View Full Version : D&D 5e/Next Beast Master OverHaul, Ranger Update

2015-06-09, 08:06 PM
This is a partial update of the Ranger class and complete overhaul of the Beast Master archetype.

BM Problems this intends to fix:

BM Rangers have to give up their action in order to command the beast
Shared spells come online at 15, which is even later than the paladin Find Steed spell can do the same
Only some BMs can ride their companion
BM companion size can be a problem in small quarters
Beast attributes do not scale
The archetype is too complicated
You add your proficiency to its proficient saving throws, but it's not actually clear what these are for each beast just from reading the archetype.
Rather than having the thing's attack rolls and damage rolls scale properly, you add your proficiency to its native attack rolls and damage rolls, which is odd.

And general problems with swift quiver:

The spell swift quiver is easily stolen by a bard, who acquires it much earlier than a ranger
Swift Quiver only works on bows
It requires concentration, meaning that it doesn't work in combination with similar features.
It can be acquired by a BM for a too-high number of attacks per round

Proposed Update
Extra attack is no longer innate to the ranger class. Each ranger archetype gains an additional feature at level five.

Swift quiver removed from spell list. It is now a hunter feature at level 11 (reworked).

Hunter Updates
Level 3: You gain the cantrip Mend Ammunition, allowing you to recover all spent ammunition after a fight.
Level 5: You gain extra attack.
Level 11: In addition to Volley or Whirlwind Attack, any time you make a weapon attack, you may spend your bonus action to make one weapon attack. If you could already make a bonus attack due to another feature, such as from two weapon fighting, then you may add that attack to this bonus action.

Beast Master Overhaul
The beast master's time as a ranger brought out his primal tendencies. As a result, there is a certain bond he shares with animals that he cannot find in humans. He seeks out a beast to be his friend and companion.

Ranger's Companion (3)
You gain the spells Animal Friendship and Speak with Animals from the ranger spell list. If you already have these spells, choose two other spells of 1st level from the ranger spell list. You may now cast Speak with Animals as a ritual, even if you do not have the Ritual Casting feature.

Seek out a beast of no greater size than medium and no greater CR than 1/4. You must spend an eight hour ritual to make this beast your companion. If the beast dies, you may repeat this process.

Make a copy of its statistics from the book which it comes from (such as appendix D of the Player's Handbook). The beast gains the following features:

The companion obeys your every command. In battle, you both act on the same initiative count (whichever one of you rolled higher).
Your companion adds your proficiency bonus to its attack rolls, Unarmored AC, skill checks for its native skills, and also to saving throws which you are proficient in. If any of its abilities have DCs, their DC is replaced by your Spell DC.
Calculate its hit points using its constitution modifier as if it were your level and had a D4 hit die, unless its native HP is higher. This scales up with your ranger level.
Your beast gains ASIs any time you do. It may only spend these on attributes, and it has the same maximums for each attribute as you (normally 20). If your companion dies and you replace it, add these to the new companion.
For the purpose of barding, it has the same armor proficiency as you.

While traveling through your favored terrain with only the beast, you can move stealthily at a normal pace.

You are still learning to work together with your companion. You must give verbal commands. If you command it to take the attack action in combat, you may not take the attack action yourself in the same round.

One Mind (5)
You and your companion now think and act as one, and your bond has become magical. You and the companion gain the following benefits:

You now command the companion mentally. As a result, you no longer must give up the ability to attack in the same round as commanding your beast to do so.
You now have a mental connection to your beast. Each of you can freely perceive what the other does, regardless of distance.
Your beast's attacks become magical (treat them as a magic weapon).
As a ritual, you may change the size of your beast to small, medium, or large. Any items, such as equipment, it wears scale to the new size. This does not affect its statistics in any other way.

One Body (7)
Any time your beast takes damage, you may take half of that damage (rounded up) in place of your beast. Your beast may do the same for you.
Any beneficial spell cast upon you or your beast is duplicated on the other (either may choose not to accept the boon).

Coordinated Assault (11)
Any time you or your beast attacks a target, the other may spend a bonus action to make one weapon attack against the same target. Natural weapons count as a weapon.

One Soul (15)
If your beast dies, you may resurrect it, as the spell Resurrection, as an eight hour ritual (this does not require material components). This taxes you greatly; you may not cast spells again until you finish a long rest.

You may cast the spell Awaken on your companion, no components required.

Final Result

The beast acts on its own
The highest number of attacks a BM can make in the same round, barring multiattack from a badger companion, is five. This is exactly the same as what a Hunter could make with Horde Breaker, two weapon fighting, and the updated level 11 benefit.
The companion's attributes scale with yours, and it has your same save proficiencies.
The beast no longer has less of a connection to you than a wizard has with his familiar.
You can Awaken your own beast, Resurrect your own beast, share spells much earlier, and can change your beast's size so that any race of ranger could ride the companion.
No longer required to ride your companion in order for it to have a good chance of survival.
No more silly ACs by putting plate barding on a companion and boosting its AC to 24. Your proficiency is only added to its unarmored AC, which may eventually be higher than what barding can achieve.

2015-06-09, 11:35 PM
These changes seem fairly balanced but there are some I have issues with, although most of those issues are more due to personal preference than anything balance related (I like the companion's scaling damage and ridiculous AC).

The only thing that I'd really say is terrible is the changes to Swift Quiver. It is cool that you have changed it so dual-wielders can get the benefit too but you have kind of screwed over Archers in the process. Unless they are using Crossbows with Crossbow Mastery, they can no longer get two bonus attacks as the spell had originally intended and more importantly, they lose the infinite ammunition property of Swift Quiver which imo is far more valuable than the bonus attacks. The latter could be easily remedied by creating a lower level spell that duplicates or creates arrows.

As I already said, my aversion to the removal of the companion's damage and armored AC scaling with proficiency is nothing more than personal preference so I won't comment on that any further. Although I will say that replacing the proficiency damage scaling with ASIs does create some issues within the system. Personally I think it is pretty easy to identify what abilities the companion is using to attack via simple math but not everyone would be able to figure it out so easily and it isn't really that intuitive if you aren't reverse engineering the stat blocks. For example, the Giant Poisonous Snake's Bite attack acts as if it has the Finesse property but the Baboon's Bite does not. The books don't really detail which does or does not have the Finesse property so the players have no reasonable means of knowing which ability they should be increasing in order to increase their companion's damage.

I also think that "One Body" is horrendously OP with its current implementation. If you are mounting your companion (And using the associated feat), your companion doesn't get damaged unless it is via AOE. That equates to the Ranger having a relative HP pool that Dwarfs and humbles the Barbarian in an extreme way. The Ranger would have an effective HP pool of 1D10+1D4+Ranger'sConMod+Companion'sConMod per level which is fairly monstrous and I don't know if it is simply an oversight or not but I really don't think that the Ranger should be the new Tank class.

I'm also not a huge fan of "Coordinated Assault" but that too falls in the realm of personal preference. My only issue with it is the way that ability is worded (A single attack as a bonus action) implies that the Giant Badger is basically screwed. The Badger has been balanced around his Multi-attack and by reducing its effectiveness by 25%, that Giant Badger cannot be balanced with the other CR 1/4 options (Unless WotC didn't do particularly well in balancing the CRs and the Badger is considered more powerful in canon).

2015-06-09, 11:51 PM
I updated the OP to fix a few of the issues you had with it, Giant. Added a mend ammunition cantrip for hunters, so they don't have to worry about that at least. That's probably something that all rangers should have, actually. I also forgot to have beast DCs scale with the ranger's, so I updated that too.

Regarding badgers and the bonus attack, many beasts are designed to require a full set of attacks. The panther is one, for instance. However, being able to make this attack scale up with stats should be good enough. Just adding stats may make badgers really strong.

Regarding One Body, the current iteration of beasts also suffers this problem, if we can call it a problem. Since the only damage the companion will currently take is AoE, it already is more beneficial to attack the ranger. Considering all the ways that a beast can be removed, from failing saves to simply failing to reach the target, I don't see it as a huge problem that beast master rangers are working with an extra (smaller) HP pool. Further, the beast having low HP but not being able to pass damage to the ranger makes it so that the only way for the current beast to be expected to survive is to have the ranger mount it with mounted combatant, and stick it in heavy barding for if he's knocked off.

However, it may be reasonable to make One Body only work one way, so that the ranger can take damage for his companion but not the reverse. That way savvy targets just target the ranger. With that said, this would be a horrendous case of metagaming on the DM's part.

2015-06-10, 12:22 AM
There is another issue that you may or may not want to fix that wouldn't exist in the standard game but becomes more significant when you add feats and multiclassing to the mix.

I'm not sure how to explain it concisely so this may seem a bit long-winded but there is a mechanical reason that the developers chose to word the BM's level 3 ability in the way they did (More specifically, the fact that at level 5 you get a single weapon attack when commanding your companion to attack rather than the companion attacking and you can do what you like with a non-extra-attacking action). Your way is pretty much exactly the same sans feats and multiclassing via virtue of removing the extra attack feature and giving it to the companion by default but if that Ranger gets his hands on an attacking cantrip, the scaling is built into the spell so his scaling is no longer being denied. In essence, a Beast attack + cantrip is quite a bit better than a Beast attack + single weapon attack (At high levels at least). The level 11 Coordinated Assault ability kidn of compounds that issue by using the term "Attack" instead of "Weapon Attack" which would give the Ranger the ability to attack via magic twice per round with his beast also attacking twice per round. That last part could obviously be fixed relatively easily if that is not the intention but I'm not sure anything can be done about the Ranger using other means of gaining scaling damage with his action, even if he is denied his extra attack.

2015-06-10, 08:32 AM
Changed it to weapon attack. I do see your point about cantrips, though as the beast depends on ranger levels and wisdom, I'm not too worried about this currently. If rangers used charisma, it would definitely be more concerning due to eldritch blast.

2015-06-10, 10:24 AM
Minor nitpick: as worded now, Coordinated Assault only works one-way. It specifies "weapon attack," and beasts don't normally wield weapons. Contrariwise, I don't see the cantrip as being an issue. It specifies "an attack"- using a cantrip isn't the attack action, it's casting a cantrip. Yes, it does damage, but not everything that does damage or requires an attack roll is an attack.

2015-06-10, 07:17 PM
Minor nitpick: as worded now, Coordinated Assault only works one-way. It specifies "weapon attack," and beasts don't normally wield weapons. Contrariwise, I don't see the cantrip as being an issue. It specifies "an attack"- using a cantrip isn't the attack action, it's casting a cantrip. Yes, it does damage, but not everything that does damage or requires an attack roll is an attack.

I had assumed that beasts use a variant of unarmed strike, which would count, but I see your point.