Level Up (A5E) Future archetypes with pets

xiphumor

Hero
The Beast Unity combat tradition came with the promise of more archetypes with animal companions, and as such, I wanted to pose the following questions:

  • Which classes should have such archetypes? Should any not?
  • How can this best be accomplished so as to not step on the beastmaster’s toes?
  • How can we design such archetypes to ensure that the PC still feels cool, rather than merely having a cool pet?
 

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VenerableBede

Adventurer
I’ve been submitting a pet archetype for every class to Gate Pass Gazette in the hope to eventually provide unique options for everyone.
IMO, the ranger’s Beastmaster is the generalist. You can get a large variety of animals and the improvements you get just give you an overall well-rounded animal. So for the other class archetypes, I’ve been trying to make them specialists with much more limited companion options. Here’s what I’ve pitched so far, but I don’t know if most of it will get published or when:
The houndmaster, fighter, works together with a wolf to make your combat maneuvers more effective.
The bear brother, berserker, gives more of a “animals are family” feel with a bear companion. The bear itself focuses on grappling and rages when you rage.
The war falconer, marshal, uses “tiny beasts with a fly speed” (intentionally left that open so you could use a bat, but most people will use a bird) to provide unique tactical advantages not available in any other way.

For classes that don’t normally have access to maneuvers (and thus can’t get the Beast Unity combat tradition), I’ve been pushing the boundaries a little more:
The pied piper, bard, summons large swarms of rats that obey you kind of like an animal companion, but mostly they serve as battlefield hazards and control.
The gyre gazer, warlock, is gifted with a significantly empowered Pact of the Chain minion (which must be an aberration), granting it additional mind-bending powers.

I hope these get published one day, but it is my understanding that they were accepted and are being held in reserve for a period of light submissions. Given how actively this community produces entertaining content, I think that the wait will be a while!
 

VenerableBede

Adventurer
TLDR, here are my responses to your questions:
1. I think every class has the potential to have a fun, unique pet-based archetype. Pets do require a little more upkeep from players, so, like summons, come prepared, pay attention, and don’t make the game a slog for the DM or other players.
2. The Beastmaster is a generalist with access to a wide range of pets. Let it fill that role. Other classes will be more interesting by specializing anyway.
3. IMO (and it’s the reason I started on this archetype-designing quest), this can be accomplished by making the pet really feel like an extension of the player. For example, fighters focus on maneuvers, so a potential avenue for a cool pet is one that does maneuvers with you or that makes your maneuvers stronger, both of which can be fun or flavorful and directly plays into what makes most fighters fun. But that’s not the end of it. I think consciously creating more mechanical rules and abilities that encourage the pet and player to directly work together also contributes to making the player feel awesome rather than just having an awesome pet that does its own thing.
So those are my many thoughts.
 

Honestly I can see a niche for each class to have a pet of some variety or another. Some examples I can think of:

  • Adept - A subclass that comes with a trained beast that helps with the adept's maneuvers.
  • Artificer - A subclass that treats beasts almost like imbue-able magic items. They raise beasts that are enhanced by magic from the artificer, giving them abilities that may not be normal.
  • Bard - Maybe a beast that acts as a conduit for the bard's art. Think of trained animal performers.
  • Berserker - The berserker's companion shares some of their master's furious critical abilities.
  • Cleric - Imagine a hermit cleric that has close ties to nature and gets a companion as a result.
  • Druid - I mean this is kind of a no-brainer. Druids and animal companions go together like apples and cheese.
  • Fighter - A punchy companion of Doooommm!! Honestly I can see a fighter's companion being better at wearing armor and tougher so it acts almost like a tank.
  • Herald - An order of Heralds that ride to battle on the back of their companions.
  • Marshal - Similar to the Herald, this branch of Marshals ride into battle on their companions and get unique ways to inspire because they're mounted.
  • Rogue - Some rogues train animals to assist them in their thievery or scouting and tend to rely on smaller, stealthier animals.
  • Sorcerer - The companion of a sorcerer may be imbued with the elements that the sorcerer manifests. Poison Bears, Inferno Ferrets, Blizzard Lions, oh my.
  • Warlock - A Warlock could choose a patron (maybe something like the wild hunt) that gives them a beast companion in place of a familiar.
  • Wizard - For a wizard, I can imagine a wizard training a animal companion to act as a focus and conduit for their spells. Is that a battle trained panther? Yes! Did it just cast fireball? Also yes.

  • How can this best be accomplished so as to not step on the beastmaster’s toes?
This will be much harder. I think making sure the beastmaster has access to the higher CR option is good. Another option is to not allow other archetypes to give commands as a bonus action or limit what can be given as a bonus action.
 



VenerableBede

Adventurer
I really hope that enough interest can be drummed up in minions that we could get a full class based around a minion that grows in strength as you do (kind of like Pathfinder's summoner, but it does not have to be the same thing at all—it would be interesting if the same design space could be filled with a much different concept). I've been writing my own off and on but haven't been happy with it, so I moved my focus to other projects.
 

Pedantic

Legend
I really hope that enough interest can be drummed up in minions that we could get a full class based around a minion that grows in strength as you do (kind of like Pathfinder's summoner, but it does not have to be the same thing at all—it would be interesting if the same design space could be filled with a much different concept). I've been writing my own off and on but haven't been happy with it, so I moved my focus to other projects.

I'm super fond of the take on that concept from this book, the Eidolon Master. You essentially design a pokemon team as you level up, with 1/proficiency available summons. They each get 1 resistance/vulnerability, have a really basic chassis, and then you pick 4 abilities for each one (they work a lot like mini-feats) that each offer an ability score bonus and something else, like a status rider to their attacks, or a burrow speed and so on. You can generally only have 1 out at a time (at higher levels, you can very expensively get 2 or 3) so you're often picking the best member of your team for a given job. As you level up, you get more powerful abilities to pick from for customization.

The coolest idea was giving them a few utility abilities, (mostly portal/conjuration themed) that use their eidolon's HP as a resource. You roll the hit dice of a monster you don't currently have summoned, and spend its HP to use your abilities.

It would work surprisingly well in a multi-class build with Fighter with Beast Unity, I suspect.
 


VenerableBede

Adventurer
I'm super fond of the take on that concept from this book, the Eidolon Master.
I love this!
But, I have to point out, this (amazing) idea is currently 5e-only. (Yes yes, A5e is backward-compatible, but most people won't happily play O5e's more limited classes in A5e's expanded space even if the O5e original class is awesome.) There's still space for an equivalent that makes full use of A5e's expanded design options. For anyone that has the time and inclinations. Or, if anyone knows the guy, we could see if he's willing to make an A5e-expanded version...
sighs deeply At some point I'm going to finish my minion-based class, which no longer seems as cool, but first I need to finish the Mysteriarch handbook.
 

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