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I'm a new DM. One of my players is insisting her character is really three owls in a trench coat (appears to be an elvish druid). Can someone help me figure out some way for this to have happened? How does one turn three owls into an elf?

I want to support her - this is her first time playing, and I want her to have a good time. I was thinking I was going to make it so that another person had transformed her from three owls into an elf, and finding the truth about this will be a minor side quest. I just want to know who/what could have made the transformation happen, and how it would occur - are there any spells for this?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Are you sure this player wants you to provide quest/plot hooks related to their owlness? It may be that they're simply being silly and want to turn it into a running gag with no real impact on gameplay. \$\endgroup\$ – Oblivious Sage Feb 9 '18 at 23:42
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    \$\begingroup\$ Is she playing with you one-on-one? Or is she part of a group? What other characters did the group make? \$\endgroup\$ – daze413 Feb 10 '18 at 5:08
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    \$\begingroup\$ This is the best question I've seen on here in a long time. I must ask though - do you mean 3 owls that can shapeshift into an elf, or flaT out 3 owls on top of each other? \$\endgroup\$ – Matt D Feb 10 '18 at 17:30
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    \$\begingroup\$ reddit.com/r/DnD/comments/c6fdw4/… \$\endgroup\$ – Davo Jun 29 at 19:27
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There are several options you may pursue as a DM to achieve this goal but keep in mind that homebrewing a mechanic for this might bog down, unbalance or leave wide plot/lore implications in your game that might be exploited.

Magical Effects

  • Modified Reincarnate

    You may use a modified version of the reincarnate spell as a way of explaining how 3 owls turned into an elf. Perhaps an archfey had 3 favoured owls as pets. When tragedy struck one day (maybe when a powerful ogre-magi and its army invaded), the archfey's last act was to reincarnate the owls as a vengeful elf.

  • Wish

    Perhaps a wish spell was the cause of that character's origin. An adventurer might have come across a genie and wished for a companion with the wisdom of 3 owls.

  • Wild Magic

    The effects of wild magic was responsible for bringing back Minsc and Boo about a century after his death in the D&D Comics. It wouldn't be too much of a stretch to believe that wild magic could transform 3 owls into an elf. A wild magic sorcerer might have been responsible as he or she was practicing casting polymorph.

Will of the gods?

Perhaps the gods needed an agent to carry out their will. Just as Zeus in ancient mythology was said to have changed ants into men. Maybe a god in D&D whose high priest had recently become corrupted might have chosen 3 watchful owls to turn into a single elf with qualities that the god cherishes.

Madness

Maybe that character is just mad - full on nuts! In the DMG on pg 258 guidelines for dealing with madness in characters can be found. She could roleplay her madness as a character flaw; as someone who sincerely believes she's 3 owls when really she's just a crazy elf.

As a plot hook, you might decide that her madness comes from a curse, perhaps cast upon her by a shadow-druid when she accidentally started a forest fire as a child.

Have Fun

This has potential to be quite a memorable character. I recommend you do not add in mechanical changes such as giving the character special owl powers, because it might unbalance the game. Focus on the narrative, background and role-play aspects to bring this character to life.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I really like this as an opportunity for a bait-and-switch. Perhaps all the signs point towards her just being flat-out bonkers...until it turns out that she actually is 3 reincarnated owls... \$\endgroup\$ – Ynneadwraith Jun 12 '18 at 14:30
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You don't need game mechanics

You can just do it! If you agree that your PC can be made up of three owls in a trench coat, you can just say that it's true. You're the DM, after all.

For example, I had a player who wanted to be a persimmon tree, for some reason. We eventually decided that she would use the mechanics of a Wood Elf, but would be a living persimmon tree for all other purposes. Doing so opened up a lot of fun RP potential, while not being gamebreaking.

As for a gameplay justification, you don't really need one. D&D is full of magic that the players cannot access. For example, sentient magic items exist, but the players have no way to create one. If you peek into published adventures, you can see examples of mysterious, plot-driving magic that is inaccessible to the players (e.g. Out of the Abyss). You shouldn't overuse magic as a plot device, but they're fine for situations like these.

If you really want game mechanics...

There are a few ways that this could be done using the existing game mechanics, or variations on them. First, the Wish spell and direct divine intervention can accomplish pretty much anything. Also, a slightly modified True Polymorph is capable of permanently transforming a creature into another one, though it can't change them into multiple creatures by RAW. The Deck of Many Things has a Void card, which draws out your soul and puts it into anything of the DM's choice. Your character could have pulled this card and been split into 3 owls. As you can see, though, there aren't many RAW options that let you create such a PC.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Pursuant to the "just do it" philosophy, Bojack Horseman famously has a character who is obviously 3 kids in a trenchcoat, but only Bjoack seems to notice. That's the joke there. Would be just as easy here. \$\endgroup\$ – Premier Bromanov Jun 29 at 22:25
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Perhaps the character really is just 3 owls in a trenchcoat, that decided to go adventuring. They learn some druidic skills from a local forest denizen, and off they go. Maybe you play with the druidic Wild Shape mechanic -- their natural shape is 3 owls, but they can wildshape into an elf (maybe because that restricts their shaping to just those two forms, allow longer or more frequent Wild Shape uses?).

I would say that, unless the player wants to, don't overthink it too much. Just run with it, be imaginative, pretend. Have a lot of fun.

It is a fantasy game of storytelling, after all.

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The trench coat is a magic item that combines any three animals into a single sentient being. Removal of said coat reverts the character to three owls with correct owl stats. Can result in a real bizarre game where your PC's have to chase and track down three fleeing owls to regain their Ally.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Welcome, please check the tour. It would be lovely if you cited the source for your answer. \$\endgroup\$ – Akixkisu Jun 29 at 22:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to RPG.SE! Take the tour if you haven't already, and check out the help center for more guidance. I'd suggest reviewing our citation expectations meta; all answers must be supported by citing evidence or experience. If this is your own homebrew suggestion, have you played it or seen it played? How has it worked, in your experience? \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Jun 29 at 23:37

protected by Oblivious Sage Jun 30 at 2:56

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