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Matt Mercer Presents the Blood Hunter Class for D&D

Matt Mercer Presents the Blood Hunter Class for D&D

Since the release of the original Witch Hunter class, I’ve had some fantastic feedback from the G&S and D&D community at large! Being my first real attempt at a homebrew player class, it certainly had some kinks to work out. At the same time, I was feeling a little creatively stifled with the promotional tie-in, leading to the class name of Witch Hunter being a bit of a misnomer, and some of the abilities occasionally being all-over-the-place, thematically.

Given that the promo has passed, and I’ve been inspired to rework the class to be more “my own.” I’ve taken to renaming and redefining this class as the Blood Hunter.

Thematically, it’s not terribly different than the Witch Hunter, other than placing most of the focus of its abilities on Blood Magic. Think of this like a monster-hunting Martial Blood Magus. This ties in with the Crimson Rite weapon enhancement I kind of built the class around originally, and expands into the use of Blood Curses.

UPDATE:

You can now find the Blood Hunter class on Dungeon Master’s Guild!

A HUGE thank you to all of the wonderful players out there who helped me fine-tune this class. All of your playtesting, feedback, and suggestions were invaluable. I hope you all enjoy this little passion project of my first full Homebrew class for D&D 5e, and happy hunting!

Changes in Blood Hunter Version 1.3:

  1. Swapped out some of the art! Got some pieces that I felt better fit the class, as well as an all-new custom piece of art from one of our incredible Critter artists, Joma Queto for ‘Elias’, as he called him… the quintessential Blood Hunter.
  2. General formatting changes to font-size and layout to make it better fit a smaller document with less pages. Trimmed the word usage on the Leveling table to look less… messy.
  3. Crimson Rite: Removed the Acid damage rite, as it didn’t fit thematically with the Elemental nature of the magic. Specified that Polearms and Quarterstaffs could have rites set on both ends (to clarify regarding feats like Polearm master and avoid exploitation).
  4. Blood Maledict: Major change regarding Amplification of Blood Curses. After lots of feedback from the community and some playtest, it was found that using Hit Dice as a resource kinda unbalanced the short rest heal mechanic and seemed too steep a cost. While I liked the new idea of the mechanic, I want it to be something that has a cost but doesn’t seriously dissuade the player from using it. Thus, I removed the Hit Die cost, and instead now have the character taking damage equal to their Crimson Rite die when amplifying. I did some minor tweaks of some Blood Curses to reflect this.
  5. Dark Velocity: Made the bonus function under Dim Light or Darkness, to better balance it and reflect the theme of the ability. This gives the character incentive to battle in shadow, or snuff light sources.
  6. Order of the Ghostslayer: Major change to Cleansing Rite. The Wisdom damage bonus, after testing, was unbalanced at lower levels and was intended to be more of an “anti-undead” tool in those levels in the initial design. It is now called Rite of the Dawn, and acts as an Esoteric Rite you learn at 3rd level. This rite deals the additional Wis mod damage to Undead, and eventually all creatures at higher levels.
  7. Order of the Ghostslayer: Major change to Supernal Flurry. First off, I regretted the name, as it always made me think of a McFlurry. Thus, changed it to Supernal Surge. Found in playtesting that the extra attack action was a bit more powerful than I initially intended, especially when allowing a free bonus action to stack too many abilities in a single round. I made it now function more like a Frenzy Rage, where the extra attack is a Bonus action. In addition, I removed the heal-upon-kill mechanic (which wasn’t very useful for a short-duration feature) and instead added a spectral movement element that allows the player to move through creatures and objects for the duration. This also gives the surge utility outside of battle. To top it off, the feature now ALWAYS is restored upon a short rest, as opposed to long rest until lvl 15.
  8. Order of the Ghostslayer: Minor clarifications to the Vengeful Spirit ability regarding moving through terrain/creatures, as well as the Spirit Form’s AC.
  9. Order of the Profane Soul: Major change to the Order. I’ve always wanted to incorporate the actual Pact/Patron choice to actually reflect your advancement, but had a hard time doing so without over complicating the order. After some thought, I now made the option to pick one of the three provided Warlock Patrons. This will immediately offer a benefit to your Crimson Rite, and down the road allow you to learn limited use spells from other classes through the Revealed Arcana/Unsealed Arcana features.
  10. Order of the Profane Soul: Minor changes to Diabolic Channel. Added the benefit that an attack with this Feature that has Advantage imposes Disadvantage on the target’s Saving Throw for the spell. I also removed the spell space limitation, meaning you can indeed channel an area spell through it and have it effect others nearby. Just be aware that some spells may put YOU in the area as well.
  11. Order of the Profane Soul: Removed the Arcane Impulse ability. This feature was decent, but I felt the newer Patron-based features were more consistently useful and in-theme, so I decided to take this one out.

Original Blood Hunter changes and clarifications:

  1. Hit Die increase from 1d8 -> 1d10.
    • In practice, the d8 was too low for a martial class, as the core ability of the Crimson Rite reduced it to an effective 1d6 when in use. Giving it a bit of a push brings it in line with the Rogue’s HP progression with an active Crimson Rite.
  2. More utility for core abilities.
    • I wanted to expand on some non-combat abilities to allow better use in story and social aspects, playing into the “enhanced, if scary” element of the class’ nature. This plays out through the 9th level Grim Psychometry feature, and the 11th level benefit to Hunter’s Bane.
  3. Esoteric Rite “Aether” replaced by “Oracle”.
    • I found after release that so few creatures were resistant or immune to Force damage, that Aether became an unintentionally powerful choice, outshining the utility of the other choices.
  4. Added Fighting Styles.
    • As a martial class, these options really aid a player in customizing their character and how they approach their build, design, and flavor. Community feedback favored this inclusion greatly, and in hindsight, I really had no reason to have not included it at the beginning.
  5. Removed Runes to replace with the Blood Maledict feature.
    • These curses offer the Blood Hunter useful combat benefits by manipulating an opponent’s blood, or enhancing your own rite. Sacrificing a small portion of your own vitality (in the form of Hit Dice) can “Amplify” each blood curse for a more powerful or longer lasting effect.
    • I wanted to push the “using your own life force as a resource” element, and tie in the ‘Rune’ abilities from the Witch Hunter to be more thematic, as well as offer more variety and customization. Rune of Binding was also WAY too powerful in practice, so I balanced that as a Blood Curse more towards its intended effect as a crowd control utility.
  6. Dark Velocity also increases Speed.
    • For an 11th level benefit, it really needed a boost. I see the Blood Hunter being a swift-moving dance of sanguine death on the battlefield, and the speed boost + AoO disadvantage helps allow for that.
  7. Enduring Form is now a Death Save re-roll.
    • Originally, this was just an ability to explain the movie tie-in aspect of the Witch Hunter being able to live so long (as per the film), but I never felt that really fit with the theme I wanted to develop. Thus, I tailored it to instead be a reflection of the body and blood refusing death, sacrificing long-term benefit for immediate protection.
  8. Sanguine Mastery now is BETTER.
    • For a capstone ability at level 20, all classes tend to have something frikkin awesome and epic. While getting back that HP is cool, it wasn’t as comparable to other classes, and it needed a boost. Allowing you to max your Rite damage if under 1/2 HP really gives a nice benefit that is thematic to the class… danger and sacrifice = reward.
  9. Order of the Ghost changes: Removed the Stubborn Vitality (due to drains being so rare), Supernal Riposte, and Voracious Strike. Supernal Riposte was a cool theory, but in practice made combat movement too strange to be effective. Added Supernal Flurry to give a temporary Bonus Attack and self-heal on a kill, rolling Voracious into it a bit. Granted the Vengeful Spirit, a cool, thematic ability to keep fighting as a ghost when knocked unconscious.
  10. Order of the Profane Soul changes: Clarified Diabolic Channel to allow concentration attack spells (Vampiric Touch, etc.) and to be used indefinitely, but only be functional with spells 1st level or higher. This was to help make it a more useful feature in general. Added Rite Bond, allowing resistance based on Rite choice. Insidious Boon was dropped due to being generally underwhelming for an 18th level feature. Soul Syphon can regain an expended spell slot if you deal the finishing blow to a powerful enemy, helping cement the Martial Caster element of the class.
  11. Order of the Mutant Changes: Changed Mutagens from using your Constitution Mod to scale to instead scale with level using a Mutation score. Previously, it allowed for unintentional game-breaking in early levels, especially when multiclassing. This now allows a gradual, yet still awesome, benefit build. Removed some mutagen formulas, due to feedback helping some stand out as rather unfavorable. Balanced some side effects. Changed Exalted Fortitude to Exalted Mutation, giving a permanent benefit of a formula (a better capstone ability for the order).
  12. Added details for Multi-classing into Blood Hunter.
    • (I had ENTIRELY forgot about this when I released the original class).
  13. Generally expanding on rule descriptions to help with any future RAW issues, I hope! Learned a LOT about being specific with rules after you all got a hold of it. 😉

There are many other small changes and adjustments, but anyway, here ya go! Enjoy researching and tracking your enemies, tuning your abilities to their weaknesses, hunting them down, and twisting their own body against them as your weapon strikes true!

Mind you, you are more than welcome to continue using the previous Witch Hunter class, if you prefer! I just recommend this one… it’s better balanced, and has got more going on. 😉

BIG thanks to everyone out there who helped playtest and give feedback on the class, including Mike Mearls for taking time out of his busy schedule making the damn game to offer me insightful feedback. It’s all greatly appreciated.

Much love to you all, and is it Thursday yet?

-Matthew Mercer

 

You can still find the Witch Hunter class here. Check out Matthew’s amazing DM skills on Critical Role every Thursday at 7pm on Geek & Sundry’s Twtch channel!

 

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