Saturday, February 19, 2022

5e Monk Subclass: Brotherhood of the Bond

 Brotherhood of the Bond


The Brotherhood of the Bond is an order of spies in service to an island nation. Unlike many monastic orders, most are not trained from their youth to service, instead entering after a time in the military (or prison), and demonstrating exceptional talent, loyalty, and drive... maladjusted young men and women who give little thought to sacrificing others to protect Queen and Country. Building on their basic military or criminal backgrounds, the Brotherhood of the Bond introduces them to the arts of covertcy, as well as extensive training in unarmed and improvisational combat. Most members of the Brotherhood are LN, but LE and LG are not uncommon; those who are LE are prized for certain assignments due to their practicality, while the LG members frequently serve on security details for their aged queen and her family. While not a truly mystical order, the Brotherhood of the Bond holds that immortality comes through service to something beyond oneself; in their case, their nation. Many monks believe that exceptional agents will be reborn, again and again, always to rejoin the Bond and serve in Her Majesty's secret service.


The Brotherhood of the Bond does not have many of the traditional strictures placed upon monks, save discipline. As part of their work, they are frequently expected to drink, eat, and consort with all sorts of persons, in all sorts of situations. What must not waver, however, is discipline. They drink, but they avoid drunkeness. They eat such foods as are presented, but they avoid gorging themselves. They may gamble, take lovers, lie, cheat, and steal... but never from or to Her Majesty, her government, or their superiors. They may deal with money and other treasure, but keep little for themselves, returning or gifting most to the treasury as soon as they are able. 


One's mastery is simply noted by one's level of experience, while one's assignment within the Brotherhood is noted by a complex code of one or two letters. This code is understood by all of the Bond, and so a simple three-character designation can tell a Brother or Sister much of what they need to know of another member.


The current head of the Brotherhood of the Bond is known to her underlings as M16, with M indicating one whose assignment is "Mastery", or leadership of other Brothers and Sisters. She is a formidable woman, even in her later years, and a frequent confidant of the Queen.



3rd level: Spectre

If not already proficient in them, the monk becomes proficient in one of the following skills: Stealth, Sleight of Hand, Investigation, Insight, Perception, Deception, or Persuasion. They also gain proficiency with one of the following, the disguise kit, forgery kit, or thieves tools.

As a reaction, upon failing a roll with one of these skills or tools, they may spend 1 ki point to roll the test again, and take the second result. This applies regardless of whether they are proficient with the skill or not.


6th level: On Her Majesty’s Secret Service

As covert agents, the monk must be able to pass in any number of professions, and use any number of tools. For 1 ki point, the monk may gain proficiency in a skill, tool, language, or weapon for 10 minutes. For 2 ki points, they may gain expertise in a skill or tool, with which they are already proficient, for 1 minute. These may be stacked, allowing the monk to become an instant expert with a skill or tool for 1 minute, with proficiency continuing for the full 10 minutes.


11th level: License to Kill

At 11th level, you may make a sudden strike against a target who you have surprised, or against whom you have advantage on attacks. Once per turn, against such a target, the monk does additional damage equal to their current ki points.


17th level: You Only Live Twice

At 17th level, the monk is able to transcend death in order to remain in service to Her Majesty and the Brotherhood. At the moment of death, and for up to three days thereafter, the monk may choose to reincarnate, as the spell. The new body will reappear in a safe place, up to five miles from the place of death or the current location of the mostly intact body.

In addition, members of the Brotherhood of this level may cast reincarnation on other members of the Brotherhood. This requires one hour and 5 ki points, but no verbal or material components, only constant contact with the corpse.


Saturday, February 12, 2022

5e: Bard College of Arcana

After discussing it with a friend (who is currently playing a Lore Bard), I've made some big changes to this subclass, narrowing their scope a bit. The original is at the bottom, but very small.


College of Arcana

The college of Arcana are different from the other Bards, and broke off from the College of Lore about three score years ago. While the College of Lore focuses on a breadth of knowledge, the College of Arcana focuses exclusively on the study of magic. In that study, they learn the basic secrets of wizardly magic; not the indepth secrets of the wizard schools, but enough that they begin to keep a spellbook and prepare spells like a wizard, in addition to some access to bard magic.

3rd: Additional Skill

At 3rd level, College of Arcana bards receive proficiency in Arcana, or in another skill of choice if they are already proficient. They may apply their 3rd level Bard expertise to Arcana, even if they just learned it.

3rd: Wizard Magic

At 3rd level, the College of Arcana bard switches their style of casting to that of a Wizard; they maintain a spellbook, may learn new spells from the spellbooks of wizards and other bards of the College, and prepare spells each morning. They use Intelligence as their casting attribute, are able to cast any of their prepared spells using any appropriate slots, and so on; all as outlined under "Spellcasting" in the Wizard class description, and the Your Spellbook sidebar, on page 114 of the Player's Handbook.

Their initial spellbook contains all of their 1st level Bard spells, as well as a 2nd level spell from either the Bard spell list or from their chosen Wizard schools. They may no longer cast spells as Bards; Charisma is no longer their casting attribute, and they must prepare spells, not cast spontaneously. They do retain Bardic ritual casting, but may not longer use musical instruments as arcane foci, though they may use arcane foci appropriate to wizards.

As they learned Bardic Magic first, they do have the bonus that all 5 of the bard spells they learned at 1st and 2nd level are prepared at all times. As they advance in levels, they learn spells from either the Bard list or their selected Wizard schools, and all of these spells must be prepared. They may not learn additional Bard spells except through level gain or by finding them in the spellbook of another bard of the College of Arcana. Wizards are not able to cast these Bard spells (unless they are also Wizard spells).

3rd Level: School Selection
At levels 3, 6, and 14, the bard selects a single wizard school. They may learn and cast spells from this school, and gain the 2nd level features of this school. Thus, one bard may learn Evocation, and thus gain Evocation Savant and Sculpt spells, while another may learn Necromancy, and gain Necromancy Savant and Grim Harvest.

Additional Note: Magical Secrets
At levels 10, 14, and 18, bards may select 2 spells, of a level they can cast, and learn them as Bard spells. In the hands of an Arcana Bard, these spells are recorded in the Bard's spellbook, but cannot be learned by Bard or Wizard, unless they are normally Bard or Wizard spells; otherwise, they are simply too esoteric for those casters to unravel. Wizard spells acquired through Magical Secrets do not need to be from one of the Bard's chosen schools.




College of Arcana
The college of Arcana are different from the other Bards, and broke off from the College of Lore about three score years ago. While the College of Lore focuses on a breadth of knowledge, the College of Arcana focuses exclusively on the study of magic. In that study, they learn the basic secrets of wizardly magic; not the indepth secrets of the wizard schools, but enough that they begin to keep a spellbook and prepare spells like a wizard, in addition to some access to bard magic.

3rd: Wizard Magic

At 3rd level, the College of Arcana bard switches their style of casting to that of a Wizard; they maintain a spellbook and prepare spells each morning. They use Intelligence as their casting attribute, are able to cast any of their prepared spells using any appropriate slots, and so on; all as outlined under "Spellcasting" in the Wizard class description, and the Your Spellbook sidebar, on page 114 of the Player's Handbook (save "Learning Spells of 1st level and higher"; they receive only 1 spell upon gaining a level, not 2). Furthermore, they may now learn all wizard spells as wizard spells. Their initial spellbook contains all of their 1st level Bard spells, as well as a 2nd level spell from either the Wizard or Bard spell list. They may no longer cast spells as Bards; Charisma is no longer their casting attribute, and they must prepare spells, not cast spontaneously. They do retain Bardic ritual casting, but may not longer use musical instruments as arcane foci.

As they learned Bardic Magic first, they do have the bonus that all 5 of the bard spells they learned at 1st and 2nd level are prepared at all times. However, as they advance in levels, they only learn one spell per level (unless they gain access to a spellbook containing other spell), from either the Bard or Wizard lists, and all of these spells must be prepared. They may not learn additional Bard spells except through level gain or by finding them in the spellbook of another bard of the College of Arcana. Wizards are not able to cast these Bard spells (unless they are also Wizard spells).

3rd: Additional Expertise

At 3rd level, College of Arcana bards receive Expertise in Arcana, in addition to the Expertise that all bards gain at 3rd level.

6th: School Secrets

At 6th level, the College of Arcana begins to unravel some of the secrets of Wizardly traditions; they may choose any one power granted to a Wizardly tradition at 2nd level. For example, a bard who favors abjurations may choose either Abjuration Savant or Arcane Ward (p. 115), but not both.

14th level: Further School Secrets

At 14th level, the College of Arcana unravels some further secrets of Wizard traditions. They may again choose any one power granted to a Wizardly tradition at 2nd level; this need not be from the same school as the secret granted at 6th level, but it cannot be the same secret; they cannot choose Abjuration Savant twice to reduce the costs to one quarter, nor Arcane Ward twice to create two wards, or a double-strength ward, when casting Abjurations.