Image Credit: Cristof Grobeleski  |  Written by Dan Simon  |  Updated: 07/MAR/18 15:00



























Dungeons & Dragons & Dogs

Woof! Not all heros walk on two legs. In every land, territory or kingdom, in homes and on the streets, or out in the wilds, one will find dogs. Faithful companions, scrappy strays, and feral dogs can be common in almost any setting. Though most dogs tend to avoid the territories of other canines, it is not unheard of to find a dog mixed int with a pack of wolves, or living in solace with other pack animals. Large and small, dogs can be a devoted companion to an adventuring party, or a pack of mutts that have set out into the world to achieve a common goal. They can be guided by gods or masters, or simply by their own sense of smell looking for a better meal or hunting interesting prey. Dogs tend to have less complicated motivations for engaging in adventures. They are unconcerned with the politics of a village, but they are territorial and protective of those they love, and the places they call home.

Beyond Animal Companions

A dog can be more than just an animal companion to an adventurer. These beasts are not awakened, but have an uncanny intelligence that almost seems human at times, and can act autonomously from their human masters. Dogs often form a deep bond with humanoid creatures that treat them kindly, pack members, and dieties.

Dogs that choose to strike out on their own for adventure, while not intelligent enough to speak language, are smarter than the average mastiff (Monster Manual pg. 332). They are not magically awakened either. For the purposes of intelligence, this score is only for skills that can apply to a beast without influencing language skills.


Four Legged Friends

As non-humanoid characters, dogs can have a wide variety of motivations for their behaviour - but they are most often driven by rewards such as praise, food and affection. They can be a valuable addition to an adventuring party, be it comprised of all dogs, or to a party of humanoid characters, to act as scouts, trackers, moral support, or an ally in combat. Once a dog has bonded with an adventuring party, it can be treated as understanding the directions and needs of its allies without needing to comprehend languages.

No matter where they go, dogs will find humanoids that are both afraid of them, and overly friendly with them. Dogs have an innate sense of people, and will often find a willing host or a friendly place to stay, even in the most remote areas.

Now you can play as an animal companion to another player character (so long as their class allows for such), or as a mount. Dogs can carry creatures one size smaller and below. Or simply play as a pack of adventuring dogs! Homeward bound!

Canine Names

Dogs are often named by humanoids, but can choose thier own name. It can be any name, in any language, or a descripton of a sound, or object. Dogs do not typically have last names, or family names. Dog names are understood in Canine.

PART 1 | PLAYER CHARACTER DOGS

Canine Traits

Dogs come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, and have a wide variety of abilities based on their size, temperment and training.

Ability Score Increase. Your Charisma score increases by 2.

Age. Dogs reach maturity at 1 year, and reach adulthood at 2. Dogs live to an average of about 15 years old.

Alignment. All Dogs are good dogs, Brent. Differences in training and experience may make them more lawful or chaotic. Their moral compasses are slightly less sophisticated than other humanoid civilizations and their motivations are far more simple. Dogs cannot be inherintly evil, but they can be used for evil purposes.

Size. Dogs range in size from 10 lbs pounds to up to 200 lbs. The largest breeds are considered Medium beasts, and the smallest are Tiny beasts, and are noted by sub-breed.

Speed. When taking the dash action, the increase to your speed is doubled. If your movement is normally 40 feet, you can move up to 120 feet on your turn.

Keen Senses. Your senses of smell and hearing is heightened, and you have advantage on perception checks that use those senses.

Skills. All dogs are proficient in Perception. Choose one other skill from Intimidation, Investigation, Performance, Persuasion or Survival. Dogs cannot use tools.

Languages. Dogs speak Canine, and can understand basic commands from one language of their choice. Dogs are illiterate, and cannot be wizards.

Armor Proficiencies. Barding can be used as armor for dogs (Player's Handbook pg. 155). Armor proficiences are noted by class. Dogs cannot use shields.


Dog Bite

Dogs cannot use weapons. However, they do have their natural weapon: bite attack.

Adventuring dogs are much better at combat than the typical mastiff (Monster Manual pg.332). For the basic dog attack, calculate as follows:

  • Dogs are proficient in biting. Add your proficiency bonus.
  • Dogs can use Strength OR Dexterity as their primary stat for their attack bonus.
  • Unless otherwise noted, damage for Medium dogs is 1d8 + STR. Increase to 1d10 at 10th level.
  • Unless otherwise noted, damage for Small dogs is 1d6 + (DEX or STR). Increase to 1d8 at 10th level.
  • Unless otherwise noted, damage for Tiny dogs is 1d4 + (DEX or STR). Increase to 1d6 at 10th level.

Class features may grant additional bonuses, and where class features grant specialty bonuses to melee weapon attacks, these can be applied to the bite attack. Unless otherwise noted, natural attacks are not magical.


Sub-breeds


There are hundreds of different breeds of dogs. Instead of listing out every breed, they are grouped as sub-breeds, and each mentions a few typical examples of dogs that fit a certain profile. Almost any breed can be inserted into these breed types so long as they can match the size. Your DM will decide if your chosen breed can work within the sub-breed selected. You can pick any breed, but you can only pick one sub-breed for it's benefits.

Guardians

Guardians are powerful breeds that have been bred for protection, security and battle. They are loyal - to their god, their master or to their home, and will defend what they love bodily until they draw their last breath.

Typical Breeds. German Shepherd, Giant Shnauzer, Doberman Pinscher, Rottweiler, Mastiffs.

Ability Score Increase. You can increase either your Strength or your Constitution by 1.

Size. You are a medium beast.

Speed. Your speed is 40 feet.

Strong Bite. Your bite strength is stronger than most dogs. Damage from your bite attack starts at d10, and increases to 2d6 at 10th level.

Menders

Menders are some of the most common types of dogs. They are rarely found alone, and have a deep sense of loyalty to their pack - be it the clergy of a temple, a family, or a whole village. They are enthusiastic and dutiful, doting on their loved ones with cuddles and slobber.

Typical Breeds. St. Bernard, Golden Retriever, Labradors, Bernese Mountain Dogs, Poodles, Collies.

Ability Score Increase. You can increase either your Strength or your Wisdom by 1.

Size. You are a medium beast.

Speed. Your speed is 40 feet.

Supportive Friend. You can cast the Comforting Touch spell as a bonus action 3 times per long rest.

Image Credit: Dino Tomic

PART 1 | PLAYER CHARACTER DOGS

Image Credit: Johanna Tarkela

Herders

Herders are the glue that holds a herd, or a pack, or a party together. They ensure that no one is left behind, and help packs work together to achieve their goals.

Typical Breeds. Border Collies, Cattle Dogs, Australian Shepherds, Sheepdogs, Corgis.

Ability Score Increase. You can increase either your Dexterity or Wisdom by 1.

Size. You are a small beast.

Speed. Your speed is 45 feet.

Pack Tactics. If you and an ally are within 5ft of an enemy creature, you and any allies within 5ft of the enemy creature gain advantage on attack rolls.

Hunters

Hunters are adept at moving through the wilds, and chasing down prey. They are quick and agile combatants. They tend to be more independant, scouting, scouring and sniffing out adventure and bringing the pack to where it needs to go.

Typical Breeds. Pointers, Setters, Beagles, Foxhounds.

Ability Score Increase. You can increase either your Constitution or your Wisdom by 1.

Size. You are a small beast.

Speed. Your speed is 35 feet.

Fetch. Reaction When a ranged weapon attack is made against you, use a dexterity saving throw. If your save is higher than the attack, you are able to catch the projectile, and take no damage.

Trackers

Trackers are similar to hunters, but can locate an object or person from miles away. Given the faintest hint of a scent, a tracker can find whatever it is they are looking for. Trackers are rarely surprised.

Typical Breeds. Hounds, Poodles, Spaniels.

Ability Score Increase. You can increase either your Dexterity or your Wisdom by 1.

Size. You are a small beast.

Speed. Your speed is 35 feet.

Observant. You have a +5 bonus to your passive Wisdom (Perception) and passive Intelligence (Investigation) scores. You have proficiency in Survival. If you already have that proficiency, it becomes expertise.

Ratters

Tiny little rascals, ratters are perfect rogues. They can squeeze into small spaces, get under doors, bypass traps without triggering them, and generally help themselves to whatever they want with speed and cunning.

Typical Breeds. Terriers, Daschunds, Mini Schnauzers.

Ability Score Increase. You can increase either your Dexterity or your Intelligence by 1.

Size. You are a tiny beast. Medium and larger creatures have disadvanage on attacks against you.

Speed. Your speed is 30 feet.

Tricky. Ratters can unlock locks, and disable traps as though they had proficiency with thieves tools.


Mutts

Mutts are an easy-going mix of multiple sub-breeds. Their friendliness and stable temperament makes them able to adapt in many environments. However, their mixed nature makes them unpredictable at times.

Multi-breed. Select two of the sub-breeds, and take the Ability Scores Increase of one, and the Feature of the other. Your size and speed is the average of the two sub-breeds.

PART 1 | PLAYER CHARACTER DOGS

Class Modifications

Dogs can be almost any class with a few modifications. The only prohibited class from the Players Handbook is the Wizard, as it requires the ability to read. Classes from other books will require some common sense and DM discretion. Dogs cannot use shields or weapons. For all classes that use melee weapons, you can replace all references to that with your natural bite attack.

DM discretion can be applied to any class rules as written to make the flavor of the mechanic suitable for a dog character.

Starting Equipment

  • Dogs start with no weapons.
  • Dogs do not start with shields.
  • Armor given by class starting equipment will be treated as barding.
  • Dogs can carry packs to store gold, trinkets, potions and additional items, but do not need nor can they use tools, torches, pitons or other objects that require hands. A lantern may be carried, but can only be lit by magical means (or by a humanoid companion).
  • Dogs do not require special clothing or equipment to survive the elements, and are quite comfortable in most weather.

Skills

Dogs cannot be proficient in History or Religion. Replace Religon proficiences with Nature and History proficiences with Insight.

Barbarians

A natural fit for Guardian dogs, the Barbarian class requires no mechanical modifications to work perfectly. DM discretion may be applied for Path of the Totem Warrior features.

Bards

Bardic dogs are not unheard of - however they cannot play instruments. They can sing, and perform tricks.

  • Spellcasting is limited by the available spells noted on page 11.
  • Your bardic focus can be any object you can play with (ball, stick, etc).
  • Song of Rest is now simply offering a comforting touch, getting a belly rub, or licking a face.
  • Cutting Words for dogs is Distracting Bark.

Clerics

Dogs, especially Menders, are natural clerics. Their dieties are often animal and life focused, but any diety can call a dog into its service.

  • Spellcasting is limited by the available spells noted on page 11.
  • The Holy symbol can be an amulet or emblem worn on a collar.
  • Dogs cannot take the Knowledge Domain

Druids

Dogs as druids make for incredibly versatile combatants. Transforming into other beasts can make them extremely powerful combatants. Dogs are natural defenders of the world of nature.

  • Spellcasting is limited by the available spells noted on page 11.
  • The druidic focus can be an amulet or emblem worn on a collar.

Fighters

The fighter class requires some modifications to work without weapons and shields. For Guardians and Hunters though, there's plenty that works well for dogs.

Fighting Style

Dogs cannot use the following Fighting Styles: Archery, Dueling, Great Weapon Fighting, Two Weapon Fighting. Add the following fighting styles:

Grappler

When making a melee bite attack, on a successful hit you can latch on to the creature. The creature can only shake you loose with an athletics check, (DC 10 + your proficiency + Strength) and will take automatic bite damage each round that you are able to hold on. If the creature fails the check by 5 or more, it is knocked prone.

Large Breed

When you roll a 1 or 2 on damage die for an attack you make with your bite attack, you can reroll the die and and must use the new roll, even if the new roll is a 1 or a 2. Any attack you make where you above the average damage (half maximum damage + 1), the creature must make a Strength saving throw (DC = 10 + proficiency + Strength) or be knocked prone. You must be a medium beast to use this style.

Battlemaster

  • Replace Student of War with one additional maneuver.
  • Dogs cannot choose Sweeping Attack as a maneuver.

Eldritch Knight

  • Spellcasting is limited by the available spells noted on page 11.
  • Replace Weapon Bond with Magic Bite: Your bites are now considered a magic weapon attack.

Image Credit: Tatiana Danchurova

PART 2 | CLASS MODIFICATIONS

Monks

Monks are a natural fit for Dogs. Make some flavour changes to things like Quivering Palm and Open Hand Technique, and DM discretion should be used for Way of the Four Elements.

Paladins

Dogs are suitable Paladins. Charismatic and good, the Paladin class require only a little adjustment to make it work for them.

  • The Holy symbol can be an amulet or emblem worn on a collar.
  • Spellcasting is limited by the available spells noted on page 11.
  • Sacred Weapon is applied to your bite attacks.

Rangers

Rangers are a natural class for Shepherds, Hunters and Trackers. A dog loves nothing more than to be out in the open air, and is a natural Ranger. With a few caveats, the Ranger class works well with Dogs.

  • The spell focus can be an amulet or emblem worn on a collar.
  • Spellcasting is limited by the available spells noted on page 11.

Fighting Style

Dogs cannot use the following Fighting Styles: Archery, Dueling, Two Weapon Fighting. Add the following fighting styles:

Grappler

When making a melee bite attack, on a successful hit you can latch on to the creature. The creature can only shake you loose with an athletics check, (DC 10 + your proficiency + Strength) and will take automatic bite damage each round that you are able to hold on. If the creature fails the check by 5 or more, it is knocked prone.

Wild Savage

When you hit with a successful bite attack, as a bonus action you can shake and rip at your opponent. Make another attack and on a hit, roll damage dice without modifier damage.

Pack Hunter

When running down a target creature, if one of your allies is also in melee with the target, you gain advantage on attacks.

Feral Senses

At 18th level, your keen senses are so heightened that vision is not your primary sense for targeting enemeis. Gain advantage against any creature that is attempting to use sight to decieve you.

Ranger Archetypes

Hunter
  • Dogs cannot select Volley. This option becomes Magical Beast Add one additional spell slot at your highest casting level. This moves as your casting level increases.


Beast Master

The Ranger companion for dogs is limited to Small and Tiny creatures as follows:

Badger
Bat
Cat
Crab
Flying Snake
Frog
Eagle
Hawk
Jackal
Lizard
Owl
Poisonus Snake
Rat
Raven
Scorpion
Spider
Stirge
Weasel

Rogues

Roguish dogs are a party's best friend. No one suspects a dog, and these dogs can get into places that sometimes even halflings can't. With a few alterations, the Rogue is a good choice for dogs.

Roguish Archetypes

Thief
  • Fast Hands. Dogs cannot use an object. If granted the Tricky feature of Ratters, this provides a second attempt to unlock doors, locks, and disable traps in the same round.
  • Use Magic Device. Dogs cannot use scrolls, but can now use rings, wands, rods and other devices that can be held in the mouth and don't required hands to operate. Staffs are too large for a dog to use, but they can carry them.
Assassin
  • Infiltration Expertise. Dogs cannot disguise themselves. Replace with a +5 bonus to Stealth.
  • Imposter. Dogs cannot mimic speech, writing or behavior. Replace with a +5 bonus to Deception.

Sorcerers

Dogs are perfect for Sorcerers. DM discretion can be applied to spells, and Dogs should follow the spell list provided on page 11.

Warlocks

Dogs can be warlocks. The relationship between a patron and a Dog is not very different from humanoids, however:

  • Pact of the Blade becomes Pact of the Fang and makes all bite attacks magical.
  • Dogs cannot take Pact of the Tome.
  • Dogs cannot learn Eyes of the Rune Keeper or Whispers of the Grave

PART 2 | CLASS MODIFICATIONS

Backgrounds

Any of the existing backgrounds in the books or Unearthed Arcana can be modified to fit dogs, with a little bit of imagination. Here are five more backgrounds specific to dogs that you can use if none of those feel right. Remember, dogs cannot learn languages or use tools or equipment. Dogs can carry trinkets or rations in place of those things.

Family Dog

Dogs raised in a family enviornment are typically happy-go-lucky sorts that enjoy the affections of humanoids. They adore affection, and tend to be quite playful with other dogs. They have a friendly dispostion that ingratiates them to almost all goodly folk, and will earn them a scratch behind the ear and maybe a treat or two.

Family dogs can be working breeds that help around a farm, or a companion animal that comforts the family. Family dogs might be for protection of the family or of livestock. There's many roles a family dog can fufill. A family dog isn't prone to adventure unless something threatens the family, or one of the members of the family decide to take up adventuring themselves!

Feature: Best Friend

Humanoids are generally friendly to you wherever you go. You can always find a welcoming home or shelter, not matter where you go. When travelling with a humanoid companion, you increase their chances of being treated well by strangers no matter where you go, and make petty thieves and minor villains think twice about interfering with them.

Skill Proficiencies: Insight, Persuasion.


d8 Personailty trait
1 I'm highly food motivated! I'll do anything for a treat!
2 I love to run! Why walk when you can run and bound and fly around?
3 I'm territorial of my family. Nobody hurts my family while I'm around.
4 I'm scared of being alone. I have to be around people or dogs, and I get upset if we get seperated!
5 I'm wary of strangers, humans in hoods spook me.
6 I want to comfort people when they're sad, or hurt. I give the best cuddles.
7 I prefer when I have a job to do.
8 4 or lower
d6 Ideal
1 Family: I am devoted to my pack, be it my humanoids or my fellow dogs. I will always aid them. (Good)
2 Warm Bed: I prefer a nice soft bed to lay in. I don't like sleeping out of doors. (Neutral)
3 Treats: The more treats the better! (Any)
4 Duty: I have a job to do. And I will do it. (Lawful)
5 Fun: I need to go, go go! Let's run in and see what's in here! (Chaotic)
6 Territorial: I protect what's mine. I stay on alert so my family doesn't have to. (Any)
d6 Bond
1 My home is the most important place in the world to me.
2 My master is the only thing I care about. I'll go wherever they go.
3 I love food. I'll follow anyone on the promise of a good meal.
4 I have a trinket that's my favourite thing. I carry it with me always.
5 My pack is my life. I'd die to defend them from harm.
6 Cuddles! Gimme a pet, you'll feel better!
d6 Flaw
1 I tend to let my stomach make my decisions, and sometimes I eat stuff I have to throw up.
2 I don't always look where I'm running, and I end up in places I shouldn't be.
3 I don't have a great sense of my own limitations. I'll take on any foe, big or small.
4 I can't be without my master. I panic and get frightened without him within sight.
5 Sometimes I sniff butts at the wrong time.
6 I don't have a sense of personal space. I need to be as close to my people as possible.

Image Credit: L.A.Shepard

PART 3 | BACKGROUNDS

Lost Dog

A lost dog was once a family dog, but has been seperated from his folk, either by design or by disaster. Abandoned or seperated, the lost dog never gives up hope of one day finding his family. He might wander far and wide, in the wrong direction, but he's always looking for the people he once considered his pack.

Lost dogs are friendly to people and other dogs, but that friendliness is always given with caution. They don't bond with new people, and will align themselves with other dogs for safety only. They tend to hold their emotions more in check than other dogs, always hoping that they'll be found.

Skill Proficiencies: Survival, Athletics.

Feature: Rustic Hospitality

Despite your time on your own, you still have the countenance of a well-behaved dog. You can find a place to hide, rest and recuperate amongst the common folk unless you present yourself as a danger to them. Families and well meaning folk will shelter you from those that might mean you harm.

d8 Personailty trait
1 I don't stay in one place too long. I have to keep moving to find my family.
2 I cling to those that I learn to trust. I have an earned fear of abandonment.
3 I resource guard my food. I found it. It's mine. I don't share.
4 I can always find a spot for shelter. I like to be tucked away, out of sight, out of mind.
5 I put on a tough act, but I'm really just looking to be loved.
6 I'm slow to trust. I don't want to feel betrayed or let down ever again.
7 I've learned to rely on myself. I don't let others do for me what I can do for myself.
8 I got lost because I'm easily distracted by scents, sounds and shiny things.
d6 Ideal
1 Home: I will find my way home, no matter what it takes. (Neutral)
2 Love: I believe that everyone is basically good, and that will eventually get me home. (Good)
3 Concern: My family needs me, and they will be in danger without me. (Lawful)
4 Safety: I'm on my own, I have to be careful who I trust. (Any)
5 Shiny things: I know I'm lost, but I can't help myself, there's so many interesting things to find! (Chaotic)
6 Defense: A good defense is the best offense. (Any)
d6 Bond
1 I have loved ones that I've lost. I'll keep going until I find them again.
2 I'll help those that help me, so long as they're going the same way I am.
3 I won't put myself in unnessecary danger - the goal is to get home, not to be a hero.
4 I love shiny things!
5 What's mine is mine.
6 I just want to feel safe again.
d6 Flaw
1 I'm skittish around new people. Sudden movements put me on the high alert.
2 I don't share food.
3 I'm very easily distracted by interesting sights, sounds and smells, and can forget what I was supposed to be doing.
4 I don't like being cornered or trapped in a room. I will do anything to escape if I feel someone is trying to keep me from getting home, even if I injure myself in the process.
5 If the going gets tough, I get going - in a different direction.
6 I'm very defensive and quick to react to anything that I percieve as a threat.

Image Credit: James Ruby

PART 3 | BACKGROUNDS

Image Credit: Edwin Landseer

























Stray

Strays are born in the back alleys of urban enviornments, or in the wilds alone. They are often mutts, and are raised without signifigant bonds with humans. They might be friendly to humans, but they do not care to make permanent bonds with them, and prefer instead to keep their freedom. They prefer sleeping in the out of doors.

Skill Proficiencies: Intimidation, Stealth.

Feature: Scavenger

You know your territory, and you know it well. You know the best places and times to get scraps of food, where the best watering holes are, and how to avoid more dangerous predators. You've got an innate sense of how ensure your basic necessities are met no matter where you are. You can always find food and water.

d8 Personailty trait
1 This is my territory. If I don't like you, I'm going to make you leave.
2 If you give me food once, I'll keep coming back for more.
3 I don't like to be touched. Ever. Too many people have handled me roughly, and I react badly to being man-handled.
4 I prefer the stealthy approach to direct confrontation. You'll never know I was there.
5 I don't back down from a fight.
6 I'll eat just about anything if it's food, alive or dead.
7 I prefer to be nocturnal. I prefer to sleep in the sun.
8 I might be small, but I'm scrappy.



















d6 Ideal
1 Survival: A dogs gotta eat, and I'll take what I can. (Chaotic)
2 Territory: If you come into my territory, it better be with respect. (Lawful)
3 Tough: I can handle whatever life throws at me. I got this. (Neutral)
4 Peace: I don't like trouble being made in my territory. The people here are good to me, and I'll chase out those that want to disturb the good thing I've got going here. (Good)
5 Sleep: Best thing in the world is a good long rest! (Any)
6 Food: I know where to get the best scraps! (Any)
d6 Bond
1 A local cook always puts out delicious scraps for me. I keep her place free of rats.
2 The local hunter always leaves out a little of his leftovers for me, so I help him scare out game from time to time.
3 My pack saved my life. I owe them.
4 The city watch lets me do as I please, because I always let them know when someone is up to no good!
5 The pack I run with is my family. Nobody messes with my family.
6 The stable I sleep in is the only place I feel truly safe.
d6 Flaw
1 When I fight, I fight to the death.
2 Friend or foe, don't get between me and my food. I'll bite you.
3 I'm an opportunist. I'll grab what I can, when I can.
4 If the odds aren't in my favour, I'll hide until they are.
5 I put myself first, no matter what.
6 I like to roll in the stinkiest things.

PART 3 | BACKGROUNDS

Image Credit: Lilian Cheviot

Temple Dog

A number of religions venerate dogs. They are used to help the sick, though being able to sniff out illness to offering comfort to the terminally ill. Temple dogs are usually healers, or stray mutts that have been taken in by the clergy. The exchange for a good meal for a little work is a fair trade off. Temple dogs are comfortable around people and other dogs, and tend to be very stoic and well-mannered.

Skill Proficiencies: Insight, Medicine.

Feature: Temple of the Dog

Adorned with the emblem of whichever god you've been put into the service of grants you and your adventuring companions shelter at any temple of that god, or temples friendly to that religion. When sheltered by a temple, you will be provided with any healing or care for your party, so long as you provide material components.

d8 Personailty trait
1 I maintain quiet composure in any situtation, and only bark when absolutely necessary.
2 I always wait to be invited in. And I am always invited in.
3 Nothing can shake my good disposition. I am a bastion of positivity.
4 Rough living is not for me. I'm used to a place of honor in my temple.
5 I don't always understand other dogs, espeically those that just want to play.
6 I am guided by a greater being, and I obey their command willingly.
7 I have no patience for those that do not act in good faith.
8 I enjoy singing along with the humanoids when they sing their prayers.
d6 Ideal
1 Healer: I have a gift, and I must share it. (Good)
2 Duty: I have a calling, and I shall do as my god commands. (Lawful)
3 Travel: Anywhere I go, I am needed, so I shall keep going. (Neutral)
4 Charity: I help others, because it's the right thing to do. (Good)
5 Respect: Treat others as you would wish to be treated. (Any)
6 Comfort: I got a good thing going, and I intend to keep it that way. (Any)































d6 Bond
1 I look forward to one day meeting my god. I bet they give good belly rubs.
2 I owe my well-being to the clergy.
3 I am a servant to the people, and such is my value.
4 We are all here just to help each other out.
5 I perform my duties, I earn my keep. Nothing better than a soft bed and a good meal.
6 I will do anything to protect my temple.
d6 Flaw
1 I am blind to the flaws of the clergy.
2 I have been fooled by false pretenders to the faith.
3 I avoid combat at all costs.
4 I am reluctant to trust the faithless, and judge them harshly.
5 I am single-minded, and I can become too focused on a task and may miss important things.
6 I secretly eat my own poop.

PART 3 | BACKGROUNDS

War Dog

Dogs have been "Man's Best Friend" since before the dawn of civilization. Dogs have followed their masters everywhere, including into battle. Bred for war and ready for action, War dogs are tough, grizzled veterns that don't shy away from a fight.

War dogs have had extensive training, and have learned a large number of commands. They are used to working for humanoids, and perform their duties with minimum supervision. Be it protecting their commander from harm, or chasing down fleeing enemies, War dogs are relentless and disciplined.

Skill Proficiencies: Athletics, Intimidation.

Feature: Battle Standard

Your armor bears the mark of a well-known noble house, which is respected and well-regarded in most kingdoms. You and your companions are granted access to many places that dogs would not often be allowed, and are treated with great deference by your hosts. Wherever you go, you are given food and lodging, most being honoured to have said they have seen you.

d8 Personailty trait
1 I am always stoic, calm and focused, no matter what danger I face.
2 I have honour. I would never disgrace my masters name by acting like a common pet.
3 I've seen tremendous horror. I have nightmares in my sleep.
4 Rough living is not for me. I'm used to a place of honor in my temple.
5 I don't rest until my duty is done.
6 Rank is important to me.
7 I am disdainful of cowards who hide from battle.
8 I am rigid and formal in all of my mannerisms, there is no room for sloppiness.


d6 Ideal
1 Obedience: I obey my masters command without question or hesitation. (Lawful)
2 Warrior: I must always prove my worth. (Neutral)
3 Travel: I feel most alive when I'm on the campaign trail. (Any)
4 Battle: The scent of blood gets my adrenaline going. (Chaotic)
5 Duty: I fight to protect others. (Good)
6 Might: Only the strong survive. (Any)
d6 Bond
1 I would lay down my life for my master.
2 My honour is my life.
3 I fight for those that can't fight for themselves.
4 I took a bad wound from a particular monster. I'll never forget it.
5 Those who fight by my side are worthy of my respect.
6 I will never leave an ally behind.
d6 Flaw
1 I can't stand being dirty.
2 I made a mistake in battle, and one of my litter mates died because of it. It still haunts me.
3 Once I have the taste of blood, I can't stop myself.
4 I am fearful of a particualr type of monster that wounded me.
5 I would rather die than disobey an order.
6 I only feel confident when I wear my armour.

Image Credit: Tomasz Jedruszek

PART 3 | BACKGROUNDS

Spellcasting for dogs

Magic works a little different for dogs than it does for humanoids. Without the ability to read or comprehend language in any meaningful sense, some imagination and creativity has to be applied to how your dog character interacts with the magical weave.


For the purposes of ease of play, some discretion should be applied to the spells a dog is able to cast, and how. In the case of the Arcane Trickster using Wizard spells, treat the spellcasting like a sorcerer, learning spells through observation and mimicry, as opposed to learning and studying books. Treat spell preperation more like a trick of memory than a need to 'study' spells each and every day.

Components

Spell components are still required for spellcasting, with slight modifications for dogs.

Verbal (V)

Verbal components can be performed as barks, growls and whines. The Canine language may not seem complex to humanoids, but it still has it's notations of power. A dog that is gagged or in an area of silence cannot cast cast a spell with a verbal component.

Somatic (S)

Somatic components of spells can be performed with tail wags, paw gestures, and body movments. If dog is grappled or incapacitated, they can't cast spells with this component.

Material (M)

Dogs can't use component pouches, and must use a worn spellcasting focus. For dogs, this includes components that would otherwise be consumed by the spell unless it has a material worth of 1000gp or more. If they are stripped of their spellcasting focus, a dog cannot cast spells that require material components. In the event the spell requires expensive material components, those components must be present.

Magical Devices

Dogs can only use magical devices they can carry in their mouths - wands, rods, orbs and any device that doesn't require fingers to manipulate. When using a magical device in this regard, dogs cannot use their bite attack.

Reflavouring spells for dogs

Some spells that use language are still mainstays for certain classes, and can be repurposed with a little imagination. For those purproses, these spells are modified for dogs:

  • Animal Messenger can only be used to deliver messages to other dogs.
  • Burning Hands becomes Burning Paws and can be performed by touching paws and bowing low. The spell otherwise behaves the same way. Any spell that eminates from a finger can eminate from a paw or tail.
  • Dissonant Whispers becomes Dissonant Whining and functions the same, only instead of whispers, the target can hear discordant dog whining.
  • Divine Word becomes Divine Bark and functions the same.
  • Dominate Monster and Dominate Person can still function as normal, however you will convey intention instead of commands.
  • Elemental Weapon can be applied to your bite attack.
  • Finger of Death becomes Death Glare and functions the same.
  • Healing Word becomes Healing Bark and functions the same.
  • Planar Ally and Planar Binding requires a creature that can speak your language, or some ally that can speak its language to issue commands.
  • Power Word Kill becomes Power Bark Kill, and Power Word Stun becomes Power Bark Stun and functions the same.
  • Vicious Mockery becomes Vicious Barking and otherwie functions the same.
  • Word of Recall becomes Bark of Recall and otherwise functions the same.

Prohibited spells

Spells that require the dog to learn, speak or understand languages are prohibited. The following spells are not useable for dogs:

  • Awaken
  • Command
  • Comprehend Languages
  • Detect Thoughts
  • Geas
  • Legend Lore
  • Locate Animals or Plants, Locate Person, Locate Object
  • Magic Mouth
  • Message
  • Modify Memory
  • Sending
  • Shillelagh
  • Simularcrum
  • Speak with Animals
  • Speak with Dead
  • Speak with Plants
  • Suggestion
  • Tongues
  • Wish

PART 4 | SPELLCASTING

Spells

Cantrips

Noxious Bite

Evocation Cantrip   (Fighter, Druid)


  • Casting Time: 1 action
  • Range: Touch
  • Components: S
  • Duration: Instantaneous

Make a melee attack. On a successful hit, the target must make a Constitution save. On a failed save, the target takes 1d6 poison damage from your dog breath. If the target fails by five or more, it is nauseated, unless it is immune to that condition.

Wag the Dog

Abjuration Cantrip   (Bard)


  • Casting Time: 1 action
  • Range: Self (30 feet)
  • Components: S
  • Duration: 1 round

Make a melee attack. On a successful hit, the target must make a Constitution save. On a failed save, the target takes 1d6 poison damage from your dog breath. If the target fails by five or more, it is nauseated, unless it is immune to that condition.

1st Level

Comforting touch

1st-level necromancy   (Bard, Cleric, Druid)


  • Casting Time: 1 bonus action
  • Range: Touch
  • Components: S
  • Duration: 1 hour

A nuzzle, a lick of the face or just a quick touch of the paw is all it takes to help re-energize a wounded ally. When you touch a willing creature, you give them temporary hit points equal to 1d6 + Your Spellcasting Modifier. If the creature drops to 0 after the temporary hit points dissappear, they drop to 1 HP instead.

At Higher Levels. When you cast this spell using a spell slot of 2nd level or higher, the hit points increaes by 1d6 for each spell slot above first.

Concussive Bark

1st level evocation   (Bard, Fighter, Paladin)


  • Casting Time: 1 action
  • Range: Self (15-foot cone)
  • Components: V
  • Duration: Instantaneous

Your bark is worse than your bite. A wave of sonic force rolls out from your bark. Each creature in a 15-foot cone originating from you must make a Constitution saving throw. On a failed save, a creature takes 2d8 force damage and is pushed 15 feet. On a successful save, the creture takes half as much damage, and is not pushed. In addition, unsecured objects that are completely within the are of effect are automatically pushed 10 feet away from you by the spell effect.

At Higher Levels. When you cast this spell using a spell slot of 2nd level or higher, the damage increaes by 1d8 for each spell slot above first.

2nd Level

Fleabitten

2nd-level conjuration   (Druid, Ranger)


  • Casting Time: 1 bonus action
  • Range: 60 feet
  • Components: V,S
  • Duration: Concentration, up to 1 hour

You summon a Swarm Of Insects (MM pg 338) that appears in a targets space that you can see within range. Summoned swarms dissappear when they trop to 0 hit points or when the spell ends, or if dismissed.

The summoned swarm only attacks the creature it appears on, and will move with it until it is dead. When the target is dead the swarm will only move to a new target within 20 feet. If there is no other target within 20 feet, the spell ends. The swarm does damage and moves at the end of the casters turn. It can take no other actions.

At Higher Levels. When you cast this spell using certain higher-level spell slots, you can choose to create an additional swarm in any occupied space within range that you can see: twice as many with a 5th level, and three times as many with an 7th level slot.

3rd Level

Howl of the Wild

3rd-level enchantment   (Bard, Paladin)


  • Casting Time: 1 bonus action
  • Range: Self (120-foot radius)
  • Components: S
  • Duration: 1 minute

You unleash a mighty howl, inspiring your allies and frightening your enemies. On the next attack roll your allies make they roll with advantage. All creatures in the radius that are hostile to your allies must make a Wisdom saving throw. On a failed save, they roll their next attack with disadvantage. If they fail the check by five or more, they are frightened for 1 minute.

PART 4 | SPELLCASTING

4th Level

5th Level

6th Level

7th Level

8th Level

9th Level

PART 4 | SPELLCASTING

Magic Items for Dogs

With a little bit of ingenuity, any magic item can be reskinned to work for dogs. Here's a few ideas to get you started.

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PART 5 | MAGIC ITEMS

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