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Strixhaven: Curriculum of Chaos introduced us to the owlin, humanoid owl-folk who while technically unique to Strixhaven can easily fit into any number of fantasy settings. With plenty of real-world owls to base your character on, this new playable lineage is bound to be a hoot. But how do these birds of prey play? Find a good perch and turn your head 180 degrees as we go through everything you need to know.
I have (and I say this with zero exaggeration) never seen a 5e race or lineage released with less information. We don’t have any cultural or even much in the way of physical descriptions other than “looks like an owl”. This is a double-edged sword, because while we’re not getting much specificity, we do essentially have a blank canvas to play with that just has the word “owl person” scribbled on it. And as with any race that is a humanoid plus an animal you have all the real-world versions of that animal to draw inspiration from. How about a wise and discerning great horned wizard owlin? How about a tiny rogue burrowing owlin? A snowy owlin storm sorcerer? Dig through some owl species and see what speaks to you.
As with the other recent 5e additions the owlin are a “lineage” rather than a “race”. This means that the ability scores are up to you, and it only sets the racial features in stone. There aren’t a lot of surprises here, and if you simply picked out an owl’s most prominent features, you’ll find them all represented here. Let’s go through them and then dive a little deeper into each feature:
Creature Type. You are a Humanoid.
Size. You are Medium or Small. You choose the size when you select this race.
Speed. Your walking speed is 30 feet.
Darkvision. You can see in dim light within 120 feet of yourself as if it were bright light and in darkness as if it were dim light. You discern colors in that darkness only as shades of gray.
Flight. Thanks to your wings, you have a flying speed equal to your walking speed. You can’t use this flying speed if you’re wearing medium or heavy armor.
Silent Feathers. You have proficiency in the Stealth skill.
As you can see there really isn’t much here you wouldn’t expect from just the phrase “owl person”, but that’s not a bad thing. Here’s a deeper dive on each feature:
Creature Type: No surprises here, the majority of playable races are humanoid and the owlin are no different.
Size: Many of the recent lineages have had this “small or medium” option which in part showcases how little mechanical difference there is between the two but is also a nice extra dimension of character customization. Is your owlin a mighty bird of prey or a cute little owlet? If you’re building a martial class owlin be aware though that small creatures have limited weapon options, and that your flight will already restrict your armor options.
Speed: You’ve got a basic 30-foot movement speed tied to your flight speed. Keep that in mind when making your character, as any movement speed bonuses will also apply to your flight.
Darkvision: I’m surprised they didn’t call this “advanced darkvision” or something similar because it’s significantly stronger than your standard darkvision. Most instances of darkvision cap out at 60 feet but the owlin’s is double that at 120. This can be more useful than you might think, as some dungeons are designed with “normal darkvision” in mind, putting threats just at the edge of 60 feet in the darkness. Threats that your owlin will see no problem.
Flight: Adding true flight to a playable race is divisive, but it’s definitely powerful with only an armor restriction. Your owlin should almost certainly wear light armor or no armor to make use of this flying speed, but beyond that it has no real restrictions. Fly circles around melee focused enemies and keep out of their reach, take advantageous positions, and generally abuse the power of flight to your heart’s content.
Silent Feathers: And last but not least, owlin pick up a free Stealth skill proficiency, which isn’t terribly exciting but it’s useful all the same.
Building an Owlin Character
There’s no more ability score matching now with the “lineages”, so there’s also no real “ideal” classes anymore. However, the owlin has features that push them towards certain strategies. Firstly, any character with a built-in power of flight is primed to take advantage of ranged combat. The ability to deal damage at range while airborne is almost always useful and can win some fights altogether if the enemy is relying on melee attacks and can’t reach you. This means Dexterity-based ranged martial builds of Fighter or Ranger can fit the owlin beautifully. Spellcasters that already can’t use heavier armors and that make ranged spell attacks are also ideal, such as the Sorcerer or Wizard. Finally, the combination of flight, stealth, and the inbuilt armor restrictions also make the Rogue an excellent owlin character choice.
Last updated: January 27, 2019
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