Soulbinder (3.5e Class)
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Binders and warlocks share a lot of thematicaly symetry between one another, yet mechanically there isn't even the slightest overlap between them. For example, both classes dabble in the dark arts and make deals with unfathomable occult forces, yet the warlock lacks the ability to make pacts and binders miss out on the dabbling in magic aspects unless a vestige is channeling such power through them.
My aim with the soulbinder was to bring those two disparate ideas together into a single whole, with the goal of making them into a tier two or three class (as opposed to binders being tier three and warlocks being tier four). I believe I've succeeded in doing just that, but I leave it to you to decide for yourself.
I started with a warlock and removed most of their class features and and abilities to use invocations other than Eldritch Blast (albeit with a slightly slower progression). In anticipation of their added versatility, I also lowered their base attack bonus and skill point progression, and lowered their hit dice by one step. In exchange, I granted them the ability to make pacts with vestiges, and two of the associated class features of the binder that go along with that (namely Suppress Sign and Soul Guardian).
Then I decided that since they no longer have traditional invocations, I would allow them access to some unique customizations in the form of Otherworldly Secrets; means of augmenting some of their inherent abilities or gaining access to the class features the warlock lost in the conversion.
Finally, in order to give them a feel of their own, I thought it would be cool if they could show their dedication to their craft by actually branding the sigils of their vestiges into their skin via a type of tattoo-based magic. This would make the act of creating pacts somewhat more playable than the traditional binder while also giving them a unique style that few others can claim.
All in all I'm quite pleased with the result, and hope that you are, too. Enjoy!
Making a Soulbinder
Abilities: A soulbinder typically possesses a healthy body and strong personality, making Constitution and Charisma their most important abilities. Since many vestiges grant improved combat prowess, a good Strength and/or Dexterity is also recommended, but keep in mind that the low number of skill points they gain each level suggests that a high Intelligence could be very beneficial as well. Finally, since Wisdom holds sway over one of your major saving throws as well as a number of useful skills, it would be unwise (pun intended) to neglect it as well.
Races: Because soulbinders dabble in the occult, bartering and browbeating ancient spirits beyond the domains of the gods, the practice of pact magic is forbidden by most religions. Soulbinders tend to be rare among all humanoid races, though humans, dwarves, and half-orcs are the most likely candidates for taking up the mantle, and of those three — given their ambition and their penchant for a cosmopolitan lifestyle — humans choose the path of the soulbinder more frequently than members of other races do.
Alignment: Although vestiges were once beings of light and darkness like all creatures of the planes, their long existence in a strange state beyond normal reality has twisted them into enigmatic and amoral entities. However, their nature does not dictate the alignments of those who bind to them. A fearsome and violent vestige can lend its powers to a good soulbinder, who uses them to make peace with enemies. Conversely, a sweet-faced and kind vestige might grant an evil soulbinder the power to wreak havoc. In some cases, the same vestige might make separate but simultaneous pacts with two binders who are in direct conflict with one another.
Needless to say, vestiges are not easily defined as good, evil, lawful, or chaotic, but their unfathomable mindsets and strange appearance often disturb lawful and good creatures. Thus, most binders are of a neutral alignment in at least one axis.
Starting Gold: 5d4×10gp (125gp).
Starting Age: Simple.
|Level||BAB||Saving Throws||Class Features||Eldritch Blast
|1st||+0||+2||+0||+2||Eldritch Blast, Soul Binding, Tattooed Sigil||1d6||1||1st|
|6th||+3||+5||+2||+5||Otherworldly Secret, Soul Guardian||3d6||1||3rd|
|12th||+6/+1||+8||+4||+8||Otherworldly Secret, Tattooed Sigil||5d6||2||6th|
Class Skills: The following are class skills for the soulbinder: Autohypnosis, Bluff, Concentration, Craft, Decipher Script, Diplomacy, Forgery, Gather Information, Handle Animal, Heal, Intimidate, Knowledge (any, taken individually), Profession, Ride, Sense Motive, Use Magic Device, and Use Psionic Device
Skill Points at Each Level: 2 + Int modifier per level (×4 at 1st level)
All of the following are class features of the soulbinder.
Weapon and Armor Proficiency: As a soulbinder, you gain proficiency with all simple weapons and with light armor, but not with shields.
Eldritch Blast (Sp): One of the first abilities a soulbinder learns is eldritch blast. This innate power allows you to attack your foes with otherworldly power, relying on baleful energy to deal damage and sometimes impart other debilitating effects. However, unlike a warlock, you may only use this power while you have at least one vestige bound to you.
An eldritch blast is a ray with a base range of 60 feet. It is a ranged touch attack that affects a single target, allowing no saving throw. A soulbinder may use their Charisma modifier in place of their Dexterity modifier when making their attack roll with their eldritch blast. An eldritch blast deals 1d6 points of damage at 1st level and increases in power as you rise in level. By default, an eldritch blast is the equivalent of a 1st-level spell, though this changes with certain Otherworldy Secrets. If you apply a blast shape or eldritch essence invocation to your eldritch blast, your eldritch blast uses the level equivalent of the shape or essence as well.
Normally, an eldritch blast is subject to spell resistance, although the Spell Penetration feat and other effects that improve caster level checks to overcome spell resistance also apply to your eldritch blasts. An eldritch blast deals only half damage to objects. Metamagic feats cannot improve a your eldritch blasts. However, the feat Ability Focus (eldritch blast) increases the DC for all saving throws (if any) associated with your blasts by 2, and since it is in innate spell-like ability, the feat Supernatural Transformation is applicable as well though it retains its somatic component even then.
Soulbinders with access to eldritch blast shapes or essences (such as through their Otherworldy Secrets class feature) may select least invocations of those types starting at 1st level. Lesser invocations become available starting at 6th level, greater invocations at 11th level, and dark invocations at 16th level. Other than through methods like that, soulbinders do not gain warlock invocations of any type.
Soul Binding (Su): You are able to contact and make pacts with the remaining vestiges of power of former heroes, villains, demons, and even god-like beings. This class feature works exactly like that of a binder, and due to copyright issues the text cannot be reprinted here. See the Tome of Magic, pp. 10-11 for more information about the mechanics of this feature. Note that a soulbinder progresses slightly more quickly than a traditional binder, which is made up for with a slower progression of attack bonuses and hit dice.
One significant change from the default rules for pact-magic is that a soulbinder can use Bluff, Diplomacy, or even Intimidate in place of the normal binding check (1d20 + effective binder level + Charisma modifier). This increases the binding DC by +5, but it allows the soulbinder to barter, bargain, or browbeat a vestige into working with them. Otherwise it works exactly as described in the book.
Tattooed Sigil (Ex): At the indicated levels, choose one vestige you can currently make a pact with. A skilled alchemist can use Craft (alchemy) to create a special ink (costing 100gp per level of the vestige) that you can use to tattoo the vestige's sigil into your flesh. The process takes approximately one hour per level of the vestige and an appropriate Craft or Profession (tattooist) check with a DC equal to the vestige's binding DC. You make take 10 on this check, though doing so increases the amount of time required by two. If successful, from that point forward you can bind that particular vestige as a move-equivalent action without needing to draw their sigil, and the pact is always considered a good pact regardless of the roll. This increases to a swift action if you also have the Rapid Pactmaking feat.
Upon gaining your first tattoo, you also gain a cumulative +2 circumstance bonus for each tattooed sigil you have on any future binding tests you make regardless of what vestige you attempt to bind.
Only a limited wish, miracle, or wish spell can erase a tattoo once it has been successfully scribed. If such measures are taken, you may choose to have another sigil tattooed in its place using the same process detailed above.
Suppress Sign (Ex): Whenever you make a good pact, you can choose not to exhibit the physical sign that normally accompanies a pact with that vestige. You can suppress or reveal the sign at will as a swift action if you so choose. With a poor pact, you gain the powers of the vestige, but you cannot suppress its sign as per the standard rules for pact magic.
Otherworldly Secret: Starting at 1st level and at the indicated levels above, you discover a secret technique from the many vestiges you call upon. This otherworldly secret allows you to choose one option from the table below. Once chosen, your choices are permanent, and you only gain the benefits of these secrets while you have at least one vestige bound.
Soul Guardian (Su): You have immunity to fear effects as long as you are bound to a vestige. As you attain higher soulbinder levels, the vestige guards its time with you even more jealously, granting you protection from additional effects that would harm your soul and life energy for as long as the pact lasts.
At 9th level, you gain the slippery mind ability, which allows you to wriggle free from magical effects that would otherwise control or compel you. If you fail your saving throw against an enchantment spell or effect, you can attempt it again 1 round later at the same DC. You get only this one extra chance to succeed on your saving throw through use of this ability.
At 13th level, you gain immunity to all death spells, magical death effects, energy drain, and any negative energy effects, as per the spell death ward.
When you attain 19th level, your bound vestiges completely protect your mind, granting you immunity to all mind-affecting spells and abilities as per the spell mind blank.
Vestige Expulsion (Su): Once per day per point of your Charisma modifier, you may freely expel any vestige you possess. This requires an immediate action on your part and a standard binding check. If you fail, the attempt counts against your normal daily limit and you may not attempt to expel another vestige for 5 rounds. If you attempt to expel a vestige whose sigil you bear as a tattoo, the binding check suffer a -5 circumstance penalty.
Failure to expel a vestige in this manner results in 1d6 points of non-lethal damage per level of the vestige, and you must make a Fortitude save (DC equal to the vestige's binding DC) or be shaken for 1d4 rounds. While shaken in this manner, you may not call upon any of the granted powers of any vestiges you still have a binding pact with.
Potent Sigils: For every tattooed sigil you possess, you gain a +1 bonus to the DC of any supernatural abilities granted by your vestiges when you have made a pact with at least one of those vestiges.
Perfect Pact: When binding a vestige who's sigil you have been tattooed with, it is always considered a good pact for all purposes except influence. Despite this fact, a binding check is still required, but only for the purposes of determining whether or not you will be influenced by the vestige. Additionally, an illusion of the vestige no longer appears unless you desire it to, and you are not forced to bargain with it in order to forge a bond.
Finally, you may bind one additional vestige above your normal limit, but at least one of your vestiges must be one with whom you have a sigil tattooed.
Cantrips: You can use any three 0th-level spells from the sorcerer/wizard spell list at will as a sorcerer of your effective binder level, using Charisma as your linked ability score as appropriate. At 10th level, you may also choose a 1st-level spell from the same list that you can use 3/day, and at 13th level you also gain a 2nd-level spell you can use 1/day. This secret may be selected more than once, but you may not select the same spell a second time in order to gain additional uses per day. You may select which spells you learn each day when binding your first vestige. Once you use a cantrip gained through this secret, you cannot use another one for 5 rounds. This secret is available at any level.
Eldritch Blades: On your turn, you may spend a free action to channel your eldritch blast into a single melee weapon you are currently wielding until the start of your next turn. Despite the name of this secret, you can channel your blast into any type of melee weapon, not just bladed ones. If you successfully strike an opponent with your charged weapon, in addition to the normal damage done by such an attack your target is also affected as if struck by your eldritch blast, including any eldritch essence applied to the blast.
At 10th level you gain the ability to channel your eldritch blast into any weapons you're actively wielding.
When you learn this otherworldly secret, you also gain one eldritch essence invocation of choice at 3rd, 8th, 13th, and 18th levels. However, these essences only apply when channeling your blasts through your weapons and they are unavailable (unless you purchase them normally) for your ranged blasts. These bonus invocations are retroactive upon learning this secret, which can be learned starting at 3rd level, and you may change one of these eldritch essence invocations you already know for another one of any category you have access to each time you gain an even (2nd, 4th, 6th, etc.) level in this class.
Finally, if your eldritch blast has an elemental effect when used in this way, such as the one granted by hellrime blast, you can choose between acid, cold, electrical, fire, and sonic each time you invoke your blast with that essence. The effect remains the same, only the elemental type changes. Otherwise, this ability effectively duplicates the benefits of the Energy Substitution feat, and you are treated as if you possessed that feat for the purposes of meeting prerequisites. Furthermore, if you invest in the Energy Admixture feat, you can apply its effects to your eldritch blasts in place of an eldritch essence invocation.
Like all of the otherworldly secrets, you may only invoke your eldritch blades if you have bound at least one vestige for the day. Your eldritch blades have an equivalent spell level equal to one-half your effective binder level. Furthermore, it counts as an applied blast shape and cannot benefit from other blast shape essences such as eldritch chain or eldritch spear.
Eldritch Essential: As you progress, the knowledge you have gained from your vestiges allows you to gain a bonus invocation to apply to your eldritch blast ability. At 3rd, 8th, 13th, and 18th levels in this class, you gain your choice of a bonus eldritch essence invocation or blast shape invocation from any category (least, lesser, greater, or dark) that you already have access to, such as hellrime blast or eldritch chain. These invocations are only available when you have a vestige bound to you, however. You may learn this secret starting at 3rd level, and you may change one invocation you already know for another one of any category you have access to each time you gain an odd level in this class.
Imbue Magic: You can use your supernatural powers to create magic items, even if you don't know the spells required to make them. You can substitute a Use Magic Device check (DC 15 + spell level) in place of a required spell you don't know or can't cast. In addition, each time you bind a new vestige you also learn one item creation feat of choice as long as your effective binder level is equal to or greater than the required caster level for the feat. You may only gain one such feat at a time through the use of this secret regardless of how many vestiges you have bound. You can learn this secret starting at 9th level.
If you learn this secret a second time, you can instead choose to imbue items with psionic energy instead of magical energy when binding with a vestige that grants psionic powers. This works exactly the same as the default secret, except that you use Use Psionic Device with the same DC, and you can choose an appropriate item creation feat. Assuming, of course, that psionics are being used in the campaign.
Luck From Beyond: Each time you bind a vestige, you gain one [Luck] feat of choice and a number of luck rerolls each day equal to one-half your effective binder level (this is in place of the normal number you'd receive; if you have luck rerolls from another source, use whichever is higher). You retain this feat until you are no longer bound to that vestige, and you can have multiple such feats if you are able to bind more than one vestige at a time.
Magical Skill Mastery: Upon learning this secret, which can be learned starting at 9th level, you may take 10 even if stress and distractions would normally prevent you from doing so with the following skills: Concentration, Craft (alchemy), Knowledge (arcane, religion, or the planes), Spellcraft, and Use Magic Device. If one of these skills is instead used for an extended period of time, such as researching a topic or crafting an item, the minimum required time to perform that action is halved. You also gain a competence bonus equal to half your effective binder level (rounded down) on each of those checks.
Master Blaster: This secret teaches you how to use your eldritch blast more effectively. Your blasts have their base range increased by 5 feet per class level, and in any round in which you use your eldritch blast, if an opponent within 15 feet takes an action that would provoke an attack of opportunity, you may attack them with your eldritch blast using your highest attack bonus. Doing so, however, consumes all of your remaining attacks of opportunity for that round. Additionally, if your base attack bonus is +6 or higher, you can take a full-attack action in order to make as many iterative attacks with your eldritch blast as your base attack bonus allows.
In addition, at 3rd level you gain the equivalence of Point Blank Shot and Precise Shot that applies only to your eldritch blast even if you don't normally meet the prerequisites. At 8th level you gain Improved Precise Shot, and at 13th you gain Shot on the Run, but again only with regards to your ranged eldritch blasts. These bonus feats are retroactive upon learning this secret, which can be learned as early as 3rd level, and have no impact on other secrets such as eldritch blades.
Furthermore, starting at 10th level, you can alter your eldritch blast if it uses one of the following shapes: burst, cone, cylinder, emanation, line, or spread. The alteration consists of creating spaces within the blast's area of effect that are not subject to the effect. The minimum dimension for these open spaces is a 5-foot cube.
Finally, if your eldritch blast has an elemental effect, such as the one granted by hellrime blast, you can choose between acid, cold, electrical, fire, and sonic each time you invoke your blast with that essence. The effect remains the same, only the elemental type changes. Otherwise, this ability effectively duplicates the benefits of the Energy Substitution feat, and you are treated as if you possessed that feat for the purposes of meeting prerequisites.
Like all of the otherworldly secrets, you only gain these benefits with your eldritch blast if you have bound at least one vestige for the day. Your eldritch blast has an equivalent spell level equal to one-half your effective invoker level and it can benefit from both eldritch essence and blast shape invocations. Any such invocations applied to your eldritch blast last for the duration of the round, however; once chosen, you may not use a different blast shape or eldritch essence until the start of your next turn.
Obtain Familiar: This secret grants you the Obtain Familiar feat as a bonus feat. Once selected, you do not lose your familiar if you have failed to make a pact, but it temporarily loses any special abilities it possesses from your bond until you do so. Until such time, it is treated as an ordinary specimen of its type, albeit every bit as loyal and obedient as it was while so empowered. At 7th level, you also gain the Improved Familiar feat, and may select a new familiar to take the place of your old one. This bonus feat is retroactive upon learning this secret at a higher level, and you may learn it at 1st level.
Supernatural Transformation: Your eldritch blast becomes a supernatural effect for the duration of your binding, as if by the Supernatural Transformation feat. It still requires a somatic component, but is no longer subject to spell resistance (though it can still be suppressed in an antimagic field), and it does not provoke an attack of opportunity when invoked. This secret may only be unlocked at 6th level or higher. You may still apply any eldritch essence or blast shape essence to your eldritch blast when using this secret, and it is compatible with both the eldritch blades and master blaster secrets.