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I saw a question recently about the Blood Hunter class, which confused me because the D&D Beyond page for it is very visually distinct from pages for Homebrew, but everything I've seen indicates that D&D 5e has been extremely reticent to introduce whole new classes, instead opting to create more varied class archetypes (e.g. Divine Soul as a Sorcerous Origin). After a little investigation, it seems to be "special" for unspecified reasons. For example, it appears in the list of Classes as neither Official nor Homebrew, but is instead the sole occupant of the "Additional" category. Thus it definitely isn't "truly official", but somebody at D&D Beyond (an official rules source) considers it substantially distinct from homebrew.

So the essence of my question is, what separates Blood Hunter from being a normal homebrew class? I can think of a few possibilities, but the actual answer might be a combination, or something else entirely.

  • Blood Hunter is actually official, but was published outside of sourcebooks so it gets weird treatment.
  • Blood Hunter is a licensed 3rd party product, so is "approved" material but not considered official for purposes like being allowed in Adventurer's League play.
  • Blood Hunter was developed by member(s) of the D&D 5e team, so is from an "official source" but only on a technicality.
  • Blood Hunter is from a highly trusted source or has been recognized as high quality by the community, but is otherwise normal homebrew.
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    \$\begingroup\$ strongly related: what are the official 5e classes/subclasses? \$\endgroup\$ – nitsua60 Aug 7 '18 at 19:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ I think the "official rules source" bit you referenced was meant to be interpreted as a 'source of official rules', not an 'official source of rules', if that makes sense. Anyone can make a new source for official rules (roll20 also has this, for example) and keep it up-to-date, but only the creators/officiators of a thing can say that some new site or group also counts as an 'official source of rules'. \$\endgroup\$ – TylerH Aug 8 '18 at 13:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ @TylerH It's true that only Wizards of the Coast could say that a site is official, but they already did call D&D Beyond "an official digital toolset" that's "built with official D&D content", so in my experience people generally think "if D&D Beyond says something is official then it is official". Obviously that's distinct from "D&D Beyond is allowed to choose whether something is official" if that's what you're saying, but it definitely "is official" rather than just "contains official information". \$\endgroup\$ – Kamil Drakari Aug 8 '18 at 13:51
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Blood Hunter is unofficial ("homebrew") content by Matt Mercer, but he and Critical Role have an advertising partnership with DNDBeyond.

Nothing makes the Blood Hunter class inherently special as compared to any other homebrew class published on DMsGuild or DNDBeyond. It's not any more official or AL-legal than any other homebrew class.

The only reason it has a special placement/presentation on DNDBeyond is that Matt Mercer and Critical Role have an advertising partnership with DNDBeyond. Apparently, as part of that partnership, DNDBeyond has agreed to provide special listings for Mercer's homebrew Blood Hunter class and his Gunslinger fighter subclass. (The same items appear on DMsGuild: Blood Hunter, and Gunslinger.)

DNDBeyond's character creator also lists "Critical Role Content" separately from other "Homebrew Content", presumably for the same reason.

This changelog on the DNDBeyond forum discusses the partnership:

Critical Role Partnership

We are also very happy to finally share that we have entered a long-term partnership with Critical Role!

As part of the sponsorship, we will be adding some of the custom content used at the table in the show, starting with the blood hunter class by Matt Mercer.

You can also see in the screen capture above that a new Critical Role Content category has been added. To enable CR content for your character, toggle that category "on" and you will see the blood hunter as a new option in the builder. You can also see the blood hunter under the 'Additional > Classes' section in the main navigation and classes page.

We plan to incorporate more Critical Role content over the course of the partnership, so stay tuned for that here. Also, if you aren't already a loyal viewer, now is an excellent time to jump in and experience a brand new campaign with the cast of Critical Role! Check out the first episode here.

A Twitter user also asked about the partnership and the officialness of the Blood Hunter class:

Twitter user: The Blood Hunter is listed as an additional class on D&D Beyond, under official classes, was it made official?

Jeremy Crawford: The only official classes in D&D are in the Player's Handbook. For a new class to become official in the future, it must appear in a D&D book or must be announced as official by the D&D team.

DNDBeyond: The Blood Hunter is actually categorized under 'Additional Classes' everywhere it appears in DDB. It is specifically not under 'Official Classes' and is not considered official.

Matt Mercer: This. :)

In short: it's not official. It's basically "homebrew"/third-party content, just like anyone else's, except DNDBeyond has given it a special placement/designation because of their partnership with Critical Role.

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Critical Role is a Non-Official Source Category on par with Homebrew and Playtest Content.

Critical Role is its own non-official source category. It is alongside homebrew and playtest material. Details are in this change log.

Critical Role Partnership

We are also very happy to finally share that we have entered a long-term partnership with Critical Role!

As part of the sponsorship, we will be adding some of the custom content used at the table in the show, starting with the blood hunter class by Matt Mercer.

You can also see in the screen capture above that a new Critical Role Content category has been added. To enable CR content for your character, toggle that category "on" and you will see the blood hunter as a new option in the builder. You can also see the blood hunter under the 'Additional > Classes' section in the main navigation and classes page.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I would add the details, mainly the "Critical Role partnership", in the answer. As it is, while it answers the question (it's a homebrew), the details of why it is special at all are in the link-only. \$\endgroup\$ – HellSaint Aug 7 '18 at 19:42
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I think the best way of thinking of it is somewhere in between 3rd and 1st party material(2nd party). It is definitely not official, but it is endorsed by the creators of 5e, and is like an example of their "approved" homebrew content. It's like a new category 2nd party material.

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