Bard College: College of Puppetry

Today on the Mage College as we start our new batch of content for your playtesting delight, we have the College of Puppetry. I had tried tackling this subclass before, but some helpful suggestions and concepts from a few friends really helped bring it to life. You can expect this subclass to eventually make its way to DMsGuild in both a free and art version with original art. If you’d like to support the Mage College, check out my Ko-Fi. You can also support by following me on Twitter @Archmage_Derek. Let me know what you think of the subclass in the comments or on Twitter, and without further ado, let’s take a look at this week’s subclass:


Art- Marionette Master, James Ryan- Wizards of the Coast

College of Puppetry

Referred to simply as “puppeteers” or “puppet masters”, these bards specialize in the use of puppets to entertain, crafting intricate mechanical dolls and using them to put on fantastic one-person shows. Though what most are unaware of a puppeteers’ true talent- manipulation. Many bards manipulate others through word or through spell, but do not take the same interest in it as a bard of the College of Puppetry. The puppets they craft are merely practice for controlling those around them. Often specializing in enchantment magic, they can focus their spells into strings of psychic energy that they use to manipulate the actions of others.

Like many spellcasters who specialize in manipulation, puppet masters are often met with mixed responses from the people around them. Often invoking feelings of distrust or fascination and wonder, and all for good reason. Many puppeteers use their talents to help keep the peace and make immovable obstacles and foes turn and walk away. While other puppet masters, however, will use their abilities for their own personal gain.  Puppeteers who take to adventuring are valuable allies thanks to their ability to control the battlefield and force others into compliance.

College of Puppetry Features

Bard Level Features
3rd Bonus Proficiencies, Puppet Crafter, Strings of Manipulation
6th Marionette’s Strike
14th Master Puppeteer

Bonus Proficiencies

At 3rd level you become proficient in Deception, Performance, and with Tinker’s Tools.

Puppet Crafter

You can create a small mechanical puppet to aid you. At 3rd level, you learn find familiar. It counts as a bard spell for you and doesn’t count towards your number of spells known. When you cast the spell, it gains the following additional traits:

  • It is a construct instead of a celestial, fey, or fiend.
  • It can’t be charmed.
  • It is immune to poison damage and the poisoned condition.
  • It gains darkvision with a range of 60 feet if it doesn’t have it already.

Strings of Manipulation

Beginning at 3rd level, you can dig into others’ minds with your spells to briefly control them as though they were puppets. When a creature fails a Wisdom saving throw against a spell you cast, you can immediately expend a use of your Bardic Inspiration as a reaction. When you do, that creature takes psychic damage equal to the number rolled on the Bardic Inspiration die and that creature moves creature up to half its speed in a direction of you choose before the spell takes effect. This movement does not provoke opportunity attacks.

Marionette’s Strike

Starting at 6th level, when you seize control of another creature you can force it strike your enemies. When you use Strings of Manipulation, you can cause the creature to make a single weapon attack against a target you choose, other than itself, before or after it moves. If the creature has more than one weapon attack it can use, you choose which one it uses.

Master Puppeteer

When you reach 14th level, you control others as gracefully as you would a normal wooden marionette with almost little effort. Whenever you use Strings of Manipulation, you can roll a d6 and use it instead of expending a Bardic Inspiration die.
Alternatively, if you choose to expend a Bardic Inspiration die, you can choose to move the creature up to its speed or it can take the Multiattack action if it has that action.


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