Friday, February 17, 2017

Creating a Character with an Animal Companion    

Having thought about animal companions and the problems that the pose in the game, let's first set up some design goals for how an Animal Companion component might work:

1.  Animal Companions should be as useful, and diversified, as other components.  If someone is going to use one of their components for their animal, it should be as valuable as another component of similar rank.  Secondary and Tertiary Animal Companions should improve at a regular rate throughout all 20 levels.

2.  The component should not require recreating the stats of an NPC animal.  By choosing to make this a component, we are deliberately following a strategy of making animals into class features, and not NPCs.

3.  Animal Companion actions should happen on the same initiative order as their owner.  This will prevent one character from getting multiple turns and will simplify combat.

4.  Animal Companions should only be killed if their owner dies.

5.  Animal Companions and their owner must stay relatively close together, to prevent a character from effectively being in two places at once.

Animal Companion

Requirements:  none

Hit Dice:  no change

Skills:  Characters with Animal Companions gain the following class skills:  Handle Animal, Knowledge (nature), and Ride.

Base Attack Bonus:  no change

Saving Throws:  no change

Additional Spells:  Characters with an Animal Companion learn the following spells, in addition to any spells they learn from the Spellcaster component.  They must still meet level requirements to cast these spells.
  • 1st - calm animals, magic fang, speak with animals
  • 2nd - bear's endurance, bull's strength, cat's grace
  • 3rd - magic fang (greater), reduce animal
  • 4th - animal growth
Special Abilities:  Characters with the Tertiary level of this component may choose any Tiny sized animal to be their companion.  That animal gains two abilities from the list below at first level, and one additional ability every four levels, starting at level four.  Characters with the Secondary level of this component may choose any Medium sized or smaller animal to be their companion.  That animal gains three abilities at first level, and one additional ability every three levels, starting at level three.  Characters with the Primary level of this component may choose any Large sized or smaller animal to be their companion.  That animal gains four abilities at first level, and one additional ability every two levels, starting at level two.

In addition, all characters with animal companions gain the following abilities:

Combat Action:  Instead of taking your own action, your animal companion takes an action.  If this action is an attack, your companion makes a single attack using your unarmed melee.  This does not provoke an attack of opportunity.  Tiny animals deal 1 point of damage, Small animals deal 1d4, Medium animals deal 1d6+1, Large animals deal 1d8+2, etc.

Empathic Link:  As the familiar ability.

Find The Way Home:  Animal companions have a supernatural ability to find their masters.  If the two are separated, the animal companion will attempt to rejoin the character, and will eventually succeed.  The GM should use reasonable discretion in adjudicating this ability.

Combat Move:  Instead of taking your own move, your animal companion takes a move action.  However, if both you and your animal companion remain in the same square, you may move together, using whichever's speed is higher.

Safeguard:  As an immediate action, a character may choose to safeguard their animal companion.  For a tiny animal, this means they hide in the character's clothing.  For a small or larger animal, they remain prone in the same square as the character.  If the character wishes to move, they must carry or drag the animal with them.  Any animal smaller or equal to the size of the character cannot be targeted by an attack or spell while safeguarded and cannot take any hit points of damage.  However, any condition that affects the character may also affect the animal companion.  For example, if the character fails a saving throw versus a sleep spell, the companion also falls asleep.  And if the character is killed, the companion may also be killed.  The safeguard will remain in effect until the end of combat, or until the character ends it, however the animal companion can take no further actions until the end of combat, regardless of whether the safeguard is ended.

Share Defenses:  Your animal companion has 1/2 the number of hit points as you, rounded down.  They have the same armor class, CMD, and saving throws as you.

Share Spells:  As the familiar ability.

Additional abilities:
  • Breathe Water:  Your animal companion can breathe water (requires Swimmer).
  • Boost Save:  Character gains a +2 on a single save type.
  • Boost Skill:  Character gains a +3 on a single skill.
  • Climber:  Your animal companion is an expert climber, and uses your Climb skill +20
  • Deliver Touch Spells:  As the familiar ability.
  • Fast Movement:  Your animal companion has a base speed of +10 feet.  This ability may be taken again to gain a total of +20 feet.
  • Flight:  Your animal companion can fly, and uses your Fly skill +20.
  • Independent Attack:  You do not need to give up your action to grant your animal companion an attack.
  • Independent Move:  You do not need to give up your move to grant your animal companion a move, even if it moves into a different square than you.
  • Low-Light Vision:  Your animal companion has low-light vision.
  • Scent:  Your animal companion has the scent ability.
  • Scry on Familiar:  As the familiar ability.
  • Speak with Animals of Its Kind:  As the familiar ability.
  • Speak with Master:  As the familiar ability.
  • Swimmer:  Your animal companion is an expert swimmer, and uses your Swim skill +20. 
(As in other components, this is only a partial list of additional abilities that could be chosen, focusing on abilities within the Pathfinder Core Rules.)

Multiple Animals

Having more than one animal companion could be handled in a few different ways.  If the animals are small, you could simply treat two animals as if they were one unit.  If you remember the 1980s movie The Beastmaster, this is how the two ferrets were treated.  Another way might be to have secondary Animal Companion provide two animals at tertiary levels of ability (or primary provide two animals at secondary level of ability.  Lastly, there's no reason that a person with an animal companion cannot also have a normal mount or pet.  This would be treated as an NPC and not gain the special advantages listed above.

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