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    Barbarian MD's Avatar

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    Default My take on the Hellfire Warlock (PEACH)

    So here's my take on the Hellfire Warlock

    Why the Hellfire Warlock needed an update
    It is my opinion that the Hellfire Warlock does not do what it tries to do. The concept of the class is to provide a big bonus to power, very quickly, in exchange for your vital essence. It's a big bonus early on, to be sure, but because it is a static increase, it doesn't help the warlock compete any better at higher levels.

    In many builds and campaigns, the Con damage is mitigated anyway by either the vestige Naberius or the soulmeld Strongheart Vest. So, for the cost of a dip in Binder or an Incarnum feat, you get +6d6 to damage. Mechanically nice? Sure. Flavorful? Not really.

    Coupled with that, people realize that the damage provided by Hellfire Warlock isn't all that great at higher levels, and a lot of CharOp cheese has come out. Through the use of Bloodlines, Uncanny Trickster, and Legacy Champion, people try to advance Hellfire Warlock past its original three levels, gaining +2d6 to their Hellfire Blast over the course of 10 levels. In the end, if this type of nonsense is allowed, you get a warlock dealing 30d6 damage with only 1 Con damage.

    What I've tried to do
    What I've attempted to do with this build is to address some of those changes. I've officially recognized the use of Naberius or Strongheart Vest, but I've put limits on how much Con damage it mitigates per round. In addition, you'll see below that I've created (with help from others) a mechanic that rewards players who choose to not negate the Con damage. In terms of fluff, one might think of it as the dark power within growing stronger over time through the sacrifice of a player's health, which allows the dark power to better empower the Warlock's eldritch blasts.

    A Summary of the changes
    • The entry level has been reduced to 6, rather than 10. This was an attempt to recognize that low level warlocks might greedily enter into a pact with a dark force to gain power, Faust-style.
    • Hellfire has been changed to a Blast Essence. So you can't have a Vitriolic Hellfire Blast.
    • Instead of providing a static increase to damage, which doesn't scale very well, we instead use modifiers to your existing Eldritch Blast.
    • There is an incentive to not mitigate the Constitution damage by scaling the bonus damage to the damage that you're currently experiencing. So while you can legally use Naberius or a Strongheart Vest to mitigate it, you'll be limiting the full benefits of the class.
    • The capstone is an Eldritch Blast Essence that bypasses SR. Vitriolic Blast does the same thing, but Acid Immunity negates the damage. This truly bypasses SR and resistances.
    • Because the damage is advanced based on your Con damage, rather than a static increase by level, Bloodline/Legacy Champion cheese provides no benefit, aside from continuing to increase your invoker level. So you're better off returning to Warlock after taking Hellfire Warlock 5.


    I'd love to hear your thoughts, particularly about balance and flavor. I'd also be particularly interested in people's opinions on ways that this might be abused, and whether it would be dangerous to allow this in combination with Eldritch Glaive. The answer is yes. Eldritch Glaive is going to be specifically prohibited from using a Hellfire Blast.

    Here's the latest iteration of this homebrew.

    Hellfire Warlock

    Entry requirements:
    Skills: Intimidate 6 ranks, Knowledge (the planes) 8 ranks, Spellcraft 6 ranks.
    Language: Infernal.
    Warlock Invocation: Must know brimstone blast or hellrime blast.

    {table]Level|Special|Invoking
    1|Hellfire Blast, Fire Resistance 5|+1 level of existing invoking class
    2|Hellfire Infusion, Fire Resistance 10|+1 level of existing invoking class
    3|Hellfire Shield, Fire Resistance 20|+1 level of existing invoking class
    4|Quick Burn, Immunity to Fire|+1 level of existing invoking class
    5|Devastating Hellfire|+1 level of existing invoking class[/table]

    Hellfire Blast (Sp): This is an Eldritch Blast Essence that you may apply to your eldritch blast. A hellfire blast deals your normal eldritch blast damage multipled by X (see chart below). If your blast hits multiple targets (for example, the eldritch chain or eldritch cone blast shape invocations), each target takes the extra damage. This damage is not fire damage. Hellfire burns hotter than any normal fire, as described in the sidebar on page 119. You may not apply any other Blast Essence to an Eldritch Blast with the Hellfire Essence applied.

    In addition, you may not combine an Eldritch Glaive and a Hellfire Blast. A Hellfire Warlock may use one, or the other, but not both in the same round.

    Each time you use this ability, you take 1 point of Constitution damage. Because the diabolical forces behind the power of hellfire demand part of your essence in exchange for this granted power, if you do not have a Constitution score or are somehow immune to Constitution damage, you cannot use this ability. Soulmelds and Vestiges are legal ways in which to heal the Constitution damage. However, only 1 point of Constitution damage elicited by using Hellfire can be mitigated each round. Even if you pump 2 essentia points into a Strongheart Vest, it will still only mitigate 1 point per round.

    Your Hellfire Pool equals the number of Constitution damage you are currently suffering from due to usage of Hellfire. In case it's not clear, you start at 0 damage, fire a Hellfire Blast for x2 damage, and take 1 Con damage, giving you a Hellfire Pool total of 1. You don't actually get to fire a x2 Blast for 0 Con damage.
    {table]Hellfire Pool|Extra Hellfire Damage
    0|x2
    2|x4
    4|x6
    6|x8
    8|x10[/table]

    Hellfire Infusion (Su): Starting at 2nd level, you can infuse magic items that you wield with the power of hellfire. Whenever you use a charged magic item (such as a wand or a staff), you can apply one of the following metamagic effects to your next use of the item: empower, enlarge, widen, or energy substitution. These effects work just like the metamagic feats of the same name (the Energy Substitution feat is described on page 79 of Complete Arcane). Using hellfire infusion is a swift action. You can use this ability a number of times per day equal to your Charisma modifier (minimum one). When you infuse an item with hellfire, it glows briefly with fiery symbols that are disturbing to look upon.

    Hellfire Shield (Sp): Starting at 3rd level, you can call up hellfire to avenge yourself on your foes. Whenever someone directs a melee attack against you, you can, as an immediate action, cause Hellfire to leap from your body, striking that creature through their weapon. This blast deals damage equal to your eldritch blast (including bonus damage from the hellfire blast ability). This blast automatically strikes the target, which can attempt a Reflex saving throw for half damage (DC 10 + 1/2 your character level + your Cha modifier). This counts toward your allowed number of attacks of opportunity for this round, and cannot be used twice in the same round against the same creature (so you get one attack against Bob the Barbarian, as he full attacks you for three iterative attacks).

    Each time you use this ability, you take 1 point of Constitution damage. Because the diabolical forces behind the power of hellfire demand part of your essence in exchange for this granted power, if you do not have a Constitution score or are somehow immune to Constitution damage, you cannot use this ability. Soulmelds and Vestiges are legal ways in which to heal the Constitution damage. However, only 1 point of Constitution damage elicited by using Hellfire can be healed each round.

    Immunity to Fire (Ex): At 4th level, you become immune to fire damage.

    Quick Burn (Sp): At 4th level, you may, rather than slowly working your way up the damage table, instead immediately skip to a higher damage tier. However, you pay the full Constitution damage price to reach it, and 1/2 of that Constitution damage takes the form of Constitution Drain.

    Devastating Hellfire (Sp): At 5th level, any time you apply your Hellfire Blast Essence, it becomes Devastating Hellfire. Your Hellfire Blast gains many of the benefits of a Supernatural, rather than Spell-Like ability. It bypasses SR, cannot be dispelled or counterspelled, and cannot be disrupted. If your ranged attacks normally provoke attacks of opportunity, so does your Eldritch Blast, but the act of invoking a Hellfire Blast itself does not provoke an AoO. Your Hellfire Blast is still a SLA, however, which means that you may still apply metamagic-SLA feats to it.
    Last edited by Barbarian MD; 2010-02-18 at 09:20 PM.
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    Firbolg in the Playground
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    Default Re: My take on the Hellfire Warlock (PEACH)

    I can see two ways to think about this:
    1) This is very very overpowered. A single level dip plus one feat for Strongheart Vest gets you doubled Eldritch Blast damage with no drawback beyond not being able to use Essences, and a relatively minor sacrifice can boost that a lot more.
    2) This is a patch for the severely underpowered Warlock.

    Under the first one, you need to tone it down. A lot. Under the second one, it would be better to fix Warlock directly. Either way it doesn't work well, unless you intend for pretty much every Warlock in existence to take this class.
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    Default Re: My take on the Hellfire Warlock (PEACH)

    Would you say that it needs to advance damage more slowly (one of the questions that wasn't answered in the WIP thread)?

    Would it be enough to say:
    {table]Hellfire Pool|Extra Damage
    1|x1.5
    3|x2
    5|x3
    7|x5[/table]

    One perhaps mitigating factor--if you only take the one level, you miss out on the ability to bypass SR. Vitriolic Blast can't be added to a Hellfire Blast, and therefore anybody with SR is going to completely negate your ability to hit them with a Hellfire Blast until you take all five levels.

    Or, another option that was suggested would be to limit how high you can get your pool, based on your levels in Hellfire Warlock. You wouldn't be able to invest 8 Con until level 5.
    Last edited by Barbarian MD; 2010-02-18 at 05:12 PM.
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    Default Re: My take on the Hellfire Warlock (PEACH)

    Wow I really like this class fix! It really ties down the idea of sacrificing life force for more power.

    However douglas does have a good point. Hmmm......

    I think we should have a requirement of at least 1 Con damage. That way there will at least be some cost for the extra power. The power caps by level could be a good idea, but I don't think that's what douglas was addressing.

    Besides from that, I don't think the progression needs changing. Simply change to 0 to a 1 and I think it works fine.

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    Default Re: My take on the Hellfire Warlock (PEACH)

    To help people see what this would look like in action:

    Let's take a 12 level warlock.
    He does 6d6 damage.

    Normal Hellfire Warlock = 6d6+6d6 = 12d6 = 42 damage per round
    Hellfire Warlock 2.0 = 6d6*2 = 12d6= 42 damage per round

    If 12 level Warlock takes 8 Con damage...

    He will take 48 damage to himself. Warlocks are d8, so maximized he's got around 120 HP. So that's 1/3 of his HP.

    He will deal 6d6*10 = 60d6 = 210 damage per round.

    As this relates to my current campaign
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    210 damage doesn't seem overpowering, compared to the 600 that Kelurn just did, and the 300 that Kyrill did last round...

    Granted, when you maximize it (which you can do 3x/day with the proper feat, you'd do 420 damage).


    And to clarify the Hellfire Pool concept:
    Every time you use a Hellfire ability (blast, shield) you take 1 Con damage. You may start at 0, fire off a x2 blast, and wind up with 1 Con. You may then have Naberius heal you. For a level 12 Hellfire Warlock, this is exactly the same thing as the Standard Hellfire Warlock.

    What is different is this:
    Round 1) Hellfire Blast x2. Take 1 Con damage. Don't let Naberius heal it.
    Round 2) Hellfire Blast x2. Take 1 MORE Con damage. Don't let Naberius heal it. Total: -2.
    Round 3) Hellfire Blast x4. Take 1 MORE Con damage. Let Naberius heal it. Total at end of round: -2.
    Round 4) Hellfire Blast x4. Take 1 MORE Con damage. Let Naberius heal it. Total at end of round: -2.


    If you want to start it at 1, rather than the 0 I originally designed, it would look like this:
    Round 1) Hellfire Blast with no bonus damage. -1 Con. Don't let Naberius heal.
    Round 2) Hellfire Blast x2. -1 Con. Don't let Naberius heal.

    So with the change you're suggesting, you'd need a "warm-up" round before being able to gain any benefit from the Hellfire Blast.
    Last edited by Barbarian MD; 2010-02-18 at 06:46 PM.
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    Firbolg in the Playground
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    Default Re: My take on the Hellfire Warlock (PEACH)

    I agree the end result is not particularly overpowered by itself, at least in the context of our current campaign, but it is very much overpowered compared to the default of straight Warlock. Also, if you're going to be comparing it to Kelurn and Kyrill you should at least put a tiny bit of effort into some basic optimization first. Assume Eldritch Glaive, full BAB due to gestalt, and a Greater Chasuble of Fell Power at the very least.

    So, with those assumptions your normal level 12 Warlock/Hellfire Warlock would do 6d6 base + 6d6 hellfire + 2d6 chasuble, *4 for a full attack with Haste = 56d6 = 196 average per round. Not bad for attacking touch AC.

    With your version as is and using only the lowest level of con damage, it's 6d6 base + 2d6 chasuble, *2 hellfire = 16d6, *4 full attack with Haste = 64d6 = 224 damage per round. Get it to the 2 con damage threshold and it doubles to 448 damage per round. This is, btw, attacking touch AC and without spending 18 rounds building up Blood in the Water to a +22 bonus or buffed with +7 Inspire Courage.

    448 damage per round against touch AC with the whole other side of your gestalt left to help you get in position with a full round action still available strikes me as plenty to be competitive as a damage dealer in the Watchtower campaign, and this class as presented right now has the potential to go a lot further than that.

    Here's what I would recommend: First, fix Warlock. If you view it as primarily a damage-dealing archer type with a few tricks, which seems quite reasonable to me, remove Eldritch Glaive and rule that Eldritch Blast can be used in a full attack by default, perhaps even with different shapes and essences for each attack within the same full attack. That should bring the base Warlock class's damage potential reasonably up to par. I don't think I'd allow two-weapon fighting with it, though. Second, change the focus of Hellfire Warlock away from dealing huge amounts of extra damage. Some extra damage, sure, but it should not be far and away superior to a normal Warlock in that regard, especially if you explicitly allow and encourage negating the "cost" so easily.
    Last edited by douglas; 2010-02-18 at 09:10 PM.
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    Default Re: My take on the Hellfire Warlock (PEACH)

    That's why I asked about Eldritch Glaive up at the top--I'm completely unfamiliar with it (and won't be using it in our campaign, if you're worried). In designing this, I wasn't considering the ability to use this more than once per round--that's why I thought damage needed such a boost.

    Yes, I agree 100%. If Eldritch Glaive is allowed in conjunction with this, it gets really ugly, really fast. I just added a line specifically prohibiting the use of a Hellfire Eldritch Glaive. It's in red.

    As to iterative attacks with the base Warlock, I like it. Perhaps another thread for that homebrew, then. But not tonight. I'm going to bed.
    Last edited by Barbarian MD; 2010-02-18 at 09:21 PM.
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    Firbolg in the Playground
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    Default Re: My take on the Hellfire Warlock (PEACH)

    Eldritch Glaive is a Blast Shape that turns your Eldritch Blast into a touch-attacking glaive that you can full attack with. "Full attack" is the important part of that, in case you couldn't tell. It is one of the most important parts of almost any damage based Warlock build. Without it, a Warlock's damage output is very difficult to raise out of the "pathetic" range, with the most extreme Hellfire Warlock cheese merely raising it to "adequate - maybe". With it, a Warlock's damage output starts out somewhat reasonable and can be boosted to extreme levels with cheesed out Hellfire Warlock and other tricks.

    As I see it, there are two main problems here:
    1) Warlock is too weak.
    2) A PrC should not be so superior to the obvious base class entry that taking it is almost automatic for everyone who cares about character power.

    1 can be mostly fixed by taking Eldritch Glaive's full attack bonus and making it a default part of Eldritch Blast. 2 will require some pretty drastic nerfs to what you've got right now in order to fix. What you've got right now for Hellfire Warlock 2.0 is so vastly superior to normal Warlock that it really is a no-brainer that every non-moronic Warlock optimizer will take.

    Edit: Prohibiting the combination of Hellfire Blast and Eldritch Glaive is a very obvious "for balance only" kludge and does not fix the base problem. Eldritch Glaive or not, the bonuses from this class are so huge that it's a ridiculously obvious choice for every Warlock build ever, pretty much.
    Last edited by douglas; 2010-02-18 at 09:35 PM.
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