Borrowing from Video Games: Spider-Man’s Sinister Morality

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This article contains fairly shallow SPOILERS for the main plot of the new Spider-Man game for the PS4, but that nonetheless cover topics up to the game’s ending. A lot of these are things that are likely immediately obvious outcomes to fans of the comics from much earlier in the game, but proceed at your own risk if you haven’t played the game and intend to.

The motivations for the antagonists in Spider-Man are a little muddled throughout the game. Or at least that’s how it seemed to me until the game finally stated its theme in one of the final cutscenes. I spent most of the game not buying the “he’s just gone crazy” excuse for why so many characters introduced as humanitarian philanthropists with deep ties to the community would suddenly start murdering civilians haphazardly in pursuit of their goals.

But then it all made sense to me when Octavius explained his point of view:

That’s because men like us have a duty. A responsibility. To use our talents in the service of others. Even if they don’t appreciate it. …we have to do what’s best for those beneath us. Whether they understand it or not.

(Emphasis added.) At the beginning of his value statement, Otto is quoting back to Peter what seems to be essentially, “With great power comes great responsibility.” And then he reveals that he has it precisely wrong. His morality is actually much closer to noblesse oblige: his humanitarian actions are because that’s how he demonstrates his greatness to those lesser than himself. Does he actually give a damn about innocents, or is he just in a competition with Osborn over who can be the bigger philanthropist/genius?

And from that point of view, the other major antagonists are the same: Mr. Negative pursues philanthropy in a very visible way but never even worries about putting those under his protection in danger, Silver Sable talks a big game about protecting the city but turns a blind eye to the corruption of her mercenaries, and Osborn never hesitates to endanger civilians as long as he can do it off-the-record. They’re all actually different shades of selfish and awful, but realize that their self aggrandizement means looking like benefactors to the public.

Which is, of course, the opposite of Spider-Man.

For Parker, responsibility trumps power. He’s never been rich, and, in fact, misses plenty of opportunities to do more than scrape by. He is not like the antagonists, who would never neglect their own desires to help others (but are willing to give some of their excess to the public). His morality is not that of a superior tending to his flock, but of a servant ceaselessly giving of himself to help others, even when they’re seemingly beyond redemption and at great risk to himself. In his constant need to offer second chances to villains he barely seems to understand revenge, much less consider harming others in pursuit of it. And where they are all lauded by the city for their philanthropy, Spider-Man has to win the hearts and minds of citizens he saves one-by-one, constantly labeled a menace by the press.

But, on paper, All five characters would happily agree that with great power comes great responsibility.

I wish this had been made clearer earlier in the script, because it creates an interesting resonance throughout the game. Otto doesn’t understand why Peter is willing to work for him for free. Mr. Negative doesn’t understand why Spider-Man keeps trying to save him. Sable doesn’t understand why Spider-Man won’t sit back and let her men handle the problem that they’re being paid for. Osborn just assumes that Peter will be working for him as soon as Harry’s back. None of them really understand the idea of casual sacrifice in pursuit of the greater good. But for lack of the object lesson that was Uncle Ben’s death, thus, too, could have gone Spider-Man.

So obviously this was mostly several hundred words of me pointing out how the use of theme in a video game was cool, but…

You can do the same thing in your own heroic games (superhero or otherwise). The important thing is to get a core, thematic value for your protagonists. Figure out a short statement that encapsulates what each hero believes, and which way they’ll go even at the moment of utmost crisis.

You can obviously then use this for a lot of cool stuff, but one use is hanging your major antagonists on it. Villains and foils the heroes encounter should agree with them, in principle, but oppose them in fact. Something about their morality is broken, even though they think they follow the same creed.

If you do it right, rather than obstacles to be overcome, your players will see their opponents as misguided potential allies, needing to be won over. They’ll see their enemies as mirrors/object lessons for what could happen to them if they misstep, and will hold out hope that, if they could just get through to the villains, they could become friends.

And, even if your players still murder hobo their way through your carefully designed villains, you can at least justify one of my other favorite villain-design strategies: the villain grudgingly respects or even outright likes the heroes, and that explains why the PCs aren’t murdered more efficiently as soon as they begin to interfere with villainous plans. Just as the heroes hopefully think they can win the villain to their way of thinking, the villains see themselves reflected in the heroes. Either they think they can win the heroes over, or they just like having people they agree with out doing heroic things (and don’t actually even understand why the heroes think they’re at odds).

The real trick is, of course, actually getting your players to come up with a core value statement. I tend to find that players that aren’t Fate fans or otherwise used to dealing in aspect-like traits have a hard time coming up with that kind of thing.

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Weregild

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Turn your LARP into a simmering PVP deathmatch

Back in my days of running WoD LARPs, we felt pretty strongly about casting player characters at a variety of power levels. The elders on screen would actually have a reasonable amount of extra XP to back up their in-story role. I still feel like this is superior to the modern way of representing age (which is that it increases your potential might, but in the short term actually starts you out at least missing the points you spent on the age-related background and the younger PCs didn’t).

The trick is, you don’t want this to be a pure benefit, as the players that didn’t get the bonus XP feel rightly cheated. So our technique was to start the more powerful characters with other characters that would start play hating their guts. Every elder stepped on some people to get where they are. Ultimately, the younger PCs didn’t enter play with targets on their backs.

But we never mechanically formalized it. This system popped into my head as a way to do so. It should result in hilarious murder hijinx.

Step 1: Unfair Bonus XP

PCs (chosen arbitrarily by the staff or awarded randomly) get a certain number of ranks that translate into bonus XP. For example, in modern MET, at chargen you might get 50 XP per rank of age. You may give guidelines that each rank of age should equal a certain number of years active, for verisimilitude.

Step 2: Hatred

For each rank of age, generate instances of Hatred: [That Character]. This is a formal merit that goes on the character sheets of other PCs. Work with those PCs to decide what the elder did to them that caused the hate. These might be PCs in rival groups, and might even be presumed allies that the elder wronged inadvertently (or by being a domineering jerk that is mean to underlings). You might give the elder a vague idea of who hates her, but she probably shouldn’t have a definite list. You should basically work out with her the kinds of awful things she’s done to get where she is, so she’s not completely blindsided by thinking she could never have done the horrible thing someone accuses her of.

Hatreds should mostly go to younger PCs, but a few can go to other PCs with age just to keep the more powerful characters at each others’ throats.

A good number of Hatreds per rank of age is three. For example, a character with three ranks of age has nine people with Hatred for her.

Step 3: Consummation

If you have Hatred for a character and are in the room when she dies, you get a big chunk of bonus XP.

This amount should be a little more than evenly dividing the bonus XP from age (to account for some characters with Hatred missing out). For example, if you’re giving out 50 XP per rank of age and three Hatreds per rank of age, everyone with Hatred gets 20 XP for being in the room when the character dies.

(Notably, there’s no special bump for dealing the killing blow, to keep your conspiracy from falling into chaos early because they’re bickering over who gets to hold the knife. They’ll often need to work together pretty well to bring down the more powerful character.)

Step 4: Weregild

Every character that got Hatred XP from another character’s death themselves generates a Hatred that is awarded to an ally of the deceased. Now the allies get bonus XP for killing the guys that killed their friend.

This Hatred doesn’t show up until the next session, because you don’t want the conspiracy to just turn into an abattoir all at one go. You want one big murder scene at a time. Allies have to go and seethe about their friend’s killers for a while before getting bonus XP for payback.

You can award the Hatreds to the people that make the best case that they miss their friend. You might even give out several matching Ally merits to people for each rank of age, so you know in advance who’s going to get the weregild right. Importantly, being someone’s ally doesn’t have a direct mechanical incentive while they’re alive. You’re not losing anything if they die. You actually profit almost as much as the killers for their death, because now you have someone you can kill for bonus XP.

Do try to award the ally status to less powerful PCs whenever arguable, just to keep a canny elder from getting unstoppably powerful because all her friends are dead.

Step 5: Enjoy the Perpetual Murder Machine You’ve Created

The amount of time this takes to slaughter your entire cast is directly related to how strong your in-story “No Killing!” rules seem, and how much additional plot you have that grudgingly makes people leave their enemies alive until a bigger threat is dealt with. But it should certainly give you some extra free time as a staff, since now players can entertain each other with their murder conspiracies for hours and hours of game time.

Pathfinder to 5e: Setting DCs

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I realized that one thing missing from my post on converting Pathfinder modules to 5e was how to convert difficulties for skill checks and saving throws.

The Math

Pathfinder skill checks tend to scale much higher than in 5e. Between feats, magic that improves ability scores and skills, and the base skill ranks, a highly-focused Pathfinder character could conceivably hit DC 60 without too much difficulty by 20th level. A similarly-focused character in 5e will have expertise, an ability score capped at 20, and probably the use of advantage and some kind of bonus die (like bardic inspiration). The 5e character hits only DC 36 with a similar frequency to the Pathfinder character hitting 60.

Using the theoretically most-focused character from level 1-20 in both systems, as well as a hypothetical “good-but-not-amazing” character, I worked out the skill DC curve below in a way that seems to be equivalent throughout play.

Straight up ability checks that don’t involve skills (like Strength checks to force doors) are probably closer to a wash: A character in Pathfinder can get ability scores over 20, but can’t usually apply most of the other bonuses that scale really high. 5e characters have access to advantage, and most miscellaneous bonuses (like bardic inspiration) apply to straight ability checks as easily as to skill checks, even if a high-ability-score character in 5e will be a few points behind a similarly focused character in Pathfinder. And, honestly, these checks are relatively uncommon at mid-to-high level anyway (since you can use utility magic to bypass them), so will tend to come up most frequently when characters have a similar range of ability bonuses anyway.

Meanwhile, saving throws are easier to figure out, since 5e tends to construct them into a very standardized 8 + proficiency + ability bonus. This means that you can assume DCs are almost always going to range from 10-21, and can figure out the most appropriate one by just figuring out the effective level of the threat plus the intended challenge of the threat (really easy threats are just 8 + proficiency + 0, while really hard ones are 8 + proficiency + 5).

The Conversion

Skill DCs

Pathfinder DC 5e DC
10 8
15 12
20 17
25 20
30 22
35 24
40 27
45 29
50 32
55 34
60 36

For DCs under 20, just take off 2-3 points of DC. For DCs of 20+, half + 7 gets you really close to the curve.

Ability Check DCs

If the ability doesn’t take a skill bonus, just use the printed ability check DC.

Saving Throw DCs

Figure out the approximate CR of the threat (when in doubt, just use the average PC level). Set the DC to 8 + that CR’s proficiency bonus + 0-5 (depending on how serious the threat is supposed to be).

For very quick and dirty math, just set the DC to half the CR + 10 and adjust it up or down by a point or two based on how serious the threat is.

Scion 2e: Character Sheet

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It doesn’t look like there’s an official version yet, so I put this together for my game.

Scion 2e: House Rules

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As promised last week, this week’s post is a discussion of my changes to the rules draft for my table.

Overall

This list of changes shouldn’t be seen as an indictment of the new Storypath system from White Wolf/Onyx Path. They’re testing it in Scion, and also using it for the updated Aeon line. I’d also expect miscellaneous developments from it to find their way back into World of Darkness games over time.

Overall, it’s a very nice job at taking the sacred cows of the Storyteller system and updating them with modern design ideas. In particular, the move to using successes to purchase effects from a menu is woven pretty well throughout the system (though admittedly some systems are just like “we couldn’t think of anything granular, so just use it as margin of success” which is always a danger with a universal mechanic). This really shines in combat, as simply dealing as much damage as possible has been downplayed in favor of miscellaneous stunts, which seems like it will result in more tactical play.

Adding Difficulty vs. Complications

One of the areas I think the rules need some more revisions are in the idea of Complications. It seems very much like different sections of the draft were written by people that didn’t agree on what the rule does (which is, of course, likely in this type of development). The core idea of Complications are that they’re “you succeed, but…” thresholds on the action. A test could have Difficulty 1, Complication 2: If you only get 1-2 successes, you still succeed, but you need 3+ successes to get a success without suffering a drawback. With the stunting system, you could even decide that you’d rather buy a 2 point stunt and take the drawback, even with a lot of successes.

Unfortunately, a lot of rules later in the book say things like, “…or take/add a 1 point Complication” as if the writer thought “Complication” was a mechanic unto itself, or just increased difficulty, rather than the formal rule. I cleaned up several of those instances throughout my summary. I expect they’ll be cleaned up in the official book once revisions are complete.

One core bug in the system is that the generic stunts value “add a Complication” and “increase Difficulty” the same: you can spend 2 successes to give someone Complication 2 or just bump their difficulty by +2. Raising difficulty is objectively superior in every case except the weird one where you think your opponent can barely succeed, and would rather she succeeded with a drawback than fail outright. I’ve just altered it in my summary so raising difficulty is something you can do to defend yourself, but you have to add a complication to otherwise interfere with an opponent.

Botching

Botching is the sacred cow of the Storyteller system that I’d most love to go away forever. The version on display in Scion is the somewhat defanged version: 1s don’t cancel successes, but if you have 1s on a failure, you botch. This variant has the known issue that, as you increase in skill, your failures get rarer but they’re more likely to result in a botch when you do fail. In my house rules, I just edited it to a Cortex-style purchase opportunity, where you don’t botch unless you accept the GM’s offer of extra plot currency. I’d just as soon remove it entirely, but they sometimes actually hang mechanics off of botching that are useful and hard to attach to something else if you remove botching outright (this is my major complaint about the Changeling 20th rules).

Actions

Scion has a Standard/Move/Free action system. It’s a fine action system. Many games have been perfectly happy using the D&D model over the last couple of decades. Unfortunately, Scion refuses to admit that it has this system. It thinks it has a Standard/Free action system (it’s calling free actions Reflexive). But then there are a lot of rules about movement and things that prevent you from moving or alter your movement just sprinkled throughout the Standard action options. I think it would be cleaner to just break them out (as I’ve done in my summary).

Initiative

I replaced the existing system entirely with Balsera-style initiative in my summary. The default system is the same as the Fantasy Flight games (Warhammer 3e, Star Wars, and I assume the Genesys generic system). In it, everyone rolls initiative and creates a fixed order similar to the more common initiative systems, but then PCs and NPCs can freely trade slots each round (e.g., one PC rolls really well and goes first, so any PC can take that first slot each round).

It’s fine, and I like it better than fully fixed initiative (particularly in a system where there aren’t any “until your next turn” effects), but Balsera-style seems like it’ll be smoother at the table. The default system doesn’t include, for example, any kind of mechanic for PCs arguing over which of them should take the next slot, whereas Balsera-style still lets players be like, “pass to me/no me!” but it’s still the active player’s final choice.

Moreover, Scion does away with the old workhorses of Wits and Alertness (which is probably for the best, since Alertness is otherwise the single most-rolled ability), so there’s nothing that’s being diminished in power by taking away rolled initiative. The default system just uses whatever combat skill you’re probably going to use. Meanwhile, they had this really cool group currency called Momentum that seemed like it would obviously affect the pacing of combat, so it was a no-brainer to me to use that as the governing number instead.

Defense

Speaking of Momentum, the default rule assumption is that players roll their defense pool once every round they’re attacked, with successes setting the difficulty to hit them. That’s a lot of extra rolling to create minimal swing (the average PC is going to have 3-5 dice for defense, so rarely 0, usually 1, sometimes 2, and rarely 3+ defense difficulty). After realizing I wanted to base initiative on Momentum, it made sense to me to give players a good reason to spend Momentum up front (and maybe let the NPCs go first) in order to set a fixed Defense for the whole combat. Two birds, one stone.

Stunts and Gear Tags

These are largely really cool. My changes were minor, and mostly to streamline verbiage (I expect it will be similarly streamlined in official revisions). I added several ranged stunts since I don’t like lists that only have one entry (necessitated by my moving the stunts available to every weapon to a generic combat stunts section, when they’re individually reprinted for each weapon type in the official document).

The gear tags system is cool. I like that they’re moving away from the weapon porn of old Storyteller, where we need to dither over exactly how to model the difference between a Desert Eagle and a .44 Magnum in capacity, damage, range, and difficulty. I expect that my player that, in every game, is constantly dropping his weapon to slam an opponent into the environment is going to be excited to have a game where that’s a fully valid tactic. Everything does an injury for one point and an additional injury for four more points, and that’s it.

That said, looking at the example gear lists, I think they’re going to have a hard time selling the rule of thumb that most standard gear is worth three points of tags. Most of their examples aren’t. I think they’re going to want to add a few more tags if they’re serious about balancing the gear based on the numbers in this system.

D&D 5e: Blade Witch (Fighter Subclass)

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Similar to the Mutant, this is intended to provide a Charisma alternate to Eldritch Knight. It has some major conceptual overlap with Hexblade, but hopefully takes it in a different enough direction to feel distinctive.

Many of the greater powers of the otherworlds forge weapons with a purpose unique to their ethos. Most of these are typical artifacts, usable by nearly anyone, but some draw their power from a unique bond with a mortal spirit. This power source allows the weapon to be created with much less personal investment of power by the creator, but grants much more agency to the wielder. The creators try to imbue the weapons with a fundamental desire to bond only to mortals that seem likely to fulfill their wishes, but, once bonded, the wielder has free will and often goes well off script.

Often found dormant in the form of a magical gauntlet or bracer of uncertain properties, the weapon comes to its full potential when it chooses its wielder (sometimes after the bearer carried it for years before reaching sufficient martial skill to make best use of it). While the weapon can only subtly nudge its wielder to actions that its creator would desire, the design of the weapon (and any other items later incorporated into it) is heavily based upon the aesthetics of the creator. Even if the wielder does not wish to pursue the ends of the weapon’s creator, the unmistakable visual stylings of the device will tend to mark the wielder as an agent of the creator to enemies and allies regardless.

Spellcasting

When you reach 3rd level, you gain the ability to cast spells. You gain cantrips, spells known, and spell slots based on the rules for the Eldritch Knight. You draw your spells known from the Warlock spell list, use Charisma as your spellcasting ability, and are not limited to abjuration and evocation spells, but otherwise follow the Spellcasting rules for Eldritch Knight.

Alternate Spellcasting (I have balance concerns about this): You gain cantrips, spells known, pact spell slots, pact slot level, and invocations known as a Warlock of 1/3 your Fighter level (round up). You use your full Fighter level to qualify for invocations, and may choose Pact of the Blade invocations, if desired. If you multiclass into Warlock, you must choose Pact of the Blade and your spellcasting and invocation levels stack (e.g., a Fighter 6/Warlock 3 casts spells and has invocations as a Warlock 5, but can choose invocations that require Warlock 9).

Your bonded weapon serves as a spellcasting focus, and must be used as a focus for all spells (though may be in its dormant form): in a very real way, your spells are not cast so much as manifested from the weapon itself.

Bonded Weapon

At 3rd level, your powers and abilities come from your bonded weapon, which is tied to your very soul. It has a dormant form, which typically takes the form of a distinctive bracer or gauntlet (this does not interfere with wearing separate bracers or gauntlets: the weapon adjusts to fit around the other item). You can switch your weapon out of its dormant form as an action (and return it to its dormant form as a free action). When you switch the weapon into its active form, you can choose its shape: it can function as any melee weapon.

If you ever lose your grip on the weapon, it disappears and immediately reforms in its dormant configuration (it cannot be stolen, but it also cannot be thrown). If the weapon is broken, it appears in a cracked dormant form and cannot be used for spellcasting or as a weapon, but automatically repairs itself after a short or long rest. If greater magics destroy the weapon, you cannot use it or cast spells until completing a long rest, at which point it reforms.

You may also, if desired, use an additional action to manifest an offhand weapon or shield in the same styling as the main weapon.

All manifested weapons count as magical for the purpose of overcoming resistance and immunity to nonmagical attacks and damage. You can perform a one-hour ritual to allow your weapon to “eat” a melee weapon or shield and gain its magic powers and special materials. Subsequently, any time you switch to an active form that is the same weapon/shield type as the consumed item (in your main hand or offhand) you may treat it as the consumed item (though it still has the visual stylings of your weapon). You cannot combine powers/materials from items, even of the same weapon type, but may switch between them by re-manifesting the weapon. At the DM’s discretion, some items may immune to being consumed (due to power or role in the world).

Witch’s Armor

Beginning at 7th level, your weapon may additionally manifest and consume armor identically to weapons and shields. You may garb yourself in armor of a type of your choice as an action and, as with weapons and shields, it may have the material and powers of any armor it consumed of the same type. As with the weapon, the armor is heavily stylized based on the aesthetics of the weapon, making you extremely obvious as an agent of the weapon’s creator.

Additionally, while you have any type of this armor manifested, you gain Resistance to one or more types of damage based upon the creator of the armor. Suggested resistances include:

  • Aberrant: Psychic (and you gain advantage on Wisdom saving throws against spells and similar mental effects)
  • Celestial/Divine: Radiant and Necrotic
  • Fiendish: Any one damage type (changed over a short or long rest) unless dealt by silver or magic weapons
  • Fae: Bludgeoning, Piercing, and Slashing damage unless dealt by cold iron or magic weapons

Unearthly Might

Beginning at 10th level, you’ve become sufficiently in tune with your witch’s armor to augment your physical capabilities. While you have any armor manifested from your Witch’s Armor ability, you gain advantage on Strength and Constitution checks, and on Death saving throws, and you may expend a Hit Die as a reaction to reroll a failed Strength or Constitution saving throw.

Deathless Warrior

At 15th level, the magic of your weapon has deeply infused your body and soul, preserving you as an eternal champion. You no longer age naturally, and will not die from age-related causes (if you were already of advanced age before gaining this ability, you gradually decrease in physical age to your prime). All of your hit dice rolls to regain hit points during a short rest are maximized (take the maximum value of the die instead of rolling). When you use your Second Wind, you roll additional d10s for healing equal to your Charisma modifier (minimum 1) and remove any diseases or poisons affecting you. Even without using your Second Wind, any diseases or poisons affecting you are removed upon completing a short rest (or after the first hour of a long rest).

You may extend some of this protection to allies of your weapon’s creator. You can automatically detect whether a touched entity is considered to be serving the ends of the weapon’s creator (which usually includes any of your personal allies currently assisting you towards ends approved by the creator). You can use your Second Wind to heal such an ally instead of yourself: apply the effects of your Second Wind to the touched target instead of yourself (including the removed diseases and poisons and increased healing based on your Charisma).

Mutability Mastery

At 18th level, you’ve gained mastery of the protean nature of your weapon. You can now manifest weapons, shields, and armor as a free action on your turn (instead of a standard action), which can allow you to change weapons between attacks, switch to a shield after attacking with a two-handed weapon, and other such tricks.

If your weapon is broken or destroyed, you may now repair or reform it as an action instead of during a rest.

Further, you may make subtle shifts to your weapons and armor during an attack to optimize them. As a reaction, you may grant yourself advantage on any attack with your bonded weapon (including spell attacks). Also as a reaction, you may impose disadvantage on an attack made against you or grant yourself advantage on Dexterity saving throws against effects you can see.

D&D 5e: Mutant (Rogue Subclass)

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This is primarily intended to provide a Charisma alternate for Arcane Trickster. It’s probably also fairly easy to convert to an alternate Eldritch Knight.

Many individuals with the blood of supernatural creatures in their family trees or who were invested with a surge of chaotic energy become sorcerers, able to unleash titanic magics. Others are less robust in their expression of these powers. They gain a few useful tricks from their magic-infused blood, but not enough to see them through life. They tend to express signs of their powers, either obviously in their appearance or in the inexplicable accidents that happen around them as they grow up. They, in short, are frequently forced out and must turn to a life of crime, or at least an upbringing on the fringes. Adventuring is often the only way they can be accepted in society, for as accepted as adventurers are.

Spellcasting

When you reach 3rd level, you gain the ability to cast spells.

Cantrips. You learn three cantrips based upon your mutations (see below). You learn another cantrip at 9th level when you gain your latent mutation (see below).

Spell Slots. You gain spell slots as an Arcane Trickster.

Spells Known of 1st-Level and Higher. You know three 1st-level spells. The Spells Known column of the Arcane Trickster Spellcasting table shows when you learn more spells of 1st level or higher. Each of these spells must be drawn from your personal spell list based upon your mutations (see below) or the spells available to all mutants because they are Hated and Feared (see below).

Whenever you gain a level in this class, you can replace one of the mutant spells you know with another spell of your choice from your personal spell list. The new spell must be of a level for which you have spell slots.

Spellcasting Ability. Charisma is your spellcasting ability for your mutant spells, since they are produced from your innate magical energy. You use your Charisma whenever a spell refers to your spellcasting ability. In addition, you use your Charisma modifier when setting the saving throw DC for a mutant spell you cast and when making an attack roll with one.

Spell save DC = 8 + your proficiency bonus + your Charisma modifier

Spell attack modifier = your proficiency bonus + your Charisma modifier

Primary Mutations

Starting at 3rd level, you gain three mutations. Each mutation grants you a permanent special ability, a cantrip, and a list of spells that you may add to your personal spell list when selecting spells known.

Mutation Special Ability Cantrip Spells (1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th)
Ceraunokinitic Resist Thunder Thunderclap (XGE) Thunderwave, Shatter, Thunder Step (XGE), Storm Sphere (XGE)
Clairvoyant Gain Expertise in Investigation, Perception, or Stealth True Strike Detect Magic, Darkvision, Clairvoyance, Locate Creature
Communicative Gain Expertise in Insight or Perception Message Comprehend Languages, Detect Thoughts, Tongues, Divination
Constructive Gain Expertise in all tools with which you are proficient Mending Mage Armor, Enhance Ability, Protection from Energy, Fabricate
Cryokinetic Resist Cold Ray of Frost Ice Knife (XGE), Shatter*, Sleet Storm, Ice Storm
Dimensional Gain Expertise in Deception, Performance, or Sleight of Hand Prestidigitation Feather Fall, Blur, Blink, Banishment
Dominant Gain Expertise in Deception, Intimidate, or Persuasion Friends Charm Person, Suggestion, Enemies Abound (XGE), Charm Monster (XGE)
Electrokinetic Resist Lightning Shocking Grasp Witch Bolt, Misty Step*, Lightning Bolt, Dimension Door*
Entropic Resist Acid Acid Splash Chromatic Orb, Knock, Dispel Magic, Polymorph
Illusory Gain Expertise in Intimidation, Performance, or Stealth Minor Illusion Silent Image, Invisibility, Major Image, Greater Invisibility
Immune Resist Force Blade Ward Shield, Mirror Image, Counterspell, Stoneskin
Luminous Resist Radiant Light Magic Missile, See Invisibility, Daylight, Sickening Radiance (XGE)
Mesmeric Resist Psychic Dancing Lights Color Spray, Hold Person, Hypnotic Pattern, Confusion
Nightmarish Resist Necrotic Chill Touch Ray of Sickness, Blindness/Deafness, Fear, Blight
Pyrokinetic Resist Fire Fire Bolt Burning Hands, Scorching Ray, Fireball, Wall of Fire
Telekinetic Gain Expertise in Athletics or Acrobatics Mage Hand Jump, Levitate, Fly, Freedom of Movement
Turbulent Resist Poison Poison Spray Fog Cloud, Gust of Wind, Stinking Cloud, Vitriolic Sphere (XGE)

* Change the energy type and trappings of these spells to match the overall energy type of the mutation (e.g., Misty Step has you teleport on a line of electricity).

It is highly suggested that you pick a suite of mutations that point to a particular origin. For example:

  • Aberrant: Communicative, Dominant, Mesmeric, Turbulent
  • Celestial: Communicative, Constructive, Dimensional, Luminous
  • Draconic: Dominant, Immune, Telekinetic, (Cryokinetic, Electrokinetic, Entropic, Pyrokinetic, or Turbulent based on dragon color)
  • Elemental: Ceraunokinetic, Dimensional, Luminous (Constructive, Cryokinetic, Pyrokinetic, or Turbulent based on elemental type)
  • Fey: Constructive, Dimensional, Illusory, Mesmeric
  • Fiendish: Cryokinetic, Electrokinetic, Pyrokinetic, Turbulent
  • Undead: Dimensional, Entropic, Immune, Nightmarish

If your race or other source already grants you a resistance you’d gain from one of these mutation types, work with your DM to replace it with an appropriate expertise.

Hated and Feared

Starting at 3rd level, elements of your mystical heritage become readily apparent. Work with your DM to develop a particular mystical signature or physical stigma that calls attention to you in civilized lands. You have disadvantage on Charisma (Persuasion) checks to interact with the superstitious unless you go to great pains to hide your heritage, but you gain advantage on Charisma (Intimidation) checks against the same kind of individuals.

You may also add the following 1st-level spells to your personal spell list from which you can choose Spells Known. They are general magics that all mutants seem to have access to, in order to hide and protect themselves from a world that hates and fears them: Absorb Elements (XGE), Chaos Bolt (XGE), Disguise Self, Expeditious Retreat, False Life.

Latent Mutation

Starting at 9th level, you gain a fourth mutation. You immediately gain the cantrip and special ability of that mutation, and may add its spells to your personal spell list.

Emissary

At 13th level, your mutation has progressed to the point that your progenitors recognize you as one of them, and you also have standing among the mutant community. You have advantage on Charisma checks when dealing with other mutants, and when dealing with the creature type of your origin. Creature types of your origin will tend to treat you as a peer or relative rather than a threat upon first encounter.

Omega Class

At 17th level, you may use the Empowered Spell and Heightened Spell metamagic abilities of the Sorcerer class. You have sorcery points equal to your Charisma modifier, and you recover to full sorcery points upon taking a long rest.

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