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The player of the ranger in my group asked me the other day if I could make her a snapping turtle for an animal companion (she is using the UA Revised Ranger, Beast Conclave). After looking in the Monster Manual and online, I didn't find anything that really worked for me.

I made the following statblock for a possible snapping turtle animal companion:

Snapping Turtle

Medium beast, any alignment


Armor Class 14 (natural armor)
Hit Points 30 (4d8 + 12)
Speed 15 ft., swim 30 ft.


\begin{array}{cccccc} \text{STR}&\text{DEX}&\text{CON}&\text{INT}&\text{WIS}&\text{CHA}\\ 16\;(+3)&8\;(-1)&16\;(+3)&2\;(-4)&12\;(+1)&6\;(-2) \end{array}


Saving Throws Str +5
Senses passive Perception 11
Languages
Challenge 1/2 (100 XP)


Hold Breath. The snapping turtle can hold its breath for 1 hour.

Actions

Snap. Melee Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 6 (1d6 + 3) piercing damage.

Headbutt. Melee Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 8 (1d10 + 3) bludgeoning damage. Deals 2 (1d4) recoil damage to turtle. Critical failure results in 5 (2d4) damage to turtle.

Shell Defense. The snapping turtle can withdraw into its shell as an action. Until it emerges, it gains a +4 bonus to AC, and has advantage on Strength and Constitution saving throws. While in its shell, the turtle is prone, its speed is 0 and can't increase, it has disadvantage on Dexterity saving throws, and it can't take reactions. The only action it can take is a bonus action to emerge from its shell.

Is this homebrew Snapping Turtle balanced as an animal companion for the UA Revised Ranger (Beast Conclave)?

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  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Oh, and Welcome to RPG.SE! Take the tour if you haven't already and see the help center or ask us here in the comments (use @ to ping someone) if you need more guidance. Good Luck and Happy Gaming! \$\endgroup\$ – Someone_Evil Apr 21 at 17:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ Creatures can have bonus actions (if you give them to them). But you do need some sort of mechanic for how it leaves the shell. Take a look at the Tortle if you have access. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Apr 21 at 18:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ The Shell Defense from Tortle actually looks perfect for what I am trying to achieve- thanks! \$\endgroup\$ – Fireball175 Apr 21 at 20:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ "Critical failure results in 5 (2d4) damage to turtle." - By this, do you mean a natural 1 on the attack roll? There's no such thing as "critical failure" in the D&D 5e rules (though some people house-rule such a thing). Normally, the only effect of a natural 1 on an attack roll is that it automatically misses; the rules don't give it any special name. Also, does your "recoil damage" to the turtle only apply on a hit? Both the "recoil damage" and the "critical failure" damage are missing damage types as well; I assume it should be bludgeoning. \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Apr 22 at 4:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ You may also find it helpful to read this question on meta: How can I ask a good homebrew review question? In general, you should avoid editing the existing question to substantially change a part of your homebrew - at least if someone has answered the question already - to avoid invalidating existing answers. \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Apr 22 at 4:46
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It's more powerful than the other standard beasts

Overall, you're pretty close. But there are some variations you've got that are more than the 'standard' options provide.

Hit Points

30 HP average is quite a bit higher than the other beast options. Most of those are in the 15-20hp average range.

Ability Scores

No issue here. These are equivalent to the ability scores of the standard options.

My only potential question is their +5 to STR saving throws. Given that the conclave grants your proficiency to their saving throws anyway (thanks Carcer!), this seems redundant. Most of the other creatures have a proficiency for Athletics ability checks or something like that, so it may make more sense to grant that.

Armor Class

This is higher than the regular options. Most of the standard offer 11 and 12 AC. The snapping turtle's AC of 14 is a big step up, especially combined with the other features they have that the standard options don't.

Attacks

This is where you start to diverge from the standard. The snap is fine, as it matches the damage output from the other beasts.

The headbutt is a weird mechanic. I see you're basically trading increased damage output for taking damage yourself, but that's pretty weird. I think it may be balanced, but it's an odd mechanic. The critical fail is also another weird option. If you use critical fails at your table, then I guess it's reasonable, but that's not something I generally recommend. It's basically a straight up 5% chance for the companion to get 2d4 damage every attack.

Shell Defense

Neat mechanic here, and similar to that of the Tortle. I'd recommend something more along the lines of that race with taking an action to go inside the shell and a bonus action to come out, along with the other bonuses and problems that being inside the shell does. To read more about that, please take a look at the Tortle.

However, this is also a mechanic that no other beast has. Most of those just have a simple attack option, so providing this means you should make a trade off. Either in lower AC, lower HP, or lower damage output.

Speed

This may have been the tradeoff, but I'm not sure it's totally sufficient. However, a land speed of 15 is going to seriously slow the party down and that may be a reasonable enough tradeoff for the above.

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