The cleric is one of the older ideas in Dungeons and Dragons. The idea of the cleric was originally a bit more like the priestly monster hunters from Hammer Horror films crossed with a crusader era European priests. The original cleric write-ups made almost no mention of individual gods. They were just nebulously holy in some manner and could cast spells as a result.
I have a long affection for gravediggers. I played a gravedigger in a larp for around a decade, and I have been a fan of them ever since. I have written D&D stuff around them before. I am also a fan of Death as being seen as a good thing. Too often we treat death like a villain and that is not a healthy way to look at things. I am not saying we should all go out and embrace our inner goth, but anyone who has cared for terminal patients or a large number of other medical condition can tell you that sometimes death is a mercy.
With that in mind, I give you the Grave Knights, those paladins who follow the Oath of the Grave.
In D&D, spells have names. This is based on some fiction and some legendary sources so it didn’t start with D&D. The notion of names having power is actually pretty old. The concept appears in ancient Egypt and Greece by various terms. By naming the spell, they describe its power.
Most of the spell names in D&D are relatively innocuous if descriptive of their effect. A Fireball spell creates a big ball of fire. Simple and easy. Then there are some spells that have little more story to them. They not only describe the effect, but carry the name of the wizard who created it.
This has been a part of D&D since the earliest days. It is evocative tells you something of the world. If you know that there is a Tenser’s Floating disk, then you know that Tenser is an important figure in the world your playing in. He made a spell that is important enough that you learned it without meeting him. You might have questions about this Tenser person? or Bigby? or Melf?
So, what do you do if your world has no Melf? No Bigby? Do you just leave them the same or do you change the names to reflect your world? This will depend on your world.
I am writing this for use in the Midgard setting, but I should state upfront that this can be used for just about any setting. A grappling style Monk would fit in just about any setting that allows monks. I recently wrote a blog post about the weird misconceptions held about martial arts and how they shape their presentation in D&D. One of the reasons I wrote that was because I could see some specific archetypes for Monks in Midgard I wanted to make.
So, there is an idea out there that monks have no place in a western European inspired campaign setting. Settings like Forgotten Realms or Greyhawk owe a lot to western European history, legends, and literature for their basis, and monks are not part of those traditions, or so the argument goes. This came to mind while looking at the Midgard setting and noticing they had many character options for the range of character classes, but not for monks. I asked about this and was directed to this blog post about monk weapons characteristics, which is awesome, but was also told there was not a lot of places for monks in Midgard to be from. That feels like something I can counter. Note: I love the Midgard setting and I am not offering criticism here. I am writing this because I feel this is a common sentiment that maybe should be countered.
I like utility magic items. My favorite magic item, hands down, is the Immovable Rod. It practically begs you to think creatively about how to use it. The magic weapons are fine, and the powerful artifacts are great macguffins for your story, but utility style wondrous items are often great ways to relay magic without having to change a power level. It is also provides some flavor to a character and how they interact with challenges. Having a few clever toys can be as much of a statement as a Holy Avenger.
I am also fond of rogues and other thieving ne’er-do-wells. You might have figured this out in by all my posts about thieves guilds. They are very pragmatic in their approaches to problems. A thief who murders every problem doesn’t actually last long. Having useful tools to avoid that is ideal.
I decided to combine these two loves, so here are a few roguish magic items.
Decided to take a pass at making a background. This time around I am making a background for a variation on Criminals. The general Criminal background is fine and I even use it for one of my PC’s but it seems to me that there was space for more. Criminals come in a wide range and having backgrounds to reflect some of those variations could be useful. I thought I would start with a Con Artist.
A bit of trivia. The term “Mark” is a reference to a mark that was made on the back in chalk at carnivals. The mark was to indicate the subject was susceptible to trickery. The chalk mark would be applied with a pat on the back. It has come to mean the subject of a confidence job in general.
Fantasy and science fiction have always overlapped a little. In post-apocalyptic fantasy you have permission to combine both a little more freely. I am going to swing at this idea which has been bouncing around in my head for a while. This is also pulling a good deal from my recent post about God Thrones, a post apocalyptic fantasy setting in my head of late. The idea of course can work in other settings. As an example, is a crashed spaceship in the classic Mystara setting. That ship is leaking radiation and causing a range of problems. This might fit in there.
So here are a few of more Thieves Guilds archetypes. Clearly, I have a problem. This is my cow bell to be sure. I think the Thieves Guild is an interesting element and can be used to serve a lot of functions. Sometimes they are just vehicle for the thief in a party to get things. Sometimes they are plot hook providers. You can use them as the premise for a group of PC’s or you can use them as antagonists in your campaign.
With all of that in mind, here are an extra set of guild ideas. They could easily fit in a number of campaigns. I also have my previous post listing some World Guilds. Between these I hope I have given enough fodder to help spice up your underworld.
As is often the case, I was inspired by a friend’s work. My pal Greg over on his blog wrote up a barbarian build for the Urban Arcana Unearthed Arcana article….. Wow, that a repetitive sounding sentence. That phrase almost counts as alliteration. That should totally be a comic book phrase. I should find that as the title of a book in Dr. Strange’s library.
Anyway, where was I?
Anyway, his build was for a city tied barbarian pulling on the spirit of a neighborhood. It felt very Luke Cage adjacent. When I commented such, he admitted he was inspired by that Netflix show. I hardily approve of that inspiration. I am a huge comic book nerd and I am contractually obligated to at least try out all comic book shows. Luke Cage is excellent and talks not only about his being a superhero but how he is connected to Harlem. If you have not watched that show, you should go do that now. I am willing to wait. While you are at it, watch the rest of the Netflix Marvel shows, even Iron Fist.
We will check back here in about a week.
Oh good, you came back. It was good, right?
Anyway, given that inspiration I decided I would do my own modern-day character build inspired by those shows. With that in mind, I present you the Vigilante. While not precisely any one superhero, you can see a few different ones inspiring it.
Vigilante Rogue Archetype.
The vigilante is someone who can no longer stand by and let the powerful make victims of us all. Perhaps it was a tragedy in the Vigilante’s past, the loss of a parent or lover, that made them step beyond what the law can do? Maybe they are people who have the power and feel the responsibility to do more? Whatever the cause, the Vigilante patrols the night using their skills bringing justice to those who believe themselves beyond its reach.
You gain proficiency with the disguise kit and the tinkerers’ kit.
The Take Down:
Starting at 3rd level, you can declare you are taking down a target. If they have not taken an action or you are hidden, you have advantage on your first attack. If you succeed, the target makes a constitution save (DC is 8+ your proficiency bonus + your Intelligence modifier) or be rendered unconscious for 1 minute. This effect can only be used on humanoid or human like targets. It does not work on the undead. You still get the advantage on rolls, however.
At Home in the Shadows:
Starting at 9th level, you gain advantage on all stealth checks made in the dark. You also make perception checks without penalty in even total darkness.
At the 13th level, you begin making your own devices to fight crime. These devices use charges, and you have 8+ your proficiency bonus + your Intelligence modifier charges per long rest.
Flashbang: This takes a standard action and produces single blast of light and sound within 60ft of you. The people in a 20 ft radius must make a wisdom save (DC is 8+ your proficiency bonus + your Intelligence modifier) or be subject to the blinded condition for one turn. Does not affect constructs. Charges Cost: 3
Grapnel: You fire a line which is used to move you across the city. Takes a standard move action but moves you up to 60ft, including vertically. You must have a stable stop point at the end, though it can be used as a reaction to falling. Charges Cost: 1
Door Opener: Standard action to use. You can place on any door or wall and it does 10d6 to the target, and will usually cause the door to open even if it survives the blast. It does not do so quietly, and makes a loud boom that could heard by anyone near. It cannot be used on moving or living targets. Charges: 2
Stunners: You can hit a target up to 30ft away with a successful ranged attack role. If you do, that target is stunned for one round. Charges Cost: 1
Tracers: You make a ranged attack. If you succeed, the target is tagged without their knowledge, with a tracer you can follow up to ten miles away. Charges Cost: 1
Smoke: You can generate an area obscured by black smoke within 60ft and fills the area of a 20ft radius. This obscures line of sight for anyone except you. Charges Cost: 2
Swinging into Action:
Starting at the 17th level, your movement is your weapon. In a fight, you are able to pick a point on the battlefield within 60ft of you and, as long as there is a clear line of sight to it, you can reach it without tests or incurring opportunity attacks. As a free action per move, you may make a stealth check to hide, even if it is in plane sight.
Notes: This was written to be compatible with a modern Urban Arcana setting but there is no reason it can’t work in other settings. This would work in Eberron and even Forgotten Realms or Tal Dorei with a touch of flavor tweaking.