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View Full Version : D&D 5e/Next Ranger Archetype: Moon Warden (PEACH)



ASchmidt
2015-02-16, 11:03 AM
Moon Warden
Those sacred few selected by the goddess of the moon become Moon Wardens, gifted with a form of lycanthropy rather than cursed by it. They are able to take on the attributes of their chosen totem animal.

Totem Form
When you take this archetype at 3rd level, select a totem animal. You can transform into a hybrid form of your totem as a bonus action taking on features of your totem while keeping a roughly humanoid form. Any equipment you're wearing or carrying isn't transformed. While in this form, you gain the following features:


You may not wear armor in your hybrid form but may use a shield and may use any weapons you are proficient with.
You grow claws, fangs, spines, horns, or a different natural weapon of your choice appropriate to your totem animal. Your unarmed strikes deal 1d4 bludgeoning, piercing, or slashing damage, as appropriate to the natural weapon you chose, and you are proficient with your unarmed strikes. Your unarmed attacks are considered to have the light and finesse properties and you may make unarmed strikes as part of a two-weapon attack. This damage increases to 1d6 at 5th level, 1d8 at 11th level, and 1d10 at 17th level.
You may cast any spells you know in your hybrid form subject to all the usual limitations and restrictions.
You may transform back into your normal form as a bonus action. You automatically transform back into your normal form upon unconsciousness or death.


Unarmored Defense
While not wearing any armor and in your hybrid form, your Armor Class equals 10 + your Dexterity Modifier + your Wisdom modifier. You can use a shield and still gain this benefit. It does not stack with similar features from either the Barbarian or Monk class.

One With My Totem
Starting at 7th level, you have a strong attunement to your animal totem and begin to manifest its traits even more strongly when you shift to hybrid form. Select one of the traits below that most closely evokes your totem animal.



Arboreal. This is a defining characteristic of apes and baboons among others. In your hybrid form, you gain a climbing speed equal to your walking speed.
Aquatic. Most common among fish totems, it can also be found among amphibian totems such as frogs. In your hybrid form, you gain the ability to breathe underwater and a swim speed equal to your walking speed.
Charger. This trait is commonly associated with boars, bulls, elk, and elephants among others. If while in your hybrid form you move at least 20 feet straight toward a target and then hit it with your natural weapon attack on the same turn, the target takes an extra 2d6 damage of the same type as your natural weapon. If the target is a creature of a size no greater than one size larger than your own, it must succeed on a Strength saving throw (DC equal to 8 + your proficiency bonus + your Strength modifier) or be knocked prone.
Fast. This trait is common among cheetah, horse, and zebra animal totems. Your speed increases by 10 feet when you are in your hybrid form. In addition, you may dash as a bonus action a number of times equal to your Constitution modifier in your hybrid form. This ability recharges after a long rest.
Flying. Common to bird and bat totems, in your hybrid form your arms become larger and develop wing structures similar to your totem animal (feathers, skin membrane, etc...). In your hybrid form, you can fly at a speed of 30 feet as long as you have 10 feet of clearance to either side of you, but cannot hover. If you have not landed by the end of any round in which you use your fly speed, you must have descended at least one-half of the distance you traveled or you fall.
Night Hunter. This trait is most commonly seen among coyote, owl, and fox totems. While in your hybrid form you gain darkvision, allowing you to see in dim light within 60 feet of you as if it were bright light, and within darkness as if it were dim light. You can't discern color in darkness only shades of gray. If you already have darkvision, extend its range by 30 feet. In hybrid form you also gain advantage on Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on hearing or sight.
Pack Hunter. Dogs, hyenas, and wolves commonly sport this trait. When in hybrid form, you gain a +1 bonus to attack with your natural weapons if at least one of your allies is within 5 feet of your target and your ally isn't incapacitated.
Poisonous. Often seen among snake and scorpion totems, this trait enables you to poison your target with your natural weapon attacks. On striking your target with one of your natural weapons, the target must make a Constitution saving throw (DC 8 + your proficiency bonus), taking 2d4 poison damage on a failed save, or half as much damage on a successful one. If a creature succeeds on its saving throw, you can't use this feature on that creature again for 24 hours.
Predator. This trait is most common among the big cats but can also be seen in some reptile totems. If while in your hybrid form you move at least 20 feet straight toward a target of a size no greater than one size larger than your own and then hit it with your natural weapon attack on the same turn, that target must succeed on a Strength saving throw (DC equal to 8 + your proficiency bonus + your Strength modifier) or be knocked prone. If the target is prone, you may make a second attack with your natural weapon.
Stalker. This is another trait common to big cats and reptile totems. While in hybrid form, you have expertise in Stealth checks. In addition, you gain a 1d6 sneak attack using your natural weapons when you have advantage against your target or if another enemy of your target is within 5 feet of it. This sneak attack die stacks with any you may have through other class features.
Thick Skinned. - This trait is most commonly seen among crab and turtle animal totems but also occasionally insect totems. While in hybrid form you gain a +1 bonus to AC.
Tough. Bears, elephants, and other large animal totems commonly exhibit this trait. Your hit point maximum increases by an amount equal to your level when you gain this feature. Whenever you gain a level thereafter, your hit point maximum increases by an additional 1 hit point.



Moontouched Claws
Starting at 7th level, your natural weapons are considered magical and silvered for the purpose of overcoming resistance.

Feral Instinct
By 11th level, your instincts are so honed that you have advantage on initiative rolls.Additionally, if you are surprised at the beginning of combat and aren't incapacitated, you can act normally on your first turn but only if you shift to your hybrid form before doing anything else on that turn.

Moon's Blessing
Starting at 15th level the moon's blessing strengthens and heals you when you are wounded in combat. At the start of each of your turns, you regain hit points equal to 5 + your Constitution modifier if you have no more than half of your hit points left.You donít gain this benefit if you have 0 hit points or you are not in hybrid form.

Rfkannen
2015-02-16, 12:48 PM
Seams pretty cool, not sure on feral speed though.

ASchmidt
2015-02-16, 01:18 PM
Seams pretty cool, not sure on feral speed though.

Glad you like in general. But regarding feral speed, what's bothering you about it if you don't mind my asking?

Venardhi
2015-02-16, 01:28 PM
You gain resistance to bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing damage from sources that are not silvered.
At low levels, wouldn't this be the majority of the damage you come across? Especially combined with:

While not wearing any armor, your Armor Class equals 10 + your Dexterity Modifier + your Constitution modifier. You can use a shield and still gain this benefit. It does not stack with similar features from either the Barbarian or Monk class.
It would seem you are one-upping the monk in one of their key features, which gets a bonus from one physical stat and one mental stat, rather than two physical stats. The way you have it now incentivizes stacking your physical stats and when you add in the shield your Ranger is almost certainly going to have more unarmored AC than their Monk counterparts and take far less damage to a larger HP pool when they do get hit. As Wisdom is the stat used for Ranger casting, I suggest changing it to that and finding some way to limit its use with a shield, which is just straight-up better than the comparable Monk feature. Perhaps trade the second mod bonus entirely for the use of a shield?


Starting at 15th level you can call down the moon's blessing upon yourself when you are gravely wounded. By taking an action to call upon Mother Moon, you regain all of your lost hit points. This ability can only be used once until you have completed a long rest.

Combining this with the above and the healing done from shifting forms up to 4 times in a battle would seem to make you nigh-indestructible to anything but the most challenging of non-magical enemies.

I think you could pull it back a notch or two, but I like the concept. I've fiddled with a totem-animal based shape-shifting class a few times. In this case though it feels like you took a lot of the best features of some very good physical classes and combined them into a bit of a melee beast.

ASchmidt
2015-02-16, 01:47 PM
At low levels, wouldn't this be the majority of the damage you come across? Especially combined with:

It would seem you are one-upping the monk in one of their key features, which gets a bonus from one physical stat and one mental stat, rather than two physical stats. The way you have it now incentivizes stacking your physical stats and when you add in the shield your Ranger is almost certainly going to have more unarmored AC than their Monk counterparts and take far less damage to a larger HP pool when they do get hit. As Wisdom is the stat used for Ranger casting, I suggest changing it to that and finding some way to limit its use with a shield, which is just straight-up better than the comparable Monk feature. Perhaps trade the second mod bonus entirely for the use of a shield?

Combining this with the above and the healing done from shifting forms up to 4 times in a battle would seem to make you nigh-indestructible to anything but the most challenging of non-magical enemies.

I think you could pull it back a notch or two, but I like the concept. I've fiddled with a totem-animal based shape-shifting class a few times. In this case though it feels like you took a lot of the best features of some very good physical classes and combined them into a bit of a melee beast.

Definitely an interesting point comparing those features to the monk rather than the barbarian. The ability to set your AC = DEX + CON + Shield is honestly pulled right out of the barbarian class features as is the resistance to slashing, bludgeoning, and piercing although with the Moon Warden I added in that the resistance could be overcome with silver so I was toning it down slightly from the barbarian features I was copying from.

I could see removing the healing during a shift, and that would probably address some of your issues. Frankly, from a balance perspective I was more looking at this compared to the barbarian... shifting is very similar to the rage mechanic although without the bonus damage or advantage on strength checks. It lasts longer but also really makes you stand out in a crowd and not in a good way. The per attack damage with the natural weapons is lower than what a barbarian would have with a decent two handed weapon or even weapon and shield in most cases. The barbarian is likely to have a higher strength (especially while raging) which helps on attacks and damage so I was giving the ranger the bonus action attack (which given its conflict with the ranger's Hunter's Mark isn't going to be used all the time) to try to even the damage a bit.

As for the damage resistance feature, I left that in place given the ranger's smaller hit dice compared to the barbarian.

Not disagreeing with you, just explaining what I was thinking when I was writing it up.

PotatoGolem
2015-02-16, 02:40 PM
Cool concept, but definitely OP. My problem with this subclass is that it makes barbarian obsolete. Yes, your resistance can be overcome by silver, but that's not really meaningful, because pretty much nothing in the MM has silver weapons; it just means that if the DM specifically wants to negate your class feature he can. "Weak to DM fiat" isn't much of a limit.

1) Your "rage" recharges on a short rest, as opposed to a long rest. Assuming the standard 3 rests/day, this class can rage 6/day at 3rd level- same as a 17th-level barbarian. It also lasts for (at minimum) an hour and can't be interrupted. Compare this to rage, which lasts at most a minute and can be stopped by a number of tactics.

2) The extra bonus attack is better than rage damage. Assuming you have a +3 in your main stat, it starts off as +5.5 damage- better than a 12th level barbarian. It's really more comparable to the berserker feature, but without gaining exhaustion.

3) You can cast in a "rage" which a barbarian can't. While this isn't as huge as the other two, it's way better for a spellcaster/gish type.

4) Mother Moon needs to be toned down as well- a full heal on top of resist everything is a bit nuts.

Yes, you don't gain every barbarian feature, but you're better than them at their main feature. Also, you're a full ranger, as well as a better rage-r. This idea is really cool, it just needs to be toned down a bit.

ASchmidt
2015-02-16, 02:48 PM
Cool concept, but definitely OP. My problem with this subclass is that it makes barbarian obsolete...

While I don't think anyone ever wants to hear something that amounts to "great idea but bad implementation", I really appreciate your comments. You've given me a really concrete set of critiques and I'm taking them to heart. I'll take a little time and see if I can come up with a good set of adjustments that give this archetype a better fit in the balance between ranger, druid, monk, and barbarian.

DiBastet
2015-02-16, 03:07 PM
First let me tell you that I like this subclass. Actually I only comment on material that I like, but I mean that i'll probably offer this one to my players.

Totem Form: I like it, it's an elegant lycanthropy. In my own games I would change it a little to be at will (as I did with wild shape), but it's cool as it is. I like that it doesn't use animal stats or anything like that. But then I gotta ask, if you don't gain anything from the base animal, why mention that you can only choose these animals and not others. I actually think you should do one of the following:
1 - Remove the "restriction" (I want to be a wereshark!) and keep as it is.
or
2 - Keep the restriction but list an ability you gain from the base animal (like the barbarian totem). Maybe wolf's move, tiger climb proficiency, bear whatever, whereshark swimming speed.

Also you might want to add a line about your items becoming non-functional to keep it at the same level of other transformative abilities. I don't like the healing part; maybe something moon druid style would be better (I would completly remove it).

Unarmored Defense: I think that going a step further and make it shifting dependent would be better, since your armor should merge with your form anyway. But then that's a simple style change and not a balance issue.

Feral Speed: You already can do that on your chosen terrain, so it feels like an improvement, and it's always nice to see a subclass weaving in some base ability improvements instead of just giving new abilities. I would add the extra move to only when shifting btw.

Feral Instinct: Barbarian do it, you can do something similar. Feels ok.

Moon's Blessing: I don't actually like this one. I don't know, is just feels off when I read it... Maybe base it on the champion's fast healing ability? Regenerating werewolf feels better than once per day self-Heal, even if it's weaker.

ASchmidt
2015-02-16, 03:23 PM
First let me tell you that I like this subclass. Actually I only comment on material that I like, but I mean that i'll probably offer this one to my players.... (more)


When I got the message that I had another reply to this thread, I was literally writing up a version where the transformation was an at-will ability and then re-balancing it based on that. So to see your comment tells me that I'm heading in the right direction with that change.

You're also right about opening it up to other totem animals. I think I got too tied in to the lycanthrope listing in the Monster Manual and opening it up makes it easier to make it terrain/climate/culture appropriate.

I'm really torn on the armor thing. I like the Dex + Con + Shield mechanic and if the shift is at will and a bonus action then having armor for use when not shifted isn't that critical. I can see it being important for some circumstances like when you really don't want to look like a werewolf in the middle of a town but need to be in combat. But I also like the idea of having to dump armor before you break it off your body in a transformation.

And Moon's Blessing... yeah, it's probably best to pull that feature and put in something else, either a regeneration effect or something else entirely. The first iteration of this archetype had it as a conjuration of your totem animal similar to a Conjure Animals effect but it didn't really feel right. The healing effect was an attempt to create an archetype capstone and yeah, it's a poor fit. I'll play with a few ideas and see if something else really sings in that slot.

But thank you VERY much for your comments. It's some great constructive criticism and I appreciate the effort of taking a look and giving me such good feedback.

ASchmidt
2015-02-16, 04:28 PM
So here's an updated version based heavily upon feedback from DiBastet and Venardhi.

Totem Form has been rebuilt to be an at-will ability and the combat has been rebalanced around that. The natural weapon attack was already based on the monk unarmed attack scaling. The core differences being that the Moon Warden has access to some weapons that the monk does not but conversely the Moon Warden doesn't have the ability to spend ki to get additional attacks or attack features. The damage done between a Monk and a Moon Warden should be within just a few points of each other but the monk has more attack flexibility between flurry of blows, stunning strike, and the host of monk archetype options so the Moon Warden shouldn't overshadow the monk. For flexibility like that, the Moon Warden is dependent on his spells which keeps the Ranger feel to things.

The healing on shifting is gone, and it now explicitly states that items worn or carried do not transform with the Moon Warden. This gives a disadvantage (what to do with any armor you were wearing) and an advantage (you can still use magic items). And the totem form now ties to any animal totem, not just five specific options.

Moon's Blessing has been changed to emulate the Champion's Survivor ability but with the caveat that it only works while in hybrid form as that seemed to fit the theme of the archetype.

There may be some tweaks and adjustments to come but I think that this is a better version of this archetype than what I initially posted and want to thank you for the input you've already given.

DiBastet
2015-02-16, 04:43 PM
By the way, I've seen it somewhere; can't exactly remember where (i believe it was alter self), but there is another great way to word your natural attacks.

I believe it goes like this: "You grow a natural weapon bla bla. Your unarmed strikes deal 1d6 damage bla bla, and you are proficient with your unarmed strikes", or something like that. If you make shifting at will you can use this wording, add "and gains the Finesse and Light properties", and remove the bonus action attack part. Then your werewolf guys can use their own manufactured weapons or go with the classic claw/claw attack.

In any case it will be comparable to a dual short sword combo so no worries about the damage part, while allowing what I believe is one of the reasons players want to be werewolves.

PotatoGolem
2015-02-16, 04:47 PM
Looks great! Sorry if my initial comment seemed a bit harsh, by the way- one of my players is a big barbarian fan, so I guess I'm a bit overly concerned with that sort of thing. The class looks awesome now; I'll definitely allow my players to take it. Just a question: do you gain any other special features or movement modes of the totem animal? Like, does a shark totem get a swim speed, or does a bear totem have keen senses?

Venardhi
2015-02-16, 04:52 PM
Just for the sake of existing class features and the magical source of the increased armor class I would still encourage wisdom over constitution but otherwise you seem to have resolved most of my concerns. The ranger being something of a hybrid class, I think it is important to encourage players not to overemphasize physical stats to the detriment of the overall class and its many facets when the book itself tells players wisdom should be their second most important stat. Personal preference entirely.

ASchmidt
2015-02-16, 05:02 PM
Rather than post multiple replies, let me answer each of you...

Vernardhi, good point about Wisdom. I was actually trying to push the player to have to balance Dexterity, Constitution, and Wisdom (because of spells) but will definitely look at making the AC Wisdom-based rather than Constitution.

DiBastet, that's a really brilliant idea. When I was making the changes I was considering doing something with the bonus attack like "can only make the bonus action attack when unarmed or wielding a one-handed weapon" but your approach makes a lot more sense and is simpler to implement.

PotatoGolem, I'd been trying to avoid doing so because it gives lots of little things to balance but I can see that it would be a great feature and help differentiate Moon Wardens of different totems. I'll take a look and see what I can come up with.

And thank all of you, great criticism all around!

Venardhi
2015-02-16, 05:17 PM
One option to keep the totem forms open to player tastes while still being able to give more specific features would be to offer them the choice of picking from a bear or big cat or wolf or bird of prey or rodent or reptile, etc. And then let the players' pick of a more specific animal be simply for flavor.

DiBastet
2015-02-16, 05:30 PM
Second for that. Or just give a bonus to land speed for land based creatures, swim for aquatic and disgusting half-assed flight only on your turn for aerial (you get arms not wings after all).

ASchmidt
2015-02-17, 12:43 PM
Hopefully I got this right. Three significant changes. The unarmored defense now uses Wisdom instead of Constitution. The wording on the natural weapons has been cleaned up. And the big one, Feral Speed has been replaced with One with my Totem which grants a trait that is appropriate to the type of animal totem you've selected. There are a dozen of these and I've done my very best to keep them balanced but I hope that you guys will feel free to provide feedback.

The damaging options I've tried to keep situational and toned down. The other bonuses I've tried to keep in scale to low-level features from other classes or racial features.

I'm not sure about the Tough feature and whether it is more appropriate at 1 HP/level or 2 HP/level. Arboreal feels like it might be a bit light. And I've been considering whether I should limit the Night Hunter bonus to Perception to only work in low-light or dark conditions.

So there's my shot at giving traits that depend on your totem animal selection... let me know what you think.

DiBastet
2015-02-17, 01:04 PM
I believe you did that very tastefully. I might need to look again and a bit closer to see if I missed any glaring problem, but as far as my first look went it all seems really good.

I believe that except for a final polish here and there (some places are missing a space between sentences for example) this may well be Finished!

ASchmidt
2015-02-18, 10:20 PM
I believe you did that very tastefully. I might need to look again and a bit closer to see if I missed any glaring problem, but as far as my first look went it all seems really good.

I believe that except for a final polish here and there (some places are missing a space between sentences for example) this may well be Finished!

Thank you. I really appreciate all of your help and input. I'll give it a full edit pass this weekend to make sure all the formatting issues are taken care of and barring anything huge will mark it final then. Again, thank you.

Pramxnim
2015-02-18, 11:00 PM
First of all, I'd like to say that I think this is a brilliant subclass. It's one of the few homebrew ones that actually make me want to try it out in a game.

I want to write down all my thoughts and opinions on the features, but I'm in a bit of a hurry right now. Just want to say one thing: When you transform into your totem form, perhaps you could let your worn armor meld into your new form like the Druid's wildshape. This way you don't punish the Ranger for wearing armor when not in totem form, plus it feels clunky to have to doff your armor to transform.