Over on Nerdarchy the YouTube channel Nerdarchists Dave and Ted discussed the best race to play a blood hunter in fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons. If I’m honest the blood hunter class confuses me. I get the gist of it, and it certainly captures the flavor of both The Last Witch Hunter movie and The Witcher stories that inspired and inform the class features and flavor. Blood hunters got a lot going on with their rites, curses and Orders. This 5E D&D character class designed by Critical Role’s Matt Mercer combines martial prowess with blood magic creating a risk vs. reward scenario for characters who can push the limits of their own safety to increase the power of their class features. But I’m not here to dissect the blood hunter or even puzzle out this noodly character class. Instead I’m looking through the material and imagining all the ways I can swipe from this collection of class features to create new things for my own 5E D&D campaign. So let’s get into it.
Borrowing from blood hunter
One of the things I most enjoy when I’m creating new stuff for my 5E D&D games is repurposing content I’ve already got. You can see this method used in nearly all of our Adventurers League Character Build Guides. Once we’re done exploring a character concept we take inspiration from it to create a creature for Dungeon Masters to employ along with some adventure hooks and ideas to get started. Since our CBGs often pan out into multiclass characters with a variety of class features and synergy between them it’s really easy to simply create a new trait, feature or action for our NPC creature version. Maybe the new feature simplifies the mechanics or streamlines the procedure — creatures operate differently than player characters after all.
Slapping class features onto existing monsters opens up potential too. In the Grungle in the Jungle adventure I ran the players each took the role of a grung. I took their stat blocks from Volo’s Guide to Monsters and added an iconic class feature from each class to them. There was a barbarian grung who could rage, a bard grung to inspire allies and so forth.
But adding 5E D&D character class features to a monster isn’t the only way to repurpose these mechanics. Magic items offer another avenue to take use class features in a different way. Take a look at the ring of evasion in the Basic Rules. The iconic rogue ability (monks and Hunter rangers too!) shows up here giving anyone a shot at evading danger.
And there’s an even easier way to use class features elsewhere, aside from creating fast and dirty monster and magic items. Anything from an artificer’s Magical Tinkering to a wizard’s Signature Spells could be a temporary — or permanent — effect. These could be location based, giving characters access to a feature while they are in a certain place, or temporary boons granted by powerful entities or magic.
Looking at the blood hunter I see a treasure trove of interesting new monsters, magic items and boons to bestow on adventurers.
Monsters, magic items and makeshift boons for 5E D&D
Here’s a rundown of blood hunter features and some different ways to repurpose them for your 5E D&D games.
- A supernatural ritual or event enables a character to see with the blood hunter’s eyes when the party needs to track a fey, fiend or undead threat. Discovering the ritual, traveling to where the event takes place or otherwise becomes an adventure by itself.
- The party is tasked with escorting an NPC tracking a fey, fiend or undead. The NPC is just a commoner who for whatever reason can sense these creatures and the only way to find them is by following along and protecting the one with The Sight.
- Easy peasy: a magic weapon with any of the rites attached. Alternatively an amulet gives you the ability to enact this rite on any weapon when you are attuned.
- Ramp it up for a monster feature for something with a lot of hit points to spare or a way to heal themselves and this creature can bestow the rite on their minions nearby.
- Applying any of the fighting styles to a monster wielding weapons gives them a boost. An orc with Great Weapon Fighting becomes a low level boss monster with a unique combat trick.
- A special trainer gives a crash course in combat, magics up a character’s weapon or otherwise bestows the benefits of a Fighting Style until the character completes a long rest or some other finite amount of time.
If I’m honest this blood hunter feature seems superfluous. It’s basically only describing how Blood Curses work (?) so it seems weird to me. But that leads to…
- Applied to any weapon or item along with vivid description of how it pulses with dark energy or perhaps incorporates organic material in the construction makes for a memorable magic item! I’m thinking something like Soul Edge and Soul Caliber from the video game series. Maybe your Blood Curse magic item is sentient too?
- These could make a great actual curse on a character in one of two ways. A dark power blood curses the character with one of these features that enhances something they’re already good at with the amplification detracting from something they’re decidedly not good at, or the blood curse is diametrically opposed to the character’s special thing making it a greater drawback.
- This is campaign-level stuff! Clues or vital information embedded in an item need a special sort of person to discern. Reaching the person and helping them in some way to apply their strange ability become adventures, and a great way to provide exposition to players without an info dump.
- Pick a character and give them this feature — but don’t tell them! Throughout the campaign you can employ this unknown feature to give the character insights into things when they touch objects. They’ll wonder what is happening, and if you spark player curiosity leading to more engagement, that’s a win.
- Adding this to a mundane monster stat block like say, a knight instantly makes them more memorable when they beckon the surrounding shadows for aid. Did you see how fast that knight moved? I couldn’t even hit him and he waded right through us like we weren’t even there!
- After encountering lots of monsters operating in the dark, wielding darkness powers and generally causing the party grief because of their advantages, the party finds a solution through magical means. Maybe while Dark Velocity is active on them, they have Sunlight Sensitivity. You could amp up the benefits of Dark Velocity too, and make the character blinded in the light instead.
- Nothing too unusual here but any boss monster becomes unique when they can’t be frightened or charmed. This could be just another member of the monster mob too. All the goblins flee in terror except one. Or a devious creature pretends to be charmed to find out what the party is up to.
- As a magic item in a campaign with lots of creatures using fear and charm effects, a boon that provides advantage against these effects for the party but only while they’re in a small radius could strain tactical movement but it’s better than becoming a thrall of the enemy or running away in fear.
- For a monster this provides a fourth edition D&D style bloodied effect (so it stays on brand for blood hunter!). When the creature is below a certain hit point threshold they become more dangerous. They don’t have Crimson Rite damage to maximize but something else might be amped up. One of the dice from their attacks is maximized for example.
- Another interesting magic item possibility here. No one likes to be low on hit points, but if the reward is substantial is it worth the risk? Unlike a blood hunter, another character might not have means to harm themselves and gain a measure of control over this feature but it is a nice perk when the chips are down.
Blood Hunter Orders
From here we get into the different blood hunter subclasses. The Orders of the Ghostslayer, Lycan, Mutant and Profane Soul comprise a tremendous amount of abilities and class features!
After going over the blood hunter core class features you should have a solid start towards creating your own unique magic items, monsters and boons for your 5E D&D games. Any time you can take something already there and find new ways to use them saves you time and also helps make your campaign world and adventures special to you and your group. One of our best selling products in From Hit Dice to Heroics, and we came up with these ideas because we found ourselves with lots of unspent Hit Dice during our games. We thought why not take this existing mechanic and repurpose it for something fresh and new?
The blood hunter class created by Matt Mercer is available at pay what you want prices from the Dungeon Masters Guild. Check it out here.
Would you like to see a follow up going over the blood hunter Orders with some ideas for repurposing them? Let me know in the comments!