5e: Oblate Orders — The Order of the Prognosticators Militant

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Oblate Orders: Prognosticators Militant Cover © RDD Wilkin / Spilled Ale Studios.

Out-of-Game Origins

First introduced as the faction to which a key NPC in my game belongs, I thought it would be fun to build a monastic archetype around these warrior-seers.

I already had the concept for the order pretty much down, but credit where it’s due the idea that they’d be blind and wear a mask comes from the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game. Specifically, while looking for a cool miniature to represent the NPC at the table I came across the Hell Knight Signifier and the full face mask really struck a chord. The Prognosticators are seers after all, and the blind seer is an archetype at least as old as Greek mythology.

Pictures of this wonderful miniature can be found below, painted slightly less wonderfully by myself in the colours of the Red Knight.

Founded and chiefly operating in Tethyr, where the head abbey of the order can be found in the Omlarandin Mountains, the Order of the Prognosticators Militant is a sect of warrior monks dedicated to the Red Knight that seeks out children with divinatory gifts. These potential initiates are offered training to control and channel their gifts, and the chance at a great purpose. While the separation of a family is always a sad thing, many parents of such uniquely gifted children are glad to know that their child will receive the attention and magical education they deserve.

Monks of the Order are encouraged to explore their ability as an oracle, and trained as lethal warriors. Their unique gifts of foresight will help the Order predict moments of military significance that may change the fate of Tethyr, and their martial skill will aid them in helping to secure the correct future whenever a prophecy offers branching possibilities. Typically such seers as the Order recruits are blind, the price they pay for their sight beyond sight. Yet they are taught to channel their divinatory powers to replace their eyes. In spite of their eyeless masks they flow gracefully through combat entirely unimpeded, a sight to instill fear in any foe.

Members of the Order are an unwelcome sight during times of peace, for it may herald war on the horizon. During times of war, they are an invaluable aid which any Tethyrian officer will gladly accept.

Other abbeys of the Order may have been established in other nations where the Red Knight has a following, and may seek to assist their local government in the same way. Members of the Order may also travel further afield than Tethyr’s borders in search of new candidates for membership, or they could be encountered far from their home undertaking a quest the significance of which they saw in a vision and felt they could not ignore. Alternatively, your character may be a member of a similar order established in the religious traditions of another god of War, or even without religious trappings.

To use this monastic order in other settings than the Forgotten Realms, simply replace the Red Knight with an appropriate god of War or completely divorce the order from its current religious attachment.

A Prognosticator Militant in Action!

Sight Without Sight 

Unlike other monastic traditions, you must select the Order of the Prognosticators Militant at 1st level, due to one of the archetype’s most defining features: you are blind, but you “see” using your innate divinatory skill.

The scene you see in your mind’s eye is exactly what a creature with normal sight would see, and you gain all the benefits and restrictions of the senses your race possesses. For instance, if you are human you are still effectively blinded while in darkness, for darkness is all you can see in your mind’s eye.

However, you do foresee danger to yourself just before it happens, and thus you can take reactions even when surprised.

You are blinded if you cannot use your magic, such as while you’re within an area of anti-magic.

War Oracle

Starting at 3rd level, you learn magical disciplines that harness your divinatory talent to increase your lethality in combat, as well as your ability to guide your allies. You know the Auspicious Advice and Guide the Hand disciplines and one other war oracle discipline of your choice, which are details in the “War Oracle Disciplines” section below. You learn two additional war oracle disciplines of your choice at 6th, 11th, and 17th level. Whenever you gain a new level in this class, you can also replace one war oracle discipline that you already know with a different discipline.

If a war oracle discipline requires a saving throw, the DC is based on your Wisdom if the discipline reproduces a spell. If the discipline does not reproduce a spell, the ability used is specified by the discipline and is usually either Dexterity or Wisdom.

War Oracle spell saving throw DC = 8 + your Wisdom modifier + your Proficiency
War Oracle discipline saving throw DC = 8 + specified ability modifier + your Proficiency

Casting War Oracle Spells. Some war oracle disciplines allow you to cast spells. To cast one of these spells you use the casting time and other rules, but you don’t need to provide material components for it.

Once you reach 5th level in this class, you can spend additional ki points to increase the level of an war oracle discipline spell that you cast, provided that the spell has an enhanced effect at a higher level, as bane or bless does. The spell’s level increases by 1 for each additional ki point you spend. For example, if you are a 5th -level monk and use Words are Weapons; Sayings are Shieldsto cast either bane or bless , you can spend 2 ki points to cast it as a  2nd level spell (the discipline’s base cost of 1 ki points plus 1 additional kit point).

The maximum number of ki points you can spend to cast a spell in this way (including its base ki point cost and any additional ki points you spend to increase its level) is determined by your monk level, as shown in the War Oracle Spells and Ki Points table.

War Oracle Spells and Ki Points

Monk Levels Maximum Ki Per Spell
5th-8th 3
9th-12th 4
13th-16th 5
17th-20th 6

War Oracle Disciplines

The war oracle disciplines are presented in alphabetical order. If a discipline requires a level, you must be that level in this class to learn the discipline.

Auspicious Advice. You peer a short distance into the future and use your foreknowledge to guide yourself or others. As an action you can briefly instruct an ally within thirty feet who can hear you, or you can opt to use this ability on yourself with no verbal requirement. Any time in the next minute, the target can roll a d4 and add the number rolled to one ability check of its choice. The target can roll the die before or after making the ability check. You must concentrate on this ability as though it were a spell.

Battle Augur. You predict a sequence of attacks that will leave your foe more and more vulnerable to your onslaught, and set about enacting it. Immediately after you take the Attack action on your turn, you can spend 1 ki point to activate your Battle Augur for the remainder of the round. Whenever you hit a creature with an attack, the next attack you make against the same creature before the beginning of your next turn is made with advantage.

Certain Step (11th Level Required). Your ability to see the possibilities and outcomes of the battle allows you to move with certainty down the most optimal and efficient path. You can spend 3 ki points to gain all the benefits of haste except the spell’s doubled movement. However, neither do you suffer the lethargy that applies to the target of a haste spell after it ends.

Winded and Shaken

Exhausting Evasion uses the new winded condition introduced previously on this blog. However, all the required wording is right here in this archetype. Even if your DM doesn’t introduce winded to the larger game, this power can still be effective in isolation. Remember you can stack levels of winded on an enemy yourself.

I also created a new condition pretty much by accident: shaken, as described in the Startling Aspect ability, would be great to use in other ways! I’m sure I’ll explore this idea further in a future blog entry. As with Exhausting Evasion, Startling Aspect will still work fine in isolation if the DM doesn’t add other ways to be shaken to the game.

Exhausting Evasion (6th Level Required). You know exactly when and where your enemy will strike, so you can avoid their attacks with minimal effort. They, on the other hand, quickly tire as they keep chasing a phantom. Whenever an enemy creature attacks you more than once on its turn and misses you as many or more times than it hits, you can spend 3 ki points to force them to make a Constitution saving throw with a DC based on your Dexterity. On a failed saving throw, the target receives a level of winded.

A level of winded is equal in every way to a level of exhaustion. The target moves along the exhaustion track, but a note should be made about how many of their exhaustion levels come from being winded. A target that reaches 6 exhaustion levels due being winded does not die, but instead falls unconscious.

As long as they are conscious to do so, the target can remove a level of winded by spending a full round doing nothing other than regaining their wind. Any effect that removes exhaustion levels can also remove levels of winded, but reduces a character’s exhaustion levels first.

Glance Afar (11th Level Required). You can cast clairvoyance once per long rest.

Glimpse of the Future (6th Level Required). You can spend 2 ki points to cast augury, or 0 ki points to cast it as a ritual.

Guide the Hand. As an action you can glean a brief insight into the defenses of a single target within thirty feet. On your next turn, you gain advantage on your first Attack roll against the target. You must concentrate on this ability as though it were a spell.

Perceive Doom. You know when you are destined to bring about of foe’s downfall. You can spend 1 ki point to cast hunter’s mark.

Peril Prevision. Once per long rest, you can spend one minute sifting through your potential futures and preparing for what lies ahead. When you do so, you spend 1 or 2 ki points. From 11th-level you can spend up to 3 ki points, and from 17th-level you can spend up to 4 ki points. If you have 0 ki when you roll initiative between now and your next long rest, you regain a number of ki points equal to twice the amount you spent. Any ki gained in this manner stack with the ki gained from Perfect Self.

Prophecies of Protection. You can spend 1 ki point to cast shield of faith, except the creature’s AC bonus comes from your continuous warnings about upcoming dangers. The effect ends immediately if the creature can no longer hear you.

Seek Clarity (17th Level Required). You can spend 4 ki points to cast divination, or 0 ki points to cast it as a ritual. While the sorts of reply you might receive are the same, the response to your question always comes in visual or audio form or a combination of the two.

Power Creep or Power Fix?

Eagle-eyed readers will notice that while this archetype is structurally based on the Way of the Four Elements, it has a few features which make it more attractive: more choice of disciplines, reduced ki costs to bring them in line with the spell reproducing costs of the Way of the Shadow, and offering some war oracle disciplines that don’t necessarily require ki point expenditure. This is a conscious decision. The Way of the Four Elements is almost universally condemned as being a weak archetype, a fact backed up by consumer response to WotC’s surveys. If you want to play a Way of the Four Elements monk, I strongly recommend getting your DM to take a look at this modified Way of the Four Elements monk which makes similar design decisions.

While the balance of any newly created archetype is an open question until it can be shaken out properly, the intent of these changes are to make this monastic order an attractive play option, not to create power creep.

If you want to modify this archetype to more closely reflect the Way of the Four Elements as printed in the PHB, make these changes: one discipline only every time disciplines are gained, a discipline can only be retrained at the same levels that a new discipline is gained, and reproducing a spell with a discipline costs 1 more ki point than the spell’s level.

Startling Aspect. The sight of you darting through the battlefield in your faceless mask, unerringly avoiding all attacks and striking with lethal accuracy, is unnerving to say the least. Once per turn, when your movement takes you in and out of an enemy’s reach, and they either miss their opportunity attack or don’t take one, you can spend 1 ki point to force them to make a Wisdom saving throw with a DC based on your Dexterity. On a failed saving throw, the target is shaken until the end of its next turn. On a success, you cannot attempt to cause the target to be shaken again during the same encounter. At 6th level you can use your Startling Aspect up to twice per turn, at 11th level you can use it up to three times per turn, and at 17th level you can use it up to four times per turn.

If a creature moves 5 feet or more or takes the dash or disengage action on their turn while they are shaken, they have disadvantage on all attacks and ability checks made in the same turn.

Track Creature (17th Level Required). You can cast locate creature once per long rest.

Track Treasure (6th Level Required). You can cast locate object once per long rest.

Visions of the Past (17th Level Required). You can cast legend lore once per long rest, except the information comes to you in a series of visions of past events that reveal the pertinent facts about your target.

Visions of the Present (17th Level Required). You can cast scrying once per long rest.

Words are Weapons; Sayings are Shields. You can spend 1 ki point to cast either bless or bane. Allies can only gain the advantage of your bless if they can hear your words of advice. Enemies affected by your bane only suffer disadvantage against your allies who were within thirty feet of you when you cast the spell and could hear your words of warning.