There is a long history of adventuring groups that have an animal sidekick of one form or another, from the Mabari Hound and Dogmeat in your favorite video games, the Dire Wolves in Game of Thrones, to the members of Mysteries Incorporated. The genre is full of characters who have non-humanoid companions. However, in most D&D games, the ability to play as a canine (or other species) companion is not an option. This article presents a playable race called the Anunna Hound, though the fluff of this race is secondary to the rules. In this article, the origin of talking Hounds is tied to the Old Ones. But if you don’t like that association, you can simply change the origin to different fluff. For example, you could have animals touched by the Fey realm which gives them the ability to speak, or have ancient Tiefling wizards perform experiments on animals that managed to escape into the world.
Anunna Hounds are a rare breed of dog that live in an isolated areas. Their outward appearance resembles that of mastiffs, but with a regal bearing, a long prehensile tail, and a stockier build. Unlike normal dogs, Anunna hounds live very long lives, up to 60 years in some cases. They are very intelligent and able to speak fluently in nearby human languages, though biological differences in mouth structure could give them an accent.
In a time before reality had form as we know it, the Old Ones squirmed and swam through the void. These beings are gone now, banished to the Far Realm. But some, it is said, have been imprisoned by their fellow Old Ones before this banishment, and they’ve remained there since. Cast out for unspeakable crimes against unknowable beings, bound for all eternity beneath the earth, they wait, dreaming of the day they can escape. The Sages say one of these beings slumbers beneath forested high mountains that border the storm coast.
The beings that imprisoned this Old One have some pity on the poor mortals that live on this planet. Every few thousand years, when the stars are right and the planes align, they can send messengers to our world. But beings that do not belong in our reality have a difficult time taking shape within it, so instead they possess animals to speak for them. These animals have offspring that carry much of the eldritch energies with them. Years of controlled breeding of canines by the people of the mountains have resulted in a race of dogs that can speak.
A Human’s World
Anunna Hounds find life away from their mountains frustrating. The people of other lands rarely treat them with respect of another sentient being. Plus, since they don’t possess hand-like appendages nor opposable thumbs, they’re usually unable to participate in local activities and goings-on. They usually travel with a humanoid companion who can assist with these tasks, whom they consider their best friend. Often times they deal with their frustration by indulging in simple pleasures, such as sleeping or eating to excess.
Anunna Hound Traits
Anunna Hounds share certain racial traits as a result of their otherworldly ancestry.
Ability Score Increase. Anunna Hounds are resilient and affable, your Constitution increases by 2, and your Charisma increases by 1.
Age. Anunna Hounds mature a little faster than humans, reaching adulthood around age 10. They age noticeably faster and rarely live longer than 60 years.
Alignment. Anunna Hounds are known for their loyalty and lawful natures, but are not strongly inclined toward good or evil.
Size. Anunna Hounds are fairly large for dogs, standing four feet tall. Your size is Medium.
Speed. Your base walking speed is 40 feet.
Keen Hearing and Smell. You have advantage on Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on hearing or smell.
Humans’ World. Since you do not have hands, a DM may say that you cannot perform certain actions that require tools. Furthermore, you cannot be proficient in any Tools. If you are granted proficiency in Tools due to a class feature, or a background, you may become proficient in another ability instead. The exception are thieves tools, as Anunna Hounds can pick locks and disarm traps by attaching tools to their long dexterous tails.
Touch of the Far Realm. Due to your ancestors’ connections to the energies of the Far Realm, you gain resistance to necrotic and psychic damage. Furthermore, you always have advantage when making saving throws vs charm effects.
Natural Armor. While you are wearing no armor, your AC is equal to 11 + your Dexterity modifier. Despite your canine nature, most armor smiths can modify armor to suit your frame with ease.
Vicious Bite. You do not have hands and cannot pick up weapons. However, you have a powerful bite attack that you are proficient in and counts as a light finesse one-handed weapon for any class abilities that requires one. Your bite does 1d8 damage.
Supernatural Bite. Lingering energies of the far realm make your bite attack count as magical for the purposes of overcoming resistance and immunity to non-magical attacks and damage.
Powerful Slam. When you score a critical hit with your bite, the target of your attack who is Large-sized or smaller must make Strength Saving throw or be knocked prone. The DC of the saving throw is equal to 8 + Proficiency + Strength Modifier. Targets that are Large gain advantage on this saving throw.
Languages. You can speak, read, and write Common, plus one other language.