Wizards of the Coast have taken us from Ravenloft to the Feywild and on to the MTG plane of Arcavios to bring in some gruesome lineages and some equal strange race choices from 2021. It is, after all, in their best interest to give as many legitimate choices that actually work within the confines of the game. I mean, one can jump on the internet at anytime and grab the wild and the weird races off of homebrew sites, but who knows if they will sync with the balance of the game. So, I applaud Wotc (although they have received some backlash from this) for being willing to open up some of the strangest fringe races possible.
None are stranger or cooler than the Owlin. Showcased in the Strixhaven sourcebook late last year, D&D finally brought Owlfolk to the game for real. And any who say that an owlin is a boring choice hasn’t given it an adequate look over.
First of all, they have connections to the Feywild through their lineage that runs back to the Giant Owls that live and soar above the forests there. There’s not much information on these creatures but that they were abnormally large and, like the Eagles in Lotr, they served as mounts to gods like Eldath, Finder Wyvernspur, and Rillifane Rallathil.
The Giant Owls also served as mounts and aids on many of the Prime Material Plane. Summoned by magical items like Bird feather headdress and a the Great Druid’s Staff. But they could just as easily been summoned by spells like Conjure Animals. The wood elves of Faerun also had a close relationship to them and were aided by them at times.
But the Owlin, according the Strixhaven sourcebook, was a distant cousin to these majestic creatures. And, although the only place we’ve seen them is at the aforementioned school, these unique, sentient beings could have entered any campaign setting that has connection to the Feywild; which is most planes.
Right off the bat, the Owlin are jumping into the front of most lists of character creation just for the fact that they’re given a flight speed to meet their walking speed. Now, Wotc learned from past mistakes when they gave the Aarakocras a flying speed of 50 which can be a bit excessive. But flight alone would be reason enough. But there’s more.
Owlins inherited their unique ability for stealth from their forefather Giant Owls. Their feathers glide silently through the air above; allowing them to drop in unannounced. Getting a proficiency for stealth naturally at level 1 makes these aerial creatures a danger at all times.
Combine this with 120 feet of darkvision and these new options are just what the cleric ordered.
And, as I said earlier, if you think they’re only good to be wizards, well, you haven’t looked at them honestly. Although I was a bit reluctant to use the variant character creation released with Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything, this allows you to flesh out any character in any race a million different ways. So your Owlin CAN be a wizard with a bonus stealth proficiency or buff his strength and make him a fighter or a monk or maybe a barbarian. Or, possibly, a Monk/Barbarian. And that’s what our man Panda did.
Assun Soulflurry (Monk 14/Barbarian 6)
After we started talking about the Owlin, Panda came to me breathless with mind blow. He swore that this build was broken. Taking advantage of the certain elements of the Path of the Totem Spirit and flipping the switch with the broken nature of the Monk, Panda built a speed demon.
First of all, let’s look at the six levels of Barbarian. You’re getting that awesome rage, reckless attack and an extra attack. You get a bump to speed with Fast Movement and added AC with unarmored defense. More about both of those in a moment.
In this build, Panda took the Barbarians Unarmored Defense which is 10 + Dexterity Modifier (+5) + Constitution Modifier (+5) for a total of 20 AC.
Panda chose Path of the Totem Warrior for added boons given with the Eagle Totem. But, instead of Eagle, he skinned it as an owl. SO, his totem spirit is an owl. At 3rd level, this makes you harder to hit when you’re moving. You, not only, get the dash action as a bonus action, anyone attempting an attack of opportunity does so at disadvantage. Then, at 6th level, your Owl Totem gives your character exceptional eyesight; seeing a whole mile without a problem. This and dim light doesn’t hinder you at all. Your character makes a great scout or watchman.
Then, you finish the build up with monk!
To begin with, this owlin is fast as lightning. You already have a +10 speed thanks to the Barbarians Fast Movement. Now, with Monk, you rev it up a bit. Utilizing the Monk’s Unarmored Movement, you add to his 30 foot movement and his 10 foot Barbarian Fast Movement. Meaning, at 14th level of Monk, he adds 25 feet to the above movement. Add the Mobile Feat (+10) to that and the owlin’s movement is a whopping 75 feet per turn. Which means, if he takes the Dash action as a bonus action, he’s taking off at 150 feet in one round.
Now, add to that the fact that he can do this flying! Yeah, he’s fast!
Now, oddly enough, Panda chose the Way of Mercy. This makes the owlin good with Medicine Checks, Insight and the Herbalism kit with the Implements of Mercy. With Hand of Healing, he can burn a Ki point and heal his Marital Arts die (1D8) + his Wisdom Modifier (+3). On top of that, when using Flurry of Blows, you can make one strike a Hand of Healing without spending the Ki point!
But wait! There’s more!
The Way of Mercy apparently swings both ways. Yet another feature at 3rd level is Hand of Harm! When successfully striking an opponent, the owlin can expend a Ki point and do harm much like he showed mercy earlier. Same mechanic, different effect. He does damage equal to his Marial Arts die + his WIsdom modifier to that opponent!
You get the Physician’s Touch at 6th level which just allows you to add an ending of one disease or one of several conditions to the Hand of Healing feature. OR you can add the poisoned condition to the Hand of Harm.
Finally, at 11th level, Assun gets Flurry of Healing or Harm! Now, when you spend Ki to attack with Flurry of Blows, you can effect them with either the Hand of Healing or Harm.
Also, if that were not enough, one caveat of the Mobile Feat is that an opponent you attack can’t have an Attack of opportunity against you if you move away!
Like I said, there are a lot of great builds with the Owlin. Get out there and break it! And, PLEASE, let us know what you do. We are SO interested in what you have to say and would love to hear from you.