May 10, 2015

Master of Masks

Bardic College
Comments from the Finger: The College of Masks is a direct callback to the 3.5 Complete Scoundrel prestige class, Master of Masks, which afforded a character the ability to create masks which offered minute benefits and the ability to swap them easily. The sub-class presented below takes that mechanic and merges it with the spirit of the 3.5 Factotum class, which gave a character a limited use of some of the defining characteristics of the core classes - like a Class Feature sampler, if you will. As such, there's a more limited number of masks to be chosen from, and each has more power, and usually a direct link to another core class.
     I put a great deal of personal pride in this conversion. I like playing it, and I like the number of different results one can come up with when mixing and matching different Persona Masks. Even if we get a proper Factotum in this edition, it'll have a hard time matching the flavor of the College of Masks. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

College of Masks

Bards in the College of Masks (or Masters of Masks, as they have come to be called) are virtuoso performers who practice becoming the figure they portray, rather than merely imitating them. Bards who practice in this college come to believe that all life is performed, rather than lived, and that to become an actor in this Great Play requires that one merely puts on the metaphorical mask of another. Because each person wears a mask every day, a Master of Masks carries with him a number of masks, each a potent magical artifact of a specific archetypical character or creature to allow them to better enter those roles.

Bonus Proficiencies
When you join the College of Masks at 3rd level, you gain proficiency in Deception and Performance. If you are already proficient in one of these skills you may choose another skill proficiency from among those bards can choose at 1st level.

Persona Masks
Also at 3rd level, you learn to craft potent magical masks, each of which allows you to take on a different persona and gain some aspect of that archetypical character.
     At 3rd level, you gain the ability to create two masks of your choice. Creating a mask requires 8 hours of work and 100 gp. You may only use masks created by yourself. No one else (even another Master of Masks) can benefit from a persona mask you create. You may switch masks as a bonus action.

Hidden Mask
At 6th level, you can craft 1 additional mask of your choice. You wear a mask, even when others cannot see it. You may make a mask you wear become invisible, or return an invisible mask to visibility, as a bonus action.

Master of Many Masks
At 14th level, you can craft 1 additional mask of your choice. You have become a master of assuming the archetypes contained within the masks, and may wear two masks simultaneously, gaining the benefits of each. For each alignment axis (good/evil or lawful/chaotic) your alignment appears neutral if your masks disagree for how your alignment appears.


Persona Masks
Angel
The image of an androgynous face with eyes serenely upturned to the heavens forms this mask, carved from flawless alabaster. When you hit a creature with a melee weapon attack, you can expend one spell slot to deal radiant damage to the target, in addition to the weapon’s damage. The extra damage is 1d8 for a 1st-level spell slot, plus 1d8 for each spell level higher than 1st, to a maximum of 4d8. Beginning at 6th level, you may expend a Bardic Inspiration die as an action to heal a creature you touch by the amount rolled plus your Charisma modifier. Your alignment appears to be lawful good while you are wearing an Angel mask.

Archmage
This mask of deep purple fluorite is sculpted in the image of a heavily wrinkled old man. While wearing the mask of the Archmage, you have the spells burning hands, expeditious retreat, grease, and magic missile prepared in addition to the spells you have prepared. Beginning at 6th level, add scorching ray and gust of wind to your spell prepared. In addition at 6th level, you can expend a Bardic Inspiration die as a bonus action to increase the save DC of a spell cast by you by half the amount rolled, rounded down. You must finish a long rest before using this ability again. Your alignment appears to be chaotic good while you wear the Archmage mask.

Assassin
Hardened black leather and metal clasps create the disturbing aspect of the assassin. While wearing this mask, you gain the Rogue Sneak Attack class feature with damage as a rogue of half your level. Beginning at 6th level, when you make a melee attack against a creature who hasn't taken a turn in combat yet, you can expend a Bardic Inspiration die as a bonus action to increase damage your damage against that creature by the amount rolled. Your alignment appears to be lawful evil while you wear an Assassin mask.

Beast
Bright, flaking warpaint streaks this battered wooden image of a snarling, fang-toothed wild man. While wearing this mask, you gain the Barbarian Reckless Attack class feature. In addition, beginning at 6th level, when you score a critical hit with a melee weapon attack, you can expend a Bardic Inspiration as a bonus action increase your damage by the amount rolled. Your alignment appears to be true neutral while wearing a Beast mask.

Demon
This obsidian mask bears the visage of a darkly handsome fiend. Small, black horns adorn the demon's forehead, and its black ears rise to points. You have resistance to fire and cold damage while you are wearing this mask. At 6th level, you can glare at a single target when they make an attack against you and expend a Bardic Inspiration die as a reaction to reduce their attack roll by the amount rolled. Your alignment appears to be chaotic evil while wearing a Demon mask.

Dragon
This multihued mask of precious metals and scintillating gemstones forms the terrible visage of a snarling wyrm. While you wear this mask, you can use your action to exhale destructive energy. Each creature in a 15-foot cone must make Dexterity saving throw. A creature takes 4d6 fire damage on a failed save, and half as much damage on a successful one. You cannot use this ability again for 1d4 rounds after using it. Beginning at 6th level, you may expend a Bardic Inspiration die as a bonus action to gain resistance to an energy type of your choice for a number of rounds equal to the amount rolled. Your alignment appears to be neutral evil while you wear a Dragon mask.

Faceless
Only a pair of empty eyeholes break this otherwise featureless oval, porcelain mask. While you wear this mask, you have advantage on saves against spells. Beginning at 6th level, you can spend a Bardic Inspiration die as a bonus action to gain advantage on Stealth checks for a number of rounds equal to the result rolled. Your alignment appears to be neutral while you are wearing a Faceless mask.

Gladiator
This wyvern-hide mask is shaped like the face of a grim warrior. Scars cover its surface, and silver chainmail rings surround its outer edge. While you wear this mask, you have proficiency with martial weapons. Beginning at 6th level, when you make a melee weapon attack, you can expend a Bardic Inspiration die as a bonus action to increase your attack roll by the amount rolled. Your alignment appears to be chaotic neutral while you wear a Gladiator mask.

High Priest
This mask of rose porphyry has a wide mouth open in song, but instead of eyes it has slits twisted into runes, which somehow do not restrict your vision. While wearing the mask of the high Priest, you have the spells bless, detect evil and good, healing word, and shield of faith prepared in addition to the spells you have prepared. Beginning at 6th level, add aid and zone of truth to your spells prepared. In addition at 6th level, you can expend a Bardic Inspiration die as a bonus action to increase the save DC of a spell cast by you by half the amount rolled, rounded down. You must finish a long rest before using this ability again. Your alignment appears to be neutral good while you wear a High Priest mask.

Monk
This smoothly sanded wooden mask depicts the stern face of a bald man. While wearing this mask you gain the Monk Martial Arts class feature using Unarmed Strike damage of your level. Beginning at 6th level, you may roll a Bardic Inspiration die as a bonus action to cast feather fall targeted only on yourself for a number of rounds equal to the amount rolled. You alignment appears to be lawful neutral while you wear a Monk mask.



Changelog: 6/23/15: Archmage and High Priest can only increase your save DC by half the amount rolled on a Bardic Inspiration die.
7/20/15: Angel is lawful good

9 comments:

  1. Very cool class. But why would the Angel mask appear as Lawful Neutral rather than say Lawful Good? Is this merely an overlooked typo, for as it stands there are no Lawful Good masks on display here. Which I find strange.

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    1. That is actually an error I never noticed before. I'll change it in a moment.

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  2. Why not add a free disguise self? I mean, I don't know if it would fit for a person that uses *only* masks, but *maybe* it could add to the flavor.

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  3. Super cool, and I love the concept, but kinda unbalanced. The Dragon mask is 4d6 at level 3? And available every 1D4 rounds?
    The closest I can see to that is Burning hands cast with a level 2 spell slot, which at level 3 you could cast twice a day.

    Assuming you always roll 4 on the D4, you'll only use it once per encounter, but that's still 6-8 encounters per advenuturing day, which is way more than a comparable ability. Unless you put either level restrictions on the masks, or tweak their damage or regularity of the spells, it's a bit OP.

    Also the bard already has a tonne of versatility, this will push that even further, into the realms of other classes and potentially upset your table if one character can now do the all the special things that everyone else can.

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    1. To respond to these in an itemized way:

      The dragon mask is a little powerful for the level, but less than you might think. After all, even if a creature fails their save against this feature, it's an average of 14 damage on each creature. For comparison, a barbarian swinging a greataxe should deal an average of 11-12 every turn, without any optimization. Finally, the mask doesn't scale, so it has poor late game potential, which is the real trade-off.

      On the versatility: that's totally the point here. You can get a little taste of the other classes, without being overtly better at anything. It's a sampler-platter of a subclass. Furthermore, you have to choose which mask (and at 14th level, masks) you're wearing each turn, which means you can perform a lot of roles, but not all of them at the same time.

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    2. I think the damage is a bit much really. A Barbarian can Rage three times a day and has limitations to it as well. If you have 6 encounters with 4 rounds in each they would have a similar uptime, but Bards also have full spellcasting while Barbarian outside of this will have to use a strictly worse alternative, attacking without Rage which means 9-10 average damage. Simple, stable damage is best done by martials and having an option to overshadow that even if only at lower levels is not a good idea I think. Also important is the fact that this is an AoE damage feature.

      Also you're right that it scales very badly, but I don't think that's the way to balance it as it just means you will never use this mask's feature on higher levels (level 11 dragonborn does the same amount of damage) except maybe for the resistance. Plus unless it's intended that you cannot make new masks (you have to keep whatever masks you made, forever) then I would hate having picked this once I reached that point. If you can do that the scaling doesn't matter.

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  4. Will you be adding more masks in the future if you get ideas? Maybe a Great-Old-One mask or a Noble-man one? Honestly, I'm fine with the selection now as there are many to pick from making it hard to choose.

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  5. Oh, and I mentioned this on the Arminger too, though I later saw why he had to pay for aditional modules.
    Is it really smart to make a core feature cost? Sure, bards can get a ton of money, and you did get them performance with this subclass, but making a core feature cost, when it's not something aditional like a wizard has with spells, is in my opinion a bad idea.

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