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View Full Version : D&D 5e/Next The Headhunter: Kicking Butt and Taking Scalps



pygmybatrider
2018-10-26, 07:02 PM
Hi all, this is my first draft of the headhunter class. All the features are still very work in progress - no math or playtesting has been done at this stage, so all feedback and critique is very welcome.

The headhunter is designed to fill a few niches:

Make a viable user of thrown weapons, blowguns, and poison
Introduce a moxie-style mechanic wherein your character gets stronger as you kill baddies
Bring a class with a strong tribal flair to 5E, hopefully without stepping on the ranger's toes too much.

Please enjoy, and let me know what you think!

http://homebrewery.naturalcrit.com/share/ByrKjtlxnQ

Blackflight
2018-10-30, 03:05 AM
I really like the idea of this class and I think it would be really awesome to play PC that focuses on thrown weapon combat.

Since you asked for critique and feedback a few things comes to mind (take these with a grain of salt since they are mostly just first impressions):

- The scalp effect seems quite lackluster. It can be difficult to get a "killing blow" on a creature (if your ally kills the creature your scalp doesn't activate?) and for a fairly conditional damage modifier it only adds +1 damage and +1 to attack rolls? In my opnion you should buff this ability slightly. For simplicity you could even remove the scalp table and say: Whenever you reduce a creature to 0 hit points, you gain advantage on any attack rolls until the end of your next turn.

- I see it has light and medium armor proficiency but does armor really fit this class? When I think of headhunters, unarmored axe/spear-wielding savages comes to mind. Maybe you could give them AC = 13+dexterity? and remove the armor proficiencies?

- Being a mostly martial class (and perhaps unarmored) I think it would be fine to let it have d10 hit points as baseline.

- Even with the fighting style both blowguns and thrown weapons are very underwhelming (in most cases simply using a shortbow would be better). I actually suggest that you make the whole poison aspect a subclass and then add blowguns to their speciality. I would ditch the fighting style and add the following to the subclasses

Subclasses
Venomancer: If I were you I would then make all poison features such as "potent poison" a part of that subclass and maybe add a baseline +d6 poison damage to all their blowpipe attacks. (1+d6poison blowpipes is the same damage avg. as a d8 longbow)

Stalker: The piercing shot does almost the same thing as the sharpshooter feat but actually allows them to stack. Is this intentional? You could have players who also get the feat take -10 to hit penalties with +20 damage. If a player has advantage on attack rolls against a low AC enemy this can actually become quite broken.

My recommendation would be to let the feature do something that no other feat can. I personally think it would be cool if you let the stalker gain the ability to draw thrown weapons as part of an attack and also gain the two-weapon fighting ability modifier on offhand attacks (perhaps even letting you throw a weapon as a bonus action). This makes it something different from most other classes as it is a hybrid between ranged and melee combat.


As said earlier, take these recommendations with a grain of salt, overall I like the class quite a bit!

pygmybatrider
2018-10-30, 07:11 PM
I really like the idea of this class and I think it would be really awesome to play PC that focuses on thrown weapon combat.

Since you asked for critique and feedback a few things comes to mind (take these with a grain of salt since they are mostly just first impressions):

- The scalp effect seems quite lackluster. It can be difficult to get a "killing blow" on a creature (if your ally kills the creature your scalp doesn't activate?) and for a fairly conditional damage modifier it only adds +1 damage and +1 to attack rolls? In my opnion you should buff this ability slightly. For simplicity you could even remove the scalp table and say: Whenever you reduce a creature to 0 hit points, you gain advantage on any attack rolls until the end of your next turn.

- I see it has light and medium armor proficiency but does armor really fit this class? When I think of headhunters, unarmored axe/spear-wielding savages comes to mind. Maybe you could give them AC = 13+dexterity? and remove the armor proficiencies?

- Being a mostly martial class (and perhaps unarmored) I think it would be fine to let it have d10 hit points as baseline.

- Even with the fighting style both blowguns and thrown weapons are very underwhelming (in most cases simply using a shortbow would be better). I actually suggest that you make the whole poison aspect a subclass and then add blowguns to their speciality. I would ditch the fighting style and add the following to the subclasses

Subclasses
Venomancer: If I were you I would then make all poison features such as "potent poison" a part of that subclass and maybe add a baseline +d6 poison damage to all their blowpipe attacks. (1+d6poison blowpipes is the same damage avg. as a d8 longbow)

Stalker: The piercing shot does almost the same thing as the sharpshooter feat but actually allows them to stack. Is this intentional? You could have players who also get the feat take -10 to hit penalties with +20 damage. If a player has advantage on attack rolls against a low AC enemy this can actually become quite broken.

My recommendation would be to let the feature do something that no other feat can. I personally think it would be cool if you let the stalker gain the ability to draw thrown weapons as part of an attack and also gain the two-weapon fighting ability modifier on offhand attacks (perhaps even letting you throw a weapon as a bonus action). This makes it something different from most other classes as it is a hybrid between ranged and melee combat.


As said earlier, take these recommendations with a grain of salt, overall I like the class quite a bit!

Hey mate, thanks for taking the time to read and comment! Some good feedback in here.

- Scalp: this was the class feature that gave me the most headaches by far. If I make it straight advantage from level 1, it makes the headhunter a more attractive dip than full class. I also thought about 'marking' your targets when you hit them with an attack, and if they drop to 0 before the start of your next turn, you grant the bonus. This would basically guarantee at least one scalp bonus per fight if you pick your targets well, but might end up being too strong in a mook-heavy combat as you will essentially have a constantly refreshing bonus.

- Armour profs: I see what you mean, and I agree to an extent - but I also didn't want to exclude a more heavily armoured playstyle. A lot of the art in the document would at least be leather if not heavier, and really there's not too much difference either thematically or mechanically between 12 + dex from light armour and 13 + dex from Unarmoured Defense. I was also worried about feature bloat; as that would end up giving 3 features at 1st level.

- Fighting Styles: The thrown fighting style was designed to fix the impossibility of dual-wielding thrown weapons, as you can only interact with one object per turn for free. With Extra Attack and the Dual Wielder feat, you can throw two weapons, draw two more, throw one more, but then you start your next turn with only 1 in your hand. The fighting style at least allows you to make your attacks as normal. Blowgun style offers a Crossbow Expert-style extra attack - essentially an extra opportunity to poison. In combination with either some decent poisons, or sharpshooter (see below), you should still be pumping out some decent damage.

- Piercing Shot: Thankyou for pointing this out. Thrown weapons don't benefit from the -5/+10 of sharpshooter as the feat specifies attacks with a ranged weapon - thrown weapons are melee weapons with the thrown property. Minutia, woo! But I clean didn't think about this stacking for blowguns. I will have to think about what to do here, as a level 3 stalker headhunter with a blowgun one-shotting an ogre who has a stack of HP but 8 AC probably isn't ideal.

- Venomancer idea: this is interesting, and makes a lot of sense - I will think on this further. I really wanted to try and make each subclass have a choice between thrown weapons and blowguns, with each being equally viable, but that is seeming more difficult the more I think about it.

- you're totally right about the d10 hit die. At least that's an easy fix...! :)

Thankyou again for your comments - you've given me some really useful insights, and some motivation to go back and make changes. Cheers!

Blackflight
2018-10-31, 04:23 PM
You're most welcome! :)



- Fighting Styles: The thrown fighting style was designed to fix the impossibility of dual-wielding thrown weapons, as you can only interact with one object per turn for free. With Extra Attack and the Dual Wielder feat, you can throw two weapons, draw two more, throw one more, but then you start your next turn with only 1 in your hand. The fighting style at least allows you to make your attacks as normal. Blowgun style offers a Crossbow Expert-style extra attack - essentially an extra opportunity to poison. In combination with either some decent poisons, or sharpshooter (see below), you should still be pumping out some decent damage.



This is correct and I am aware of the odd rules for not being allowed to draw enough weapons to keep up with your attacks - personally I houserule that you can always draw and throw as many weapons as your attacks permit when I DM. Having said that, adding a written rule for it always helps!

I think the thing to consider is that counting 1s as 2s turns d6s from an average damage of 3.5 to 3.66 which is incredibly minor. Also, blowguns deal a default damage of just 1. Fiddling with poisoned ammunition takes a lot of time, is very expensive in terms of gold and is semi dangerous (although sort of negated by the class's snakeblood features etc.). Most importantly, as it stands right now in terms of pure mechanics there would not be much of a point in playing this class over a fighter or ranger that uses a longbow :)

pygmybatrider
2018-11-01, 06:55 AM
You're most welcome! :)



This is correct and I am aware of the odd rules for not being allowed to draw enough weapons to keep up with your attacks - personally I houserule that you can always draw and throw as many weapons as your attacks permit when I DM. Having said that, adding a written rule for it always helps!

I think the thing to consider is that counting 1s as 2s turns d6s from an average damage of 3.5 to 3.66 which is incredibly minor. Also, blowguns deal a default damage of just 1. Fiddling with poisoned ammunition takes a lot of time, is very expensive in terms of gold and is semi dangerous (although sort of negated by the class's snakeblood features etc.). Most importantly, as it stands right now in terms of pure mechanics there would not be much of a point in playing this class over a fighter or ranger that uses a longbow :)

I also house rule thrown weapons so that they are actually usable. Seems like a glaring oversight on the part of WoTC!

I have made a few changes in response to your feedback:

* scalp changed to 'marking' a target with your first attack on your turn. If that target drops to 0hp, you gain the bonus. Should be easier to set up and easier to maintain this way. Removed the part about scalp bonus activating on double your level damage as it was too complicated, and the feature now simply refreshes the bonus on a new kill. Not sure that this is the power bump I want it to be for 11th, and I'm considering making this a base feature of Scalp and adding in some other sort of boost here. Advantage on attack rolls against marked targets is the easiest choice but seems redundant because you probably already have a +3 bonus...although I guess nobody ever complained about hitting things too often.

* blowgun fighting style no longer removes loading. I like the idea of them being 1 shot - high risk, high reward. It instead ups damage die to 1d12, and provides disadvantage on any save made against poison applied to the needle.

* thrown weapon fighting style upped to treating 1s and 2s as 3s, bringing the average damage up to 4. While this seems minor, it feels really, really good at the table, and I think the class receives enough power boosts elsewhere.

* potent poison moved to Venomancer tree. Deadeye takes its place - double range on thrown weapons/blowguns.

* Snakeblood moved to Venomancer tree. Still need to come up with a new level 9 feature - drawing blanks atm. The class is pretty low on active features at the moment - maybe a boomerang style ability where you can hit up to 3 adjacent enemies for 1d6 or something. Or some sort of trap ability.

* Stalker 3rd level feature changed as half of its benefits moved to Deadeye. Maintained -5/+10, but only for thrown weaps, not blowguns, to stop double dipping with sharpshooter.

* Venomancer added. Snakeblood moved to their level 15 feature, and also grants THP if targeted by poison (from a hostile creature so no stabbing self with a poison blowdart to get some free DR). Not 100% sure of the poison crafting mechanic at the moment, but it's a start.

jiriku
2018-11-02, 04:14 PM
Overall, this is flavorful and well-balanced. It shows a careful sense of how 5e classes work. A very good early draft.

General Class Features
I like the marking aspect of Scalp. Kill-stealing happens all the time in D&D combats and this makes it a non-issue. It is not clear whether the bonus stacks for multiple kills; it should not.

Since your fluff says that headhunters may be a spiritual leader, a prophet, or a medicine man, you might consider proficiency with the medicine kit and access to the Religion skill. I agree with your decision to grant three skill proficiencies rather than two.

Stalker
The fluff for this subclass says you specialize in moving silently and attacking from afar, but none of the features help you move silently or attack at longer ranges.

Piercing Shot feels like it should be a feat.

The text for the Prowler feature is missing. I think part of it is just visible off at the right-hand side of the page.

Witch Doctor
Black Magic Jinx should offer a saving throw.

pygmybatrider
2018-11-03, 04:56 AM
Overall, this is flavorful and well-balanced. It shows a careful sense of how 5e classes work. A very good early draft.

General Class Features
I like the marking aspect of Scalp. Kill-stealing happens all the time in D&D combats and this makes it a non-issue. It is not clear whether the bonus stacks for multiple kills; it should not.

Since your fluff says that headhunters may be a spiritual leader, a prophet, or a medicine man, you might consider proficiency with the medicine kit and access to the Religion skill. I agree with your decision to grant three skill proficiencies rather than two.

Stalker
The fluff for this subclass says you specialize in moving silently and attacking from afar, but none of the features help you move silently or attack at longer ranges.

Piercing Shot feels like it should be a feat.

The text for the Prowler feature is missing. I think part of it is just visible off at the right-hand side of the page.

Witch Doctor
Black Magic Jinx should offer a saving throw.

Thanks mate! Appreciate your kind words as well as your suggestions for improvement.

I added the player's choice of healer's kit, herbalism kit, or poisoner's supplies to class proficiencies - you are right, they just seem to work. Also added Religion as a skill option.

I agree that Piercing Shot feels like a feat - the -5/+10 was stolen directly from Sharpshooter/GWM, of course. But I think it's an appropriate power boost for a thrown weapons class, given they don't really have any other option to increase their damage, and if they took the thrown weapon fighting style over TWF, they won't be adding proficiency damage to their bonus action throw. I couldn't think of a different boost that fit better, but I am open to ideas.

Prowler works for me on Chrome, but here is the text anyway:

Prowler
From 7th level, while under the effects of your scalp bonus, your walking speed increases by 10 feet, and opportunity attacks against you are made at disadvantage.

I added a Wisdom save to resist the effects of Black Magic Jinx, and changed it to one successful use per rest to ensure you don't waste an action and a limited use class feature on no result - while removing the ability to totally mess with a boss fight without a save.

I also made it clear that scalp bonuses don't stack, but allowed the duration to be refreshed as part of the base feature. Added Marked for Blood as the new level 11 feature, that allows the first attack you make against a marked target on your turn to be made with advantage. Adjusted the wording of the Scalp feature to mark a target until the end of your next turn, or until you mark a new one, to allow for blowgun users to benefit as well. Added Camouflage as the level 9 feature - advantage on Stealth checks to remain hidden as long as you don't move/attack.

jiriku
2018-11-03, 09:39 AM
These are good changes. Especially the ability to do bad things to marked targets -- there were so many features that were gated behind a successful kill that you risked being a little neutered against singles and pairs of opponents. This eases that up a little. It looks like a fun, thematic class, and if a player brought this to me I'd have no problem with allowing it in a campaign.

Amnoriath
2018-11-05, 01:01 AM
I think you missed the mark on this. You focus far too much on the scalp ability when arguably the Barbarian has better versions of it. On top of it what good is marking a creature if all it does is say kill it to get this bit of bonus damage for a small time? Only at level 11 does it matter but the Barbarian has had at will advantage for 9 levels already. It has a couple other small problems but mainly that it mechanical ly fails in making a proper role for this class.

pygmybatrider
2018-11-05, 03:35 AM
I think you missed the mark on this. You focus far too much on the scalp ability when arguably the Barbarian has better versions of it. On top of it what good is marking a creature if all it does is say kill it to get this bit of bonus damage for a small time? Only at level 11 does it matter but the Barbarian has had at will advantage for 9 levels already. It has a couple other small problems but mainly that it mechanical ly fails in making a proper role for this class.

Appreciate your critique, even if it lacks a little on the constructive side.

Without much to go off, let me try and address your concerns:

- Scalp is definitely a major part of the class, but it's not the sole defining feature of the headhunter, nor their only method for delivering damage. On top of the other passive benefits they receive, all headhunters gain access to fighting styles. Stalkers gain access to GWM for thrown weapons, Firebreathers get a breath weapon, Venomancers gain access to a variety of poisons, and Witch Doctors get spellcasting and a hex-effect. Even without a scalp bonus, each subclass should be pulling their weight in combat. A grand total of 3 class features and 0-2 subclass features relate to Scalp - there are definitely other things going for the headhunter.

- Scalp is not intended to be a direct parallel to rage, despite the obvious shared damage boost. For starters, there is no limit on the amount of scalp bonuses you can receive - barbarians must wait until level 20 to get the same benefit for their rages. The scalp bonus also increases the hit chance - yes barbs have Reckless Attack, but of course that is a double edged (or at least one-and-a-half-edged sword). Scalp is also effective at range, and with Deadeye doubling thrown/blowgun range at level 2, they will largely be backline fighters. Of course Scalp will work more effectively against big groups of weak enemies rather than small groups of powerful ones - so your mileage may vary depending on your DM/module makeup.

- With respect, I think you've slightly missed the mark with regards to the intended role for the class. First and foremost the headhunter was designed to create a class that doesn't gimp itself by using thrown weapons and/or blowguns. Secondly came tracking/stealth improvements, the moxie mechanic, and tribal flavour, in roughly equal portions. If the getting-stronger-when-killing-baddies part was the focus, it would get a lot more attention and be a lot stronger - which would be a tough thing to balance given I want the class to be able to engage from afar.

- Of course, all of this is coming from my own perspective - which is hardly unbiased. If you have different ideas, besides Scalp being worse than rage and Reckless Attack, I'd love to hear them. I would also love to hear the other small mechanical problems that you found with the headhunter, as of course they can't be changed if I don't know what they are.

Amnoriath
2018-11-05, 01:56 PM
Appreciate your critique, even if it lacks a little on the constructive side.

Without much to go off, let me try and address your concerns:

- Scalp is definitely a major part of the class, but it's not the sole defining feature of the headhunter, nor their only method for delivering damage. On top of the other passive benefits they receive, all headhunters gain access to fighting styles. Stalkers gain access to GWM for thrown weapons, Firebreathers get a breath weapon, Venomancers gain access to a variety of poisons, and Witch Doctors get spellcasting and a hex-effect. Even without a scalp bonus, each subclass should be pulling their weight in combat. A grand total of 3 class features and 0-2 subclass features relate to Scalp - there are definitely other things going for the headhunter.

- Scalp is not intended to be a direct parallel to rage, despite the obvious shared damage boost. For starters, there is no limit on the amount of scalp bonuses you can receive - barbarians must wait until level 20 to get the same benefit for their rages. The scalp bonus also increases the hit chance - yes barbs have Reckless Attack, but of course that is a double edged (or at least one-and-a-half-edged sword). Scalp is also effective at range, and with Deadeye doubling thrown/blowgun range at level 2, they will largely be backline fighters. Of course Scalp will work more effectively against big groups of weak enemies rather than small groups of powerful ones - so your mileage may vary depending on your DM/module makeup.

- With respect, I think you've slightly missed the mark with regards to the intended role for the class. First and foremost the headhunter was designed to create a class that doesn't gimp itself by using thrown weapons and/or blowguns. Secondly came tracking/stealth improvements, the moxie mechanic, and tribal flavour, in roughly equal portions. If the getting-stronger-when-killing-baddies part was the focus, it would get a lot more attention and be a lot stronger - which would be a tough thing to balance given I want the class to be able to engage from afar.

- Of course, all of this is coming from my own perspective - which is hardly unbiased. If you have different ideas, besides Scalp being worse than rage and Reckless Attack, I'd love to hear them. I would also love to hear the other small mechanical problems that you found with the headhunter, as of course they can't be changed if I don't know what they are.
1. In terms of abilities yes but in terms of combat effectiveness not really. It as a whole really doesn't have a major offensive feature it kind or relies on set forward styles set by subclasses but either they overtly focus on them making abilities redundant and squashing character creativity or there isn't any focus which makes it a weak choice.
2. While those things are important to keep in mind making a base class solely to make unoptimal styles better isn't a good design to help it's role in the party. You do have other things but they are copies of others that don't synergize. I see this playing like a weak first draft ranger good in one thing only.
3. Well first Scalp needs to be changed and reduced in ability frequency. A +1 for 1 round on an attack or two isn't worth it. And when it gets to be worth it things are hard to kill. Ultimately copying the first level fiend patron ability is your best bet. Since you have a d10 hit die it wouldn't take a lot to round out this class defensively. I really think you should focus on marking as your best ability is linked with it and it makes sense for the flavor.

pygmybatrider
2018-11-05, 03:36 PM
1. In terms of abilities yes but in terms of combat effectiveness not really. It as a whole really doesn't have a major offensive feature it kind or relies on set forward styles set by subclasses but either they overtly focus on them making abilities redundant and squashing character creativity or there isn't any focus which makes it a weak choice.
2. While those things are important to keep in mind making a base class solely to make unoptimal styles better isn't a good design to help it's role in the party. You do have other things but they are copies of others that don't synergize. I see this playing like a weak first draft ranger good in one thing only.
3. Well first Scalp needs to be changed and reduced in ability frequency. A +1 for 1 round on an attack or two isn't worth it. And when it gets to be worth it things are hard to kill. Ultimately copying the first level fiend patron ability is your best bet. Since you have a d10 hit die it wouldn't take a lot to round out this class defensively. I really think you should focus on marking as your best ability is linked with it and it makes sense for the flavor.

Thankyou, this is useful feedback. I will take another look and see what I can do. :)