Monday, March 4, 2019

Wild Cats for D&D 5E

My daughter recently became a second-generation Game Master when she ran a session of OneDice Raptors for some friends over Christmas vacation. Since then, she has joined a newly formed role-playing club at her high school, and just this past week started running her first RPG campaign, using Dungeons & Dragons Fifth Edition.

She was already pretty familiar with many of the 5E rules from playing in my Tales from the Yawning Portal game, and has been avidly studying the rulebooks and online resources to help her plan her game. Her campaign is set in a fantasy rain forest, so she is eager to include many real-world animals native to that environment, as well as fantasy creatures based on them (like the grungs). The Monster Manual and Volo's Guide to Monsters have fairly skimpy offerings when it comes to natural animals, so she will need to re-skin* some stat blocks or make up her own from scratch to cover all the beasts she wants.

She was particularly disappointed that there was no stat block for a Small feline to represent her favorite cat, the ocelot, so she asked for my help in creating one. We compared the stats for a cat (Tiny; MM 320) and a panther (Medium; MM 333), and interpolated from there. Some parts of the stat block were easy (Dex, Con, Int, and Cha were identical, and both had Keen Smell) while others required more thought:
  • We took the average of the cat and panther's Hit Dice (2) and applied the dice type for Small (d6). 
  • We also averaged their Str scores, resulting in an 8, which felt about right.
  • All big cats (lion, panther, tiger) have an extra +2 to Stealth beyond their Dex bonus and proficiency bonus, so we gave that to the ocelot as well. 
  • The big cats also have Pounce, which appears to have a Strength-based DC. As a wild cat, the ocelot should get that, too, though we debated adding a limit to the size of creature they could knock prone. However, most Large and larger creatures will have high enough Strength scores to make that save trivial. For claw and bite damage, we dropped the panther's dice by one size.
  • Comparing the ocelot to the jackal (Challenge 0) and mastiff (Challenge 1/8), it seems much more on par with the former.

The finished stat block appears below, and can be used for any kind of wild cats (ocelets, caracals, bobcats, lynxes, etc.) that fall between the size of domestic cats and the "big cat" species.

Wild Cat

Small beast, unaligned
Armor Class 12
Hit Points 7 (2d6)
Speed 40 ft., climb 30 ft.

STR 8 (-1), DEX 15 (+2), CON 10 (+0), INT 3 (-4), WIS 14 (+2), CHA 7 (-2)

Skills Perception +4, Stealth +6
Senses passive Perception 14
Languages --
Challenge 0 (10 XP)

Keen Smell. The wild cat has advantage on Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on smell.

Pounce. If the wild cat moves at least 20 feet straight towards a creature and then hits it with a claw attack on the same turn, that target must succeed on a DC 11 Strength saving throw or be knocked prone. If the target is prone, the wild cat can make one bite attack against it as a bonus action.


Bite. Melee Weapon Attack: +1 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 1 (1d4-1) piercing damage.

ClawMelee Weapon Attack: +1 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 1 (1d3-1) piercing damage.


* The first creature she wanted help devising was an intelligent monkey-like race. I explained the concept of "re-skinning" an existing stat block to serve as an entirely different creature, and suggested the goblin stat block as a starting point for creating her monkey people (which she has since dubbed "gremlins"). The only mechanical change needed was adding a climb speed, which is far too minor enough to affect the Challenge rating. 

1 comment:

  1. Her latest project is the Mudborn, an axolotl-based race: