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So, this has been a lingering issue in my campaign as I can't pin down the rules on this one. I have ruled it differently according to information I've been getting since the campaign started. We're playing Curse of Strahd and whether or not Crimson Rite makes a weapon magical makes a huge difference for the PC and DM against prominent enemies in this campaign.

My player and I started by agreeing that Crimson Rite makes your weapon magical due to the following passage in the Blood Hunter's rules:

While the rite is in effect, attacks you make with this weapon are magical, and deal extra damage equal to your hemocraft die of the type determined by the chosen rite. A weapon can hold only one active rite at a time. Other creatures can’t gain the benefit of your rite.

And most of the campaign we have been playing it like that. Yet, I always had some doubt in my mind because of the Order of the Lycan subclass.

First, an Order of the Lycan at third level gains:

Predatory Strikes. You can apply your Crimson Rite feature to your unarmed strikes, which you treat as one weapon.

Then, at 7th level they get:

Improved Predatory Strikes. You have a +1 bonus to attack rolls made with your unarmed strike. This bonus increases to +2 at 11th level and to +3 at 18th level. Additionally, when you have an active crimson rite on your unarmed strike while in your hybrid form, your unarmed strikes are considered magical for the purpose of overcoming resistance and immunity to nonmagical attacks and damage.

That last part nags at me because it doesn't make sense. If Crimson Rite makes your weapon magical, and Predatory Strike applies this to your unarmed strikes, your unarmed strikes are already magical from 3rd level on. How come this 7th level feature is an improvement, besides the attack bonus? Why phrase it like that, if Crimson Rite already gave you that benefit? Although the way it's phrased does make it more clear that your attacks overcome resistance and immunity to nonmagical attacks and damage than the passage about Crimson Rite making your weapon magical at level 2 of Blood Hunter.

I'm a fan of Critical Role and just this past week, I came upon an episode (Dec 2019) from season 2 where Mollymauk plays a Blood Hunter Order of the Ghostslayer and Matthew Mercer tells Taliesin that Crimson Rite doesn't make his weapon magical, only the extra rite damage is magical. If you want to check that moment, I have this Youtube link with a time stamp: https://youtu.be/CoomA-qeJMI?si=vY1_DlMPp_HmMIIs&t=8503

I shared this with the player and we even found a twitter of Matthew Mercer explaining this in 2016: https://twitter.com/matthewmercer/status/788925692117344257

The problem is that the class was revised in February 2020, even though the episode I mention above happened 2 months before. I can't seem to find any revision to this rule after the revision of February 2020 and it's making me go crazy. My player is also eager to get to the bottom of this. After some reflection, this comes down to 2 rulings:

1.If we reread the following passage:

While the rite is in effect, attacks you make with this weapon are magical, and deal extra damage equal to your hemocraft die of the type determined by the chosen rite.

I can interpret that what they're trying to say is that Crimson Rite adds magical attacks to your weapon attacks instead of Crimson Rite makes your weapon magical. I don't know why they put it like that because it sounds redundant but maybe they're describing the purpose of such power in the Blood Hunter Class.

2.Maybe I'm reading too much into stuff and the class got revised in February 2020 and

attacks you make with this weapon are magical

means that the weapon attacks in full become magic and it's as simple as that.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ In the interest of giving the discussion an appropriate space to continue the comments have been moved to chat; feel free to continue it in there \$\endgroup\$
    – Someone_Evil
    Commented Jan 1 at 20:59

2 Answers 2

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Which version of the class do you want to play?

This is not an official 5e class

According to TylerH's answer to Is Matt Mercer's homebrew setting of Exandria now considered an official setting, as of the release of the "Explorer's Guide to Wildemount"?, the setting of Exandria is official 5e content, because the author of EGtW is listed as "Wizards RPG team", and Matt Mercer is listed only as a contributor. While the subclasses of Echo Knight, Chronurgy Magic, and Graviturgy Magic are found in this official product, the Blood Hunter class is not.

Similarly, Critical Role: Call of the Netherdeep is an official WotC product.

In contrast, the Blood Hunter class, as described on D&D Beyond, is listed as "By Matt Mercer", with a warning label that currently says (emphasis mine):

THIS IS PARTNERED CONTENT
This content is available in your campaign with your DM’s permission but isn’t published by Wizards of the Coast. To use this content, enable Critical Role in the character builder.

The Blood Hunter class is not official 5e content. It is not listed among official classes on this site's wiki answer to What are the official, WotC-published classes and subclasses in 5e? Thus, 'how do the Blood Hunter rules interact with the rules about stuff being magical' cannot have an official 5e interpretation.

The sources you have listed (the twitter post and the video) make it clear that Mercer's original intent was for the extra damage from Crimson Rite to be magical, but not the weapon attack itself. Mercer's most recent revision to the class appears to be the February 2020 upload to the DMs Guild. I have not purchased this product, but at least the free preview there says of Crimson Rite (emphasis mine):

While active, attacks from this weapon deal an additional 1d4 damage of the chosen rite's type. This damage is magical, and increases as you gain levels as a Blood Hunter...

The earliest description of the Blood Hunter that I could find on D&D Beyond via the Wayback Machine was from February of 2019. The language at that time was (emphasis mine):

While active, attacks from this weapon deal an additional 1d4 rite damage of the chosen elemental type. Rite damage is considered magical.

Similar language was used through at least February 13 of 2022.

Then, some time after February 13 but before February 18 of 2022, the language changed to (emphasis mine):

While the rite is in effect, attacks you make with this weapon are magical, and deal extra damage equal to your hemocraft die of the type determined by the chosen rite.

I can find no indication on the page as to why this change was made, or whether it was endorsed by Mercer or was as a result of editing by D&D Beyond staff (and note that, at the time, D&D Beyond was not yet owned by WotC). At least for the section quoted above, this exact language is still used on D&D Beyond (as of January 2024).

At the time the language change was made, it was immediately noted c. February 16 by user Luminaire4, who in comment #864 had essentially your question:

So new changes for blood hunter makes a weapon with an active crimson rite magical. And order of the Lycan can apply this to unarmed strikes at 3rd level. Are their unarmed strikes then magical? If so doesn’t that moot the level 7 improved predatory strike feature?

I think you understand well the implications of the change in language. If your decision about which to use is based on power, or balance, the original version has Blood Hunters in general weaker at L3 while only the L7 Lycan gets a boost, while the current D&D Beyond version has all Blood Hunters stronger at L3 and gives much less of a boost at L7 for Lycans specifically. If your decision about which to use is based on authorship, the 2020 Mercer revision is clearly his work, while it is not clear who is the author of the 2022 change on D&D Beyond. But if your decision about which to use is based on what is official, there is no answer, because neither version is an official 5e class.

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    \$\begingroup\$ It is also worth noting that almost all critical role content, even the official stuff, is really poorly written and full of this kind of contradiction. \$\endgroup\$
    – SeriousBri
    Commented Jan 1 at 9:25
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    \$\begingroup\$ The question is not “what is WotC’s official ruling on Matt Mercer’s content”, which is what you seem quite intent on answering. The question is asking how, in your expert judgment as a D&D 5e player, do the Blood Hunter rules interact with the rules about stuff being magical. Observing that Blood Hunter isn’t published by WotC is fine and helpful, but it isnt the answer to this question. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 1 at 17:43
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    \$\begingroup\$ @SeriousBri case in point, the Echo Knight, probably at least top 3 most broken and confusing things WotC has ever published. That one is a steady source of questions to this site that end up almost invariably answered with some variation of "RAW, we really have no clue"... \$\endgroup\$
    – Kryomaani
    Commented Jan 3 at 9:02
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The Blood Hunter text was updated to make it clear that Crimson Rite weapon attacks are magical.

Earlier editions of the Blood Hunter class have this in the Crimson Rite description (this particular quote is from v. 1.3 at Geek & Sundry):

While active, attacks from this weapon deal an additional 1d4 rite damage of the chosen elemental type. Rite damage is considered magical.

This clearly indicates that only the bonus rite damage is magical. However, the most recent publication of the Blood Hunter reads:

While the rite is in effect, attacks you make with this weapon are magical, and deal extra damage equal to your hemocraft die of the type determined by the chosen rite.

Clearly, this change of language indicates that now the entire attack is considered magical, instead of just the bonus rite damage.

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