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The players in my campaign just hit third level and the Ranger is planning on taking the Beast Master path. She wanted a baby Owlbear as her companion, but of course there are 2 hurdles. There aren't official stats, and technically it's a Monstrosity, not a Beast. I'm okay w/ ignoring the second problem since it's a home game, and these stats I compared the Wolf, Boar and Panther and am hoping this is a reasonable approximation.

My understanding is that the Beast Master path is generally considered to be under powered, and I also wanted to emphasize some of the aspect of Owlbears (aggression and ferocity for example) to that end there are the two Reactions/Statuses the cub can be in. While Training it'll follow commands as normal and I suspect this might be a little strong at L3-4, but kind of to counter balance it, when it gets injured (Temper) it will temporarily forget training (with the Ranger having a chance to keep it under control) and it will stop behaving like a companion to murder whatever hurt it. I think this will still be generally helpful (it is trying to murder an enemy) but could be problematic if the enemy flees or tries to surrender.

So yeah, does this seem balanced? Is it too strong? Is there some issue w/ Temper I haven't thought of that will make it a problem?

Prettier formatting on Homebrewery

NOTE: I have included the proficiency bonus of 2 added to: AC, Attack & Damage rolls. It's not proficient in any skills or saves Maybe it should be?

Owlbear Cublet

Tiny monstrosity, unaligned


  • Armor Class 15
  • Hit Points 22 (2d10 + 2)
  • Speed 25 ft.

STR 12 (+1) | DEX 16 (+3) | CON 13 (+1) | INT 3 (-4) | WIS 12 (+1) | CHA 4 (-3)


  • Senses darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception 11
  • Languages
  • Challenge 1/4 (50 XP)

Keen Sight and Smell: The cub has advantage on Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on sight or smell.

Actions

Beak: Melee Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 1d6 + 5 piercing damage.

Claws: Melee Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 1d4 + 5 slashing damage.

Reactions

Training: When the cub sees its master make an attack, the cub makes one beak attack against the same target.

Temper: When reduced to 1/2 HP the cub is likely to forget it's training. It's master may make DC 13 Animal Handling check as a reaction to maintain control; otherwise it forgets Training and relentlessly attacks the last creature to injure it until one of them is dead. While in Temper it acts before it's master's turn and multi-attacks with both it's Claws and Beak. It suffers a -2 Rage penalty to hit.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Did you consider using the statblock of another Beast Master companion and just re-skinning it to be an Owlbear? You could make superficial changes such as changing a Bite into a Beak attack. \$\endgroup\$ – Ifusaso Feb 24 at 15:24
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Your baby Owlbear is mostly balanced save for a few considerations.

The size could be small and not tiny, given that owlbear adults are large, and for the claw attacks to be as effective as they are described in the stat block.

For comparison it is best to consider the “Beast of the Earth” stat block from the recently published Unearthed Arcana: Class Feature Variants playtest content (see "Ranger Companion Options" on p. 8-9).

This beast is developed as a generic spirit which is able to form into the Ranger's desired animal shape.

Based on a quick comparison, your baby owlbear and the Beast of the Earth appear to be roughly similar in power. Consider the option of using the Unearthed Arcana Ranger material as is, there are some special advantages from Beast of the Earth that are not included in your baby owlbear description.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm not sure that using UA as a measuring stick for balance makes sense. A lot of UA is unbalanced because it's still playtest. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Feb 24 at 12:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ Good point, i'll have to consider how to appropriately edit the answer. \$\endgroup\$ – Amethyst Wizard Feb 24 at 12:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ Definitely agree with Small rather than Tiny \$\endgroup\$ – NathanS Feb 24 at 13:21
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Not balanced compared to other beast companion options

Let's start with the baseline. The Beast Master is limited to choosing a companion that is (PHB, 93):

...a beast that is no larger than Medium and that has a challenge rating of 1/4 or lower.

We can look at Beasts that are a CR of 1/4 or less and compare against the build you have here.

First off, we have the issue of monstrosity rather than beast. You could handwave this and just call it a beast so that it still suffers the same issues of those beasts for certain spell or other mechanic requirements. Monstrosities require higher level spells for things like dominate, so making that more of an equivalent would be helpful.

But the real issue here is in the reactions. You've wisely chosen to limit their Attack action to a single attack as it seems like onlye one CR 1/4 beast gets more than one (or a multiattack.) Many of them do have additional rider options (like poisoned condition, or swallowing), but it's still part of their single attack option. But the only two examples that do (thanks someoneevil!), the giant badger and velociraptor, have no other riders or conditions, just the multiattack option.

Opening up a reaction attack effectively gives them a 2nd attack, and that's generally not in balance with the other CR 1/4 beasts.

Add the temper trait, and it gets even more unbalanced. Odds are, it's going to get hit and engage this trait. And now there's a multiattack that no other 1/4 CR beast has.

Overall, you've introduced attack mechanics to this that are far better than any CR 1/4 Beast, making this unbalanced.

Size

As others have noted, the tiny size doesn't seem to make sense here. Given your description, this does seem small.

Homebrew or reskin?

As you've also noted, there is no owlbear cub RAW, so you opted to homebrew one (which is awesome for your player!) As user Ifusaso suggested, rather than using the stat block you've created, pick a similar existing beast and just reskin it for the owlbear and their attack options. It'll be a much smoother transition and ensure that it's equally balanced with the other companion options.

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