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Tome Unleashed: Child of the Briar

Tome Unleashed: Child of the Briar

The Tome Unleashed series fleshes out monsters from the Tome of Beasts, giving GMs ways to modify existing monsters to surprise well-prepared players or introduce new monsters to a campaign.

This time, we’re looking at ways to change up the child of the briar (see Tome of Beasts) including new feats, magic items, spells, and adventure hooks inspired by it.

Alternate Traits and Actions

The following changes allow GMs to alter a child of the briar without modifying its challenge rating.

Barkskin. Three children of the briar working together can cast the barkskin spell with no components, at will. All three creatures must be within 10 feet of each other, and they must each use their action to cast the spell. The spell only affects one of the children of the briar.

The child of the briar loses its Entangle action. Alternatively, the Entangle action recharges on a 4–6 and the Barkskin action recharges on a 5–6.

False Appearance. While the child of the briar remains motionless, it is indistinguishable from a normal thorny plant.

The child of the briar has a walking speed of 15 feet.

Nettling Claw. Melee Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 5 (1d4 + 3) piercing damage plus 2 (1d4) poison damage. The target must succeed on a DC 10 Constitution saving throw or be poisoned for 1 minute. The target can repeat the saving throw at the end of each of its turns, ending the effect on itself on a success.

The child of the briar loses its Thorny Grapple action. The child of the briar can replace one claw attack with a Nettling Claw attack when making a Multiattack.

Spike Growth. Three children of the briar working together can cast the spike growth spell with no components, at will. All three creatures must be within 10 feet of each other, and they must each use their action to cast the spell. The affected area must include at least one of the casters but doesn’t need to be centered on any caster. All children of the briar are immune to the spell’s effects.

The child of the briar loses its Entangle action. Alternatively, the Entangle action recharges on a 4–6 and the Spike Growth action recharges on a 5–6.

New Feat

The following feat is inspired by the child of the briar.

Synergistic Casting

Prerequisite: The ability to cast at least one spell.

If you are within 10 feet of another spellcaster and you cast a spell, that spellcaster can use their reaction to expend a spell slot one level higher than the spell you cast, increasing the spell slot of your spell by one slot level. If the other spellcaster has this feat, they only need to expend a spell slot of equal level; if that spellcaster has the same spell prepared or has the spell as a known spell, the slot level of your spell increases by two.

You typically can’t increase the slot level beyond the highest level slot you can cast. With synergistic casting, you can increase the slot level to one level higher than the highest level slot you can cast. You can reuse this aspect of the feat after you finish a long rest.

New Magic Items and Spells

The following magic item and spells are inspired by the child of the briar.

Thorn Suit

Armor (studded leather), rare (requires attunement)

While wearing this armor fashioned from multiple children of the briar, you gain a +1 bonus to AC, and you can understand and speak Briarclick. In addition, you can grapple a creature up to two sizes larger than you. If you have a creature grappled at the end of your turn, the creature takes 1d6 piercing damage.

Spell Grace

3rd-level abjuration | bard, cleric, druid, sorcerer, wizard
Casting Time: 1 bonus action
Range: 60 feet
Components: V, S
Duration: 1 minute

You designate a willing creature within range. For the duration, the creature is immune to any spell you cast until the end of your next turn.

At Higher Levels. When you cast this spell using a spell slot of 4th level or higher, you can target an additional willing creature for each slot level above 3rd.

Spitdart Tongue

1st-level transmutation | druid, ranger
Casting Time: 1 action
Range: Touch
Components: V, S M (a thorn from a child of the briar)
Duration: Concentration, up to 1 minute

You touch a willing creature. Until the spell ends, the target can use an action to expel a dart and make a ranged attack against a creature within 20 feet. On a hit, the dart deals 1d6 piercing damage.

At Higher Levels. When you cast this spell using a spell slot of 2nd level or higher, you can target an additional willing creature for each slot level above 1st.

Child of the Briar Adventure Hooks

  • A series of loud clicks, consistent with those produced by children of the briar, disrupts villagers’ sleep at midnight every other night. The villagers won’t investigate out of fear they might encounter the creatures, but they will pay adventurers from their meager funds to find and either eliminate or turn away the creatures.
  • A fey noble has taken an interest in the party’s travel through woods claimed by the noble. The noble has dispatched a dozen children of the briar to track and spy on the party while they are in the woods to determine their intentions. The children of the briar travel in pairs, using large flying insects to keep pace with a quickly traveling party, and relay information to another pair of children to reduce the chance of observation.

Tome Unleashed is going back to where it all began, with Tome of Beasts. If you’ve got a favorite from that book, please let me know in the comments or elsewhere in the Kobold warrens, and I’ll add it to the queue!

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7 thoughts on “Tome Unleashed: Child of the Briar”

  1. Seth R. Feldman

    Couple notes real quick because I like this stuff a lot.

    “(a prepared spellcaster must expend that prepared spell)”
    What’s meant by that? You don’t expend the prepared spell in 5e (you did in older versions), you just use a slot. You can prepare X number of spells and have X number of slots to expend to use them, but the spell stays prepared til you change it out.

    “You can use this aspect of the feat after you finish a long rest.”
    I think you mean that you can “re-use” this aspect of the feat once per long rest?

  2. Thanks Seth! I got myself tangled up in multiple game systems, and you’re absolutely correct about that parenthetical, which should just be removed. And, yes, that should have read “reuse” rather than “use.”

  3. This is awesome and I’d love to use some of this stuff but Spell Grace doesn’t quite make a lot of sense. In 5E you cannot cast two spells on the same turn unless one is a leveled spell and the other is a cantrip. Spell grace being a 3rd level spell basically means it’ll only ever immunize its target from a cantrip cast in the same turn, which is silly. That spell should last at least until the end of the casters next turn.

    1. Hi Dev! My brain really must have slipped into “Pathfinder” mode. You are correct, it should be until the end of the caster’s next turn precisely for the reasons you outlined. Thanks.

    1. Spell Grace should either last until the spell ends (the duration is specified as a 1 minute requires concentration) or use the end of next turn mechanic. For a 3rd level spell slot a full minute sounds more reasonable and I would argue that concentration should not be required. Heck for a 3rd level slot, I might even argue that up to 4 creatures you designate are immune.

      1. Dropping concentration from the requirements allows it to be combined with other concentration spells like Wall of Fire or Moonbeam, raising it utility significantly.

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