I’ve compiled the entire inflicted class into one convenient, excellently-formatted document. You can download it here. A few notes from the field:
- Pounce moved from L14 to L15. When I looked at everything together, L15 was a dead level with no new abilities, and this resolves it.
- There’s a new ability at L18 that gives the inflicted an additional saving throw. It’s always bugged me how hard it is to be good at saves in 5E, and this makes the inflicted a little better at it, but late enough in the build that it’s not a balance issue.
- I understand more about polymorph now, so some wording around the lycanthrope has changed.
- I finally got a copy of Xanathar’s Guide to Everything, which has a few abilities similar to the inflicted’s. While I’m a bit upset that I’m not as unique and clever as I thought I was, it did tell me how to format the rules text, so there’s been some language cleanup.
Please toss this into your game if you have a chance and let me know how it goes. We’ve just finished our own local playtest, and I’m eying a few changes already, but more information is better information.
With this post I’m also putting DMing with Charisma on hiatus for a while. I have some other projects that require my attention, and we’re heading into a fairly busy time of year. I may sprinkle some posts in here and there, but if you’re the sort of person who checks the blog religiously, don’t expect too much (and also, thanks a bunch).
I’ve expressed a lot of love for “here are X options; pick Y of them” features. They weren’t terribly common in 3E and they were absent entirely in 4E, but Pathfinder has a fair number of them, and I used that as an inspiration for my version of the healer class. Powered by the Apocalypse games really showed me how they can branch out, letting one playbook or class work for many characters. 5E is finally catching up, with similar mechanics in the fighter’s maneuvers, the sorcerer’s metamagic, and other places. The most thorough, in my opinion, is the warlock, which offers thirty options and lets a character pick eight of them, sometimes limited by their pact and patron. Of course I was going to borrow from it.
This, I think, is where the inflicted really takes off. The source and form help define a character with broad strokes, but evolutions (name subject to change) give them specific powers that pertain to a specific monster. An undead stalker can take powers that let them float around like a ghost, or hide their undead traits like a vampire, or soldier through combat like a zombie. And none of these monster-type comparisons are hard-coded. Evolutions don’t say “you gain wings, because you’re a were-bat”, they say “you gain a flight speed” and trust the player to explain it. It does mean the player can pull together some goofy combinations, and that’s fine. It’s not the class’ job to present only powers that make sense in any combination; it’s the class’ job to facilitate as many monsters as it reasonably can. Continue reading
Yet again, feature names are proving to be the bane of my existence. I have no good idea for what to call the inflicted’s subclass options. Every class has its own name for its subclass, from the cleric’s divine domains and the warlock’s otherworldly patrons to less-inspired examples like the rogue’s roguish archetypes and the ranger’s…ranger archetypes. For the infected, the subclass is the type of monster the character is becoming. But I can’t well call it “the type of monster what done bit me”. For lack of a better term, I’m using “monstrous source”.
A monstrous source has to come in at L1. I can understand going into a subclass later in other classes, where you can follow your career for a while before choosing your route, but that doesn’t work for an inflicted. A character can’t start gaining monster abilities and only later decide what sort of monster they are. It had to be present at the beginning of a character’s career, and it has to have some sort of impact right away, so we need to have an L1 ability. We also need an L2 ability to extend the ways we can use savagery points, much like how clerics and paladins gain new uses for Channel Divinity. We also need an L8 ability that gives the inflicted bonus damage; since inflicted don’t get Extra Attack, they need to remain competitive in melee some other way, and other classes have answered this with bonus damage at or about L8. Besides that, there are very few restrictions on what a source can grant at what level, as long as they’re sufficiently general that a player can decide what works best for them.
With that in mind, I’ve decided on two monstrous sources for this alpha version of the inflicted: the lycanthrope, the creature in D&D most likely to turn an ordinary person into one of them; and the undead, which covers a broad range of possible monsters: Continue reading
The features in the last post don’t have a lot of points of divergence. There’s some that matter, like the condition immunities, and some that don’t, like whether an inflicted uses a slam or claws, but it’s still all mostly on a specific path. That’s fine. Not every feature has to provide several options for players, as long as there are enough choices in the class and those choices are sufficiently meaningful.
The first real choice we’re presenting in this series is the one at L3, when an inflicted basically decides what role they fill in the party: Continue reading
The main problem I’m having in designing a class around monsters is deciding what features the class should have. One nice thing about class design in 5E is that I can give only some features to the class at large and give others to the subclasses, so I can limit certain features to a specific theme. For example, I may not want to let any old PC have a poisonous bite, but I could add it to the Weird Snake-Person subclass. Coming up with ideas that fit a specific theme is fun. Coming up with ideas that literally every monster could use is harder.
There’s one important thing I didn’t discuss in the post on class concept because it fits more nicely here: mechanical concept. That is, where does this class fit within the rules, or within a typical party? As paladins are intended for support and defense more than damage and sorcerers are intended for blasting and control more than tanking, what do I intend for the inflicted? I’ve ended up settling on “tough, physical front-line character”. An inflicted isn’t a magical class, nor is it expected to sit in the back row with a bow, nor should it be the face of the party in high-society negotiations. An individual inflicted can do all that, of course, but those aren’t character archetypes toward which the class is mechanically inclined.
With that in mind, and knowing that we’ll branch out from it further at certain points of divergence, what are the features all monsters get by default? In this in-progress, alpha build of the class, here’s what I’ve come up with: Continue reading