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This week on the Campaign Trail, I thought I’d share a subclass I created for one of my players who expressed interest in being able to play a charlatan/snake oil type character for our upcoming western fantasy-themed campaign. This bard uses this idea as a jumping-off point for what if the snake oil salesperson actually created useful tonics, tinctures, and drinks

Design Notes:

  • It made more sense for this bard to boost allies vs. being a ranged prisoner somehow getting enemies to drink snake oil.
  • I’m having a little trouble visualizing the delivery of concoctions from 30 feet away, but why not. Slide it down the bar or toss it like a can of beer.
  • I think this steps a tiny bit into what the Artificer Alchemist subclass does, but 5e isn’t afraid to have a subclass step a little into the domain of another class.

Let us know in the comments below what you think of this bardic college. Any help to make this subclass playtest ready is appreciated by myself and my player.

Mixology (Bard) | Wrangler (Fighter) | Pugilist (Monk) | Maverick (Rogue) | Cardslinger (Sorcerer)

Photo by energepic.com from Pexels

College of Mixology

Far from the cities on the edge of the wilds, you’ll find plenty of apothecaries, medicine shows, and saloons. From placebo to poison, their customers rarely get what they paid for unless it’s a hangover. Bards from the College of Mixology are a cut far above these operators. While many of these bards started as makers of snake oil or pourers of drinks, all of them have unlocked the ability to weave magic into their concoctions.

Bards from the College of Mixology are true artists whose elixirs, tonics, tinctures, and beverages deliver inspiring results. As these bards gain experience, they learn to create potions and concoctions that can even turn the tide of a battle. These bards tend to prefer to travel from town to town seeking out new ingredients and ideas rather than staying put. While they often travel alone, they prefer the company of fellow adventurers, with whom they can test out their latest concoctions. When bards from this college meet, they’ll trade recipes, ingredients, and stories for hours.

College of Mixology Features

Bard LevelFeature
3rdBonus Proficiencies, Magical Concoctions
6thMixmaster
14thSupreme Concoctions

Bonus Proficiencies

3rd-level College of Mixology feature

You gain proficiency in a skill of your choice selected from Insight, Medicine, Nature, Persuasion, and Survival. In addition, you gain proficiency with the herbalism kit and a tool of your choice selected from alchemist’s supplies, brewer’s supplies, and poisoner’s kit. If you are already proficient with the herbalism kit, you can select an additional tool from the list.

Ingredients for Concoction Recipes

What gives Brushfire it’s slow burn as it goes down? What’s the secret ingredient you put into each Shadowmaker? Determining the key items that go into a recipe can provide interesting flavor when you describe brewing a concoction for the first time. As you near unlocking a new concoction recipe, finding a rare ingredient could even provide a hook for a sidequest or entire story arc. Work with your gamemaster to collect interesting ingredients during game time or in between sessions.

Magical Concoctions

3rd-level College of Mixology feature

You learn to weave subtle magic into your concoctions:

  • A magical concoction takes 1 minute to mix from a recipe.
  • You know six recipes chosen from those listed in the Concoction Recipes table. You learn an additional recipe when you reach certain levels in this class: 5th, 10th, and 15th level.
  • You can maintain a number of magical concoctions equal to your Charisma modifier (minimum of 1) at one time.
  • When a creature within 30 feet of you gains a Bardic Inspiration die from you, you can also give the creature a concoction. As a bonus action, the creature can drink the concoction and gain its benefits for 1 minute. The concoction becomes a mundane liquid after 10 minutes.

Concoction Recipes

RecipeBenefit
Brave HeartAdvantage on saving throws against being frightened
Bell RingerRemoves the deafened condition
BrushfireResistance to cold damage
Dwarven BitterAdvantage on saving throws against poison
Eagle’s EyeRemoves the blinded condition
EarwaxResistance to thunder damage
Gallop GravyWalking speed increases by 10 feet
GrasshopperAdvantage on Dexterity (Acrobatics) ability checks
Green MistAdvantage on saving throws against being charmed
Peppermint FrostResistance to fire damage
Raging BullAdvantage on Strength (Athletics) ability checks
Red EyeMagic can’t put a creature to sleep
Rubber BallResistance to lightning damage
ShadowmakerAdvantage on Dexterity (Stealth) ability checks
Soda WaterResistance to acid damage
Vim & VigorRemoves a level of exhaustion

Mixmaster

6th-level College of Mixology feature

You gain expertise with the herbalism kit. While many possess the knowledge to craft potions, you have learned to quickly craft magical liquids called mixes. These mixes act as potions with the following additional rules:

  • You can create a mix that acts as any common potion over the course of one hour by expending 25 gp worth of materials.
  • You can create a mix that acts as any uncommon potion over the course of eight hours by expending 100 gp worth of materials.
  • When regaining hit points from a mix that acts as a healing potion or greater healing potion, the dice are rolled twice and the higher result is taken.
  • If you attempt to sell a mix you crafted, the mix turns into a mundane liquid.
  • You can maintain a number of mixes equal to your Charisma modifier (minimum of 1) at one time.

Supreme Concoctions

14th-level College of Mixology feature

When a creature drinks one of your magical concoctions, it gains temporary hit points equal to half your bard level + your Charisma modifier. Also, a magical concoction given to a creature now becomes a mundane liquid after 1 hour.

In addition, when you use your action to cast a bard spell, you can now give a creature a magical concoction as a bonus action.


Playtesting

We’re always looking for playtesters for our player options, monsters, magic items, and other designs here at Tribality. Wizards had the benefit of 175,000 playtesters over 2 years to get their ideas to the table; clearly we don’t have that luxury. Each of our builds are as balanced as we can design with a small playtest group and over a century of cumulative gaming XP. We are always excited to hear when players get these ideas on the table and provide us with constructive ways to make them better.