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ciarannihill
2018-07-30, 09:28 AM
Barbarian: Path of the Pack Leader

A Barbarian's connection to the natural world is often potent, but occasionally individuals exceed the norm in this regard, becoming capable of allying itself with natural beasts of the wild and leading them into combat with the same ferocity as a predator descending on its prey.


Animal Companion - At third level, when you pick this primal path you have become capable of using your strength to inspire the respect and loyalty of a creature from the natural world.

With 8 hours of work and 25 gp worth of fine food and herbs you can attract an animal to your location, you must then defeat the animal in single combat to tame it. Select your companion from among the following animals: ape, black bear, boar, giant badger, giant weasel, mule, panther, or wolf. However, your DM might pick one of these animals for you, based on the surrounding terrain and on what types of creatures would logically be present in the area.

You can have only one animal companion at a time. If your animal companion is ever slain, the bond you share with it allows you to return it to life shortly after itís death. If it has died within an hour you can spend 1 hour and 50 gp worth of rare herbs and totemic icons to insert your animal companionís spirit back into its body, returning it to life. When this ritual ends you gain one level of exhaustion.

Pack Leaderís Boon - Following you affords your animal companion certain benefits:


The animal companion loses its Multi-attack action, if it has one. It's essentially replaced by "Reckless Follow-Up"

The companion obeys your commands as best it can.

It rolls for initiative like any other creature, but you determine its actions, decisions, attitudes, and so on.

If you are incapacitated or absent, your companion acts on its own.

Your beast companion also gains certain abilities and statistical benefits based in part on your level. Your companion shares your alignment and your ideal, and its bond is always, ďThe barbarian I follow is a true leader for whom I would gladly give my life.Ē


Your companion uses your proficiency bonus rather than its own for attacks and skills which it is proficient in.

It also becomes proficient with all saving throws.

As you grow, so does your animal companion. Whenever you gain a level in Barbarian your animal companion gains an additional Hit Die and increases its maximum Hit Points accordingly.

Your animal companion gains the Rage ability, and uses it when you do. Its Rage damage increase is equal to yours. When your Rage ends, so to does its.
Whenever you gain the Ability Score Improvement class feature, your companion's abilities also improve. Your companion can increase one ability score of your choice by 2, or it can increase two ability scores of your choice by 1. As normal, your companion can't increase an ability score above 20 using this feature unless its description specifies otherwise.

Reckless Follow Up - Starting at 6th level your animal companion will follow up on your attacks. When you make a melee attack against a creature and your companion can see you, it can use itís reaction to make a melee attack against the creature if itís within melee range of it. If your animal companion uses this feature melee attacks against it until itís next turn have Advantage.

Shared Vitality - At 10th level you gain the ability to share your vitality with your animal companion. As a bonus action you can expend an amount of hit dice up to your proficiency bonus to restore your animal companionís hit points equal to the amount expended.

The Pack Never Dies - At 14th level your animal companion gains while its raging, having 0 hit points doesn't knock it unconscious. It still must make death saving throws, and it suffers the normal effects of taking damage while at 0 hit points. However, if it would die due to failing death saving throws, it wonít die until its rage ends, and it dies then only if it still has 0 hit points.



So this is a conceptual homebrew I've yet to playtest at all, based on the Revised Beastmaster Ranger archetype with some elements toned down and/or altered to fit the thematic trimmings of a Barbarian. I'll be adding a changelog below for any updates to the archetype I make as well. Advice, criticism (constructive) and feedback is welcome!

ciarannihill
2018-07-30, 09:29 AM
Change-Log:

8/1/2018: Added the following component to the Pack Leader's Boon Feature:
Whenever you gain the Ability Score Improvement class feature, your companion's abilities also improve. Your companion can increase one ability score of your choice by 2, or it can increase two ability scores of your choice by 1. As normal, your companion can't increase an ability score above 20 using this feature unless its description specifies otherwise.

Crisis21
2018-07-31, 09:12 PM
I like this. Makes me want to play a barbarian with this archetype.


You did, however, forget one aspect of the Ranger animal companion as follows:


Whenever you gain the Ability Score Improvement class feature, your companion's abilities also improve. Your companion can increase one ability score of your choice by 2, or it can increase two ability scores of your choice by 1. As normal, your companion can't increase an ability score above 20 using this feature unless its description specifies otherwise.

Lalliman
2018-08-01, 04:21 AM
It looks good, there's nothing overtly wrong with it, but I think it'll end up being slightly better than the ranger in every way. Exchanging proficiency to AC and damage for Rage is a favourable trade, and while Reckless Follow-Up is weaker than Coordinated Attack, you get it in addition to Extra Attack while the ranger gets only that. So I wouldn't be surprised if a beast master and pack leader played side by side will make the former look notably less impressive. That said, I wouldn't know how else to handle it, so I suggest you just play test it and see how it feels.

As for the ASIs, are those excluded intentionally? I wouldn't go there as a balancing factor, it's kind of unfun and really only nerfs the beast at high level, which is not the concern. I think the beast master will eventually catch up pretty well with Beast's Defence and Storm of Claws anyways.

I do enjoy the image of a barbarian with a raging mule companion.

Crisis21
2018-08-01, 09:43 AM
For comparison purposes, here's a copy of the Beast Conclave archetype:

Animal Companion

At 3rd level, with 8 hours of work and the expenditure of 50 gp worth of rare herbs and fine food, you call forth an animal from the wilderness to serve as your faithful companion. Select your companion from among the following animals: ape, black bear, boar, giant badger, giant weasel, mule, panther, or wolf. However, your DM might pick one of these animals for you, based on the surrounding terrain and on what types of creatures would logically be present in the area.

At the end of the 8 hours, your animal companion appears and gains all the benefits of your Companion's Bond ability. You can have only one animal companion at a time.

If your animal companion is ever slain, the magical bond you share allows you to return it to life. With 8 hours of work and the expenditure of 25 gp worth of rare herbs and fine food, you call forth your companion's spirit and use your magic to create a new body for it. You can return an animal companion to life in this manner even if you do not possess any part of its body.

If you use this ability to return a former animal companion to life while you have a current animal companion, your current companion leaves you and is replaced by the restored companion.

Companion's Bond

Your animal companion gains a variety of benefits while it is linked to you.


The animal companion loses its Multi-attack action, if it has one.
The companion obeys your commands as best it can. It rolls for initiative like any other creature, but you determine its actions, decisions, attitudes, and so on. If you are incapacitated or absent, your companion acts on its own.
When using your Natural Explorer feature, you and your animal companion can both move stealthily at a normal pace.
Your companion uses your proficiency bonus rather than its own for attacks and skills which it is proficient in.
An animal companion also adds your proficiency bonus to its AC and to its damage rolls.
Your animal companion gains proficiency in two skills of your choice.
It also becomes proficient with all saving throws.
For each level you gain after 3rd, your animal companion gains an additional hit die and increases its hit points accordingly.



Whenever you gain the Ability Score Improvement class feature, your companion's abilities also improve. Your companion can increase one ability score of your choice by 2, or it can increase two ability scores of your choice by 1. As normal, your companion can't increase an ability score above 20 using this feature unless its description specifies otherwise.

Your animal companion gains the benefits of your Favored Enemy feature, and of your Greater Favored Enemy feature when you gain that feature at 6th level. It uses the favored enemies you selected for those features.

Coordinated Attack

Beginning at 5th level, when you use the Attack action on your turn, if your companion can see you, it can use its reaction to make a melee attack against any creature within range.

Beast's Defense

At 7th level, while your companion can see you, it has advantage on all saving throws.

Storm of Claws and Fangs

At 11th level, your companion can use its action to make a melee attack against each creature of its choice within 5 feet of it, with a separate attack roll for each target. This does not interfere with Coordinated Attack.

Superior Beast's Defense

At 15th level, whenever an attacker that your companion can see hits it with an attack, it can use its reaction to halve the attack's damage against it.

And I do think lack of ASIs is a significant thing. At level 20 a Beast ranger's companion is going to have +10 to its various ability scores while the Pack leader's companion is going to have the same ability scores it did at level 3 (except for hit dice). I highly doubt that whatever the Barbarian's companion gets that is better than the Ranger's is so good that it's worth giving up 5 ASIs.

As for the Extra Attack issue, I will point you towards Storm of Claws and Fangs for the Beast Enclave. Personally, I think that feature more than makes up for the Barbarian keeping Extra Attack.

ciarannihill
2018-08-01, 09:57 AM
And I do think lack of ASIs is a significant thing. At level 20 a Beast ranger's companion is going to have +10 to its various ability scores while the Pack leader's companion is going to have the same ability scores it did at level 3 (except for hit dice). I highly doubt that whatever the Barbarian's companion gets that is better than the Ranger's is so good that it's worth giving up 5 ASIs.


As for the ASIs, are those excluded intentionally? I wouldn't go there as a balancing factor, it's kind of unfun and really only nerfs the beast at high level, which is not the concern. I think the beast master will eventually catch up pretty well with Beast's Defence and Storm of Claws anyways.

You did, however, forget one aspect of the Ranger animal companion as follows:


Whenever you gain the Ability Score Improvement class feature, your companion's abilities also improve. Your companion can increase one ability score of your choice by 2, or it can increase two ability scores of your choice by 1. As normal, your companion can't increase an ability score above 20 using this feature unless its description specifies otherwise.

Yeah I was super on the fence about the ASIs, mostly because Barbarian's base class seems more potent than Ranger's, so making the beast companion too powerful was a concern of mine, and I feel like there's a balancing act to be played there. I'll include it back in for the moment, but keep an eye on it for long-term playtest balance, or I'll perhaps look into other avenues to adjust the power level so it doesn't overshadow an entire other class.

Perhaps the archetype "capstone" at level 14 could use some adjusting to be less potent to compensate for the earlier level power? I tried to make sure that I didn't make all the features centered around the companion's combat effectiveness, because Barbarians are so inherently effective in combat as it stands.

Thanks for the feedback, all of you, I really appreciate it!

Crisis21
2018-08-01, 10:59 AM
Yeah I was super on the fence about the ASIs, mostly because Barbarian's base class seems more potent than Ranger's, so making the beast companion too powerful was a concern of mine, and I feel like there's a balancing act to be played there. I'll include it back in for the moment, but keep an eye on it for long-term playtest balance, or I'll perhaps look into other avenues to adjust the power level so it doesn't overshadow an entire other class.

Perhaps the archetype "capstone" at level 14 could use some adjusting to be less potent to compensate for the earlier level power? I tried to make sure that I didn't make all the features centered around the companion's combat effectiveness, because Barbarians are so inherently effective in combat as it stands.

Thanks for the feedback, all of you, I really appreciate it!

Keep in mind that the Barbarian's animal companion is - from what I can tell from feature comparison - also giving up a significant boost to AC and damage.

From the Ranger's: An animal companion also adds your proficiency bonus to its AC and to its damage rolls.

This feature is noticeably absent from your above archetype, and I think is more than enough debuff to even things out.

ciarannihill
2018-08-01, 11:10 AM
Keep in mind that the Barbarian's animal companion is - from what I can tell from feature comparison - also giving up a significant boost to AC and damage.

From the Ranger's: An animal companion also adds your proficiency bonus to its AC and to its damage rolls.

This feature is noticeably absent from your above archetype, and I think is more than enough debuff to even things out.

True enough.
I felt that giving the companion Rage would compensate for those benefits for the most part (and that not doing so seemed like it wouldn't work thematically for a Barbarian's companion), although I'm sure the actual math on this varies wildly depending on the base stats of the companions and what enemies you're fighting (as ever).

Lalliman
2018-08-02, 03:09 PM
I should've mentioned, my commentary was directed at levels 10 and below, where 90% of actual play takes place. Within that range, the Rage damage bonus is only one point behind the proficiency bonus (or the same before level 5), so the beast master's damage advantage is negligible. And to a creature with inherently unimpressive AC, resistance to physical damage seems likely to be more useful than a +3 to AC.

That said, I think it's unlikely to cause any real problems. I'm just scrutinising because the barbarian is already a powerful class and the ranger is, in my experience, relatively unimpressive. A beast master may feel like his thunder is being stolen with the introduction of this subclass.

As for the ASIs, I brushed those off because I figured they were a point of contention and I argued against excluding them. If you find in play testing that this subclass needs nerfing, I would suggest removing the proficiency in all saves instead, perhaps replacing them with proficiency in only the physical ones. (That leaves the beast majorly vulnerable to mental saves, but so is the barbarian himself.)

ciarannihill
2018-08-02, 03:54 PM
I should've mentioned, my commentary was directed at levels 10 and below, where 90% of actual play takes place. Within that range, the Rage damage bonus is only one point behind the proficiency bonus (or the same before level 5), so the beast master's damage advantage is negligible. And to a creature with inherently unimpressive AC, resistance to physical damage seems likely to be more useful than a +3 to AC.

That said, I think it's unlikely to cause any real problems. I'm just scrutinising because the barbarian is already a powerful class and the ranger is, in my experience, relatively unimpressive. A beast master may feel like his thunder is being stolen with the introduction of this subclass.

As for the ASIs, I brushed those off because I figured they were a point of contention and I argued against excluding them. If you find in play testing that this subclass needs nerfing, I would suggest removing the proficiency in all saves instead, perhaps replacing them with proficiency in only the physical ones. (That leaves the beast majorly vulnerable to mental saves, but so is the barbarian himself.)

Thanks for the feedback! Makes sense.

If I do remove the proficiency from mental saves I might include the caveat that the Beast cannot be compelled to attack the Barbarian, just y'know...other party members. Like an instinctual reluctance to do so.

Lalliman
2018-08-02, 04:07 PM
Thanks for the feedback! Makes sense.

If I do remove the proficiency from mental saves I might include the caveat that the Beast cannot be compelled to attack the Barbarian, just y'know...other party members. Like an instinctual reluctance to do so.
On second thought, you could also go with half proficiency to all saves instead. Less thematic, but it still does something to patch the animal's terrible mental saves, which is kind of needed. (Without proficiency, a wolf will fail any Intelligence save with a DC of 17 or higher automatically. Intelligence saves are rare, but it would be devastating if it comes up.) But you can think on that when and if it proves to be needed.