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    Halfling in the Playground

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    Default Re: The College of Legendary Steeds: A Bard Guide by StarStuff

    Range:Self/Find Steed Spells

    halfling on a dog - Wayne Reynolds

    Spoiler: Consider how changes to the following will affect your game:
    a) When you cast a concentration spell with a range of self and no AoE parenthetical, the Steed uses their own concentration on a separate spell.
    Alternative: a DM may rule that concentration spells do not dual-cast with Find Steed, or that they share the effect until the spell ends

    b) Steeds use your proficiency and modifiers instead of their own to determine spell attack modifiers and spell save DCs.
    Alternative: a DM might only allow the caster's proficiency with the Steeds ability modifiers, or only the Steed's modifiers

    c) PCs must dismount the Steed to command it to attack.
    Alternative: Steed's may use their special attacks and actions while mounted

    d) PCs may access higher CR beasts (and other creatures) as they level
    Alternative: PCs may only access the creatures listed in the Find Steed spell description

    Having another creature to hold your concentration spell means the effect isn't lost, even if you drop concentration. For spells like Locate Object that's a significant boon, but it's unstated for other spells as well. Whether this interpretation of Steed-casting is more broken than comparable build options is a question of RAI. As these spells were reviewed through the lens of RAW, please show discretion when applying them to your table.

    TLDR: when it comes to dualcasting, YMMV.

    And finally! The spells...

    Spoiler: 1st Level Spells

    Speak with Animals: Negan, the tyrannosaurus rex, playfully whips around his formidable tail. He terrifies the captured hyenas caged in a semi-circle around him. "I want you to work for me, but you killed my people." he says. "And for that you have to pay." The others howl as Regan crashes through a cage and sinks his teeth into the exposed neck of a helpless hyena. He snarls through grisled teeth, "Go back to your gnoll overlords and bring back what is mine." A bardic inspiration dice, a small Enhance Charisma spell buff, and suddenly your Steed is more compelling than you. You could also just wait for Tongues.
    Disguise Self: Scooby-Doo villains rejoice! With Disguise Self and Find Steed, you may terrorize the unrighteous as a headless horseman atop a dreadful nightmare through the magic of dual-casting. Disguise yourself as a gnoll on the back of a war-hyena steed to scout an enemy encampment. Disguise yourself as Santa herniating the back of an unfortunate reindeer steed. Should a fool scrutinize the verisimilitude of your disguise, Cutting Words applies to the Investigation check he'll make against your lofty Spell Save DC. Easily my favorite combo in this guide, despite how circumstantial it is.
    Hail of Thorns: Enter Organ Grinder, the ape Steed of a small lore bard. With a ranged Rock attack, he too can activate this smite-like spell. That's 2 dex saving throws with a scaling d10 damage die. Before you get too excited, the non-magical piercing damage dealt by this spell doesn't mean much to the Demogorgon. Still the reward for a 5th level slot on you and Organ Grinder is up to 10d10 on a small cluster of targets. An equivalent Fireball deals 10d6, with comparable resistance limitations...
    Detect Poison and Disease: From 50ft away, Larry, the collective consciousness of a swarm of poisonous snakes making up your Steed, telepathically hisses back confirmation of several drow priestesses and warriors taking shelter in the opposite fork of a passage. The poison on their weapons gives away their ambush through a clever Detect Poison cast. Larry's companions prepare a surprise offensive. Is this worthy of a multiclass spells known slot? Maybe. But as a Magical Secrets pickup, this is simply too situational. Larry is hissapointed.
    Expeditious Retreat: Dash and Dash and move all day. Throw Longstrider on your mount for maximum obnoxiousness. On a warhorse, that's 210ft of movement in a round. Plus another 75ft-120ft from you, maybe more if you can prone your steed. (Dismounting cost half your move) In the Kentucky derby of D&D, these mounts outpace even the Phantom Steed, but how often do you need a speed roided steed in an adventure?
    Shield: Nice for keeping casters from auto-killing your mounted Steed with Magic Missiles. The +5 AC is nice too, but you're still basically trading a 1st level spell to protect a 2nd level spell. The spell or attack must target the caster to activate Shield, meaning a clever spellslinger could target your Steed without provoking the reaction requirement from Shield. You might be able to get around this with Mounted Combat and Cutting Words. It's still outstanding as a multiclass or Magic Initiate pickup.
    Armor of Agathys: Experienced PCs have assured me this spell is worth taking, but I'm not convinced yet. There are plenty of ways to gain temporary HP in D&D. If you're considering this, check out Inspiring Leader too.
    Comprehend Languages: It's fun to imagine Mr. Ed donning a monocle and turning a page with his hoof, but the mechanical advantages of dual-casting this on you AND your Steed are severely circumstantial.
    Divine Favor: Find Steed is the only reason I'd take this spell, as a paladin. 1d4 radiant damage is nothing to scoff at when you're making 2 to 7 attacks per round (Charge/Trample/AoO, Attack/Extra/Bonus/AoO), as a paladin. The 1 minute limitation is a little meh, but at least it's a bonus action - for paladins. Paladins don't burn a Magical Secret in opportunity costs just to do more damage. Most bards shouldn't take this spell.
    False Life: It should be easier to rationalize this spell at higher levels, when you have more slots than you know what to do with. But no. It's still just spell slots in exchange for temporary hit points. Besides proactivity, the only notch False Life has over Cure Wounds is it's ability to affect twice as many targets with temp HP while mounted on your Steed. But before you pull the trigger, consider Inspiring Leader for all of your temp HP needs. It scales by your modifier and only cost time - not spell slots.
    Wrathful Smite: Now we're talking. The junk damage is surely an omen this spell was meant for Lore bards. The frightened condition forces disadvantage on ability checks AND attack rolls, so long as your foe is within line of sight. And anyone that fears you cannot come any closer. Having a mount makes it much easier to exploit frightened on the battlefield, totally denying melee attackers in some scenarios. Assuming they fail the first save, the suffering target must spend a whole action on subsequent turns to beat a wisdom CHECK against your save DC - just to break free from frightened! Cutting Words combos this smite into a nigh unbeatable, super save-or-suck. Who cares if this dual-casts? Take it for the lulz.
    Ensnaring Strike: Vine-like coral wraps around the aboleth's tentacles, restraining the hideous terror. With an uncanny motion of his snout, Cosmo, the giant sea horse, rips his bloody barnacle back from the aberrations rubbery exterior. Much like Wrathful Smite, Ensnaring Strike pits a target's ability check against your spell save DC. Cutting Words away! Strength save mods are hit and miss on Monster Manual critters. But nothing RAW stops you from attempting to ensnare a gargantuan creature, like a dragon turtle.
    Searing Smite: Constitution saves favor the HP sponges that might otherwise dislike damage-over-time effects. Why would you ever trade your concentration for a paltry 1d6 per turn? They don't even trigger on legendary actions!
    Detect Magic: It isn't often that you need two of these, but why not! You won't find many steed casting rituals.

    Spoiler: 2nd Level Spells
    Mirror Image: Our tiefling champion, Sasha, and her Steed, Delilah, enter the window trailed by 3 copies. Sasha laughs deliriously as 5 rugs of smothering assail the illusory clones of her and her mount. From the ceiling, she savages a rug with her radiant Sunblade, sundering it to ribbons. Mirror Image makes it much harder for weapon attacks to target you and your Steed. Use Cutting Words to extend the duplicates if you're hell bent on annoying your DM.
    Locate Object: I never leave home without this spell. That necklace dangling around the sorcerer's collar bone, the magic sword stolen by that precocious pickpocket, the nearest lever in the room with the crushing walls trap - through walls, stealth and invisibility, Locate Object can find it. And now your Steed can too- either by splitting up into a 4,000ft wide radar or by searching for a second object altogether.
    Detect Thoughts: Enter Sniffles, the prescient mastiff/dachshund. From his back, Scarlett, a halfling scoundrel, asks "What's he thinking, Sniffles?" The bard and her mount peer into the minds of two different targets - a young couple on a nearby balcony. The man's internal monologue clashes with Sniffles's telepathic report in Scarlett's mind, but barely she discerns the murderous plot of the young woman towards her lover. Even if your DM lets you and your steed target one creature each, spells known are precious and this doesn't quite make the cut.
    Flame Blade: Find Steed is the best reason to take Flame Blade. Organ Grinder grips his firey sword tighter and lashes out at your assailant. 3d6 scaling on a melee spell attack. Twice if you attack too. Not bad. You still don't benefit from multi-attack, two-weapon fighting, or extra attack - but you've certainly won D&D through the rule of cool. Who doesn't love flaming weapons?
    Pass Without Trace: sneaky. Sneaky! Noo.. Really though, in what situation does granting 20 people PWT do more than granting 10 people PWT? Someone will always roll a 1. I suppose if you split the party... Still generally useful without dual-casting.
    Branding Smite: Delilah, the giant spider, sinks her gleaming, radiant stinger into the invisible thigh of a mind flayer acanist. A dull glow envelops it microseconds before the spider's master, Sasha, severs the mind flayer's head from it's forking tentacles with one fell swoop of her Sunsword. Branding Smite is neat for breaking invisibility, but just doesn’t compete well against the other choices at this level.
    Misty Step: Sometimes, you just need a bonus action teleport. "That you can see" means you may never pass through brick walls, but the one time your mount passes by an arrow slit... Misty step has to be one of my top 10 favorite spells in the game. On the other hand, you have Dimension Door on the bard list and it can take a medium sized Steed. If you want to see a wicked series of shenanigans involving Misty Step and Benign Transposition, check this out.
    Blur: This wouldn't be a bad way to protect your Steed if it didn't demand concentration. And a magical secrets slot. Fortunately, there are tons of other ways to impose disadvantage on an assailant.
    Alter Self: Why not just recast Find Steed for an aquatic mount? Alter Self would be a strict upgrade to Disguise Self if it didn't demand your concentration for an hour. Since your Steed likely has a natural weapon attack and will frequently die in fights against creatures who are resistant to magic damage, the third bullet point is nearly irrelevant. Still, this is a handy spell for messing with people.
    Augury: It's hard not to select the "Weal and Woe" omen as a DM. If there's treasure in a room but it's surrounded by wimpy zombies, is that still Weal? Or are you supposed to assess omens by weighing whether the player's actions align with their God's expectations? Steed-casting at least grants you two chances to make this spell meaningful. I'd sooner wait for divination.
    See Invisibility: Casters and their Steeds can see into the Ethereal plane. Sure, that comes up every blue moon. I suppose we should be thankful it doesn't have a concentration requirement, and it's already on the bard spell list. Trumpet, the giant crocodile, loves grappling sneaky, invisible blokes and holding them prone for her buddies to beat on. "Eat him," she blargs.
    Locate Animals and Plants: Another ritual! Perhaps there's a rare scene when you need to find a beast or a special flower to finish an adventure. Perhaps you're gunho about Animal Friendship and want to build a circus. Even then, is there anything steed casting this twice can do that you can't already do with one cast? And then there's the alternative, Locate Object (beast scat)...

    Spoiler: 3rd Level Spells
    Vampiric Touch: Enter Darwin, the bloodsucking panda. Darwin likes to goose patrons with your spell attack modifier. Like you, he deals 3d6 necrotic damage and noms on life essence. Somewhere out there, the ears of a multiclass life cleric perked up as he realized Disciple of Life could be feeding his Legendary Steed an additional 2 HP+Mod on every Vampiric Touch. Unless you're that guy, it's still kinda meh.
    Blink: Animal abuse is never hilarious, except when your celestial warhorse blinks out from under you into the Ethereal Plane while you plummet face forward into the ground below. What happens when the Steed rolls 11 and you don't? Insta-Karma! QED
    Blinding Smite: Lite, the camel, high-tails it towards the hobgoblin, spitting in his eyes and biting his axearm. The hobgoblin's face flashes with a bright light and he fumbles for his weapon, flailing aimlessly away from Lite. There aren't many monsters with low constitution saves in the monster manual, but blindness is a devastating condition on top of the extra 3d8 radiant damage. Alternatively, you could hit a whole crowd with an 8d6 fireball. Meh. Sure wish it scaled.
    Crusader's Mantle: Redundant unless you and your Steed split up to cover a wider area. In which case, it's still meh. Unless everyone rolled a fighter, your group probably isn't making THAT many weapon attacks. Cantrips, spells, and utility actions gain nothing from Crusader's Mantle, and it eats your concentration. That extra 1d4 radiant damage could be handy if there are lots of conjured critters or warrior types in your party, however.
    Lightning Arrow: Organ Grinder the ape, at your service. Climbing down from his shoulders, our handsome halfling looses a bolt from her hand crossbow. Simultaneously, Organ Grinder launches a heavy Rock at the same woeful creature, a quaggoth 10ft from his drow priestess. The quaggoth takes 8d8 lightning damage, miss for half. The quaggoth and his priestess take another 4d8, save for half. And the priestess must make 2 concentration saves if she's managing a Web or other spell. Let's not forget Lightning Arrow scales...

    Spoiler: 4th Level Spells
    Divination: Dante and his Steed, Virgil, lead their damned companions to food and shelter, guided by Divination. Some DM's take issue with ritual casting from the back of a mount. Most DM's take issue with divination magic - and with good reason! Revealing "the future" is the easiest way to rob a dungeon master of their fun and to trash the suspense of a campaign. That said, Divination encourages the use of cryptic rhymes and omens. If your DM enjoys making riddles and puzzles, then this spell creates twice as many opportunities for her to spotlight. Otherwise, don't be a jerk.
    Fire Shield: It's hard to get a mob to hit your mount - let alone have your mount survive it. It's still a much more practical version of Protection from Energy, but it doesn't last long enough to function as a deliberate torch, and the cold Or fire limitation is a smidgen too restrictive. And yet its almost worth it for the human torch style points.
    Locate Creature: Unlike Locate Object, this won't track a wizard's spellbook through Polymorph. Water on Locate Critter is also more restrictive than lead on Locate Object. But of course, the creatures you NEED to surprise don't typically carry objects. Still, like Locate Object, it's twice the area when steed-cast.
    Staggering Smite: A brilliant save or suck on a wisdom saving throw ruined by concentration, melee weapon attack requirement and a 4th level spell known. Much better if your steed has multiple weapon attacks, but there are better ways to spend your magical secrets.

    Spoiler: 5th Level Spells
    Contact other Plane: Step 1- prioritize Intelligence saving throws in your build. Step 2- find an Amulet of Proof against Detection and Location. Step 3- befriend a paladin with Aura of Protection, a high charisma and lots of patience. Step 4- pass a DC15 Int Save from Contact Other Plane. (that's hard) Laugh with your Steed as he goes insane. Step 5- prank call the gods. Step 9000- don't ever die. Obviously this is much easier for a Wizard, but anyone who CAN tick off an entire fantasy pantheon is obligated to give it their best go - especially when their Steed can get in on the fun.
    Commune with Nature: Sniffles, the prescient mastiff/dachshund, is unimpressed. I suppose it's cool you can deduce the location of EVERY listed scary monster type with one cast, but 1 minute might as well be 11 minutes. And 11 minutes might as well be a few hours when you're 3 miles from danger. Does it matter if it dual-casts? Certainly not a bad Magical Secret, but you can do better.
    Commune: What's more deadly than irritating a pantheon with Contact Other Plane? How about ticking off whoever loaned you the Steed. Still, I don't see any reason why your little pony can't counsel with their deific sire in the same scene that you do.
    Dispel Evil and Good: Disadvantage attacks against you And your Steed. Cool. Two dispels, two banishments. Also pretty slick. 1 minute duration with concentration. Not so slick. 5th-level spell slot? What?!? Dispel Good and Evil is actually fairly versatile, depending on the campaign, but there are more creative and effective pick-ups for a level 10 Magical Secret.
    Legend Lore: One of the most creative spells in D&D, Legend Lore gives your DM permission to veer the game off the rails and insert any magic item into the campaign in home campaigns. Adventurers League players occasionally use this to hunt down magic item certificates by gathering rumors and casting Legend Lore with a sponsored DM. How much gold is worth knowing there's always a legendary adventure just after this one? It works like this: Give your steed Tongues. Cast the spell over 10 minutes while mounted. The steed serves you by "naming or describing a person, place, or object." And you, of course, can deduce the same. Tada! You've cheesed material spell component costs. Now insist your talking warhorse with an intelligence of 6 explain who the Demogorgan is to the Stranger Things fans while your DM reveals which adventure has the Daern's Instant Fortress magic item card. (a magic item is an object) Theoretically, this works without breaking Adventurer's League rules. In the end, is this spell really that game-breaking?
    Tree Stride: So if I Awaken 2 trees, I can have one follow me while the other chillaxes outside the pearly gates of Scary Dungeon Hell. If fit hits the shan, Treestride can zoop me and my Steed through tree 1 and outta tree 2. That's pretty cool.. oh wait. I already have Dimension Door on my spell list. Bahaha!
    Banishing Smite: With advantage, Tostada, the giant shark, snaps it's teeth down into the wounded water elemental. It puffs harmlessly out of existence, banished to the elemental chaos. 5d10 isn't spectacular damage for a 5th level spell and the rider is little too conditional for reliable utility. You might one-shot a low hp demon or elemental with it - assuming you can reliably time the attack. But there are better ways for a bard to burn a high-level spell slot and a bonus action.
    Scrying: Sniffles scours this plane of existence for the nobleman's sister. Her master, Scarlett, peers deep into a crystal ball from her saddle. "I've found him!" she says with start. Sniffles laps at the air, but detects nothing. A Scrying dual-cast is hardly indicative of a busted class feature/mechanic. If a player has an interest in casting 1 Scrying spell, they're probably the type who'd have cast another. Ask your Chain pact warlock friend with the Voice of the Chain Master (imp) invocation if dual-cast Scrying spells are broken...
    Mislead: Take this if your DM is onboard with Being John Malkovich roleplay. Or if your campaign mirrors The Prestige. (RIP David Bowie.) FFS, how do you rate this? Can you see through your Steed's eyes when you cast this mounted? Can you switch from its senses to yours and then yours and back again? Probably not, but telepathic communication through 4 perspectives is philosophically kaleidoscopic. Arcane Eye is probably more useful to your day-to-day, carry-on kit.

    Spoiler: 6th Level Spells
    Magic Jar: Do you love your Steed so much that you would trap a man's soul in a jar for eternity just so it could have opposable thumbs? Without Sequester or Demiplane, the upkeep on this spell takes an awful amount of effort. But it comes at no risk to your mount; Steeds recover their bodies on every Find Steed cast- even if the host dies. Your DM will probably say "Nah," but an Int 6 Steed in a man's body would make a great RP session. Druids and ethics be damned! Darwin, the bloodsucking panda, was meant to be a real boy.
    Find the Path: Mapkwest conjures his Steed, Gglmaps. With Find Steed and Find the Path, our dual-casting heroes split ways for 1 day. Mapkwest departs to Neverwinter and Gglmaps guides his allies to Waterdeep. Snooze. If you have ever used this spell to great effect in your game, I demand you tell me about it.
    Eye Bite: The most flagrant of rotten Limburger cheese, abuses like this give the College of Legendary Steeds a bad name. Sleep’ed, sickened, and panicked are great conditions to spam cast for 1 minute of concentration, let alone twice per round with dual-casting gimmicks. On the other hand, spells like Astral Gate and Create Undead are still way sexier. Eyebite and spells like it are why we need a better ruling on Find Steed than Crawford’s, “targets Range: Self (no parenthetical).” We’ll come back to this later.
    Contingency: The descriptor practically screams, "Don't let your players abuse me!" That said, it's still really powerful for a Magical Secret without Find Steed.

    Spoiler: 7th Level Spells
    Etherealness: 8 hours is a long time. There are usually better ways to spend your 7th level spell slot, but if you really want to scout a building from top to bottom, a Steed - with high movement speed - ensures you can do so before the duration of your Etherealness runs out.

    Spoiler: 8th Level Spells
    Glibness: Given the warhorse's curiously low Charisma score of 7, I'm inclined to believe more equestrians are rocking this IRL than the game adequately reflects. Whoever says horses don't have strong personalities have clearly never been browbeaten into handing Mr. Ed an apple after falling off of him during a middle school field trip. Blue for the shenanigans.
    Holy Aura: Sure feels like this should have an AoE parenthetical. Maybe it comes in handy when you and your Steed split up to cover more party members with the AoE. The blind condition Con save rider is awfully redundant, seeing as allies in the aura radius disadvantage attacks rolls already. Best when cast from a mobile, flying Steed, like a giant wasp. Then it can hover with impunity over the allies that split the party. Not a stellar use of an 8th level slot, but bardically creative.

    Spoiler: 9th Level Spells
    Timestop: Unfortunately, our valiant Steed has his hooves tied by the "affects no other creatures or objects" limitation. Otherwise, you'd have 1d4+1 rounds for Mr. Ed to pants people and shove Huge creatures on the ground. Still, he gets Mirror Image buffs and he can take you to the edges of 1000ft in a jiffy. Once upon a time in a version long, long ago, this spell broke campaigns.
    Wish: A conjurer wizard and his fellow adventurers discover the Luck Blade in the Curse of Straud. The wizard insists the paladin cast the only Wish still within the blade. He asks her for command over her giant spider Steed. The paladin Wishes to have their flaws from the Amber Temple rescinded. Mounted, her giant spider Steed wishes for a large castle, given coaching by the conjurer wizard. The spider fails the percentage roll and becomes the only Steed who may never Wish again. The party retires to a large castle, as per the DMG. Monkey paw: every room is loaded with traps and monsters, and lots of giant, tasty bugs. The reality is most DMs will discourage this type of Steed-casting. It's certainly as far from RAI as one can get, but before you write off ideas like this, consider the atmosphere in which it's cast. 9th-level spells are hard to come by, and this one in particular is pricey. By time you're seeing these combinations, you're likely near the end of a long overdue campaign. This type of Steed-casting, with two deliveries of Wish, is an excuse to send the game out on the highest note you can.
    Shapechange: It's crap when you're limited by the "challenge rating equal to your level or lower." However, this spell rocks when you use True Polymorph to transform your mount into an object and then back into a CR9 critter. (Special thanks to Zene)

    Spoiler: Cantrips
    Produce Flame: Organ Grinder the ape and our halfling hero conjure twin balls of flame to their hands. At level 6, 2 spell attacks at 2d8 fire damage per hit is nothing to scoff at. The obstacle shared by both munchkins and dungeon masters is the "hand" limitation, imposed on our hooven/pawed/taloned friends. That said, bellowing flame and smoke is the missing piece of your warhorse's Disguise Self (Headless Horseman/Nightmare) spell.
    Blade Ward: Typically you're better off taking the Dodge action than wasting your turn on this cantrip. But since you CAN use it on your steed, why not?
    Friends: Predictability is always exploitable: just ask any economics professor. You'll let him know you're out front and cast Friends on your Steed from cover. He'll come outside to a kind horse with handsome eyes and you nowhere to be seen. The more he looks around, the more your Steed seems to empathize with him, but soon your Steed grows cold and mean. Friends wears off. Suddenly aware of your horse's magical influence, your professor lashes out in anger... He can't explain why he loathes your Steed, but understands you had nothing to do with it's supernatural influence. In condolence, he grants your chaotic neutral character an A in class and signs up for weekly anger management sessions.
    Last edited by StarStuff; 2019-01-15 at 07:47 PM.