The new Shadowfell Conspiracy expansion pre-order can include (depending on exactly which version you purchase) up to two summon-able Owlbear companions. One is CR17 while the other is CR25.
Yes, Owlbears are an incredibly stupid monster, but we’ve already covered that. Today we’ll skip the argument about whether they should exist at all (hint: they should not) and instead focus on their utility as hirelings in DDO.
Like the Onyx Panther that was sold with last year’s expansion, the Owlbears serve as Gold Seal hirelings. Like other Gold Seal hirelings, you may summon them from anywhere within a quest, and you may have multiple Gold Seal hirelings in your party at once.
You can even summon both Owlbears at the same time. For that matter, you can summon both Owlbears and the Panther and still have room in your party for a healer.
Or maybe <gasp> another human player!
In theory, one would begin summoning the CR 17 Owlbear once one has reached level 15 as Gold Seal hirelings can be used even when they are two levels above the summoner. One would swap to the Panther when they reach level 18, and then swap again to the bigger Owlbear upon reaching level 23.
Elite bravery streak bonuses may affect this calculation. But so may something else, something more significant: the bigger Owlbear doesn’t seem to hold up in use at level.
Several theories abound in the forums about why the Panther seems to be more survivable at CR20 than the Owlbear at CR25, but there doesn’t seem to be much controversy over the conclusion that the Owlbear is not carrying its weight.
In response, Tolero posted the core stats of all three monsters in this post. Here are the numbers:
Otherwise, the Epic Owlbear's current stats are: 200 Physical Resistance Rating DR 15/- Death Ward Heavy Fortification 20% Acid damage absorption 20% electric absorption 20% cold absorption 20% fire absorption 30% healing amplification
Ability score wise, compared to the lower level owlbear and panther: Level 25 Owlbear STR 91 DEX 38 CON 53 INT 12 WIS 20 CHA 14
Level 17 Owlbear STR 61 DEX 28 CON 38 INT 12 WIS 18 CHA 14
Level 20 Panther STR 34 DEX 23 CON 34 INT 10 WIS 19 CHA 14
and base attack damage breaks out like so: Level 25 Owlbear: 10d6 Level 17 Owlbear: 5d6 Level 20 Panther: 3d6
She did not list all of the creature’s feats, and I suspect the feat list is part of the difference. The Panther is known to have Evasion, Natural Armor +5 (or higher), Deathblock and Heavy Fortification – all good feats from a survivability perspective – and is believed to have a decent range of equipped items.
The Owlbear probably does not have Evasion, and that definitely matters, but seems unlikely to be the entire problem.
Forum user chrisdinus7 took the time to collect and analyze data regarding the Owlbear’s ability to absorb damage. According to his testing, the Owlbear does not really have 200 PRR. He calculates it to be closer to 20. While it is difficult to deduce what is in code without seeing the actual code, his testing methods seem sound to me, and I agree with his conclusion.
It is important to note that no one is complaining about the Owlbears on normal content. It is on Hard and especially Elite, at level, where issues arise.
This doesn’t impact me very much, as I am mainly working on my completionist TR and when I do get time on epic characters, they are not playing the type of Epic Elite quests where the Owlbear’s deficiencies are most obvious. For me, I like to summon all of my gold seal hirelings and just overwhelm things.
In the adventure areas and Normal/Hard quests that I am generally running, they work awesomely well. I summon them as often as I can, both Owlbears and also the Panther. Throw in a normal hireling to do some healing and I am good to go.
I seriously believe I could clear the King’s Forest just by running around and activating monsters and letting my gold seal hirelings handle things for me.
Sort of like piking, even though I am soloing.
Someday we’re going to get a healing creature too, and on that day I think the game can pretty much just play itself; they won’t need me at all.
🙂 😀 🙂