So I’ve been building these things I call Prestige Feats, which convert a 3e Prestige class to an overpowered 5e Feat. Today, I’m demonstrating how I do this conversion, using the Master of Masks, a prestige class from the Complete Scoundrel, apparently. Fellow DM, Teddy, said this was his favorite Class, for flavor over power. So I decided this would be a Prestige to rebuild.
I can’t show all of what I do, because most of it is reading text and deleting. So creating the feat starts with copying all of the details to a work document. I normally skip the fluff of how to play the character and how it works in the world, and stay focused on the mechanics, as well as the introductory lore of the class.
Looking over this class, I can tell it’s going to be an annoying one. Spell casters tend to vary wildly in power, and this one also has a laundry list of options. These are the worst because the feat ends up taking a full page to present, which is too much.
I start by straight up deleting text I don’t need to think about. Spell casting Prestige Classes have a few paragraphs of what gaining a level in a previous class means for the casting of spells and stuff. Such questions are one reason why we don’t have prestige classes in 5e, and as we’re converting things to a single feat, poof, it’s gone without a worry. We can also get rid of things that define what skils now count as class skills, because we live in a sensible world.
For this feat, in skimming over the content of the class, I’m going to cut, well, a lot of features from this class. From what I understand, the Master of Masks is a class that lets you custom build the features of a class, by allowing you to select which masks you know and create. And, since you have to do this instead of leveling a regular class, things are built in a way to make it so you can have multiple active at once and then they can become invisible and yeah.
So, the feat itself will actually be pretty simple. Let me lay it out right quick.
Master of Masks
A mask allows an actor to hide their face and more easily become a character that they intend to portray. For you, wearing a different face can allow you to trick reality itself as to what you actually are.
A Master of Masks is trained foremost in Deception and Performance. While it isn’t required, the casting of illusion magic such as disguise self is very handy. The more languages the character speaks, the better. The true test is to impersonate someone well enough to fool their close associates.
That’s it. That’s the feat. The hard part of this conversion is turning this list of 17 masks that were included in the base class into magic items that fit 5e, aren’t stupid broken, and are classified well in their rarity (which is the worst part of 5e magic items!)
We actually start with just copying all of the details of the 17 options into the table. Each mask also had a description, which I cut.
Some abilities just don’t fit into 5e at all. For instance, the Angel mask granted a fly speed, but for 5 rounds an activation, but you get to do it an extra time per level of the class. So I replaced that while copying the details straight into Fly once a day.
Actually, the more I read, the cooler these things are as loot. And other than the Arch Mage and the High Priest, most are fairly simple. (and the Lich. and Druid.)
Huh. The last 4 masks seem to have forgotten that they were supposed to to include alignment data. (Researches)
Okay, so apparently, some of the masks from the link are homebrew stuff. Let me compare to the actual book…
Okay, so the class in the book is better balanced, and I deleted a few of the homebrew ones. I kept Druid and Golem, because the first goes hand in hand with the other powerful spell casters, and the other is really simple of an effect.
I deleted demon, as I don’t like summon effects in general, and trying to convert 3e summon abilities into 5e is a headache.
I’d write these up pretty like I usually do for items, but with 17, I’m gonna pop them in a table. All of these are wondrous, can only be worn one at a time, and require attunement. The also take a standard action to equip or swap which makes the feat better if you have one of these items. They’re probably rare?
Angel (Lawful Good)
While wearing this mask, you appear as a celestial to detection magic, you can cast Feather Fall (self only) at will, and once per day, you can cast Fly (self).
Archmage (Chaotic Good)
While wearing this mask, you can cast the Mage Hand cantrip, you can cast Mage Armor at will, and Misty Step three times a day. You have proficiency in Arcana
Assassin (Lawful Evil)
While wearing this mask You can make Sneak Attacks (1d6), as per the Rogue’s class feature. If you already possess that feature, this stacks. You have advantage on Stealth checks
Dragon (Neutral Evil)
While wearing this mask, you can use the Dragonborn’s breath weapon racial feature 3 times a day. The damage type dealt matches the color of the mask. You appear as a dragon to magical detection
While wearing this mask, you can cast the guidance cantrip, you can cast Speak with Animals at will, and Barkskin three times a day. You have proficiency in Nature.
While wearing this mask, you have advantage on Charisma, Intelligence, and Wisdom saving throws, you are under the effect of a Nondetection Spell. Also, you can cast Detect Evil and Good at will and you can cast Protection from Evil and Good four times a day
While wearing this mask, you have Proficiency with martial and exotic weapons and your Weapon Attacks have a +1 to hit and deal +1 damage
While wearing this mask, you have advantage on saving throws against spells and other magical effects and you are immune to any spell or effect that would alter your form.
High Priest (Neutral Good)
While wearing this mask, you can cast the thaumaturgy cantrip, you can cast cure wounds four times a day, and you can cast bless three times a day. You have proficiency in Religion
Jester (Chaotic Neutral)
While wearing this mask, you have Advantage on Acrobatics, Performance, and Slight of Hand checks
Lich (Neutral Evil)
While wearing this mask, you can cast animate dead once a day, you are resistant to Necrotic damage, and you appear as an undead to magical detection
Lord (Lawful Neutral)
While wearing this mask, you and Creatures within 10 ft of you are immune to fear. You have advantage on Persuasion checks.
Savage (Chaotic Neutral)
While wearing this mask Your hands transform into claws. Your unarmed attacks deal 1d6 slashing damage. They are magic and have a +1 to hit. You can make an unarmed attack as a Bonus Action
I’m not sure of the balance of these items, so as a DM, I’d be very cautious about allowing this feat unless you were sure that you could handle the 2 scariest masks in the hands of the party. I’d guess that would be the High Priest and maybe Gladiator? Idk, they aren’t super powerful but it all adds up.
If I was to expand this list of masks, I’d grab a few more iconic monsters. Beholder, Illithid, Bulette, Displacer Beast, Gelatinous Cube. I’d also maybe fill out the list of classes, as most but not all are represented on this list.
I’m kind of annoyed that they just threw them together and it’s not more thematic. I don’t know what that theme would be, but there should be a “collect them all” feel to this set and I could see that being an interesting campaign.
The Presentation (For DM eyes only)
It’s important for prestige feats, that the players get to see the feat in action before they ever get a chance to qualify. Aka, you as DM get to play with the abilities a bit before the players get their grubby hands on them. There’s two routes I can see here, although since these masks are Anime-bait, I can guess that there are some other options? Tuxedo Mask is the name of a character, I’ve been told.
The Mysterious Stranger
The party meets a man who always wears a mask who shows up in strange places. He always has a word of advice, and then uses his masks to get away before the party can do any more than ask a few questions. He’s leading them down a can of worms that keeps getting bigger. You can tell he knows a lot about what’s going on, but the masks are magically foiling theories. Ideally, the party will be really sad when he dies.
They arrive too late on a scene, and he’s already in his death scene. Or maybe he takes an attack for one of the players. Anyway, he’s dying and OMG! It’s that guy! I like him! The DM just killed 2 characters I really liked at once! I mean, ideally. Your NPC mileage may vary.
Anyway, with a note in a pocket, or their dying breath, they give the party a real mask. Or half of a powerful mask that could save the day if it was reassembled. Or doom the world if the bad guy gets his hands on it.
The Boss Fight
I was about to write a summary of the fight, but, honestly, I think this will be more fun to actually use against a party than to spoil by posting online beforehand. If you want more details about my ideas for this, shoot me a message on a more secure channel.
The Campaign Boss
Sticking with the anime roots, I’m trying to remember if this is actually an idea I had, or if it’s just a plot from some anime I watched. I really don’t know.
So, to start with, come up with your under-boss fights. Get an idea of your level ranges. The premise of the villains is the Doctor McMask or whatever, has these masks that give crazy powers to people, but they become his villainous henchmen. Then they do things that are not nice and the party has to come in and stop them. When they die, the masks fall off and they’re there for the party to take and use. Of course, the villain knows when things are happening with the masks. If I did it, I’d be using the corruption rules that I’ve been wanting to implement.
It probably turns out that the masks have some arcane lore, and they’ve been corrupted themselves, so you can go on some kind of quest to purify them. The quests probably have something to do with the persona they portray.
I was adding the presentation stuff to pad my word count, but now that I’ve written all of that, I really want to run some of this. I guarantee the Boss Mask will show up at some point at one of my tables, and the campaign version sounds like a decent anime. Running games to make them feel like an anime requires the right table, but if that’s the table you have, it can be a very rewarding way of flavoring the action scenes.
Everyone wants to be the anime hero.