“Sometimes, a family is a hardened warrior, a grizzled old wizard, a strangely talkative monk, a stocky knowledge seeker, and their dancing beetle covered in assorted fungi.”
– Qwinston Mayhill, knowledge seeker
A slimeling slithers from beneath a now unlocked door and accepts a scrap of meat from their dungeoneering keeper. A bard sings in the town square while his pygmy owlbear toddles through the crowd accepting coins. A brawler lifts her domidan high into the air so it can see the next match in the crowded arena.
Over the course of their travels, adventurers cross paths with the most dangerous creatures in the realms, often surviving gnashing teeth, magical attacks, and feral ambushes by margins thin enough to see through. But it takes a special kind of individual to face the monsters of the world and not blink. And an even more special one to reach out and give them a pet afterward.
New Friends, New Rules
The following new game option introduces rules that would allow anyone to link themselves to a creature companion, something typically reserved for druids, rangers, and wizards. Although some tables will find this to be an excellent way to expand their games and open up new roleplay opportunities for their table, some players and GMs may find the introduction of additional companions cumbersome to their style of gameplay.
As with all new rules and game options, it is highly recommended that the addition of creature companion options into your game be discussed during your pre-campaign conversations or during your group’s session zero, specifically how players and GMs will handle the danger and mortality that accompanies adventuring with a living creature and how that creature will be handled mechanically throughout the course of their gameplay.
Unlike the spirits summoned using find familiar or similar spells, the following rules work under the assumption that creature companions are actually living beings which player characters can create a mystic link with. These potential companions are commonly discovered throughout the course of an adventure and at the GM’s discretion. But whether found in the wild or while shopping in an exotic (or black market) bazaar, the mechanics of forging a link with a creature companion, as well as the potential benefits and ramifications of that link, remain the same.
Forging Your Link
In order to link with a creature companion, a character must have the following feat:
You are able to extend your spark to forge a mystic link with a willing creature companion. In order to successfully forge a link, you must spend one uninterrupted hour concentrating on and interacting with the creature. The creature companion must be a non-humanoid creature of challenge rating ½ or lower, size Large or smaller, and not hostile toward you. You cannot be linked to more than one creature at a time and a creature cannot be the subject of more than one link. After successfully linking, you gain access to the creature companion’s stage 1 and stage 2 benefits as they unlock at the specified levels and the creature companion’s statistics change as follows:
- Its armor class changes to equal 13 + your proficiency bonus.
- Its hit points change to 5 + five times your character level and increase by that increment each time your character level increases.
- Its proficiency bonus equals your proficiency bonus.
Your creature companion is friendly to you and your companions. In combat, the creature companion shares your initiative count, but it takes its turn immediately after yours. It can move and use its reaction on its own, but the only action it will take is the Dodge action unless you use your bonus action to command it to take another action. When you take the Attack action on your turn, you can exchange one attack to command your creature companion to take the Attack action. If you are incapacitated, your creature companion can take any action of its choice.
If your creature companion drops to 0 hit points, it dies, and you must immediately make a DC 16 Constitution saving throw. On a failure, you take an amount of psychic damage equal to ½ of your creature companion’s total hit points and are stunned for 1d4 rounds. On a success, you take half as much damage and are not stunned. If your link is broken in this way, you may not attempt to forge a mystic link with another creature for one month.
You may end your link with a creature companion by spending one uninterrupted hour concentrating on breaking your link. Your creature companion may end their link with you as a bonus action. Your link ends after twenty-four hours if you and your creature companion are not on the same plane.
The process of forging a link with a creature companion may be the same no matter where the players are in the world, but the ethics of the process as well as the opinions of what creatures should and should not be linked with can vary from culture to culture. A normal individual linking with a beast might rankle a strict druid, but forging a link with an undead or fiend might be seen as unclean or evil by most societies. And linking with a sentient creature carries its own obvious questions and grey areas that players may not foresee.
If these creature companion options are going to be added to a campaign, it’s recommended that these considerations be spoken about ahead of time so that the players can prepare themselves and their characters appropriately, or avoid possible issues entirely.
From the above description of the mystic link feat, it’s fairly clear what benefits a creature companion is granted from their link with a player, as well as the potential (painful) drawbacks that can come from that link. But each creature companion also provides link benefits which it confers to the player immediately after their link is forged and their sparks are entwined. Link benefits cease the moment that a player’s mystic link is ended with their creature companion for any reason.
Linking with a creature companion unlocks the stage 1 link benefit available to that creature, but as a character grows in power and their link with their creature companion strengthens, the possibility to unlock additional and more powerful link benefits becomes available. A player gains access to a creature companion’s stage 1 and stage 2 benefits through the mystic link feat. Taking one of the subsequent feats indicated below will provide access to the stage 3, stage 4, and stage 5 benefits. All link benefits unlock and provide their features to the player at the levels indicated in the creature companion’s link benefits description.
The following is a selection of link benefits that creature companions grant their players. Although the selection presented is large, GMs are encouraged to use the below link benefits as templates to create their own for any unlisted potential creature companions.
Blessed with seemingly preternatural agility, selecting a cat as your creature companion allows you to gain the gifts of their grace and dexterity.
Stage 1 Benefit. You gain a +2 bonus to initiative.
Stage 2 Benefit (5th level). You have advantage on Dexterity checks made to maintain balance. Additionally, as long as you’re conscious, you only take 1d4 damage for every 10 feet that you fall (instead of the usual 1d6 damage) and you do not land prone.
Stage 3 Benefit (9th level). When a creature you can see hits you with an attack roll, you may use your reaction to reduce that damage by an amount equal to 1d8 + either your creature companion’s or your own Dexterity modifier.
Stage 4 Benefit (13th level). Increase your Dexterity by 2. This may increase your score beyond 20.
Stage 5 Benefit (17th level). You have advantage on initiative rolls.
Brave and stalwart companions, domidan that accept a mystic link with an individual share the boon of their strong hearts and resilient hides.
Stage 1 Benefit. You gain resistance to bludgeoning damage.
Stage 2 Benefit (5th level). When you first make an attack roll against a target that is within 10 feet of an ally on your turn, you have advantage on that attack roll if your ally is below their hit point maximum.
Stage 3 Benefit (9th level). You cannot be frightened.
Stage 4 Benefit (13th level). Increase your Constitution by 2. This may increase your score beyond 20.
Stage 5 Benefit (17th level). When an ally within 10 feet of you takes damage from a weapon attack, you may use your reaction to take that damage in your ally’s place. This damage can be reduced by resistance or immunity.
Want the remaining 10 creature companions, their unique benefits, enhancing feats, and other goodies in this supplement? Join us on Ko-fi or Patreon and receive this full title or purchase it individually here.
Featured Art by Beto Lima.
Subscribe to our newsletter to stay up-to-date on our articles and all of the latest news from The Underground!
Open Content: Subject to designation as Product Identity (see below), the only portion of this Underground Oracle Publishing product designated as Open Game Content is the rules content taken from the SRD as defined in the Open Game License version 1.0a Section 1(d). All other parts of this product including all text not specifically designated as Open Game Content is not Open Game Content. No portion of this work other than the material designated as Open Game Content may be reproduced in any form without express written permission.
Product Identity: The following items are hereby identified as Product Identity, as defined in the Open Game License version 1.0a, Section 1(e), and are not Open Content: All content which is not included in the SRD (System Reference Document version 5.1) or has otherwise been specifically designated as Open Game Content, including all Trademarks, registered trademarks, proper names (including the names of characters, place names, creature names, organizations, items, new spells, new abilities, new features, new class options, etc.), dialogue, plots, story elements, locations, characters, artwork, graphics, sidebars, and trade dress. Elements that have previously been designated as Open Game Content are not included in this declaration.