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Thread: [5e] Don Jentleman's Homebrew Thread

  1. #1

    Default [5e] Don Jentleman's Homebrew Thread

    If anyone has seen me in the forums, you would know that I frequent alot of 5e games, both on and off site. I've been playing for quite some time, and I've noticed that for the most part, homebrew for 5e is either ridiculously overpowered or downright weird. There isn't much to gain from homebrew, aside from paid sources. I'd like to start throwing a few sources into the mix, made by yours truly. I'll be starting off with a couple of old homebrews I made that still feel relevant and usable, and work on a couple more that I have, but could use some better balance. I'll also look into reviewing some popular homebrews from others, and point out what works about them and what doesn't. If you have any suggestions for homebrew to review, homebrew to make, or just any comments in general, I'd be happy to hear them!

    First up, a variation on a rather polarized race: humans. Oddly enough, humans either suffer greatly in 5e or flourish far too much, depending on which version of them you plan on using. The original humans rarely see use unless you roll for stats and get practically all odd numbers for your rolls. Meanwhile, variant humans are picked constantly in low level games due to their bonus feat, which gives them a great power spike above all other races at levels 1-3. Being able to jump start a heavy weapon build, a polearm build, or a ranged build with the proper feat is extremely strong, and often breaks low leveled encounters. I hope to address the weakness of the former and the strength of the later in one, consolidated race.



    The wide range of racial traits at the disposal of the human represents their potential and varied natures, while ditching the power spike gained from having a bonus feat in this system. An ability score increase comparable to half-elf's increases gives them a similar feel to the race they help progenate, but still gives them superior flexibility (at the cost of not having darkvision and one less skill proficiency). Paragon is a nod to the original human bonuses, and allows players to play a slightly buffed human when compared to the original version without having to resort to feats.

    Madness Domain (Cleric)

    Madness Domain Spells

    Cleric Level Spells
    1st Arms of Hadar, Dissonant Whispers
    3rd Crown of Madness, Phantasmal Force
    5th Hunger of Hadar, Fear
    7th Evard’s Black Tentacles, Phantasmal Killer
    9th Contagion, Dream


    Bonus Cantrip
    When you choose this domain at 1st level, you gain the Vicious Mockery cantrip, and it counts as a cleric cantrip for you.

    Corrupted Knowledge
    Also at 1st level, you gain proficiency in 1 Intelligence-based skill of your choice. You may double your proficiency modifier and add your Wisdom Modifier instead of Intelligence whenever you make an ability check with that skill, but if you roll a Natural 1 on the check, you babble incoherently and have disadvantage on Intelligence checks for 1 minute. You cannot use this feature while you are babbling incoherently.

    Channel Divinity: Maddening Fog
    Starting at level 2, you can use your Channel Divinity to cloud a creature’s mind with visions of madness. When you force a creature to make an Intelligence, Wisdom, or Charisma saving throw, you can use a bonus action to force them to make that save at disadvantage.

    Channel Divinity: Twisted Magic
    Starting at level 6, you can use your Channel Divinity to warp a spellcaster’s ability to cast magic. Whenever a creature attempts to cast a spell that you can see (and hear if it has verbal components), you can use a reaction and force them to make an Intelligence saving throw. On a failed save, for a number of rounds equal to your Wisdom modifier (minimum 1), the creature must make a concentration check every time they cast a spell or try to maintain concentration.

    Potent Spellcasting
    Starting at 8th level, you add your Wisdom modifier to the damage you deal with any cleric cantrip.

    All-Consuming Insanity
    Starting at level 17, nothing is safe from the endless depths of madness, not even physical planes of existence. Maddening Fog can now be used on any spell that forces a save. In addition, Maddening Fog can now be applied to multiple creatures affected by a single spell with a use of Channel Divinity.

    This domain strikes a similar parallel to the Great Old One Warlock Patron, boasting mind effecting spells and plenty of eldritch powers to command (minus Eldtrich Blast, that is). Forbidden knowledge and spreading madness are key points struck upon by this archetype, as well as a tool to combat other mages. By the time you reach level 17, you can affect vast swaths of enemies with your maddening spells, making you a prime debuffer in combat, in addition to the usual benefits of being a cleric.


  2. #2
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    I like the human variant you've presented here. Seems like a nice balance. I think people would continue to take the option with the feat, though, if you didn't take it away from them and force this one on them.

    The cleric domain seems fine mechanically and is very flavorful, but I personally prefer character options that don't push PCs toward evil alignments and/or loner, edgelord type characters. What sane party would want their cleric - the person they probably rely on for healing - to be devoted to a god of madness? Could the party ever really come to trust that the character will consistently act as part of the team and in their best interests?
    Last edited by Rellott; 10-08-2017 at 12:17 PM.


  3. #3

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    Thank you for the input, Rellott! I did intend for this human race to be a full replacement for regular human and variant human. I can imagine that if this was a choice between this human and variant human, variant human would still win out most of the time because of the feat, even though this human would have a much better stat distribution and possibly another racial trait. Just goes to show how valuable having another feat is in 5e. Maybe having 2 extra racial traits instead of one would seal the deal?

    As for your concerns about a Madness Domain cleric meshing well with a party, I will admit that a cleric would likely have to either be in a more evil party (like UA's Blackguard Paladin), or be more around a neutral mindset. I don't think its less viable for a cleric, especially since players like to play characters that are less mentally stable on average. It makes for a good reason to be out adventuring in the first place, and could lead to some fun RP moments. Of course, this depends alot on who is piloting the character in question, so this is very much a "DM Beware" scenario.

    In any case, I have plans for a shield based Fighter archetype and a warlock patron, so stay tuned!

  4. #4

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    Humans are in an odd spot this edition. Variant human is almost always a strong choice. Normal human is almost never. I think there's a strong argument to be made that the normal human is poorly designed and variant human is a bit of a clumsy hack to fix it. I think my concern with your fix is that, humans would still not be chosen very often. The biggest benefit that you're giving mechanically is choice, but all of the choices (except for the additional stat bump) can be gotten with extras by simply choosing a different race.

    For instance, choosing to play a wood elf rogue gives me the fleet of foot feature while also gaining darkvision, elf weapon training, mask of the wild, trance, and fey ancestry. Wood elf gets a free skill proficiency (they don't have a choice, but backgrounds can provide whatever skill you want so the big gain is the free proficiency not the choice).

    What mechanical reason would I choose a human over that?

    The same issue impacts each of your options since they're coming from the other races. The other races have so much more to grant that if that feature is what you want, it is almost always better to choose the other race.

    The only exception that I can think of offhand is that your human option would allow someone to boost Wisdom by +2 which doesn't exist in Core, but that seems like a slim thing to hang balance on.

    I think if you want to create a mechanically attractive human without offering a feat then you'll need to design something unique to them. I would have to actually sit down and play with the math, but a possible feature might be to interact with the proficiency bonus for humans to reflect their adaptability. Either give them +1 to their proficiency bonus across the board (which might be a little much since it touches on combat) or just for skills and tools. I don't know if that would be enough to balance them against the other races by itself, but it does have the benefit of being a new and unique design space which can make them compelling versus other races.

  5. #5
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    Default Don Jentleman's Homebrew Thread

    The other races get more features, but are not as customizable. Sure wood elf may give more features, but you’re locked in to +2 dex, +1 wis. There’s also this issue of campaign world racial availability. Almost all campaign world allow humans. Some campaign worlds disallow various races for world reasons. Wood elf might not be an option all the time.


  6. #6

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    Just as a general rule, I don't try to balance mechanics through roleplaying. That's created issues in other systems and past editions and allows the system to be gamed in odd ways. Strip the narrative and names away and focus on the mechanical bits. Does the flexibility of the human here offset the gains from other races? I don't think so and I wouldn't choose the option as presented over whichever PHB race the original feature is sourced from. To be fair, I don't think the standard PHB human meets that standard either.

    I do agree that the variant human is probably the strongest racial option due to feats (which only gets worse as more feats are introduced) and that another option is worth considering. I just don't think this option has enough meat to it to be chosen.

  7. #7

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    The point of the human race I am proposing is not for it to be stronger than Variant Human, because Variant Human is already (debatable) too strong. The developers likely realized this, and made it an optional feature to include along with feats. I want to be able to strike out variant human as a selectable option, but still have something in place that is better than the bog standard human. I think maybe it should have an extra selectable trait, and maybe the option to select more "exotic" traits at the cost of it being both of your traits, but otherwise I think it's fine as is.

    Since I promised more archetypes, here comes the next item on the list: the shield fighting Bastion, available to Fighters

    Bastion (Fighter)

    This archetype is only available to Fighters who have picked Defense, Protection, Two-Weapon Fighting, or Tunnel Fighter (UA Underdark) as their Fighting Style. If a feature forces a creature to take make a saving throw, the DC is 8+ your proficiency bonus + your Strength modifier.

    The Best Defense...
    Starting at 3rd level, you become proficient in making an attack with your shield. The shield is a 1-handed weapon that deals 1d6 bludgeoning damage, and you add your Strength modifier to the damage you deal with your shield. In addition, once per round, whenever you hit an enemy with your shield, it must make a Constitution save or it cannot make reactions until the end of its next turn.

    Shield Magister
    Starting at 7th Level, if you are wielding a magical shield, you gain a bonus to attack and damage rolls with your shield equal to the bonus AC granted by your shield. For example, a +1 shield would grant a +1 to attack and damage rolls when using it as a weapon.

    Improved Fighting Style
    At level 10, you gain an additional benefit from your chosen fighting style. If you have more than one fighting style that qualifies for this feature, choose only one of the benefits listed. These benefits only apply when wielding a shield.
    Defense. As a reaction against an incoming attack or spell that only targets you, you may grant yourself 3/4ths cover against that attack or spell.
    Protection. If an ally within 5ft of you is targeted by an effect that you can see that forces them to make a Dexterity save, you may use your reaction to grant them advantage on the saving throw.
    Two Weapon Fighting. If you deal damage with your shield bash and another weapon this turn, you deal additional damage equal to half your fighter level (rounded down).
    Tunnel Fighter. When you make an attack of opportunity while in your defensive stance, you may instead attempt to shove your opponent. You may do this once per enemy per round.

    … Is a Good Offense
    At 15th level, once per round when you hit an enemy with a shield bash, you may force the target to make a Constitution save or become Restrained until the end of it’s next turn.

    Superior Fighting Style
    At level 18, you master your defensive fighting style, and gain an additional benefit from your fighting style. Only the fighting style chosen for Improved Fighting Style benefits from this feature, and these benefits only apply when wielding a shield.
    Defense. When you activate your Second Wind ability, you gain resistance against all damage from attacks and spells that force dexterity saves until the beginning of your next turn.
    Protection. As an action, you may designate an ally within 5ft of you as a protected charge. Whenever that ally takes damage and you are standing within 5ft of them, you may grant that ally resistance against the incoming damage. You take the remainder of that damage, and it cannot be mitigated in any way. You cannot grant resistance if you are Blinded, Incapacitated, or Restrained. You may end this benefit as a free action
    Two Weapon Fighting. When you use an Action Surge to take an Attack action, you make make an addition attack.
    Tunnel Fighter. Whenever you attempt to shove an opponent, your Athletics check equals 10+ your proficiency modifier + your strength modifier or your roll, whichever is higher. In addition, you may attempt to shove an opponent two size categories larger than you.

    One of the things I am rather proud of in this archetype is the ability to improve your chosen fighting style. Fighting Styles are often more minor bonus that help improve a build rather than make it, but in this case, Improved and Superior Fighting Styles take these bonuses much farther than they normally would. Those who wield a shield can make their own cover, cover their allies from spells and even take damage for them, or deny enemy advances. Some might even trade this defense for offense, using their shield as an actual weapon. I do wonder if the Two Weapon Fighter Fighting style is a bit strong, but then I remember that Great Weapon Master exists, and can come in at level 4 very easily, whereas you have to wait until level 10 and hit with two separate attacks for +5 damage. I might add Duelist to the list, but I don't have any great ideas for it at the moment. I also wish I could have added in a way to implement shield throwing (likely as a 20/60 throwing weapon) and build off of that, but I feel like there are already a good amount of benefits to this archetype already, and I don't want to overload it with mechanics.

    Once again, I would love to hear more questions, comments, and concerns about my homebrew and the balance I am setting for each.

  8. #8
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    Default Don Jentleman's Homebrew Thread

    There are some places where you’d need to clean up/clarify some of your wording to be clearer, but I think I’m mostly able to understand the intent.
    I think what you’ve got listed as two weapon fighting improvements should probably be for the duelist instead. Make the first improvement basically be two weapon fighting if your 2nd weapon is a shield, and make the second improvement be the first. That takes care of your overpowered concerns and keeps the focus on shields rather than attacks.
    A more glaring concern to me is the level 7 feature. Magic items are not assumed in 5e. Most of the time they are rare, and you can’t assume you’ll get one at all, let alone a specific one (like a magic shield), or god forbid a series of better items for the same slot (+1, +2, then +3 shield). And some magic shields may have no bonus to AC. I think you need to make this feature something more along the lines of “your shield attacks are considered magical for the purposes of overcoming resistances” and maybe something like “your shield grants you a +1 to ac, but when you make an attack with your shield you can forego the ac bonus until the start of your next turn to apply the shield’s bonus to your attack and damage rolls.” Then maybe let the bonus scale by level, maybe giving the option to only use some of the bonus for attack and leave some on AC? And maybe, “if your shield had a magical enchantment that provides a higher bonus to AC than this feature, you may use its bonus instead” and just make it clear the magical bonus and this feature’s bonus don’t stack.
    Last edited by Rellott; 10-12-2017 at 07:58 AM.


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