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Shinsuke Nakamura's Return to NJPW | Part Three: CHAOS on Coronation Street
For those that haven’t been paying attention, he’s been carrying NJPW on his back for the past 9 years, whilst Nakamura spent half that time abroad. He doesn’t dislike Nakamura, but had it not been for him, he’d be standing here right now as G1 Climax Winner. Had he not lost them the tag match at Wrestle Dynasty, he would’ve pinned Ibushi to earn a shot at the World Title. But neither of those are true because of him, so he sent him a lesson to stay in line, or they’re going to have problems.
On Nakamura’s end of things, he’s distanced himself from Okada following the assault, heartbroken that someone he considered so close, someone who he nurtured to take the reins of the faction he created, would do that to him. CHAOS starts taking sides coming out the Summer months, Nakamura joined by the OGs Tomohiro Ishii and Toru Yano, whilst Okada mans the newer members of the faction, the likes of Hirooki Goto and Roppongi 3K standing by his side. Speaking of Goto, due to his win over Nakamura in the G1 Climax, he challenges the King of Strong Style to a match for the title at Destruction, further creating separation between the two sides as Shinsuke accepts.
Destruction in Kobe 2021
Shinsuke Nakamura (c) vs Hirooki Goto – IWGP Intercontinental Championship
The atmosphere is tense in the World Hall as Goto makes his entrance first, Roppongi 3K standing in his corner for moral support. Nakamura is out next, Ishii standing in the champion’s corner, ensuring the action remains between the competitors and the competitors alone. The commentators pick up on the fact that the champion and challenger are 9-9 against each other in singles competition, this perhaps the end of an era for their defining rivalry over the years. Nakamura and Goto butt heads in the centre of the ring as the referee hoists the IC Title up high, the two growling through gritted teeth, before the bell rings, the match underway!
They get to work straight away, battering each other with emotion-driven forearms, the first few minutes of the match simply spent with the two smashing each other with strikes, neither man backing down! Goto breaks away to nail Nakamura with a LARIAT, before mounting him to hammer him with grounded strikes, slapping him as he asks if he wants to take more away from him, Nakamura firing up to rack Hirooki’s torso with agony as he drops him with SHOOT KICKS! Sending a message to his arrival, he blasts him with a PENALTY KICK, paying tribute to his fellow 1/3rd of NJPW’s Three Musketeers.
Goto takes offense to it, firing back with Tanahashi-esque palm thrusts to the face, before slipping behind him to score a MASSIVE GERMAN SUPLEX! Nakamura comes running back, damn near breaking Goto’s jaw with a SLIDING BUSAIKU KNEE, before nailing ugly knees all over Goto’s body, shots to the head, neck, gut and leg punishing him! Nakamura uses some of his MMA experience to try choke out the Aramusha, locking in a REAR NAKED CHOKE, only to get bucked off, Goto scoring a GTW, before spiking him with a BRAINBUSTER!
As the action spills to the apron, Goto tries to muscle Nakamura up onto his shoulders, only for Shinsuke to send both of them crashing to the floor with a LANDSLIDE off the turnbuckles! A Shibata-esque HEADBUTT rocks the Champ, Goto blasting him with a PK, followed by a REAR NAKED of his own! As Shinsuke rallies with knees, Goto floats into a SHORYU KEKKAI, intent on making Nakamura tap out to him! A LEG-TRAPPED SITOUT POWERBOMB prevents that though, Nakamura rocking Goto with a DIVING REAR BOMAYE!
Goto returns a GO TO HEAVEN, before setting up the TOKKO LARIAT, only to get countered into a CROSS AMBREAKER! Using his mental fortitude, Hirooki powers up Shinsuke into position, blasting him with a GTR! Not content with just one, Goto sets up a second, only to be busted open by a BOMAYE for his troubles! Backing up, Nakamura nails another, Goto somehow still on shaky knees, blood streaming from his jaw, demanding one more! Nakamura obliges, taking his head right off with one final BOMAYE, before collapsing into the cover! 1…2…3!
Shinsuke Nakamura (c) def. Hirooki Goto to retain the IWGP Intercontinental Championship (29:38)
The ring mat is stained with the blood, sweat and tears of these two warriors as they fought for the better part of half an hour, Nakamura finally prevailing over his rival to push the score in his favour, 10-9 against the Aramusha! It’s a gruesome yet mesmerising scene as Nakamura pulls himself away from Goto’s bloodied body, both men’s crimson dried on each other as well as the title itself. The King of Strong Style limping to the back with Ishii by his side, leaving a broken Goto to lay on the canvas, being tended to by the medical staff after a brutal war.
In the fallout of Destruction, attention turns to King of Pro Wrestling, the show at which the Tokyo Dome main event is traditionally made official, the G1 Contract and IWGP Heavyweight Championship set to be defended. Since turning on Nakamura, Okada’s focus has been firmly planted on Kota Ibushi’s title, thus convincing him to put it on the line against him, Okada 3-2 against the Golden Star in singles competition, a win the perfect way for Kota to show he’s on the Rainmaker’s level.
As for the G1 Contract, it’s been kept in safe hands by Will Ospreay after defeating Tetsuya Naito in the G1 Finals, a dream match for the ages that set up the Empire’s Leader for a Tokyo Dome main event. However, before he can get there, he must put his contract on the line one last time, and who else to challenge him but the IC Champion himself, Nakamura referencing his wins over Ospreay’s faction at the beginning of the year, believing himself to be deserving, wanting to recreate the feat Naito pulled off at the Dome by leaving with both top titles over his shoulders whilst also having a potential shot at putting Okada in his place should he claim the World Title. Ospreay accepts the challenge, agreeing that he still needs to pay him back for earlier in the year.
Thus, the two blockbuster matches are made official, the future of Tokyo Dome’s main event hanging in the balance between Kota Ibushi, Kazuchika Okada, Will Ospreay and Shinsuke Nakamura, any combination of the 4 men sure to steal the show!
King of Pro Wrestling 2021
Shinsuke Nakamura vs Will Ospreay (c) – G1 Climax Contract
The semi main event is a grand one as Nakamura and Ospreay clash for the first-time in a singles match, the Intercontinental Champion fully focused on the task at hand, calm and collected, whilst Ospreay is fuelled by vengeance, ready to make as big of a statement as they get by pinning the former 3-time Heavyweight Champion en route to making his own dreams come true. The bell rings, and we are underway!
The match starts at a slower pace, the two scouting each other with some technical wrestling, Nakamura employing his MMA abilities to keep Ospreay grounded, whilst Will fights back with catch-as-catch-can, channelling the World of Sport style. Shinsuke almost catches Ospreay off guard with an attempted Bomaye, but being the quicker competitor of the two, the Assassin is able to back away in time, only for Nakamura to tell him to ‘COME ON!’, Ospreay charging straight into a knee, but managing to roll out of harm’s way as Nakamura goes to stomp his head into the canvas!
Nakamura smiles cheekily whilst Ospreay has an irked expression on his face, coming back at his foe with aggression as he pushes him into the ropes, before cracking a chop across the chest, not giving him a clean break! Taking it as a challenge, Shinsuke forces Will into the ropes and delivers knees to the midsection, Ospreay though managing to crawl between his legs and stagger him with a Marufuji-esque HOOK KICK, before connecting the Headscissors, sending him to the outside!
Ospreay teases taking flight with the Sasuke Special, only to not give it to the fans, sliding out of the ring and scoring a SILENT WHISPER right on the button! Rolling Nakamura back inside, Will calls for a Pip Pip Cheerio, but he’s caught mid-air with a ROLLING KOPPU KICK! Ospreay scrambling to the corner, Shinsuke going for GOOD VIBRATIONS, only for Will to snipe the inside of his thigh with a sharp kick, before propping him on the middle rope, firing a CHEEKY NANDOS KICK, followed by a SITOUT POWERBOMB! 1…2...KICK OUT!
Ospreay slaps the mat in frustration, before nailing a RUNNING SHOOTING STAR PRESS, trying to get a pinfall off of it too, but Nakamura kicks out again! Ospreay dumps him in the corner and delivers GOOD VIBRATIONS of his own, before mocking Shinsuke with condescending kicks, only for Nakamura to spring to his feet and batter Will with SHOOT KICKS, the Assassin stepping up the striking challenge with his own, but a knee does him in, Nakamura draping him over the top turnbuckle for another to the midsection, before getting GOOD VIBRATIONS!
Propping Ospreay on the middle rope, Shinsuke delivers a high-speed SLIDING GERMAN, but as he goes to return back inside the ring, Will nails him with a Hanging Soccer Kick, before pulling his head through the ropes for a SPIKE DDT! Heading to the apron with Nakamura in his grip, he runs in for an APRON ESSEX DESTROYER, before rolling back inside, looking to win by count-out! Shinsuke lays there unmoving for majority of the count, only coming to with 2 seconds to go, sliding back inside to save the match to Ospreay’s chagrin!
Running out of options on what to do, Ospreay decides to go all or nothing, scaling to the top rope, wanting AIR ASSASSIN… HE COMES UP EMPTY, NAKAMURA ROLLING OUT OF HARM’S WAY! INVERTED EXPLODER ENSUES! He’s in perfect position! BOMAYE CONNECTS! 1…2…OSPREAY’S FOOT IS UNDER THE BOTTOM ROPE! Inadvertent or not, Will saved himself the match, leaving Nakamura in disbelief! Picking his foe off the mat, Shinsuke rattles him with boots, before picking him up for a LANDSLIDE, only to get countered with a STUNDOG MILLIONARE!
As the King of Strong Style comes crashing back down to the mat, Ospreay blasts him with a ROBINSON SPECIAL, before connecting a SPRINGBOARD 450° SPLASH! He calls for an OS-CUTTER, only for Nakamura to catch him and snap him back into a DRAGON SUPLEX, before picking him back up onto his shoulders, connecting a DEATH VALLEY DRIVER! Nakamura now lets out a ‘YEAOH’, before racing in for a BOMAYE, only to get stopped in his tracks by a RAINHAM MAKER!
Keeping the wrist-control, Ospreay pulls Nakamura back up to his feet, getting cocky as he goes for a RAINMAKER, only to Nakamura to duck under and connect another INVERTED EXPLODER! However, he doesn’t realise that Ospreay landed on his feet, the Assassin rushing in to nail a HIDDEN BLADE! Devious smirk on his face, he goes to end Shinsuke the same way he did Okada, hooking his arms arms for a STORM BREAKER, but the King of Strong Style escapes, blasting Ospreay with a last-gasp REAR BOMAYE!
Nakamura ragdolls Ospreay with a pair of GERMAN SUPLEXES, before scaling to the middle rope, wanting the DIVING BOMAYE, only for Will to intercept him up there, trying to use his athleticism to connect an AVALANCHE FRANKENSTEINER, but Nakamura holds onto him, pulling him onto his shoulders to nail an AVALANCHE LANDSLIDE! Desperately pulling Ospreay up into position, he goes for a BOMAYE, but Ospreay falls forward, preventing the move! Nakamura now gets wrist-control on Ospreay, kicking his head in, before winding up again… BUT HE’S BLASTED BY A DISCUS LARIAT! STORM BREAKER FOLLOWS! AND A HIDDEN BLADE FOR GOOD MEASURE! 1…2…3!
Will Ospreay def. Shinsuke Nakamura (32:14)
Nakamura’s plans have been thwarted by the Assassin, who confirms his slot in WK’s ME after an exhilarating match against the IC Champ, Ospreay’s rise to superstardom unstoppable! As for later in the night, it’s Okada tearing Ibushi’s dreams away from him, a pair of RAINMAKERS crowning the Ace the new Heavyweight Champion!
Whilst Nakamura’s hopes to settle his matters with Okada in the main event of Wrestle Kingdom fell through, he’s far from done with the Rainmaker, and it seems to be the same feeling amongst CHAOS, both sides chomping at the bit to face the other, setting up a match for Power Struggle in fitting manner!
Power Struggle 2021
Shinsuke Nakamura, Tomohiro Ishii & Toru Yano vs Kazuchika Okada, Hirooki Goto & SHO
The OGs are out first, Nakamura, Ishii & Yano’s bond going back till 2009, the trio heading to the ring as a unit. Okada, Goto & SHO are out next, the Rainmaker selecting SHO from R3K to round out his group, YOH keeping a close eye from the back with Rocky Romero, who hasn’t taken either side, loyalties torn between both halves.
The CHAOS turf war comes to ahead as the action breaks down, pride and honour on the line for all 6 men. A fight between Ishii and Goto starts the match, the two multi-time NEVER Openweight Champions and former tag team partners ditching any feelings they have for each other to stand up for themselves, leading to a stiff battle between the two as they throw bombs at each other. As Yano tags in, he ditches the jokes and puts on his own valiant display, proving his competence between the ropes. SHO brings his power game to the match, the Junior hanging with the Heavyweights.
Finally, the match leads to the confrontation everyone had been clamouring for, as the IC Champ and Heavyweight Champ stare each other down for the first time since the events at Wrestle Dynasty, before getting down to an intense battle of their own, continuing the epic they had in the G1 Climax. Okada tries for a Rainmaker but misses, Nakamura doing the same with the Bomaye, the two knowing each other too well. The two cycle in and out of the ring, their teammates also mixing up with the opposing side’s leader. Eventually, after a gripping battle between the 6 men, it’s Nakamura who nails a BOMAYE on Goto to seal the deal, his men walking out victorious!
Shinsuke Nakamura, Tomohiro Ishii & Toru Yano def. Kazuchika Okada, Hirooki Goto & SHO (18:21)
Regaining some much needed momentum after the loss at KOPW, Nakamura leads the OGs to a win over their adversaries, winning the battle, but as Okada lives to fight another day, the King of Strong Style knows that the war is far from over. As for the rest of the competitors, whilst there is some tension among them, in the end of the day they’re faction-mates, and faction-mates sometimes need to fight, the 4 men leaving it up to Nakamura and Okada to settle the rest of the war, loyal to CHAOS either-way.
With Wrestle Kingdom on the horizon, Nakamura starts searching for a challenger to defend his title against, Zack Sabre Jr. stepping up, not having forgotten about how Shinsuke rolled him up to defeat him in the G1, feeling Nakamura lucked his way out, thus challenging him to a rematch, Nakamura accepting, the match taking place at the World Tag League Finals.
World Tag League Finals 2021
Shinsuke Nakamura (c) vs Zack Sabre. Jr – IWGP Intercontinental Championship
As the WTL Finals rolls around, Nakamura and ZSJ embark on a rematch from their bout earlier in the year, this time the stakes more concrete, the winner leaving as champion. As the two make their respective entrances, they get down to action, a technical clash ensuing in the early goings as the two men tussle on the mat, Sabre this time cautious with his submissions, ensuring he’s not caught off guard again with his shoulders as he takes his time to target Nakamura’s leg this time.
Sabre gives Shinsuke a tough time with his pro wrestling genius, everything he does linking back to the leg, whether it be a simple kick or an excruciation submission. A CREMATION LILY almost gets him the victory, Nakamura just barely making it to the ropes to save the match, and an ORIENTEETING WITH NAPALM DEATH drags him ever so close to the finish line but Nakamura uses his wits to escape. He tries for the Bomaye but his leg holds him up, Zack chipping away at it with kicks, but as the battle ascends to the top rope, Shinsuke plants him with an AVALANCHE LANDSLIDE, before floating into the cover! 1…2…3!
Shinsuke Nakamura (c) def. Zack Sabre Jr. to retain the IWGP Intercontinental Championship (22:02)
Another epic clash against Suzuki-Gun’s Technical Wizard sees Nakamura come away with a definitive win this time, putting ZSJ to rest as he finally is full-steam ahead for WK. On a show featuring Okada defending his Heavyweight Title against Ospreay in a rematch from Ospreay’s win the previous year, Nakamura calls for anyone to come and take his title, his call answered by Naito! After El Ingobernable defeated him in the G1, going on to just miss out on the Tokyo Dome ME just like Nakamura, he believes an IC match is in order, thus setting up a grand clash for WK as the two record 6-time IC Champs battle to see who the better champion is between them!
Wrestle Kingdom 16
Shinsuke Nakamura (c) vs Tetsuya Naito – IWGP Intercontinental Championship
The atmosphere is electric in the Dome as Naito makes his entrance first, the LIJ leader sporting his best white suit and his signature mask. Nakamura is out next, the uber-charismatic star in his red and gold jacket, IC Title on full display around his waist, Naito keeping his eyes on the prize. As the ring introductions conclude and the bell rings, the two get down to action, Nakamura’s first match in the Dome in 6 years!
Psychological warfare is the name of the game, the two wildly popular stars playing off their past matches together to craft a classic worthy of the most respected stage in wrestling. Nakamura spends the match working around Naito’s unpredictability, El Ingobernable switching up the pace of the match on a dime, trying to frustrate Nakamura. His barrage of signature strikes each find their place on Tetsuya’s body as he cuts down Naito, at times even treating him like the Naito he faced all those years ago in the G1 Finals, using it to try and hack at the ‘Tranquilo’ of Naito.
As Shinsuke grinds his foe into the mat, Naito uses the chanting of the crowd to channel a comeback, an EVOLUCION, ESPERANZA and GLORIA all connecting in quick succession, but he can’t seem to land the Destino! Nakamura finds unique counters for the move each time, one of them turned into a KNEECAP BRAINBUSTER, another seeing him being launched to the outside! Nakamura busts out a pair of BOMAYES, but Naito somehow kicks out, staying in the match! Turning another Bomaye around, he finally drills Nakamura with the DESTINO, the match finally swinging back in his favour as he nails another, only for Shinsuke to kick out too! Eventually, Naito channels the old Stardust Genius, connecting a STARDUST PRESS, before landing a SWING DESTINO, one more doing Nakamura in for the 1…2…3!
Tetsuya Naito def. Shinsuke Nakamura (c) to win the IWGP Intercontinental Championship (33:38)
Since returning to NJPW, Nakamura has suffered few losses, this being one of them, unable to overcome the El Ingobernable for a second time, leading to him finally parting with the IC Title, passing its torch onto Naito. Despite being given a standing ovation by the Tokyo Dome, Nakamura can’t help but feel a little disheartened, watching the title he built be definitively taken from him this time.
Following Nakamura’s match, in the main event of WK, Okada walks out STILL the IWGP Heavyweight Champion, paying back Ospreay in a victory that was a year overdue, but the Assassin nonetheless establishing himself as a major player for NJPW.
Coming out of WK, Nakamura is left directionless, proceeding to take a little bit of time off to recover from any pending fatigue. Upon returning later in January, the company’s on their tour leading to New Beginning, but it just so happens the Heavyweight Champion happens to be without a challenger… Appearing on one of the Road To shows, Nakamura cuts a promo, firstly congratulating Naito on his victory, before turning his attention to Okada, claiming that they have unfinished business, their heated rivalry from the previous year yet to be settled as the leadership of CHAOS hangs in the balance.
Okada comes out and confronts him face-to-face, stating that if they’re to do this, then they’ll do this right. At New Beginning in Osaka, he’ll defend his title against Nakamura, no 30-Minute Limit holding them back this time, but the forfeit is that if Nakamura loses, he must leave CHAOS! The Artist ponders over the terms set out by Okada, forced to risk losing everything he built should he fall short… but he accepts! If he can’t beat Okada, then perhaps his time in CHAOS truly is over…
New Beginning in Osaka 2022
Shinsuke Nakamura vs Kazuchika Okada (c) – IWGP Heavyweight Championship (If Nakamura loses, he must leave CHAOS)
A fully focused Nakamura marches down to the ring following the video package displaying all the past IWGP Heavyweight Champions, setting a grand tone for a match with colossal stakes. It rains Okada Dollars as the Champion is out next, the Ace confronting the King of Strong Style! Last time these two men were in Osaka-Jo Hall, it ended in a 30-minute time limit draw. But with no 30 minute pressure binding them down, it’s a true survival of the fittest between them, only the best man walking out as champion!
Unlike their last match where the pace only became frantic in the closing minutes, it’s frantic from bell to bell for Nakamura, knowing that he must pull out every last stop if he wants to keep his spot in CHAOS and prove himself the superior wrestler. Okada as Champion is on a different level to his G1 self, serving as a Final Boss throughout the match, giving Shinsuke hell using his incredible wrestling acumen. Nakamura sizes up to Okada, only to find that the Rainmaker has answers to all his moves, countering and escaping Nakamura’s onslaught in attempts of outright nullifying it.
The heart of the challenger shines through though, surviving LARIATS and TOMBSTONES, thinking on the fly to push himself with innovative counters, before channelling his inner Shibata and striking him to oblivion, roaring in the face of the champ as he tells him to ‘COME ON!’. Unfortunately for him, that means a series of RAINMAKERS, each one knocking Nakamura down to the mat in even rougher fashion, yet the King of Strong Style gets back up on jelly legs, undying spirit and will to remain in CHAOS and lead them back to their heights under him fuelling him to keep going, even rocking Okada with BOMAYES, one to the back of the head, one from the ropes, one to the face, but as he calls for one last one, Okada grabs his wrist and turns him inside-out with a LETHAL RAINMAKER! 1…2…3!
Kazuchika Okada (c) def. Shinsuke Nakamura to retain the IWGP Heavyweight Championship (38:24)
That’s… it. Nakamura couldn’t kick out. He couldn’t keep his spot in CHAOS. He was conquered by the Ace… Just like the scene at Wrestle Dynasty, Okada leaves Nakamura laying on the mat, the King of Strong Style slowly regaining his bearings and sitting himself up to realise all he worked for is gone – no title, no faction. Okada proved himself to be the true Leader of CHAOS, 6 years changing a lot in the man Okada has become, whilst Nakamura is left a shell of his former self…
In the fallout of his crushing loss to Okada, Nakamura takes time month off to rejuvenate himself and think over his next moves, the King left on his own. After a month of silence, news finally comes out on Shinsuke’s return, an Open Challenge set for the Anniversary Show against whoever so pleases to face him.
50th Anniversary Show
After wrestling in front of a capacity crowd of over 10,000 fans, Nakamura’s return is a little more low-key to give him a chance to ease back into competition, the 4000 capacity Ota City General Gymnasium hosting his Open Challenge. As his music hits and he comes out to the ring, it’s clear from his mannerisms that he’s a different man from the one that stepped into Osaka one month ago, the loss to Okada crushing him more than any other loss he’s taken.
But alas, he’s here to wrestle, thus waiting in the ring for anyone to step up. A while passes but no one comes out, further eating away at Nakamura, thinking for a moment that perhaps he’s washed-up, only for a familiar tune to ring through the arena causing the fans to go ballistic, HIROSHI TANAHASHI making his way out! You can’t celebrate 50 years without the man that carried the company on his back for years upon end now, can you, and with none other than the man he lost to at Dominion offering a match, Tanahashi eagerly accepts!
Shinsuke Nakamura vs Hiroshi Tanahashi
With the Ace of the Universe stepping into the ring, the bell rings and the two start off with a slow lock-up sequence, only for Tanahashi to easily overpower Nakamura, giving him a light slap on the side of the face in the ropes. Nakamura doesn’t respond to it at all, instead locking up again, only for Tana to outclass him easily once again, pushing around his rival with ease. Unsatisfied by Nakamura’s lack of fighting spirit, Hiroshi rallies the Artist, trying to fire him with a chop to the chest, Nakamura responding with a knee, only to get blistered with more chops, unable to get his guard up timely to protect! Starting to get frustrated by Nakamura now, Tanahashi yells at him to fight, Shinsuke staring at him blanky, only to get blasted with a DRAGON-SHIKI HARITE!
The slap to the face resonates about Nakamura, leaving a ringing sensation in his ear, but it seems to do the trick after Nakamura comes back with aggression, giving Tanahashi the fight he came for! The two wrestle a gripping back-and-forth match, momentum see-sawing between the competitors, both men getting close to landing their finishers, a Bomaye countered with a SLING BLADE, and a High Fly Flow gunned down by a FLYING KNEE STRIKE! Eventually though, as Nakamura tries to rally to connect the Bomaye, he’s stopped mid-way by a REBOUND HIGH FLY FLOW, before Tanahashi heads up top, landing one to a standing Nakamura, a third ensuing to a downed foe, hooking the leg! 1…2…3!
Hiroshi Tanahashi def. Shinsuke Nakamura (16:15)
In a fun attraction match, Tanahashi redeems his loss from Dominion, putting Nakamura down for the count, before helping him back to his feet and raising his arm, showing respect for his rival. Patting him on the back, Tanahashi heads off to the back, slapping hands with fans whilst Nakamura is left alone with another loss…
New Japan Cup 2022 – Opening Round
Shinsuke Nakamura vs Chris Hero
Feeling what he’s missing is some stakes on his path back to the top, Nakamura enters his name into the NJC, looking to top his performance from the previous year and win the whole thing, his opponent in the opening round happening to be none other than a debuting Chris Hero! After spending some time in independent promotions following leaving WWE, the Knockout Artist has finally made his way to the Land of the Rising Sun!
The two get into an entertaining Strong Style match, the two competitors well-versed in their striking games, proceeding to hammer each other with blows, Hero treating Nakamura to a wide variety of elbows, whilst Nakamura returns the favour with knees, the two pointed joints jabbing into the other! A Shining Wizard attempt is cut short by a CYCLONE KILL, Hero smothering Nakamura with chops in the corner, only to eat a knee to the jaw, Nakamura setting up for the BOMAYE, only for Hero to nail a ROLLING ELBOW, a PILEDRIVER finishing off the King of Strong Style, Shinsuke eliminated in only the First Round!
Chris Hero def. Shinsuke Nakamura (15:32)
As Nakamura hauls himself up using the ropes after the match, Suzuki-Gun’s theme hits, the bruising collective surrounding the ring as Nakamura is left a sitting duck! Despite being outnumbered, he’s ready to fight, Hero standing by his side to provide back-up, but as Shinsuke steps forward, inviting the challenge, HERO DROPS HIM WITH A DEATH BLOW! SG spill into the ring, the faction tearing Nakamura to pieces, Hero joining in!
As Suzuki steps forward to lock Shinsuke in a Rear Naked, having lead the attack due to SG’s issues with Nakamura over the past year, from being eliminated from the NJC to losing G1 bouts to him, the group wanting revenge, TANAHASHI RUNS OUT FROM THE BACK! Brandishing a steel chair, the Ace of the Universe sends SG packing, clearing the ring of them, before coming face-to-face with a fearless Suzuki, the two sharing a tense stare for a moment before Suzuki decides to fall back too, letting Nakamura live to fight another day as Tanahashi helps him up, aiding him to the back as he’s given medical attention.
As a result of the assault from SG, Nakamura is baying for revenge, thus setting up a tag team match for Sakura Genesis, pitting Nakamura and Tanahashi against Suzuki and Hero!
Sakura Genesis 2022
Shinsuke Nakamura & Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Suzuki-Gun (Minoru Suzuki & Chris Hero)
Having ran into his own fair share of issues with SG in the past, Tana heads to the ring alongside Nakamura, the two men rivals yet Tana still willing to help the Artist out, not wanting to see him get torn to shreds like he was by SG. Suzuki and Hero are out next, the two looking more indomitable than ever as they stand next to each other.
The match gets underway, Tanahashi leading the charge for his side and carrying the bulk of the match as Nakamura watches on from the apron, knocking Hero back using his power and agility, before facing off against Suzuki as he tags in, the two reigning the fires of their brutal matches from the past, Hiroshi eventually running low on steam as SG conduct a 2-on-1 beatdown on the legend, prompting Nakamura to fire up and get the hot tag, taking the fight back to Suzuki & Hero, channelling his inner King of Strong Style, but even so, his embers are soon extinguished as Tana is in no state to be tagged back in, allowing Hero to nail the ROLLING ELBOW, before Suzuki traps him in the REAR NAKED CHOKE, causing his to pass out!
Suzuki-Gun (Minoru Suzuki & Chris Hero) def. Shinsuke Nakamura & Hiroshi Tanahashi (18:05)
Even with Tanahashi’s assistance, there’s little hope for Nakamura, losing yet another match, this time falling at the hands of SG. As he helps Tana to the back this time, the High-Flying Star having suffered a lot of punishment throughout the match, Nakamura comes ablaze, seething that he won’t let SG get away with desecrating the two of their names.
Tanahashi tells him to calm down, concerned that Nakamura will only go out there and walk back even more broken, Shinsuke snaps back, saying that he can’t keep running, he must take his challenges head on, prompting a grin from Tana, who accepts the offer to help out. As a result, a match is set up for Wrestling Hinokuni, putting Nakamura and Tanahashi against Dangerous Tekkers!
Wrestling Hinokuni 2022
Shinsuke Nakamura & Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Dangerous Tekkers (Zack Sabre Jr. & Taichi)
Heading into this match with a hot-head and a desire to take down SG one by one as payback, he teams up with Tana to take on the duo of Sabre & Taichi! Being the more experienced team, Dangerous Tekkers give their adversaries a tough battle in the early goings, focusing their assault on Nakamura, but resilient, he stays in the fight, turning the tide around with a streak of kicks and knees, before tagging in Tana to run wild! A HOLY ZACK DRIVER almost gives DT the sudden win, but a HIGH FLY FLOW/BOMAYE combo to Taichi grants Naka & Tana the victory, Shinsuke finally winning his first match since NB!
Shinsuke Nakamura & Hiroshi Tanahashi def. Dangerous Tekkers (Zack Sabre Jr. & Taichi) (15:30)
Wrestling Dontaku 2022 – Night One
Shinsuke Nakamura vs Chris Hero
Moving onto Wrestling Dontaku, Nakamura takes on Hero in a rematch from their NJC match, Hero initially controlling the pace of the match being the more experienced wrestler of the two, utilising his mat game to hold down his foe, before cinching in a HANGMAN’S CLUTCH, only for Nakamura to fight back, using the ropes to break free and rattle Hero with stiff strikes! A ROLLING ELBOW attempt falls short this time as Shinsuke counters into a CROSS ARMBREAKER, neutralising Hero’s most important form of offense, before taking him down with a REAR BOMAYE, a front-facing BOMAYE following for the 1…2…3!
Shinsuke Nakamura def. Chris Hero (19:35)
Wrestling Dontaku 2022 – Night Two
Shinsuke Nakamura vs Minoru Suzuki – Texas Deathmatch
With victories over Sabre, Taichi and Hero, there’s only one more person to face for Nakamura and that’s Suzuki! However, it’s not any old match between them, Suzuki calling for the rules to be thrown out of the window as the two settle their personal grudge, a TEXAS DEATHMATCH ensuing! Taking full advantage of their surroundings, the two brawl all throughout the arena, using chairs, tables and whatever other weapons they can get their hands on!
Spots like a chair-assisted KIMURA LOCK from Suzuki, a BOMAYE driving a chair into Suzuki’s skull from Nakamura and Suzuki tossing Shinsuke down a flight of stairs, the action boils down to its finale, a table set up at ringside with both Nakamura and Suzuki slugging it out on the apron! Suzuki calls for a Gotch-Style Piledriver through it, only for Shinsuke to fight out, nailing him with a BOMAYE, before hoisting him up onto his shoulders for a LANDSLIDE THROUGH THE TABLE! Keeping himself upright using the ropes, Nakamura watches as the referee counts to 10, the King of Strong Style officially declared the winner!
Shinsuke Nakamura def. Minoru Suzuki (22:11)
With his feud with Suzuki-Gun finally coming to a close, Nakamura has finally found himself again, going from a series of back-to-back losses starting from WK to finally vanquishing Suzuki, but before he can make any new moves, there’s still one more score he has to settle before he can truly be back. Cue Tetsuya Naito making his way out, doing his ‘Abre los Ojos’ taunt as he stares down Nakamura, setting up the confrontation for Dominion!
Dominion 6.12 2022
Shinsuke Nakamura vs Tetsuya Naito
After losing twice against Naito since returning, once in the G1 and then once at Wrestle Kingdom, the second being the beginning of his losing streak that carried into May, he looks to finally get back at Naito en route to challenging for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship again, and with Naito’s sights also set on the title after dropping the IC Title earlier in the year, the two head down to the ring for one more match!
Whilst Nakamura played the aggressor in their past two matches, it’s Naito who takes control this time, having been on a momentum-filled run as of late, taking down top star after top star. He handles Shinsuke with nonchalance, yet still giving him a fight to remember, running through the motions to keep him down, only for Nakamura to fight back, reversing the momentum to play in his favour as he tears through Naito’s gameplan, turning his moves against him and even busting out a DESTINO of his own! As El Ingobernable races at him, Shinsuke nails a BOMAYE straight to his face, before going for seconds, both landing with pinpoint precision, Nakamura rolling over into the cover! 1…2…3!
Shinsuke Nakamura def. Tetsuya Naito (27:47)
The curse of losing to Naito has come to an end, the King of Strong Style finally a rejuvenated man, planting his own feet firmly beneath himself, ready to confront the demons that have haunted him for majority of the year!
Whilst Nakamura’s year went down the drain for the most part until he successfully turned it around, Kazuchika Okada has been untouchable in his reign as IWGP Heavyweight Champion, the Ace blowing past challenger after challenger, approaching 8 months with the title as the G1 draws near, but there happens to be one more stop on his road to the annual gruelling tournament, and it happens to be Wrestle Dynasty, and who better to challenge him for the title than… Shinsuke Nakamura!
Nakamura cuts a promo about how ever since losing to Okada, he felt like he lost a part of himself, going down a dark path filled with losses, before Tanahashi came to his aid and showed him the light once more. Okada’s been running roughshod on anyone and everyone who’s crossed him, CHAOS back to full strength with the Ace on top, but even so, he can’t let his story end like this, being the man Okada beat and threw out of his own faction.That’s why he wants the IWGP Heavyweight Championship, challenging Okada to one more match for Dynasty, almost one year on from the incident of Okada turning on Nakamura! Amused by Shinsuke’s challenge, Okada accepts, no one able to defeat him, knowing he can put down Nakamura a second time if need be.
Wrestle Dynasty 2022
Shinsuke Nakamura vs Kazuchika Okada (c) – IWGP Heavyweight Championship
The stakes may not be as high as New Beginning, Nakamura with nothing to lose as he faces Okada for a third time, but it’s perhaps the most important one to Nakamura, believing that if he loses this one too, then it’s clear as day that he just doesn’t cut it as Heavyweight Champ again. Keeping that in mind, Nakamura strides into this match with ambition like no other, Okada coming out in the same gear as NB, playing mind games with Nakamura.
As the bell rings, the third Nakamura/Okada match over the past year ensues, the record currently 1 win to Okada, with a draw on the board too. Much like NB, Okada keeps control in the beginning, looking for a repeat of their match from then, and for a while it seems like the match is set to go down that route, only for Nakamura to retaliate with his own array of moves, something starting to become clear in his fight that’s different since their previous match. Whilst Okada hasn’t changed, remaining the dominant competitor he is with the same gear, Nakamura is the complete opposite, changing drastically over the past few months, an even stronger will to succeed driving him on.
Okada looks to turn his lights out with a RAINMAKER, only for Nakamura to counter with a LUNGBLOWER! As Okada goes to the well again, this time it’s countered by a CROSS ARMBREAKER! Whilst a third time meets its mark, Nakamura kicks out, getting back to his feet for more, only this time it’s not Rainmakers being thrown, Okada on the receiving end of BOMAYES! In an intense closing sequence, Nakamura pays tribute to Shibata with a HEADBUTT, before giving a nod to Tanahashi with a HIGH FLY FLOW! With Okada in position, Nakamura lets out a ‘YEAOH’, filled with every emotion he’s experienced since returning to NJPW, before blasting Okada with a BOMAYE! 1…2…3!
Shinsuke Nakamura def. Kazuchika Okada (c) to win the IWGP Heavyweight Championship (45:36)
HE’S DONE IT! After 12 years, Nakamura is Heavyweight Champion again, defeating CHAOS’s Leader after an absolute classic to do so! Showered with adulation and a golden tickertape, Nakamura poses on the top turnbuckle with his gold, finally conquering his demons!
Leuku's Discussion on Innovative Homebrew Class Design Part 1 - Sequel to my Guide on Balancing (and Judging the Balance of) Homebrew Classes
Leuku's Discussion on Innovative Homebrew Class DesignHello, my name is Leuku, and this is the much-too-long delayed sequel to my prior article, “Guide to Balancing (and Judging the Balance of) Homebrew Classes”. Today’s article is a discussion on design creativity in 5e homebrew class mechanics. This is a discussion as opposed to a guide because creativity has even fewer, if at all, identifiable objective rules or limitations. We can compare and contrast damage numbers, but not whether it is better (or worse) to be parasitically infested by an eldritch octopus or an interspecies child of one.
In the following discussion, I will:
|A)||Make a distinction between homebrew class feature design that is driven by Mechanics versus Narrative|
|B)||Expand on Narrative and its core components: Lore, Story, and Tone|
|C)||Expand on Mechanics and its different forms: the Poached, the Composite, and the Unexplored|
|D)||Unintentionally create a Random Mechanic Generator|
|E)||Provide meaningful perspectives from my homebrewing peers|
DefinitionsMechanics: “The aspects of a feature that enables or improves a class’ ability to tangibly influence or resist the influence from the world around them” Narrative: “the aspect of a feature that informs or expands upon the lore, story, or visual of the class” Mechanics-driven class design: “feature design that focuses on how it functions mechanically before its narrative is considered.” Narrative-driven class design: "feature design where the lore and visuals produced by the theme inform the designer about what the mechanical result should include or resemble when finished." Spirit of 5e: Utilization of the Advantage/Disadvantage system wherever possible; respect for Bounded Accuracy and AC; and the avoidance of small, static, stacking, temporary, conditional modifiers.
Mechanics vs NarrativeTo acknowledge the elephant in the room, there is no truly meaningful barrier between Mechanics-driven and Narrative-driven. Tendencies towards one or the other do exist, and I am an example of someone who resides primarily in the Mechanics-driven side of the venn diagram, but my real purpose behind making such a distinction is to give this article a kind of structure or template to follow. As I progress down these concepts, please be sure to keep in mind that neither method is inherently superior nor inferior to the other.
Mechanics-drivenMechanics-driven features are often expressed in two ways: Either A) the coopting of an existing mechanic from an existing source, or B) the creation of a mechanic that is not or under-utilized by existing content. An example of the former case is a homebrew class that incorporates the Rogue’s Sneak Attack class feature, either wholesale or with a variant, because the homebrewer feels that, besides Sneak Attack, the Rogue class chassis is inadequate or ill-fitting for their homebrew needs. An example of the latter would be the creation of a psychic power-based class independent of spellcasting, such as the UA Mystic. Regardless of their expressions, Mechanics-driven features prioritize the functionality of the mechanic before Narrative is considered.
Innovative MechanicsInnovative Mechanics-driven features generally follow two paths: Either A) twisting or adding a new element to a coopted mechanic from a different source to create a new expression of that mechanic, or B) the creation of an entirely new mechanic that is not bogged down by excessive complexity. The italicized clause is in reference to the risk of creating a mechanic that forgets the players and DMs who will have to interact with it. A new mechanic that utilized a base 8 numerology and incorporated the use of a joystick controller would certainly be unprecedented, but it would likely be unplayable to most groups. This does not mean that you should be afraid of complex features, but rather that you should always keep in mind how much time and effort you expect DMs and players to take executing your class round by round.
Another pitfall to consider regarding Mechanics-driven features is that absent a unifying theme, sets of mechanics may lose association with one another. This may break a player’s immersion in the class as they question the relationship between the ability to shout a dragon down to its knees and the ability to eat all 87 wheels of cheese using an Action. When mechanics are created in a vacuum, they might be balanced, but they might not make sense.
Narrative-drivenMeanwhile, Narrative-driven features first flow from the imagination. Mechanics are then picked and designed with the intention of recreating that imagination in an actionable form. This often results in the combination of mechanics that would not normally be associated. For example, the ability to defy gravity while riding an undead steed would not normally be associated with the ability to judge a person’s soul and burn them from within with the weight of their sins, but a class informed by the narrative of the Ghost Rider would create that association.
The immediate difficulty with this method is finding the right mechanics that not only adequately execute your imagined concept, but are also balanced with existing mechanics at similar levels. Due to the leveling nature of player character growth, you can’t get everything you want immediately without making trouble for your DM and party. You might not be able to achieve an accurate reflection of your imagined character until the highest levels, where few campaigns go on for long.
Another issue is that your idea might not be executable within the framework that 5e provides. You might want to homebrew a class based on Dark Souls, but you wouldn’t be able to adequately express Dark Souls’ essential dodge-rolling and parry mechanics into a balanced form due to 5e’s turn-based encounter system. Consequently, in an effort to ease the difficulty of developing new and balanced mechanics, a Narrative-driven homebrew class has the tendency of poaching features from existing classes and assuming that such an amalgamation might be balanced because each individual feature already exists.
It’s not too uncommon to come across a homebrew class that has both Extra Attack and the Rogue’s Sneak Attack, or the Fighter’s three Extra Attacks and a fullcaster’s spellcasting, due to such a build matching the depiction of a character from a different media. For example, a fully realized Batman class would have the strength and endurance of a Fighter, the martial skill of a Monk, the stealth and deadliness of a Rogue, the utility belt of a Tinkerer, and the investigative intelligence of a Scholar. Attempts to recreate Batman within the 5e system tend to focus only on one or two of those things, due to the inherent limits 5e places on PC power.
Innovative NarrativeInnovative Narrative-driven features find the best combination of existing mechanics that may not normally be associated with one another or create new mechanics that retain the spirit of 5e to express the exact flavor the homebrewer is looking, all while maintaining relative balance. For me, the spirit of 5e means the following: Utilization of the Advantage/Disadvantage system wherever possible; respect for Bounded Accuracy and AC; and the avoidance of small, static, stacking, temporary, conditional modifiers.
Lore, Story, and ToneHaving etched these principles into our brains, let’s consider Narrative more in-depth. Imagine if Narrative could be reduced to the following component parts: Lore, Story, and Tone. In brief terms, Lore covers history and facts, known and hidden, that set the grounding for all events that transpire. It is the circumstances and parameters that set the stage for the comings and goings of heroes and villains alike. Story is the conflict that drives the motivation for change and growth. It is what compels individuals to act, to adventure. Tone is sensation, what you see, hear, feel, even smell when you think about the class and any of its particular abilities. These aspects tie the class into a cohesive whole and set the degree of verisimilitude or immersion that a DM and player must accept. If Mechanics are a class’ bones and muscles, then Narrative gives it its brain and heart.
LoreWhen it comes to Lore, I’m generally the wrong person to ask, as I tend to create the lore that I need to justify mechanics rather than have lore help inform me of the mechanics I need. Further, I have never intentionally utilized the lore from any established DnD setting such as the Forgotten Realms, Eberron, or Spelljammer. On this subject I defer to more grounded individuals:
Some classes and races are more well suited to a particular approach than others. Classes that are defined according to existing groups; orders, schools, traditions, carry with them an implicit amount of lore that is inserted into the world when the class or subclass is permitted. Others carry no implicit information of the world, only about the character. Integrating the lore of a homebrew into a characters roleplay can be a challenge in either approach." - @Ashley (Discord of Many Things) paraphrased
StoryStory is conflict. Born from trauma (forces beyond our control) and desire (intent from within), story is the retelling of our endeavors to overcome the obstacles found in our paths. The PHB Sorcerer is a good example of a class with an inherent trauma, in that a typical sorcerer did not get to choose to be born with a magical bloodline. A Warlock meanwhile typically chooses their otherworldly patron likely out of a desire for the power to acquire or accomplish something. They each carry clear implications of story that inspire the call to adventure. When crafting the Narrative for your class, consider from which type of conflict your class may be born from. It could be a combination of both.
For example, if you were designing a class that allows you to transform into an eldritch octopus as its primary feature, you might consider that a person adopted this class because in their childhood their village was destroyed by an army of eldritch octopuses (trauma), and then a treacherous octopus deserter came to offer the survivors power (desire) in the form of an eldritch symbiotic parasitism. This Narrative gives me ideas for features based on embracing or resisting the octopus parasite’s will, giving you different benefits depending on your choice. Maybe there are different types of octopuses among the deserters and each offers different powers. Maybe as you gain levels you attract other eldritch octopuses and absorb their powers. Ideas galore can be born from an enthralling story!
Word of CautionThe most popular class to homebrew is likely the illusive Arcane INT-based Halfcaster. Popular due to the void between the Paladin and the Ranger wanting filling. Illusive in that few attempts have measured up as both mechanically satisfying and narratively compelling. There are several reasons for this. 1). It is difficult to find an engaging yet balanced alternative competitor to the Paladin’s Divine Smite, the key highlight Halfcaster feature that marries weapon-use with spell slot spellcasting. 2). They are almost invariably Narratively bland due to it being a Mechanics-driven reason for homebrewing one (their Narratives tend to boil down to “Magic Soldier Who Does War”). 3), as a result of (1) and (2), they tend to poach existing mechanics (Weapon Bond, arcane variant smite, Fighting Styles) for primary features rather than innovate truly interesting ones. A Narrative-driven origin may be the key that unlocks the secret to a captivating Arcane INT-based Halfcaster.
ToneLastly, Tone sets the boundaries of immersion. It helps inspire particular behavior from players and has DMs adjudicate the class’ plausibility within the Tones of their campaigns. Consider that my Eldritch Octopus Parasite class carries a Tone of high fantasy, dark horror edginess, and ridiculousness, which might inspire players to argue with their parasite voiced by their DM and might easily find a home in a Cthulu mythos campaign, but not as much in a palace intrigue. Tone helps set the class’ appeal and the range of their expected behavior.
For example, the Paladin and its Oaths’ Tenets set a Tone of rigid adherence to defined principles, and mechanics like Lay on Hands and Divine Smite set a Tone of a duality between mercy and righteous punishment. Tone also helps set the bounds of what kind of mechanics you might develop for your class. A Magical Girl homebrew class might have more tongue-in-cheek features, such as lavish transformation sequences and dramatic entrance bonuses, whereas a Mistborn-inspired homebrew class is more likely to treat its features a bit more soberly (FYI, I totally brewed a Mistborn class; please look forward to it.)
Capturing Tone is an effort to create a clear vision through your class features in order to engage and excite the DM and the player. It is to give them a feeling of what they might be capable of, what they look and sound like when they’re at their best. Imagining a Tone is to picture an image, perhaps of...
Wind billowing through your hair the tips of which leaving trails of blackened smoke, an acrid scent sending your nostrils arching at the jagged spires of violet glass protruding from the palm of your hand, as you cleave the space between you and the charging knights causing motes of light to flower on each of their bodies, sending them dangling suspended in the air, their cries of frustration sending shockwaves up your sinewy back, steadily filling the meter within your head upon completion you know will help you end this once and for all…Executing that Tone is to translate that image into flavor text (descriptive exposition, quotes from NPCs) and mechanics, enabling that image to be both imagined and actualized in play.
You have successfully transmitted a good Tone when a DM and player looking for the kind of class you’ve made feel excited and inspired by what they read. A strong Tone helps expand imagination on the core concept of the class. A Tone might be weak when the features feel dissociated with one another and the introductory text does not match with what the mechanics enable. Or perhaps the image of the class is muddled and difficult to imagine due to a lack of or confusing flavor text. In this matter, art helps. Though not a required aspect of good quality homebrew, found or commissioned art pieces can help create immediate creative associations.
Crediting ArtistsIf you plan to add art assets to your homebrew documents and publish them online for the world to see, then please credit the artist by naming them (and ideally providing a link to where you found their work). Please make certain that you find the original artist and not someone who has simply rehosted the art. If you cannot find the artist, use a different piece of art whose origin you can confirm. Artists differ on their opinions regarding the importance of being asked permission before any of their art is used for non-commercial projects, but ideally you do ask for their permission, and if you’re not willing or capable of asking, then properly crediting them is the bare minimum requirement.
Crediting can be done simply by either adding some text next to the image like “- Dreadful Squid by Octometrist101 or by gathering all art credits onto the last page of the document and placing them together with page number references, like so:
Art CreditsCover Page – Octobrists by Kouta Hirano Page 1 – Octolings by Toru Minegishi Page 3 – Octopussy by Ian Flemming Page 6...
MechanicsNow that we’ve covered Narrative, let’s go back to the nitty-gritty of my speciality, Mechanics. I’m going to identify several categories of Mechanics. When attempting to come up with Innovative Mechanics, try to keep these categories in mind as both sources of inspiration and boundaries to consider. They are the Poached, the Composite, and the Unexplored.
The PoachedA poached feature is one that repeats or replicates an existing feature or ability, and is the most common form of homebrew class mechanics. There is nothing inherently wrong with poaching a feature, but there are several Mechanical and Narrative implications to keep in mind as well as significant pitfalls to avoid.
The question to ask yourself when considering poaching a feature is, “Is my class going to feel and play distinctly enough from other classes if I poach this feature?” For example, say you want to make a Ninja homebrew, but you feel that the Rogue’s subclass system is too restricting. You take the Rogue’s Sneak Attack, Uncanny Dodge, and Evasion because they fit a Ninja so well, and then drop everything else, designing new Ninja-based mechanics to fill in the gaps. Even if you have features that allow you to make ninja traps and run with your arms straight behind you, will this homebrew feel sufficiently distinct from a Rogue with a Ninja-inspired subclass? Poaching makes making a homebrew class easy, but making it good difficult.
There are a small handful of features one can poach with little worry. The features that qualify do so because they appear multiple times throughout official published classes, meaning that they, as far as WOTC is concerned, do not retain exclusive relationships with their host classes. These features are: Spellcasting, Extra Attack (1), Fighting Styles, and Evasion. To a lesser extent, some other features are easily poachable due either to their appearance in two classes or the extent of their generic-ness, but often require at least a little more effort to justify, e.g. Arcane Recovery and Extra Attack (2). This is not the end of the list of poachable features, but rather the start of a list of features that are the least concerning when considering Mechanical and Narrative Innovation. Bear in mind that poaching a feature is generally the least innovative in feature design; however, it doesn’t have to be.
Two Types of PoachingThere are generally two approaches to poaching: Wholesale and Tweak. Wholesale is taking a feature whole with no alterations, e.g. Spellcasting, Fighting Styles, or Evasion. To tweak is to take an existing ability and alter it in some way. Wholesale speaks for itself, so let us consider tweaking more in-depth.
TweaksA tweak is any poached ability that alters the means by which you would A) gain access to, B) activate, or C) utilize it. Perhaps the most common example of a tweak is any feature that says something along the lines of, “You gain the ability to cast ___ spell…”, followed by some determination of frequency such as “at-will” or “once between short or long rests”. Such a feature is typically reserved for a class that wouldn’t normally have access to such a spell. Several races and creatures have this ability through Innate Spellcasting. Several Warlock Invocations grant this type of tweak as well. This degree of tweaked poaching is likely due to the fact that there are simply so many spells that create so many distinct effects that it is more efficient to simply replicate the effects of an existing spell (such as it is for the 9th level Wish spell) than it is to create an entirely unique feature organically. Do not be afraid to utilize a tweak like this, as simply plucking an existing spell or ability may be the most appropriate for your homebrew class. However, bear in mind that the more tweaks you utilize, the closer your class may end up feeling to existing options.
Strong Narrative implications can help make tweaks more personal, and thus more unique, to your homebrew. For example, a Channel Divinity I recently designed for a silly It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia-inspired Paladin subclass was simply poaching the Enlarge/Reduce spell. I could have ended it there, but I decided to restrict the spell’s use to only the Enlarge function in reference to the subclass’ subject TV show character being obsessed with becoming larger physically. The stronger your Narrative, the easier it will be to personalize your tweaks.
Activation TweaksAn example of an official mechanic that tweaks the activation method of a spell is the Warcaster feat. When a creature provokes an opportunity attack from you, it allows you to cast a 1 Action, single target spell at the creature instead of a melee weapon attack. An Activation Tweak (or in this case “deactivation”) I might homebrew could be something along the lines of “While raging, you may as a bonus action end your rage early. If you do so, the next time you hit with a weapon attack you deal additional damage equal to 2 x your Barbarian level”. This is not to suggest that this is in any way a good homebrew mechanic, but rather just an example of an Activation Tweak off the top of my head.
Utilization TweaksA Utilization Tweak alters the ways in which a mechanic would traditionally be used. An example of an official mechanic that does this is the Warlock’s Pact of the Chain, which alters your choice in a familiar as well as how it can be commanded. A Utilization Tweak that I’ve homebrewed involves Paladin-like auras that, instead of having an always-on passive benefit, only grants a benefit when you use your Reaction in response to a specific trigger.
In general, I strongly discourage poaching primary features from classes, such as the Rogue’s Sneak Attack or the Druid’s Wildshape, without extensive, dramatic tweaks. There is want of a Shapeshifter class that functions without fullcasting, so it is not uncommon to see one with the Druid’s Wildshape feature and nothing else from the Druid. From a basic mechanical balance point, obviously a Shapeshifter’s Wildshape will need to be changed to make up for the lack of fullcasting. But just as important will be tweaks that change how it feels and plays, such as at-will basic transformations for minimum combat competency, a list of evolutions that temporarily or permanently augment yourself or your transformations, and so on.
Subclass to Class PoachingHowever, I will argue that there is significant room for poaching features from subclasses and then tweaking them into primary features for your homebrew classes. I have done this for a couple of my homebrew classes. The Forge Cleric’s Channel Divinity gave me the core mechanic I required to complete my Tinkerer’s Construction feature in an elegant way. I am presently developing a “soul-infused half-caster summoner” class that utilizes a tweaked version of the Abjuration Wizard’s Arcane Ward. I believe there is room for such poaching because A) at least with regard to many fullcaster subclasses, Spellcasting is a fullcaster’s primary source of power and so its subclass features tend to take a back seat, and B) because they are subclass features, they cannot be expanded upon by the base class and consequently often have much of their potential restricted. With sufficient tweaks born from a strong narrative, I believe subclass features can be utilized to form the backbones of many homebrew classes.
The CompositeA Composite feature is a mechanic that is composed of several parts of existing mechanics, taking the old and making it new through inventive combination. This can be differentiated from a Tweaked mechanic by the degree with which it is difficult to identify a comparative parallel between a Composite feature and any existing mechanic. It may be easy to identify where its component parts come from, but judging the resultant Composite by them will give you an incomplete picture of its place and function in the class. An increasingly Tweaked feature may eventually turn into a Composite.
An official example of a Composite feature is the Barbarian’s Rage. It is a feature composed of many familiar, individual parts. The advantage on Strength ability checks is reminiscent of Bull’s Strength from the spell enhance ability, the static bonus to damage is similar to the Dueling fighting style, and resistance to bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing damage reminds one of the blade ward cantrip or the stoneskin spell. Packaged together, the Barbarian’s Rage is so distinct and different from anything else we’ve seen before that it’s not even right to claim that Rage poached its individual parts from anywhere; perhaps the things I mentioned poached from Rage instead.
Composite AssociationThe key to a Narratively strong Composite is association, association meaning “the narrative relation between mechanics, and how the mechanics reinforce that relationship.” How does one mechanic relate to another? In homebrew, I often see a bag of mechanics being handed to a class/subclass under the banner of a single feature, but there being little interaction or connection between the mechanics. For example, a darkness themed subclass to the Ranger might at 3rd level grant darkvision to 60 feet, additional 2d8 radiant (moon) damage on the first attack made in an encounter when it is nighttime, and knowing which phase the moon is in at all times. These are all appropriately themed mechanic, but beyond a vague “I am the Night” vibe, they don’t really interact with one another nor is the image this subclass trying to portray notably clear. This isn’t to suggest that this is a bad bag of mechanics, but rather that perhaps with little more effort it can be made better.
Universal Mechanics ListMore meaningfully, there is a set of universal mechanics that are class agnostic and form the basis of all class mechanics. That set includes, but may not be limited to:
- Proficiency with a weapon, armor, a skill, a saving throw, a tool
- Double proficiency with a skill, an ability check under certain conditions, a tool
- Advantage/disadvantage on an attack roll, an ability check, a saving throw
- Resistance/Immunity to one or more damage types
- Additional/subtractional dice on an attack roll, damage roll, ability check, saving throw, AC, and hit points lost/regained
- A static modifier bonus/penalty to an attack roll, damage roll, ability check, saving throw, AC, save DC, ability score, and hit points lost/regained
- Rerolling an attack roll, damage roll, ability check, or saving throw, keeping the second result
- An increase or reduction to maximum hit points/movement speed/range/duration
- A substitution for an ability score in an attack roll, damage roll, ability check, saving throw, or for determining AC or a save DC
- A static substitution for an attack roll, damage roll, ability check, saving throw, AC, a save DC, or hit points regained.
- Grant/Deny an Action, Bonus Action, Reaction, movement, traits, or spellcasting
- Apply/remove a Condition
- Substitute action required for an ability with a different kind of action
- The identification/location/creation/relocation of an object or creature
- Add/subtract number of targets/components required
Generating a Random MechanicIf I have forgotten any, please tell me in the comments and I’ll add them to the list. As an exercise in hilarity, let’s try coming up with a new feature for my Eldritch Octopus Horror class by randomly choosing 3 options from this list by rolling a d20 3 times, ignoring any results above 15. Lessee, I got a 9, an 8, and a 1. That gives us the following:
9) A substitution for an ability score in an attack roll, damage roll, ability check, saving throw, or for determining AC or a save DC 8) An increase or reduction to maximum hit points/movement speed/range/duration 1) Proficiency with a weapon, armor, a skill, a saving throw, a tool
Random Mechanic Generation Cont.Each item here has subdivisions, so let’s roll a d6 for #9, Evens or Odds and a d4 for #8, and a d6 rerolling 6s for #1. For #9, I got a 6. For #8, I got Evens and a 2. For #1, I got a 2. This leaves us with:
- #9 A substitution for determining a save DC
- #8 An increase to movement speed
- #1 Proficiency in an armor
My Eldritch Octopus Horror class does not seem like a class that would have any armor proficiency, so let’s go from no armor proficiency to light armor. Thinking of octopi with armor led me to googling armored octopus, which led me to a remarkable video. And I’m like, “Hot damn! Let’s do that!”
Alright, got all of the mechanics, more or less. Remember, the point is to use these mechanics for inspiration rather than rigidly adhering to them.
Armored EscapeAt X level, while wearing no armor, you can spend 1 minute donning random objects onto your body by sticking them to your protruding sucker cups. You must have sufficient object surface area to cover a significant portion of your body. You are considered proficient in this improvised armor. While wearing it, you can calculate your AC as if you were wearing studded leather armor and when you are hit by a melee weapon attack, you can as a reaction choose to dismantle and discard the armor. When you do so, the attacking creature must make a Strength saving throw against a DC equal to 8 + your Proficiency Bonus + your Dexterity modifier, halving the damage of their attack on a success or dealing no damage on a failure. Additionally, your speed is doubled until the end of your next turn, and you can move up to your speed away from the attacking creature without triggering opportunity attacks.
Made evident by example, the best Composites will be those informed by the class’ Narrative. In fact, a good Composite may only make sense in the light of a vivid Narrative. Note the high degree of association between the mechanics; they are all interrelated and dependent on one another. You don’t have to create such a strong association in your Composites, but doing can create a more vivid image.
Continued in Part 2Welp, this is the end of Part 1.
What to expect in Part 2
- The Unexplored
- Known Unexplored Territory
- Delivering the Point
- Peer Perspectives