A D&D Puppet Master Bard from this College has the World on a String

D&D Character Delve: Aarakocra Grave Domain Cleric for Adventures on the Open Road
D&D Welcomes Kate Welch as Game Designer

Hello! Nerditor Doug to introduce a second guest post from Kyle Ellis. Kyle hit me up with another fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons character option and the concept brings to mind one of my favorite MMO games – Final Fantasy XI. If this College of Strings bard is what I think it is, it would make a fine companion for a Path of the Azure barbarian. Just saying. I’m just as excited as you to learn more about this puppeteer.

College of Strings

The ability to touch the soul through art and performance is not the domain of voice alone. Bards of this college understand this fact and use silent marionettes to entertain and when required defend themselves. The techniques to create these puppets would appall many if the original ways were widely known. The true style for construction is to preserve and prepare a corpse, yet more squeamish members construct the puppets with other materials such as feather, fur, and bark. True masters of this craft can even use living beings as puppets temporarily.

bard puppet college
A tarutaru puppet master from Final Fantasy XI. Not exactly the same, but i like tarutaru and FFXI.

Marionette 

When you join the College of Strings at 3rd level, you gain proficiency in Medicine, Sleight of Hand, and woodworking tools. You may prepare a corpse or materials of appropriate mass and take 2 hours for a tiny puppet, 4 hours for small, 8 hours for medium, and 16 hours preparing a large puppet.

Repairs take half as long. It requires an action to attach your strings to a new puppet and control it. You may use a bonus action on each of your turns to direct your puppet. Your puppet can act as a spell focus.

Starting at 3rd level you can make a tiny or small puppet. At 6th level you can make a medium puppet and at 14th level a large puppet.

Your puppet can move 60 feet away from you. Statistics for the puppets below. You may have as many puppets as you have materials to make them and ability to transport them but only control one at a time.

No strings attached

At 3rd level, you can spend bardic inspiration to cut the strings on your currently controlled puppet. This allows it to extend its range from you to 120 feet and allows it to follow your last instructed order without your attention for 1 minute.

Extension of self

At 6th level, when you cast spells if you have a puppet currently being controlled, you may use your puppet as the point of origin for the spell.

Wrapped around your fingers

At 14th level, if you don’t currently have a puppet on strings you can spend your bardic inspiration and attempt to attach strings to a creature you can touch. The target must succeed on a DC 18 Strength saving throw. If it fails you control the creature as if it was a puppet of the appropriate size with its own stats instead (you cant make it use spells or abilities). At the start of each of controlled creature’s turns, it can use its action to make a Strength saving throw against a DC 18 to break free. Every additional turn the DC on the Strength saving is reducedn by 1.

Different creatures have different body parts granting your puppets Different abilities.

Hands. Can Manipulate objects. Bludgeoning damage, if holding a weapon use that damage type instead.

Claws. Can Use for combat. Slashing damage

Horns. Can Use for Combat. Piercing or Bludgeoning damage

Fangs. Can use for Combat. Piercing damage

Tail. Can use For Combat. Bludgeoning unless the tail is edged or pointed then slashing or Bludgeoning

Wings. Grants Flying Speed of 30 ft

4 Legs. Grants +10 Movement Speed

Each puppet has its own unique quirks. Like this collection from Final Fantasy XI.

 

Tiny Puppet

Tiny Construct, Unaligned

Armor Class 11

Hit Points 3 (1d6)

Speed 30 ft.

Strength 6 (-2)

Dexterity 16 (+3)

Constitution 12 (+1)

Intelligence 4 (-3)

Wisdom 10 (0)

Charisma 4 (-3)

Proficiency Bonus +2
Damage Immunities Poison, Psychic
Condition Immunities Exhaustion, Poisoned, Charmed
Senses passive Perception 10
Languages None
Challenge 0 (10 XP)

Actions

Attack. Melee Weapon Attack: +3 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 1 (1d4 + 1) bludgeoning, slashing, or piercing damage (depends on puppet).

 

Small Puppet

Small Construct, Unaligned

Armor Class 13
Hit Points 8 (2d6 +2)
Speed 30 ft.

Strength 8 (-1)

Dexterity 14 (+2)

Constitution 14 (+1)

Intelligence 4 (-3)

Wisdom 10 (0)

Charisma 4 (-3)

Proficiency Bonus +2
Damage Immunities Poison, Psychic,
Condition Immunities Exhaustion, Poisoned, Charmed
Senses passive Perception 10
Languages None
Challenge 1/8 (25 XP)

Actions

Attack. Melee Weapon Attack: +3 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 4 (1d6 + 2) bludgeoning, slashing, or piercing damage (depends on puppet).

 

Medium Puppet

Medium Construct, Unaligned

Armor Class 15

Hit Points 14 (4d6 +2)

Speed 30 ft.

Strength 10 (0)

Dexterity 14 (+2)

Constitution 16 (+2)

Intelligence 4 (-3)

Wisdom 10 (0)

Charisma 4 (-3)

Proficiency Bonus +3
Damage Immunities Poison, Psychic,
Condition Immunities Exhaustion, Poisoned, Charmed
Senses passive Perception 10
Languages None
Challenge 1/4 (50 XP)

Actions

Attack. Melee Weapon Attack: +3 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 7 (2d6 + 1) bludgeoning, slashing, or piercing damage (depends on puppet).

 

Large Puppet

Large Construct, Unaligned

Armor Class 17

Hit Points 34 (6d10 +4)

Speed 30 ft.

Strength 14 (+2)

Dexterity 14 (+2)

Constitution 18 (+4)

Intelligence 4 (-3)

Wisdom 10 (0)

Charisma 4 (-3)

Proficiency Bonus +4
Damage Immunities Poison, Psychic,
Condition Immunities Exhaustion, Poisoned, Charmed
Senses passive Perception 10
Languages None
Challenge 2 (450 XP)

Actions

Multi Attack. Can perform both of its attack options

Heavy Attack. Melee Weapon Attack: +3 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 19 (6d6 + 1) bludgeoning, slashing, or piercing damage (depends on puppet).

Light Attack. Melee Weapon Attack: +3 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 10 (3d6 + 1) bludgeoning, slashing, or piercing damage (depends on puppet)

From the Nerditor’s desk

Between this and Kyle’s Prismatic Light sorcerous origin here on our site, Matt Mercer’s Blood Hunter on D&D Beyond along with the freshest Unearthed Arcana available there too, I’ve got a lot of D&D playing to do! What do you think about this creative College for D&D bards to focus their talents? Let us know in the comments below. Give the College of Strings bard a test drive in your next game and share your playtest feedback.

If you’ve got a fun idea for something you came up with in your D&D game, let us know and maybe we can share your creation with the rest of the Nerdarchy community. Or if you it needs a little help, join us over on Discord and put the finishing touches on with a little help.

And of course, whatever you do, stay nerdy!

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