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Thread: Breaking BM

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    Default Breaking BM

    If I reveal too much from the PHB in this post, please remove it and Iíll rewrite with just the build. Warning, this is a long, detailed post. Edit: Updates.

    So the BM ranger archetype sucks pretty bad. Whoever wrote it was so afraid of breaking action economy that they broke the archetype. I honestly have no idea how this made it through play testing.

    Well, I think thereís a way to make it better. As a matter of fact, I think thereís a way to make it one of the most powerful low-to-mid level characters in the game. Iíve bolded important parts and put questions for the DM in bold purple.

    First, let's see the damage features:
    • Have to use your own action to verbally command the beast to take the attack, dash, disengage, dodge, or help action (PHB93). Oh man, that's bad. I died a little inside when I first read that.
    • Can move stealthily at a normal pace while accompanied only by the beast through favored terrain (PHB93).
    • Can bond with another beast by spending 8 hours magically bonding with it, assuming it isnít hostile to you, and it doesnít have to be the same type of beast (PHB93). Beast can be up to size medium, CR 1/4. CR 1/4! And it doesn't even scale up with level! Oh FML
    • Can add your proficiency bonus to its attack rolls, damage rolls, skills, proficient saves, and even AC. Thatís not bad at all, particularly since CR ľ with a +2 bonus can hit pretty hard at level 3. We can work with that. It's not clear what the various beasts' proficient saves are, though. It's probably something to research. I'd argue you add to your own proficient saves, so feats like resilient still make sense, but that's just me.
    • Contrary to popular belief, its hit point maximum is the higher of its written total or your ranger level*4 (PHB93). It's hp does, in fact, scale; itíll have 40 by 10 and 80 by 20. Could be worse.
    • The features at 7, 11, and 15 are awful (at 15, you can reproduce one of the effects of find steed...really WoTC?). I can't even bring myself to write them down, they're so terrible.

    It doesnít sound like much, does it? Matter of fact, it sounds like the worst archetype of all time. Iíd rather play a 3.5e commoner than this tripe; at least commoners can conjure chickens. But remember I said I could make it into a powerful character? Letís see how:

    Get this Party Started

    First of all, play a Stout Halfling. Nor much going on with this, but the bonus con and poison resist might come in handy. Lucky is a very nice racial trait. But the real reason we played Halfling is because theyíre small.

    Wait, small characters can ride medium beasts, canít they? And beast masters can tame mediums beasts, which means...

    You: "OH MY GOD, I CAN RIDE MY BEAST COMPANION IF I PLAY A SMALL RACE!"

    Yep, it's as RAW as RAW gets, and I'm not even close to being first to point that out. Time to check out the mounted combat rules.

    Mounts can take the dash, disengage, and dodge options as directed without requiring the rider's action (PHB198). (Q1) It seems clear that these rules should override the BM companion rules. Both are equally specific, but the BM rules would make riding your own companion inferior to riding literally any other mount. And that would make even less sense than your companion doing nothing unless you tell it to. It seems even more clear that these rules should override the general rules when you take the mounted combatant feat at 4 (and you will take it at 4). Talk to your DM, and if he disagrees, donít play a BM.

    Furthermore, an intelligent creature can be an independent mount, meaning it retains its place in the initiative order, and bearing a rider puts no restrictions on the actions it can take (PHB198). For why this is important, see Awaken below. Opportunity attacks can target either you or the mount (PHB198). If you are dismounted, can re-mount for half your movement speed (PHB198). Even if you fell prone when dismounted, you can stand up for half (PHB198). That means you're never off your mount for long.

    Only requirement for mounts is that they have appropriate anatomy, are trained to accept a rider (easy to fluff), and are at least one size larger.

    What Beast to Take

    So the plan is to get a beast from BM and ride it. Time to take the downright best CR 1/4 mount we can get our grubby little halfling hands on.

    Panther Ė 50í movement speed, and 40í climb. Can charge creatures and knock them over with a successful claw attack if the creature fails a save (DC 12 STR). (Q2) do BMs add their proficiency bonus to this DC? That would make it 18 max.

    Give your panther a name. I named mine Cube.

    So at this point, weíre a stout Halfling riding a panther from level 3. We can move 100í on our turn, or move 50í and have our mount take the dodge or disengage actions which obviously apply to us, the rider, as well (might as well make that Q3, if the mount is dodging, are we also dodging?). We can do this without using our action. Know what else we can do? Climb 80 feet up a freaking wall, no action required. Still mounted, too. It also gets very useful stealth and perception skills. (Q4) Iíd argue that we can use the pantherís stealth check in place of our own while riding it, and just be very still or even use the class feature camouflage to blend in with it.

    It gets +4 perception and +6 stealth, plus our proficiency. Very nice. What else can we do?

    Features

    If you can't take feats, don't play a BM. Though, in truth, we only need one. Remember I said to take mounted combatant at 4?

    Mounted Combat (PHB168) Ė Have advantage on melee attack roles against un-mounted creatures smaller than your mount, can force an attack targeted at your mount to target you instead (which doesnít require reaction, and works against spell attacks as per RAW), and your mount gains evasion, which means you effectively have it too. (Q5) Regarding taking attacks for your mount, it doesnít specify whether this is before or after the attack and damage are rolled.

    Let's throw some armor on that mount.

    Barding your Panther

    Barding your panther? Sounds gross, but bear with me.

    Mounts are explicitly allowed to wear barding. Though itís expensive as hell, plate barding is technically a thing, even in real life. That means your companion Cube gets the benefits of plate armor (18), and adds your proficiency bonus to its AC as per raw. (Q6): Barding AC + proficiency is legal by RAW, but produces a beast with up to 24AC. Some DMs may not appreciate that.

    Edit: the panther's strength score is 14, too low for plate (15) unless you can raise its strength one higher via magic item / some other means. But it can use a breastplate which is much cheaper (1600 for barding), provides AC 16 + proficiency (2 from dex), and allows proficiency on stealth checks. Not bad at all. You can check with your DM if you can boost it two higher by commissioning a special shield for your panther (possibly in the form of a helmet). But that's getting into munchkin territory.

    Before you can afford/craft plate barding, you can get medium armor barding and add the panther's dex mod (+2) to its AC. The crappiest barding you can get still raises its AC to 15 minimum (11 + 2dex + 2prof). Hide barding would be +1 better, and it only costs 40g (4x cost, PHB155). So your companion's AC is actually very good, contrary to popular belief.

    Oh man, this is starting to look really good. From 4, 50í movement speed, free dash, free disengage, free dodge, and evasion. We can take hits for Cube, but we don't even need to because of the barding. Now what? Letís see what we can do in the midgame.

    Further Optimization

    Awaken (PHB216) Ė costs a hefty 1000g plus 8 hours casting time from a druid of level 9+. But it grants your companion the ability to speak a language known by the druid and increases its intelligence to 10, making your panther both smarter and wiser than the barbarian. Furthermore, unlike in previous editions, this doesn't add any HD or anything; it's still a CR 1/4 beast, just a smarter one. Now Cube can act just like another party member, and that includes attuning himself to magic items. (Q7): Can intelligent beasts attune themselves to magic items that a beast can conceivably use?

    Being able to attune to magic items adds worlds of possibility for our companion Cube. Just pick an item and have a blacksmith or fabricating wizard meld it into a shape your companion can use (Q8, can you do this?).

    What else does Awaken do for us? Remember how the mount rules said intelligent mounts can act on their own and have their own initiative? Booyah, we just broke action economy. (Q9): Does an intelligent beast it get its own initiative now? If so, who controls it? I'm pretty skeptical here, and am the least convinced that this is a proper ruling. But your DM had to say no to something, right?

    So now weíve made ourselves a talking, free-acting, high AC, 50í move, 40í climb, free evasion, magic item wearing, loyal companion mount. What do we do with our own character?

    Filling Out Your Character

    Skills: Take animal handling, obviously. Also take survival because youíll want to run into the nearest forest at breakneck speed the second you hit level 3 to find yourself a panther. Rest are up to you, but you can rely on the pantherís perception and stealth pretty easily.

    Spells: Hunterís mark, animal friendship, and speak with animals all fit pretty well with the character for level 1 spells. Animal friendship may be most important, since your panther must be non-hostile to be tamed. You can get two of these by 2, just in time. Other spells depend largely on build, party composition, and campaign.

    Favored Enemies / Terrain: depends on campaign. Don't make a decision till you have some info, if possible.

    Stats: You'll want at least 12 wisdom at start (14-15 preferred), 12+ con (14-16 preferred), and Dex or Str as high as it'll go, depending on your choice of weapon.

    Tactics (build-independent):
    • Hide behind your mount if its armor and current hit-point total are better than yours and you're taking arrow fire. You should be able to do this with your move, which you aren't using otherwise. Be very clear that you haven't dismounted, and are merely hanging on to the beast's side (the side not facing arrows).
    • If you charge 20' before your panther makes an attack, it can attempt to knock the target prone with its claw attack. If successful, it gets a bonus action bite. It gets two claw attacks when you order it to attack after 11, so this may be your best tactic for dealing with low-strength opponents.

    Combat Options

    Archery
    Safest and most consistent option. Itís Dex, so no MAD and good initiative (mount takes your initiative as per 198, booyah), plus your halfling dex boost is relevant. You can use your incredible speed to stay at a distance and fire arrows all damn day. Swiftquiver will eventually have you doing as much damage as the fighter, and youíll only be one attack behind between 11 and 17. Use either a shortbow or, if you want to play with crossbow expert, use a hand crossbow (1d6, range up to 120í). As per RAW you only need one for the bonus attack, check with your DM. Either way, use Hunterís Mark and take Sharpshooter as soon as you can to increase your damage big-time. As per RAW, Hunterís Mark applies its 1d6 damage every time you make an attack, by the way.
    • Note, you can't use a longbow effectively because it's heavy and halflings are small. I don't know why a longbow is considered heavy and a lance isn't, but them be the rules.

    Dual wielder
    Puts you closer to combat than you need to be, but since you can take hits for your mount through mounted combatant, it shouldn't be too much of a worry. Still DEX based, which is great. Use scimitars just to be funny (mini Drizzt, lol). This build will do more damage than archery early on, due to having an easier time getting its bonus action and reaction. Crossbow expert, sharpshooter, and swiftquiver can all help the archer build pull ahead.
    • Special: Defensive Duelist. Force attacks against your mount to target you instead without using your reaction (Mounted Combatant, remember?) and then use your reaction to add proficiency bonus to your own AC. Combined with evasion, your animal companion is here to stay. Technically, you could use this with archery as well if you use a hand crossbow and keep a finesse weapon in your other hand.
    • Special: Double Opportunity Attack. If you get within range of a target and start beating them up, there's a good chance they'll want to run away from you. At that point, you get two attacks of opportunity: one from you, and one from your beast. If your DM doesn't think your beast gets attacks of opportunity...well, he probably didn't agree with Q1 either, so you you won't have gotten this far.

    Sir Lancelot
    Your ranged attack sucks, and it leaves you with a lower initiative. (Q10): Can you just let your panther roll initiative? On the other hand, take Duelist and use a lance and shield. 1d12 + 2 + attribute is really, really nice damage. The math works out in this buildís favor for DPR, and you can full-attack a single target and run 50í away turn after turn. Who else can do that? But you canít get defensive duelist for more AC (unless you find a finesse lance, lol). If you have the feat slot for it, take Sentinel while youíre at it and become an even more mobile controller than the monk with your free disengages and 50í movement speed.
    • Special: If you really want to be a jerk, and your DM allows it, dual wield lances (Optional Q11, they're listed as one-handed while mounted). Take dual wielder feat and dual wield fighting style to have a 1d12 + attribute offhand attack. Now you're playing with power.
    • You can also pull the double opportunity attack trick above by stepping within 5' of the target when your turn ends. Just make sure to use disengage with your beast on your next turn so you don't take damage when you back up and lance them.
    • Careful with weight here. If you equip your panther with half plate barding (80), and wear full plate yourself (65), then carry a lance and shield (12 lb.), that's 157 pounds. Your panther has a strength score of 14, meaning he can carry 210 pounds. That only leaves 53 pounds left over for other gear, bedrolls, loot, etc. Did I mention you weigh 40 pounds? Going to be hard to pull this off with a panther. Mule's can carry twice as much, but don't have a climb speed and aren't as fast. Might have to reach outside the PHB to find a mount for this one. Unless you can convince your DM that halfling gear and supplies only weigh half as much, in which case it's fine. Even then, it's hard to get your strength high enough to reliably hit with the lance, so be cautious when selecting this build.

    So, all together, what are the advantages?

    Primary Strengths
    • Very high movement and climb speed from 3
    • You can take hits for your beast if its HP is running low
    • Beast can use magic items. DOUBLE THE MAGIC ITEM SLOTS, DOUBLE THE ATTUNEMENT
    • You can rely on the beast's strong perception and stealth
    • Beast's AC can become better than a maxed-out barbarian's because it explicitly adds your proficiency
    • You have some spells
    • In the unlikely event that your mount is killed, it can be replaced
    • Beast doesn't actually have terrible HP, and the fact that it effectively has evasion and great AC makes it even better
    • Lucky
    • Even though you're mounted, you're still medium size. No trouble fitting in doors or anything.
    • Double your carrying capacity by having a companion (not a huge deal, but it can definitely hold your arrows in a saddle-quiver)
    • Since BM's are supposed to represent the friendship between man and beast, and the two are supposed to "fight as one", it's impossible to make a fluffier BM.

    Now this is podracing a strong character. What are its disadvantages?

    Primary Weaknesses
    • Casters: kill them fast if able, because they can force you and your panther to make saves that you donít want to make. You canít protect your beast from make saves, and if he runs, you run. To be fair, the panther's wisdom score is +2. The panther's evasion, while good, is only going off of 15 (+2) dex, so be careful here.
    • Faster creatures: There arenít many, but they can cramp your style. If itís a mounted knight coming after you, shoot his mount out from under him. Or cast spike growth / drop caltrops. Or climb up a tall something. Decisions, decisions.
    • High levels: unless you keep up with those magic items, other charactersí power creep might get you down. The conjurers and druids in particular can do some nasty stuff at all levels. Saves become more common at high levels.
    • Mean DMs: you depend heavily on rule interpretation (some would argue rules lawyering) for the build to work. Be very careful who you play with. Question 1 above is the most important point to confirm. You'll need an affirmative answer for questions 6, 7, and 8 if you want the character to scale well.

    Variants
    • Could ride a wolf, since it gets advantage on attacks if another ally is within 5' of its target (you always will be). You lose so much over panther, including climb speed and 10' movement speed, that I don't recommend it. You'll almost always be the one attacking, anyway.
    • Play a gnome if youíre weird
    • If you can find a CR ľ beast thatís medium and has a fly speed, use it
    • Munchkin: awaken your companion then permanently polymorph it into a badass creature of your choice. Definitely check with your DM first (or just don't do it, Timmy)
    • Ride a big spider? A dolphin? I dunno, whatever CR ľ beast you can find I guess
    • Ride your shapeshifting druid friend into battle, granting him evasion through mounted combatant and taking hits for him with your higher AC for free. You donít even need to be a BM ranger to pull that trick off, and itís technically RAW. Why riding your friend gives him evasion: I dunno, I guess youíre looking out for fireballs and yelling ďDODGE!Ē in his ear or something
    • If you're playing Eberron, see if you can take a raptor companion or something similar, just cuz halflings riding dinosaurs
    • When pixie player race comes out, pixie riding a hawk, maybe?

    So yeah, pretty fun, pretty powerful character. And we managed to make a bad class into a strong character with nothing but a little creativity and some rules interpretation. Man, I love doing that. Brings me right back to 3.5.

    I'd love to hear everyone's thoughts.
    Last edited by Easy_Lee; 2014-10-13 at 10:54 PM.

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    Default Re: Breaking BM

    Ok, I am in the middle of building my game right now, but I really really loved your opening title...
    I would love to read a story about a Beast Master that is tired to be the laughing stock of his friends and than BREAKS. BADLY, and proceed to become the biggest, baddest, most scariest villain of all, or die trying.

    I will read it when I get time and come back to comment on it, thank you for the slight amusement, Easy_Lee.

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    Default Re: Breaking BM

    Quote Originally Posted by Baveboi View Post
    Ok, I am in the middle of building my game right now, but I really really loved your opening title...
    I would love to read a story about a Beast Master that is tired to be the laughing stock of his friends and than BREAKS. BADLY, and proceed to become the biggest, baddest, most scariest villain of all, or die trying.

    I will read it when I get time and come back to comment on it, thank you for the slight amusement, Easy_Lee.
    Oh no, I actually meant breaking as in finding a way to make BMs powerful. The pun was intentional (I spread a few of those throughout the post to make it interesting), but I hope I don't leave you disappointed.

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    Default Re: Breaking BM

    Quote Originally Posted by Easy_Lee View Post
    Oh no, I actually meant breaking as in finding a way to make BMs powerful. The pun was intentional (I spread a few of those throughout the post to make it interesting), but I hope I don't leave you disappointed.
    You did not, Easy_Lee. I was keenly aware of the intentional joke there, it's just... I imagined a world of D&D where Walter White was a ranger and instead of cancer he simply sucked, both conditions being lethal in a high-level game. That cranked me up to 11.

    Now, for the serious business:

    Side Note - You have to use your action to command your beast, but wouldn't it act by itself otherwise? I mean, a big scary panther or wolf wouldn't simply stand there and be waked in the head, would it? I see the command line being more as in "I need the dumb animal to attack the wizard, not the other dumb animal the wizard summoned up, which my dumb animal clearly sees as a bigger physical threat." So I guess you can have your panther and be Drizzit too, in this case.

    Spoiler: Serious Bisons
    Show
    Question 1. If you can ride and you ride it, yes, it is a mount, not a class feature. It acts as a mount, but you can also override it's pattern action with your class feature if you need. "Good horse, now club that jailer's head with your hooves and bring me his keys. No, not the carrot, the shiny junk. No, not his junk!" CRUNCH.

    Question 2. I would say yes, sure. If Drizzit can have it, my players can have it. I assume that DC is based off of the creature's strength (which 14), so yes, I guess you could put your proficiency there.

    Question 3. If the enemy is fighting you directly (ex. ranged attacks, targeted spells, etc) or fighting you on their own mount, than no (perks of mounted combat in melee). If the enemy is fighting you indirectly (swinging at your mount, attacking "you", etc) or attacking your general direction (area spells, etc) than yes, you are considered Dodging.

    Question 4. Sure. Yeah, you can climb walls (giant cats are, after all, good climbers), but you have to either have a nice customized saddle or hold on for dear life. Cube is a good climbers, you not as much. Sneaking and hiding is ok if you want to use it's Stealth modifier, but if you roll a failure I will blame it on your character not poor Cube.

    Question 5. Targeted, means before rolling, as I would have ruled it. It means you can put your body in front of a javelin instead of letting good ol' Sugarfoot there.

    Question 6. I don't see a problem with that, but you'd have to pay extra. I mean, Cataphracts were a real thing, but they were for elit and expensive warhorses raised and trained to wear it and march over pretty much anything not also on horseback. They were also very strong to carry their full armored rider and their full body armor, so I guess a Panther would initially be too weak for plate, but it wouldn't be impossible. All that said a Panther Cataphract would put new meaning to the expression A World of Pain, and for that I will be always thankful to you, Easy_Lee (take that Bob! Drizzt doesn't have a Panther Cataphract!).

    Question 7. If the item is of acceptable use, you bribe an archdruid to Awaken your Cube, then the animal understands the concept of its use and over all that it can be used by pretty much any creature, race or class, than yes.

    Question 8. Short answer? No. Many items would become "broken" if you changed them so drastically. But I guess maybe you could mesh something up (belts come to mind, one nice way to give it a boost in Str).

    Question 9. If it is smart enough to understand complex concepts than I guess it's an NPC, unless you spend your action to crank your whip and give it a direct order. So pretty much like it always was.

    Question 10. Yes for a trample, which it doesn't get, so yes for a pounce attack? But then you'd need your own initiative. I guess you could sacrifice a turn to come around to it's initiative and vice-versa.

    Question 11. Possible? Yes. Useful? Definitely no. Lances are strafing weapons, you hold then up front for a trample charge or by the side for a pass-by. If you had two it would be all sorts of unwieldy and useless for anything that isn't a trample charge and even them only for the shock. Most lances are dropped or destroyed after impact because in melee you want something less bulky so you reach for an arming sword. The shield helps protect against projectiles and in melees too.

    Hum.
    Ok, why did you say this class was weak again? It certainly doesn't get much in the way of class features, that's for sure, but in an RP standpoint the class is ridiculously amazing!


    My final thoughts are that, yes, the fact the animal is only CR 1/4 is a pain, but I guess in a game of appropriately high level you could argue many RP reasons for any sort of animal up to CR 1 or 2, maybe higher in higher levels. Plus, why a Panther? Get a boar! They simply don't drop, the bastards! Plus, curse or blessing, you can listen to this all day long. No one cares about Panthers, the posers...

    But yeah, the only real problem I see is the creature CR not scaling with the higher levels... Even so, you can do pretty awesome stuff with this class.

    EDIT: Sorry for the HUGE wall of text. Will spoiler that thing, but I can't edit it better than this at 5 am.
    Last edited by Baveboi; 2014-10-11 at 02:44 AM.

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    Default Re: Breaking BM

    Yeah the rider build is pretty awesome!

    I've always wondered if a Mule could be used as a companion mount for a Medium creature.

    I don't think a wolf would get pack tactics bonus from its rider, it goes against the spirit of both rules imo.
    The features at 7, 11, and 15 are awful (at 15, you can reproduce one of the effects of find steed...really WoTC?). I can't even bring myself to write them down, they're so terrible.
    you don't think an extra attack is worth mentioning? :X
    Last edited by TheDeadlyShoe; 2014-10-11 at 03:40 AM.

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    Default Re: Breaking BM

    I don't have a monster manual so I don't know whats in there but in the DM DnD Basic Rules there are vulture and pteranodon, the latter being the better choice but if your dm says no dinosaurs you have the vulture back up. The vulture isn't terribly strong but even with optional encumbrance rules it can carry 35 lbs and be unencumbered, though that doesn't leave much room for equipment. The pteranodon on the other hand has 12 str so that should be good for some equipment, dm may put restrictions on the weight of the barding though for either beast. The pteranodon has flyby attack which is nice though neither creature has terribly good attack options. Another disadvantage to a flying mount is they both have 10 ground speed so usefulness decreases in environments where flight is restricted. besides flight I don't think either option really provides the utility that the panther does.

    The same pdf has giant wolf spider similar to the panther in many ways, has some spider specific abilities, might be able to have the spider make a web around the party before going to sleep, may be more trouble than its worth though. The giant frog is another option, no climb and just regular movement speed, standing leap may make up for some of the mobility loss. But as far as I can tell any creature is automatically restrained by a hit from the frog even better if the target is small or smaller. The nice thing about this is you get your attacks back and your pet is still doing something. Granted its easy to escape but escape takes an action away from the enemy so its still a net win for the beastmaster.
    Last edited by numerek; 2014-10-11 at 10:18 AM.

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    Default Re: Breaking BM

    Quote Originally Posted by TheDeadlyShoe View Post
    Yeah the rider build is pretty awesome!

    I've always wondered if a Mule could be used as a companion mount for a Medium creature.

    I don't think a wolf would get pack tactics bonus from its rider, it goes against the spirit of both rules imo.
    you don't think an extra attack is worth mentioning? :X
    I looked at the mule, but it's primary advantage is extra carrying capacity. It didn't beat climb speed for me. Plus, something about a halfling riding a panther is just cool.

    The extra attack is okay, but you have to give up your own attack for it. That puts some restrictions on when to use it.
    • Panther has to hit harder than you for it to be worth it
    • Need to be within 5'
    • Needs to be vs. target that isn't resistant to nonmagical weapons, since panther claws are always mundane unless you find some kind of special weapon for it

    If you wanted to use the panther's pounce on a weak creature, that might make sense. Getting a bonus action help is honestly the better boon at that level, though, since you can get automatic advantage on an attack that way. I dunno, there are probably situations.

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    Default Re: Breaking BM

    The extra attack is okay, but you have to give up your own attack for it. That puts some restrictions on when to use it.
    i'm AWB, but i had read it as you make your attack and your pet gets two attacks.

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    Default Re: Breaking BM

    Quote Originally Posted by TheDeadlyShoe View Post
    i'm AWB, but i had read it as you make your attack and your pet gets two attacks.
    Once you have the Extra Attack Feature, so yes, since the Beast takes that feature at level 11 you already have an extra attack, so you actually spend your attack action to make one attack and then have the beast attack twice, netting you 3 attacks.

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    Default Re: Breaking BM

    Quote Originally Posted by Baveboi View Post
    Once you have the Extra Attack Feature, so yes, since the Beast takes that feature at level 11 you already have an extra attack, so you actually spend your attack action to make one attack and then have the beast attack twice, netting you 3 attacks.
    No doubt that with some builds, such as the duelist lance build, it adds some versatility. I'm more curious as to how the panther's bonus attack action from pounce factors in.

    Pounce: if the panther moves at least 20 feet straight toward a creature right before hitting it with a claw attack, the target must succeed on a saving throw or be knocked prone. If the target is prone, the panther can take a conus action to make one bite attack against it.

    If your beast gets a bonus action, does that consume your own bonus action? If it takes the bonus action bite, can it still take multiple attacks? For the lancer, an optimal scenario might yield four attacks at 11:
    • Lance: 1d12 + 2(duelist) + 5 (max str) = 14.5
    • Claw: 1d4 + 2 + your proficiency (4) = 8.5
    • Two Bites: (1d6 + 2 + 4)*2 = 19
    • Total: 42

    That's not bad at all, and assumes no magic items for you or the panther. Plus the panther's attacks have +8 to hit (4 innate, 4 from your proficiency), which is only one less than you have at that level with max attribute. If you can get DM approval to add your proficiency to its pounce DC, that could be quite powerful.

    It gets even more fun with a crossbow expert build. Command the panther to take two attacks, it gets a bonus attack, you get one attack from the boon at 5, and then you get a bonus attack from crossbow expert. Bonus damage from proficiency, attribute, and possibly hunter's mark flying all over the place. Do your beast's attacks proc hunter's mark damage? Guess that'd be a houserule.

    Lot of fun to be had with this build, but lots of questions to clear up with the DM first.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Easy_Lee View Post
    Do your beast's attacks proc hunter's mark damage? Guess that'd be a houserule.
    I don't think so. The spell clearly says you over and over, so unless you can argue in favor of mounted combat or there is some understanding that commanding your beast to attack counts as you attacking, then I guess it would be fair game. Otherwise only at level 15 when your creature can benefit from your spells, and no, not like Find Steed. In Find Steed you have to be mounted and sharing the same space with it. Beast Master's Share Spells has a range of 30ft opening up hundreds of shenanigans.

    Quote Originally Posted by Easy_Lee View Post
    Lot of fun to be had with this build, but lots of questions to clear up with the DM first.
    Like everything else, I'd say. The DM is supposed to run the game, the players would do well to help him in that endeavor, although I have seen some alternate rules to this.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Baveboi View Post
    I don't think so. The spell clearly says you over and over, so unless you can argue in favor of mounted combat or there is some understanding that commanding your beast to attack counts as you attacking, then I guess it would be fair game.
    Right, it would only work with a houserule to count your beast's attacks as yours for the purpose of hunter's mark. I think it'd be a reasonable houserule, since beast and ranger are supposed to "work as one to fight" (PHB93). But a houserule, nonetheless. Definitely opens up some BS with crossbow expert, which is why I'd probably just go with longbow and call it even.

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    Default Re: Breaking BM

    1) I'm doing this at some point. Thank you so much for this hilariously cheesy munchkin of an idea. Possibly an NPC, since I'm the DM.
    2) If you really want your DM to beat you to death with your own books, Kender will most likely appear in the DMG. They're small, too.
    3) Panthers only have 14 STR, and wouldn't be able to wear Plate armor without a speed penalty. Half-Plate, on the other hand...

    As for the "staying in the saddle as my mount scales a vertical surface" bit? I suppose if you bought a Climber's Kit you could use the harness to fasten yourself to the Panther's saddle, at your DM's discretion. On the off chance you find yourself on frozen or Greased terrain, this provides a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to ski up to 25 feet behind your mount, DM permitting.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Freelance GM View Post
    2) If you really want your DM to beat you to death with your own books, Kender will most likely appear in the DMG. They're small, too.
    Weren't Kenders ruled to a gnome/halfling subrace for their setting?

    Quote Originally Posted by Freelance GM View Post
    As for the "staying in the saddle as my mount scales a vertical surface" bit? I suppose if you bought a Climber's Kit you could use the harness to fasten yourself to the Panther's saddle, at your DM's discretion. On the off chance you find yourself on frozen or Greased terrain, this provides a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to ski up to 25 feet behind your mount, DM permitting.
    Verily so, and that presents other problems like getting out of the harnesses in a hurry if you have to. I think a custom-made saddle like the one shown in How to Train Your Dragon 2 by Hiccup and Toothless is your best bet, but that should be expensive.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Freelance GM View Post
    3) Panthers only have 14 STR, and wouldn't be able to wear Plate armor without a speed penalty. Half-Plate, on the other hand...

    As for the "staying in the saddle as my mount scales a vertical surface" bit? I suppose if you bought a Climber's Kit you could use the harness to fasten yourself to the Panther's saddle, at your DM's discretion. On the off chance you find yourself on frozen or Greased terrain, this provides a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to ski up to 25 feet behind your mount, DM permitting.
    Very good points. My thought was to use a barded breastplate. No disadvantage on stealth checks, AC is 16 + proficiency (max 22, very respectable), price is a very reasonable 1600gp, and could commission special harnesses in the saddle for climbing. Strapping your legs in should be possible.

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    Default Re: Breaking BM

    What sort of stats and abilities does the ridable Dino have besides coolness

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    Quote Originally Posted by CyberThread View Post
    What sort of stats and abilities does the ridable Dino have besides coolness
    Flying mount is the most obvious one

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    Quote Originally Posted by Naanomi View Post
    Flying mount is the most obvious one
    Definitely. Picture a halfling wielding a lance/bow riding a pterodactyl. Awesome.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Easy_Lee View Post
    Definitely. Picture a halfling wielding a lance/bow riding a pterodactyl. Awesome.
    A lance? I know D&D isn't a physics simulator, but I can't help but shudder at the idea of a less-than-100-pound combination of Halfling and pterodactyl slamming into a greater-than-200-pound combination of human and heavy armor.

    That's like putting a snowplow on a VW Beatle Coupe and driving full tilt into a GMC Yukon XL. It's not going to be pretty for either side.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Xetheral View Post
    A lance? I know D&D isn't a physics simulator, but I can't help but shudder at the idea of a less-than-100-pound combination of Halfling and pterodactyl slamming into a greater-than-200-pound combination of human and heavy armor.

    That's like putting a snowplow on a VW Beatle Coupe and driving full tilt into a GMC Yukon XL. It's not going to be pretty for either side.
    Hah, true, but imagine a 200-300 pound human trying to take on a 600+ pound ogre. That's pretty ugly too. Also dragons collapse under their own weight. A 20' fall results in a broken leg. A 2 damage slash from a sword takes weeks to heal and leaves a scar, possibly with nerve damage.

    D&D and physics don't like each other.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Easy_Lee View Post
    Mean DMs: you depend heavily on rule interpretation (some would argue rules lawyering) for the build to work. Be very careful who you play with.
    Mean DMs?
    I think you mean DMs that don't want to break their own game.
    You said it perfectly. You depend heavily on rules lawyering for the build to work.
    You have eleven questions that need answering. Eleven. And most of them will be answered in a manner that you won't want to hear by any sane DM.
    Not to mention that rules lawyering has no place in 5e to begin with behind the design philosphy of the game.

    Be very careful who you play with, indeed.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Shadow View Post
    Mean DMs?
    I think you mean DMs that don't want to break their own game.
    You said it perfectly. You depend heavily on rules lawyering for the build to work.
    You have eleven questions that need answering. Eleven. And most of them will be answered in a manner that you won't want to hear by any sane DM.
    Not to mention that rules lawyering has no place in 5e to begin with behind the design philosphy of the game.

    Be very careful who you play with, indeed.
    You are being overly dramatic. There will be DMs that won't like the idea, sure, but I am a somewhat rigid DM with a quite old school view on subjects and I think this is completely ok. Half of it is only daydreaming of a possible future and there is no hurt in hoping, so let her have dreams I say.

    If the player wants to maximize their effectiveness in a subclass that is considered the worst class of the game, then I say it is no big deal. Of course, it is your job as a DM to certify that the world will also put a very real fight so that everyone can feel challenged or die trying.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Shadow View Post
    You have eleven questions that need answering. Eleven.
    Sure it's a high number, but not that crazy. You strongly advocate the idea that 5e depends more on rulings than rules and such a stance virtually guarantees that a great many character concepts will need to pre-clear multiple rule interpretations with a given DM. The OP was kind enough to flag every point of contention they noticed, something that I would have thought you'd applaud: it makes it far easier for prospective DMs considering such a build to know what rulings they need to make ahead of time.

    As far as adding work for the DM goes, this proposed build doesn't come anywhere close to the thorny questions posed by a lightfoot halfling warlock/rogue with crossbow expert.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Xetheral View Post
    Sure it's a high number, but not that crazy. You strongly advocate the idea that 5e depends more on rulings than rules and such a stance virtually guarantees that a great many character concepts will need to pre-clear multiple rule interpretations with a given DM. The OP was kind enough to flag every point of contention they noticed, something that I would have thought you'd applaud: it makes it far easier for prospective DMs considering such a build to know what rulings they need to make ahead of time.

    As far as adding work for the DM goes, this proposed build doesn't come anywhere close to the thorny questions posed by a lightfoot halfling warlock/rogue with crossbow expert.
    Thanks for the support. And that was my basic thought process. There are plenty of characters who can out-damage, out-tank, or out-utility this build. Certain blade-pact warlock / EK combinations can do all three at once. Just imagine bonus-action casting eldritch blast after a full round of attacks.

    I mostly did this so someone (like myself) wanting to play a beastmaster could keep up with an optimized party.

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    Default Re: Breaking BM

    Could you just fix the class by having the companion work independently like in 3.5?

    I haven't looked into it much, but it seems like the biggest complaint of the class.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mephnick View Post
    Could you just fix the class by having the companion work independently like in 3.5?

    I haven't looked into it much, but it seems like the biggest complaint of the class.
    You could, some homebrews do that. But some people are worried about breaking action economy, which is probably why WoTC did it this way in the first place.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Easy_Lee View Post
    Panther Ė 50í movement speed, and 40í climb. Can charge creatures and knock them over with a successful claw attack if the creature fails a save (DC 12 STR). (Q2) do BMs add their proficiency bonus to this DC? That would make it 18 max.
    I think base DC 12 is based on 8+2(STR bonus)+2(Prof. bonus). So I'd probably allow BM's prof bonus overlap with it, getting DC to 16 max.

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    Default Re: Breaking BM

    This looks good. Well except for the awaking part and magic item part. My biggest concern replacing your panther or getting one if you can't start with it. You might end up on a wolf just because it's more common (though in that case I might just go Giant Spider.)
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    Quote Originally Posted by Forum Explorer View Post
    This looks good. Well except for the awaking part and magic item part. My biggest concern replacing your panther or getting one if you can't start with it. You might end up on a wolf just because it's more common (though in that case I might just go Giant Spider.)
    Any medium beast is fine, the panther is just the best on in the PHB. If you happen to encounter a pteranodon, use it immediately, because it has flight speed 60 and doesn't provoke OA's when it leaves enemies' reach. Looked at another way, pteranodon is best for archers, while panther would produce more DPS for melees due to its own attacks and OA's.

    Replacing your beast should be no more common than replacing teammates (perhaps less). Since you're riding it, you can soak up any targeted damage it would take via mounted combatant.

    What parts of awaken and magic items did you take issue with? I didn't see anything in the rules that would prevent them. Awaken works on beasts and doesn't increase CR, while the magic items section doesn't specify any rules about modifying shape and size. In fact, items seem to automatically adjust and resize to fit their wielders in the D&D universe. With that in mind, making modifications to a dagger, such as mounting it on a blacksmith'd panther claw, doesn't seem unreasonable to me.
    Last edited by Easy_Lee; 2014-11-07 at 11:30 AM.
    Breaking BM: Revised - an updated look at the beast-mounted halfling ranger based on the Revised Ranger: Beast Conclave.

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    Default Re: Breaking BM

    BM is best broken with a level 1 Cleric dip.
    With both the Mounted Combat feat and the Sanctuary spell (Level 1 Cleric), both you and your pet are very hard to damage - you can wade into an army as large as you like with virtual impunity and slowly kill them and have them kill each other via Sanctuary. You just need to make sure you don't do any attacking and leave it all to the pet, so you are probably better off going with a higher damaging pet like the Giant Badger.
    Due to your pet getting very little of use after Ranger 11 (It gets more HP but they are kind of unimportant when it can't be hurt) you are probably better off multiclassing further into another full spellcasting class (Or more Cleric levels) for more uses of Sanctuary as well as better buffing options for your pet (Considering that when you get to Ranger 5, you will have an extra action that you can't really do anything with but cast spells that don't effect your enemies). Or you could take some levels in Bard or Rogue for Expertise. It isn't even remotely R.A.W. but it wouldn't be too hard to convince a D.M. that Expertise in Animal Handling means double proficiency bonuses to the pet's A.C., attack rolls, damage and saves rather than the standard single proficiency bonus.

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