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Guide to Building a Leonin Character DnD 5e

When building a leonin character in DnD 5e, consider the following classes and features:
  • Leonin culture and personalities
  • Leonin in Faerun
  • Leonin abilities and features
  • Barbarian: Path of the Ancients
  • Paladin: Oath of Conquest

Leonin characters in Dungeons and Dragons 5e are fierce, powerful hunters who guard the shining plains of Oreskos. A golden plain where even the gods rarely trespass.

Prides of these nomadic, lion-like humanoids rarely interact with other peoples, having all they need in their shimmering homeland and knowing the treachery of strangers.

Still, some leonin wonder what lies beyond Oreskos’s border mountains and seek to test themselves in a wider world.

Introduced in Mythic Odysseys of Theros, these lion people rarely leave their homeland and guard its borders.  However, some leonin are not content to live the lives of their ancestors—nomadic yet never leaving the plains.  Some venture past the border mountains to test themselves in new lands.

Leonin culture and personalities

The leonin race inhabits a valley within Theros named Oreskos.  At one point, the valley was dominated by wizardly humans of Meletis. Now, the nomadic tribes have mostly reverted to the old ways.  Though they’ve left behind human ways, some still worship human gods.

However, most leonin distrust outsiders and guard their ancestral home, only leaving for the occasional raid. Nomadic hunters, this race blends the glory and hunting instincts of a lion with Strength and Constitution for a unique warrior.

Leonin in Faerun

While Leonin aren’t explicitly in the Forgotten Realms there

Consider these leonin backstories for inspiration:

  • A young leonin prince(ess) is sent out into the wider world to represent the Leonin Queendom in diplomatic affairs. This young warrior seeks to prove themselves as a great leader before returning home.
  • Summoned by the god Heliod to serve the light, a leonin takes the path of a paladin against the wishes of their clan. Leonin tend to leave human gods in the past.
  • An evil relative murdered this leonin’s father when they were young. Feeling guilt, this leonin ran away from home and finds new family in their companions. Now, older, the call to the throne is strong, the pridelands require saving from the evil relative.

Leonin abilities and features

Leonin come with a +2 Constitution/+1 Strength ability score modifier—inherently making them tough.  However, their other racial traits offer abilities that give them a hunter’s edge, with a ferocious roar for added effect.

Darkvision is typical for non human races.  So, of course, it is at the top of the list of hunting-related abilities.  However, leonin also have Claws that deal 1d4 slashing damage (Strength).  Hunter’s Instincts gives you proficiency in my choice of Athletics, Perception, Intimidation or Survival.  To top off this set of skills, my walking speed is increased to 35 feet.

Finally, Daunting Roar gives leonin the edge of fear a lion deserves in battle. Creatures within 10 feet of you must make a Wisdom saving throw or become frightened of you until the end of my next turn.  The DC equals 8 + proficiency + Constitution modifier.  Frightened creatures will have disadvantage on attack rolls and saving throws as long as I’m in line of sight.  This can be loads of fun as a tank—throwing myself into the hoard and letting it rip.

Leonin Barbarian: Path of the Ancients

Nomadic, connected to nature and fiercely strong, the leonin fit the barbarian class well.  Increased athletic ability, movement speed and the notorious Rage state will play well off the lion-like appearance.

The proud and honorable leonin would certainly have a connection to kings of the past, ancestors who watch over them like Mufasa watches Simba.

In this way, a barbarian Path of the Ancients could utilize ancestor spirits to further aid and protect allies as they command the enemies’ attention. Ancestral Protectors gang up on the first creature they attack, giving the foe disadvantage on attacks against the Leonin’s friends and their friends resistance against the target’s damage.

Later, they can summon these spirits to directly interfere with damage against their allies.  By interrupting the attack, they reduce damage by 2d6.  Ultimately, this ability leads to Vengeful Ancestors, which bounces the damage back to their enemies. They can even consult these spirits, effectively giving them clairvoyance or augury spells without components needed.

Check out my full Rage Against the Darkness: Barbarian Guide here.

Leonin Paladin

Something about a leonin paladin just fits—the lion has been a symbol of divine power to humans for eons. While the Leonin typically don’t devote themselves to the service of the gods, there are a few pantheons that can fit.

The leonin of Theros have unique story angles they could use as a paladin.  The deity this character serves could be left over from human influence.  Or this leonin could serve a god of the old world—or even a primal force.

If you’re looking for a god from the Faerun pantheon, consider Nobanion.

Nobanion

Nobanion (pronounced: /nˈbɑːnjʌnno-BAN-yun[8]), also known as the King of BeastsLord Firemane or the Lion King, was a primal spirit[9] sometimes worshiped as a deity of royalty, lions, and other felines, as well as good beasts. Nobanion was considered to have originally been an interloper deity on Toril, but since his arrival he has firmly established himself within the Faerûnian pantheon. His worship was especially strong in Gulthmere Forest and among the wemics of the Shining Plains.[1][3]

Leonin of Conquest

Naturally, this character will be well armed, tanking for allies and dishing out Divine Smite (+2d8 radiant damage) against foes. With boosts to Constitution and Strength their attributes are aligned.

However, the Oath of Conquest taps into the Frightened condition in a number of ways. With the way that Leonin can use their Daunting Roar to inflict Frightened, it can be another way to trigger this debilitating condition on enemies. On top of the roar they also receive Conquering Presence to wrack enemies with fear.

As they level up and gain their Aura of Conquest it pays off by causing guaranteed psychic damage and reducing enemies speed to 0 while frightened.

Daniel Ryanhttps://www.nonfictiongaming.com/author/nfgdan/
Daniel 'Sheriff Dan' Ryan is a long time Dungeon Master who has worked in Esports, Marketing, and writes about Gaming when the sun goes down.
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