Campaign TrailWild West

Wrangler – Fighter Martial Archetype D&D 5e

This week on the campaign trail I present a new fighter archetype that would fit well in a wild west flavored D&D fantasy adventure or any campaign where mounted combat or overland travel is a focus.

Design Notes

  • I thought it was important for the class’ iconic character to be something other than a typical cowhand on a horse, so I went with an elf and her elk. It just feels more like a Dungeons & Dragons take on the western genre.
  • I wanted to create a subclass that sat in a similar space as the cavalier, but rather than a knight, the wrangler is a cowhand.
  • I wanted the Whisperer trait to work for a variety of mounts, not just a horse – so I provided a “training boon” to provide a way to boost your choice of HP, AC, speed, etc to make sure that a horse, an elk, and other choices can all be viable (see mount list at bottom of this article).
  • This subclass also works as an alternative to a Beast Master ranger, but a wrangler’s mount isn’t the only trick the archetype gets. I wanted the wrangler to start out with a lasso as well.
  • When working on the lasso idea, I really was looking for a way to create something that didn’t have the pitfalls of 5e best-avoided net.
  • This material is ready for playtesting, but it will likely need revisions to balance this subclass against the other official fighter martial archetypes.

Let us know in the comments what you think of this subclass. If anyone isn’t familiar with the D&D 5e rules for controlling mounts, see page 198 of the PHB.

Wrangler (Fighter) | Pugilist (Monk) | Maverick (Rogue) | Cardslinger (Sorcerer)

The Wrangler

A human herding cattle from horseback, a dwarf on a boar rushing into battle, and a mastiff riding halfling charging through goblin rustlers are all Wranglers. The archetypal Wrangler is a fighter who specializes in shooting, roping, and riding. Wranglers are also whisperers who form strong bonds with their trusty animal companions. Most wranglers gain their skillset working as cowhands and ranchers, others from riding with a group of outlaws rustling livestock and robbing stagecoaches. Either way, when you ride into danger you’re in good company with a Wrangler at your side.

Wrangler Features

Fighter Level Feature
3rd Bonus Proficiencies, Whisperer, Lasso Master
7th Courageous Rush
10th Superior Whispering
15th Careful Aim
18th Unwavering Endurance

Bonus Proficiencies

When you choose this archetype at 3rd level, you gain proficiency in two of the following skills of your choice: Animal Handling, Perception, Performance, or Survival. You can choose to gain one tool proficiency in place of one skill proficiency.

Whisperer

Starting at 3rd level, you develop the ability to create a

close connection with one creature that becomes your mount. Your mount is a beast, is one size larger than you, has a CR of ¼ or less, walks on four legs, and does not have a fly or swim speed. Work with your gamemaster to find the best fit from a boar, a camel, an elk, a giant weasel, a giant lizard, a mastiff, a mule, a panther, a pony, a riding horse, a wolf, and other options based on the surrounding terrain.

Over the course of a day of work (8 hours), you create a bond with your mount that provides the following benefits.

Whisperer’s Bond. Your mount’s abilities, game statistics, and other rules are modified as follows:

  • Your mount uses your proficiency bonus rather than its own for ability checks, including attack rolls.
  • Your mount is proficient with Strength and Constitution saving throws.
  • While your mount is not wearing any armor, it adds your proficiency bonus to its Armor Class.
  • For each level you gain after 3rd, your mount gains a number of hit points equal to your Constitution modifier.
  • Your mount loses its Multiattack action, if it has one.
  • When your mount drops to 0 hit points, it makes death saving throws using the same rules as a player character.

Training Boon. Training provides your choice of a boon to your mount. Choose one of the following improvements for your mount. You can choose an additional boon at 10th level and 18th level, but you must choose a boon you have not selected previously.

  • Your mount’s speed increases by 10 feet
  • Your mount gains a +1 bonus to Armor Class
  • Your mount is proficient in two skills chosen from Acrobatics, Athletics, Intimidation, Perception, and Stealth
  • Your mount is proficient in Dexterity saving throws

Whisperer’s Commands. Your mount can be trained to do simple tricks or make a noise on your command. Your commands can come in the form of a word, whistle, or other noise and even be combined with hand signals. Your mount obeys your commands as best it can.

In addition to Dash, Disengage, and Dodge, your mount can be commanded to take the following action options on your initiative, whether you are mounted or not.

  • Buck. Your mount tries to unsaddle a creature that is riding or attempting to it. The rider must make a Dexterity saving throw with disadvantage with a DC equal to 10 + your proficiency bonus. On a failure, the rider falls off your mount, landing prone in a space within 5 feet of it.
  • Help. Your mount takes the Help action to aid a friendly creature in attacking a creature that is within 5 feet of your mount.
  • Hide. Your mount takes the Hide action.
  • Use an Object. Your mount will do its best to pick-up, activate, push, or whatever else you command it to do, taking the Use an Object action.
  • Intimidate. Your mount roars, rears up, or anything else it can do to scare a target creature that can see it and makes a Charisma (Intimidation) check.

Lasso Master

At 3rd level, your experience with roping has made you an expert with the lasso. If you have a 30-foot length of rope, you can create a lasso as an action. In your hands, a lasso is a martial ranged weapon that you are proficient with, has the thrown (15/25) and two-handed properties, and deals no damage.

A Large or smaller creature hit by a lasso is restrained until it is freed. You can also choose to have the creature make a Strength saving throw with a DC of 8 + your proficiency bonus + your Strength modifier or be knocked prone. A lasso has no effect on creatures that are formless, or creatures that are Huge or larger. A creature can use its action to free itself or another creature within its reach. Dealing 5 slashing damage to the lasso (AC 10) also frees the creature without harming it, ending the effect and destroying the lasso.

When you use an action, bonus action, or reaction to attack with a lasso, you can make only one attack regardless of the number of attacks you can normally make. You can not use the lasso to make an attack while a creature is restrained by it.

COURAGEOUS RUSH

Starting at 7th level, you have learned to focus your courage to protect your herd, crew, or anyone you care about. When a creature hits an ally within 15 feet, you can use your reaction to move yourself (or your mount if mounted) up to half your movement speed, take the damage yourself, and make a melee weapon attack against that creature. You have resistance to the damage dealt by the attack.

Once you use this feature, you must finish a short or long rest before you can use it again.

Superior Whispering

Starting at 10th level your bond with your mount continues to strengthen and training has made the pair of you more effective as a fighting team. Whenever an attacker that your mount can see hits it with an attack, it can use its reaction to halve the attack’s damage against it. Your mount also regains a number of hit points equal to your fighter level when you use your Second Wind feature.

Advanced Whisperer’s Commands. Your mount can be commanded to take the following action options on your initiative, whether you are mounted or not.

  • Coordinated Attack. When you use the Attack action on your turn and your mount is within 15 feet, you can use your bonus action to command your mount to make a melee attack.
  • Protector. When a creature within your mount’s reach makes an attack against an ally, if you are within 30 feet of your mount, you can use your reaction to command your mount to make a melee weapon attack against the attacking creature.
  • Search. Your mount takes the Search action.

Careful Aim

At 15th level, you’ve spent years shooting at far off targets both in and out of the saddle. As a bonus action, you can take careful aim, gaining advantage on your next ranged attack before the end of your turn. You can use this feature a number of times equal to your proficiency bonus before you must finish a long rest to fully regain its use.

Unwavering Endurance

At 18th level, years of working and living in the great outdoors have provided you with a well of energy and endurance to draw from. You have advantage on Constitution saving throws and you can recover a level of exhaustion when you use your Second Wind feature.

In addition, you can now use your Second Wind feature twice between short and long rests.


Mount Stats

Here’s a table of stats to compare the various mount options for this subclass.

Animal CR Size HP AC Speed Atk* Dmg Special
Boar ¼ Medium 11
(2d8+2)
11 40 ft. +3 1d6+1 Charge,
Relentless
Camel Large 15
(2d10+4)
9 50 ft. +5 1d4
Elk ¼ Large 13
(2d10 + 2)
10 50 ft. +5 2d4+3 Charge
Giant Badger ¼ Medium 13
(2d8+4)
10 30 ft. +5 1d6+1
2d4+1
Keen Smell,
Multiattack,
Burrow 10 ft.
Giant Weasel Medium 9
(2d8)
13 40 ft. +5 1d4+3
2d4
Keen Hearing
and Smell
Giant Lizard ¼ Large 19
(3d10+3)
12 30 ft. +4 1d8+2 Climb 30 ft.,
Spider Climb
Horse, Draft ¼ Medium 19
(3d10+3)
10 40 ft. +6 2d4+4
Horse, Riding ¼ Large 13
(2d10+2)
10 60 ft. +5 2d4+3
Mastiff Large 5
(1d8 + 1)
12 40 ft. +3 1d6+1 Keen Hearing
and Smell
Mule Medium 11
(2d8+2)
10 40 ft. +2 1d4+2 Beast of Burden,
Sure-Footed
Panther ¼ Medium 13
(3d8)
12 50 ft. +4 1d6+2 Climb 40 ft.,
Keen Smell,
Pounce
Pony Medium 11
(2d8+2)
10 40 ft. +4 2d4+2
Wolf ¼ Medium 11
(2d8+2)
13 40 ft. +4 2d4+2 Pack Tactics

*Replaced with PCs proficiency, allowing for attack bonus to ramp up with PC


Art Credit: Mariam Trejo

Playtesting

We’re always looking for playtesters for our player options, monsters, magic items, and other designs here at Tribality. Wizards had the benefit of 175,000 playtesters over 2 years to get their ideas to the table; clearly we don’t have that luxury. Each of our builds are as balanced as we can design with a small playtest group and over a century of cumulative gaming XP. We are always excited to hear when players get these ideas on the table and provide us with constructive ways to make them better.