View Full Version : D&D 5e/Next Warlock Pact: The Ancestor

2017-04-05, 03:58 PM
A new Warlock Pact: The Ancestor (http://homebrewery.naturalcrit.com/share/rJSdSwkpe)

Design Notes:

General Notes: I like the idea of a warlock pact with creates a more intimate relationship between the warlock and the being to whom she makes the pact. Demon lords likely have tons of warlocks, but your ancestor only has you. Still, I think it's important that warlock pacts feel at least somewhat sinister. My intent was to capture both of these goals: your ancestor spirit cares about you in particular, but the pact is still dark and spooky.

Expanded Spell List: I tried to go for more defensive spells than other pacts provide. Your ancestor isn't just granting you power in exchange for your service, she's got at least some interest in protecting you. I also included some divination spells as they give a sort of 'spirit medium' feel. I'm pretty happy with the feel of the spell list; I like that it bleeds into cleric/paladin territory. Consorting with demons and fey is wizardish and druidish respectively. Consorting with the spirit of your ancestor feels more clericish.

Ancestor's Guidance: Here and elsewhere, I'm a little worried I'm leaving too much for the DM to decide. Also, I'm not sure how useful this information will be to the player. In all of these abilities, I try to capture the feel that your relationship with the spirit is not altogether harmonious-- the spirit isn't always forthcoming or entirely willing to help you. It's a little inscrutable, a little spooky.

Bloodline Oath: Right, so, this is the weird one. I bounced between a bunch of different ways of doing this ability. On one version I considered for a while, you proved yourself so long as you defeated a monster with a certain challenge rating. But then I thought, why should your ancestor only be impressed by combat? So I tried to include other ways to impress your ancestor, but the ability was getting very wordy. Finally I realized that the game already has a built-in feature which tracks character accomplishments: XP. So why not just cut out the middle man?

Here again, I worry that too much is left to the DM. I can certainly foresee frustrated players complaining that a given encounter should be worth more XP. But if players make these sorts of complaints, that's something the DM has to deal with anyway.

The chart comes from the DMG: XP per player per adventuring day. A normal day of heroic accomplishment should usually satisfy your ancestor.

I like the idea of a player trying to do something to impress her ancestor spirit before she goes to bed, because she knows if she doesn't she must answer for her failure in her dreams.

I'm not sure whether or not the temporary hit points / advantage on certain saving throws is enough of a boon for success. It should be at least a little better than other defensive abilities warlocks get at 6th level, since you have to work for it.

Ancestor's Blessing: After two wordy abilities, I tried to go for something simple. This is meant to encourage the warlock to takes risks in trying to satisfy her oaths. Not sure the amount of healing is right.

Ritual of Incarnation: Another wacky ability. For an hour each day, you can play a different character altogether. You have to maintain a separate character sheet, but that issue is I think mitigated by the ready availability of pre-made characters from Wizards.

I'm very interested in feedback; I'm pretty new to homebrew in 5e.

2017-04-05, 05:30 PM
First of all, welcome to the wild world of 5e homebrew! It is a small community, but I like it here.

Your new warlock pact seems interesting, and has some cool ideas. In particular, I love the idea of manifesting your ancestor for a while. That's pretty cool.

However, there are a host of things that are pretty underpowered here. I'll go through them in detail.

Ancestral Guidance:
Well, the problem I see here is that this exact same thing can be accomplished by characters with History or Nature proficiency. You've limited the information to exactly the kind of vagueness that you could expect from rolling a 15 Intelligence(Nature) check: vulnerabilities, relative strength, particular features, etc. It's basically what the Nature skill is for. Why not simply have that?

My opinion: This feature needs to be much more powerful than it currently is to compete with the other Level 1 Pact features. Feylock gets AoE charm/fear, Fiendlock gets TempHP for killing, and GOOlock gets telepathy. I would honestly take any of those over this.

Bloodline Oath
This is an interesting thing, but you are right to be concerned about the amount of XP thing being far too DM-dependent. Many DMs (myself included) don't hand out anywhere near that much XP during a session, let alone an adventuring day.
An ability like this (one that has a real cost to get an extra bonus) needs to have SUPER GOOD REWARDS. But all you get is 6 TempHP and advantage vs fear. Wat?? Fiendlocks get 9 or 10 PER KILL, but the Ancestolock has to complete an entire standard adventuring day for 6?
Here's the other thing that is.... unhealthy about this feature is that it possibly hurts you if you fail! Generally I stay away from class features that punish you for using them. The punishment isn't really that bad, unless you fight dragons often, but still. I wouldn't do that. It's the reason so many people hate Frenzy barbarian.

My opinion: I know that the Bloodline Oath took you a while to come up with anything reasonable, but I don't think the requirement works, as is. It forces DMs to throw out a certain amount of experience on demand (if they want the 'lock to ever use this feature). However you work the requirement, the reward needs to be much bigger. Like, 3x level + CHA modifier in TempHP, and/or autosuccess on the next save vs. fear/charm. Something bigger, since it has a substantial hurdle. Remember, the other 'locks get Misty Escape, Dark One's Luck, and Entropic Ward at this level.

Ancestor's Blessing
Ok, so it is an improvement to the Bloodline Oath, which seems all right. The healing is good, and losing a level of exhaustion is nice. But given that it is still conditional on completing an Oath, it prolly ought to be better. Like, maybe lose ALL levels of exhaustion, or lose one negative status effect/disease.

Ritual of Incarnation
This is a super cool idea, but it is soooooo weak. It is basically a class swap, which could be good in certain scenarios. BUT it takes an entire hour to get going, then only lasts for an hour. What are you going to do as another class for an hour? How many fights are there really going to be where you need a second paladin/fighter/druid AND that's worth losing the warlock for that time AND you have an hour of prep time AND you'll get to the fight less than an hour after you transform? That is a really really low number. And if you're using it for other reasons, like your ancestor was a ranger and you have something to track, how helpful will a mere hour be?
Also, this is just a less good version of Druid's Wild Shape. Sure, their forms are weaker, but they don't need to make a Charisma check to NOT GET EXHAUSTION when they revert.

My opinion: This needs a serious upgrade. Firstly, if you want to keep the one-hour time limit, then it needs to be an action/bonus action ability. If you want to keep the one-hour casting time, it needs to last 8 hours, minimum. Secondly, don't punish the player for using it. Don't require a DC 20 check to not get exhaustion. It kinda makes sense, but seems like it will be un-fun. Again, this is the exact reason people hate the Frenzy barbarian. Using his cool ability, Frenzy, gives him exhaustion. He can literally kill himself with it.

Anyway, in general here's something to consider: The more frequently you can use an ability, the less powerful it should be. That's why cantrips are so basic, and why weapon attacks don't get more powerful. If it has limits, then it should be more powerful. If it has limits and conditions, it should be even more powerful. Since most of your features here have limits and conditions, they need a power boost.

Hope this helps!!