2015-05-30, 05:30 PM (ISO 8601)
Re: [PEACH] Binder class (WIP)
It seems you've been busy in my absence... I'm going to try to respond to as much of it as possible, and then I'll add my new stuff as a separate post once I've assembled it a little.
First, I'd just like to say that I really like where vestiges are heading.
I like the use of traits for the poor pact influences; 5e's trait/ideal/bond/flaw system is cool and making use of it is a great idea. Traits and flaws in particular fit perfectly with the way vestiges affect a binder's personality, and the mechanic is already there to incentivise roleplaying them.
The idea of casting spells at higher-level slots isn't something I'd thought of, but I like it. It makes the lower-level vestiges still useful at higher levels.
Now, this part is crucial: as some people have started to suggest, the vestige template is intended to be more guidelines than actual rules. This means a few things:
- The number of abilities can change a little, so (for example) a vestige could have a couple extra proficiencies, or an extra per-short-rest spell, or something
- The power of abilities could change, so a 6th-level might have a 2nd-level spell and a 4th-level spell as the minor powers, rather than a pair of 3rd-levels
- Perhaps most importantly, the listed options are guidelines, not a complete and specific list. So where it says "2x languages, proficiencies, skills, etc" or "1 spell of half the vestige's level" or whatever, all of these should include the phrase "...or other ability of similar power".
That last point is crucial. A Binder is a jack-of-all-trades, and the easiest way to do that is to pick and mix things from other classes - but it's also the most boring, and the most likely to tread on other classes' toes. I'd much prefer it if there were abilities you could only get by being a Binder and choosing the right vestiges. (That said, it's important to remember the 5e design principle "things should be the same, or they should be different". In other words, if you're granting an ability that has the same effect as a spell, don't create a new refluffed reskinned clone, just give them the spell.)
With regard to the variances in power level you'd get from giving vestiges slightly different numbers or levels of abilities, my plan for balancing the vestiges was to vary the pact DC a little. Working on the assumption that a 1st-level binder will have a Charisma check of somewhere in the region of (1d20) + (proficiency of +2) + (Charisma mod of +2 to +4), giving an average of somewhere around 14. By level 20, they'll probably have maxed their Charisma along the way, so that'll be (1d20) + (proficiency of +6) + (Charisma mod of +5), which averages around 21. A range of 7 or 8 is kinda small. If you decide to let them start doubling their proficiency bonus on the check at some point, that becomes (1d20) + (double proficiency for a total of +12) + (Charisma mod of +5), which averages about 27. Using that, the vestige pact DC could go from about 12-14 for 1st-levels, all the way up to 30 for the highest 9th-levels. That's possibly 18 points worth of range - 2 per level. That's a good number, although I don't know if I'd go with a flat distribution like that. So, a slightly stronger vestige might have a slightly higher DC than others of its level, and vice versa for the weaker ones.
If more balancing is needed, then I kinda like Prince Zahn's idea of imposing disadvantage - perhaps two vestiges that form a powerful combo might have conflicting personalities, so their texts state "you have disadvantage on the Charisma check to make a pact with [this vestige] if you already have [other vestige] bound".
One possible other measure is to say that if you make a poor pact, then a certain ability works differently - say, you have disadvantage on its attack roll, or you can only be immune to its AoE damage with a good pact, or you get half healing from a heal-type ability if you make a poor pact; that sort of thing. I'd be very careful with this though; 3.5 was careful to state that you get their abilities no matter how the pact goes, and as I've said before, crippling the character for a day because of one or two bad checks in the morning is kinda harsh.
While I'm on the subject, I think perhaps the vestige template should give a few more low-level passive things, or at least be more flexible about them. Say, between 2 and 5 things, rather than just two. Two languages is not the same as two weapon proficiencies. If anyone has any more concrete suggestions on what that template should look like, I'd love to see them. Just bear in mind that I was planning to do cards for each vestige with the abilities on one side, and the name/title/seal, level, pact DC, and influences on the other, just for those players who take forever to look things up. A vestige can have other things (lore and flavour text) that take up more space, but it'd be nice if those basics could fit on two sides of a playing-card-size card in a readably-sized font.
Other than that, I've had some ideas on archetypes: Binder's Fate. Being a Binder leaves its mark on those who practice the art, and at 3rd level they embark on a path that will leave them changed.
- Awakened: exposure to creatures who exist outside of the usual laws of the universe imbues you with cosmic powers. Gain limited low-level spellcasting similar to Rogue's Arcane Trickster, choosing from the Sorcerer spell list.
- Warped: the various physical signs and manifestations of the vestiges imprint themselves on your body, leaving you with unnatural features. Gain natural weapon and combat-useful features appropriate to a selected template (most obvious being Amon-style horns, scaled hide for Dragonborn-esque AC boost).
- Unfettered: the study of magics that pierce the planes enables you to leave behind your physical form and experience the world as a vestige would. Gain ethereal-type abilities including blindsense/see invisibility as per one of the Rogue's archetypes, and some blur/blink/invisibility-type powers for increased stealth and mobility.
I'm by no means sold on these archetypes yet, but I think there's potential there. Thoughts?
Last edited by anaximander19; 2015-05-30 at 05:32 PM.