View Full Version : D&D 5e/Next A very experimental class project that's gotten out of hand, help needed

Grizl' Bjorn
2017-06-02, 04:08 AM
Hi friends. I知 a fairly experienced brewer but I think I might have bitten off more than I can chew. This is a class I知 working on, it痴 a bit high concept though and I知 having trouble making it manageable. Basically there are two problems:

1. Finding a way to make it at least approximately balanced

2. Dealing with all the tremendous convolutions in rules the concept creates- both in terms of mechanics, and in terms of trying to write a description of what is going on which can be followed.

The basic concept is that you are a character who has begun to access your past lives and previous aspects of your soul. You effectively have a non-homebrewed class as normal, but you sacrifice some of the powers of that class in order to be able to access for brief periods the powers of your previous lives- e.g. maybe you were a wizard or a fighter in a previous life. You have a set number of 叢ersonalities which reflect past lives you致e gained clear access to.

Making it work is proving far from simple. Do people think the basic concept is salvageable? It's never going to be an easy class to explain or play, but if we could get it to a state with approximate balance and precise rules I'd be thrilled with that. Anyway, here's what I've got so far:

Ancient soul

When you would create a character of this class, create three characters instead, only one of which has as their class ancient soul. None of these characters may vary from any other character on any attribute by more than 2 points. One of these characters is your primary character and their class is ancient soul. For the other two personalities you may select any classes from the player痴 handbook. These represent the past lives your primary character has most strongly connected with, although they are not the only past lives your character gains glimpses of. Level up all three characters whenever you would level up your Ancient Soul.

In addition, select a class other than bard for your ancient soul character, this is your source class. You gain all class features, hit die, proficiencies etc. indicated by this class. However, delay your progression by one level at levels 2, 10 & 17. You instead gain the features indicated below.

EXAMPLE: Tamera is an ancient soul with a source class of warlock. Tamera reaches level 10. Rather than gaining a level 10 archetype feature, extra spells known etc. as a warlock normally would, Tamera gains only the level 10 ancient soul feature 羨geless knowledge and hitpoints according to the warlock class. Tamera was similarly delayed in achieving her level 2 abilities. However she will eventually gain a warlock痴 level 10 abilities at level 12, just as she eventually obtained the level 2 benefits of a warlock at level 3.

Ancient soul class features

Level 2 Cede. Once per short rest for three turns, or for a single ability check requiring any length of time your primary personality may cede control to one of its two secondary personalities. During this time you have the statistics and personality of that secondary personality. Only the appearance and hitpoints of your character do not change. Your secondary personality has access to all your memories and will share at least your basic motivations, so you may control it as you control your ancient soul personality normally. You gain an additional use of this ability per short rest at level 10, and another use at level 17.

Level 2 Partial memories: Your character may apply half their proficiency bonus to skill checks they are not proficient in, aided by the half recalled memories of a thousand lifetimes.

Level 10. Ageless knowledge: You draw on the almost infinite depth of experience contained in your past lives. Your character may gain proficiency with skill after each long rest. Proficiency with this skill lasts until the end of your next long rest, whereupon you may select a new skill proficiency.

Level 17. Call forth. Once per day you may cast Simulacrum with a casting time of ten minutes and without material components on yourself. The being you create must be one of your personalities somewhat weakened, but given physical form. You may recall your personality at any-time but until you do so you may not use it via your cede ability.

2017-06-02, 06:20 AM
It's a lot of paperwork, but it seems playable. The balance is... I'm not sure. It seems like it can range from "mostly useless" to "stupid powerful" depending on the classes you choose. If you choose all martials, then I'm hard-pressed to think of a situation in which cede would be truly useful. But if you choose a full caster as one of your secondary classes, things can get pretty crazy. Say, you take monk as your source class, and cleric as one of your secondary classes. Both Wis-based, so a pretty good match. Now, when you need it, you can use Cede to let the cleric take over, cast your three highest level spells in rapid succession, then transform back into monk and continue beating people up in melee combat, having depleted none of your monk resources. It gets around the balance factor of high-level spells: that in return for having them, casters are left weaker than martials once their good spells are depleted.

So if you take monk, cleric and druid as your classes, you'll basically be 90% of a monk, plus the ability to unleash a string of high-level spells a few times per day. The same trick can be achieved with paladin, sorcerer and warlock. Which is... problematic, and I wouldn't know right off the bat how to fix it. You could reduce the power of the source class to balance it out, but then you're further screwing the people who want to use martials as their secondary classes.

I'm not sure if this particular iteration can be balanced. I would be inclined to rewrite the mechanics so that instead of becoming the secondary character, you can use one of that class' features X times per rest. That could mean casting a high-level spell, which would be very powerful, but most martials can compete with similarly bursty abilities, e.g. Action Surge, Rage, Smite, Quivering Palm.

This way, Cede would be tied to a single feature, instead of to a duration of being the other class, which I think would balance things out in favour of martials. For example, in your version, someone who uses Cede to become a fighter can use Action Surge on the first turn, but can then do little else but spend two more turns making normal attacks. Meanwhile, a cleric can use all three of those turns to cast his highest level spells, gaining a much greater total benefit out of Cede. But if you narrow it down to a single time use of an ability, it becomes a matter of using Action Surge vs casting a single high-level spell, which is a much more equal consideration.

It might be that I'm overlooking something and my suggestion will be equally catastrophic, but it's worthy of consideration.

2017-06-02, 06:42 AM
I think it's worth pointing out that in every way that matters, in my limited time reading this class, this is just multiclassing (your primary class progression is delayed). However, in the end you gain access to high level abilities rather than low level abilities for those other classes that you have access to.

I think you might want to consider making this a kind of "Prestige class" whose levels are only available at certain character levels but might have other prerequisites.

Sorry I don't have time for more, but I just skimmed over it as I got ready for work and this was my big takeaway. If I'm far off base, I apologize. I'll take a better look when I get a chance to really dig into it.

Edit: Alright, I was finally able to read all the way through with a critical eye. It's not quite as bad as I thought on a first glance, but the points raised by Lalliman are valid. Nothing is stopping a player from cherry-picking all of the best and most powerful abilities during their time using Cede. Still, it's a fun concept that I think merits exploration.

My suggestion would be to make a series of one-off prestige classes all based on all of the various classes. Specify that you can only multiclass into them under very strict circumstances - maybe at specific character levels, maybe other prerequisites depending on how precisely you want to set it up. Then pick one minor permanent feature based on that class and one limited-use major feature. If you wanted to make it more cohesive, you could make it a single prestige class, limiting the times that you can increase your level in it and allowing the player to choose from a list of class options as I described above at each level of this class, never allowing the same option more than once. Either of these suggestions could likely allow you to gain the same feel that you're going for while also cutting down on paperwork and controlling what the player gains access to.

2017-06-02, 09:40 AM
Why do I get a feeling you may have gotten the idea from Pillars of Eternity? :-P

2017-06-02, 02:52 PM
While yours is very simple, and thus compelling, a very similar idea (though a different concept) has been executed rather well before in the form of Nifft's 5e Chameleon (base class) (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?436422-Nifft-s-5e-Chameleon-Base-Class-PEACH).

Morphic tide
2017-06-04, 01:35 AM
Okay, a lot of the issues stem from the fact that this is a way to do gestalt, not a class. As such, I'll be giving ideas for turning it into an actual class, including making the fluff coherent.

In general, the setup you've given points to a factotum class. Much like the Dragon Magazine 3.5 class by the same name, as well as the definition of the obscure actual word, it does everything to some level.

I think the key is for the central class to generalize, while the ability-borrowing is done specifically to fill in what's needed to specialize. As in, you have the fundamentals of everything you could ever need to do, but not enough to actually do those things at a level appropriate level without dipping into Cede uses, which get sorted into two or three types of personality with separate Cede uses.

The personalities would be designed around filling in various functions in different ways. For example, the melee oriented personality could be giving you a second Extra Attack and other Fighter functions at a delayed progression for one option, while another could give you Smite and some spell slots for when you have that Cede section active. Repeat for pure casting and a possible skillmonkey selection. Essentially, you have a generalist chassis that does everything insufficiently for it's current level, but Cede gives you abilities from other classes to get you on par with one thing at a time while keeping your other abilities to supplement those tricks.

Why do I get a feeling you may have gotten the idea from Pillars of Eternity? :-P
Now I want to make an Incarnum class themed on the lore of that game... It fits goddamn perfectly.