A Touch More Class #8: Savant

The A Touch More Class Kickstarter has funded more than $61,000 from almost 1,250 people as of this posting!

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 make your pledge!

Jeremiah McCoy designed this entry in A Touch More Class and it came out last because it was the one I thought needed the most tender love and care–after all, at its core it’s all about being a genius. After months of little back-and-forths I think we landed on something special, unique, and deserving of a spot on the proverbial shelf alongside rogues, fighters, monks, and all the rest. But I digress: lets dish about THE SAVANT!

(which you can download for free in this preview PDF on DriveThruRPG –> https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/276167/5E-A-Touch-More-Class-Exclusive-Preview-The-Savant)

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The Savant

If you’ve ever wanted to play Sherlock Holmes in D&D 5E you have come to the right place! Although they’ve got a little bit of a whimpy hit die (d8), the savant’s defensive features make them able to get a decent armor class on par with or even superior to monks. On top of that at the very end game they’re almost always going to nail Intelligence rolls (advantage on both its checks and saving throws). As for offense that’s where Savant Tricks come in–a savant can have one trick prepared all the time (two once they hit 10th level), many are reactionary, and Savant Tricks take a different route to achieving a lot of the effects a battle master fighter can achieve without necessarily dealing damage. Savants aren’t terrible at that mind you, but they’re more effective when manipulating a battle instead of bluntly forcing themselves through fisticuffs.

  • Savant Tricks The savant knows a number equal to their Intelligence modifier (so a good bag to choose from) and can use these to disarm, distract, taunt, reroll a bad Dexterity save, lead an enemy into a specific square, slow movement, sidestep out of an attack, knock someone prone, and even change an attack’s target from them into someone else.
  • Fight Smart Not Hard These would be another agile warrior except that they rely more heavily on Intelligence than anything else, including for armor class. Not just for AC either, and the further along they get through the class the more a savant can fall back on their quick thinking to save them where brawn, mettle, or reflexes might not! They’re also rocking Extra Attacks, although not as many as a fighter (maxing out at 3 at 13th level).
  • Aptitudes These are what clinched the savant as a proper class instead of archetypes for the fighter, monk, and rogue. Like the bloodweaver each of these paths–and Savant Trick selection–make it possible for very different versions to appear at the same table.
    • Adversary If the savant’s goal is to be a damage monster this is the Aptitude to pick. They can gain extra bonuses to an attack roll, blind, or boost AC (scaling by how many enemies are within reach). They also get tactica dice, a resource pool they can expend as freely as a battle master but without the extra effects and eventually in larger amounts (starting at d6s and ending as d12s at 18th level).
    • Chirurgeon Savants that choose this archetype are essentially surgeons. They get a healing pool, can dispense potions to others as a bonus action Savant Trick, inflict exhaustion, allow allies to retreat, fight illness, and (my personal favorite) resuscitate the dead at 14th level (albeit with a DC 25 Wisdom [Medicine] check).
    • Coordinator Savant detectives are going down this road. They get to be skill monkeys, give helpful advice, coordinate allies to be more effective in combat, analyze enemies, know a bunch of languages, and at the end of game (17th level) never have disadvantage (they can still lose advantage, but never have to roll twice and take the lower result).

DESIGN HURDLE: Tempo Design

This was another challenging class design–what wizard isn’t looking to level dip for a higher armor class, and why not modify classes with savant archetypes instead–but the solution to both of these problems was working out Savant Tricks. As the really tasty part of the class they don’t kick in until 3rd level so any level-dippers need to commit to get them, and while the Aptitude features and Intelligence-to-AC are indeed appealing it means slowing down spell progression (which is a big problem for any spellcaster). Then there’s how they work: as stored values. If the adventurer wants that part of their build to keep on kicking ass, they’re going to be sinking a bonus action into it each turn–a bonus action not spent casting or manipulating an already cast spell.  I think Jeremiah and I found the right balance between being a subsystem that’s fun to maintain throughout play without falling into the trap of over-complication (or simplification for that matter).

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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 Savant Basic and Savant Advanced along with the rest of the 270+ article archive!

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