Sunday, January 22, 2012

Weekly 4e Homebrew: Arcane Bound

Every Sunday, I'll have a completely homebrewed Dungeons and Dragons 4th Edition element that you can use in your games. I do take requests so you can either post a comment here, email me at with the subject "Homebrew Request", or send me a tweet on Twitter (@brannonhutchins) with the hashtag #weekly4e.

With 5th Edition in the works, I'm already working in my mind what my next campaign world will be like. I think the campaign will actually start in 4th Edition and work its way into 5th Edition based on the consequences of the 4e game. More than likely, the players will end up causing whatever cataclysm recreates the game world to fit into 5e. That isn't a design choice, that's just knowing my players.

In this world, one cannot cast arcane spells without making a deal with a spirit of sorts. Each arcane class makes a different type of bargain as described in the following theme: Arcane Bound.

Arcane Bound
"As one of the Bound, you can bend the elements to your every whim. You can even learn to control Creation itself! All you have to do is shake my claw..."

The Bound are special; magic users destined to change the world, though not always for the better. They have the potential to be noble leaders as well as nefarious conquerors. They can destroy the world, or remake it.

Spirits are tied to the Bound, bringing the secrets of Creation to those they make the Bargain with. These spirits have secret ties to the ley lines that unite all of Creation and appear to different people depending on their talents: 
  • Artificers make deals with spirits that have a measure of talent with magic items. They understand the nature of enchanted weapons and wondrous artifacts.
  • Bards make their bargain with muses, spirits of the arts that sing a song that can make the most hardened warrior cry.
  • Sorcerers have ancestral spirits tied to their bloodline. They teach the sorcerer how to tap into their ancestral power.
  • Swordmages make deals with ancient warriors reborn in animal form. They teach the swordmage secret art-forms that tie the arcane to the martial.
  • Warlocks are plagued by the minions of their master. The creature that their bargain is made with sends the minion to ensure that the warlock enacts in accordance with the master's plan.
  • Wizards make a bargain with spirits of knowledge. They guide the fledgling mage in their studies, guiding them to the secrets they need through tomes and scrolls.
Creating an Arcane Bound
Requirement: Players wanting to play a class with the arcane power source must choose this theme.
Race Prerequisite: None. Any creature of any race can make a Bargain to master the arcane arts.

You concentrate on the specific aspects of your Bargain more so than others would.
Prerequisite: Arcane Bound theme
Associated Skills: Arcana, Diplomacy, Intimidate

Starting Feature
The Arcane Familiar feat gives you a companion that works with you in your arcane endeavors.
Benefit: You gain the Arcane Familiar feat as a bonus feat (Arcane Power page 139).

Additional Features

Level 5 Feature
Your influence over the natural world is starting to be felt.
Benefit: You gain a +2 to Arcana and either a +2 to Diplomacy or a +2 to Intimidate.

Level 10 Feature
Your ties to the arcane grow stronger, allowing your spells to be that much more effective.
Benefit: Spells you cast gain one of the following benefits:
  • Bursts and blasts (including Area bursts) are increased by 2 squares. For example, a Close blast 3 would now be a Close blast 5.
  • Ranged attacks (including the range of an Area attack) are increased by 5 squares. For example, a spell with a Range 10 is now a Range 15.

Optional Powers

Level 2 Utility Power
The arcane energies tied to your familiar empower not only you, but also your allies.

Level 6 Utility Power
Your familiar cannot assist you if it is dead. Luckily, your Bargain has tied you almost literally to it.

Level 10 Utility Power
As you gain more power, you can extend the reach of the arcane to those without a Bargain.

List of Familiars (Alphabetical)
  • Air Mephit, Dragon Magazine #374 28 (Paragon Tier)
  • Ambush Vine Shoot, DRG #377 33 (Paragon Tier)
  • Arcane Eye, DRG #374 25
  • Arcane Wisp, DRG #374 28 (Paragon Tier)
  • Badger, DRG #374 25
  • Bantam Fastieth, DRG #377 31
  • Bat, AP 140
  • Beholderkin, DRG #374 28 (Paragon Tier)
  • Blackspawn Darkling, DRG #374 28 (Paragon Tier)
  • Blazing Skull, DRG #374 30 (Epic Tier)
  • Bloodthorn Vine Barb, DRG #377 32
  • Bluespawn Nimblespark, DRG #374 28 (Paragon Tier)
  • Book Imp, AP 140
  • Bound Demon, AP 140
  • Canine Consruct, DRG #374 25
  • Cat, AP 140
  • Chaos Shard, DRG #374 31 (Epic Tier)
  • Clockwork Scorpion, DRG #377 32
  • Crafter Homunculus, AP 140
  • Crawling Clot, DRG #377 33 (Paragon Tier)
  • Critic Lizard, DRG #397 Athasian Familiars
  • Dimensional Pet, DRG #377 33 (Paragon Tier)
  • Disembodied Hand, DRG #374 25
  • Dragonling, AP 140
  • Dragonmark Reflection, DRG #377 32
  • Earth Mephit, DRG #374 29 (Paragon Tier)
  • Falcon, AP 140
  • Fire Lizard, DRG #374 25
  • Fire Mephit, DRG #374 29 (Paragon Tier)
  • Floating Polyp, DRG #397 Athasian Familiars
  • Floating Weapon, DRG #377 32
  • Gadfly, DRG #377 32
  • Gallant Hawk, DRG #382 61
  • Gibbering Pet, DRG #374 31 (Epic Tier)
  • Grayspawn Shortfang, DRG #374 29 (Paragon Tier)
  • Greenspawn Banespike, DRG #374 29 (Paragon Tier)
  • Hurrum, DRG #397 Athasian Familiars
  • Ice Mephit, DRG #374 29 (Paragon Tier)
  • Jank, DRG #397 Athasian Familiars
  • Kes'trekel, DRG #397 Athasian Familiars
  • Kivit, DRG #397 Athasian Familiars
  • Least Air Elemental, DRG #382 29
  • Least Earth Elemental, DRG #382 29
  • Lightning Lizard, DRG #374 25
  • Lingering Nightmare, DRG #377 34 (Epic Tier)
  • Living Infusion, DRG #377 34 (Paragon Tier)
  • Magpie, DRG #377 32
  • Marmoset, DRG #377 32
  • Minor Foulspawn, DRG #377 34 (Paragon Tier)
  • Moon Wisp, DRG #382 61
  • Muse Sprite, DRG #382 61
  • Octopus, DRG #377 32
  • Ooze, DRG #374 25
  • Owl, AP 140
  • Parrot, DRG #374 26
  • Rakshasa Claw, DRG #374 29 (Paragon Tier)
  • Rat, AP 141
  • Raven, AP 141
  • Redspawn Spitfire, DRG #374 30 (Paragon Tier)
  • Rootling, DRG #374 26
  • Saddle Squire, DRG #377 33
  • Scout Homunculus, DRG #374 26
  • Serpent, AP 141
  • Shadow Incarnate, DRG #374 31 (Epic Tier)
  • Silver Lamp, DRG #377 34 (Epic Tier)
  • Sitak, DRG #397 Athasian Familiars
  • Skull, DRG #374 27
  • Smith's Hammer, DRG #377 34 (Paragon Tier)
  • Soarwood Wings, DRG #377 33
  • Specter, DRG #382 29
  • Spider, AP 141
  • Stone Fowl, DRG #374 30 (Paragon Tier)
  • Summoner Homunculus, DRG #377 33
  • Tinker Feyling, DRG #377 34 (Paragon Tier)
  • Tiny Gelatinous Cube, DRG #382 29
  • Toad, DRG #374 27
  • Tome Caddy, DRG #377 33
  • Warforged Faceplate, DRG #377 33
  • Weasel, DRG #374 27
  • White-Eyed Crow, DRG #382 61
  • Whitespawn Snowstepper, DRG #374 30 (Paragon Tier)
  • Wrab, DRG #397 Athasian Familiars
  • Z'tal, DRG #397 Athasian Familiars

Designer Notes: Let me know if I have missed any Familiars and I will add them to the list.

I wanted to make the Arcane Bound something of a Leader type theme due to the fluff where they are the movers and shakers of the world, destined to do great or terrible things.

All I can hope for is that this can carry over somewhat to 5th Edition.

The Arcane Bound theme was created using Power2ool for Dungeons and Dragons 4th Edition by Wizards of the Coast.


  1. I really like the flavor of this theme, especially bard being inspired by muses. I tend to shy away from requirement like this because it is such a large opportunity cost. I really like the familiar feat. I think it represents the flavor quite well. Besides I have always wanted to have a bard with a familiar. I think the level 10 feature may be a touch too powerful, but I must have it. I am wondering something did you deliberately leave out the theme encounter power?

    1. I considered the possibility but felt that the feat was enough of a starting benefit. Adding an encounter power to that might be too much.