Dungeons and Dragons has unfortunately gone through some controversy thanks to the OGL 1.1 update. These new policies make it more difficult for third-party creators to create content for the beloved tabletop franchise. As this situation develops, it is clear that this affects even the average player as well.
For gamers looking to build a creepy character, third-party content has always been a great resource for homebrewing. Still, there needs to be a foundation, and that’s exactly what these subclasses provide. An eerie foundation for the unorthodox player.
Gloom Stalker Ranger
The Rangers exist to protect the realm’s borders from threats. These threats can come from anywhere, even from the darkest places. Rangers who choose to fight the creatures that live in the dark caves become pretty grim themselves. “He who slays monsters”, as the old saying goes.
Dread Ambusher and Stalker’s Flurry ensures that Gloom Stalker always strikes first. Umbral Sight ensures that nothing escapes their sight in the dark. Iron Mind makes them resistant to the wiles of their enemies. Shadowy Dodge interferes with the Ranger’s familiarity with their enemy’s tactics. A darker incarnation of Batman is a perfect fit for the Gloom Stalker.
Understandably, most people see the Beast Barbarian as an archetypal werewolf. A lot of fantasy fans think it’s cool, and for good reason. However, that is just what most people taste Beast Barbarian as. Looking at just the sheer mechanics of Beast Barbarians, it’s a gallery of body horror.
The official description even mentions “mandibles” as an option for Bite. Claws can easily be malformed nails instead of dog-like paws. Tail could very well be the barbarian’s extended spine. Bestial Soul grants them unnatural physical gifts that specifically mimic the abilities of beasts. Perhaps the most disturbing thing is that their animalistic fury can affect others, a kind of super rabies. The Wolf Man is a classic werewolf horror icon that fits this subclass.
Wizard of Enchantment
One of the most difficult powers to moralize in the media is mind control. There is a very good reason why many villains have mind control as part of their plans. The ability to dominate a person’s will and make them do things they wouldn’t normally do. It’s incredibly villainous.
Enchantment Wizards is exactly that. With their hypnotic gaze, they can turn any creature into a drooling slave. Even in combat, people are unnaturally affected by their gaze, forcing them to attack other targets instead. Most terrifying of all, they can do it so the target never knew they were being mind-controlled in the first place. Think The Purple Man in Jessica Jones for this subclass.
Some horrors are more tangible and obvious, and Spores Druid is proof of that. Humans may love nature, but few can be said to like the look of decay. The slow drying up of life is not exactly a romantic depiction of nature. Although the druid themselves are friendly, they will seem strange.
It doesn’t help their cause that they are surrounded by invisible traces of death. Instead of Wild Shape, the Spores Druid can choose to simply animate the spores around them and turn into a mushroom monster. Spores Druid would be a living Clicker from The last of usthough admittedly much less of a people-eater.
Born with the magic of the Shadowfell residing in their souls, Shadow Sorcerers lend themselves quite well to being living ghosts. Their quirks all reflect just how similar a shadow wizard can end up being. Slow heartbeat and icy skin. Of course, the real show-stealers are the shadows under their command.
Strength of the Grave makes them incredibly hard to kill. It is not because of inherent toughness. It’s more of the “zombie of the dark” aspect. Hounds of Ill Omen summon death hounds that terrorize the living. Shadow Walk lets wizards appear behind enemies like a ghost. Umbral Form simply transforms them into the horror they were inside. Most possessed people in horror are similar to Shadow Sorcerers.
Aberrant Mind Sorcerer
A sorcerer’s power is inherent to them. However, they can sometimes take parts of themselves in exchange for power. Aberrant Mind Sorcerers are unstable, even among the already unstable Sorcerers. The more they use their powers, the more their minds open to the psionic realm.
Their minds can reach out to others with invisible, psionic tentacles. The laws of gravity need not apply to them as their telekinetic powers wreak havoc. Their outward most terrible class feature is Revelation in the Flesh. The deviant truth within them literally changes their physiology into something truly alien. The Scarlet Witch’s powers i Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is a good showcase for this subclass.
Great Old One Warlock
The Lovecraft mythos has subtly crept into many media. People don’t realize how much they fear the unknown. Though it stares them in the face, they cannot understand its majesty. They only understand one thing. Fear. Warlocks who worship these unknown entities begin to become terrors unto themselves.
Their awakened minds bypass the mortal limitations of language and speech. Psychic attacks tend to backfire against them. Fate itself bends to their whims. Most frighteningly, these Warlocks can infect the minds of the incapacitated. The truth will make a slave out of these poor souls.
The Rogues are already a fickle bunch, but the Phantom takes it to its limit. Rogues spend so much time in the dark that they have been molded in their image. Dead things and silence become their closest friends. The Phantom Rogues are careful that they do not join their strange bedfellows in the grave.
Whispers of the Dead gives Rogue their skills in life. Jammer from the grave emits horrific screams to send shivers down the enemy’s spine. Tokens of the Departed grab a slice of a dying creature’s soul and use it for their nefarious purposes. Finally, Ghost Walk transforms the Rogue into a liminal horror between life and death.
Most popular religions are based on principles of kindness, nature and common pleasures like that. What most people fear to confront is the other side of that coin. The negative forces that make life a life. Death Clerics worship the gods that cause death and murder, and revel in the fatalistic pleasures of their domain.
Touch of Death destroys a creature from within, dealing severe necrotic damage. Reaper allows them to target multiple creatures with their necromantic spells. Inevitable destruction and divine attacks make their necrotic powers even more hurtful. Death Clerics do not worship death itself. They worship those who cause it.
Bards are typically seen as the life of the party. Quite literally, they provide healing and buffs. They also have a penchant for being comic relief. They are beloved at best and a minor annoyance at worst. This reputation is exactly what Whispers Bards want. Their innocent exterior hides sinister motives.
Words of horror and shadow stories add dark meanings to innocent sentences. People will believe that the Bard knows their deepest secret. Perhaps their most invasive trait is Whispers Mantle. They take the form of a dying humanoid and steal their memories as well. Whispers Bards are basically political skinwalkers.
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