LP Labs: Nightshade Archetype for Rogues

Hello Legendary Pants readers!

This is Kamriel here with a homebrew rogue archetype that I created with the express purpose of pairing with our homebrew poison system. The idea came to me while we were creating characters for our latest campaign. As character creation is one of my favorite aspects of Dungeons & Dragons, I generally look into and craft about a half dozen characters before I settle on the one I would like to play. Of course, by that time I’ve already imagined and planned out levels 1 to 20 with skills, spells, feats, and gear. Originally, I was set on being a Totem Barbarian, however I kept glancing at the Rogue class believing that it was lacking something that I always paired with the assassin types. Poison.

Fifth edition does have a poison system in place, but if you take a quick look at it you will quickly find that poison is extremely expensive for a one-shot item. That is also only if you happen to run across the poison already crafted or have fought, killed, and harvested one of the few creatures capable of providing the ingredient to craft that particular poison. This is not how poison generally works. Poisons can be made with a multitude of ingredients that have various effects. When you apply that basic idea to a world filled with magic and creatures you can be assured that poisonous materials are plentiful.

The Nightshade is an archetype that has the ability to provide strong damage, combat utility, and roleplay utility in the right hands. It amplifies the poison system we have created. It also relies on the player to be creative and take risks. This is not the character for someone who likes to hoard gold or abilities. A well placed use of Twilight Oil can get you into a heavily guarded fort. A simple concoction weakens a raging barbarian hell bent on removing your head from your body, and makes them lethargic so you can dance around them scoring hit after hit while he can barely lift his greataxe. At the same time, you can invest your gold stores and time into this focus and come up short as your foes resist everything you can throw at them. Poison is a gamble in every aspect. As a rogue, the Nightshade just gives you an edge.

Roguish Archetype: Nightshade

You spent countless hours brewing and concocting poisons tailored to your precise needs. Rogues who follow this path understand that a simple coated blade, vial of toxin, or laced powder can not only cause harm and take life, but cause kingdoms to crumble with the right tool. By following this path a rogue chooses to explore the endless possibilities one drop of poison and how to best administer his weapon.

The first discovery you make while creating each of your tools is how to amplify their effects with a simple trick. Starting at 3rd level, all poisons crafted by your hand are deadlier than before. All poison DC vs saves are now +2.

Steady hands
When a rogue chooses this archetype at the 3rd level he gains expertise with the poisoner’s kit for crafting and herbalism kit. The Nightshade also becomes adept at applying a poison deftly, he may apply a poison that he has direct access to (such as tied to his person not buried in his backpack somewhere) by using the Cunning Action feature.

The Nightshade learns how to create his tools efficiently. The Nightshade may craft up to a GP amount equal to 5gp + rogue level on a poison per day. He may also create additional poisons simultaneously a number of times equal to your INT modifier (minimum one additional). The gp limit per day is applied to each simultaneous poison made (so a Nightshade brewing 3 poisons may craft 5gp+rogue level value in each of them per day).

Poison Blood
Starting at 9th level the rogue has worked with and created so many poisons by now that he has become immune to their effects through constant exposure. The Nightshade is also able to determine the nature of nonmagical poisons unerringly.

Additionally, anytime you deal a sneak attack with an unpoisoned weapon, the target must make a save with dc equal to 8 + your proficiency + your Intelligence modifier or be Poisoned until the end of your next turn.

Starting at 13th level the rogue is able to modify his poisons to be extremely potent. Any poison applied to a target during a “sneak attack” is resisted at disadvantage.

Black Liquid
At 17th level, you unlock the secrets of this deadly art to their fullest. Once per long rest you are able to synthesize a single drop of liquid that, when combined with one of your poisons, does one of the following:
-Maximize damage done.
-Apply the effect with no save (if the target is immune to the applied effect then it takes 3d8 damage instead)
-Double the duration
-Double the active time the poison is viable / allow double the applications.

The archetype seems to have a good balance between utility and damage to make poison something to be embraced as an option and not a gold sink one off. It increases your ability to craft poisons while supplementing ingredient costs with herbalism. You may also use some randomly generated resources such as mold off of food, water that has been tainted with a corpse, etc. The options really depend on the roleplaying ability and connection you may have to your DM. Convince them that you could turn a creeping fungus found in graveyards into a minor poison that causes necrotic damage. The limitations to what you can come up with directly play off the limitations of your story. Start small as you begin your adventure. As you gain experience with your skills you can show that your character has gained a better insight to poison and deserves to discover the intricacies of a very open system. Expect the system to grow with you, it takes time to understand as well as craft even the simplest of concoctions.

Keep in mind that this is a work in progress and is currently being play tested in our Monday night campaign which you can watch by following us on Twitch. I play as the High Elf Igara and hopefully will be surviving long enough to see this idea fulfilled and vetted personally. Expect to find tweaks as we play in order to make both poison and the Nightshade a balanced path.

Well that wraps up this for now, please let me know your thoughts in the comment section below. I would love to have feedback both positive and negative on the archetype as well as the article. I plan on publishing something once a week on topics ranging from our D&D campaign to assorting gaming musings, nothing set in stone and official because I have a six month old and, let’s be honest, I haven’t slept more than 4 hours consecutively in…roughly six months…

Anyway, thanks for reading!

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