Hello everyone! Welcome to a very abstract episode of Underrated or Underpowered where we talk about Matt Mercer’s Blood Hunter! It is Witcher Week so it felt fitting to talk about the most fitting class for a Witcher. Activate your Crimson Rites and let’s jump right into the fray!
So to start this off, I’ll be mentioning a few things from Matt Mercer’s newest iteration of the Blood Hunter but won’t explicitly be talking about it because I believe that you should go buy it! All of the funds are going towards fighting the Australian wild fires, so it’s all going to a great cause 🙂 here’s the link!
Alright, now that we have that out of the way… Blood Hunters!
The Brand of Blood
Okay so, while in most of the iterations of the series we talk about what the subclass gets at each level, we’re doing an entire class today so we’ll mostly just summarize the key features of the class and talk about them!
One of the core abilities of the Blood Hunter is their Blood Maledicts. This ability is extremely versatile, ranging from giving you advantage on intimidation checks against a creature to causing creatures to miss to even using your reaction to cause an enemy (or ally!) that has just fallen to make one final swing. Additionally, you can amplify the blood curses by spending a little bit of your health in order to give them additional effects. I think that this ability is really great, as they’re almost exclusively bonus actions or reactions. You also regain the use of this feature on a short rest and get more uses as you level up! They create an awesome flavor for the character straight out of the gate at level 1 that makes them feel at home in their class as a blood manipulator. My personal favorite is the simple Blood Curse of the Marked, which lets you roll an additional hemocraft die when you deal crimson rite damage to an enemy. But what is crimson rite damage? Well, I’m glad you asked…
The next core ability offered to Blood Hunters is their Crimson Rite. Using their own blood, the Blood Hunter is able to infuse their weapon with elemental energy and cause their attacks to deal extra damage! From level 2, the Blood Hunter can choose from fire, cold, or lightning damage. When you activate the rites, you suffer damage equal to your Hemocraft die (don’t worry, it’s in the table at the beginning). Previously your Max HP would be reduced by an amount equal to your Blood Hunter level, but the newest update simplifies it a ton and makes it a joy to play, since you won’t have to worry about getting decimated in one or two hits. You can invoke the right however many times, but it is lost if you aren’t holding your weapon at the end of your turn, or you take a rest. Eventually you gain additional rites and can start to choose from necrotic, psychic, or thunder! I think the Crimson Rites are an excellent way to help the Blood Hunter stay on par in terms of damage with other classes and give them a nice, flavorful way of doing so.
From here the Blood Hunter gets a decent slew of abilities, with the next notable one being the Brand of Castigation. This is a new ability that wasn’t included in the original Blood Hunter and is obtained at level 6. When you hit with an attack, you can sear a brand on your target and from there, you’ll always know where the target is! If the target hits you or an ally within 5 feet of you, it takes psychic damage equal to your Intelligence modifier. The brand lasts until you dismiss it or use it on another creature, and you can use this ability once per short rest. I think this ability is awesome and matches the theme of Blood Hunters well, just like all the other abilities. It’s a direct buff from the DnDBeyond Blood Hunter, and it’s nice to see that level 6 isn’t just a dead level for the Blood Hunter.
Included in other skills are Grim Psychometry that lets you sniff evil like a hound dog, Dark Augmentation which makes you fast and durable, Brand of Tethering which buffs your Brand of Castigation a considerable amount, Hardened Soul which makes you immune to both scary things and honeyed words coming from eldritch abominations, and finally the capstone Sanguine Mastery, which lets you reroll any hemocraft dice and restore Blood Maledict uses on critical hits.
The Order of the Hunters
Included in the Blood Hunter on DMsGuild is FOUR subclasses. FOUR!!! They’re also on DnDBeyond, but there have been a few tweaks here and there between them.
The Order of the Ghostslayer is the oldest order, dedicated to destroying undead. They gain the Rite of the Dawn which allows them to do radiant damage with their Crimson Rite, let their weapon glow, grants them resistance to necrotic damage, AND deal an additional hemocraft die against undead! Additionally, your Blood Curses can target creatures without blood. Eventually you’ll be able to step in and out of the Ethereal Plane, lock down incorporeal enemies with your Brand of Castigation, exorcise your dumb allies that decide to get possessed, and choose to drop to 1 hit point instead of 0 by expunging your rite.
I think the Ghostslayer is an awesome subclass and it seems to serve as sort of the “baseline” subclass, amplifying on what Blood Hunters do and just making their strengths more pronounced. If I were to play a Blood Hunter, this one would come next on my list because of….
The Order of the Profane Soul. What do you get when a monster hunter decides they’re not strong enough and begins a search for a patron to sign a pact with?? Profane Soul Blood Hunters, that’s what. Interestingly enough Mr. Mercer was able to craft a third-caster Warlock that uses Intelligence, and my goodness it looks awesome. When you swear your pact, your Rites gain additional effects, you gain some spellcasting, the ability to cast a cantrip and attack as a bonus action, impose disadvantage on saves against your spells, and eventually swallow the souls of your enemies!
Look, I love Warlocks and I love Blood Hunters, so if I can have both of them without mulitclassing? Please gimme gimme. While it does still have the same problems of action economy as other half casters, I think that this is my new favorite third-caster class and I know if I play a Blood Hunter, it’s going to be this subclass.
The Order of the Mutant uses mutagens to alter their own physiology. They’re able to choose from a selection of mutagens that do things from increasing your Dexterity by an amount over the cap to giving you resistance to bludgeoning damage, and even letting you fly! However, each mutagen has a nasty side effect, so make sure you watch out for those! Their class features mainly focus on becoming better at controlling the mutagens, and quite frankly, this subclass seemed to get the most love from Matt’s rewrite of the subclass.
While some of the effects are awesome and I really like the idea of leaning into improving your strengths at the cost of screwing yourself over with side effects, it’s hard for me to really appreciate this subclass. However, this one is the most Witcher-esque I feel, so it’ll get the gold star of approval due to it being Witcher Week!
The Order of the Lycan is the final subclass, and I’m sad because it actually got shafted super hard. A key change in Matt’s rewrite is changing the Blood Hunter from a Wisdom class to an Intelligence class, thus causing them to lose proficiency in Wisdom saving throws. Since the main drawback of the class is bandaged by a Wisdom save, the subclass unfortunately gets kind of screwed over.
But hey, if you want to turn into a werebear, werewolf, or (my personal favorite) a wererat, feel free to! You get a lot of great bonuses to your hits, become a ton tankier, mobile, and generally hardier, and eventually become a killing machine that can transform at will!
I’ve actually played a DnDBeyond version Order of the Lycan and I’ll be frank, it was super fun. Having the flaming werewolf claws from your Crimson Rite and just shredding through enemies is honestly euphoric.
Of course, we can’t have all good things with a class. There are a few things that I feel I can nitpick about the class, so let’s chat about that.
The first one is obviously the loss of health for your Crimson Rites. While Matt’s rewrite helped a ton by not reducing your max HP, it’s still unfortunate that you can lose as much as 4 HP at level 2 when you invoke the Rite. While the class has a d10 hit die, you’ll probably be making Constitution your third highest skill. While around level 5 or so you’ll be better off than the DnDBeyond version, it’s still a shame that you have to inflict damage on yourself to use the ability.
Second, Grim Psychometry is kind of a strange ability. I feel like in theory it’s useful, but the limitations of it being only a History check and not all Intelligence checks is really unfortunate. It’s a nice fluff ability for sure, but more often than not I feel like you won’t see much use out of this unless your campaign calls for it.
Okay so this is honestly the part where I tell you guys that I’m using this series as an excuse to just talk about Blood Hunters and how cool they are. It’s difficult for sure to say if the class is Underrated or Underpowered because there hasn’t been significant play testing of the newest rewrite of the class. However, from what I see, I think that this class will be Underrated, if not commonly picked where allowed. I think that it has a good way to stay competitive with other martial classes in damage and gives you enough options to be creative with how you want to build your Blood Hunter. I’ll probably touch back on it in time once I hear more about the subclass, but until then, that’s how I feel about it!
Thanks for reading folks! I know this was kind of an abstract installment of the series, but I just really wanted to tell you guys all about this new Blood Hunter. If any of you have a Blood Hunter experience, please let us know on our twitter or instagram! We always look forward to writing for you guys, so thanks again for being such a great audience 🙂