When I became the editor for EN5ider my first objective (aside from keeping the high level of quality D&D 5E articles coming!) was a new suite of classes to follow up on the original A Touch of Class. In this series I’m going to explore the 9 new entries in A Touch More Class, reveal some of the development process behind them, and consider the obstacles in getting these from ideas to fully finished concepts. Get a quick fix on them all here and sign up for the mailing list so you know when the Kickstarter launches next month!
I had more than one class idea of my own (aside from the Gemini) but I both didn’t want to make half this project about my designs and knew that this second concept was going to require some thorough playtesting. With these things in mind I called upon Erik Evjen over at IGRE Publishing who at the time was also the head of a regional gaming group up there in the USA’s frigid northern states–somebody in a proper position to help work out the many kinks for the creature controlling MONSTER TAMER!
The Monster Tamer
As much as I adore the luck-manipulating concept for fatebenders, as is obvious with the gemini I’m also intrigued by classes that allow for players to play a character and also something more–whether that be a character with two distinct aspects, or a character that’s only whole when both parts of it are in play (can I get some love for Devil Dinosaur and Moon Boy?!). That’s where the monster tamer comes in! Unlike a beastmaster ranger, when they aren’t with their pet a monster tamer is simply not going to match up with its competition. On their own they’ve got great hit points (d12s!), can use a whip like a boss, and if their buddy is dead have a kind of super-rage (at high level). Our goal was for them to truly shine when their creature companion is in play, and by golly monster tamers really can shine!
- Tough Stuff “Imagine the Rancor keeper in Return of the Jedi” is something I say frequently in regards to the monster tamer because that is definitely a character I had in mind while working on this class. They don’t get heavy armor, but they do get medium armor and shields, and on top of the tasty hit die they get a little natural armor boost at the middle game and again near the end. Put simply: the monster tamer can tank on their own, and though not as well as a barbarian, they’ll be able to survive alongside their pet.
- Buddy Tactics When the monster tamer’s pet is around they are both stronger for it! First of all the maximum CR of the creature rises with monster tamer level, and if it’s not at the maximum it gets scaling bonuses instead. Next the monster tamer can provide some temporary hit points to their pet (because tanking!) or even remove some exhaustion. Into the mid-game while together they both get immunity to the charmed and frightened conditions, and finally the monster tamer’s Regimen gives them more specific benefits.
- Regimens We uncorked the Challenge Rating on companions and the class archetypes are where we unlocked the creature type chest: oddballs get aberrations, dragons, or oozes, the monstrous get monstrosities, and the animalist obviously gets traditional beasts. Mind you there are other restrictions along with roleplaying elements–the more exotic a creature the more exotic the food it requires daily, none can have an Intelligence higher than 5, control of a pet is done through Monster Tricks–but as a player it excites me tremendously, and GMing for monster tamers was a little challenging (particularly the rust monster, which we have a sidebar about as some creatures are simply too disruptive) but so very, very worth it.
DESIGN HURDLE: All the Monsters
We went up and down and back again over which creatures qualified for use with the monster tamer, how to categorize them, where to draw the line, and which were going to be straight-up problematic. Will it petrify/destroy everything in sight or provide flight at too early a level? GM’s need to practice discretion there and in those cases are specifically invited to. Otherwise because the monster tamer is essentially a walking target dummy with hit points (plus whips!), the creature type restrictions in place put the burden of balancing to the system’s already (mostly) balanced monsters (propped up a bit from the monster tamer’s hit points). It doesn’t allow for the party to have a monster included with them at a CR higher than 8, but even with the types (aberrations, beast, draconic, monstrosities, and oozes) and Intelligence limiter that leaves a very open field.
If this sounds awesome to you then please check out the A Touch More Class Kickstarter and if you can’t wait for the PDF/book (which deliver as soon as the project funding period ends) consider joining the EN5ider Patreon! It can be as affordable as $1 a month and as soon as you join you get instant access to Monster Tamer Basic, Monster Tamer Advanced, and the rest of the 270+ article archive!