by Timothy G
Welcome to the Bamboo Digest!
For our first entry, in honor of the founding of Pandamancer Games, we are excited to present our eponymous sorcerer subclass for 5e: the Pandamancer! Give it a try with your gaming group, and let us know what you think in the comments!
Sorcerous Origin: Pandamancer
Powerful panda magic flows through your veins. Perhaps you descend from a druid who was only willing to befriend panda bears, or maybe your forebear fell into a hot spring and transformed into a panda. Maybe your mother was blessed by a panda spirit as thanks for saving his sacred grove. In any case, for better or for worse, you’ve known from a young age that it was your destiny to be a Pandamancer.
At 1st level, you may cast Bamboo Growth (see below) at will as a cantrip. Additionally, you gain advantage on Constitution saves.
At 6th level, you gain the ability to speak to pandas as per Speak with Animals. Additionally, you can spend 1 sorcery point to summon a panda companion as per Conjure Animals. This panda uses the stats of a Brown Bear.
Take no Jutsu
At 14th level, when an enemy hits you with an attack, you may spend 2 sorcery points as a reaction to swap places with any bamboo stalk within 120 ft. The bamboo stalk takes the damage from the attack instead.
Heavenly Panda Form
Beginning at 18th level, you can spend 5 sorcery points to transform into the Heavenly Panda (use the stats of a Brown Bear). This functions as the druid’s wild shape class feature, except that while in Heavenly Panda form you may still speak and cast spells. In addition, you shed a benevolent blue light in a 20 ft. radius as per the light spell. This effect may be dismissed or activated as an action. While in Heavenly Panda Form, you gain resistance to all non-magical damage and your natural attacks function as +3 weapons that deal radiant damage.
There it is! The Pandamancer. Let’s look at each feature.
Wild Resilience: Infinite bamboo, and advantage on one of the most common types of saving throw. What’s not to like?
Bear-Speech: A panda bear friend you can talk to? It’s a nature enthusiast’s dream. In addition to being a great conversationalist, he’s also pretty decent in a fight. And your new friend will greatly appreciate your ability to create infinite bamboo.
Take no Jutsu: This is my favorite part. Not only is it an excellent defensive ability, it rewards battlefield strategy (smart bamboo placement!) and will leave your enemies extremely confused. It works against any attack, so spell attacks and ranged attacks are fair game. You could even save it for when your enemy scores a critical, and then laugh as his perfect swing goes *thunk* into a big piece of bamboo. Beyond its defensive utility, Take no Jutsu gives you an excellent retreat strategy: place a bamboo stalk in a safe spot before combat, and if things go badly, you can disappear without having to use an action or a spell slot for dimension door.
Heavenly Panda Form: It’s a delightful image. A gently glowing celestial panda, wandering the forest and giving sage advice to travelers. Wise and placid, but fierce and deadly in a confrontation. And if for any reason you want to be stealthy, you can turn off the glow.
Special bonus! A new spell to complement the Pandamancer. Check it out!
Casting Time: 1 action
Range: 30 feet
Components: V, S, M (a pinch of soil)
Duration: Concentration, up to 1 minute
This spell causes a bamboo shoot to sprout on one patch of soil or sand within range. The shoot grows at a rate of 1 foot per round as long as you maintain concentration. Once the spell ends, the plant becomes a mundane bamboo plant and grows as usual, requiring water, light, and fertile soil.
Now, growing a single stalk of bamboo may seem situational, but it actually has a lot of utility. Bamboo is an extremely versatile plant. In addition to all of its traditional uses, I hear it can be used to construct crude but effective vehicles.
Seriously, though, it could have a lot of uses, especially if you’re a Pandamancer and can cast it as a cantrip. Need to lever up a big rock? Grow some bamboo right under its edge. Need an improvised weapon to fight the guy you just hit with that boulder? Good news! There’s a bamboo stalk right there where the boulder used to be. Need a ladder to get away from the guy you just beaned with that bamboo pole? Grow a second stalk, lash them together, and climb to safety! See? The uses are endless.
I love this spell because it’s possible to invent a vast array of creative uses for it. Try out the Pandamancer and bamboo growth in your own 5e game and let us know what you think!