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

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.

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.
 

Pedantic

Adventurer
Chamomile's pretty accessible. He has an open discord channel he runs, but they aren't really any more persuaded by A5E than 5e in general there. More generally, you could see this book (and the series of 'zines it collates) primarily as a different approach to the "expand 5e into a slightly more crunchy/complete game" than A5E took.

That being said, I think it would be pretty trivial to hack this class up to A5E standard. It just needs knacks really.
 


lichmaster

Adventurer
I've read a lot of very interesting ideas here for anyone who likes a character with a pet.

I'm wondering though if we really need archetypes for this, or we could more simply and seamlessly just design a pet system where characters can get access to some pets and get some relevant bonuses at some specific conditions.

Of course, not all characters will need to have pets, and finding these pets could take resources and some adventuring, and on top of that there could be some training required, equipment, etc.

This way the players don't have to sacrifice their archetype choice to just get the pet and can get all the benefits of having one. On the balancing side, this is an investment that the character will want to protect, so having some kind of cost (maybe roughly equated to a magic item of the relevant rarity just to give an idea) can act as both a balancing mechanism and also as a way for having the player really involved in the pet's wellbeing.
 


VenerableBede

Adventurer
I've read a lot of very interesting ideas here for anyone who likes a character with a pet.

I'm wondering though if we really need archetypes for this, or we could more simply and seamlessly just design a pet system where characters can get access to some pets and get some relevant bonuses at some specific conditions.

Of course, not all characters will need to have pets, and finding these pets could take resources and some adventuring, and on top of that there could be some training required, equipment, etc.

This way the players don't have to sacrifice their archetype choice to just get the pet and can get all the benefits of having one. On the balancing side, this is an investment that the character will want to protect, so having some kind of cost (maybe roughly equated to a magic item of the relevant rarity just to give an idea) can act as both a balancing mechanism and also as a way for having the player really involved in the pet's wellbeing.
Wasn't there some DM minor-celebrity-figure who a year ago came up with a system for turning literally any monster (in O5e) into a pet? Didn't it include rage dice, something like that? I'm pretty sure in the same third-party sourcebook he published he included a class entirely focused on maximizing the use of such pets.
I love the idea, and if such a thing existed for A5e I would use it. I do think it's worth noting that there is a greater degree of convenience in an archetype that says, "Hey, here's a wolf that's your friend. It gets stronger in these ways as you level up. Now just go play the game."
Also, just my opinion, I think it's easier for an archetype or class feature to grant a minion that feels like an extension of the player or that naturally synergizes with the player character's abilities than a separate, universal system that anyone can use. But for people who like their pets to feel separate or do their own thing, that doesn't really matter much.

In other words, both ideas fill different "this is how I have fun" needs.
 

Faolyn

(she/her)
Wasn't there some DM minor-celebrity-figure who a year ago came up with a system for turning literally any monster (in O5e) into a pet? Didn't it include rage dice, something like that? I'm pretty sure in the same third-party sourcebook he published he included a class entirely focused on maximizing the use of such pets.
I love the idea, and if such a thing existed for A5e I would use it. I do think it's worth noting that there is a greater degree of convenience in an archetype that says, "Hey, here's a wolf that's your friend. It gets stronger in these ways as you level up. Now just go play the game."
Also, just my opinion, I think it's easier for an archetype or class feature to grant a minion that feels like an extension of the player or that naturally synergizes with the player character's abilities than a separate, universal system that anyone can use. But for people who like their pets to feel separate or do their own thing, that doesn't really matter much.

In other words, both ideas fill different "this is how I have fun" needs.
Pathfinder 2 allows for your animal companions to increase in power via feats. I have no idea if they're class-specific feats or not, though, since its been ages since I've looked at any PF stuff of either edition. In LU, there could possibly be a synergy feat chain that did something similar (open to anyone with an animal companion or familiar), although I don't know how popular such a chain would be. The feats would have to allow for a great deal of power to be competitive with anything else you want to spend your ASI/feat on; they couldn't just be an extra hit die. they'd have to include higher stats (both mental and physical), better AC, and probably some supernatural abilities as well.
 

Pathfinder 2 allows for your animal companions to increase in power via feats. I have no idea if they're class-specific feats or not, though, since its been ages since I've looked at any PF stuff of either edition. In LU, there could possibly be a synergy feat chain that did something similar (open to anyone with an animal companion or familiar), although I don't know how popular such a chain would be. The feats would have to allow for a great deal of power to be competitive with anything else you want to spend your ASI/feat on; they couldn't just be an extra hit die. they'd have to include higher stats (both mental and physical), better AC, and probably some supernatural abilities as well.
They are class/archetype specific.
 

Fareed

Villager
So I love pet classes, so this is something that I think about a lot So I have quite a few ideas. For me, I wouldn't want every class just to have animals; I'd like them to each feel unique.
  • Adept- My idea for the Adept is only technically a pet class, but I call it the Beast Chucker. Your companion is a tiny beast (probably a monkey) with this archetype. Outside of combat, it could go around and do stuff on its own, but in combat, it functions as a thrown weapon. If it hits, it latches on and can apply a variety of debuffs.
  • Artificer- This is pretty self-explanatory. I'd give them some kind of magical construct that follows them around.
  • Bard- Someone else already mentioned a Pied Piper-themed Bard.
  • Berserker- Dinosoar mount, that's all.
  • Cleric- I imagine them as more of a Pokemon trainer. They would have a relatively weak beast companion but spells and features heavily focuses on summoning.
  • Druid- I emagin a Druid archetype that allows you to grow a huge plant creature as your pet. Or you could have a chimera druid who focuses on imbuing there pet with traits from other creatures.
  • Marshal- The Cavilier would get a horse pet and have a heavy focus on giving mobility based support with additional benefits to allies who are mounted.
  • Rogue- They would use tiny stealthy beast like rats and cats.
  • Sorcerer- You are able to manifest your soul as a physical entity
  • Warlock- The Vestige Keeper is a warlock whos companion is there patiron and a last remaining vestige of some greater being.
  • Wizard- they would focus on familures.
  • Fighter/Herald- I wasn't able to decide which of these ideas was best for which class.
    • Wing Knight: Agile warriors who fight from the backs of large flying steeds (eg. griffin, pegasis, etc)
    • Drake Rider
 

lichmaster

Adventurer
Wasn't there some DM minor-celebrity-figure who a year ago came up with a system for turning literally any monster (in O5e) into a pet? Didn't it include rage dice, something like that? I'm pretty sure in the same third-party sourcebook he published he included a class entirely focused on maximizing the use of such pets.
It's very probable, I just don't follow many "celebrities" at all.
I love the idea, and if such a thing existed for A5e I would use it. I do think it's worth noting that there is a greater degree of convenience in an archetype that says, "Hey, here's a wolf that's your friend. It gets stronger in these ways as you level up. Now just go play the game."
Also, just my opinion, I think it's easier for an archetype or class feature to grant a minion that feels like an extension of the player or that naturally synergizes with the player character's abilities than a separate, universal system that anyone can use. But for people who like their pets to feel separate or do their own thing, that doesn't really matter much.

In other words, both ideas fill different "this is how I have fun" needs.
I totally agree. My comment wasn't really to crap on the very good ideas written so far, but just to propose a different way than generating more archetypes.

Personally, I don't really like the exponential increase of archetypes, like I didn't like the evergrowing list of feats and prestige classes that happened at a certain point with 3.5.

Good variety is paramount, and boy does A5E deliver on that, but the way the core material increases the variety is not just with the sheer number of same kind options (archetypes or feats), but with a good number of well diversified options in many different subsystems (equipment, strongholds, followers, destinies, combat manoeuvres, etc). In this sense, a "pet" system would give even more variety to every character, and a flexible system may allow for creating a very tight bond between pet and owner. But I do understand if some people prefer an archetype for that.
 

VenerableBede

Adventurer
That’s fair, and I respect the perspective. Diversified, flexible “systems” would help to consolidate new ideas and additions without contributing to system bloat as much.
Personally, I’ve always considered bloat to either be end-positive or end-neutral. For example, I loved the overwhelming deluge of content in 3.5 and Pathfinder 1e. So many concepts and ideas that might have never seen the light of day got full-book treatment because those systems weren’t afraid to put everything out there. And then it’s up to you and your DM as to what’s available. I do get the criticism that it’s a lot for the DM to manage, keeping up with everything and trying to manage potential power creep at the table, but as a forever-DM (less by choice than by circumstance - over half of what I write is what I write is what I wish I could play if I were ever a player), it never bothered me. My players were never very competitive with each other and I’m not afraid to hack the system to give a player a boost if needed to make the game more fun, so it always worked out.
 
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