With the advent of the Dungeon Masters Guild I’ve decided to experiment with a few homebrew items. First up on my list was a 5e playable race for treants, which have always been a personal favorite monster of mine. The ents of Tolkien’s works are some of my favorite creatures in fiction, and the treant is an obvious “copyright-clean” version of them.
Way back in middle school and high school I attempted to get into The Lord of the Rings Strategy Battle Game. This was a wargame much like Warhammer 40K, where you’d collect models representing the various races and factions of Middle-earth, assemble and paint them, and them fight it out against another player’s army on a tabletop. At the time, I didn’t have much money and no access to my own car, so my attempts to get into the hobby were mediocre at best. I started working on a Moria army, and had a good number of goblin units, plus a few trolls and even a damn Balrog. Then there was a Harad army I was going to build, and even purchases a Mûmak for. But the Good army I was going to start work on was a Woodland Realms force; wood elves, perhaps a giant eagle or two, and of course a bunch of ents. Sadly, by that point I had moved on from the hobby (though I am happy that I returned to wargaming later in life).
Originally, only one ent existed in the game; Treebeard. But there were plenty of other people who wanted to be able to host additional ent forces (myself included). White Dwarf, Games Workshop’s magazine, came to the rescue with a set of ent rules. You had to kitbash your own “generic ents,” but at least now the rules were available. Most interesting, though, was just how the rules functioned; the stat block provided was for a generic ent, but ents represent various tree species, and additional rules allowed you to spend extra points on each ent to make it an ash ent, or a birch ent, or an oak ent, among others. Eventually Games Workshop released an actual ent model and more formal “generic ent” rules, but as I understand it these ent species were still valid additions. You can find the PDF floating around somewhere; it’s from issue WD282 (UK), if you are looking for it.
I loved this document, and tried (and failed) to make ents of my own out of hot glue and twigs. While I never got around to building the army, the PDF stuck with me for years, up until I decided to make this treant race and knew I had to incorporate various tree species somehow. Originally I was going to have a bunch of subraces, just like the original White Dwarf PDF, but decided that merging most of them into broader categories would work better.
As a race, treants are tough and hardy. Though they are extremely flammable, they somewhat make up for that vulnerability through natural armor. The two subraces represent the different kinds of trees which treants arise from. Broad-leaf treants are tough and hardy, while evergreen treants are more lithe and better acclimatization to cold climates. Whatever subrace you choose, treants would be most favorable for a martial-focused class, such as a barbarian or fighter. But some treants do manage to gain some magical ability, becoming druids or even nature clerics.
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Version 2.0 – 11/13/2017
- With the release of Xanathar’s, the PDF has been updated with a treant racial feat. Now you can be the massive powerhouse tree you’ve always wanted to be, increasing your size category to Large (you and your DM are responsible for figuring out how the hell you get around) and thus increasing your feats of Strength, and making your unarmed blows more powerful as a result. Pole, btw, is the term used to describe a tree that’s older than a sapling, but not as old as an adult.
- Removed the 1d8 + Str unarmed strike damage from the Broadleaf; this was never meant to be included in version 1.2, and is a hold-over while redesigning some of the race’s traits. The increased unarmed strike damage made the Broadleaf Treant mechanically superior from the Evergreen, which I wanted to avoid. Just having extra HP per level already put it on equal ground with the Evergreen.
Version 1.2 – 10/26/2017
- Remade the PDF in Homebrewery. Looks a bit nicer and infinitely easier to edit now.
Base Race Traits
- Race has undergone a pretty major overhaul to balance it a bit, including moving around certain traits and renaming others. Treants are, unfortunately, a relatively complicated race to design, requiring more than a normal race’s features to be properly represented. I do feel that the race is fair and balanced, perhaps a bit stronger but not inherently broken (in the same way that variant humans, for example, are a stronger race option than others).
- Inspired by the Tortle race, changed their AC. Treants now cannot wear armor (as makes sense; they are trees, for crying out loud), but get a natural AC of 14 + Dex OR Con, whatever is higher.
- Gave the treant an unarmed strike of 1d6 + Str, since (let’s be honest) you aren’t likely to see many treants carrying around swords or axes (though you still have that option).
- Plant Metabolism, renamed to Treeish for a little Tolkien easter egg, streamlines the problem of treants eating and sleeping. More Warforged-like, still requiring a specific kind of activity to actually facilitate a long rest, but the requirements for things like sunlight are made less complicated; more than likely you aren’t going to run into the issue of your treant starving to death unless you are running around in the Underdark for two weeks, at which point the lack of sunlight will finally get to you. Water requirements have also been made less restrictive. Fire vulnerability was wrapped up into this trait, and the trait also goes into details that treants are obviously not humanoid.
- Rather than the progressive spells that the treant originally got, now it can just communicate with plants (much like gnomes can communicate with small animals). Easier to deal with.
- Changed the +2 Con to +1 to balance the class better, especially since AC operates more strongly off Con now.
- Removed the advantage on Con saves; the subrace was far ahead of the Evergreen subrace in terms of balance. I think the +1 to Con, AND the +1 HP per level, AND the advantage on Con saves was all just too much wrapped into Con and making the subrace too effective in Con-like attributes. +1 Con already gives it a better Con save than the Evergreen in most cases.
- Changed the +2 Dex to +1 to balance the class better, especially since AC operates more strongly off Dex now.
- Changed their base speed from 35 ft to 40 ft; this was needed to bring it up to par with the Broad-Leaf (even after removing the Broad-Leaf’s second trait) and makes the subrace a bit more desireable.
Version 1.1 – (Some point in the past year or so…)
- Altered some of the wording in the Plant Metabolism feature, as well as included more realistic rules on suffocation (plants need air, too!)
Version 1.0 – 02/08/2016
- It exists!