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July 24

Wielding the Darkness: A Blood Hunter 5e Guide (D&D)

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Blood Hunters in D&D Fifth Edition (5e) are a class based on sacrifice, knowledge, and fear. If you want to play this dark class, our guide will help you understand how they work, the best races and feat choices, and what they're all about!


A lone figure walks calmly through the night, eyes glowing with faint wisps of red fog. They clench a silvered sword in their left hand, a small vial of thick crimson in their right. Each step they take is measured, self-assured, and, above all, quiet. 

A beast lurks in the dark, fleeing from its supernatural predator, fear rampaging inside it’s heart. 

The figure sweeps their luminous eyes through the desolate city-streets, nostrils flaring as their knuckles pop into position. The beast, their prey, has slaughtered dozens on nights just like this. A grim irony, quite poetic, that now, on this full-moon, the beast should be hunted.

Blood Hunter Crimson

In a flash, the scene comes to a finale: a lycanthrope, all muscle and madness, leaps out, snarling in defiance to its fear and its hunter. Instantly, the hunter swings their blade, cloaked in the crimson vial’s contents, burning its way through the fur-flesh of the wolf-man.

It lets out a single howl of pity before its corpse splatters onto the cobblestones. The figure quietly sheaths their sword and sets about the grim task of cleaning up the mess. This is their life, the life of a Blood Hunter, and they would never wish for anything else: after all, they’d chosen it, all those years ago…

For fans of grim fantasy, such as The Witcher, Castlevania, or Bloodborne, there is no better choice for a Dungeons and Dragons class than the Blood Hunter—a brooding, gothic, and tactical class filled with danger and darkness.

This is a class based on sacrifice, knowledge, and fear. You choose to become a weapon, forged for one purpose: to stand between the Night and its many terrors. All of this, while striving to not become what you hunt.



Introduction to the Blood Hunter 5e (Fifth Edition)

A Blood Hunter is, at its core, a class designed to provide a player (and their party members) with information, tactical support, and a blend of offensive and defensive buffs.

Most of their abilities and class features are tied to their Bonus Action and Reaction, allowing the player to be involved in combat beyond their turn. These extra actions can cleverly influence the flow of battle with key uses of class abilities. 

While not as devastatingly powerful as a good ol’ Fireball, a Blood Hunter’s Curses and Rites are defined by their flexibility, and can throw many a wrench into the schemes of a bloodthirsty Dungeon Master and their legion of nightmarish ghouls. 

Out of combat, they thrive in social encounters as an information gathering, lore- dispensing archive. Their abilities allow them to witness the past of locations and objects, intimidate NPCs with subtle power, and even track down things you’ve scuffled with.

Intrigue-based campaigns, where social encounters, solving mysteries, and finding lost information are paramount, are a Blood Hunter’s best friend. Campaigns based in urban locations, haunted towns, or crumbling necropoli all serve as a Blood Hunter’s natural environment. They thrive in campaigns where their abilities to acquire information, track and hunt aberrant monsters, and survive in places corrupted by darkness are indispensable for a party’s survival.

A word of warning: the Blood Hunter is not a class that “plays itself”. Blood Hunters require the player to pay attention, remember their abilities and class features, and understand their own limitations. 

Understanding the rules of combat, as well as how actions, bonus actions, and reactions all function, are integral to playing this class well. This class is for a player who has a firm grasp of understanding rules, and the various conditions that tie into advanced combat scenarios. 

Dark Forest Bloodhunting

Mechanical Overview

In the realm of game mechanics, Blood Hunters are a pretty complex class: numerous abilities, class choices, and varying resources to manage all add up to a class that, at first glance, can be quite daunting to even an experienced delver of dungeons. 

From utilizing your Blood Maledict (essentially a blood curse) to choosing which Blood Hunter Order you'll learn from, you will be making advanced choices with this class. But with this guide, I hope you’ll find a few interesting ways to use your blood! 

Your hit dice is a d10, which means that you can take a beating better than most classes in the game! The d10 is reserved for only 3 other classes: the fighter, the paladin, and the ranger. 

In addition, you have proficiency with light and medium armor, as well as shields, meaning that a healthy Armor Class can be anticipated once all your class choices have been made. 

Blood Hunters gain proficiency in the Dexterity and Intelligence stats for Saving Throws—while Dexterity Saving Throws are some of the most common in the game, Intelligence Saving Throws are also quite useful! Many spells or abilities that rely on Intelligence Saving Throws can be very detrimental to a character’s free will. 

Finally, they start with three skill proficiencies, more than any other class. However, their selection is limited to:

Overall, Blood Hunters have some unique niches only they can fill in all their bloody glory!

Once you’ve rolled your Hit Points, allocated your skill proficiencies, and marked your Saving Throws, the next decision you must make comes at level 3: your subclass (or your Order, in the case of the Blood Hunter). As of this publication, you have 4 choices:

  • The Order of the Lycan - By blending with the curse of Lycanthropy, you can use your bonus action to gain a Hybrid Form that gives some powerful bonuses to offense and defense, at the cost of gaining a frightening Bloodlust. Order of the Lycan is my personal favorite!
  • The Order of the Ghostslayer - By blending with the occult power of necromancy, you gain additional powers in the form of curses and buffed Rites.
  • The Order of the Mutant - By blending magic and science, you gain access to Mutagens: powerful alchemical formulature that alters your body and mind, granting surges of power, but at a cost, known as the Side Effect. Mutagens cost a bonus action.
  • The Order of the Profane Soul - By blending blood with pacts, you gain access to a Dark Patron: a supernatural being that grants strange, powerful abilities in the form of spells, but at a cost decided by the DM.

Each Blood Hunter Order alters the core class, allowing access to abilities from, or comparable, to other classes. For example, the Order of the Lycan emulates the Rage ability of the Barbarian class, while the Order of the Profane Soul converts the Blood Hunter into a melee-focused Warlock-esque class. 

Think carefully before choosing your Order, as their abilities and lore are designed to manifest within your character’s storyline and personality.


Level Progression and Gameplay

The Blood Hunter’s main mechanics are tied directly into its Blood Maledict and Crimson Rites. 

Blood Maledict allows you to do two basic things: Invoke a Curse and Amplify the Curse. 

In layman’s terms, Invoking a Curse selects an enemy within the game and applies an effect to that enemy. Amplifying a Curse refers to a Blood Hunter’s ability to spend life for power—when Amplifying, you roll a dice and subtract the amount rolled on the dice from your Hit Points. 

The dice is referred to as the Hemocraft dice in the language of the class. The dice begins as a d4, but increases in range as you level: at level 5, it becomes a d6, at level 11, a d8, and at level 17, a d10.

Blood Maledict also allows the Hunter to choose one Curse at level 1, then an additional Curse at levels 6, 10, 14, and 18. There are also “epic” Blood Curses, one for each Order, that are made available at high levels.

Keep in mind that all Blood Curses require a bonus action to use, not a regular action!

Some orders also allow you to restore the use of your Blood Maledict, such as whenever you score a critical hit with a weapon attack empowered by your Crimson Rite.


Curses and Amplying Effects

  • Blood Curse of the Anxious: Any Intimidate checks made against the chosen enemy has Advantage.    The first Wisdom Saving Throw made by the target is made with Disadvantage.
  • Blood Curse of Binding: The chosen enemy makes a Strength saving throw if they’re of a similar size to the Blood Hunter. If the saving throw is failed, they cannot move and lose reactions until your next turn. The chosen enemy can be any size. The curse lasts 1 minute, but the chosen enemy may make a saving throw at the end of their turns.
  • Blood Curse of Bloated Agony: The chosen enemy has disadvantage on Strength and Dexterity Saving Throws. If they attack more than once, they take 1d8 necrotic damage to their hit points. The effect listed above lasts for one minute. A Constitution Saving Throw negates this effect.
  • Blood Curse of Exposure: An enemy of your choice loses resistance to a certain damage type. Remove invulnerability from the target. In essence, you can hurt a fire elemental with fire now.
  • Blood Curse of the Fallen Puppet: When a creature is brought to 0 hit points, you may have it make one final attack against another creature within range. Creature can refer to allies, as well! The creature may move as part of its attack up to half its speed, and you add your Intelligence modifier to the creature’s attack.
  • Blood Curse of the Eyeless: Roll a hemocraft die and subtract the number from the creature’s attack roll. For example, if the creature rolls a 16, and you roll a 4, the number is now 12. All attacks made by the creature gain the above effect.
  • Blood Curse of the Muddled Mind: You choose a creature Concentrating on a spell. The next time the creature makes a Concentration check, the check has Disadvantage. Anytime the creature rolls a Concentration check, not just the first, it has Disadvantage.
  • Blood Curse of the Marked: You Mark a creature within 30 feet. Anytime you deal Crimson Rite damage, you may add a damage dice. Your next attack gains advantage against the marked creature.
Blood Curse of Binding
Blood Curse of the Anxious
Blood Curse of the Souleater

Get 12 Blood Curses as Free Printable Spellcards!

Galao the Wizard

Phew! And that’s at level one! As you can see, this class has plenty of choices between their order and their blood curses.

In addition, you also gain the ability Hunter’s Bane. This ability grants you Advantage on all checks made to track Fey, Fiends, or Undead This is usually a Survival check, as well as any Intelligence checks, made to recall information. 

The information from Hunter’s Bane is determined by the DM, but Blood Hunters should set the terms-do you know if a werewolf is able to control its shifting? What are the weaknesses of vampires? Are undead afraid of fire? This ability is subtle in its power, but also a wonderful way to weave a narrative together through gameplay mechanics.


Fighting Styles and Crimson Rites

A fighting style is a passive bonus, such as an additional 2 damage whenever you hit with a ranged attack or the ability to reroll 1s and 2s when dealing damage. 

Fighting Styles are derived from the Fighter class, and thus, a DM may allow other Fighting Styles to be utilized, rather than the four provided by the class itself (Archery, Two Weapon Fighting, Great Weapon Fighting, and Duelist.) My personal favorite is Two Weapon Fighting with glaives or Great Wepon Fighting with a longsword!

The Crimson Rite is the other bread-and-butter mechanic of Blood Hunters—allowing one to imbue their weapon attacks with elemental damage by paying a small price of blood (damage your own hit points). It's fairly similar to a Warlock's Pact Boon.

As a bonus action, you roll your hemocraft die, take that amount of damage, then a weapon becomes Imbued by your Crimson Rite. While Imbued, the weapon deals an additional Hemocraft Die in the damage type you choose when picking your Crimson Rite. 

The damage to hit points is magical, which bypasses most monster’s defensive abilities, as well as its chosen type. There are two types of Crimson Rite: Primal and Esoteric.

Primal Rites

Esoteric Rites

  • Fire
  • Lightning
  • Cold
  • Psychic
  • Necrotic
  • Thunder

Generally, a Blood Hunter’s choice of Crimson Rite would be based on what creature they’re hunting. Keep in mind: If you lose control of your weapon, or swap to a different one, you will have to use your Crimson Rite to supercharge it again! The only limit to Crimson Rites, unlike the Blood Maledict which can only be used a few times a day, is your HP.

Some orders also give you access to different type of Rites. For example, the Order of the Ghostslayer gives you access to the Rite of the Dawn at the 3rd level, which makes your Rite damage radiant damage. In addition to doing radiant damage, your weapon glows and lights your surroundings!


Unique Abilities at Higher Levels

After level 2, the Blood Hunter gains a slew of unique abilities—every 4 levels, they may boost a stat by 2 points, or 2 stats by 1 point, to a max of 20. They may also choose a Feat instead of boosting stats. 

At 5th level, the Blood Hunter gains Extra Attack, which, as the name explains, allows them to make two attacks instead of one. The Extra Attack can also do bonus damage from your Crimson Rite.

At 6th level, the Blood Hunter may Brand a creature they damage with their Crimson Rite—they always know the direction towards the creature, and whenever the creature deals damage to you or an ally within 5 feet of you, the creature takes Psychic Damage equal to the Hunter’s Intelligence modifier.

At 7th level, depending on which Order you chose, you gain additional effects on some of your abilities, such as Ethereal Step and Stalker's Prowess.

At 9th level, the Blood Hunter gains Grim Psychometry—the ability to psychically connect to an object and discern its history. Checks made to uncover information about the object are made with advantage, and lean towards the dark, grim side of life. 

For instance, a murder weapon could show you flashes of the murder, or the victim’s last few moments. A library may show memories of those who dwelled within it, while a city street might divulge the direction a beast rampaged through many moons ago. This ability is one of my favorites, and can really lead to an interesting Hunting scene, where you lead their party on a fevered race through city streets, trying to catch a murderer before they strike again.

At 10th level, the Blood Hunter gains 5 feet of movement speed (nice!) and the ability to add their Intelligence to Strength, Dexterity, and Constitution Saving Throws (WOW!). Whenever. THERE’S NO LIMIT ON THIS ONE!

At 13th level, the Blood Hunter’s Brand deals double psychic damage whenever it's triggered, cannot Dash while Branded, and is trapped on the Blood Hunter’s plane of existence. All teleports, plane shifts, or similar magic require a Wisdom Saving Throw to be made, while also dealing the creature 4d6 psychic damage. 

This ability, while situational, is very powerful, and can be a great GOTCHA! Moment near the end of a campaign’s later story arc(s).

At 14th level, the Blood Hunter makes saving throws against Charm and Frighten effects with advantage. Always a good ability! Simple and no drawbacks!

At 20th level, the Blood Hunter gains their “capstone” ability—the final, and usually most powerful, ability for a class. Once per turn, whenever you roll a hemocraft damage die, you roll twice and pick which result to use. In addition, your critical hits regain uses of your Blood Maledict!

Overall, the Blood Hunter is a class that seeks to strike a fusion between complex gameplay mechanics and interesting, mystery-solving role-play.

A hero who is willing to get dirty and get hurt to do the right thing—Batman, rather than Superman. For a person just getting started in Dungeons and Dragons, I would advise them to try a different class for their first foray into the game. 

That’s not to say it's a bad class—far from it! It is, however, a complex class, requiring a keen attention to numerous details, the flow of combat, and a deep understanding of risk vs reward. 

Do you use your Crimson Rite to clear a few more hit points, even if the monster has been dealing out massive amounts of damage? Or do you choose to use one of your few Curses, in hopes of setting up a clutch series of turns? 

Pressure, just like the damage of a hemocraft dice, adds up!


Best Blood Hunter Build 5e

So, my warnings of the complexities of this class haven’t scared you away? Good! Let’s talk about how to actually create your Blood Hunter in DnD 5e.

Blood Hunter 5e

Stats: Choosing What and Why

Generally, a Blood Hunter should prioritize 3 stats, or ability scores—Constitution, Intelligence, and either Strength or Dexterity. 

Constitution is a powerful ability score—it adds to your character’s Hit Points, as well as your ability to stave off exhaustion. Many spells and abilities succeed or fail off of just one Constitution Saving Throw.

A Blood Hunter leads a dangerous life as a martial class! Raise your Constitution as much as possible!

Intelligence is the second most important ability score. A character with high Intelligence can become a walking archive AND armory, since the Hunter’s abilities scale off of an Intelligence modifier. 

More points in Intelligence means recalling more information, inflicting more psychic damage, and raising the Save DC of ALL of your Blood Maledicts! Crack open those books of forgotten lore, my friend, because you’re going to need every neuron firing to best the beasts of the dark (and recall just exactly what your Brand of Castigation does to fleeing enemies!)

Third, pick either Strength OR Dexterity as the more important ability score. Trying to raise and maintain both would spread a lot of your resources thin. I would advise making this choice once you’re aware of the other members of your party—if your party needs a strong man and a pack mule, then start acquiring gains… i.e., raise your Strength. If your party needs a sneaky, swift vigilante clinging to the shadows, then raise your Dexterity. 

Keep in mind that a Higher Dexterity is great if you’re using light armor (such as studded leather) and a shield, but has diminishing returns once you use medium armor, since all medium armor caps your Dexterity based AC bonus at a +2! Strength, generally, only raises your carrying capacity, which some DMs forego entirely (I sure do). 

Remember: ABC! Always Be Communicating!

Last, I’ve found that Wisdom is a powerful stat, based entirely off of spell saves and skill proficiency bonuses. If your DM is generous with stat buffs, always squirrel a few into Wisdom! Charisma, generally, can be safely ignored or dumped without much drawback. You might not be the prettiest Hunter, but you’ll certainly be able to scrap with the best.


Races and Character Choices

A Blood Hunter can come in all shapes, sizes, and backgrounds, as monsters generally do not discriminate in their victims. A werewolf is likely to savagely attack a person regardless of their heritage. 

As a rule of thumb, I generally find recommending races to be a bit inhibitive to a player’s freedom of choice, but there are plenty of races that provide stat bonuses to the class’s main three stats. Below is a list of races that help out with a Blood Hunter’s statistical needs.

Best race for Blood Hunter:

Strength +2: Dragonborn, Goliath, Half-Orc, Minotaur, Dwarf, Bugbear, Gith, Shifter

Dexterity +2: Elf, Halfling, Shifter, Goblin, Tabaxi

Constitution +2: Dwarf, Genasi, Warforged, Hobgoblin, Leonin

Intelligence +2: Gnome, Gith, Human, Vedalken, Dragonborn

This list is by no means comprehensive, but simply represents a starting point that also provides the statistical bonuses that can help put your character into an early bit of power in your campaign. 

Creating the Character of a Blood Hunter is perhaps the most fun part of playing Dungeons and Dragons, as the class comes with a bevy of implicit questions to help you, the player, generate your character. 

To help you develop your player character, here are some questions you can answer:

  • What event(s) caused your character to walk this lonely, frightening path?
  • What monster(s) do they hunt?
  • Do they view civilization as something just as corrupt and evil as the supernatural, and if so, why do they serve their Order?
  • What is their Order like?
  • How do they view themselves in the present, after all their choices, and do they look towards the future, or dwell in the past?
  • Are they hunting a specific person, monster, or even an organization of evil creatures? Or is the entire world what needs to be hunted?
  • Do they idolize their profession, or resent it?

Working these questions out with your DM can help organically develop a world, the beasts and nightmares inhabiting it, and the tactics people of all origins use to beat back the night!


Conclusion

The Blood Hunter is a unique class, filled with choices, great and small, and a large emphasis on player input and creative thinking. 

It’s also a very customizable class—like a wizard and their growing spellbook, the fun comes primarily from which tools and weapons you’ll wield during your Hunts, and the tense moments of gameplay where a clever choice can spell the difference between life or death. 

Whether it be stalking ancient battlefields to dispel lingering curses, or slinking through the oily sewers of a long-forgotten castle crawling with mutants, this is a swiss army knife of a character, able to answer almost any terror a Dungeon Master can throw your way... provided, of course, you think ahead! 

Happy Hunting, my friends.

Oh, and if you have any questions about the Blood Hunter class, or about DnD in general, feel free to leave a comment below! I read and respond to every one!

Get 12 Free Printable Blood Hunter Spellcards!

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Brendan "Amigo"

About the author

Brendan has been an avid fan of games, stories, and the human experience for a good part of his lifetime. Laughter, friendship, and advice are all things he lives for. As a Dungeon Master, he’s seen his fair share of campaigns, and is always looking to craft some cool experiences for his friends. He will talk for days, if you let him, about his homebrew content, as well as whatever new story or phenomenon has caught his attention this week. Favorite systems are Dungeons and Dragons, Monster Hearts, and the newly released LANCER. He prefers long walks on the moon, dancing like everyone can see him, and a nice chianti with fava beans, but no liver. He’s on a diet, and  liver meat is awfully fatty.

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