose identity lives primarily in the subclass, the rest get their core ID in the core class and subclasses expand, specialize, or diversify that ID.

I would like to figure out features that allow the character to gain followers and a sanctum or stronghold based on their class flavor. For Captain this is easy, and I've already talked about giving a Warsage Captain a Library and scholarly subordinates, but I want to expand on the idea for other concepts.

So, in PHB 5e, the classes are, IMO, best seen as a collection of mechanics with suggested character concepts.

In this project (needs a name), I'd like these alternative classes to have more mechanics that speak to their concept. So, if I were making a Paladin for this, they would gain a squire, a religious follower, or a chronicler or minstrel to tell their story, and would have the ability to build and staff a keep or a temple. In all of that would rest the ability to found and build a Holy Order, or to promote one to greater prominence, etc.

What would these do? Well, they'd perform Downtime tasks for you, help you in out of combat challenges, help you prepare for battle and other challenges, and provide story hooks and avenues for rewards that aren't "treasure in a dungeon" based.

What would helping you prepare for battle look like? Well, in the TTRPG I'm writing (why do I work on so many things...) you can make preparations before a conflict, and gain advantages in that conflict as a result. In a 5e context, that might mean researching a monster's weaknesses, training in a martial technique that counters a deadly maneuver the enemy is famous for, getting information for you to use against a rival in a social challenge, or otherwise helping you have what you need when you need it. A Binder's apprentice might prepare rituals for their master so that you need only go home and activate the ritual as an action, when it would normally take hours. A Swordmage's student might spend months carving the sigils and gather the materials to create a new enchantment of your design for your bonded weapon, so that it is simply the work of an afternoon, for you.

Meanwhile, your sanctum might simply make such tasks take less time or cost less gold, or allow you to do things you'd normally need to find a space for, right in your home. They might also serve as places for messages to be left for you, for supplies to be gathered, and for enterprises to be run from. You might even be able to leverage your resources to have a cadre of archers with you when you go up against a wyvern. If you're reckless with their lives, you'll lose them and have trouble replacing them. If you take care of them, word of your honor will spread.

Or you could largely ignore it and just have a home.


The other element I think will add to the game is the dynamic of being able to learn things in play. So, each class should only get a few moves automatically from leveling, and be effective with just those, and be able to gain more by going out into the world and seeking out masters and old books and foreign schools.


I think such a dynamic also begs for a setting that has a few different things for adventuring types to go out into the world and seek out.

One idea I have for that is a Great Hunt, wherein a horn has been sounded and heroes and fools have gone out into the world seeking the great weapons and other treasures of history in order to arm themselves for whatever is coming, signalled by the Horn. Alternatively, or maybe additionally, there are Great Beasts rising across the world. Maybe some of them require ancient treasures to be defeated (can't kill Ganon without the Master Sword).

Another would be similar, but instead of a great hunt you've got ancient living dragon temples waking across the world, corrupted by some dark power, and few folk have the power and courage to face them.

But it's a world in which adventurers aren't uncommon.
 


Shardstone

Hero
Publisher
I have a whole suite of classes (Pendragon, my arcane half-caster; Disciple, my warlock-esque psion; Haruspex, my flesh-eating blood divine mage; Narcossa, my drug-using death dealing class) that are a more esoteric D&D built off grimoire study and my playing around with IRL magic. Def fertile stuff!
 

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Pulling an idea from the Warlock thread, I'd like to see what a Gunslinger class might look like. I'm thinking King's Dark Tower here, so probably actual firearms, but I can think of some ways around that. I might start by taking a look at the Artillerist combined with some kind of Hexblade or Blade Pact Warlock.
 
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vincegetorix

Jewel of the North
Pulling an idea from the Warlock thread, I'd like to see what a Gunslinger class might look like. I'm thinking King's Dark Tower here, so probably actual firearms, but I can think of some ways around that. I might start by taking a look at the Artillerist combined with some kind of Hexblade of Blade Pact Warlock.
Hex-slinger does sound sexy as hell for a class concept!
 

Stormonu

Legend
I was very sad when the Leadership feat was yanked after 3E.

The noble background has an allusion to that sort of thing, and there are the sidekick rules and patrons that could be scavenged for a more robust system of followers, assistants and sycophants.

I’d also be interested in a sort of gunslinger class for more high magic campaigns; maybe start at a “wandslinger” base with add-ins for those campaigns more open to firearms and the like.
 

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
I'm pretty sure you build the class from a mechanical standpoint where it would cover both firearms and not, with only some minor reskinning and maybe a rule or two to switch back and forth. If the range, damage, rate of fire, and ribbons and abilities all fit it'll work for both. IMO anyway.
 


vincegetorix

Jewel of the North
I think a mystic gunslinger, despite being too cool for school as a concept, would be better treated as an archetype, probably for you Archer class that uses a deep focus mechanic.

I mean, Roland was a Kensei with a gun and a Errand Knight background. Too bad that flurry of blow cant be used with a ranged weapon!
 

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
I think a mystic gunslinger, despite being too cool for school as a concept, would be better treated as an archetype, probably for you Archer class that uses a deep focus mechanic.

I mean, Roland was a Kensei with a gun and a Errand Knight background. Too bad that flurry of blow cant be used with a ranged weapon!
I don't disagree completely, but I do think that custom designing the whole class to do exactly what you want out of a concept is more likely to get the result I'm looking for. YMMV.
 
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doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Yeah I’m torn on the Gunslinger. The Archer’s Focus mechanics do a lot of the work needed, and the subclass could layer on the esoterica. OTOH, a class designed for it could be really wild.

And if the Paladin can exist in the PHB, I think a mystic gunslinger could work just fine in 5e.
 

vincegetorix

Jewel of the North
Yeah I’m torn on the Gunslinger. The Archer’s Focus mechanics do a lot of the work needed, and the subclass could layer on the esoterica. OTOH, a class designed for it could be really wild.

And if the Paladin can exist in the PHB, I think a mystic gunslinger could work just fine in 5e.
I'd be all-in to remove the paladin and change it for a gun-knight!
 

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Funny you should say that. There are some bits of the Paladin chassis that fit a Dark Tower Gunslinger pretty well. I'm specifically thinking of Smite. The ability to laser focus and add damage to key rolls is right on the nose IMO.
 

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