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I’m starting a new D&D5 campaign. One of my players loves foxes, so I would like to provide them as an option for wild shape and animal companions, along with a giant variant.

Unfortunately, the game doesn’t have an official monster entry for foxes, and none of the similar animals (badger, cat, hyena, jackal, mastiff) are quite similar enough to just file off the name and keep the stats. They aren’t great burrowers like badgers or climbers like cats, and they aren’t pack hunters like dogs. Jackals are the closest match; red foxes are about the same size, and they have the same keen hearing, smell, and intelligence. However, foxes are much lighter than other canids, and they rely on stealth and ambush rather than pack hunting. Notably, they can leap from hiding high into the air and far away, taking prey by surprise up to 15 feet away.

Therefore, I’ll need to make a custom fox write-up. However, D&D5 is new enough that I don’t have a good feel yet for writing my own monsters, plus creating a monster for druids and rangers is a different from creating new monsters that you fight, as they spend a lot more time in the spotlight, so I want to do it right.

How should I approach this problem of creating new critters for my players? Is there already a fox writeup out there I can use? If not, what should I watch out for when doing it myself?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Foxes absolutely do burrow. \$\endgroup\$ – Strill Sep 30 '14 at 17:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ True! They do burrow to make dens. However, they don't burrow like badgers, that's the important part. Foxes burrow like wolves and dogs do, none of them well enough to merit a burrow speed. Also, red foxes are much too large to use any tiny creature’s stats. \$\endgroup\$ – Bradd Szonye Sep 30 '14 at 17:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ @mxyzplk Thanks for the pointer! I like how they gave the fox good scent & stealth and excellent jumping. I think tiny size is wrong for most foxes though, and none of the numbers translate well to D&D5 – the D&D5 jackal is a much better template for those. \$\endgroup\$ – Bradd Szonye Sep 30 '14 at 18:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ You can definitely do that. Tiny is 1-2 feet high and 8 lbs, which certainly describes many foxes, they're right on the T/S line. Of course this encourages them to use the fox as a fighty-companion, while foxes are smaller than dogs and pretty much everything else that's size S, so I understand why they rounded down. Plus, as T you can carry it, as S that's a bigger deal. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk Sep 30 '14 at 18:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ @mxyzplk A lot depends on the species or even subspecies. Generally though, red foxes are the same size as jackals and eagles, which are small. Fennecs are tiny, and arctic foxes are right on the edge. The variety might be nice for druids, actually. \$\endgroup\$ – Bradd Szonye Sep 30 '14 at 19:08
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Preliminary research indicates that no one has statted up a fox for 5e yet. In lieu of actual monster creation rules which should be present in the DMG, here's the best I can offer, a reasonable conversion from the cat and panther.

Without doing a ton of research into foxes, and simply thinking about the iconic images of foxes, we think about them being nimble and dexterous like a cat, but more clever.

I think I would take the cat's stat block, give it slightly more int (maybe just a 4), a d6 for a hit die, perhaps another +2 to wisdom, and then switch it's power to give it advantage in a different situation (perhaps to blend into nature or hide in a burrow).

With the basic fox, I'd be hesitant to do anything that would pull it out of CR0 territory because I think a fox probably fits best there.

As for the giant fox. The big change for giant creatures is the increase in strength. I would make sure that this was the increase I made on the giant fox as well. If you use the Cat's stats, use the Panther as the giant version. The wisdom increases slightly for a panther as well, which I would also keep for a fox as this improves perception.

As you point out It seems that Foxes pounce from ambush when they attack, so it seems the Panther's pounce ability would be quite fitting for a giant fox. Though again I'd look at similar "racial" features that match with the fox's hiding/cunning than than necessarily keen senses.

This monster should still be a CR 1/4 and I think the Panther's 3d8 seems about right for this.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ According to Wikipedia, foxes typically hunt by pouncing from ambush, so the panther ability might actually be the right way to do it. It sounds like panther might be a much better fit for giant fox than cat is for fox. \$\endgroup\$ – Bradd Szonye Sep 30 '14 at 2:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ If you'd like to add some "fox only" combat ability you can use something like "decoy": When attacked, they often put their fluffy tails in a way that convinces attacker to bite it instead the body, which gives fox opportunity to quickly bite confused predator and run away. \$\endgroup\$ – Yasskier Sep 30 '14 at 2:40
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    \$\begingroup\$ This doesn't apply to the question, since it seems unlikely for a companion or shapeshifting, but foxes are a major carrier of rabies in some parts of the world, and for a monster stat block, that makes for a seriously serious attack. \$\endgroup\$ – mattdm Sep 30 '14 at 3:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ Intelligence 4 would make them immune to spells like animal friendship. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it’s something to consider. \$\endgroup\$ – Bradd Szonye Sep 30 '14 at 18:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ @BraddSzonye ooh interesting consequence. I'll think about that when I do my editing here. \$\endgroup\$ – wax eagle Sep 30 '14 at 18:30
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As for a fox animal companion, I’d use the jackal stats. Foxes and jackals are extremely similar, in size and in niche, a result of convergent evolution. For the wild shape and giant fox, the panther seems like a good match, although the giant fox would be more reliant on hearing and scent than a cat of equal size. Also, you might want to consider using the kitsune, a fox-race based on the creatures of Japanese legends. Here’s a link to a page detailing the Kitsune race:

http://www.dandwiki.com/wiki/Kitsune_(Monstrous_Humanoid)(3.5e_Race)

A kitsune druid or ranger would be pretty cool. A fun little quirk is that, according to legend, kitsune that take the form of a human or other shape often have trouble hiding their tails. They may transform back into a fox or fox-human if their tails are spotted or attacked. Also, as they become more powerful, kitsune grow more tails, the strongest being nine-tailed foxes.

Alternatively, you could use a cat's stats for a fennec fox (Vulpes zerda), as they are very small, or a gray fox, as they are cat-like climbers. An Island fox (native to the Channel Islands off California) is another very small species. Hey, for fun, you could even say the fox companion is an Eevee, and later the player can have it transform later on into a chosen elemental fox (eeveelution)

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    \$\begingroup\$ Your kitsune link is of homebrew (that is, fan-made content) for D&D 3.5e, not 5e. I'm not sure it's super-useful here; it might be for comparison, but I think it should be clearer that this is what the link is for, if it is. Also, dandwiki has a very poor reputation, and it might be worth finding other instances of kitsune -- they're certainly popular enough that I'm sure others exist. Aaaanyway, welcome to the site! If you haven't, I recommend the Tour, and when you get 20 rep (I'm sure it'll be soon!), feel free to join us in the Role-playing Games Chat! \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Oct 2 '14 at 21:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ The gnome ranger in our group wanted a fox companion she could use as a mount (because of course: i.imgur.com/LlpqADk.jpg), so she used the stats for a panther and decided that the setting had animals called "pseudofoxes" that were larger and a lot more dangerous. The stats worked out within the limits of the ranger's class feature, so I rolled with it. \$\endgroup\$ – Polisurgist Feb 11 '15 at 15:59

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