Ornithologist (5e Class)
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A human in a lab coat silently tiptoes through a dense forest, clipboard in tow. She notices an overturned nest with a handful of very abnormally-shaped bird eggs. She kneels down to get a closer look and jots down notes on her clipboard. She comes to the conclusion that treacherous magic has been used in this forest and continues to note her suspicions.
An elf is satisfied with his day of shopping and is now heading for the gate to leave. As he turns around a corner, he notices a group of bandits trailing behind him. Just as they're about to approach, the elf whistles a strange, melodic tune. As he concludes his whistling, a group of songbirds flutter from the sky to the elf's location, tweeting loudly and distracting the bandits. With the songbird's actions, the elf makes his escape with ease.
A halfling town guard is in the middle of interrogating a suspect in a murder investigation. The suspect is extremely fidgety, trying to figure out a way to get out of his situation in every breathing moment. The interrogation has reached a standstill and the suspect doesn't want to tell the truth. Suddenly, he pulls out a hidden knife from his wrist, slashing at the halfling. The halfling's reflexes kick in, allowing him to jump backwards. The halfling rolls up his right sleeve, revealing a thick leather glove going all the way to the halfling's elbow. He lifts the gloved arm into the air, and just as he does so, the screeching call of a raptor fills the air. The suspect charges the halfling, a foolish mistake indeed. The raptor intercepts the suspect, diving from the air and striking the suspect with enough force to pin him onto the ground.
Ornithologists are scientists and magic users specializing in the field of birds and other similar avian creatures. Even though some have a career outside of their studies, they are massively dedicated to the pursuit of knowledge in this field of science. Like many branches of biology and zoology, many organizations have formed to conduct research throughout the Material Plane, and some embark on adventures to research and be in the middle of the action.
Creating an Ornithologist
Ornithology is a very unique and specific field of study. As such, they are particularly small in numbers when compared to other departments of science. How did your character gain interest in Ornithology? Do they have a background in academics? Does Ornithology run in your character's family? Answering questions like these will help form your character and make their backstory more detailed.
- Quick Build
You can make an Ornithologist quickly by following these suggestions. First, Intelligence should be your highest ability score, followed by Wisdom. Your third highest ability score should be Dexterity or Constitution depending on how you want to fight against creatures that may target you instead of your birds. Finally, choose the Falconer background.
As a Ornithologist you gain the following class features.
- Hit Points
Armor: Light Armor
Weapons: Simple Weapons
Tools: Falconry Kit, Ornithology Kit
Saving Throws: Intelligence, Wisdom
Skills: Animal Handling, Nature, and choose one from Medicine, Stealth, History, Perception, and Persuasion.
You start with the following equipment, in addition to the equipment granted by your background:
- any simple weapon of your choice (with 20 pieces of ammunition, if ranged)
- an ornithology kit
- a pair of binoculars
- (a) an explorer's pack or (b) a falconry kit
|Features||Maximum Birds Called|
|1st||+2||Bird Gathering, Ornithologist's Mercy, Scientist's Uniform||2|
|2nd||+2||Field Research, Special Commands I||2|
|3rd||+2||Recall, Scientist's Uniform (2)||2|
|4th||+2||Ability Score Improvement||3|
|5th||+3||Aerial Navigator, Aerodynamic Weaponry||3|
|6th||+3||Special Commands II||3|
|7th||+3||Bird Linguistics, Scientist's Uniform (3)||3|
|8th||+3||Ability Score Improvement||3|
|9th||+4||Bird Friendship, Extra Bird Attack||3|
|11th||+4||Special Commands III||4|
|12th||+4||Ability Score Improvement||4|
|13th||+5||Avian Bond, Scientist's Uniform (4)||4|
|14th||+5||Special Commands IV||4|
|16th||+5||Ability Score Improvement, Ornithologist's Mercy (2)||5|
|17th||+6||Special Commands V, Scientist's Uniform (5)||5|
|19th||+6||Ability Score Improvement||6|
At the 1st Level, you have done enough research to understand how to bring birds to your aid. You can use an action to call a number of bird creatures to come to your aid, up to the number shown on the "Maximum Birds Called" table. Each bird called rolls their own initiative and take their own turns. When called upon, the birds start at any open space of your choice within a 20-foot radius of you. If you are at a location that does not have access to open air, birds magically teleport to your location instead. Once called, you can use a bonus action to magically return any number of them to their natural habitat. They are friendly towards you, you are treated as their ally, and they always obey any and all orders you give them on your turn and on their turns. The birds that you summon have access to certain Ornithologist class features, as described at further levels. You can use this feature a number of times equal to your Intelligence modifier (minimum 1). All expended uses are recovered after taking a long rest.
At the 1st Level, you can call the following creatures to your aid:
Upon being called, your birds' Maximum Hit Points are half of your Maximum Hit Points (rounded up) or their current Maximum Hit Points, whichever is higher. Their AC is equal to half of your AC (rounded up) or their current AC, whichever is higher. They also gain a +2 bonus to their AC and a bonus to their Maximum Hit Points based on their CR. If you call a bird that has a CR of 0, they gain a +5 bonus to their Maximum Hit Points. If the called bird has a CR of 1/8 or 1/4, they gain a +3 bonus to their Maximum Hit Points. Finally, if the called bird has a CR of 1/2 or higher, they do not gain a bonus to their Maximum Hit Points.
As you progress through the campaign, you can call upon additional bird-like creatures by using the ornithology kit on your downtime to tag them. Once a creature is tagged, it is able to come to your aid. The procedure to do so is described in the ornithology kit's description. Once tagged, you can call the following creatures to your aid (at the DM's discretion):
- blood hawk
- axe beak
- golden eagle
- giant owl
- giant eagle
- giant vulture
- peregrine falcon
- harpy eagle
- crowned eagle
- blue jay
If you decide to call upon an eagle, hawk, owl, or any other creature with "eagle", "hawk", "falcon", or "owl" in its name, you succeed in calling upon them upon a successful Animal Handling skill check. You automatically succeed this skill check if you have the falconry kit or if you are at the 10th Level or higher in this class.
When taking on the path of the Ornithologist, you learn protective magic exclusively used for protecting bird creatures. At the 1st Level, the birds you summon with the Bird Gathering feature are unaffected by the environment (such as Extreme Heat and Extreme Cold). In the event that a bird under your command drops to 0 Hit Points, your passive magic resurrects the bird in the habitat that it would be found in, leaving an open position for you to summon another bird. If encountered in the wild or summoned once more, the birds still have memories of you and their previous time spent with you.
At the 16th Level, you can choose to have the bird fall unconscious and begin rolling death saves (as if it were a Player Character).
Also at the 1st Level, your expertise in your field of scientific study deem you worthy of wearing the uniform of an Ornithologist. The uniform is a comfortable set of clothes that protect you from the elements and also increase your confidence in your combat tactics in the event that you are attacked. Included in the uniform is a breezer hat, a long white lab coat, a long-sleeved t-shirt (your choice of color), a pair of long khaki cargo pants, and a pair of combat boots. The uniform is considered clothing, but armor cannot be worn with it. You are considered proficient in the Scientist's Uniform, and it provides an AC of 10 + your Intelligence modifier + your Dexterity modifier. In the event your Scientist's Uniform is destroyed, you can have a tailor create a new one. Alternatively, if you or an adventurer in your party is proficient with the weaver's tools, you can use 20 gp for materials and 1d4 hours of work to create a new uniform.
At the 3rd, 7th, 13th, and 17th levels, you can choose to upgrade you Scientist's Uniform with one of the following upgrades. You can only choose 1 upgrade each time you are allowed to receive one. If you recreate your uniform, your previous upgrades are transferred to your new uniform. These upgrades include:
Feather Insulation. You have stitched molted bird feathers that you have collected into the insides of your clothing. While wearing the Scientist's Uniform, you are acclimated to Extreme Cold, as described on page 110 of the Dungeon Master's Guide.
Feather Descent. You have infused magic into a bundle of feathers and have attached them to the inside of your lab coat. When falling, you can open your lab coat to slow your descent, allowing you to safely land on your feet without taking any falling damage (as if you were under the effect of the feather fall spell).
Feather Talons. You have augmented your boots with sharp talons akin to a bird of prey. You are proficient with your new Talons as natural weapons, which deal 1d6 slashing damage on a successful hit.
Feather Swiftness. You enchant your outfit to make it easier for you to dodge attacks. While wearing the Scientist's Uniform, you gain a +2 bonus to your AC. This bonus is a +3 bonus instead if you are at the 13th or 17th level. You cannot take this upgrade more than twice.
Feather Confidence. Wearing the Scientist's Uniform gives you a sense of pride for your field of study. While wearing the Scientist's Uniform, you can double your proficiency bonus on one saving throw that you are proficient in. Once you take this upgrade, the saving throw you choose to gain this benefit cannot change.
Feather Silence. You have lined the inside and bottoms of your boots with feathers, muffling the sound that they make. While wearing the Scientist's Uniform, you can double your proficiency bonus on all Stealth skill checks made while walking, running, or using your feet in any way. In addition, you do not make any sound while performing these actions.
At the 2nd Level, after completing the basic training needed to be an Ornithologist, you have narrowed down which kind of bird you will specialize in while conducting field research. Choose one kind of bird that you can call upon (even if they haven't been tagged yet). Skill checks that you make while commanding the chosen bird receive a bonus equal to your Intelligence modifier and saving throws that other creatures make from the chosen bird's features receive a penalty equal to your Intelligence modifier. They also receive a +3 bonus to their Armor Class minus their CR (or 0, if their CR is less than 1) and a +20 bonus to their Maximum Hit Points divided by their CR (or divided by 1, if their CR is less than 1). Finally, the chosen bird receives a +1 bonus to their attack and damage rolls made with natural weapons. This bonus stacks with all other features found in this class.
Special Commands I
Also at the 2nd Level, any bird that you summon can be given special commands, as listed in certain features of the Ornithologist Class. You can issue special commands a number of times equal to twice your Wisdom modifier (minimum 2). You regain all expended uses after finishing a long rest. Issuing a special command uses a bonus action. If a special command sends a bird to another creature, they must be at a distance from the targeted creature equal to their flying speed in order to use the command. These special commands include:
If you currently have an Owl or a Giant Owl under your command, you can have them see in the darkness for you. You can use a special command to be passively warned by your avian companions of any incoming hazards or hostile creatures that are hiding in the dark for 1 hour, after which this special command must be used again. If an Owl or a Giant Owl notices something with their vision that may bring harm to you, they will alarm you by making a very distinctive chirping sound. Because of the intense focus the birds are under while trying to protect you, they only have Darkvision at a range of 60 feet. This increases to a Darkvision range of 120 feet at the 10th Level and 180 feet at the 18th Level.
If you currently have a Raven, Magpie, Vulture, or Giant Vulture under your command, you can send one of them to embody a chilling message for up to three creatures of your choice. When a chosen creature sees the bird you sent to them, they must make a Wisdom saving throw or become Frightened of you and the bird that you sent. Starting at the 15th level, this saving throw is made at disadvantage.
If you currently have a bird under your command with "eagle", "hawk", or "falcon" in its name, you can send them to slash at creatures with unrelenting force. On your turn, you can use a special command to send up to two eagles, hawks, or falcons into the sky. While these birds are in the sky, ranged attacks made against them are made at disadvantage. On each of their turn(s), if they take the Attack action to attack a creature, they dive from the sky at blinding speed on their first attack, gaining a +2 bonus to their attack roll and dealing a bonus 1d4 slashing damage on a successful hit. The damage die for this command increases by one size (1d6, 1d8, 2d4, 2d6) at the 6th, 10th, 14th, and 17th Levels.
If you currently have a songbird under your command, you can use the singing talents of the songbird to you and your bird companion's advantage. While in a town, village, or city, you can make a Performance skill check to have the bird sing for a crowd. On a successful skill check, the crowd loves your performance! As a reward, you receive 1d10 gold pieces in tips and receive free lodging of a modest standard in that town, village, or city. You can only issue this command once per day in each town, village, or city. You use the bird's Charisma modifier, proficiencies, and other bonuses when making the Performance skill check.
If you currently have any bird under your command, you can give them an item to deliver to another creature. You can use a special command to give an item to a bird under your command and declare the name of a creature. Once an item is given to the bird, it will give the item to the declared creature. If the creature's location isn't within the bird's flying speed, the bird will spend its next turn and every turn afterwards traveling to the declared creature until the item is delivered. The item given to the bird must be light enough for it to carry.
At the 3rd Level, you have found a method to quickly bring birds to one location. On your turn, you can use an action to have all called birds fly to open spaces of your choice within 15 feet of you, regardless of their flying speed. When you reach the 10th Level in this class, your called birds do not provoke opporitunity attacks when flying back to you (unless your called birds already have a feature that gives them a similar effect, such as Flyby). You can use this feature a number of times equal to half your Wisdom modifier (rounded up), afterwards you cannot use it again until you finish a long rest (or a short rest starting at the 15th Level).
Ability Score Increase
When you reach 4th level, and again at 8th, 12th, 16th and 19th level, you can increase one ability score of your choice by 2, or you can increase two ability scores of your choice by 1. As normal, you can't increase an ability score above 20 using this feature.
You have learned from the patterns of migration that birds make. After observing and taking notes, you now know how to keep yourself on the right path as well. Starting at the 5th Level, While you are in any environment where a species of bird would live, you can perfectly recall any path you have traveled.
You have extensively studied the way birds manipulate the air to fly and have applied the fundamentals of flight to the way you use your weapons. At the 5th Level, while wielding a simple weapon, you deal an additional 1d6 wind damage and can choose to deal wind damage instead of the weapon's damage type.
Special Commands II
At the 6th Level, you can issue four new special commands, including:
If you currently have an Owl or a Giant Owl under your command, you can use any number of special commands to have them watch over you the next time you take a short or long rest. Upon noticing a threat with a successful Perception skill check, they will screech loudly, preventing ambushes and other harmful events from befalling you while you take your rest. The owl(s) use your Wisdom modifier, proficiencies, and other bonuses when making the Perception skill check. This special command lasts for a duration equal to 4 hours times the number of special command uses you expend to make this special command.
If you currently have a Raven, Vulture, or Giant Vulture under your command, you can send them to find edible meat. To determine how much meat they bring back, you must make a Nature skill check. They return with an amount of edible meat equal to a certain number of days of rations depending on the result of your skill check (at the discretion of your DM). The raven(s) and vulture(s) use your Intelligence modifier, proficiencies, and other bonuses when making the Nature skill check.
If you currently have a bird under your command with "eagle", "hawk", or "falcon" in its name, you can use them to execute a take-down. You can use a special command to send any number of eligible birds to make an Athletics skill check to knock a creature prone and restrain them. The creature contests this saving throw with either an Athletics or Acrobatics skill check as if it were reacting to a shove. When calculating the result of your Athletics skill check, the Strength modifier(s) of all birds called become +0. The eagle(s) and hawk(s) use your proficiencies and other bonuses when making the skill check. For each bird used to execute this command, you gain a +2 bonus to the skill check.
If you currently have an Axe Beak under your command, you can use a special command to magically change their size and use them as a mount.
At the 7th level, you have carefully studied the connection between the messages birds make to each-other and the noises that they make. Your studies have allowed you to mimic these noises. You can now communicate with birds and bird-like creatures as if you shared a language.
Your time spent with avian creatures have made them feel safer around you. At the 9th Level, birds and bird-like creatures are always friendly towards you and will not attack you or your party unless provoked.
Extra Bird Attack
Over time, the reactions of you and your birds have gotten faster. At the 9th Level, your called birds can make a second attack when they take the Attack action on their turn. The number of attacks increases to three when you reach the 15th Level.
At the 10th Level, you have borrowed from the magic of wizards and other spell-casters to enhance the power of your feathered friends. If you or your called birds would deal slashing damage to a creature, you can choose to have that damage be treated as magical slashing damage (for the purpose of overcoming damage resistances and immunities).
Special Commands III
At the 11th Level, you can issue three new special commands, including:
If you currently have a bird under your command with "eagle", "hawk", "falcon", or "owl" in its name, you can send them to gouge the eyes of an enemy with their sharp talons. You can use a special command to target a creature, then send any number of eligible birds to slash at the creature's eyes with their talons. The targeted creature must make a Constitution saving throw or take slashing damage equal to the damage that they would take from the Dive special command. Creatures that fail this saving throw also become blinded. The targeted creature receives a -1 penalty to their saving throw for each eligible bird you send with this command.
If you currently have a Raven, Magpie, or songbird under your command, you can send them to force another creature to lose focus. You can use a special command to target a creature, then send any number of eligible birds to fly around that creature, making as much noise as possible. The targeted creature must make a Wisdom saving throw or their next attack roll and saving throw is made at disadvantage. If the targeted creature is concentrating on a spell, their concentration on the spell ends. The targeted creature receives a -2 penalty to their saving throw for each eligible bird you send with this command.
If you currently have a songbird under your command, you can have them to sing a calming tune that brings even the mightiest of creatures to a peaceful sleep. You can use a special command to have up to five creatures within 20 feet of one bird executing your command to fall asleep (as if they were under the effect of the sleep spell).
At the 13th Level, your time spent with birds has made them stronger and more trusting of your decisions. The Maximum Hit Points and AC of the birds you summon now become three-fourths your Maximum Hit Points and AC (rounded up) or their current Maximum Hit Points and AC, whichever is higher. They also gain a +1 bonus to their AC and a +3 bonus to their Maximum Hit Points (this stacks with the Bird Gathering feature). If a bird under your command attacks with their natural weapons (beaks/talons), they gain a +2 bonus to their attack rolls. The damage die for attacks with these natural weapons are doubled.
Special Commands IV
At the 14th Level, you can issue four new special commands, including:
If you currently have any bird except an Axe Beak under your command, you can send one of them to steal an item or weapon from another creature. You can use a special command to target a creature and an item that you know that they possess. The targeted creature must make a Wisdom saving throw or the targeted item is taken from them by the bird you sent. The targeted item must be large enough for it to carry. If you use the Recall feature or if the bird moves within 5 feet of you, any item(s) that birds under your command are carrying are given to you.
If you currently have an Eagle, Golden Eagle, Harpy Eagle, Hawk, Blood Hawk, Peregrine Falcon, or Owl under your command, you can use a special command to have three of them grab onto you, giving you a flying speed of 50 feet. If you have a Giant Eagle, Giant Owl, or Giant Vulture under your command, you can use a special command to have one of them grab onto you instead. These birds must be within 5 feet of you to use this special command. If a bird under your command is hit with an attack while lifting you, they must make a Constitution saving throw or you fall. The bird(s) will continue to lift you if you are incapacitated or killed. You can end the effects of this special command by using a free action on your turn.
If you currently have any bird under your command, you can use your birds to protect you. You can use a special command to have all birds under your command within 10 feet of you to be on alert for ranged attacks. Until the start of your next turn, when a ranged attack or projectile is fired at you, you can have one bird use a reaction to make a Sleight of Hand skill check. On a successful skill check, they catch the projectile in the air with their beak. On a failed skill check, an attack roll is made against you as normal. The bird uses its Dexterity modifier and any proficiencies or bonuses they have when calculating the skill check. If you use the Recall feature or if the bird moves within 5 feet of you, any usable projectiles (such as arrows or bolts) that birds under your command catch are given to you.
If you currently have any bird under your command, you can send them to help you or another creature. You can use a special command to have any number of birds focus on helping your party members. On each the chosen birds' turns, they can take the help action as a bonus action.
You have been praised for your work as an Ornithologist. Because of this new-found confidence, you have taken huge steps in your field. At the 15th Level, you can choose one of the following benefits:
Rapid Summoning. You can regain expended uses of the Bird Gathering feature after taking a short rest.
Excellent Commander. You can regain expended uses of special commands after taking a short rest.
Avian Nutritional Vitamin. All called birds receive a +1 bonus to their AC and a +5 bonus to their Maximum Hit Points. This bonus stacks with all other features found in this class.
Special Commands V
At the 17th Level, your studies in avian creatures are coming to a close. You can issue three new special commands, including:
If you currently have an Eagle, Golden Eagle, Harpy Eagle, Giant Eagle, Hawk, Blood Hawk, Peregrine Falcon, Owl, Giant Owl, Vulture, or Giant Vulture under your command, you can have at least two of them use their powerful wings to create a wall of blusterous winds in front of you (as if you cast the wind wall spell). This wall is 30 feet long, 10 feet high, and 1 foot thick. For each additional bird you use to summon this barrier after the first two, the wall's length and height increase by 5 feet and the wall's thickness increases by 1 foot. When the wall appears, each creature within its area must make a Strength saving throw or take 4d8 wind damage, or half as much damage on a successful save. Regardless of the save's result, creatures within its area are pushed back 5 feet upon making contact with the wall when it is first summoned. The wall keeps fog, smoke, and other gases at bay. Loose, lightweight materials brought into the wall fly upward. Arrows, bolts, and other ordinary projectiles launched at targets behind the wall are deflected upward and automatically miss. (Boulders hurled by giants or siege engines and similar projectiles are also affected.) Creatures in gaseous form can't pass through it.
Large or smaller creatures that attempt to pass through the wall must make a Strength saving throw. On a successful save, they take 2d8 wind damage and successfully pass through the wall. On a failed save, the creatures take 2d8 wind damage and are pushed back 10 feet. The creature receives a -1 penalty to this saving throw for each eligible bird you send to make the wall.
The birds used to make this barrier must maintain concentration on maintaining the wall and cannot take any other actions while the wall is formed. You can use an action to end the wall. If you use this special command, you cannot use it again until you finish a long rest.
If you currently have a Raven, Magpie, or songbird under your command, you can teach them a spell. While not in combat, you can spend 1d8 hours teaching them how to cast a spell in the spell list below. While in combat, you can use a special command to designate a spell and a targeted creature. If all conditions are properly met, the bird casts the spell on the targeted creature, using its beak as a spellcasting focus.
Spells marked with a * can be found in the Elemental Evil Player Companion.
If you have any bird except an Axe Beak under your command, you can have them take on a special formation that deals massive damage to an incoming threat. You can use a special command to have all birds under your command to soar into the air, forming a flight pattern that makes the shape of a V. All birds share the same turn, and their initiative is treated as the bird with the highest initiative. On the combined bird force's turn, each bird takes the Attack action against one creature. This expends two uses of the Special Commands I feature.
At the 18th Level, you have trained with birds for so long that you now know how to guide them out of harm's way at record speeds. Non-magical attacks made against any bird under your command have disadvantage.
Your journey in the field of ornithology is complete. You now have mastery over avian knowledge and have reached the pinnacle of your intellect. Your Intelligence and Wisdom scores increase by 2 (to a maximum of 22). The Maximum Hit Points and AC of the birds you summon now become your Maximum Hit Points and AC. They also gain a +10 bonus to their Maximum Hit Points. This bonus stacks with all other features found in this class. If a bird under your command attacks with their natural weapons (beaks/talons), they gain a +5 bonus to their attack rolls. The damage die for attacks with natural weapons are tripled (quadrupled for birds with an original CR of 0). The attack roll and damage die bonuses do not stack with the Avian Bond feature.