Time for one of the longest posts I’ve written!
OK, so let’s design some new Faction rules.
We’ll start with a look at the Doomguard, because I think this one is pretty easy – when we look at the rules from the Planescape Boxed set anyway.
Eligibility: All races and alignments accepted – but not clerics with access to healing or creation sphere.
Benefits: All members trained to fight with a sword, and get +1 to attack rolls with one. This ignores class restrictions.
Restrictions: Naturally resistant to healing magic and cures. Must make a saving throw and FAIL for healing to work at all.
OK, we can convert this pretty easily I think.
All clerics have access to cleric spells, but basically they now can’t use create or destroy water to create water (though destruction seems to be fine), they can’t take cure wounds or healing word, revivify and heroe’s feast are out at higher levels, etc etc. (Probably just don’t play a Doomguard cleric).
Everyone gets a sword! You gain proficiency with a sword of your choosing that you don’t already have proficiency with. You also get +1 to hit with swords (this doesn’t seem too game-breaking, some factions get more powerful spells – maybe we’ll look into scaling it with renown later).
Resistance to healing is something we could just throw on someone, we understand resistance to damage in 5e well enough. Again, we’ll look at scaling to a point where with more renown, succeeding on a save negates magical healing. (Roleplay-wise, this player isn’t going to use potions either).
What have other people done with Factions in 5e?
Aaron Infante-Levy had a post on planewalker.com way back with some documents attached. The Factions presented in the Infinite Planes Players’ Companion run on the renown system as well, and have abilities based on Inspiration.
Restrictions don’t mention clerics but do give the resistance to healing. The proficiency with swords is now for martial weapons, possibly giving bonus damage.
The Doomguard can now tell how something was destroyed if it occurred in the last century. They can also spend inspiration to turn a hit into a critical, and eventually get a magical sword made from themselves at the cost of half their hitpoints.
OK, interesting flavour.
Aaron’s post also has a link to some rules by WotC’s Chris Perkins. These Faction rules are based on Character Background, in two variations – a generic Namer background, or one for each Faction with more abilities.
The Namer gives us two skills, two languages, some equipment, and access to a Faction HQ, including portal keys.
The Doomguard gives us a restriction – no Life clerics. Seems fair. We get different skill proficiencies, some tool proficiencies (but we’ll only use them to break things I guess?) and out Background Feature of a portal key out to one of the Sinker strongholds.
The ‘how did this thing get destroyed’ ability is now tied to Inspiration, and there are some ideas of how to gain inspiration (break stuff, refuse to be healed). We still have resistance to healing.
How was it covered in older editions?
Well, with Prestige Classes, for one.
The 3e Planescape Campaign Setting on Planewalker.com (you may have to hunt around a bit, I grabbed it from an archive) gives us a few options for prestige classes for all the Factions.
For Doomguard, we get Sinker Swordmaster, Ash Watchman and Entropy Champion.
The Sinker Swordsman is a fighter-type with an Entropic Blow ability, ways to find weak points in objects and to deal extra damage by sacrificing hitpoints, or a general bonus to critical damage. Eventually, they can mimic a disintegrate spell.
The Ash Watchman is more of a rogue-type from what I can see, but they move entropy around. When they reduce an enemy to 0hp, they can give a luck bonus to themselves or an ally to saving throws and armour class, and can approximate a paladin’s lay on hands but move the damage on to themself as they heal – and later can do it in the opposite direction like vampiric touch. They can sense weaknesses in enemies, and eventually become immune to critical hits.
The Entropy Champion is a paladin-type and gains an entropy blade that has various spell-like abilities. They have a sworn enemy, in a similar way that a ranger has a favoured enemy, and they deal extra multipliers of critical damage against them, and they do bonus damage to objects. Eventually, they can declare a final blow and deal extra damage equal to double their own hitpoints, and then can never be revived.
OK, can we synthesise any of this?
Well, other people have done a bit of work for us.
Powerscore has a rules-less page on the different factions, but there’s still plenty to work with.
We still have resistance to healing, entropic blows, entropic blades and destruction of objects. We also have some hints at spell-like abilities in disintegrate, shatter and true strike.
So let’s put this together!
I’m stealing that inspiration mechanic, of course.
Eligibility: No life clerics, no celestial warlocks or sorcerers, no healers.
At 3 renown, we get access to the Doomguard abilities.
At this level, as a Namer, we get a bonus proficiency with a sword and when using an inspiration to gain advantage on an attack roll, also add a +1 to hit when attacking with a sword.
We also gain a bonus on NPC interaction with other Doomguard, and we get knowledge of the portal keys to Doomguard strongholds – but we have to go and get one for ourself.
We’re also now resistant to healing magic, but we can spend inspiration to deal an extra die of damage on a critical hit once per long rest.
At 10 renown, we are now a fully-fledged Doomguard.
We deal extra damage to objects equal to our proficiency bonus, and now when spending inspiration when attacking with a sword we deal +1 damage as well.
We can cast shatter as a 3rd level spell twice per long rest, or spend inspiration to cast at 5th level.
Those NPCs who view the Doomguard in a negative way will now react negatively, so we take a penalty on interactions with them.
At 25 renown, we become a Factotum.
We can conjure an entropic blade in much the same way as the warlock’s pact of the blade.
A +1 weapon imbued with negative energy, when conjured it gives one of four effects (chosen when conjured or at the end of a long rest):
Ash Blade: Can use the sooty breath ability of a smoke mephit three times per long rest.
Vacuum Blade: Gain the ability to hold your breath indefinitely (there are no vacuum mephits) (I need to work on this one specifically, it needs work. An inverse breath weapon might be an option).
Salt Blade: Can use the irritating breath ability of a salt mephit three times per long rest.
Dust Blade: Can use the blinding breath ability of a dust mephit three times per long rest.
The holder of an entropic blade can also cast summon elemental spirit once per long rest. The elemental summoned comes from the corresponding negative quasi-elemental plane to the currently held entropic blade.
At 50 renown, we become a Factor/Doomlord.
We can now cast summon elemental spirit once per short rest, and we are so tied to the Negative Energy plane that we can summon/change the Entropic Blade once per short rest also. Our mephit breath abilities can be used three times per short rest.
We can cast disintegrate once per long rest.
We gain a familiar that must be a mephit, and can cast the flock of familiars spell once per short rest – they must also be mephits, however they do not have to all be the same type.
After careful study for an hour, we can now tell how something was destroyed however long ago it happened.
We’re a Doomlord at this stage, so we also have the final blow ability: we can designate a final blow after confirming a hit with our entropic blade by spending an inspiration. In addition to normal damage, we can deal twice our maximum hitpoints in negative energy damage and forever be immune to resurrection.
Restrictions: Resistance to healing magic, save vs. resurrection, reincarnation etc.
OK, that’s a first pass. Let me know what you think.
I’ll be doing the same thing with the other Factions soon.