Gunslinger Paths


As a gunslinger advances, they choose one or more paths to follow. Those who follow one path gain more power, while those who choose from different paths trade power for versatility. The Path of Lightning and the Path of Thunder represent two poles of the gunslinger’s existence: speed and accuracy. Some gunslingers tread between the two, while others devote themselves wholly to one road. Whatever path the gunslinger takes, their enemies can look forward to a death in thunder and fire.

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5e Kineticist: Aerokineticist

I wanted to have the gunslinger ready, today, but that didn’t happen. It turns out that building a prestige class is pretty hard.

Instead, I’m continuing my work with the kineticist, this time with the aerokineticist. I expect the rest of the kineticist paths to follow in the coming weeks, and maybe an Iron Gods recap (which might involve me having to write rules for psychic duels and performance combat in 5e).

First, though, a couple of changes to the kineticist and the aether:

Psychic Talents

As your connection with the elemental forces of the universe deepens, you gain the ability to shape your powers in new ways. At 1st level, you gain one talent from the list at the end of the class description. As you increase in level, you can choose more talents, as shown in the Talents Known column of the Kineticist table. Additionally, when you gain a level in this class, you can choose one of the talents you know and replace it with another talent that you could learn at that level. Unless the description of the talent says otherwise, activating a talent is an action.

Aetheric Talents

Prerequisites: aether element, 5th level
If you take 1 point of burn as a reaction, you gain resistance to bludgeoning, slashing, and piercing damage until the beginning of your next turn.

Telekinetic Finesse
Prerequisite: aether element, 3rd level
Your mage hand can perform any action that your hands could perform, up to its weight limit, including performing Dexterity-based skill checks. 

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5e Kineticist


His eyes blazing with an inner fire, the halfling walks calmly through the goblin encampment; as goblins all around him spontaneously burst into flame, he thinks of nothing but the feeling of his beloved, dying in his arms, a goblin blade between her ribs.

Even among her own kind, people avoided the old tiefling for the inexplicable things that happened around her: objects never found where they had been set down, passers-by tripping over nothing, windows and doors opening on their own. No one wanted her around, until the bugbears came and she threw them out of town, one at a time, without moving from her chair.

While his family always said that they spoke the language of the rocks in their mountain home the young dwarf was the only one who believed that those stones spoke directly to him, and maybe his family would have believed he’d grow out of playing pretend if he hadn’t warned them about the earthquake and the giant invasion, but they could never doubt him again when the mountain itself rose up to drive the giants away.

A kineticist binds themselves to an element, manipulating one of the fundamental forces of nature with their mind. These abilities are often born of trauma or violence, and nearly ever kineticist tells a story of their first manifestation, and the damage they did before they gained control of their abilities. Some kineticists believe that they are in control their element, while other believe that it controls them. In either case the result is the same: the kineticist shapes a fundamental force of the universe with their thoughts.

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5e Warlock Pact: The Empyreal Lord

cc Miguel Rigodon HarknessWarlock Patron: Empyreal Lord

Your patron is an Empyreal Lord, a powerful celestial godling who works in the service of the powers of good. Empyreal Lords are single-minded and brutal in their determination to wipe out evil, and while they have different motivations, such creatures are incorruptible forces for good. When they grant power, they expect nothing less that total devotion to the cause of good, being good, however, doesn’t mean that these beings are nice, or that their understanding of good is comprehensible to mortals. They are as foreign and demanding as any other patron, and while their influence might be more benign, their indifference to the concerns of individual mortals is not.

Expanded Spell List

The Empyreal Lord lets you choose from an expanded list of spells when you learn a warlock spell. The following spells are added to the warlock spell list for you.

Empyreal Lord Expanded Spells

Spell Level Spells
1st: detect evil and good, guiding bolt
2nd: augury, searing smite
3rd: beacon of hope, spirit guardians
4th: divination, guardian of faith
5th: blinding smite, commune

Shield of Righteousness

Starting at 1st level, your patron protects you from the spells and abilities of evil creatures. When an evil creature uses a spell or effect that you can make a saving throw against, you can use your reaction to gain advantage on that saving throw. If the creature is not evil, you gain no benefit from using this feature.

Once you use this feature, you can’t use it again until you finish a short or long rest.

Angelic Smite

At 6th level, your patron grants you the ability to strike down your foes with a mighty blow. When you hit with an attack, you can add an extra 1d10 radiant damage to the damage.

Once you use this feature, you can’t yse it again until you finish a short or long rest.

Otherworldly Courage

Starting at 10th level, you will never again know fear, because your connection to your celestial patrol burns brightly within you. You are immune to being frightened, and when another creature attempts to cause you to become frightened, you can use your reaction to instill that fear in them, instead. The creature must succeed on a Wisdom saving throw against your warlock spell save DC or be frightened by you for 1 minute.

Repentance Strike

Beginning at 14th level, you can manifest a part of your patron. When you use this feature, you might gain a halo, glowing eyes, or a weapon wreathed in fire. As an action, choose a creature within 60 feet of you. That creature is transported to heaven until the end of your next turn.

While the creature is in heaven, it sees all of its past actions in an instant. If the creature willingly shifts some aspect of its alignment to good, or is already good-aligned, it is heals 6d10 damage and when it returns it can roll a d4 and add that number to one attack or saving throw that it makes within the next minute. Even creatures that can’t normally be good-aligned can choose to change their alignment to good in this way. A creature that chooses to shift its alignment is considered charmed by you for one minute or until it takes damage. If the creature does not shift some aspect of its alignment to good, it instead takes 6d10 radiant damage and must make a Wisdom saving throw against your spell save DC or be frightened by you for 1 minute.

You must finish a long rest before you can use this feature again.

Hacking the Empyreal Lord Patron

There is a problem with a patron like the Empyreal Lord: the warlock class is meant to be tortured, to have to make sacrifices for power. According to the philosophy of the class, if you want to wield great power, you have to strike a bargain with an evil entity, and the rest of your life will be a battle for control of your soul. Empyreal Lords (and other good-aligned patrons) remove that struggle. The Empyreal Lord should be demanding, though, and while not as evil as a Great Old One, should be incomprehensible, it should feel like a pull.

The 5e paladin doesn’t have the same kind of moral inflexibility as paladins from earlier editions, and I imagine the Empyreal Lord warlock as the next best thing. Instead of being an excuse to play a jerk, though, and refusing to let the rogue be a rogue, the pull should be internal. The warlock might want to let the rogue steal or assassinate, but feels the patron pulling them in a less morally gray direction. I think of it as the opposite of an Archfiend warlock. I can imagine this patron being a lot of fun for someone with the criminal background, or the soldier.

That’s the Empyreal Lord patron. What do you think? Too far from the intent of the warlock class? Too powerful? Not powerful enough?

This week, I’ve learned that three posts a week is too much, so I’m going back to two, on a Monday/ Friday schedule.

Next time: I’ve been laying the groundwork for this for a while: 1990s-era Avengers builds! 

Bard College: Skeldaning

skaldCollege of Skeldaning

Bards of the College of Skeldaning are warrior-poets who inspire others to ever greater acts of heroism with their own actions. They are chroniclers of greatness, like other bards, but also perform great deeds of their own. Skalds share much with bards from the College of Valor, but focus less on keeping the old tales alive than making new ones. As much as a skald might like to insert themselves into the story, their true power lies in helping others to become greater than they imagined they could be. When a bard of the College of Skeldaning grants Bardic Inspiration, it is often with a single blast on a horn, the beat of a drum, or a keening.

Bonus Proficiencies
This feature works as the College of Valor: at 3rd level, add proficiency with medium armor, shields, martial weapons.

Bardic inspiration
This feature works as the College of Valor: at 3rd level, add Bardic Inspiration die to damage or AC after the die are rolled.

At 6th level, you gain the ability to affect foes with your Bardic Inspiration. At any time during the duration, you can choose to subtract your Bardic Inspiration die from any d20 roll the target makes, after the die is rolled but before the DM says whether the roll succeeds or fails.

Call the Clan
At 6th level, you can apply your Bardic Inspiration die to multiple creatures. Choose a number of creatures that can hear you, up to your Charisma modifier. Each creature gains a Bardic Inspiration die one die type smaller than you are able to grant individual creatures: a d6 at 6th level, a d8 at 10th level, and a d10 at 12th level. When you use Bardic Inspiration in this way, you can choose to include yourself among the creatures targeted.

Arise the Fallen
At 14th level, you gain the ability to grant Bardic Inspiration die to unconscious creatures at 0 hit points. When a creature gains Bardic Inspiration in this way, it can use the die to gain temporary hit points.

Hacking the Skald

The College of Valor is almost the skald, enough that it makes sense to keep the first two abilities the same. At 6th level, though a College of Valor bard becomes a combat force on their own, which doesn’t fit the spirit of the skald, to me. The skald should be the bagpipe player, the guy at the back with the curved horn, the woman ululating alongside the fighters. The skald should be able to inspire multiple people (something no bard college can do), and should be able to strike fear into their enemies. That means shifting the way Bardic Inspiration works, a little bit. Still, I didn’t want to overpower it. I like the idea that a skald can grant more powerful die to a single creature, or spread the wealth a little bit.

A 5e bard doesn’t need be a musician. They can be an orator, a dancer, a collector of knowledge. The music is secondary. You can see this in the colleges: out of eight college features in the PHB, only two use Bardic Inspiration. I wanted to College of Skeldaning to be all about Inspiration. It’s easy to see that as becoming a one-trick pony that uses Inspiration all the time, in every combat, probably multiple times. I think that’s good: it doubles down on what makes the bard unique. It puts the music at the front of the class. The College of Valor is a one-trick pony, too, after all: that trick just happens to be getting extra attacks and doing more damage.

The Pathfinder skald has been described as one of the most “metal” classes in the game, and I wanted to see if the 5e bard, the uber-geek of the 5e classes, could be made more metal, too. (I mean “geek” in the best way: the 5e bard is all about skills-use, research, sarcasm, and so on. Even the College of Valor bard, with the extra attacks, still relies on expertise and secrets. Nothing wrong with that!) For me, this is about more than translating the PF mechanics to 5e (although it’s that, too, with Doomsong and Arise the Fallen). It’s about making the bard as inspiring as possible.

Next time: The Hellbred: a 5e race for your Hell’s Rebels game

Summerlands Classes: Rage Warden Ranger Archetype

Rage Warden


The natural world teems with creatures that are serene until driven into a wild rage: the badger, the bear, the wolverine. The Rage Warden archetype allows you to manifest the fury of these creatures and channel it into the defense of your home, tribe, or clan. Your rage, however, is directed, an icy-cold, focused anger that allows you to cut down your foes with frightening precision in a flurry of motion.

Nature’s Fury

At 3rd level, you gain the ability to harness your anger in defense of your home or allies. As a bonus action, you enter a state of fury.

While in a state of fury, you gain the following benefits if you aren’t wearing heavy armor:

  • You have advantage on Dexterity checks and Dexterity saving throws.
  • When you make a melee or ranged weapon attack using Dexterity, your damage increases by 2 points. This damage increases by one additional point at 11th level, 15th level, and 20th
  • You can use the Dash action as a bonus action, and other creatures have disadvantage on opportunity attack rolls against you.

You can’t cast spells while you are in a state of fury.

Your state of fury lasts for 1 minute. It ends early if you are knocked unconscious or if your turn ends and you haven’t moved or taken damage since your last turn ended. You can end your fury on your turn as a bonus action.

Once you have entered a state of fury twice, you must finish a long rest before you can do so again.


Mighty Fury

At 7th level, once you have entered a state of fury three times, you must finish a long rest before you can do so again. In addition, as part of your bonus action to enter a state of fury, you may choose whether its benefits apply to Dexterity checks, saving throws, and attacks, or to Strength checks, saving throws, and attacks.

Brutal Fury

At 11th level, your state of fury becomes mightier. While in your state of fury, your weapon damage increases by 1 point, to 3 points. Once you have entered the state of fury 4 times, you must finish a long rest before you can do so again.

Additionally, dim light doesn’t impose disadvantage on your Wisdom (Perception) checks. 

Endless Fury

At 15th level, you become an unstoppable force of rage. Your state of fury only ends early if you fall unconscious or if you choose to end it.

In addition, while you are in a state of fury, every round after the first that you attack the same creature, the additional damage increases by 1 point. If you attack a different creature with an extra attack or an opportunity attack, or if you do not attack during a round, your additional damage returns to 3 points.

Hacking the Ranger

While there are no “barbarians” in the Summerlands, the feel of a mighty defender of the wild was still important to me. Meanwhile, I think that the archetype options for the ranger leave a little to be desired. This archetype owes a debt to Paizo’s Wild Stalker, cc Ultimate Combat, 2011, but is significantly evolved from that archetype.

So why not call this ability “rage?” It’s in the name of the class, after all. There are a number of reasons. 5th Edition seems to have a design philosophy of using different names as much as possible, and I wanted to emulate that, here. This is particularly true when abilities are slightly different. Nowhere in the Player’s Handbook do we see the phrasing “as the rogue ability, except…,” common in 3rd Edition books. The rage warden ranger’s fury is slightly worse than the barbarian’s rage, doing a little less damage and not protecting against attacks, so it seemed wrong to call it the same thing. Meanwhile, I wanted to emulate the focus that often comes with fury, as opposed to the barbarian’s loss of control, so I traded Strength for Dexterity. This is a white-hot fury that gives the ranger a tunnel vision, down which they can shoot terrible arrows, rather than the red-hot blinding rage of the barbarian.

At the same time, the ranger doesn’t have the barbarian’s increased movement rate, so I wanted to cause the fury to end for different reasons than rage does, while keeping the ranger mobile. At the same time, I wanted to reward the ranger for attacking, rather than punishing by ending the rage.

The rage warden fits in just about anywhere a ranger does. It doesn’t require (or lend itself strongly towards) the tribal society that produces barbarians, while still not taking away from the uniqueness of the barbarian (if you want to do a boat-load of damage with a greataxe, the barbarian is still a better choice).

In the Summerlands, rage-wardens are most common among the wildren, who are already familiar with rage and the grippli, who take advantage of the archetype’s bonuses to ranged weapon damage. They are also found in large numbers among the traditional varanus and the liberated aarakocra. Sea kin are too settled to produce many rangers, and the citiy-states of the reven and tunder don’t lend themselves to this approach (although tunder would be brutal rage wardens, with their bonus to Dexterity and preference for sniping and moving, particularly once they undergo the Ritual of Evolution and gain the ability to fly).

I don’t have a chart of the damage output, here, and I haven’t playtested this class, so I’d be curious what other people thought about it, in comparison with the barbarian (who should be a bit better) and the other ranger archetypes (which should be a little worse).

Next time: Weapons of Legend in the Summerlands!

Classes of the Summerlands: The Feral Druid

This druid circle is a drastic departure from the “feral child” druid archetype, but it was inspired by the same source: stories of children raised in the wild by animals.

This 5th edition class conversion was inspired by this month’s RPG Blog Carnival topic: “The Summerlands,” hosted by Tales of a DM.

Image by ButterfrogDruid: Circle of Wilding

You were raised in the wild, and are more feral than even your druid brethren. While you cannot read or write, you have a close bond with a single powerful animal. Your bond with that animal is so strong that you can choose that form for your Wild Shape, and an animal of that type accompanies you on your adventures. As you gain levels, your druid abilities tie you more closely to that beast’s environment, and your bond with your companion strengthens.

Raised in the Wild

You were raised among (if not by) animals in the wild. At 2nd level, choose one of the following animals: ape, brown bear, crocodile, deinonychus, dimetrodon, dire wolf, giant boar, giant elk, giant hyena, lion, panther, seal, or tiger. You can use your Wild Shape to transform into an animal of that type.

In addition, you gain the benefits of the speak with animals spell for the purposes of communicating with beasts of your chosen type. You can use this ability even while you are using your Wild Shape ability.

You cannot read or write any of your chosen languages, unless you spend a tool or language proficiency to learn to do so.

Childhood Companion

At 2nd level, you gain a beast companion of your chosen type that accompanies you on your adventures and fights alongside you. Add your proficiency bonus to the beast’s AC, attack rolls, and damage rolls, as well as to any saving throws and skills it is proficient in. Its hit point maximum equals its normal maximum or four times your druid level, whichever is higher.

The beast obeys your commands as best it can, taking its turn on your initiative, though it does no act unless you command it to, unless you are incapacitated, in which case it uses its action to defend you. On your turn, you can command the beast to Move without using an action. You can use your action to command it to take the Attack, Dash, Disengage, Dodge, or Help action. At 6th level, you can use a bonus action to command it to take the Dash, Disengage, Dodge, or Help action, as long as it does not attack that turn. If you command your companion to attack, it may only attack once, even it normally has the Multiattack action.

If the beast dies, you can obtain another one of the same type by spending 8 hours bonding with it.

Land’s Stride

At 6th level, moving through nonmagical difficult terrain costs you no extra movement. You can also pass through nonmagical plants without being slowed by them and without taking damage from them if they have thorns, spines, or a similar hazard.

In addition, you have advantage on saving throws against plants that are magically created or manipulated to impede movement, such as those created by the entangle spell.

Finally, when you are traveling with only your beast companion, and traveling through a terrain type associated with your chosen beast, you can move stealthily at a normal pace.

Primal Strikes

At 10th level, your attacks and that of your beast companion in beast form count as magical for the purpose of overcoming damage resistance and immunity to nonmagical attacks and damage.

In addition, when you use your action to command your beast companion to Attack, you can make a single attack, and your companion may use Multiattack, if it has that attack option.

Nature’s Ally

When you reach 14th level, creatures of the natural world sense your connection and are hesitant to attack you. When a beast or a plant creature attacks you, that creature must make a Wisdom saving throw against your druid spell save DC. On a failed save, the creature must choose a different target, or the attack automatically misses. On a successful save, the creature is immune to this effect for 24 hours.

The creature is aware of this effect before it makes its attack against you.

In addition, when you cast a spell targeting yourself, you can also affect your beast companion with the spell if the beast is within 30 feet of you.

Hacking the Feral Druid

While this druid circle fits best into varanus society in the Summerlands, since the varanus are already unable to read, it could just as easily fit anywhere. The archetype of the child raised by animals is ancient, and even in our modern world, stories persist of feral children raised by wolves. In this archetype, I tried to combine the most interesting elements of the Land Circle druid with both an animal companion and a powerful-but-limited wild shape. The end result is, I think, not quite as powerful as the Moon Circle druid, but more interesting. I wanted every level to improve the connection to the land, but also the animal companion. The trade-off is a lack of expanded spells from the Land Circle, more limited wild shape choices, and an animal companion choice that’s specific and story-focused.

The list I put together isn’t perfect. I simply tried to pick the beasts from the Monster Manual that made the most sense, while not being overpowered. Why would someone pick a panther when the more powerful lion is available? Because, sometimes, D&D isn’t about DPR and power. Sometimes, it’s about picking the most interesting options (and, in the case of the panther, wanting to focus on stealth over raw power).

Next time: Beasts of the southern wilds! Insect swarms, disease, the deinonychus and the dimetrodon!