If you hadn't noticed, I like making bloodlines
. The problem is, not many people know what they are or how to use them. I frequently get asked "Is this some sort of super-weak class?" or "What exactly is this?" and similar things. So I'm going to explain them.
WHAT IN THE NINE HELLS IS A BLOODLINE?
A (Not so?) Brief Introduction
is the basis. The concept was originally given in Unearthed Arcana (That one book with tons of variant rules) as a way to give characters with supernatural heritages a way to progressively gain powers instead of having them dumped on them at level one. And with LA races, often the benefits gained mean very little by level 20 because said benefits had to be balanced for level 1 play. And that LA hurts. Well Bloodlines allow the character to gain continual benefits that are hopefully balanced for the level of the character in return for an increasing LA (Technically it's not a standard LA, but I'll get to that in a bit).
Problem is: They failed. Well, that's my opinion at least. The bloodlines given (those on the SRD page are the same as those in the book) tend to be uninteresting, unoriginal, unflavorful, lacking fluff and generally not powerful enough for most players to seriously consider their use in a build. What's the first rule of homebrewing and creating additional material? "If you can't imagine someone not wanting to use it, it's too powerful. If you can't imagine someone wanting
too use it, it's not powerful enough". I know the SRD generally lacks much of the fluff given in books, but there was almost no
fluff in the book in the first place (that that was there is included on the SRD page).
So no one used them. I haven't once heard of any group that actively used bloodlines or even considered their use. This may be somewhat due to the fact that not people know what a bloodline is
(The problem which I am attempting to remedy) though certainly those that have UA must know that they're out there. They're just not good enough to use.
Bloodlines had amazing potential. It fit fantastically with standard fantasy fiction stories where characters slowly develop their innate talents as they progress down their chosen path. And in UA Bloodlines simply didn't get the attention they deserved. And so they sat there, unused, in the first pages of a none-too-popular supplement book.
Well, as you may know, I'm a homebrewer. When I think of something that I'd like to see in a game and can't think of a way to do that with what's currently available, I go off and homebrew something to make it work. I often get inspiration from books. It was some time ago that I read the Percy Jackson series, which focuses on the life of a Half-Blood, a son of Poseidon. As he ages and learns skills, his heritage slowly grows and he gains new powers. "Hey, it'd be pretty neat to play a character descended from a god. They're all over the place in fiction. Seriously, look at the old Greek Mythology. I should make something for it. Hey, didn't I have a book that described bloodlines? Something about powers progressing as a character levels? That'd be perfect!" *Runs and grabs book* *Begins Homebrewing* *Makes This
And that's how I got into the Bloodline business. As you can see, mine are a deal more powerful than those given in the original system. I've even made attempts to rewrite some of the originals and plan to do so for more. For a Major Bloodline you're giving up the HP, BAB, Saves and Class Features for your last 3 levels. That's often the best stuff. So whatever you get from the bloodline better be worth it
. And that's what I've tried to do.
Since I'm just about the only one that makes bloodlines, no one had taken some of the juiciest stuff (I don't think
anyone else makes them, anyways. Except for that one guy with the Drow line). So after the success of my Half Blood I made the Magyk-Touched
and later many
, many more
What exactly is a Bloodline?
A Bloodline is a mechanical add-on to a character that represents some sort of interesting background that is neither a class nor a race. Any character with levels may have a bloodline. Bloodlines must be decided at level 1 (Unless you're having one Grafted
on, of course... (See feats at bottom)) and give progressive benefits at the levels listed.
There are three degrees of Bloodline: Minor, Intermediate and Major. These represent the varying strengths of the supernatural gifts passed on from whatever caused them to have their powers (Note that I don't specify that they got their powers from a parent. Though they're called "Bloodlines" they work just as well for a number of other things. Like having monster parts grafted to you when you were a baby
). The children of most individuals possessing a bloodline inherit the same bloodline, usually of the same level if not one down. There are of course exceptions based on the exact line (For example, the Hero-Born
bloodline often skips generations or occurs randomly). Characters with a Minor Bloodline gain a benefit at fourth level and every four levels thereafter, up to level 20. Those with Intermediate gain benefits at 2nd and every two thereafter and those with Major Bloodlines gain something every level
"So why wouldn't I want a Major Bloodline?" you may ask. Well the answer is simple: A weird pseudo-LA that is snuck in throughout your character's progression. When a character with a Minor Bloodline would level up to level twelve, they don't. Well, they kinda do. They get a "Bloodline Level". I put this in class form below.
Skill points at each level:
None. (Not even Int. None.)
d0 (Do not add Con to health for this level. This still counts as an HD though.)
"I'm Really a Level!":
| "I'm Really a Level!"|
| "I'm Really a Level!"|
| "I'm Really a Level!"|
Levels in Bloodline stack with levels in all other class for the purpose of determining level-dependent effects, such as the amount of damage dealt by a Paladin's Smite or the Caster Level of a Wizard's spells. As this is still a level, it counts normally towards the acquisition of feats and ability score boosts as well as maximum skill ranks.
See, it's not just an LA. It's like a Dire LA. Anywho...
Characters with a Minor Bloodline should take a level of Bloodline before or for their 12th level. Those with Intermediate Bloodlines should take Bloodline levels for or before their 6th and 12th levels. Those with Major Bloodlines should take Bloodline Levels for or before 3rd, 6th and 12th. Individuals possessing Bloodlines may opt not
to take Bloodline levels before or at the appointed level, but if they choose to do so they cease obtaining features of their Bloodline and incur a 20% penalty on any XP gotten until the Bloodline Level is taken. So a 5th level Wizard with an Intermediate Bloodline leveling up would take their first Bloodline Level, causing their CL to increase, but not their spells per day. When they next leveled (to level seven) they likely would choose to take their 6th level in Wizard, resulting in them having the spells per day of a Level 6 Wizard and a CL of 7. Bloodline characters may, at their option, choose to take Bloodline levels prior to the appointed levels in order to gain the benefit of it stacking with all other class levels for purposes of level-based abilities. Can be handy in multiclassing. You shouldn't do this 1st level though. You can only take one bloodline level if you have a Minor bloodline, two if you have an Intermediate and three if you have a Major.
Under normal conditions you can only have one Bloodline at a time. But everyone knows that in D&D everything can mix with everything. So for your convenience I made this
. The only real combination not in that is One Intermediate, One Minor. Because it'd be weird.
How to make a Bloodline
"Well neat-o, Mister Welknair! I'm going to start using your amazing stuff in my game! I think I'll play a Kitten-Friend
"... That may not be the best
idea. Especially if your DM is running a serious campaign. Anyways Jimmy, isn't there something that you should also consider?"
"Well what could that be, Mister? Playing an Akodrin
and driving my party insane?"
"No, no, no. I'm referring of course to
You can make your own Bloodlines! It's not difficult at all! In fact you can do it in a few simple steps!"
Bloodlines always follow a set pattern. Which is... Skill +2, Special Ability, Ability +1, Special Ability, Affinity +2, Special Ability. Repeat as needed. It's not too difficult to come up with the Skills and Abilities for a bloodline. Just go with whatever seems thematic or most useful to the type of character you envision using the bloodline. Remember that you cannot use the same skill or ability score twice. The Affinity is a scaling bonus on interaction checks with... something. Usually it has to do with whatever the parent was (Celestial Tied gain bonuses when dealing with Angels, Dragon Descended when dealing with Dragons), though there are some exceptions. Again, go with whatever makes sense. The real meat and potatoes of the bloodline is the Special Abilities. These can be about anything. Bonus feats are easy choices, but it's much better to go with things along the lines of Class Features. Level based abilities should scale differently depending upon the magnitude of the bloodline (If you'd normally gain access to Augments as an Ozodrin of 1/2 your level when you have a Major Bloodline, it's as an Ozodrin of 1/4 your level for an Intermediate Bloodline or 1/8 for a Minor). This will likely differ depending upon how you choose to balance things. And really doesn't matter if you're not basing the bloodline off of a class, as I've done
a couple of times.
And so the steps are:
1. Come up with an idea. This can be just about anything. The big criteria is that is has to be something that progresses naturally as the character advances, likely without them consciously making an effort to do so.
2. Decide the Skills and Abilities and put them in order.
3. Determine what the Affinity applies to. Write fluff for the Affinity. Doesn't have to be much.
4. Make the Special Abilities. These should be powerful enough to be useful, but not to the point of overshadowing the character's class. They should be flavorful and fitting given the bloodline in question. Don't forget the fluff for each.
5. Type that baby up! The Minor and Intermediate Bloodlines are derived from the Major one. You could hypothetically make Intermediate or Minor ones, but it's much better to make Major Bloodlines and give people the option of choosing or restricting choices to the lower levels.
Here is the formatting that I use:
[table=head] [b]Level[/b] | [center][b]Minor[/b][/center] | [center][b]Intermediate[/b][/center] | [center][b]Major[/b][/center]
1 | | |
2 | | |
3 | | |
4 | | |
5 | | |
6 | | |
7 | | |
8 | | |
9 | | |
10 | | |
11 | | |
12 | | |
13 | | |
14 | | |
15 | | |
16 | | |
17 | | |
18 | | |
19 | | |
20 | | |
And here is the arrangement of the bonuses:
| Level || |
|1 || || || Skill 1 +2|
|2 || || Skill 1 +2 || Special Ability 1|
|3 || || || Ability Score 1 +1|
|4 || Skill 1 +2 || Special Ability 1 || Special Ability 2|
|5 || || || Affinity +2|
|6 || || Ability Score 1 +1 || Special Ability 3|
|7 || || || Skill 2 +2|
|8 || Special Ability 1 || Special Ability 2 || Special Ability 4|
|9 || || || Ability 2 +2|
|10 || || Affinity +2 || Special Ability 5|
|11 || || || Affinity +4|
|12 || Ability 1 +1 || Special Ability 3 || Special Ability 6|
|13 || || || Skill 3 +2|
|14 || || Skill 2 +2 || Special Ability 7|
|15 || || || Ability 3 +1|
|16 || Special Ability 2 || Special Ability 4 || Special Ability 8|
|17 || || || Affinity +6|
|18 || || Ability 2 +1 || Special Ability 9|
|19 || || || Skill 4 +2|
|20 || Affinity +2 || Special Ability 5 || Special Ability 10|
As you can see, the Minor and Intermediate lines are just the first 5 and 10 levels of the Major line. So all you really need to do is make the Major line and go through the trouble of typing out the other two.
And remember - presentation is important. Adding a nice picture and having proper formatting go a long ways towards a nice piece of homebrewing.
Ever wanted to be the descendant of Death Himself? Well sorry, I don't have a bloodline for that (yet?). Go make one.
I hope that this guide and explanation will be useful in enlightening people about the wonder of bloodlines. Bloodlines are a remarkably adaptable concept that can be used to illustrate all manner of character backgrounds from being Chosen by the Far Realms
to descended from Titans
. These lines can be used for adding a dash of flavor to an otherwise run-of-the-mill character (Can you say Bladechild Barbarian?). They are diverse and powerful. Why not try one out on your next character?
I must reiterate: I did not come up with the idea of bloodlines. That was all Monte Cook in Unearthed Arcana. That is where the rules for this amazing system were given. I just nabbed onto an interesting concept and ran with it. AGAIN: THIS IS NOT MY WORK! This is my attempt to explain something that most people don't fully understand. The bloodlines that I've linked to, on the other hand are entirely my work. MINE.
I believe that there is an alternate interpretation of how Bloodline Levels work. Something about Replacing vs. Delaying. I don't know a terrible lot about that argument. I think
my above explanation is the Delaying method. The other interpretation is likely perfectly valid. Sorry for being uneducated in this matter.
I would like to thank Bagel for this particularly wonderful explanation of the Replacement system. We're still not 100% sure if it's correct, but it seems alright.
Originally Posted by Bagel
The character is still required to take a level of bloodline within the designated time as per the original rules. After they take this level this level is included in their ECL as described in the guide. However, instead of gaining the next level after the bloodline, they will "re-level" the bloodline level they obtained. This level then replaces the bloodline level. Effectively the character must obtain enough experience to gain the level twice.
Example: Crimson the Warlock has a Red Dragon bloodline, when he gains enough experience he acquires a level of Bloodline for his 12th level. He is effectively ECL 12. He then must gain enough experience equal to the difference between level 11 and 12 to effectively gain a 12th level in Warlock that then replaces the bloodline level. When the warlock level replaces the bloodline level he is still a ECL 12 character until he gains enough experience to become level 13. He retains his bloodline abilities as is able to continue to gain new ones as per the original rules.
I am also aware that Sorcerers in PF have "Bloodlines". These and those are entirely different. Seriously. The PF Sorcerer's Bloodlines are class features
, for Boccob's sake. These are independent of class. Also note the little "3.5e" in the title. Now stop mixing the two up.
There are a couple of balance options available to DMs wishing to use bloodlines (whether they be my own or those given in UA). One option is to say that all the PCs have Bloodlines and ignore the odd pseudo-LA thing. This leads to a slightly more high-powered game. Especially when using Major Bloodlines. Think "Gestalt Lite". The second option is at the opposite end of the spectrum. If you think the bloodlines are too strong you can instead choose to turn the pseudo-LA into full-blown LA. This means no HD increase, no level-based-effect increases, doesn't count towards feats and ability score boosts and doesn't increase max skill ranks. Admittedly that's not a huge penalty given what it was at before, but it's still something. A less drastic option for reducing their power is to limit the Bloodline Levels' stacking effects to a single class, thus reducing their ability to be abused by multiclassers.
Another interesting idea is that of giving creatures Bloodlines. In such a case, treat them as a character with a number of levels equal to the creature's HD. Glamerkin Displacer Beast? Titankith Ogre? Dragon Descendant Gelatinous Cube? Yeah. You can have those now.
Oh and never let your players use this
Additionally I'll be keeping a list here of Bloodlines I'm planning on making. (Those that I have already made are available in my extended signature).
Eh, whatever. Taking requests again, but as you can see the list is quite long. I will be making things as inspiration strikes me. Give me a particularly interesting idea and I'm more likely to make it.
If you are requesting a Bloodline based on a class, there are a couple of requirements. Namely, it must be a Base Class and be centered around a unique magic system. See the Name Given
, Blade Child
, Emergent Atrocity
, Chosen of the Far Realms
, Kitten Friend
, or Tinkerer
All Bloodlines that I've made can easily be found in my Extended Signature