Last Updated on January 22, 2023
Blood hunters are a homebrew class created by Matt Mercer, DM for Critical Role. Blood hunters draw on the power of their blood, damaging themselves to empower their attacks and cast powerful Blood Curses. In this guide, we’ll break down what attributes make an item useful for blood hunters and give you a rundown of the best items for blood hunters.
What Makes an Item Particularly Useful for Blood Hunters?
There are many items in D&D that are useful to characters of every class, but some synergize particularly well with the blood hunter’s abilities.
Helping With MAD
Blood hunters are fairly multi-ability dependent (or MAD), meaning that they need several high ability scores to be effective. Their attacks are made with either strength or dexterity, and their hemocraft-save DC is based on either intelligence or wisdom.
On top of this, blood hunters are extremely reliant on constitution because they use their HP pool as a resource to deal damage. Any item that provides a permanent boost to any of your main stats is a huge boon for blood hunters.
Blood hunters get a huge benefit out of any defensive item. If your HP drops too low, then taking further damage using Crimson Rite and Blood Maledict becomes very risky. Increasing your HP obviously allows more uses of your abilities, but any bonus to your defense allows a greater proportion of your HP to be used on your abilities without putting you at risk.
This all also applies to any items that grant you healing. These all represent an increase to your HP pool, and many will allow you to save yourself if you accidentally bring yourself to dangerously low HP.
Many blood hunters rely primarily on weapon attacks for damage and will make multiple weapon attacks per turn.
Magic weapons are less useful for Order of the Lycan blood hunters, who make unarmed strikes when transformed, and for Order of the Profane Soul characters, who deal much of their damage with spells and cantrips. Magic weapons certainly aren’t useless for these characters, but they have more limited utility than for other blood hunters.
Common Items (Character Levels 1+)
Many common items provide primarily thematic and roleplay benefits. The Cloak of Billowing, for example, can provide plenty of gameplay benefits in the hands of creative players but is unlikely to provide much utility in combat. That said, there are a few common items that can give you significant benefit in combat.
Moon Touched Sword (Common)
The moon-touched sword is fantastic at level 1 before you have access to magical attacks through Crimson Rite. Some of the most challenging monsters at very early levels are challenging because they have specific immunities to nonmagical weapons. Being able to make magical attacks at level 1 can be extremely valuable in taking on these monsters. This sword becomes less useful after you unlock Crimson Rite, but it doesn’t immediately become worthless — at early levels, using Crimson Rite can mean sacrificing a significant fraction of your total HP, so if you’re facing several combat encounters in a day, you may need to use it sparingly.
Clockwork Amulet (Common)
The clockwork amulet allows you, instead of rolling a d20 to attack, to use a result of 10. You can do this once per day. This can be incredibly useful at clutch moments in low-level encounters where you know the approximate AC of an enemy and a successful attack could be the difference between victory and defeat.
Uncommon Items (Character Levels 1+)
Uncommon items are where powerful in-combat effects start to make their appearance. It’s not unusual to be rewarded with these items, even at level 1, so keep an eye out for them right from the start of the campaign.
Headband of Intellect (Uncommon)
The headband of intellect raises your intelligence score to 19. You can use this ability score to determine your hemocraft save and therefore have a high hemocraft save without needing to invest a high ability score into intelligence or wisdom. Unfortunately, there is no equivalent item for wisdom, and wisdom is a more useful stat than intelligence, particularly for Order of the Lycan blood hunters who use wisdom for their bloodlust saves.
Gauntlets of Ogre Power (Uncommon)
Gauntlets of Ogre Power are similar to the Headband of Intellect, except they increase your strength rather than your intelligence. This means you can deal plenty of damage without needing to put a high ability score into strength or dexterity.
Also similarly to the headband of intellect, gauntlets of ogre power boost your less-desirable option out of strength and dexterity. Dexterity is more versatile for most classes because it applies to your initiative rolls, but blood hunters particularly prefer dexterity to strength because they don’t have proficiency in heavy armor. That said, this is still a great early option to reduce the impact of blood hunters’ multi-ability dependency.
Javelin of Lightning (Uncommon)
Javelin of lightning is one of the coolest magic items in the game a provides a fantastic ranged option for strength-focused blood hunters. This item creates a 5-foot wide column of lightning that can hit multiple enemies between you and your target. The javelin still deals damage to your target as it ordinarily would in addition to its lighting damage, and your Crimson Rite still applies to this attack.
Eldritch Claw Tattoo (Uncommon)
This magical tattoo is fantastic for Order of the Lycan blood hunters. This tattoo gives you a bonus to the attack roll for your unarmed strikes, which is extremely useful in beast form. It also gives you a one-per-day ability that adds range and damage to your melee attacks.
Cloak of Protection (Uncommon) and Ring of Protection (Uncommon)
These items give you an uncomplicated +1 to your AC. If you have higher AC, then you’ll take fewer hits, and you’ll have more HP left for damage-dealing. These items are great for any character but particularly for blood hunter.
Winged Boots (Uncommon)
If you can fly, then enemy cover is worthless, and you’re untouchable to melee attackers. For ranged-focused blood hunters, winged boots will allow you to preserve your own HP while gaining better angles of attack on enemies.
Weapon of Warning (Uncommon)
Weapons of warning give you advantage on initiative rolls, which is useful to any character but particularly to strength-focused blood hunters. It also prevents you from being surprised.
Rare Items (Character Levels 5+)
Amulet of Health (Rare)
Amulet of Health is extremely good for blood hunters. This item boosts your constitution to 19, giving you a ton of HP without needing to invest too heavily in constitution during character creation. The biggest downside of this item is that it’s a rare item, meaning you’re unlikely to have access to it until at least 5th level. If your campaign starts at level 1, you’ll be playing through the most dangerous levels with a low constitution score.
If you’re starting at a higher level and if your DM allows you to begin with a rare magic item, then this item is easily your most powerful choice. Constitution is so important for blood hunters, though, that you may be forced to increase your constitution by other means before you have access to an Amulet of Health.
Belt of Hill Giant Strength (Rare)
It’s time to upgrade those gauntlets of ogre power! This belt increases your strength to 21, boosting the power of your attacks even further.
Very Rare Items (Character Levels 11+)
For many campaigns. Very rare items represent the absolute pinnacle of combat power. These items will each provide a massive power bump to your characters.
Ring of Regeneration (Very Rare)
The ring of regeneration allows you to regenerate 1d6 hp every 10 minutes. This isn’t significant in combat, but outside of combat, that’s very speedy. You can regenerate your health without spending hit die and while continuing to travel and explore. This means you’ll be able to begin most encounters at higher HP, and this effect is more pronounced when you’re further through a day of adventuring and your allies are weaker. As a blood hunter, this item gives you a ton of staying power and lets you continue to use your abilities in a day’s later encounters.
Belt of Stone/Frost/Fire Giant Strength (Very Rare)
There are even more of these belts, and they’re still fantastically powerful for blood hunters! You can increase your strength to 23 or 25 with these.
Spellguard Shield (Very Rare)
The Spellguard shield patches what, for most martial characters, is a big hole in their defenses. This shield makes you much less susceptible to spells and magical effects that force you to make a saving throw. It also makes you nigh-untouchable by spell-attack rolls.
Legendary Items (Character Levels 17+)
Most campaigns don’t reach the level when legendary items start to appear. The items in this category are all extremely powerful and choosing between them can be tricky.
Belt of Cloud/Storm Giant Strength (Legendary)
There are even bigger giants with even better belts. These belts can increase your strength to a terrifying 27 and 29 respectively.
The defender is a great thematic and mechanical fit for blood hunter. The way this sword creates a trade-off between attack and defense meshes really well with the way blood hunters sacrifice health to deal damage. Gaining +3 AC when it matters most is also nothing to sniff at, particularly for characters who’re more likely than most to end up at dangerously low HP.
Blood Fury Tattoo (Legendary)
The blood fury tattoo is a near-perfect thematic fit for a blood hunter. It’s also really good! You can spend charges to add a load of extra necrotic damage to your attacks, and you’re healed for the same amount of damage. This is fantastic for blood hunters because it counterbalances your self-damaging effects and also meshes really well with the way blood hunters focus on making empowered attacks.
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I played the game a lot as a kid, back in first edition. Over the past few years since 5e was released, I’ve really started getting back into it. Currently, I run a campaign online for some friends and my brothers, and we also play a side-sesh just to mix things up.