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Building A Water Elemental Companion With The Baby Bestiary

by Jeremy Blum on September 05, 2021

 

A baby water elemental swirls in a fountain in this illustration from The Baby Bestiary.

 

The adventurers encircled the strange orb, which resembled a sapphire and was emitting a dull light that came from intricate circular patterns on its surface that looked vaguely like bubbles.

“That’s one odd gemstone,” the rogue murmured under his breath. 

“I don’t think it’s a gemstone,” the druid replied, a hunch emerging in his brain. “I think it’s an egg.”

The druid’s hunch proved correct, for before the rogue could respond, a crack appeared in the middle of the orb, which wiggled back and forth for one long moment before splitting in two. Its interior was filled with water. Suddenly, the water wiggled, coalescing into a small, human-like form with a face composed entirely of shifting liquid. This face turned left and right, as if searching for a watery parent, and it finally settled on the party.

“Well I’ll be,” the druid said, a smile coming to his lips. “A water elementlet.”

Metal Weave Games’ Baby Bestiary books contain a variety of young monsters for Game Masters and players to insert into their tabletop adventures, and one notable creature I’ve utilized in the past is a baby water elemental, also known as an elementlet. I devised this liquidy companion for a group of six players going through a heavily homebrewed version of the Dungeons & Dragons adventure Waterdeep: Dragon Heist. The players named him Bubbles, and our group developed him using Baby Bestiary Volume One as well as the Beast Companion, which provides the following four steps for monster companion creation in D&D Fifth Edition:

 

1. Determine a clear vision for your companion

Step one is brainstorming the companion’s roots. What sort of creature in the Baby Bestiary stirs your imagination? How might this monster assist your players or supplement the overarching story of your campaign?

In our adventure, my players were investigating the outskirts of Waterdeep and slowly uncovering evidence of a grim plot involving merrow, who were lurking along the city’s shores and waterways. These aquatic invaders were using water elementals for their dirty work, and I made it clear that the elementals were not necessarily evil, but instead sentient creatures bred from orbs stolen from the elemental plane of water. I was hoping to plant a seed in the mind of my players, provoking them into wondering what they might do if they had their own water elemental. This worked, and upon investigating a subterranean merrow hideout, my players stumbled upon an orb containing an elementlet and jumped at the chance to shape its growth. 

 

2. Choose an origin for the companion

Choosing an origin for your monster is very similar to picking a character’s race in Fifth Edition. The Beast Companion’s origins include aberrations, beasts, celestials, dragons, elementals, fey, fiends, monstrosities, oozes and plants. Obviously, Bubbles was an elemental, which meant that his stats would receive three boosts: an Ability Score Increase (in this case, his Dexterity went up by 1), a Bonus Wild Feature (Elemental Immunity to a chosen damage type - my players chose poison, which is an immunity possessed by standard water elementals in Fifth Edition), and a Training Modifier (the DC of checks required to train him went up by 1.)

 

3. Choose an archetype for the companion 

If a monster’s origin is analogous to choosing a character’s race in Fifth Edition, picking an archetype is similar to choosing a class. There are six archetypes - Artillery (creatures that specialize in ranged combat), Brute (melee-focused combatants), Controller (tactical monsters who manipulate the battlefield), Defender (creatures focused on protecting allies), Lurker (stealthy monsters), and Skirmishers (speedy monsters who dart in and out of battle.) 

Once Bubbles was born, I told my players he was a blank slate and asked them what they would like in a water elemental companion. Overwhelmingly, the party (consisting of a number of vocal players who had gone unconscious in previous battles) said they imagined a creature who could erect watery shields and defend them from incoming attacks. 

Thus, Bubbles the Defender was established! His starting Ability Scores, as dictated by the Defender archetype and his origin, were as follows: Strength 12, Dexterity 11, Constitution 14, Intelligence 10, Wisdom 6, and Charisma 8. He received a d10 for his Hit Die, an Armor Class of 12 + his Constitution modifier, saving throws in Constitution and Charisma, and a Speed of 25 ft. He also gained Strike as a Melee Weapon Attack, letting him do d6 + Strength modifier slashing damage, and Protective as an additional trait, which let him impose disadvantage on attack rolls against allies other than his master. In my game, no one person in the party was necessarily Bubbles’ master, so we agreed to tweak this ability and have him impose disadvantage on all attacks against allies within 5 feet.

 

4. Choose a temperament for the companion

An adventurer lounges with a wide variety of baby elemental companions by his side.

The final step was to determine Bubbles’ personality via the Beast Companion’s temperament table, which includes everything from sassy to stubborn. Game Masters can either roll a d20 or choose from the table directly; I decided to roll and ended with a natural 1, which meant that Bubbles had the Brave temperament - perfect for a monster who would rush into battle to defend his family! Bubbles received a +1 to his Constitution and a -1 to his Wisdom scores, and his Training Modifier went down by 1, which cancelled out the +1 DC to training checks granted by his elemental origin.

Once this four step process was finished, it was time to decide Bubbles’ level 1 Wild Feature. Similar to the special abilities of player characters, Wild Features range from increased speed to dealing double damage against structures, and they’re divided into low, medium and high tiers. (If you look back to step 2 in the companion creation process, you’ll see that Bubbles, thanks to his elemental origin, began with a medium-tier Wild Feature for free - Elemental Immunity to poison damage.) 

In keeping with their vision, my players selected the Elemental Body Wild Feature, which meant that any creature within 5 feet who hit Bubbles with a melee attack would suffer 4 (1d8) elemental damage. My players chose cold damage, visualizing Bubbles’ arms transforming into ice blocks as the little fella delivered hits. 

After developing a few of his more flavorful traits (we surmised that Bubbles would understand Aquan and Common, for instance), we wrote down Bubbles’ Level 1 stats, which were as follows:   

 

Bubbles
Elemental, Brave
STR: 12 (+1) DEX: 11 (+0) CON: 15 (+2) INT: 10 (+0) WIS: 5 (-3) CHA: 8 (-1)
Armor Class: 14
Hit Points: 12
Speed: 25 ft.
Saving Throws: Con +4, Cha +1
Senses: passive perception 7
Languages: understands Aquan and Common
Abilities
Protective. When a creature Bubbles can see attacks an ally within 5 feet of him, Bubbles can use his reaction to impose disadvantage on the attack roll.
Actions
Strike. Melee Weapon Attack: +3 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 1d6 + 1 slashing damage.
Wild Features
Elemental Body. A creature who touches Bubbles or hits him with a melee attack while within 5 feet takes 4 (1d8) cold damage.
Elemental Immunity. Bubbles is immune to poison damage. 

 

The Beast Companion contains rules for bringing a companion up to level 20. Waterdeep: Dragon Heist ends around level 5, and over the course of those five levels, Bubbles received another Wild Feature, an Ability Score Improvement, and an Extra Attack. He was never a particularly wise or charismatic elementlet, but he became the useful defender that my players wanted, and even excelled at scouting missions by masquerading as an innocuous puddle. His final stat block was as follows: 

 

Bubbles
Elemental, Brave
STR: 14 (+2) DEX: 11 (+0) CON: 15 (+2) INT: 10 (+0) WIS: 5 (-3) CHA: 8 (-1)
Armor Class: 14
Hit Points: 30
Speed: 25 ft.
Saving Throws: Con +4, Cha +1
Senses: passive perception 7
Languages: understands Aquan and Common
Abilities
Protective. When a creature Bubbles can see attacks an ally within 5 feet of him, Bubbles can use his reaction to impose disadvantage on the attack roll.
Actions
Extra attack. Bubbles can use his strike ability twice on his turn.
Strike. Melee Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 1d6 + 2 slashing damage.
Wild Features
Elemental Body. A creature who touches Bubbles or hits him with a melee attack while within 5 feet takes 4 (1d8) cold damage.
Elemental Immunity. Bubbles is immune to poison damage. 
False Appearance. Bubbles can blend into the world and appear like a puddle of water as long as he remains motionless.

 

Training rules are also included in the Beast Companion, with a variety of dispositions for monster companions ranging from hostile to loyal. Most monsters begin in the middle at indifference, remaining controlled by the Game Master until the loyal disposition is unlocked. This was the case with Bubbles, and over the course of the campaign, each party member diligently performed training checks, fed Bubbles his favorite food (dried shrimp), and even chipped in to buy the little guy his very own fish tank. Eventually, Bubbles’ disposition changed to loyal, and by that time, he was more than just a pet - he was the party’s mascot.

Today, more than a year since moving on to other campaigns, anecdotes of the elementlet that hatched from an egg are still told around our gaming table. With the Baby Bestiary and its related supplements, you can create your own version of Bubbles, giving players a mascot of their own that they won’t soon forget. 

A water elemental miniature sits alongside some dice, a character sheet and the Baby Bestiary book.

Jeremy Blum (@PixelGrotto) is a journalist, gaming blogger, comic book aficionado, and fan of all forms of storytelling who rolled his first polyhedral dice while living in Hong Kong in 2017. Since then, he's never looked back and loves roleplaying games for the chance to tell the tales that have been swirling in his head since childhood.

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