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View Full Version : D&D 5e/Next (Class) The Chanter - a modular, ramping caster (PEACH)



Othesemo
2016-07-02, 10:17 PM
The class can be found at txti.es/chanter, but read on for some context on what it's supposed to do.

The central goal here is modularity. In language, even if you know only a few words, those words can be combined into a staggering number of different sentences. The Chanter aims to capture that same feeling, by allowing the player to logically compose different words into complex Chants with varying effects. For example, a player who wants to utilize the Chanter as a blaster can learn the word for Fire without having to know ahead of time whether they'll use the word to create a growing vortex of fire, hurl a flaming boulder at their opponent, or ignite their enemies as they dash past them.

This should result in a class that can continue to surprise you even after playing it for an extended period. A level 20 Chanter is capable of 3,960 discrete effects, and while many of those will in practice be suboptimal, I hope that players will continue to discover interesting and novel combinations of words as situations arise that call for them.

The class's secondary identity is as a ramping thread. Many of its Words grow in power as the combat progresses, or simply take multiple turns to get their full effect. Depending on which branch of the class you take, you may also gain significant benefits for having time to prepare before a combat. To offset this, the Chanter is largely a close-medium range class, and should require either protection from allies or clever planning to reach its full potential unmolested.

I welcome all feedback.

zeek0
2016-07-03, 12:51 AM
An interesting class!

I like how the class revolves around the manipulation of concepts, and the combination of those concepts. I see that you've put a lot of work into this; good work.

I'll offer bits of questions or critique; take them as you will:

As an option, you can rename this class "Cantor" and refer to the chants as "cants". Your call.

Why is perception a skill option?


It appears that you can chant as much as you like every day. Assuming that each turn you chant it is comparable to a standard spell, this is overmuch. A big problem.
I love the Resounding Voice feature - it is a fun ribbon.
I would rename your subclasses to something more... interesting. Something like School of the Oak (Studious) and School of the Hart (Active). Nouns are better than adjectives.
You need names for each of the subclass features, but I imagine that you knew that.
Active: Assuming that you gain a "stack of insight" on about 75% of your turns, the stack cost of these abilities is too high. I would reduce them to one/two, and make them cost a bonus action to perform.
If I cast an area of effect spell, then do I gain stacks from each enemy that I damaged? If so, this encourages the active chanter to use aoes instead of single-target chants.
The 'theme' of this subclass is focused around the stacks of insight, and it seems a shame to delay access to it until 6th level. I see no problem with switching it with the 3rd level feature.
Studious: The first two abilities for this subclass are utility/exploration features. I think that these certainly have a place, but the 3rd level feature should be usable in combat.
I like the 10th level feature, which heals a percentage of missing hit points. However, I think that raising it to 1/4 or 1/3 wouldn't be unreasonable for a 10th level feature.
Now, the 14th level feature is unusual. The numbers are much too high. Lets assume you have 14 Intelligence (+2), and proficiency (+5). You will hit 15 65% of the time, 20 40% of the time, 25 15% of the time, and 30 never. I think as a 14th level feature it would be fine to grant all the benefits without a roll. After all, it requires an hour of set-up.
The final feature here is great.



Now, my biggest concern is the bookkeeping and slow-down of combat when the chants are 'cast'. The number of words you can perform is 5 at level 17 - this means that every time the chanter gets a turn he is slowed down a lot.

I think that this can be remedied in a few different ways:


Allow a word to be used more than once in a chant. This means that if you want to just do fire damage, this is a salient option.
Reduce the number of words you can perform as a chant. I earnestly think that three should be the maximum - more than this, I need to remember too much and the thematic power of the chant is lost.



On another note, I would look at page 284 of the Dungeon Master's Guide. I am fairly certain that your chant effects do much less damage than they ought to.


I hope that my comments help, and that you know that I really just want to help, not hinder, this class. I really like the concept - it reminds me of Name of the Wind and Magicka, and I think that it could be great fun to play.

Othesemo
2016-07-03, 11:45 PM
Thank you for such an in depth response!


It appears that you can chant as much as you like every day. Assuming that each turn you chant it is comparable to a standard spell, this is overmuch. A big problem.

A chant shouldn't be comparable to another caster's best spell except for the first couple of levels, when cantrips are more relevant. After that, the intention is to have them be comparable to whatever qualifies as a medium-level spell at a given level. Basically, Chanters don't have opportunity costs attached to their best abilities, and can cope well with extended adventuring days, but their highs are less extreme than other casters. This ties into my desire for Chanters to have ramping profiles in combat - in terms of 'getting the most done in the first turn', they should lag behind other classes.

If possible, I would like to keep the 'everything's a cantrip' mechanic. I think it's an important part of realizing the fantasy of a class that only gets stronger (or at leasts persists in usefulness) as trials continue. This is part of why I didn't include effects like unconditional healing, mobility or summoning, which can easily become abusive when used repeatedly. If there are any particular effects that you think are too powerful when used repeatedly, I can tune them down.


Active: Assuming that you gain a "stack of insight" on about 75% of your turns, the stack cost of these abilities is too high. I would reduce them to one/two, and make them cost a bonus action to perform.

I'll trust your intuition on this. I think I was mostly lowballing the school of thought features since most of the classes power is focused on Chanting, and I was worried that additional abilities that don't have significant action economy costs would push it overboard.

I'll also take your advice and switch around the levels at which the abilities are gained.

To answer your question - if you've damaged/affected at least one enemy, you gain a stack of insight, but damaging/affecting more enemies doesn't correspond to additional stacks. I'll make this more explicit in the class itself.


Studious: The first two abilities for this subclass are utility/exploration features. I think that these certainly have a place, but the 3rd level feature should be usable in combat.

That sounds reasonable. My inclination then is to add in a secondary ability at level three with combat relevance (I assume this advice also applies to the active school?). It is intended for the studious school to have a bit more usefulness outside of combat situations, but I can see a bit of a boost being warranted.

As for your other advice re: Studious school - I'll probably remove the stealth ability from the 14th level ability and have all other benefits be granted automatically. The stealth was mostly included as filler, and has little synergy with the rest of the class, so without the need for 4 discrete effects, I think it's fine to cut it loose. And, if you don't think it'd be too powerful, I'll go ahead and bump up the 10th level ability by a bit.


Now, my biggest concern is the bookkeeping and slow-down of combat when the chants are 'cast'. The number of words you can perform is 5 at level 17 - this means that every time the chanter gets a turn he is slowed down a lot.

I think that this can be remedied in a few different ways:

Allow a word to be used more than once in a chant. This means that if you want to just do fire damage, this is a salient option.
Reduce the number of words you can perform as a chant. I earnestly think that three should be the maximum - more than this, I need to remember too much and the thematic power of the chant is lost.

This is a concern, for sure. I would like to mention a couple points of consideration, however.

The first is that, after the first round of combat, a Chanter should have slightly more than half of their total words available, owing to the restriction on using the same word two rounds in a row. So, altho it's true that a 20th level chanter will be choosing five words, they will be choosing them from a pool of seven. That means that there are only 21 total combinations of 5 words that they could use (and 105 total discrete effects, depending on which words is the principal). If I lowered the maximum word count to 3, there would instead by 9 choose 3 total combinations of words, or 84 (and 252 discrete effects, again depending on which word serves as the principal).

So, paradoxically, I think that lowering the number of words usable in a chant would rather increase the complexity of the class, especially at high levels. It would also require adopting a rather bumpier power curve, since the increases in Chant length are by far the largest boosts to the class' efficacy.

On a related note, allowing the same word to be used multiple times would strictly increase the complexity of the class (for example, a level 20 chanter would be capable of 5940 discrete effects, or about half again as many as they can produce right now). It would also introduce balance concerns that I've thus far been ignoring. So, as much as I enjoy the idea of being able to FireFireFireFireFire someone, I'm a bit concerned about the repurcussions of allowing it.

That said, I do think that your concerns are valid for the first round of combat, when the 'cooldown' mechanic isn't in place to restrict your options. Beyond players adopting their pet favorite Chants, I don't have a good solution for that.


On another note, I would look at page 284 of the Dungeon Master's Guide. I am fairly certain that your chant effects do much less damage than they ought to.

Ok, point taken. It is important to keep in mind that chants will most often be used with a bevy of modifications. So, a normal offensive ability will deal around 5d6 damage on its own at 20th level. With Fire and Poison as modifications, that goes up to 12d6. From there, modifiers like Trapping, Swarm, Tremor and Growth can multiply its efficacy.

However, most of those modifications do carry restrictions with them. Just before posting here, I removed a Word, Freezing, which was essentially a clone of Fire that did cold damage. While that word was pretty boring, it did carry with it the potential to add an extra two damage die to an attack, and now that it's gone, I see that Chanters are essentially stuck with Poison for increasing their damage output. This is unfortunate because the most effective multiplier effects (Tremor and Swarm) have anti-synergy with Poison in the context of single target damage. So, I think that I'll add in a new Word or two that can be used for more single target damage output, possibly replacing some of the less inspiring support words.


I hope that my comments help, and that you know that I really just want to help, not hinder, this class. I really like the concept - it reminds me of Name of the Wind and Magicka, and I think that it could be great fun to play.

Magicka was definitely an inspiration, yes. And thanks again for your excellent feedback!

Amechra
2016-07-04, 01:19 AM
I suggest at least allowing you to apply the same Word as both a Principal Effect and a Modifier. Mainly because Fire Fire Gust would be great.

That being said, I think it'd help if you standardized the scaling so it matches the 1-5-11-17 that Cantrips have, and made the modifier effects non-scaling.

For example, Fire would look like this:

=---=
Fire

As a principal effect: Pick a 5x5 square within 60ft; you conjure flames in that square for one round. Any creature that enters that square or who starts their turn there must make a Dexterity saving throw; if they fail, they take 1d6 fire damage and catch fire. At 5th, 11th, and 17th level, add 1d6 to the damage caused by failing the initial save.

[I]As a modifier: Pick one The chant deals +1d6 fire damage and sets creatures on fire; The target of the principal effect gains resistance to fire for the duration of the chant.
=---=

Basically, clean it up so that it'll be faster in play, both by association (people don't need to check to see when things get stronger) and due to lowering cognitive load (adding a modifier always does the same thing).

EDIT: Also, I kinda think that the Words could be closer to pre-existing Cantrips. As it is, several don't do anything as Principal Effects until 4th level, which is... problematic (take a look at Lightning).

Othesemo
2016-07-04, 02:24 AM
Thank you for the suggestions! I went ahead and removed scaling from the two modifiers in which it was present. I also changed all damaging words to use the cantrip scaling, but I also bumped up most of their damage die to compensate for the lost late game scaling. Hopefully, the +1 damage buff won't be too big of an issue at low levels.

Most of the buffs are still templated as '...for one round per four Chanter levels'. I intend this to mean 'scaling from one round at levels 1-4 up to five rounds at levels 17-20'. Is there a better way to express that?

At any rate, there have historically been a couple of weird corner cases preventing me from allowing the same word to be used multiple times in a word. However, with tweaks I've just made, I believe (fingers crossed) that they're all gone. So, I'll assume that the coolness of Fire-Fire-Gust outweighs the complexity issues I outlined in my previous post, and make the change.

zeek0
2016-07-04, 09:43 AM
A chant shouldn't be comparable to another caster's best spell except for the first couple of levels, when cantrips are more relevant.

I see. You are working off of an entirely different casting paradigm. It means I can't properly compare it to spellcasting, so I shan't try.


So, paradoxically, I think that lowering the number of words usable in a chant would rather increase the complexity of the class, especially at high levels.

Perhaps you are misimagining the process that a player would take to determine what to do on a given turn. A computer would calculate all possible options, and choose one from the list. A player chooses a single principal effect, and then chooses which rider effects they would like to add to it.

I think that lowering the maximum length would be rather beneficial. You could strengthen the rider effects, as you would have a lower maximum available. It is easier to think about a chant that is Fire-Poison-Time, than a chant that is Fire-Poison-Time-Hiding-Sight. I think that this ease of thought is important - if a player can't imagine it, then it can't be cool.

I think that an ideal progression for this would be a maximum of 1 for level 1, 2 until level 10, and three for the remainder. This would allow a level 1 character to get a handle on the casting, a level 2 character to fully delve into using words, and higher level characters the ability to combine more words together.


So, as much as I enjoy the idea of being able to FireFireFireFireFire someone, I'm a bit concerned about the repurcussions of allowing it.

Can a rider be stacked multiple times?


Ok, point taken. It is important to keep in mind that chants will most often be used with a bevy of modifications. So, a normal offensive ability will deal around 5d6 damage on its own at 20th level.

I think that as long as you keep the abilities at fairly low power, you will be alright. It might help to imagine what the maximum damage is at each level - perhaps the equivalent of a cantrip until level 5, 1st level spell until level 10, etc.

I think that Amechra's suggestion of standardizing the scaling like that of cantrips is a good idea.


Again, I really like this. I think that it is great fun, and that a player would have a good time combining effects in creative ways. I just think that the cognitive load of thinking about 4-5 different words and trying to execute them all in combat while flipping back and forth on your printed out list of words (and trying to remember which 4 words you cast last round) would be annoying , both as a player and a DM.

Amechra
2016-07-04, 10:17 AM
Try "every 4 Chanter levels, rounded up."

Or, make it [Proficiency bonus - 1] rounds. It gives you the exact same progression for Chanter 20, and it's more multiclass friendly.

zeek0
2016-07-04, 10:27 AM
Or, you could specify a number on the class table called something like "incantation potency". Then you can say, "takes damage as a number of d8s equal to your incantation potency", or "falls into a deep magical sleep for a number of years equal to your incantation potency". Or some such.

Othesemo
2016-07-04, 02:47 PM
Perhaps you are misimagining the process that a player would take to determine what to do on a given turn. A computer would calculate all possible options, and choose one from the list. A player chooses a single principal effect, and then chooses which rider effects they would like to add to it.

I think that lowering the maximum length would be rather beneficial. You could strengthen the rider effects, as you would have a lower maximum available. It is easier to think about a chant that is Fire-Poison-Time, than a chant that is Fire-Poison-Time-Hiding-Sight. I think that this ease of thought is important - if a player can't imagine it, then it can't be cool.

I think that an ideal progression for this would be a maximum of 1 for level 1, 2 until level 10, and three for the remainder. This would allow a level 1 character to get a handle on the casting, a level 2 character to fully delve into using words, and higher level characters the ability to combine more words together.

I see your point here. My main concern here is a question of scaling. For example, at the moment, two words have the ability to add damage die to an Chant - Fire and Void. By allowing a level 2 Chanter to use two word phrases, I would be giving a level 2 character the equivalent of a beefed up level 6 Eldritch Blast. More broadly, the problem is that modifiers would have to be such that they're quite weak when there's one of them, but fairly strong when there are two of them.

One solution would be to have modifiers scale with level. However, that would increase the cognitive load, as Amechra points out, and some modifier effects don't play particularly well with that sort of scaling (the lowest number of dice you could add to a damage roll would still be overbearing at level 2).

So, if I were to adopt your suggestion, I think I would prefer to have it scale to 2 words at level 5 and 3 words at level 13, or something like that. I think that making 2 word phrases balanced before other classes get their main powerspikes would require jumping through too many hoops.


Can a rider be stacked multiple times?

No, altho per Amechra's suggestion, a word can be used to modify itself now.


I think that as long as you keep the abilities at fairly low power, you will be alright. It might help to imagine what the maximum damage is at each level - perhaps the equivalent of a cantrip until level 5, 1st level spell until level 10, etc.

That's a good idea. I looked through at all of the levels, and found that, while the AoE damage was usually in line (comparable to a spell 2-3 levels below max), the single target damage was edging up a bit high. I'm going to change Lightning and Trapping to d8 and d10, respectively, and also change the Planning and Trapping modifiers to add damage dice instead of multiplying damage. I think those changes will bring the Chanter's maximum damage output in line.


Again, I really like this. I think that it is great fun, and that a player would have a good time combining effects in creative ways. I just think that the cognitive load of thinking about 4-5 different words and trying to execute them all in combat while flipping back and forth on your printed out list of words (and trying to remember which 4 words you cast last round) would be annoying , both as a player and a DM.

You may be right. I definitely take your concern seriously, and I'll spend some time trying to think of ways to make high level combat go faster for the class.

Othesemo
2016-07-05, 05:58 PM
After some reflection, I think I agree that 5 word phrases are too long. I'm not willing to go all the way down to 3 words because of power curve issues, but I've decided to compromise and have the class cap out at four. Changes are roughly as follows -

Phrase length now goes up at 5th, 11th and 17th levels
Chanters start the game with four words, and learn a word at every third level, capping out at 10 words known
School of thought features have been compressed/trimmed, and are now gained at 2nd, 7th, 10th and 14th levels (numbers chosen to avoid dead levels)

I also made a number of stylistic changes - all fractions are removed from the class, for instance. Healing now does all it's healing at once, but at the beginning of your next turn, while Poison was removed altogether. This should make bookkeeping and damage calculation much less painless.

These changes shouldn't affect the early game. However, I'm concerned about the lategame impact of reducing the number of modifications, and I think that it might be necessary to up the scaling through other methods. Perhaps even through ordinary class features.

Any thoughts?

Blindseer
2018-07-19, 07:44 PM
Just for clarification, what exactly does Swarm do as a modifier? Does it allow you to use the same chant three times in a turn against three different areas/targets, or would it let you use the same word as a modifier three times?

Ratbouy
2019-04-02, 11:01 AM
I absolutely love the idea of this class, and I'm wondering if the OP would allow me to do him a favor and remake it in The Homebrewery/update its terminology (and maybe some action economy) to more fit in line with 5e. Otheesmo, hit me up at the email in my profile, I'd love to hear from you