Duskblade: 5e Class

The Duskblade came about after a discussion of 5e’s limit on new classes to 13. My contention is that it’s a seemingly arbitrary limit. Why 13? Why not 15, or 5? How different really is a Paladin compared to a Cleric with the War Domain, from a lore perspective. And how about a War Cleric and a Warlock of Orcus infernal war machine. And if that’s the same why not an Infernal Sorcerer? And really is that all that different than an Evoker Wizard? And shoot, why even have classes if they are all the same? Ultimately, the reason is because classes give us an easy to grok mechanical chassis that makes building characters easier. You’ve got some preselected options and aren’t thrown to the wolves with a point-based build system like Shadowrun, which can be, and often is, a huge turn off for new, or uninvested players.

So, if the purpose of a class is to give you mechanical distinction, because half the fluff is interchangeable, and all fluff is mutable anyway, new base classes give you fun mechanics to play with. New subclasses are fine, I write them all the time. But sometimes, you want a new mechanic that’s a bigger change than a new subclass. The Artificer is a great example. To illustrate this point, I took what is tempting to make as a new paladin subclass and built an arcane counterpart that vibes with one of my favorite 3e base classes, the duskblade. It’s recognizable as a paladin base sure, but mechanically distinct enough that it would feel diluted if we wrote it up as a subclass.

Duskblade 

The duskblade blurs the line between spellcaster and warrior, mixing arcane magic and martial combat skills.

Photo by Valiantsin Konan on Pexels.com

Hit Points

Hit Dice: 1d10

Hit Points at 1st Level: 10 + your Constitution modifier

Hit Points at Higher Levels: 1d10 (or 6) + your Constitution modifier per Duskblade level after 1st

Proficiencies

Armor: light armor, medium armor, heavy armor, shields

Weapons: simple weapons, martial weapons

Tools: none

Saving Throws: Constitution, Charisma

Skills: Choose 2 from Athletics, Insight, Intimidation, Medicine, Persuasion, and Religion.

Starting Equipment

You start with the following items, plus anything provided by your background.

  • (a) a martial weapon and a shield or (b) two martial weapons
  • (a) five javelins or (b) any simple melee weapon
  • (a) scholar’s pack or (b) an explorer’s pack
  • Chain mail and a components pouch
  • Alternatively, you may start with 5d4 × 10 gp to buy your own equipment.

Multiclassing

Ability Score Minimum: Strength 13, Charisma 13

Class Features

1 – Arcane Sense: As an action, you can use the detect magic spell. 

1 – Mana Battery: You have a pool of mana that refills after a long rest. This mana pool can be spent as an action to replenish arcane energy, and you have a number of points equal to your duskblade level. A point can be spent in either of the following ways. 

  1. restore a charge from to a magic item touched
  2. restore a spell slot to a creature touched as an action. To restore a spell slot, you must spend one point per level of the spell slot. 

2 – Arcane Channel: You can expend a spell slot to deal extra damage to a creature, by infusing your melee or ranged attack with magic. This attack adds 2d6 fire, cold, or lightning (your choice) damage for a 1st level spell slot and increases by 1d6 per each spell level over first to a max of 5d6. If the target is able to cast spells of their own (whether they have slots remaining or not), increase this damage by 1d6 to a max of 6d6.

2 – Spells: By 2nd level, you have learned to draw on arcane magic through meditation and ritual to cast spells as a sorcerer does. See the end of this document for more on spells. 

2 – Fighting Style: At 2nd level, you can adopt a particular style of fighting as your specialty. Choose one of the following options. You can’t take the same Fighting Style option more than once, even if you get to choose again. These are identical to the fighting styles that a fighter has access to and will not be reprinted here. 

  • Archery
  • Defense
  • Dueling
  • Great Weapon Fighting
  • Protection

3 – Magic Vitality: Whenever you are subject to a condition that allows you to make a saving throw at the end of your turn, you can instead make it at the beginning of your turn. 

3 – Duskblade Devotion: At 3rd level, you can devote yourself further to the study of a specific style of combat magic gaining further benefits. 

4 – Ability Score Increase

5 – Extra Attack

6 – Elemental Pulse: As a bonus action, you can unleash an elemental pulse. Enemies that within 30ft of you take 1d6 + your charisma modifier fire, lightning, or cold damage (chosen when you activate the pulse). You can activate your pulse a number of times equal to 3 + your charisma modifier. When you take a long rest, you regain all uses.

7 – Devotion

8 – Ability Score Increase

9 – 

10 – Mighty Pulse: Your elemental pulsenow does 2d6 points of damage.

11 – Improved Arcane Channel: You’re always channeling a little bit of magic. All your attacks add 1d6 fire, lightning or cold damage (your choice). 

12 – Ability Score Increase

13 – 

14 – Dispelling Touch: You can use the spell dispel magic once per short rest. You gain temporary hit points equal to the level of the spell dispelled. 

15 – Devotion

16 – Ability Score Increase

17 – Mighty Pulse: Your elemental pulse now does 3d6 points of damage.

18 – Pulse Improvements: Your elemental pulse extends to 100ft. 

19 – Ability Score Increase

20 – Devotion

Preparing and Casting Spells

The Paladin table shows how many spell slots you have to cast your Duskblade spells. To cast one of your Duskblade spells of 1st level or higher, you must expend a slot of the spell’s level or higher. You regain all expended spell slots when you finish a long rest.

You prepare the list of Duskblade spells that are available for you to cast, choosing from the Duskblade spell list. When you do so, choose a number of duskblade spells equal to your Charisma modifier + half your Duskblade level, rounded down (minimum of one spell). The spells must be of a level for which you have spell slots.

For example, if you are a 5th-level Duskblade, you have four 1st-level and two 2nd-level spell slots. With a Charisma of 14, your list of prepared spells can include four spells of 1st or 2nd-level, in any combination. Casting the spell doesn’t remove it from your list of prepared spells.

You can change your list of prepared spells when you finish a long rest.

Spells Known of 1st Level and Higher

At 2nd level, you learn two 1st-level spells of your choice from the Duskblade spell list.

You learn an additional Duskblade spell of your choice at each level. Each of these spells must be of a level for which you have spell slots. For instance, when you reach 5th level in this class, you can learn one new spell of 1st or 2nd level.

Additionally, when you gain a level in this class, you can choose one of the Duskblade spells you know and replace it with another spell from the Duskblade spell list, which also must be of a level for which you have spell slots.

Spellcasting Ability

Charisma is your spellcasting ability for your Duskblade spells, since their power derives from their force of personality. 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 Duskblade 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

Spellcasting Focus

You can use a simple or martial weapon as a spellcasting focus for your Duskblade spells.

Duskblade Spell List

The following are the core Duskblade spells. DMs who use additional books should generally consider arcane spells from the abjuration, evocation, illusion, and transmutation schools that modify the caster in some way. Other schools do have spells that fit the class, but should be more carefully curated. 

Level 1

Burning Hands, Expeditious Retreat, Feather Fall, Longstrider, Mage Armor, Magic Missile, Protection from Evil and Good, Shield, Thunderwave. 

Level 2

Alter Self, Blur, Darkvision, Enhance Ability, Enlarge/Reduce, Invisibility, Magic Weapon, Melf’s Acid Arrow, Mirror Image, Misty Step, Ray of Enfeeblement, Scorching Ray, Spider Climb

Level 3

Blink, Fireball, Fly, Gaseous Form, Haste, Lightning Bolt, Protection from Energy, Slow, Stinking Cloud, Vampiric Touch.

Level 4

Dimension Door, Fire Shield, Greater Invisibility, Polymorph, Stoneskin, Wall of Fire

Level 5

Bigby’s Hand, Cone of Cold, Mislead, Wall of Force, Wall of Stone

Devotions

When you reach 3rd level, you devote yourself to a given style of magic. Up to this time you have dabbled in a variety of schools, but now you are ready to commit to one over the others. Now you choose from the list of available oaths.

Your choice grants you features at 3rd level and again at 7th, 15th, and 20th level. Those features include devotion spells and the Mana Battery feature.

Devotion Spells

Each devotion has a list of associated spells. You gain access to these spells at the levels specified in the oath description. Once you gain access to a devotion spell, you always have it prepared. Devotion spells don’t count against the number of spells you can prepare each day.

If you gain an oath spell that doesn’t appear on the Duskblade spell list, the spell is nonetheless a Duskblade spell for you.

Shadow Devotion

Only a fool fights fair, you fight to win. By devoting yourself to the shadow, you have mastered illusion magic, and can weave it into your combat style to make yourself an infuriating combatant for your foes. 

Shadow Devotion Spells

Duskblade Level Spells

  • 3rd compelled duel, ensnaring strike
  • 5th blindness/deafness, enthrall
  • 9th bestow curse, hunger of hadar 
  • 13th compulsion, grasping vine
  • 17th dominate monster, hold monster

Mana Battery

As a shadow devotee of third level, you can use your mana battery to achieve a level of stealth you would normally be unable to perform. 

  • Creature touched gains advantage on dexterity (stealth) checks until dawn the next morning.

Nightvision

At 3rd level, you gain darkvision 60ft if you do not already have it. If you do have it, extend your range by 30ft.

Shadowdance

Starting at 7th level, when a creature with disadvantage missed you with an attack roll, you can take advantage of the opportunity to reposition. As a reaction, you can teleport 30 feet to an open space you can see and make an immediate stealth check to hide. You can use this ability a number of times per day equal to your charisma modifier + 3, and you regain all uses after a long rest.

Pierce the Veil

Nothing is worse than a Shadow Devotee being tricked. At 15th level, you gain Truesight 30ft. 

Shadow Champion

At 20th level, your presence on the field of battle is debilitating to your foes. You can use your action to gain the following benefits for 1 hour:

You have resistance to poison, psychic and necrotic damage.

You and your allies have advantage on wisdom (perception) checks, wisdom (insight) checks, and wisdom saving throws while within 30 feet of you.

You can hide while being directly observed, even without cover or concealment. 

This effect ends early if you are incapacitated or die. Once you use this feature, you can’t use it again until you finish a long rest.

Elemental Devotion

You favor a direct and clear fighting style. You have mastered evocation magic and blast your foes to ash.

Elemental Devotion Spells

Duskblade Level Spells

  • 3rd hellish rebuke, thunderous smite
  • 5th branding smite, flame blade
  • 9th elemental weapon, wind wall
  • 13th ice storm, stoneshape
  • 17th destructive wave, flame strike

Mana Battery

As an elemental devotee of 3rd level, you can use your mana battery to infuse your armor with a ward of elemental energy.

  • Creature touched gains resistance to an elemental damage type of your choice from the following list: Acid, Cold, Fire, Thunder, Lightning for the next hour.

Elemental Favoritism

At 3rd level, you gain resistance to one of the following elemental damage types. Acid, Cold, Fire, Thunder, Lightning. 

Blazing Pulse

At 7th level, your elemental pulse is stronger than that of other Duskblades. Instead of the standard 1d6 damage that increases at level 10 and 17, yours is far stronger. Instead, it deals 1d6 points of damage per point of proficiency bonus. 

Elemental Immunity

At 15th level, you gain immunity to one of the following elemental damage types. Acid, Cold, Fire, Thunder, Lightning. If you choose the same elemental type as what you gained from elemental favoritism, you can choose a new type to gain resistance to. 

Elemental Champion

At 20th level, you are an elemental force of nature on the battlefield. You can use your action to gain the following benefits for 1 hour:

You and all allies within 30ft of you gain resistance to Acid, Cold, Fire, Thunder, and Lightning damage.

While in this form, your Elemental Pulse triggers at the start of your turn. You must choose its elemental damage type when you enter this state but can change it to another type by using one of your bonus actions and a use of the Elemental Pulse ability.

This effect ends early if you are incapacitated or die. Once you use this feature, you can’t use it again until you finish a long rest.

Transmogrification Devotion

While you are a mage, you’d rather modify your classical sword fighting skills than use flashy blasts and stealthy illusions. As a devotee of Transmogrification, you specialize in transmutation and abjuration magic. 

Transmogrification Devotion Spells

Duskblade Level Spells

  • 3rd armor of agathys, shield of faith
  • 5th aid, barkskin
  • 9th magic circle, protection from energy
  • 13th death ward, freedom of movement
  • 17th circle of power, wind walk

Mana Battery

As a transmogrification devotee of 3rd level, you can ensure your attacks hit when you want them to. 

  • The next attack made by the creature touched that successfully hits, is a critical hit.

Thick Skinned

At 3rd level, you gain a +1 bonus to your armor class. 

Second Wind

Starting at 7th level, you gain the fighters second wind class feature, based on your Duskblade level instead of fighter level. If you already have this class feature from another class, you can combine their levels. For example a fighter 10/duskblade 10 would regain 1d10+20 hit points with their single use of this ability. 

Iron Hide

At 15th level, your Thick Skinned armor bonus increases by +2, for a total of +3 AC. 

Transmogrified Champion

At 20th level, you can modify yourself into a living weapon. You can use your action to gain the following benefits for 1 hour:

You have resistance to damage from non-magic weapons. 

You can add your charisma modifier to weapon damage rolls. 

You gain a fly speed equal to your base land speed. 

This effect ends early if you are incapacitated or die. Once you use this feature, you can’t use it again until you finish a long rest.

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