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    Sindeloke's Avatar

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    Default Wild-Bonded subclass: Barbarians with badass battle buddy beasts

    I was trying to stat out an NPC a bit ago, a tanky character with a bonded animal friend, and asked for help on the 5e forums. It was suggested to me to go barbarian, and if I was so keen on the animal buddy, make a barbarian pet subclass. So I did.

    General design goal is that it lacks the straight-up damage of the ranger's pet (no prof to damage, no extra attacks) but offers flexible utility in a way similar to the totem barbarian.

    Wild-Bonded
    While all barbarian tribes are closer to the natural world than city folk, there are some who see the beasts around them not just as danger, food or tools to survive the wild taiga, but in fact as brothers in the struggle for survival. The champions of these tribes honor and fight alongside these wild kin, working so closely they come to act as almost a single being.

    Spoiler
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    Beast bond
    At third level, when you adopt this path, you form a deep bond with a creature of the wilds. This can be a small, medium or large natural creature of 1/4 your CR or less that is friendly to you. Forming the bond requires an uninterrupted 8 hour ritual during which both you and the creature (hereafter "beast") stay together in a ritual circle. At the end of the ritual, the beast gains the following properties:

    • It has a number of d8 hit dice equal to your character level, which it can use to recover health during rests as normal.
    • It has hit points as though it were a monk or rogue of your level; 8 for your first level, d8 (or 5) for each subsequent level, modified as normal by its constitution score. If its normal hit points are higher than the resulting number, use those instead.
    • It uses your proficiency bonus when making attack rolls and any saving throws or ability checks with which it is proficient. It applies 1/2 your proficiency bonus to its other saves and as a bonus to its armor class.
    • Its Intelligence score increases to 5, if it isn't already 5 or higher.
    • It gains the ability to make death saving throws.
    • In combat, it acts on your initiative. If left to its own devices, it will defend you and anyone else it considers an ally to the best of its ability, in accordance with its personality; different companions may attack the weakest-looking foe first, the one attacking you, the one nearest, the one that just hit it, or even attack no one at all and instead run away when badly hurt.
    • You may give the beast an order as a bonus action, and it will attempt to follow that specific order to completion, to the limit of its understanding, including on subsequent turns if necessary. Once done it will return to acting of its own volition unless given new orders.


    If your beast dies or you choose to permanently dismiss it, you can bond with a different valid creature the same way.

    Spoiler: notes
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    Lest you look at this and think "what the hell! How is that fair to rangers?", rest assured that this text is lifted directly, letter-for-letter, from my ranger BM revamp. The large, plus 1/4 of level rather than 1/4 CR ever, period, could potentially be too strong pending future monster data, but a) Large is easy to penalize with tunnels and dense forest, and b) I refuse to be the DM who says "no you can't have a gryphon, it's just too badass for you."

    Also note that I specify the undefined tag "natural creature" instead of the rule-invoking "beast"; I really don't like the type categories this time around and will probably eventually just change them, but in the mean time, I don't want to lock out odd-in-our-world but normal-in-theirs stuff like rust monsters.


    Spirit Bond
    At sixth level, your bond with your beast has developed to a mystical level, allowing you to coordinate and support each other in profound ways. Choose one of the following options:
    Fight as One. Whenever your beast successfully attacks an enemy, you gain advantage against that enemy on your own next attack against them. Your beast enjoys the same benefit against enemies you strike.
    Bleed as One. Whenever you or your beast loses hit points, you may split the loss evenly between the two of you.
    Hunt as One. When you and your beast are within 30 feet of each other, you both move at the faster of your two walk speeds. If you or your beast has some other form of locomotion available (fly, climb, swim) and you are both able to attempt that form of movement, you share the higher of those speeds as well.
    At 14th level this ability applies when you are within 60 feet of each other.

    Wild Lord
    At tenth level, your beast commands great prestige among its kind. It can command others of its species, within the limits of their mutual intelligence. It cannot compel its fellows to take extreme risks for little gain, but they are friendly to it and will always grant reasonable requests. Members of your beast's species will no longer attack either of you unless badly provoked. In addition, your beast gains one of the following abilities:
    Wild healing. At the beginning of your turn, your beast regains a number of hit points equal to your proficiency bonus.
    Spirit touch. Your beast's natural weapons are considered magical for the purposes of overcoming resistance and immunities and striking creatures on the ethereal plane.
    Daunting roar. As an action, your beast can target a single creature within 15 feet with a terrible roar, howl, screech, or other appropriate sound. The target must make a Wisdom save (DC 8 + your proficiency bonus + your beast's Constitution modifier) or take 1d8 thunder damage and be frightened of the beast until the end of your next turn.

    Spoiler: notes
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    Daunting Roar is better than the same-level near-identical Intimidating Presence the berserker gets, so it's still alpha-stage, but I'm not sure what to do with it yet. I might boost the damage, make it half damage/no scare on a save, and one per short rest, or I guess just strip the frightened effect out entirely and boost the range, so the beast can contribute when it can't reach the fight. IDK. Suggestions are welcome.

    Also, wild healing + bleed as one strikes me as way too powerful defensively, but so does resistance to all damage but psychic. I was hoping to find a completely different mechanic from bear totem that provides a similar utility for tanking, but I can't tell if I overdid it or underdid it.


    Bond of Rage
    At fourteenth level, your connection to your beast is so profound that it shares your very emotions, even yor primal rage. Whenever you enter a rage, your beast rages as well, gaining all the same benefits as you with the same restrictions. It can remain in its rage so long as you are also raging. If you drop out of rage, it can continue to rage without you so long as it has been less than one minute since the rage began and it continues to make attacks or be attacked each turn.


    And there it is. Questions, comments, and criticisms welcome!
    Last edited by Sindeloke; 2014-11-03 at 03:49 AM.

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    Bugbear in the Playground
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    Default Re: Wild-Bonded subclass: Barbarians with badass battle buddy beasts

    This is fantastic. Where's your Beastmaster rewrite, if it's posted? I LOVE what you did with the pet.

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    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Sindeloke's Avatar

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    Default Re: Wild-Bonded subclass: Barbarians with badass battle buddy beasts

    It's not posted yet, but thank you! It's good to know there'll be some interest when I do.

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    Default Re: Wild-Bonded subclass: Barbarians with badass battle buddy beasts

    You can probably remove the note about the hit dice improvement, since there isn't really anything that targets it, and it conflicts with the note of increasing hitpoints. Adding hit dice develops them in sometimes batter ways... if the creature has 14 or more constitution, then that d8 hit die will give 6 hp/ level, messing with the 5/ level progression that the wild bond gives them.

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    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Sindeloke's Avatar

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    Default Re: Wild-Bonded subclass: Barbarians with badass battle buddy beasts

    Quote Originally Posted by Gnomes2169 View Post
    You can probably remove the note about the hit dice improvement, since there isn't really anything that targets it, and it conflicts with the note of increasing hitpoints. Adding hit dice develops them in sometimes batter ways... if the creature has 14 or more constitution, then that d8 hit die will give 6 hp/ level, messing with the 5/ level progression that the wild bond gives them.
    As far as I can tell, in 5e, hit points (determined arbitrarily for monsters and set by rolling a die each level plus Con for classes) and hit dice (a 1/level resource only PCs have that allows health regeneration) have nothing whatsoever to do with each other, apart from sharing a die size. But you're right, it's pretty clunky and very counterintuitive to 3.p types who still expect a hit die to mean what it's supposed to mean and be straightforward and universal. I'll tweak it.

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    Default Re: Wild-Bonded subclass: Barbarians with badass battle buddy beasts

    Quote Originally Posted by Sindeloke View Post
    As far as I can tell, in 5e, hit points (determined arbitrarily for monsters and set by rolling a die each level plus Con for classes) and hit dice (a 1/level resource only PCs have that allows health regeneration) have nothing whatsoever to do with each other, apart from sharing a die size. But you're right, it's pretty clunky and very counterintuitive to 3.p types who still expect a hit die to mean what it's supposed to mean and be straightforward and universal. I'll tweak it.
    Yeah, saying that it has, "One more hit die to spend per short rest." might work better, methinks.

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    Dwarf in the Playground
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    Default Re: Wild-Bonded subclass: Barbarians with badass battle buddy beasts

    what do you mean you dislike the monster categories? Why wouldnt you just use the term beast? Do you have any other monsters in mind that would fit your custom category?

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    Default Re: Wild-Bonded subclass: Barbarians with badass battle buddy beasts

    I'm not a huge fan of barbarians, and thus am not an expert on the subject, but this archetype seems significantly more powerful that the Totem Path.

    Without crunching the numbers, it seems that your Barbarian +Pet would be able to outfight a totem barbarian in most cases, as well as having as much (or more) utility with "Wild Lord".

    I'm not really concerned with how it ballanced agains the beastmaster ranger-- but if as I suspect, there's no good reason for a min/maxer to take the official archetypes over this one, then it is probably overpowered.

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    Default Re: Wild-Bonded subclass: Barbarians with badass battle buddy beasts

    Quote Originally Posted by Dominuce2112 View Post
    what do you mean you dislike the monster categories? Why wouldnt you just use the term beast? Do you have any other monsters in mind that would fit your custom category?
    A number of monstrosities, like piercers, rust monsters, owlbears, and griffons, are perfectly normal animals that exist completely without magic of any kind in their D&D ecosystem, and from the perspective of an in-universe naturalist, wouldn't seem any different from a deer or axebeak or raptor. Actually "monstrosity" is a stupid category altogether and I don't know why they introduced it. I'm also totally willing to spot a ranger a shambling mound-type plant companion if it fits their concept.

    (Also, oozes should just be an abberration subcategory, and giants a humanoid subcategory, and there's really no reason for pegasi to still be celestials now that a paladin's mount is a celestial by default, and "outsiders" was a much more useful category than "celestial/demon/aberration/construct", etc etc...)

    Quote Originally Posted by eleazzaar View Post
    Without crunching the numbers, it seems that your Barbarian +Pet would be able to outfight a totem barbarian in most cases, as well as having as much (or more) utility with "Wild Lord".
    I haven't found Wild Lord that potent. Animals that are common enough that the barb can always find one to ask for help, are also weak enough that the companion isn't much use in combat and won't be the barb's first choice.

    Worth noting, though, that I have tweaked things since I made this post, and it needs to be updated. Beast health is now lower, it and the barb(/ranger) share a pool of hit dice that's only a little larger than a ranger's default, and Wild Healing is capped at 1/2 beast health. The damage is still a real problem, though, just as it is for the vanilla beastmaster ranger; there's absolutely no balance between the available companions in terms of what they can do. If you have a wolf, horse, eagle, or such, the damage is quite reasonable (more than a solo totem, but about where the frenzier or a wolf totem with a melee buddy is). If you get a multiattacker, a charger, or worst of all, a poison animal, it's ridiculous.

    I have no idea how to begin to solve that, though, without simply making a default set of stats for the companion and turning the choice of what "animal" it is purely cosmetic, which kind of kills the fun, as well as a lot of interesting utility perks (spider climb, burrow speed) that different beasts might otherwise provide. Our current solution is just that the barb just happens to have a low-damage companion, which is simply Oberoni.

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