When I became the editor for EN5ider my first objective (aside from keeping the high level of quality D&D 5E articles coming!) was a new suite of classes to follow up on the original A Touch of Class. In this series I’m going to explore the 9 new entries in A Touch More Class, reveal some of the development process behind them, and consider the obstacles in getting these from ideas to fully finished concepts. Get a quick fix on them all here and sign up for the mailing list so you know when the Kickstarter launches next month!
This was the second solid class pitch from Andrew Engelbrite (the first being the Fatebender) and hit me in the face because it’s straight-up original fantasy. Most of the things you see have some allusion to pop culture or this video game or whatever, but the closest you can get here is Magneto and his floating metal balls which quite frankly are a poor comparison. Strap in for a look at THE LODESTAR!
Originally I saw this and said “that looks like a monk archetype” but after considering all the possibilities available to the concept, I realized it absolutely deserves its own 20 levels and archetypes. The main aspects of the lodestar center around the magical spheres that constantly orbit them–not unlike ioun stones but with mage hand and monk martial arts aspects rolled into it. Their modes of attack and defense revolve around lodestones and managing where they are, giving the class a rhythm in combat that makes it uniquely fun to play.
- Lodestones With the exception of 20th level a lodestar has a maximum of 3 lodestones at once, respawning them with a bonus action at a rate of 1/2 proficiency bonus–a slowly-replenishing pool.
- Ranged Attacks Lodestars fling their lodestones at enemies using Orbital Slingshot, eventually all 3 a round (although that can be a dubious proposition). Their damage scales up with lodestar level, but they can also distract enemies from afar, or at mid-high level bust out some cool area attacks.
- Unique Defense From pretty early on lodestones can be expended for a brief AC boost, immunity to stunning, limited actions while incapacitated (mid-level), and at high level sacrifice lodestones to avoid damage and teleport–some of which are features that make a lodestone unavailable until a short or long rest. It’s engaging to play defense as a lodestar, something I think the monk doesn’t do quite as well.
- Training Methods While the various assault and deflection features wrapped into the main class give it the solid bones a good class design needs, the lodestar’s archetypes are what makes it feel appropriate in the tradition of D&D 5E classes.
- Control This starts out with a simple feature not unlike an arcane trickster’s mage hand but ramps up to ignoring cover and shields, assigning a lodestone to orbit a creature and attack each round all on its own, those floating Magneto platforms, and finally improved range and critical range for the signature Orbital Slingshot attacks.
- Imaginative If you’re shooting for versatility this is the path for your lodestar. They can swap damage types for their lodestones (starting with normal weapon types and moving up to elemental then divine) but the real shtick is transforming them into different objects. This means mundane things like keys or a dagger, then hypnotic patterns, mirroring illusions, and finally creatures.
- Instinct These lodestars are the most combat oriented and can get into the thick of a fight without losing efficacy. At first its simple bonuses (got lodestones? Shield bonus to AC and a little damage boost on melee attacks) then they can change lodestones into whatever weapons they like, upped mobility (better jumping mostly), and more attack potential than the other archetypes.
DESIGN HURDLE: Dancing Mechanics
That’s what’s really going on behind the scenes with the lodestar and what makes it so intriguing. We debated and considered a few different approaches to the lodestar resource but landed on that fundamental rhythm (expend for some abilities, lose some to enemy attacks, gradually replenish with bonus actions) because it takes what is already a unique, fresh idea, and it makes it even better–an execution of mechanics on par with the quality of the concept.
If this sounds awesome to you then please check out the A Touch More Class Kickstarter and if you can’t wait for the PDF/book (which deliver as soon as the project funding period ends) consider joining the EN5ider Patreon! It can be as affordable as $1 per month and as soon as you join you get instant access to Lodestar Basic, Lodestar Advanced, and the rest of the 270+ article archive!