College of Proteges (5A)

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This is a Bard subclass for 5A.

A protégé is not a member of a formal bard college. Instead, they have the favor of a supernatural patron. After having impressed the patron with talent and potential, the protégé receives gifts of magic and power. They are accompanied on their adventures by a familiar, an agent of their patron that keeps tabs on the protégé.

Greyhawk: Genies and fey are famous patrons, but celestials and fiends also take the role. Scarier are proteges sponsored by aberrations, dragons, or undead. The Flan and Thilloran Suel are infamous for proteges sponsored by undead ancestors. In any case, proteges are rare individuals working for egotistic sponsors and not likely to be friends with each other.

Subclass Features

Protege Spells

Starting at 3rd level when you join this bardic college, you learn additional spells when you reach certain levels as a bard, as shown on the Protege Spells table. Each of these spells counts as a bard spell for you, but it doesn't count against the number of bard spells you know.

Whenever you gain a bard level, you can replace one spell you gained from this feature with another spell of the same level. The new spell must be from the bard spell list or a conjuration or transmutation spell from the wizard spell list.

Protege Spells
Bard Level Spells
3 Cause Fear, Feather Fall
3 Alter Self, Invisibility
5 Bestow Curse, Spirit Guardians
7 Banishment, Greater Invisibility
9 Legend Lore, Teleportation Circle

Magical Patron

At 3rd level, when you gain this subclass, you must select a patron. This patron is a mysterious creature, granting you power for reasons of its own.

Patrons are powerful entities, often celestials, dragons, fey, fiends or undead. Your alignment need not resemble the patron's, but too great a difference is likely to cause poor relations. The actual personality and goals of the patron should be worked out between you and the DM, taking into consideration alignment and theme of the patron. The DM should not force a hostile patron on you, but some tension between you and the patron increases the role-playing potential. The patron's primary interest in you is in experiencing your performances and sponsoring your artistic development, patrons generally treat their favorite's adventuring careers with benign neglect.

At any time, you can be called to your patron to entertain. This takes the form of a Gate spell that opens and transports you (and willing companions nearby) into the patron's presence, then sends you back to your companions when the patron is satisfied. This is basically a random event the GM can spring at any time, but it should not be allowed to disrupt the story. The most common use of this ability is to explain where your character is when you as a player are away from the game, but it can be used as a plot device by the DM to bring you (and possibly any willing companions) to the patron. Rarely the patron might have some advice to offer or task it wants done, but mostly the audience is merely entertainment for the patron. An audience can be a short or long rest for you and any companions, who will be fed and feted while away.

Agent of the Patron

At 3rd level you learn the Find Familiar spell and can cast it as a ritual. The spell doesn't count against your number of spells known. When you cast the spell, you can choose one of the normal forms for your familiar or one of the following special forms, as appropriate to your patron: imp, pseudodragon, quasit, specter, or sprite. The familiar is there as your patron's agent.

In combat, your familiar shares your initiative count, but it takes its turn immediately after yours. It can move and use its reaction on its own, but the only action it takes on its turn is the Dodge action, unless you take an action on your turn to command it to take another action. That action can be one in its stat block or some other action. If you are incapacitated, the familiar can take any action of its choice. The DM might occasionally have the familiar take other actions than to Dodge, particularly if the relationship between you is tense.

Familiar Plot Options
As long as the protégé and patron are on friendly terms, the familiar is loyal. This is the normal situation, but a disloyal familiar has much plot potential for an interested player. If the familiar feels the protégé has betrayed the patron, it might turn hostile and betray the protégé in various ways. It has no control over the protégé's powers, but may alert enemies, share secrets, and otherwise work to counter the protégé's ambitions in various ways. When the protégé advances in level, the patron asks the familiar to report on the activities of the protégé. If the familiar gives a bad report, the protégé might not be allowed to select the new spells he wants upon gaining the new level, instead getting spells of the patron's choice. If the familiar's reports that the protégé is a traitor, the patron will deny the increase in power and the protégé cannot level up as a bard until he makes up with the familiar. A possible theme of such a story might be how the protégé subverts the familiar's loyalty, making it give false reports.

Patron's Power

Starting at 6th level, as an action, you can request that your patron give you access to some of its power. When you first learn this ability, select the Cleric, Sorcerer or Warlock spell list. As an action, you can select a spell from the chosen spell list of a level you can cast. Ideally this should be a spell that fits the theme of your patron. The DM, acting as the patron, may occasionally grant you a different spell more suited to the patron. Add the spell to your known spells until you begin a long rest. You can use this ability only once, regaining the use after you finish a long rest.

Request Audience

At level 14, as an action, you can request an audience with your patron which will be immediately granted. A Gate opens, allowing you and companions into the patron's presence, possibly escaping a dire situation. You can take a long or short rest while with the patron. After the audience is completed, the patron will return the group to a familiar safe location, such as home, a beautiful glade in the forest, outside the location where you were adventuring when you requested the audience, or a similar safe place.

Designer's Notes

Similar but more benign that an warlock's patron, the protege is actively helped and protected by their patron, but needs to show a certain favoritism in return. The DM has vast powers to abuse with this subclass, but we are all adults and know power abuse is a bad thing, right?

See Also