The Warden, illustrated by Caio Santos
I hope you've all been enjoying the updated Weaveshaper! The responses I've gotten so far have been fantastic, so I'm happy to share something that I've been sitting on for a while.
I'd like to officially announce that the Warden class, created by Steve Fidler of Vorpal Dice Press, is going to be included in the upcoming Compendium of Sacred Mysteries: Resurrection!
Wardens are powerful warriors who wield the primal elements as weapons and tools, learning to command them from necessity and inherent connection rather than devotion or service. Wardens fulfill a unique role in the world and offer a dynamic style of play that combines martial prowess with elemental magic in their personal quests to explore, battle, and survive. As individuals inherently bound to the natural order, they are often viewed with prestige in many religious circles for their innate connection to forces attributed to the divine, though the nature of that relationship is rarely so simple. Wardens are born, not taught, and so their connection to the natural forces often puts them at odds with druids and other servants of nature, who may see them as interlopers upon the inherent balance of the elements. Others view them as blessed, guided by the primal forces in ways that are so subtle as to escape the understanding of even the wardens themselves. Nevertheless, their strength of arms and instinctive control over raw, furious power makes them natural adventurers. If that adventure happens to be guided by forces beyond mortal comprehension, then destiny awaits!
Mechanically, the warden fits into a unique place between martial characters and spellcasters, with a focus on a special dice resource used to invoke the elements during attacks and when defending. They possess spellcasting abilities in a style similar to a warlock (few, short rest slots) but aren't as powerful and progress slower. Instead, their martial prowess and elemental abilities combine with unique subclasses that allow them to guard their allies, manipulate the environment, attack with elemental beasts, fight with destructive unarmed strikes, or unleash withering corruption.
Some of you may be familiar with Steve's Warden from a few years back; suffice to say, it's been updated greatly for inclusion and is looking better than ever! Steve (as Layhnet) was instrumental during COFSA's creation process, and I'm very happy to have him on board.
I said I would be collaborating more directly in this next book, and I'd like to think that this is a bold way to get that started. I'll be talking more in the future about the Warden, including opportunities to provide feedback.
For those of you who would like to get a taste of Steve's unique mechanical style, be sure to check out his newly released Prism class on DM's Guild along with its sidekick, his Krakin race, and his other great work!
On the topic of the Prism, I asked Steve to tell me about his design goals, philosophy, mechanical intent behind this interesting new class. Here's what he had to say:
The Prism class started as an attempt to make a 'cantrip caster' without cantrips. The first iterations were focused on color first, emotion second. Each color had a unique spell attack, some being damage and some being positive buffs. It became a bit messy and required a lot of building new spells and material to be viable. It also only used 6 colors; as it worked really well for a "Primary/Secondary" spell list system but the complication came from the Prismatic spells in the Player's Handbook using 7 colors. I decided after a while to start again, using another color based theme and tying it much closer to emotions. At this point, I wrote the Magic of Light section and it's remained mostly unchanged. The idea that light and color are so intrinsically linked to emotion really gave the Prism legs to stand on its own. Unlike a Bard, who uses music to influence emotion, the Prism uses light. After releasing this as a 5-level playtest, I took a break from the Prism class to release the Mage-Errant and revise the Warden to be OGL legal for Genuine Fantasy Press. After finishing the Mage-Errant, my goal of completing the Prism to finalize the trifecta of half-casters (Warden as Wisdom, Mage-Errant as Intelligence, and Prism as Charisma) went into full build mode. Sometime between finishing the Mage-Errant and starting on the Prism again, Genuine showed me a draft for his Weaveshaper. I believe it was Version 3 or Version 4. After reviewing it, I came up with the idea of using Rogue progression to emulate a martial full caster. Rogue has a very linear progression, with very few other increases to damage as they level. They get more consistent, as opposed to more powerful. This originally spawned an idea for another variant Fighter, that uses 'Maneuver Dice', a pool of d6s that range from 1-10 as the Prism's Influence does, to execute maneuvers and additional attacks each round. After showing a proof of concept to a few people, I realized another 'Fighter' wasn't what 5E needed. However, the mechanic was perfect for the Prism! I very quickly drafted a 5-level playtest and showed it around Discord of Many Things and Twitter. What interested me most was the response I got about the flavor of the Prism class - that it was unique, stood on its own, and with the right mechanics could sit alongside the big kids in the Player's Handbook. I sharpened my wit, gilded the mechanics with precision, and within a few short weeks had a complete 20-level version of the Prism. The final design of the Prism was to create a class that was thematically like a Bard + Monk, with mechanics like a Rogue + Sorcerer. An unarmored ascetic type; master of emotions and light. With a linearly scaling at-will power source and a way to alter the effect of that at-will power. I also sought highly to strike a balance between offensive and supportive features. In actual play, I thought the Projection Barrier and Read Light features might not see much play but all playtest reports show a very healthy amount of their use, which makes me very happy. It's hard to make a support class option that feels engaging without making it able to be equally as offensive (hello Cleric my old friend) which often pushes it to high power levels. Somewhere around 15 levels, I realized this was going to actually finish, and be complete, and something I was exceptionally proud of. I knew I had to publish it, and with my recent success of the Krakin race supplement at DMsGuild decided I would follow it up there. I contacted Lluis Abadias and got the ball rolling on the cover; I spoke to my editors from Krakin, Nicolo de la Mercer and Ryan Langr to get started on trimming the fat and polishing the balance, and within no time at all I was sitting on a finalized version of the Prism - chomping at the bit to release it. There was still a week or so before the cover was finished, so I started my advertising campaign. Around this time, the D&D Essentials Kit had released and there was a burgeoning interest in Sidekick rules - so I created the Prismatic Ally to be a cohort to the Prism class. Something I will do for any and every class I make going forward. It functions as an excellent way to introduce the class to an on-going campaign as a one-off NPC and lets both players and DMs experience it first hand. The Prism was released to DMsGuild on July 30th, 2019. I published it first thing in the morning and left for the day to take my twin daughter's to the zoo - they love animals and it gave me an opportunity to just let the Prism do its thing without too much interference from me. The next morning, it had hit Copper Best Seller, and the morning after that, Silver. An unprecedented success for me and an absolute joy!
If that sounds interesting to you, be sure to check it out! I really encourage you to give it a look and pick it up if you'd like to see a "preview" of the Warden creator's surprising style.
Thank you for reading! If you're a fan of Genuine and want to help COSMR succeed, consider writing a review for COFSA on Amazon - they're incredibly helpful!