Enter the Special Homebrewer Feature! Everybody, welcome our new guest: WaylanderX! I promise you he totally didn’t bribe me with a bottle of cider for this!
WaylanderX is relatively new to the Homebrew scene ‘round DnDese parts, but has shown to be quite creative when it comes to the mechanics of classes. This was already evident in his first full-fledged creation, which I helped him dub the Goaler of Frostflame
. The Gaoler of Frostflame is a class which starts off with decent power, but becomes even stronger at the higher levels. The downside of the class is that it has to use its lower-level abilities first, before it can use its higher-level ones. This makes combat at higher levels dangerous for the class, but luckily it has abilities it can use to speed up its magic and use higher-level abilities faster, which are generally very straightforward, but also are intended to be a lot more powerful than abilities of other classes at those same level, effectively paying for this extra power by waiting longer to be able to use them. This makes for some shaky balance when compared to classes with more traditional mechanics, but one cannot deny the originality of the class’ workings.
He recently added a summoning path, which increases its Tier from where I previously put it to Tier 3, though it yet depends on what he is going to put up for his summons, as from what I’ve heard of his ideas the Primal Chain summons are supposed to be Solar-powered. Capital.
Next up: the Spellguide
. The Spellguide works by building up ‘stacks’ of layer upon layer of magic on allies and enemies, before using up these stacks to unleash magic effects on them. In a way, this makes its mechanics similar to the Gaoler’s, except it is much more focused on the effects of its stacks and being a support class overall. This makes the class more passive than most classes, but more active than a lot of other support classes, due to the management of the stacks. However, the downside of this is that stack management can be hard to keep track of, at least at first. The balance of the Beacons is questionable, mainly due to the linear progression, which at 4 stacks each can become quite much. I myself find the half-bonuses some Beacons grant needless headaches, but YMMV. The Spellguide’s Flows, which is the name for its version of Invocations, basically, are mostly improvements upon earlier-levels ones once you get to higher levels, making them mostly pretty uninteresting, whereas the unique ones amongst the Storm Flows are crazy powerful and pretty gamebreaking, making the class hard to Tier, though I’m pretty sure it falls outside of Tier 3.
Lastly, there’s the Improviser
. A class that is basically McGyver.
Except this McGyver can fly as if he were Spider-Man. Shut up, Spider-Man can fly!
The gold bag cap remains overall pretty low, which means that someone who could somehow craft shapesand that only works for themselves would be able to out-perform one of the features of this class for a measly 100 gp. Its main feature though, is its Improvisational Skills. These are a few lists of abilities it can cherry pick across its levels to become someone who might be an incarnation of Link, except there’s also crowbars for Morgan Freeman, poisons for your evil Batman-style assassins, and caltrops. One of the Hookshot’s earliest abilities basically allows flight while nearby a sufficiently tall wall, while the Rope path allows ranged grappling while using your Int modifier, allowing for some controlling maneuvers. Hammer Time turns you into Thor, minus lightning (unless you get an appropriate magic weapon, maybe). The martial maneuvers may be the hardest to balance against the other paths, considering it gives something entirely different and a little more as well, with the intention of making it more competitive with other martial adepts, which might be a little out of its style, but it’s limited to a discipline that does quite fit the class. The poison path makes them viable by increasing your gold cap immensely for poisons alone, which is helpful, and it keeps poisons viable for longer by more DC increases, though that may also make them too powerful (sadly, I’m no expert on poisons, but considering how many there are in official sources, I wouldn’t be surprised if this were abuseable). Likewise, he makes caltrops more viable with its path, but one should be wary to not focus too much on this path, as caltrops are highly limited, even though they can get quite a lot better with this path. At higher levels you’ll be encountering more flying foes and caltrops will become practically useless.
EDIT EXTRA: One thing I forgot to mention earlier is the use of improvised weapons. From his personal explanations, I know WaylanderX means for this to only apply to objects that aren't normally weapons (which still can pose a problem for clubs and quarterstaves), but this wasn't entirely clear to me from its actual description, which almost makes it seem like the Improviser is proficient with everything, which is just plain too much, especially when you look at all the awesome exotic weapons. The explanation given is also somewhat weak, because then you get to the point of "if he's proficient with all improvised weapons, why not with a lot of normal weapons, too?"
As a final extra, outside of WaylanderX’ classes, I took a look at his martial discipline: Escalating Chain
. The name clearly is derived from the same idea as the Chains of the Gaoler of Frostflame, as it has several maneuvers that can only be used after another maneuver earlier in the encounter, some maneuvers even requiring the use of two maneuvers before it can be initiated. These maneuvers are much more powerful than other maneuvers of their level, similar to the Mid, End and Primal Chains of the Gaoler. This proves to be rather inventive, but due to their wording, if you have ways to gain more actions, you can abuse this discipline and quickly get off the Finishing strikes, thus dealing tons of damage, ultimately making the discipline rather badly balanced.
Ultimately, I can assuredly say that WaylanderX certainly is creative with mechanics*, but really needs to beware that the balance is not endangered. Of course, I’d like to say that he’d better worry about creativity first and balance later, since otherwise you end up nipping great ideas in the bud, but the end result is what counts the most!
*You’re also kind of bad with names, bro. But you already knew that. :P