It’s finally time to (more or less) put into practice some of the things that we’ve been discussing on class design. I’ve seen Archivist updates requested from time to time; the original class was a 3e divine wizard, basically, using a prayerbook to prepare spells and able to scribe new divine spells into it, but also delving into forbidden lore (represented by a Knowledge check) to gain better combat ability against certain types of creatures. Here’s a stab at replicating that mechanic in 5e. It needed to be fairly simple and involve buffing certain abilities yet still retain the 3e’s feel and a distinct niche from, say, the Bard. Here’s what I ended up using.
The Archivist: Dark Knowledge
Beginning at 1st level, you have a trove of lore to combat the monsters of the world. As an action, you select a hostile creature you can see within 60 feet and make an Intelligence-based skill check (Arcana, History, Nature, or Religion) with a DC equal to 10 + the creature’s Challenge Rating. On a success, you remember the secrets of engaging this creature in combat. For 1 minute, you can use one of the following options below on your turn. This feature requires concentration, as if you were concentrating on a spell. Dice used are based on your Dark Knowledge die as shown on the table above. If you fail the skill check, you cannot attempt to use your Dark Knowledge feature against that creature until after you finish a long rest.
- Tactics: As a bonus action on your turn, you or an ally you can see within 30 feet of you can add your Dark Knowledge die to one attack roll you make against that creature within 1 round.
- Puissance: As a bonus action on your turn, you can inspire yourself or an ally you can see within 30 feet of you. The affected target can add your Dark Knowledge die to any saving throw they make against that creature’s abilities until the beginning of your next turn.
- Foe: As a bonus action on your turn, you can add your Dark Knowledge die to the damage of one successful attack roll you make against that creature within 1 round.
Different creature types generally fall under different types of skill checks as listed here:
- Arcana: aberrations, constructs, dragons, and elementals
- History: fey, giants, and humanoids
- Nature: beasts, monstrosities, oozes, and plants
- Religion: celestials, fiends, and undead
As you gain levels, you gain additional options for this feature. (These extra are based on the 3e class.)
Overall, I like it. It doesn’t cost “resources” like the Bard or Battlemaster Fighter, though it eats up an action to get going and requires concentration. It’s also something that can expand as the Archivist advances in levels in terms of whom or what you can affect. I haven’t entirely finished this class, but I do think it’s mostly complete. Where I’m primarily stuck is with possible class options, but I’ll eventually find something.