Awakened Animal (5e Template)
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A group of adventurers travel through a forest on a quest, suddenly they stop because they notice they are surrounded on all sides. Unexpectedly a bunch of different animals emerge from the brush. A wolf steps forward, opens his maw, and says "We'll only ask you once, leave this place!"
An Awakened Animal looks just like any animal you’d see while adventuring, the only thing that sets them apart from other animals is the unusual amount of intelligence in their eyes and their ability to communicate in humanoid speech.
Awakened Animals have existed as long as magic has existed in the world. In areas with high concentrations of magic the animals slowly begin to have their minds awakened hence the name given to them. This awakening terrified and fascinated the other races at the same time. Races like the elves and the gnomes embraced the animals and brought them into their societies. Other Races like Humans, Halflings, and Dwarves rejected them seeing them as slightly smarter animals. Eventually the awakened animals decided to make their own societies where they live together, those that did leave tended to adventure and eventually made their way back home.
Awakened Animals have become a reclusive race forming tightly knit villages deep in forests. They value their intelligence highly while keeping their commune with nature alive. Typically they are lead by a village shaman and the villages are similar to more primitive human society with hunters, gatherers, and warriors. Villages also don’t tend to consist of one species of animal. The species work together using their collective strengths to overcome individual weaknesses. Awakened Animals that don’t live in their villages tend to be more nomadic as most places aren’t totally accepting of them, but when they find a place accepting of them they adapt to the new society rather well.
Equipment. Some animals would may never get to use weapons so the natural weapons should be considered magical for the sake of overcoming resistances.
Age. Awakened animals mature appropriately based on their species, however their lifespans have been extended greatly by the magic that awakened them and they can live as long as a human can if they would have shorter lifespans.
Languages. Awakened Animals speak Common and are able to communicate simple ideas and emotions to regular animals and can glean these simple things from animals as well.
Skills. You have proficiency in your choice of Stealth or Survival.
Alignment Awakened Animals in their own villages have a tendency towards law since the village and its traditions are most important to them. However, those who live outside of them have a tendency towards chaos as they are given the freedom to do what they want.
Natural Armor: All awakened animals have a unarmored AC of 12 plus their Dexterity modifier. This can be used with shields.
Natural Weapons. 1d4 + Str or Dex(higher score) piercing/slashing damage.
Use common creatures listed in last section of Monster Manual as point of reference, following type listed.
If a beast of low CR(<1), had lower AC or damage avg than it does now, it is bumped up to the next CR step(0 to 1/4, 1/4 to 1/2, etc etc)