Saturday, January 7, 2023

Spotlight on Essential Classes for 5E

 I've been a fan of Joseph R. Lewis' Dungeon Age products for DnD 5E and OSE for a while now. His adventures are really easy to use as a Dungeon Master as he lays out his products in a very clean way while maintaining loads of flavor and atomosphere and his products have become a must-buy for me. 

With Essential Classes for 5E he has created four full classes, the Mercenary, Necromancer, Occultist, and Spyder, all with unique mechanics and tons of flavor that are best suited for dark fantasy. These classes give characters new unique Actions, Bonus Actions, and Reactions as their class abilities and each has special mechanic that involves failure when rolling a 1 on a d6 and damage to yourself.

The Mercenary Class is a combination of a fighter and a thief in the tradition of Conan and at 2nd Level you gain the Crude Medic ability: As an Action, heal yourself or one creature within 5 feet using old bandages smeared with a salve. Gain HP equal to 1d6 + your Mercenary level. Some of their abilities use a mechanic powered by Fortune that requires you to roll a d6 and on a 1 the ability fails and you take damage equal to 3 x your Mercenary Level. 

By level 20 a Mercenary gains 7 new Actions, 6 new Bonus Actions, and 5 new Reactions and all of the other classes, the Necromancer, Occultist (think Hellboy, Simon Belmont, or John Constantine), and the Spyder (assassin/thief), gain similar mechanical abilities.

Here are a few examples:

For the Necromancer at Level 6: Animate Greater Thralls which is powered by their Mortis mechanic: As an Action, choose any dead creature that is Medium or smaller within 60 feet and animate it as a Undead version of its original form. Use the Ghost stat block for this thrall. It obeys you and acts on your turn. It endures until you dismiss it or it is destroyed. A destroyed thrall cannot be animated again. At any one time, you can have a maximum number of ghastly thralls equal to half your Int modifier rounded up. Since it uses Mortis that means you roll 1d6 and on a 1 you take damage.

Here is an example of an Occultist ability at Level 2 called Bell of Law and it is powered by the Doom mechanic: As a Bonus Action, ring this small copper bell. All creatures within 60 feet that can hear suffer Psychic damage equal to 1d6 + your Occultist level. Lawful creatures are immune to this damage. Doom works the same way as Fortune and Mortis.

For the Spyder at Level 5 they gain the Metal Hair ability: You infuse your own hair with the iron in your blood. This natural helmet makes you immune to Charm effects and Psychic damage. This effect works no matter how short you cut (or shave) your hair. Their equivalent to Fortune and the others is Spyder. 

These classes pair old school pulp archetypes with 5E's modern mechanics as full classes but they lack of sub-classes and I don’t mind that choice as much as I thought I would. I’ve never complained about sub-classes but its a mechanic I’ve grown bored of and would happily run a game using just these Essential Classes. I’m going to add that Joseph is very clear that these classes aren't balanced against the traditional classes and that was not one of his design goals.

I hope we see more of these and I'm trying to find time to see them in play with one of his many great adventures.

I heartily recommend this or any other Dungeon Age product.

1 comment:

This Olde Gnome said...

One D&D to rule them all,
One D&D's OGL to fine them,
drag the OSR into the dust grind them,
In the land of Wizards where lawyers lie

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