Monday, November 9, 2015

Alternate Rules: Werebear Archetype

So I'm really fond of two classic monster: vampires and werecreatures. I lean more towards werecreatures than the undead. There's something about them I really like. I think it's mostly the whole primal bestial rage kind of thing. I dunno. I've always been a huge fan of werewolves. They're cool. There's something I find noble about wolves. The pack nature of wolves kind of translates to concepts of community and family and whatnot, even though those concepts don't really enter into the why of wolf packs and such. Wolves are predators and stuff, animals. I can't speak to their intelligence and whatnot, but I doubt love of family is what drives them to run in packs and protect their territory. 

Anyway, point: blah blah blah werecreatures are neat. I'd like to add an aspect of them to DnD. They're not really meant to be player options, but there are suggestions in the Monster Manual. But in this instance I'd like to add an aspect of them to the Barbarian class. There are versions of them that exist for that in previous editions. In this edition, I'm going to go with the werebear, rather than werewolf or something else. The reason for this is because Barbarians are berserkers. Berserk is an old word that some believe means bear shirt. Warriors would wade into battle wearing bear hides and stuff believing these bears to be totems that would grant them power. Supposedly. Who knows what the originally origin of the word was and the why and how of it. It's just what I read on Wikipedia. Regardless of it's accuracy, I like it. So I'm going to run with it. 

I'm just going to say right here that I know that both of the existing arcehtypes for the 5th Edition Barbarian cover aspects of the berserker and having a bear as an animal totem. I don't care. They're dumb and don't have what my goal here is. 

So what do werebears have in 5th Edition DnD. Let's look. They can use their action to switch to a Large bear, their original humanoid form, or a Large hybrid bear/humanoid form. They gain immunity to bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing damage from non-magical non-silver/silvered weapons. They gain advantage on Wisdom (Perception) ability checks due to their keen sense of smell. They also gain the multiattack ability to attack with two claws when in bear form. In bear or hybrid form, they can bite for 2d10 damage as well as use their claws for 2d8 damage. It seems likely that the werebear's bear form is based on a brown or polar bear, and their bite deals 2d6 damage and their claws do 1d8. There's also a note in the lycanthrope entry in the Monster Manual for player characters as lycanthropes it lists a few things. The character gains a Strength of 19 and a +1 bonus to AC while in bear or hybrid form. The one thing that the lycanthrope entries in the Monster Manual lacks is the regeneration we frequently see in film and literature. 

Since we're adding this to the Barbarian class, we need to look at the open spots for ability gains from archetype choice for the class. These spots are 3rd level, 6th level, and 10th level.  

So at third level, the entrance into the the Werebear Archetype, we add that when the Barbarian rages his size increases by one step and he takes on the burly, hairy, hybrid bear appearance of the werebear. Increases in size, specifically from the enlarge spell, typically gives the character advantage on Strength ability checks and saving throws (which the Barbarian already has while raging) as well as providing a +1d4 bonus to damage. We're just going to give the Barbarian a bite attack for 1d10 piercing damage and two claw attacks for 1d8 damage. We're also going to give the Barbarian advantage on Wisdom (Perception) checks involve smell here because it is a fairly minor ability. Finally, Barbarians normally have resistance to bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing damage while raging. We change this to be resistance to non-magical, non-silvered bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing damage. 

At 6th level we add two things: Strength 19 while raging, a +1 bonus to armor class. 

We have two abilities left for our 10th level ability, the regeneration and the immunity to non-magical, non-silvered damage. I think the reason this edition lacks regeneration for lycanthropes is because previous editions did. But they had damage resistance. In previous editions of DnD, it was at some point in some place explained that damage resistance was no always immunity to types of damage, it was also instant regeneration. So when dealing 11 non-magical, non-silvered damage to a werecreature in Pathfinder (they had DR 10/silver), you weren't dealing 1 damage, you were dealing 11 and 10 of it was instantly regenerated. 

Werewolves play a big part in a book series I read a few years back. Silver was still a bane to them, as is traditional. But their regeneration was wondered about and explained by the characters in the book. Werecreatures regularly go through a physical change that breaks and reforms every bone in their body and transmutes human biology into that of a hybrid creature. Regenerating simple damage like cuts and stabs and bullet holes is fairly simple to replace if you can do that every month. It was also explained that this regeneration was not infinite, it was fueled not by magic, but by the creature's energy like any other biological process. So if you can do enough damage to force a werecreature to burn through its fat reserves and caloric intake and whatnot, it'll die. I am particularly fond of this concept. 

So to cover the regeneration of werewolves, I think what we'll do is say that at 10th level, the Barbarian gains the ability to spend one hit dice as a free action every round while raging while his hit points are below their maximum.   

So here is what we have:

3rd Level Abilities

  • The Barbarian gains advantage on Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on smell. 
  • The Barbarian gains physical characteristics of a brown bear/humanoid hybrid while raging.
  • The Barbarian's size increases while raging. 
  • The Barbarian gains claws that deal 1d8 slashing damage and a bite that deals 1d10 piercing damage while raging. A Barbarian may make a bite attack, two claw attacks, a normal weapon attack, or a weapon and a claw attack with an attack action while raging.  
  • The Barbarian's resistance to bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing damage while raging only applies to non-magical, non-silver sources of damage. 

6th Level Abilities
  • The Barbarian's Strength becomes 19 while raging, unless it is already higher. 
  • The Barbarian gains a +1 bonus to armor class while raging. 

10th Level Abilities
  • While raging, the Barbarian may spend one hit dice every round as a free action on his turn to restore 1d12 + his Constitution modifier hit points. 

I'm not sure how balanced it is. I didn't really compare it to the existing archetypes for the Barbarian class. I just kind of slotted stuff in. It might be more appropriate to push the armor bonus to the 3rd level abilities, as it's fairly minor and the werebear's hide wouldn't suddenly be thicker while raging. I dunno. It seems fairly light on oomph, and it all only occurs while raging for the most part, so it does seem kind of lackluster. Not sure. I could perhaps give the non-raging barbarian resistance to bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing damage with penetration by silver and magical weapons, and turn it to immunity while raging, but that seems excessively overpowered at low levels. 

I dunno. I like it, it does exactly what I desired it to do and it doesn't seem to be excessively overpowered. So I think it's a success. Woo!

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