June 24, 2016

Book of Binding

The 5e Binder is the result of a year-long collaboration on the Giant in the Playground boards, which is actually where I (the Finger) and Submortimer (the Palm) met. We've poured countless hours into its development, and it's finally time to call the Binder complete.

The binder represents a new type of spellcaster. Rather than learning spells, a binder negotiates with vestiges, remnants of spirits that exist in the void outside reality. In exchange for sharing his body and soul with these spirits for a short time, the binder gains some of the powers they had in life. Essentially, the binder can switch and choose his powers, and party role, daily.

Now, I understand this class might be intimidating to pick up due to the sheer number of vestiges on display, so we've included a number of tools to make it easier: at the beginning of the Vestige Codex chapter, there's a table detailing every vestige and its powers to help you familiarize yourself with your choices. Then, at the end of the PDF, there are printable Vestige Cards, which summarize the powers and abilities offered by vestiges. These can be printed out on standard 8.5"x11" paper and put in trading card sleeves to play the class with only a one page character sheet and a small deck of cards.

It's customary on Middle Finger of Vecna for us to provide a plaintext version of all of our material, but due to the sheer scope of this class, we've posted the 5e Binder and Vestige Codex on GiantITP boards, where they can be accessed without downloading anything. If you have a comment or question about the class, posting it here will help you get a response.

Last, but not least, if you like this type of offering, consider following us on Patreon, since it's this type of support that allows us to chase such ambitious projects and bring them to life.



Changelog: 6/26/16: Suppress Sign: Moved to subpoint under Pact Magic, no longer in table
Minor Spirits: Now uses consistent wording for cantrips
Patron's Aegis: 5 + binder level, not Charisma score
Amon: Amon's Horns: Typo fixed
Dahlver-Nar: Share Harm: Reworded
Ronove: Far Hand: 'You' make a Charisma check, not the hand
Aym: Golden Halo: Duration fixed
7/7/16: Ronove: was missing Sprint and Ronove's Endurance features in PDF
8/11/16: Vestige Cards: Karsus was missing resistance to spell damage
8/21/16: Quick Build: Edited to better represent a successful Binder stat array
Minor Spirit: Ghost: Specifies ranged spell attack roll
Naberius: Noble Bloodhound: Feature added; was missing in the PDF
Aym: Golden Halo: Reworded
Tenebrous Domain: Spells: Typo on 'destructive wave'
Cards: Changes made to Savnok, Tenebrous, and Halphax

68 comments:

  1. I am sincerly excited about this. Like a little kid on Christmas morning. Well done! I haven't read it all yet but I think I know what I'll be doing for some time now.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm glad you're excited! And, just to get this out of the way for everyone that feels the same way: consider supporting us on patreon! It makes projects like this possible and we definitely appreciate it!

      Delete
  2. Just to be sure, all the minor spirits that do attacks, do you add your charisma modifier to the damage, or did you guys thing it was too much?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Minor spirits do just the damage listed -- you don't add your Charisma modifier. After all, it's a bonus action attack roll; we didn't go crazy.

      Delete
  3. Ever since you posted this on Patreon I have been slowly making my way through this massive book and it's magnificient. I can't wait to play one of these guys

    ReplyDelete
  4. Maybe I'm just missing something, but is there a rule for how many Vestiges you are capable of picking from? Do you simply gain access to all Vestiges at the appropriate level, or do you pick from a smaller list that you know the arcane rites and offerings to give to them?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. In a mechanical sense, you know all the vestiges you are capable of summoning. From a roleplay perspective, you need to know a vestige's name, title, and seal (and perhaps a special ritual.) Your DM can decide that you need to do some research to learn one or more of these things before you can summon a vestige

      Delete
    2. Alright, was just wondering if there was a rate you personally would advocate like the number of spells known by more traditional casters.

      Delete
    3. Frankly, the class is just more fun if you have access to lots of vestiges. You can't bind many at a time, but having the ability to choose your role freely makes this class a joy to play, so I'd advocate playing with all of them available to you.

      Delete
    4. I have the same question about Minor Spirits. there's a reference about changing known spirits (i.e. "When you gain a level in this class, you can choose to replace a minor spirit you can bind with another."), but there's no starting number of Spirits known. Am i missing something, or do I use the same procedure descrived above with Vestiges?

      Delete
    5. You start with one minor spirit, and get additional spirits as you gain levels in the class. You don't really reselect your minor spirits as you do your vestiges; you just know a number of them, which you choose, and can switch between your active one as a bonus action.

      Delete
  5. Are spells gained from vestiges cast at the minimum level, or is it like a warlock?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Some spells in there mention being cast at certain levels but most don't. I'd be inclined to think they are cast at minimum, but i would hope otherwise

      Delete
    2. Spells without a specified level are cast at the lowest level possible. This is true in general for D&D, and it is true for all cases in the Binder

      Delete
  6. Arshaladon, Pyre of the Unborn would be a really cool 9th level vestige

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Woosh! That reference went right over my head.

      Delete
  7. Hey guys, quick question here. For Paimon The Dancer's "Lord of the Dance" feature, Performance is listed as a Dexterity based skill, while in the PHB it's listed as Charisma based. In addition, would the Dancer's Grace still apply to performance, since it isn't Dexterity based?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dex (Performance) is intentional, using the Skills with Different Abilities variant rule, pg. 175 PHB. Dancer's Grace only applies to Performance when it's being used in conjunction with Dexterity -- it has no effect with the normal use of Charisma (Performance)

      Delete
    2. Awesome, thanks for clearing that up. I'm super excited to play this!

      Delete
    3. I've been playtesting it for a while, and it's a blast. Use the vestige cards if you get the chance!

      Delete
  8. I have been looking for this ever since I got a taste when I got a chance to try it in a 3.5 adventure. Multiclass options are 13+ Cha, weapon/armor profs yeah?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm not sure I added rules for multiclassing into the binder from another class. Requirement is 13 Charisma, and you get proficiency with ritual implements.

      Delete
  9. Do unarmed strikes count as melee weapon attacks?

    ReplyDelete
  10. Hey man, I don't know if you remember me. The_Doctor? I was there too. Good job finishing this.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey, long time, no see! Of course we remember you -- I gave you a shout out on the table of contents page!

      Delete
  11. Now the only thing I need is the Totemist and my list of homebrew requests is empty!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Also, I don't see anything mentioning it, so I guess you coudln't use the dexterity modifier for Ipos's Cold Iron Claws?

      Delete
    2. Currently, Cold Iron Claws uses Strength to hit and damage, but you can make this Dexterity if you also bind Ronove

      Delete
    3. Damn. I already have a 3 vestiges I want to use together, and because of this, Ronove comes as a 4th one. Welp.

      Delete
    4. This is very much the joy and challenge of the binder -- you want to bind lots of vestiges at once, but you have to make touch calls on which ones you bind each day.

      Delete
    5. Totemist looks pretty cool. Kinda sad I didn't know about it back in the 3.5 days.

      Delete
    6. Magic of Incarnum is pretty high up there on the list of things I want to port over to 5e, but it would need a very carfeul hand: it's a pretty complicated system, even moreso than the Binder, and getting something like that simplified to the point that it fits in 5e WITHOUT getting rid of the overall feel of the class can be a significant challenge.

      Delete
  12. Since there is not any discussion about the feats, I want to chime in - is there any chance you could fit in a small edit to Mage Hunter that says something about "Your training allows you to identify creatures who have cast spells in the last 24 hours, with no check required"?

    The recent Unearthed Arcana:Feats made me think, in a game with these rules and the current wording, it is implied that people with Mage Hunter are the only ones who can identify the lingering essence of spells, preventing someone without it from having a check adjucated.

    Thank you for your time.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You make a good point, but I would argue that this is just the sort of thing that normally WOULD require at least an Arcana check.

      Delete
    2. Right, but it is a matter of (as said in the UA) making it so the feat doesn't read as ONLY someone with the feat can make the attempt. (As presently, it does and that clashes with the now explictly stated feat design). Adding "with no check required" just keeps things airtight and future proof.

      While I wholeheartedly agree that is an arcana check normally, the present feat simply states you can do it. Someone who isnt playing VH might pick up this book at their table and think, "Man, getting to root out casters is cool. But I need the feat to do it at all?"

      With the slight rewording, you open the door for someone to narratively grow into becoming so familiar with spellcasters they no longer need to roll.

      In an edition where what a skill check covers is nebulous (especially arcana), saying 'It should be common sense that this is an arcana check!' doesn't hold as much water as it does in pathfinder. For the same reason that the second version of Fell Handed was a good feat vs the original terrible, restrictive one.

      Delete
    3. Just so we're clear, the point of contention is this line:

      "You can instantly identify a creature that has cast a spell within the last 24 hours."

      I don't think your logic really checks out in this case. After all, if the party barbarian asked if he could sense if a creature had cast a spell, I'd flat out tell him 'no', even with an arcana check. Understanding a spell that has just been cast, or otherwise knowing a spell has been cast recently, is different than picking up the faint aura that a spell leaves on a creature. This feat allows the subtle practice of identifying an undercover spellcaster, and I don't think that should be allowed to all characters, even with an arcana check. After all, how should a normal character go about doing that?

      Delete
    4. Moreover, there's the other way of reading this, which is that this allows you to do it /instantly/ as opposed to gradually, with a check. I think this interpretation is up to DM discretion.

      Delete
  13. Will there be some Binder backgrounds created later on?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is something I intend on later, though the lovecraftian update backgrounds (especially the cultist) would work amazingly.

      Delete
    2. Aaah this is true. Alright thanks for the reply:D.

      Delete
  14. This reminds me of a Witch class I found on "Unearthed Arcana reddit" I cant figure out which one to impliment in my Campaign, Do you think both would work? (The Witch is like a combination of this and a Wizard/Druid)

    ReplyDelete
  15. I am currently playing one of these guys and have noticed that Ronove's Information within the PDF differs from her abilities in the GITP forums and from what is said on her card at the end of the PDF.

    Specifically her abilities "Sprint" and "Ronove's Endurance" are missing from the PDF Entry.

    ReplyDelete
  16. We are LOVING this class at our table. Question about minor spirits--when minor spirits make ranged attacks (such as the poltergeist) while the Binder is engaged with a melee enemy, is the minor spirit subject to the same disadvantage to attack rolls as a normal ranged attacker?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm glad you like it, I always had a blast playing it too. By RAW I'd say no, because you are the one engaged in melee, and your minor spirit is the one making the attack roll, using your modifier

      Delete
    2. If you want to go by class design, yes. "Minor Spirits" aren't entities in their own right as far as mechanics are concerned, unlike, say, a familiar; they're supposed to be sort of an extension of you.

      That being said, we left that vague. just remember that a minor spirit, unless otherwise stated, is always hovering close to you, so anything that would put YOU in melee range, would put IT in melee range as well.

      Delete
  17. might be a typo for eligor "Passive: Mount takes half damage on a failed save, and half on a successful one"

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sure enough -- just a typo in the cards though. It should be none on a success.

      Delete
  18. So, with Renegotiation, does the total level limit apply to all your bound vestiges, or just the new ones? The way this is written makes it seem like, at certain levels (5th, 7th, 9th and 10 upwards), you could renegotiate to get higher level vestiges. e.g. at 5th level you could have a 3rd and a 2nd, but renegotiate to expel the 2nd and bind another 3rd? (upwards of 10th level this starts to get absurd). I assume that this is not the intention, but the alternative seems quite weak since, in the same scenario, if the level cap is for all bound vestiges then, on renegotiation, the 2nd level would be expelled but you could not bind another in it's place since you're already at the level cap with the kept vestige. Could you help me understand the intention of this please?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The vestige level limit (total level of vestiges is less than or equal to your binder level) is /always/ in play. When you renegotiate, you can trade out vestiges with a level sum of half your level.

      Here's an example:

      At 10th level, I'm bound to a 5th level vestige, a 4th level vestige, and a 1st level vestige (5+4+1=10). I renegotiate my 4th and 1st (4+1=5) level vestiges for a 3rd and a 2nd level vestige (2+3=5). My total vestige level is still less than or equal to my class level, so I'm fine.

      Does that make sense?

      Delete
  19. I just want to say thank you for posting this. As soon as I saw it, I knew I had to make an Npc for it. Cooincidently, my pcs had just been tasked with delivering a letter to a sage. Said sage turned out to be a cracked binder I need the woods, but I digress. The point is that when the party encountered him, he was bound to AusKar and terrified of women and blades. The partys reaction to him was to draw blades and have the two female spellcasters ready spells. Cue the comedic chase scene where the binder teleport around only to be caught over and over again by the rogue and dragged back to the party. The point is they won't ever forget him.

    To sum that up, thanks for posting such a well designed and entertaining class that creates interesting roleplay.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're welcome! If you ever get the chance to play this, I recommend it. I've never had more fun playtesting a character.

      Delete
  20. I started playing a Fetchling Binder following my Gladiator's death in Out of the Abyss. We're only level six, but I had a blast with the different powers, and freaked out an ally using Share Vestige (he thought he was being possessed).

    Karsus's Arcanaclast feature seems to be missing from his card, however.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm glad you're liking the class! It was seriously the most fun I'v'e had playtesting something. It might be the most fun thing to play that we've written.

      I'll fix that card soon

      Delete
  21. Do you plan on creating more Binder content (subclasses, vestiges, etc,)? You have released extra content for the Alchemist, for example.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Eventually. There's a lot of stuff that got cut from this class for one reason or another, and I could totally revive some of it, especially some of the silly vestiges that didn't make the cut.

      Delete
  22. Rules clarification: for the Empty Vessel feature of the Occult Fate, does the undead function normally after the Extra Vestige has expired? Does it then remain a standard zombie or skeleton under your control, becoming hostile after 24 hours? Or does it return to lfielessness after the vestige inside it departs?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Without a vestige, the corpse is no longer animated, and becomes a mundane corpse.

      Delete
  23. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  24. A few further nitpicks:
    The vestige Savnok is named "Sanok" on his card.
    The ghost minor spirit does not specify an attack roll. By RAW, I would assume the 1d6 necrotic is unavoidable and the Wisdom save is just for the fear effect.
    For the Tenebrous cleric domain, their spell list includes "destructive energy" at fifth. Is this supposed to be destructive wave?
    Naberius's card has "Action: sense most influential creature around." There is no mention of this in his vestige description.
    Tenebrous's card neglects to mention that the spell blink is once per short or long rest.
    Savnok's description says the damage reduction passive applies only to atttacks. The card just says all damage. I assumed the former was correct? So the likes of fireball would be unaffected.
    Perhaps specify on Halphax's card that imprisonment can only take the burial or hedge prison options.
    I'm a little confused about Aym's Golden Halo. It says it wears off when the spell attack is made. So that's effectively both an action and bonus action for melee firebolt? The card also does not mention that the attack ends the effect, and the main vestige description does not mention whether the spell attack takes an action.

    Finally, from my admittedly limited playtesting my main concern about this class is how MAD it is. In order to actually change hats without sacrificing function, you would need to max at least two scores (Cha and Dex/Str). Using standard array, this would not happen until very late in the campaign (16th or 19th). While that's great news for the 20th level binder, the class suffers at role changing earlier on. Mine in Out of the Abyss capped her Charisma as soon as possible, but had a Dex too low for any reliable offense other than spells. Her choice of roles was then backrow caster or melee caster (thanks to Savnok), but each one brought poor offenses and the melee binding choice was lacking some utility. More than half of the available vestiges were unusable. Now, one could just get several stats to 16 and perform hat changes when needed, but you will nearly always be noticeably outperformed by other competent players.

    In short, my first impression in gameplay was that the class may have missed its intended functionality (role changing) in exchange for being able to be built very different from PC to PC. You can have a Cha-based caster binder. You can have a Dex-based melee fighter binder. But you can't switch between the two on the same character.

    The vestige Eligor's strength boost gave me an idea that could soothe this issue if the role-changing capability was to be salvaged: vestiges that increase certain ability scores, perhaps at the cost of others. By pinning a +1 Dex, -1 Cha on a few vestiges like Paimon and Malphas, for example, you could change from the charismatic caster to the skilled duelist without having to literally change character sheets. It could also be a more potent tool of showing vestige influence: you actually become, statistically, more like the vestige.

    Overall, I still really like the binder. I love how I can make two different characters of the same class and have them be absolutely nothing alike in battle. But it doesn't seem to perform as advertised, as the character who can change their role completely from day to day.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. First of all, thank you so much for your notes: I'll be very soon making a lot of edits to correct these mistakes.

      On the Binder being MAD, I'd agree with you to some extent. In my playtest, I used a more medium set of scores (16 Str and Cha, 14 Con and Dex, with a human and an ABS) and things worked nicely. If I /had/ tried to first get 20 Cha, it would have been a struggle to play anything other than a spellcasting-focused binder.

      And, yes, with a number of scores at 14-16, I was outperformed in combat by fighters and in spellcasting by spellcasters. But that's the /intent/. You pay for being non-specialized by being good, but not amazing, at everything.

      In fact, we designed this class to be Cha/Str or Cha/Dex, depending on how you want to generally play (which makes this pretty similar to the paladin in terms of MADness.) It's possible, but difficult, to switch between these, but generally, you'll have to make your binder better at the unarmed strike / Sneak Attack style of fighting, or the heavy armor / heavy weapon style. There's still a ton of variation in this range, but you are going to be more constrained the more you want to optimize one side of the spectrum.

      We thought about fluctuating ability scores with vestiges, but we decided that this couldn't be the norm in vestige design, since it made it too difficult to switch between vestiges. After all, imagine recalculating your attacks, hit points, skills, and saves every time you rebind your vestiges. (I mean, you might do /some/ of these with current vestiges, but not /all/ of them every time.) It would just end up being too unwieldy.

      Delete
  25. For the Novice Occultist feat, do you have to pick a specific vestige when you take the feat to bind to each time, or can you select any first level vestige each time you bind like a regular binder?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This is intended to be a specific 1st level vestige.

      Delete
  26. The Eldritch Fate 13th level feature Anima Mark includes the effect "You can choose to cause any spells you cast with a range of Self to affect your bonded creature as well." Does this just mean I can target it instead of me, or does it allow me to twin any spell with a range of self for no cost? I assume the former, but by RAW saying "as well" rather than "instead" implies the latter.

    ReplyDelete
  27. This is my favorite class from 3.5 and I love how you guys put it together. I've seen some other 5e adaptations that are pretty good but overall they just regurgitated the same 3.5 rendition. My thing is none of the classes from 3.5 are exactly the same now so why should the binder. You guys did it perfectly. I messaged you on giant play ground about the Karsite race. I really think it would make a great addition to this. PLEASE! Lol

    ReplyDelete
  28. Can you choose the same minor spirit twice to stack Guardian Spirit's bonus making it a +2 to AC and use the shield spell twice per short rest instead of +1 and ounce per short rest?

    ReplyDelete