Gaming Thursday: Pet Classes

Here’s a quick, off the cuff, totally not fleshed out or playtested idea on how to handle a pet class (ie someone with an animal companion or similar) in D&D that may resolve the current disappointment/issues with the current iterations of the Beastmaster Ranger (and similar) classes.

To begin though, I get the difficulty in crafting this kind of class.  There’s a few of major things to balance:  first you don’t want to add too much complexity (having a player have to manage two full-fledged characters), and second you don’t want to add too much power (where the character + their companion’s abilities overshadow everyone else at the table).  And while the revised Ranger and it’s Beastmaster subclass from Unearthed Arcana seems to have found a mostly workable solution for that, there is a third area of balance that remains the Achilles heel:  hit points.  To avoid allowing the companion to become a vast sponge of extra hit points for the party, the companion’s AC and Hit Points remain modest… which means they are all too often going down like a chump.  Sure, the Ranger can resurrect them, but few want to play a class where their best bud is dying every other day.

So here’s the concept:  Have the companion fully share the combat economy with the main character, not only in actions and attacks, but in Hit Points as well.  How this is fluffed will depend on the specific pet class – a ranger or druid could have a real spiritual connection/ bond to their companion, a warlock might have a more parasitical and/or arcane tie, etc – but the basic idea is that you can balance the class almost as a single actor within a combat encounter.  So when the main character takes a move action one or both can move, and when the main character takes the attack action, each attack they get as part of that attack action can be performed either by the main character or their companion.  And when one gets hit, both are closer to being knocked down.

At its simplest, as well as in some ways the most extreme, everything about the two could be set to be exactly the same:  to hit, damage, AC, etc.  It’s one character, just being two places at once on the board.  (To be fair, though, if both are caught in an area attack, they only take the damage once).  It’s also workable to have some minor differences between the two in AC and attack power.

The nice thing about this is it makes it easy to turn nearly any character into a pet-using class, since there’s little change in their effective contribution to the party’s abilities and power.  Of course, even if using the option of complete identicalness, there are some extra benefits that come from having two bodies in play, but they mostly fall into the same category of advantages that come from having a familiar (albeit one with much greater hit points, though outside of combat that should matter much less).  The biggest impact may come from having an extra ally for the purposes of controlling territory or granting the Rogue sneak attacks.  It’s fair then to have the character need to swap out a minor class feature, or make a custom Feat that allows them to gain the companion (with, I’d say, a few extra riders or a single +1 ASI, since the power gain wouldn’t otherwise be a full feat’s worth).

The last tweak that may make this sing is to allow – or require – the character or companion (whichever one takes the damage when this occurs, or a choice if they take area damage simultaneously) to drop unconscious when they reach 25% of their Hit Points.

So that’s the idea.  Iffn’ and when I get a chance to test this out, I’ll report back.  And if you try it, please comment below with how it went and any suggestions you have!

Gaming Thursday: Trail Maps

Back in 1990, TSR released a pair of maps:  one of the (western) Forgotten Realms, the other of Kara-Tur.  They called them Trail Maps, and these were no simple poster-sized map; much like the name suggests, they unfolded like a road map to massive size.  Put the two together and you got the whole of the realms some 72”+ wide.  It was epic.  I had them on my wall for quite some time.

One of the benefits of working at an architecture firm is access to a full-colour large-format roll scanner.  I think you know where this is leading… both trail maps, scanned and merged, with a bit of added continent to the south, all ready for your campaigning pleasure:

Enjoy!

Gaming Thursday

Heroforge now has centaur models!  Rejoice!

As someone who has long enjoyed playing centaurs (and other taurs!) in D&D, this is exciting news for me.  And if you’re not familiar with Heroforge, well, consider this doubly great news, for now you’ve learned about a site that you can make and order customized 3D printed minis for your character.  It’s as awesome as it sounds.

And hey, if you like centaurs, wemics, and other taurs (or even yuan ti) as much as I do, I’ve written a supplement for D&D 5e so you can add them into your game:

Check it out!

 

Gaming Thursday

This… is all shades of both interesting/bizzare…

… and hilarious if you follow one of the comments’ suggestions and replace the redacted areas with classic D&D names:

“Vecna considers GYGAX to be eccentric . . .”

“Tiamat added that . . .”

“Mordenkainen advised that GYGAX…”

“… his knowledge of “The Tomb of Horrors”, also known as FRESNO.”

 

Gaming Thursday: Tauric Races

Announcing the publication of my latest D&D supplement:  Tauric Races!

From the familiar half-human/half-horse centaur to the more exotic wemic, formian, and even the yuan-ti, centaur-like races have graced the pages and campaigns of D&D since its very beginning.  A staple within fantasy literature and art, these centaur-like, or tauric, races have long captured our imaginations.

Live life on four feet and bring these fascinating hybrids into your adventuring party with Tauric Races!  Within this 20-page supplement you will find guidance on how to incorporate tauric races into the rich detail of your campaign world, guidance on how to play a tauric race, and complete rules for how to create centaur-like races based on nearly every animal type, including mammals, reptiles, insects, arachnids, and snakes.  In addition, it includes a new background, one new feat, and three fully developed races ready for immediate play:  the mighty centaur, the fierce wemic, and the agile kendrii (a foxtaur race).

You can find it here:  http://www.dmsguild.com/product/207056/Tauric-Races

Here’s to it bringing excitement, fun, and adventure to your games.