August 26, 2015


Bardic College
Comments from the Finger: We wanted each of our bards to be some sort of artist. Dancers, actors, fiddlers, and now puppeteers. 

College of Marionettes

The College of Marionettes are a guild of puppeteers that turn the movement of wooden dolls into a masterpiece of animation. Using their nimble fingers and magic string, they can even control the bodies of the living and animate the dead to follow their precise instructions.

Bonus Proficiencies
When you join the College of Marionettes at 3rd level, you gain proficiency in Performance and Sleight of Hand. Additionally, you gain proficiency with a Puppeteer's Kit.

Puppet Familiar
At 3rd level, you learn find familiar if you didn't already know it. This spell does not count against your number of spells known. The spirit of your familiar summoned with this spell can occupy your puppet or marionette doll, which in turn can move of its own volition as your familiar, using the Living Puppet stats found below.
    Additionally, when you take the Attack action, you can forgo one of your own attacks to allow your familiar to make one attack of its own. When your familiar makes an attack, it uses your spell attack bonus instead of its own attack bonus on attack rolls, and you may add your proficiency bonus to its damage rolls.
     When you communicate with your familiar telepathically, you can also take precise control of its actions, allowing your puppet to use your ability or skill modifier for an ability check and adding the die's result as a bonus on the check.

Soul Strings
By 6th level, as an action expending a Bardic Inspiration die, you can project from your fingertips barely noticeable strands of energy which can attach to creatures. Choose a living creature you can see within 30 feet to make a Wisdom saving throw. On a failed save, your strings attach to the creature for a number of rounds equal to the number rolled on the Bardic Inspiration die, after which the strings are broken and this effect ends. At the end of each of its turns, an affected creature can make a new saving throw against this effect, ending it on a success.
     While your strings are attached to a creature, it is under your complete control. You can use your bonus action to take total and precise control of the target. It takes only the actions you choose, and doesn’t do anything that you don’t allow it to do. You cannot command an activity that would result in certain death. You can also cause the creature to use a reaction, but this requires you to use your own reaction as well.
      While your strings are attached, you can take no actions or move further than 30 feet from your target creature without breaking the strings and ending the effect.

Master of Puppets
Beginning at 14th level, your soul strings can attach to the bodies of dead creatures and inanimate objects, turning them to your will. You can expend a Bardic Inspiration die to cast animate dead or animate objects, as appropriate, for a single target within 30 feet without expending a spell slot or spell components. The duration of this spell is a number of rounds equal to the number rolled on the Bardic Inspiration die and does not require concentration.

Living Puppet
Tiny construct, neutral
Armor Class 13 (natural armor)
Hit Points 10 (4d4)
Speed 20 ft.
STR 4 (- 3), DEX 15 (+2), CON 11 (+0)
INT 10 (+0), WIS 10 (+0), CHA 7 (-2)
Damage Immunities: poison
Condition Immunities: charmed, poisoned
Senses darkvision 60ft., passive Perception 10
Languages. understands the languages of its creator but can't speak
Telepathic Bond. While the puppet is on the same plane of existence as its master, it can magically convey what it senses to its master, and the two can communicate telepathically.
Ventriloquism. While the puppet is on the same plane of existence as its master, the master can telepathically command the puppet to speak, imitating his master's voice.
Bite. Melee Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, reach 5 ft. , one creature. Hit: 2 (1d4) piercing damage.
Scare (1/day). One creature of the living puppet's choice within 20 feet of it must succeed on a DC 10 Wisdom saving throw or be frightened for 1 minute. The target can repeat the saving throw at the end of each of its turns, with disadvantage if the living puppet is within line of sight, ending the effect on itself on a success.
Play Dead. The puppet can superficially deanimate, and can appear as a mundane puppet, even under close inspection. It can end this effect at any time.

Sidebar: New Tool: Puppeteer's Kit
This kit contains a small curtained stage, a puppet, and a set costumes and backdrops. Proficiency with this kit lets you add your proficiency bonus to any ability checks you make with a puppet.

Changelog: 8/26/15: Puppet Familiar's rules for actions in combat are changed; it can now take actions in combat as a normal familiar and uses Bardic Inspiration Dice only as a bonus to ability checks or to make an attack.
8/16/16: Puppet Familar: No longer expends Bardic Inspiration dice, but can attack and be controlled
Soul Strings: Reworded


  1. I love this! I would build a character using this archtype to have a lot of necromancy and fear abilities as well as a bunch of mind control and forced movement. Also I am thinking maybe building on the puppets scare ability with extra emhasis on scaring to death and scaring to paralysis. Ooo! Maybe I could also incorperate some teleporting and stealth to the puppet!

  2. For clarification, in the second paragraph of "Puppet Familiar," do you need to expend a Bardic Inspiration Die EVERY time the puppet takes an action that requires a die roll?

    1. You know, this part needs a rewrite, and I think I intended to give it one before the release, but it slipped through the schedule. I'll work on that ASAP

    2. Not sure if that's supposed to be snarky, but I did address that issue promptly, as noted in the changelog.

  3. I can Imagine this and the shadow rogue going great together for some shadow puppet kind of things.

  4. Replies
    1. I legitimately had to look up this reference to make sure you weren't a spambot of some variety XD

      The puppetmaster archetype seems really common in anime (of which I'm not a big watcher.) A friend of mine told me that it reminded him of a Naruto character as well.

    2. The puppets scare ability reminds me of a living nightmare puppet from the kaijudo tv show.

    3. Touhou isn't anime, it's a game series.

    4. I personally thought of Donquixote Doflamingo when I read about this class. Granted he doesn't have a puppet, but then again he doesn't need one.

  5. So many of these subclasses give me ideas for recurring villains. This combined with the soulbound constructs from pathfinder would be perfect.

  6. Curious; Gains proficiency with a Puppeteer's Kit? What's in that/how would one get it/ what is it used for??? Can't find that info anywhere...

    1. Drat, I intended to include that in a sidebar (though I can't do it right now, I will soon.) It's just a kit with a small stage and a puppet, complete with strings and a few costumes for it. Everything you need to make a few copper a day performing on the street.

    2. Sorry for the necroing, but you never added this sidebar information. Moving on from that I'd like to say this is a very interesting subclass, but personally I would like it see it as a more minion-centred subclass, a puppet-master that is nothing without its puppet. Forcing the bard to use a bardic inspiration die to attack seems a bit too stifling, even more so given that the puppets don't upgrade, as such their attack is mediocre. A good way to get around this is to add the capability to upgrade your puppet (per has through the use of animate dead, animate object and the like?) as well as allow them to deliver the bard's spells through their touch, and allowing them to attack, even if with a straight d20, using only the bardic die to add a bonus to it.

    3. I don't believe in thread necromancy!

      I'll try to add that sidebar tonight, it's genuinely going to be a sentence long.

      Looking back on it, I agree that this familiar is totally sub-par. I think at the time I was worried that I would make something a little too powerful, but I clearly overdid it. I think for now I'll give the familiar the ability to attack like a pact of the chain familiar, and give it the ability to channel bard cantrips. It won't make the class familiar-centric, because Soul Strings is really the focus, but it's a move in the right direction.

    4. Well, that was fast. Looking it over again, it looks much more balanced. Going to show this to some of my players to see what they think.

  7. This comment has been removed by the author.