Archivists are the theological scholars and occult investigators of many Gothic horror tales. When dark forces threaten ordinary people, these keepers of lost and ancient divine lore can be their best hope to combat it.
An archivist, like a cleric, relies on divine powers to perform miracles, but their highly analytical and systematic approach of seeking out, studying, and meticulously cataloging these miracles puts them more in line with a wizard's mindset than a priest's. Some religious spellcasters take offense at their more results-oriented pursuit of sacred rites, feeling that archivists are only in it for the power, while others acknowledge that in their own way archivists are incredibly devoted and dedicated to the faith and appreciate the tireless work they put into studying and preserving it.
Regardless, the gods appear not to mind granting them access to clerical magic like their other divine agents. Some of the more accomplished archivists even manage to incorporate divine lore and power from other faiths, though this can require some tricky negotiation and a lot of careful study.
The archivist class uses the wizard class as a base. The following class features are where the two diverge.
- Armor: Light armor, medium armor, shields
- Weapons: Simple weapons
You start with the following equipment, in addition to the equipment granted by your background:
- (a) a mace or (b) a dagger
- (a) a quarterstaff or (b) a light crossbow and 20 bolts
- (a) leather armor or (b) a chain shirt
- (a) a component pouch or (b) a holy symbol
- (a) a scholar’s pack, (b) a priest’s pack, or (c) a monster hunter’s pack (from the Curse of Strahd supplementary material, viewable here)
- A spellbook
As an archivist, you have a spellbook (usually referred to by archivists as a prayerbook) containing divine spells you've learned. The archivist spell list is identical to the cleric spell list, but as normal you can copy additional spells into your spellbook off of spell scrolls and the like. You add two new archivist spells to your spellbook each time you gain a new level in this class.
Like a cleric, you can make a pint of holy water through an hour-long ritual on mundane water that expends 25 gp-worth of powdered silver and a 1st-level spell slot.
You use a holy symbol instead of an arcane focus for spellcasting. If you choose an emblem holy symbol, you may have it emblazoned on your spellbook instead of on a shield.
Starting at 2nd level, you become more adept at comprehending divine magic procedures, and you can work with a willing spellcaster to learn and record additional archivist spells in your spellbook even without having them written out as on a spell scroll or prayerbook. The spell you wish to learn from the other person must, as usual, be a cleric spell of a level for which you have spell slots, and the process of recording it in written form takes the same amount of gold and time copying it off a scroll would take. The additional process of learning and familiarizing yourself with the teacher’s spell so that you may put it into written form requires you to spend at least as many days of downtime as the spell’s level, and the spellcaster demonstrating it to you will likely request compensation for their time.
At the DM’s discretion you may be permitted to add non-clerical divine spells, such as those cast by druids, rangers, and paladins, to your spellbook with either the described procedure or copying it off a spell scroll or other written format. Keep in mind that convincing non-clerics to explain their special rites to an outsider is no easy task, and the odds of them keeping any written documentation of their magic that is detailed enough for you to just copy into your spellbook yourself are fairly low.
You have made a study of all manner of supernatural horrors and how best to combat them, and every so often you’ll be able to focus well enough to give your allies warnings and advice in the heat of battle that greatly improve their effectiveness.
At 2nd level, as a bonus action when fighting an unnatural or unholy enemy, you may attempt to recall vital lore and tactics regarding that specific kind of foe. Make an Intelligence check using a skill appropriate to the foe you’re fighting, with a base DC of 15 (particularly well-known or obscure monsters might have a lower or higher DC). On a success, in addition to gaining some info on the creature you can roll a d4 and add it to your attack rolls and saving throws against it and all identical creatures you can see for the next minute. When an ally you can see within 60 feet that can hear you makes an attack roll or saving throw against one of those creatures, you may use your reaction to add the d4 to their roll, too.
You can use this ability twice (failed Intelligence checks don’t count towards the limit). When you take a short or long rest, you regain all expended uses. Both the number of uses and the size of your Dark Knowledge die increase when you reach 7th level (3/rest, d6) and again at 14th level (4/rest, d8).
At 6th level, you acquire additional skills and knowledge. You gain proficiency in two more skills from this class’s proficiency list, and learn two additional languages. Then, pick two skills you are proficient in. Your proficiency bonus is doubled for any ability check you make that uses those skills.
Homebrewed by Alex Franklin, /u/Fralexion
Finally, as an action you can make an Intelligence check on a creature to which your Dark Knowledge would apply. Whether you succeed or fail you recall some basic facts about it, but if you pass the check you also know one of the following things about it (you know ahead of time if any of them don’t apply to the monster):
- Its highest and lowest ability score
- Its resistances and immunities, both to damage, conditions, and things like the Magic Resistance trait
- Its vulnerabilities and weaknesses, both to damage and things like the Sunlight Sensitivity trait
- Whether its hit point maximum is less than yours, less than twice yours, less than four times yours, or more than four times yours
- The name of one particularly powerful spell it can cast or action it can take
At 10th level, you add the legend lore spell to your spellbook, and it counts as an archivist spell for you.
Additionally, when you or an ally rolls for damage on a creature you are using your Dark Knowledge ability on, you may use your reaction to direct them at a vital spot, adding your Dark Knowledge die to the damage it takes. This only works for damage rolls that weren't the result of failed saving throws.
At 14th level, you are so experienced with combating dark horrors that you can disorient them simply by speaking aloud a sacred incantation that is dreadful for them to hear. When a creature you are using your Dark Knowledge on makes an attack roll or saving throw, you may use your reaction to roll your Dark Knowledge die and subtract the result from its roll. The target must be able to hear you for this to work.
You can put these words into written form as a scroll of protection against any creature type of your choice. The process takes four days of downtime, 300 gp in rare inks infused with holy water and special parchment, and expends one use of your Dark Knowledge ability, an expended use that is not regained until after the scroll is used (or until ten days go by, at which point the scroll crumbles to ash). You can also make a scroll of protection using the normal magic item creation rules instead, if you want.
Spell Mastery Caveat
At 18th level, you gain the ability to cast a 1st-level archivist spell and a 2nd-level archivist spell at will, just like a wizard. However, if you cast a spell that restores hit points without expending a spell slot, it instead grants the target an equivalent number of temporary hit points.
Dark Knowledge Monsters
Archivists specialize in combating supernatural threats— the "unnatural or unholy," as the Dark Knowledge feature puts it. Which monsters qualify is left open to DM discretion, but typically this would be a collection of creatures including fiends, undead, aberrations, certain kinds of monstrosities like lycanthropes, and wielders of dark magic like warlocks and cultists. This might also include oozes, fey, and elementals. If the adventure will not feature any of these creatures prominently, the DM is free to adjust this to more appropriate monsters. Maybe in some settings, archivists are frequently called to get rid of dragons, or constructs. An evil archivist would likely be able to use Dark Knowledge on celestials rather than fiends.
Also at DM’s discretion, your proficiency in various Intelligence-based skills will apply to the Intelligence check you make to use the Dark Knowledge ability, based on the kind of enemy. As a general rule of thumb, Arcana can apply to creatures from other planes of existence and arcane spellcasters, Religion to blasphemous beings like undead and fiends as well as divine magic users, and History to any monster there would be a lot of stories and legends about or one not seen in a very long time (various monstrosities and aberrations are a good fit here). In rare cases, a monster knowledge check might draw on Nature or Investigation.