The Beastheart – An MCDM Class for D&D5e – Breakdown Part 2
This month, MCDM presented a new product: The Beastheart. It’s a huge PDF with nearly 50 pages worth of amazing curated content. If you like the idea of playing a character that has a monster companion such as an owlbear or a hell hound, then this is definitely your jam.
A few days ago I focused the breakdown on the companion rules. Today, we’ll continue by talking a bit about the class and some of its subclasses. I’m doing this so you can have an earlier opinion about the class, not having to wait until I fully analyze the whole product. You can search exactly what you are looking for here:
- Companion rules – HERE
The Beastheart class
The beastheart concept is all about having an extremely deep connection with your untamed companion. It works in such a way that your link is almost symbiotic – you work together and need each other. This character concept could probably be replicated with other classes and pets that your DM allows you to have in your game, but not nearly as great as how this works. The beastheart definitely stands out and is different enough from everything else in 5e to be considered its own class.
The beastheart class is a Wisdom-based class that uses Strength or Dexterity for combat, while also having a companion by their side to combo stuff with. The PDF states that they took inspiration for this class from How to Train Your Dragon, His Dark Materials, Race the Sands, and Phoenix Extravagant, just to name a few. The companion is intentionally not fully tamed to maintain that level of wildness between it, seeing the caregiver and its companion each other as two members of the same pack.
- 1st level – Companion: The companion itself is something you earn as a beastheart at 1st level. Your supernatural connection allows the beastheart to revive its companion with enough time. The PDF discourages multiclassing into a beastheart to get a companion. That’s what the companion section is for! Just ask your DM for a companion because multiclassing won’t give you much.
- 1st level – Natural Language: You can communicate with your companion.
- I can easily picture players talking with their DMs doing weird sounds in the same way Tarzan talked with gorillas.
- 2nd level – Primal Exploits: Primal Exploits are the eldritch invocations from the warlocks for the beasthearts. You learn 3 exploits and gain more as you level up. These, however, are used by expending ferocity from your companion. The cool thing about them is that even though you expend your companion’s ferocity, some cause effects that apply to the caregiver or both. Depending on the exploit, they can be activated with your action, bonus action, or even reaction! There’s 20 of them to choose from, adding a lot of versatility to the class, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they added more in the future.
- These exploits range from simple things such as protecting your companion parrying an attack to more powerful things such as having both the caregiver and the companion turn into spirits or have the caregiver launch an enemy 30ft towards the companion, who launches it back to the caregiver with its attack, only for the caregiver to use a finishing move on the enemy (these last two are only available at lvl17)
- 2nd level – Superior Ferocity: The companion can use the exploit save DC for the ferocity actions.
- These will usually be higher, making your companion more powerful.
- 3rd level – Companion bond: You choose a subclass
- 3rd level – Master caregiver: You gain proficiency or expertise in animal handling.
- 4th level – ASI
- 5th level – Beyond Instinct: Your creature’s stat block gets improved. Their ferocity points increment faster, it gains proficiency in 1 saving throw of your choice, as well as 1 skill. These things increment again at lvls 10 and 15
- This is a nice way of having the companion be better than the average companion, thus not becoming a useless pet.
- 5th level – Improved Signature Attack: The signature attack now gets to deal more damage. This gets improved again at 11th and 17th level. The companion’s attacks are now considered magical as well.
- It would feel weird to give a companion a magic weapon, so granting them the equivalent of a magic sword at lvl5 seems like the right choice.
- 6th level – Faithful Companion: Now you don’t need to use a bonus action to command the companion; it’s done as a free action. Additionally, when the companion enters a rampage, the caregiver can still direct who to attack.
- This is surely to be a pivotal point in the character’s growth. Now even though the creature is wild, the caregiver with its companion share such a great bond than the caregiver can still direct its partner. With a good enough DM, you can make this moment in the character’s growth feel really special.
- 6th level – Rejuvenating Ferocity: As a bonus action, you can transform the ferocity points into temporary hp for your companion.
- Great way to make the companion tankier! It also presents the player with an extra thing to consider, which can be fun: should you save ferocity to enter rampage mode or use ferocity actions? Or should you spend them in giving your companion some extra hp?
- 8th level – Primal Strike: You channel primal energy to make your attacks stronger. You deal an extra 1d8 damage with your weapon attacks, choosing the damage type, which you can change every level.
- This is kind of that damage improvement ability that clerics earn at lvl 8 as well. It’s usually a bit boring, but the fact that the energies are primal makes it a bit more interesting. Yes, I want an ax of lightning.
- 9th level – Mystic Connection: Your bond with the creature is so strong, you gain an extra ability determined by your chosen companion.
- If you picked an owlbear you’ll earn something different than if you chose a hellhound. This is going to make it really interesting for those people creating companions on the internet, as they will also have to create which mystic connection it gives their beasthearts.
- I noticed about 95% of them give you things to do with your bonus action or they are passive things, meaning you can attack, do something with your bonus action, and direct your companion, all in one turn. There’s also the possibility of using a primal exploit. This is huge as regards action economy. I’m not sure how strong it will make your character, but I would like to believe that with all the testing MCDM usually does, this is balanced.
- 13th level – Loyal to the End: Neither the caregiver nor the companion can be charmed or frightened.
- This one is definitely the most boring one. I would have rather seen something else, but it makes sense for it to be here.
- 14th level – Keen Senses: You gain advantage on perception checks, and can use the Search action as a bonus action.
- Yep, you are now the guy who goes first in the line in dungeon corridors!
- “So, I go on all fours and smell the ground, passing my finger through the dirt and licking it. I point towards the direction our enemies went and shout ‘This way!'”
- This might step a bit into the ranger’s territory, but isn’t the whole class nearly stepping into it really?
- 18th level – Summon the Wilds: You summon tons of animals around you to help you, creating a huge swarm that you can freely move. This swarm is an AOE that causes enemies to have disadvantage on attack rolls, saving throws, and perception checks if they are stepping in it and fail a saving throw.
- This is wicked and I love it! But what happens if you are in an interdimensional location where no animal lives? You know as well as I do that by level 18 it would not be weird for that to happen.
- 20th level – Unbreakable Friendship: You automatically succeed on animal handling checks to stop your companion from entering a rage (if you like), and your companion drops to 1 hp when they are about to drop to 0 one time. Lastly, the companion starts all combats with 1d10 ferocity.
- Not having tried the class myself I can’t state for sure how powerful this is, but on paper it feels a bit lackluster for a lvl20 ability. Don’t get me wrong though! I still think it is amazing, but not lvl20 amazing.
These are basically the subclasses, with 5 of them included in the PDF. Today we are only going to talk about two of them, leaving the rest for next article.
- 3rd level – Frenzied Charge: When your companion enters a rampage you can use your reaction to move again and attack.
- This looks like a great combo move to pair with the companion’s rampage. By having it tank multiple foes at once, it is probable that every two turns you get an extra attack
- 3rd level – Fury of the Wise: You gain proficiency in the Intimidation skill, and have a bonus equals to your Wisdom to those checks
- So… Your savagery makes you more intimidating. I like that
- 7th level – Energizing Rampage: Your companion maintains some ferocity after the rampage is over.
- All these effecys are about fury and being constantly in rage, as well as learning to control it. In a way, this is the barbarian-like subclass for Beasthearts
- 11th level – Furious Rampage: Your companion attacks get improved, by using the ferocity for extra damage when rampaging, and getting advantage on attacks when they are rampaging and within 5 feet from the caregiver
- Just in case it wasn’t clear, this trait alone means that this is a subclass for the caregiver to go melee instead of fighting from afar.
- 15th level – Invigorated Rampage: Frenzied Charge gets improved by imposing a condition to the enemy when hit by your attack
- I can imagine great players thinking of ways to describe their attacks so they would make sense to impose that condition on the enemy
- 3rd level – Chosen quarry: You mark an enemy, causing them to receive one extra 1d6 damage when hit by the caregiver or companion
- Yep, this is basically hunter’s mark, but not as a spell because beasthearts aren’t spellcasters. It makes total sense for them to have this.
- 3rd level – Hunter’s Instincts: You gain proficiency or expertise on Survival checks, and can use Survival in the same way Insight works.
- This is a way to make them more like a ranger. I really like the extra use for survival, as if it was Insight
- 7th level – Primal Warding: You can now place invisible traps. They alert the caregiver with a mental ping once they are triggered. You can place up to your Wisdom modifier per long rest.
- If you are playing an ambusher or really want to plan out your attacks with your party, you can set up great ambushes with this ability.
- It is fantastic for paranoid PCs, so they can leave traps behind them to make sure no one follows the party.
- 11th level – Synchronized Stealth: The caregiver and companion can coordinate to hide at the same time by using a Reaction. Additionally, standing next to your companion gives you advantage on Stealth checks while hiding.
- I don’t find much use in this because how many times do you need to have both characters hide at the same exact time? The advantage in stealth is nice though
- 15th level – Unseen Hunters: Both the caregiver and companion can turn invisible by using an action once per long rest.
- This ability kind of steps over the previous one. I get this one is one-time only, but still, it is weird for the designers to include two features that accomplish pretty much the same thing.
Am I liking the beastheart? I’m loving it so far! It’s a bit hard to fully comprehend how much a beastheart can affect the action economy in your games without having one in your table, but all in all it does feel pretty balanced. I’m really looking forward to having one at my table or playing one myself.
As for the subclasses, both of them feel very distinctive and special. Nevertheless, I definitely enjoy the Ferocious Bond more. That image above says it all. Sharing the rage with your companion and wrecking havoc in your path does feel very like Conan, and I would love to play something like that.