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Blood Hunter Class for D&D 5e (2020)
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Blood Hunter Class for D&D 5e (2020)

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Blood Hunter - A Martial Class for 5th Edition Dungeons & Dragons

Often feared or misunderstood, and driven by an unending drive to destroy the wicked, blood hunters are clever, arcane warriors who have bound their essence to the dark creatures they hunt to better stalk and survive their prey. Armed with the rites of forbidden blood magic and a willingness to sacrifice their own vitality and humanity for the cause, they protect the realms from the shadows, ever vigilant to avoid becoming the same monsters they choose to hunt.

Harnessing the dark abilities granted by the use of hemocraft blood magic to enhance their combat prowess, these warriors hunt the wicked with blade and curse, sacrificing their own vitality to gain the upper hand and bring their quarry down.

This includes the Order of the Ghostslayer, Order of the Profane Soul, Order of the Mutant, and Order of the Lycan archetypes for the Blood Hunter class.


Author's Note:
This was my first homebrew class waaaaay back before DMs Guild first started, and I had a LOT to learn. Originally spawned as a handful of variant abilities I designed for Vin Diesel guesting on my D&Diesel one-shot to promote his film "The Last Witch Hunter" (in which I was given no context for his character other than the trailer), the internet was loudly requesting me to release what class he played. Needing to heavily expand upon those small features, I cobbled together my first attempt at this class with meager design experience and tossed it to the internet with a wince. A handful of years of iterations, and incredible amounts of very well-thought out feedback from the web later, I've learned so much more about fun design and balance... and I wanted to take a crack at redesigning this class from the ground up.

Deep consideration brought me to shift the secondary ability score focus from Wisdom to Intelligence, as the hemocraft magic was more arcane in nature, and there was little representation for an Intelligence-based martial class. Along with this came many changes to improve the ease of tracking abilities like the Crimson Rite, while adding some new features and utility to the class and its Orders (including the Brand of Castigation). Massive rebalancing has been applied throughout the class, and each Order eventually receives its own unique Blood Curse, as well as a unique modification to their Brand.

While the first release of any new design will have its problems, I feel much more confident about the direction of this class and its place in my games and world. I hope you enjoy this newly fashioned, improved release of the Blood Hunter! 

-Matthew Mercer


(P.S. If you would still prefer to use the older version, you are certainly welcome to do so! You can find it HERE)

 
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Customer avatar
Jacob P March 09, 2020 2:42 am UTC
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I loved the old blood hunter, but this new one feels sloppy, I'll stick with the old one.
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Michael W March 03, 2020 8:37 am UTC
PURCHASER
I'm surprised at all the praise of this class, or more accurately the lack of criticism of it besides the wisdom-intelligence shift (and the one comment before mine). It's riddled with features that damage before the creature gets a save (or they don't get one at all), strong features with fast recharge times that guarantee you'll never be without them, features that do what other classes do but better, features that use little (bonus actions) to no (free actions) action economy, and features that have unlimited range/duration. It even undermines its own gimmick of using health by either reducing the cost of it to near 0 or giving you healing that counteracts the cost completely. Don't believe me? Check out my review that breaks the class down extensively.

Astoundingly bad, and yet glowing praise. At least anyone who paid for this mess donated to a good cause.
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Michael W March 03, 2020 10:12 pm UTC
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I'm unsure if you'll see this (since I can't see your reply) but thanks for the reply John L! Some points in response though:

"Crimson Rite is in line with the monk's weapon progression and on average deals a bit more damage than a barbarian's rage." - Both these two things are true but for Monks that progression is the standard damage die of their attacks, not an additional one. The Blood Hunter has their weapon's damage die plus the Crimson Rite damage die and unlike Barbarians can get that above average rage damage on Dexterity based attacks (including ranged attacks from up to 150ft away). Couple that with fighting styles and the Blood Hunter can out damage the Barbarian and the Monk from a comfortable range away.

"Blood Maledict while good, the fact that it is a core class feature means you will never be able to tank as you can be taking 4d10 points of damage between shorts rests; which is not negligible." - Untrue, the class is able to tank easily. Even if you...See more
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Nick O March 03, 2020 10:44 pm UTC
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I'm now 5 sessions into a new long term campaign as a BH and plan on going Mutant when we hit level 3, probably next session. I haven't noticed it being unbalanced compared to other classes in play so I'll keep an eye out for that as we get further along. In my experience, nothing is as unbalanced as it seems at first because play style tends to be the biggest determiner of class efficiency. Though you did get me thinking about how few of the features require saves. I can see how that can make the class more powerful. My only comment on your thoughts would be you get so few uses of your features and if you don't get the opportunity for a short rest then a lot of your concerns aren't as serious. In my campaign we haven't taken a short rest yet.
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Michael W March 03, 2020 11:27 pm UTC
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You're right about play style determining class efficiency; a 16 Int Eldritch Knight is going to be a better spellcaster than a 6 Int Wizard after all, which is why I tried to keep the examples in my review comparative ones where two classes are trying to reach the same goal be it damage per turn, tanky-ness, etc. The lack of saves for features or features that do auto-hit damage first and then save definitely contributes to the power level. The small number of uses only applies to your Blood Curses (and even then you get ways of gaining more), your Crimson Rite has no use limit other than health and lasts until you rest (keep a hand on your sheathed sword and the Rite stays).

It does depend on your campaign but if you're only doing one-two challenging encounters a day you're not running out of those features as you'll either maintain things like your rite between encounters or get chance for a rest in between; travelling as a group with a horse and cart for example means you could be sat in the back...See more
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Nick O March 03, 2020 11:43 pm UTC
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If you had control over balancing the class, do you feel it would need a complete re-write? Or just tweak everything i.e. increase the amount of damage you take for crimson rite, require saves for features, reduce the bonus for mutagens, etc?
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john L March 04, 2020 1:39 am UTC
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I deleted this comment a while ago due to issues with my wifi and am just reposting it. Sorry!

I went and looked at your review, and you made a few good points. There should be saves for the abilities, and the option to deal half damage on a success. I, however, do not agree with all you said about the class. For starters both the Crimson Rite and the Blood Maledict features are balanced. Crimson Rite is in line with the monk's weapon progression and on average deals a bit more damage than a barbarian's rage. Blood Maledict while good, the fact that it is a core class feature means you will never be able to tank as you can be taking 4d10 points of damage between shorts rests; which is not negligible. Next, your point about the Order of the Ghostslayers is not entirely accurate. This is the standard, improving on core features subclass, much like the Monk Way of the Open Hand. The improved Blood Maledict does not completely negate the negatives of using the feature (you are still taking damage), and...See more
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Michael W March 04, 2020 3:23 am UTC
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In response to Nick O:

If I was balancing the class it'd be a mix of both tweaking some features and a complete re-write of others. Considering my review is around 10k words I won't go into exactly how I'd balance it but I'm very tempted to give it a go and upload it here to see what people think.

In response to John L:

Ah it's alright, technical issues are pain. Take a look at the top post though as I responded to your comment (I had a full copy in the notifications section to work from) and addressed the points you raised.
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Samuel B April 03, 2020 4:14 am UTC
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So, interesting note. You wrote that the average self-damage per short rest at level 4 is 5HP, and the average at level 20 is 24HP. Using average HP as you’ve been doing, the difference between a D8HD and a D10HD at level 4 is 5HP. At level 20, the difference is 21HP. If you don’t take any short rests at all, so you only take the 5/24 damage once, you’re dealing enough damage to knock yourself from a D10 class down to a D8 class. Yes, the damage can be healed, but if you do then the party will be missing potions/spell slots that they’d still have if you’d been any other D10 class. Having DMed an original Ghostslayer through a 1-18 campaign I've got to tell you, they're much squishier than they look.
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Michael W April 03, 2020 11:44 am UTC
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Bear in mind though, that's only if you use all of your abilities in one fight, something that you'd rarely do or if you did you'd be more than likely resting afterwards; and if you're expected to be a front-liner then the party's healing is going to be used on your anyway when you take damage. Healing that's more often than not capable of recouping the damage you've taken plus the damage you did to yourself in one go (unless you've run into a horde of enemies like an idiot, but then that's on you). As I'll mention later it's often more beneficial to you to use that HP to gain damage, even if you don't get healed.

I ended up posting this review to r/dndnext and many people said the same about the old class, but this one is vastly different thanks to being able to simply heal away the cost of using your Crimson Rite or Amplified Blood Curses; the cost for which can be made almost immediately 0 with a single level dip into Fighter for Second Wind. Speaking of that reddit thread someone tried arguing...See more
Customer avatar
Keegan M February 26, 2020 11:07 pm UTC
Brand of Castigation is broken as F---
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Keegan M February 26, 2020 11:08 pm UTC
Also is it true Matt wasn't even the one who got to update this? Didn't Wizards of the coast just change it? I also hate that it went from wis to int spellcasting score. They were the only wisdom base 1/3 caster now all of them are int, just like trickster and eldritch knight.
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Michael W March 03, 2020 10:14 pm UTC
PURCHASER
The signed "author's note" in the description would imply that it was Matt who updated this. At least I hope it's him because otherwise WotC's rules writers have gone off the rails with this broken mess.
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Erik T February 26, 2020 10:33 pm UTC
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I'm okay with the rebalancing, but I'm not happy with the decision to shift from WIS to INT. I came up with two Blood Hunter character concepts who I've always pictured as being much more wisdom-based in their personalities - one is a loxodon with a gentle, empathetic demeanor, and the other is a scrawny, dim-witted kobold who became a Blood Hunter by accident.

It's hard enough to convince DMs on Roll20 to let me use the Blood Hunter class; it tends to attract edgelords. Now I'm going to have to convince them to let me retool the current version to accommodate WIS rather than INT. Because, again, I'm okay with the rebalancing.

Any chance you could release a version that makes the rebalancing changes WITHOUT shifting to INT?
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Perry G February 24, 2020 3:54 am UTC
PURCHASER
In this new version of Blood Hunter, the Crimson Rite feature no longer states each end of a pole arm or quarterstaff is treated as a separate weapon. Is this an intended change or is it still to be used as before, with a bonus action required for each end? Also, I assume that weapons like the Double-bladed Scimitar, in the Wayfinders Guide to Eberron, would function the same a pole arm, regarding each separate end being classified as a separate weapon.
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Daniel P February 25, 2020 3:26 pm UTC
PURCHASER
It removed the language of "each end of a pole arm etc." but He added the language of, "A weapon can only hold a single active rite at a time." Whether or not that was intended it seems that he has removed the option to apply the crimson rite to either end of the weapon. Granted as this is homebrew you can probably just ask your DM to let you do it anyway. ;-)
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Nick O February 19, 2020 3:20 am UTC
PURCHASER
I'm getting ready to go Mutant in a few sessions and wanted to get your opinions on Impermeable, Shielded, and Unbreakable. Anyone have an idea how often the different damage types come into play? Our last session we fought thugs that did piercing and bludgeoning and I know there are some creatures that have XXX and claw attacks for piercing and slashing. Was thinking maybe I'll take one of them just for fun and take it case by case
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Timo H February 18, 2020 2:54 pm UTC
PURCHASER
The spell level for brand of castigation needs a clarification how it works on uneven numbers. Always rounded up or down.

Order of the lycan and order of the mutant would benefit from something that allows the use of crimson rite when transforming. Otherwise, for many players it would translate to: first round of combat transformation / mutation, second round crimson rite and third round first viable bonus action attack.

Overall does the blood hunter rely heavily on their bonus actions. I'd like to see an upgrade to the crimson rite rather than order specific abilities. Probably as a level 10 feature, instead of the current - as is find it needlessly strong.
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February 19, 2020 5:06 pm UTC
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Unless otherwise stated the general rule in 5e is to always round down.
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Kieran A February 17, 2020 10:36 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Rule clarification needed here please!

The wording on some of the curses, such as Curse of the Eyeless states 'You apply this curse to all of the creature's attack rolls until the end of THE turn.'

Does it mean the target creature's turn? (in which case, why does it not say "its turn"?)
Does it mean the entire round? (normally that would say, "until the start/end of your next turn" or similar)

For example, if you used this type of curse as your reaction during an enemy turn, and they have multi-attack, amplifying the curse would apply to all attacks, right? But if that same enemy later makes an opportunity attack (its reaction, outside of its turn), does the curse still apply?

Or what if you used the curse during someone else's turn, as a reaction to that opportunity attack? If "THE turn" (the player's turn) ends immediately after, why would there ever be a reason to amplify?
Customer avatar
Nick O February 18, 2020 4:03 am UTC
PURCHASER
The "turn" refers to whoever's turn it is during that round of combat when you take the reaction to invoke the blood curse. In this case "the turn" and "it's turn" mean the same thing. The thing to keep in mind is Turns and Rounds are not the same thing.

So if a gnoll with multi-attack swings its axe at you and you invoke and amplify the blood curse of the eyeless, all of the attacks that it makes on its turn have disadvantage. If that gnoll later makes an opportunity attack during someone else's turn the curse has no effect because the triggering turn is over.

Likewise, if you use your reaction to invoke the blood curse when the gnoll is making the opportunity attack, there's no point in amplifying here because it only makes the 1 attack. It's a situational tool.
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Kieran A February 21, 2020 11:01 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Brill! That's what I'd been assuming just wanted to clarify.
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jonathan M February 15, 2020 9:44 pm UTC
PURCHASER
I have a question. In Hunters Bane this is written. Also what abilities need the DC save curses, castigation, both, or others?

The Hunter’s Bane also empowers your body to control and shape hemocraft magic, using your own blood and life essence to fuel your abilities. Some of your features require your target to make a saving throw to resist the feature’s effects. The saving throw DC is calculated as follows:

Hemocraft save DC = 8 + your proficiency bonus + your Intelligence modifier.
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Nick O February 15, 2020 10:38 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Each feature specifies whether or not a target is required to make a saving throw. If a feature does require a target to make a saving throw, it uses your hemocraft DC.

For example Brand of Castigation does not specify that a saving throw is required so no need for the DC. But Blood Curse of Binding says "The target just succeed on a Strength saving throw..." so it will use your DC.
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jonathan M February 16, 2020 12:17 am UTC
PURCHASER
thank you
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James A February 14, 2020 9:32 pm UTC
Why is dexterity the saving throw for the new version? Demons and undead rarely use skills that make you make a Dex save, so surely wisdom would be better. Or even Con just going with the fact that blood hunters use their health and stuff for their personal abilities. Somebody please explain why Dex was chosen
Customer avatar
Jordan V February 13, 2020 7:10 pm UTC
The Ethereal Step ability of the Ghostslayers is still a little vague. Are you visible? Can you attack creatures on the material plane? Can they attack you? Do you provoke opportunity attacks while in this form? Does it effect your AC? Does it effect non magical damage by giving either resistance or immunity to non magical damage?

I love all the changes, I just need a little clarification on this one ability.
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Nick O February 14, 2020 1:41 am UTC
PURCHASER
Since it doesn't say that your normal abilities are affected at all I would assume that you can still do all the things you could do before but now ALSO move through and affect objects and creatures both on the material and ethereal planes.

If you were invisible, couldn't attack creatures in the material plane, AC was affected, etc it would specify those changes.
Customer avatar
Jordan V February 14, 2020 1:45 am UTC
That's what I figured and makes the most sense. It was just a little hazy since technically a weapon could be considered a solid object.

Can you move through the ground? Or a cave wall?
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Nick O February 14, 2020 1:49 am UTC
PURCHASER
DM would have the final say but I'd say yes. BUT moving through creatures and objects is difficult terrain and if you end your turn inside an object you take damage so you'd need to be sure you could pass all the way through or have enough remaining movement to get back
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Stijn V February 12, 2020 7:36 pm UTC
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I absolutly love this new version! But a new version just came out, is there a changelog?
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Nick O February 12, 2020 8:19 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Blood Hunter 2020 is still the latest version, it just went from being $8 (proceeds went to support fighting Australian brushfires) to pay-what-you-want. No content changes from the original release on 1/27/2020
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Stijn V February 12, 2020 8:51 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Okay, Thank you!
Customer avatar
David E February 13, 2020 3:11 am UTC
PURCHASER
The version that went up yesterday does have a few updates from the previous version, though I haven’t seen a change log. Here’s what I’ve noticed:
-Adjusted DC for the Lycan’s Bloodlust save from 8+1/3 of BH level to a flat 8
-Adjusted Blood Curse of the Anxious so you can now only amplify it once per day
-Added Blood Curse of Exposure (which is a cool addition!)
-Adjusted multiclassing proficiencies. You now also gain 1 skill, bringing it in line with all other classes that provide more than 2 skills

I may have missed something, but that’s what I saw. (I didn’t look as closely for updates regarding subclasses other than Lycan.)
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Nick O February 13, 2020 3:24 am UTC
PURCHASER
Oh dang thanks for pointing that out! That new Blood curse is cool!
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Curtis T February 14, 2020 5:03 am UTC
PURCHASER
-Exalted Mutation changed to use bonus action instead of reaction (might have been a typo before because no trigger was listed)
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Ben W February 21, 2020 5:34 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Lycan Regeneration heal now applies before the bloodlust roll too. That's the only change I think you've missed!
Customer avatar
Juan A February 12, 2020 2:13 am UTC
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...See more
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Nick O February 12, 2020 2:53 am UTC
PURCHASER
The Hemocraft die represents the use of blood magic and is not always harmful to you. Each feature specifies how the die is used. Crimson rite says when you activate the rite you take damage equal to 1 roll of the die and when you hit a creature with a weapon with an active rite you deal extra damage to the target equal to 1 roll of the die.

For blood curses, you only take damage when you amplify them. For Marked, every time you hit the target that is marked, you deal extra damage equal to 1 roll of the die.

Each feature specifies who takes the die damage.

Hope that's helpful and not just spiting the rules back at you
Customer avatar
Juan A February 12, 2020 6:50 am UTC
PURCHASER
That is hugely helpful. I didn't want to assume I wouldn't take damage, as it didn't explicitly state with the blood curses whether you do or don't.

Thanks again!
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Daniel L February 11, 2020 10:04 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Matthew Mercer,
Love the update to the Bloodhunter along with everything you and your colleagues are doing at Critical Role. I wanted to offer a suggestion as feedback, not as a criticism but simply as an alternative option to consider for if and/or when you do any future revisions to the Bloodhunter.
Perhaps given the focus on and use/mastery of ones blood/life essence, proficiency in Constitution saving throws may have more narrative synergy than Intelligence saving throws(though you are the best and only judge who can speak to your true narrative intent and I do not mean to presume to suggest otherwise). DEX and CON saving throws would be a unique(and potent) combination in a class, and in my humble opinion a really good narrative fit for your bloodhunter. I realize the hemo-craft save and other abilities use intelligence(which I love), but both the ranger and monk (with proficiency STR and DEX saves) are examples of saving throw proficiencies that differ from their casting or ki/"casting...See more
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Luke V February 12, 2020 5:34 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Granting both Dex and Con as saving throws goes against 5e design. All classes are given proficiency in one common saving throw (Dex, Con, or Wis) and one uncommon saving throw (Str, Int, or Cha). If anything, switching Dex to Con could make sense.
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Daniel L February 12, 2020 6:06 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Thank you for adding to the discussion. I understand and appreciate your reasoning and indeed switching DEX to CON could be valid option to consider. While it may be somewhat less common than DEX or CON saves, I don't necessarily I agree that STR is an "uncommon" saving throw, as I believe there are many monster statblocks with abilities (as well as other in game situations) that require a strength save. That aside, I am also not sure 5e design requires that the pairing of a common and less common save need be a "hard rule" so long as it is considered when balancing the relative power of the rest of the classes design (and given the "drawbacks" of some of the bloodhunters abilities being fuelled by self damage and potentially requiring a wider range of ability scores to be "optimized", in my humble opinion this may not be outside the realm of balance).
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Nick O February 12, 2020 6:40 pm UTC
PURCHASER
@Luke V, I never knew that was the breakdown, thanks for the insight!
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Nick O February 12, 2020 6:58 pm UTC
PURCHASER
I like the flavor of a Con/Int class. Blood Hunters need to be tough of body to handle the loss of vitality for their blood magic and also have a keen mind to learn about and study their prey ahead of time since they're more focused on using their head (int) instead of their instincts (wis).

Although, now that you don't get Wis ST proficiency I can see a lot of people getting upset since I'm sure they'd want this mostly martial class to at least have Dex ST proficiency.

I wouldn't have a problem with Con/Int because it's pretty cool flavor and also I don't have many strong class design preferences lol
Customer avatar
Luke V February 23, 2020 4:24 pm UTC
PURCHASER
@Daniel L You can look at any of the core classes for 5e and see that they never double dip on the common saving throw abilities, or the uncommon for that matter; it is always one of each. That pretty much makes it a hard rule. You can definitely argue that strength saving throws aren't uncommon, and you may be correct, but they're still uncommon compared to Dex, Con, and Wis saving throws.
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Daniel L March 12, 2020 3:36 pm UTC
PURCHASER
@Luke V Your points are well made and your perspective is appreciated.
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Travis V February 11, 2020 6:08 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Is the intent with the curse of agony that you take 1d8 damage ONCE no matter how many attacks you make, or once per attack? IE: If a creature makes 3 attacks during its turn, does it take 1d8 damage or 2d8? I'm assuming its a once/turn thing, no matter how many attacks you make as long as it is >1.
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Nick O February 11, 2020 6:25 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Since it doesn't specify "for each additional attack" then I would assume it's once/turn if the target makes 2 or more attacks on their turn. Ex: 3 attacks = 1d8 extra necrotic damage
Customer avatar
Matthew M February 13, 2020 5:54 pm UTC
CREATOR
Aye, it is intended to only deal the damage once on a turn no matter how many attacks, so long as the target made more than one attack. :)
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Elijah B February 10, 2020 5:29 pm UTC
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