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I'm considering attempting to run a Tome of Magic Binder in a D&D 5e game with some friends. I've got permission from the DM to attempt to port the class into 5e, so it's not a problem of whether the DM will allow it.

I have some but not a lot of experience with 5e, and none with 3.5e. Using this Quora post and a copy of the Tome of Magic, I don't see any big differences other than prestige classes and some bonuses. As far as I can tell, those aren't hard to change to fit 5e?

Are there any other issues that prevent the Tome of Magic, or just Binders and Pact Magic specifically, from being used in 5e?

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There are issues, yes. That doesn't mean it shouldn't be done, but there are things to watch out for.

In particular, it walks around some of the ways that 5e uses to balance itself. In the 5e core classes, you have noncasters, full casters, half casters, and warlocks as something of a special exception. The core of spellcasting is shared pretty directly between the various casting classes, to the point that caster levels can stack for spell slots and it works. By contrast, 3rd edition and 3/5 went kind of crazy with embracing of wildly varied magic systems, and the binder system was out towards the wacky side.

  • Vestige effects are different than other things. They were intended to be. That means that if you don't know the 5e design assumptions cold, you could break one or more of them very easily, without thinking you're doing anything all that significant. Just for an example off the top of my head, "bounded accuracy" and "always-on stackable debuff auras" aren't necessarily going to mix well.

  • Vestiges stack with each other in strange and not necessarily easily predictable ways. If you want to give your players a reasonably large library of vestiges to choose from, with interesting and flavorful effects, then it's going to be tricky to make sure that you aren't unintentionally handing them more power than you intend. Further, it can be surprisingly easy to produce a vestige that suddenly becomes class-defining. Low-level summons in particular are much more useful in 5e than they were in 3.x, and Binder had a fair chunk of summoning access.

Or, to put it another way, you can do this, and it might well be worth it, but both you and the player ought to be aware going in that this is a class that's going to require some additional help to keep balanced, and will probably require tweaks to keep from being too powerful or too weak, even more than is the case with most homebrew. Hey, vestiges are fickle, right? Play it right, and it could even add to the flavor of the class. One thing that might help with that - if you can whip up something reasonably decent for the class features, you should be able to manage the balancing purely through tweaking various vestiges.

Also, the structural design assumptions of 5e may not jump out at you immediately, but they're very different than those of 3.x, and they're pretty important. I don't personally know them well enough to teach them all to you, but if you don't know about things like Bounded Accuracy, you should try to learn them before you move on to trying to a homebrew on the complexity level of the binder.

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Other than them not currently existing, I don't see any reason why it would not be possible to convert them to 5e. In fact, just hitting google turned up some hits for people who have already converted the Binder to 5e.

Especially this one seems to be pretty well-thought out, and contains a long thread of people reporting back with playtesting feedback.

But in general, the flavour of just about anything 3.5e should be convertable to 5e since they use the same setting and general theme. You'll just need to do a bunch of mechanical legwork. Unless you can find someone who already did it for you.

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While I strongly support porting the Tome of Magic binder to 5e, because the binder is awesome, it probably should be said that the presumed “5e way” here would be to use the warlock class: the Great Old One patron shares a fairly similar narrative and thematic space with the vestiges of the binder class. This was true, too, in 4e, where the star pact warlock mirrored the binder in a number of ways.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I've never tried warlocks. Do they have the same kind of variety that a binder does? I'm interested in Binders because of the potential for change I see, and I don't really want to be locked into one playstyle. \$\endgroup\$ – Riker Dec 22 '17 at 20:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Riker No, the similarity is not as strong as that. I am not suggesting that warlocks really are replacements for binders, just pointing out that they are presented as such. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Dec 22 '17 at 20:36
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    \$\begingroup\$ In 4e, the Binder class was explicitly combined with the Warlock class, with a Vestige patron. While I can't find anything explicitly stating it with a quick Google search, IIRC it was one of the inspirations for one of the Warlock Pacts, the way that the original Hexblade class was rolled into the Warlock in 4e, and served as the inspiration for the Pact of the Blade. \$\endgroup\$ – nick012000 Dec 23 '17 at 7:26

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