D&D 3rd Edition / 3.5 the Awakened Animal thread




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  1. #1
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    ø Ignore Conaill

    the Awakened Animal thread

    (Crossposted with the Awakened Animal thread on wizards.com.)

    I would like to hash out and formalize exactly how Awakened animals are supposed to work. Easiest way to do that is to make it an actual template and spell out precisely what benefits an animal gets from the change in type to magical beast, extra HD, etc.

    Please leave me some feedback on this work in progress! Also still looking for estimates of Level Adjustment for various awakened animals (see the 3rd post below).

    Here's the template:


    AWAKENED ANIMAL
    An awakened animal is one that has been raised to humanlike sentience by use of the Awaken spell. The awakened animal is friendly toward the caster. The caster has no special empathy or connection with a creature he awakens, although it serves him in specific tasks or endeavors if he communicates his desires to it.

    An awakened animal can't serve as an animal companion, familiar, or special mount.

    An awakened animal can speak one language know by the caster of the Awaken spell, plus one additional language know by the caster per point of Intelligence bonus (if any).


    CREATING AN AWAKENED ANIMAL
    "Awakened" is an acquired template that can be added to any animal. An awakened animal has all the base creature's statistics and special abilities except as noted here.

    Size and Type: The creature's type changes to magical beast (augmented animal), but it retains the features of its original animal type (HD size, BAB and saves). Size is unchanged.

    Hit Dice and Hit Points: The awakened animal gains two d8 Hit Dice.

    Base Attack: An awakened animal has a base attack bonus equal to 3/4 total Hit Dice (as cleric).

    Special Qualities: An awakened animal has all the special qualities of the base animal, plus darkvision out to 60 feet.

    Base Saves: The awakened animal has the same good saves as the base animal (typically Fortitude and Reflex). Increase as necessary for the increase in HD.

    Abilities: Increase from the base creature as follows: Int 3d6, Cha +1d3. In addition, an awakened animal may also gain an additional ability score increase by virtue of its extra Hit Dice.

    Skills: The awakened animal gains skill points, equal to 2 x (2 + Int modifier, minimum 1).

    Feats: The awakened animal may gain one feat due to its increase in Hit Dice, unless the base animal's HD was divisible by 3. It is proficient with its natural weapons only, and proficient with no armor unless the base animal was trained for war.

    Challenge Rating: Same as the base creature + 1.

    Alignment: Any.

    Advancement: By character class.

    Level Adjustment: See below


    So, what do you all think? Suggestions? Changes?
    Last edited by Conaill; Thursday, 8th April, 2004 at 10:20 PM.

 

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    References and reasoning

    The Awaken spell:
    Awaken
    Transmutation
    Level: Drd 5
    Components: V, S, DF, XP
    Casting Time: 24 hours
    Range: Touch
    Target: Animal or tree touched
    Duration: Instantaneous
    Saving Throw: Will negates
    Spell Resistance: Yes

    You awaken a tree or animal to humanlike sentience. To succeed, you must make a Will save (DC 10 + the animal’s current HD, or the HD the tree will have once awakened).

    The awakened animal or tree is friendly toward you. You have no special empathy or connection with a creature you awaken, although it serves you in specific tasks or endeavors if you communicate your desires to it.

    An awakened tree has characteristics as if it were an animated object, except that it gains the plant type and its Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma scores are each 3d6. An awakened plant gains the ability to move its limbs, roots, vines, creepers, and so forth, and it has senses similar to a human’s.

    An awakened animal gets 3d6 Intelligence, +1d3 Charisma, and +2 HD. Its type becomes magical beast (augmented animal). An awakened animal can’t serve as an animal companion, familiar, or special mount.

    An awakened tree or animal can speak one language that you know, plus one additional language that you know per point of Intelligence bonus (if any).

    XP Cost: 250 XP.
    The Augmented subtype:
    Augmented Subtype: A creature receives this subtype whenever something happens to change its original type. Some creatures (those with an inherited template) are born with this subtype; others acquire it when they take on an acquired template. The augmented subtype is always paired with the creature’s original type. A creature with the augmented subtype usually has the traits of its current type, but the features of its original type.
    From Improving Monsters - Templates:
    If a template changes the base creature’s type, the creature also acquires the augmented subtype unless the template description indicates otherwise. The augmented subtype is always paired with the creature’s original type. Unless a template indicates otherwise, the new creature has the traits of the new type but the features of the original type.
    How extra HD work for Animal Companions:
    Bonus HD: Extra eight-sided (d8) Hit Dice, each of which gains a Constitution modifier, as normal. Remember that extra Hit Dice improve the animal companion’s base attack and base save bonuses. An animal companion’s base attack bonus is the same as that of a druid of a level equal to the animal’s HD. An animal companion has good Fortitude and Reflex saves (treat it as a character whose level equals the animal’s HD). An animal companion gains additional skill points and feats for bonus HD as normal for advancing a monster’s Hit Dice.
    The FAQ on size increases for Animal Companions:
    An animal companion doesn't get bigger when it adds extra Hit Dice for the master s levels. The advancement entries for creatures, and the rules for advancing monsters, refer to unusually powerful specimens that are simply tougher (and perhaps bigger) than normal for their kinds.

    Conclusions:

    1) By default, the change in type to magical beast should *not* result in a change in HD size, BAB, saves and skills, because those are *features* of it's original type.

    2) The awakened animal should receive the *traits* of the magical beast type (mainly darkvision).

    3) For consistency and simplicity (especially CR and LA calculation), the awakened animal should receive all the usual benefits for an increase in HD, including BAB, saves, skills and feats.


    Judgement calls:

    1) Similar to animal companions, I decided *not* to grant a size increase with increase in HD (when the animal advancement would call for it). I just don't think the animal should suddenly look drastically different after awakening it. Plus size increases have to be included separately when calculating CR and LA, so leaving this out simplifies things.

    2) Minor: traits of the Animal type include attack and damage penalties for "noncombative herbivores", and armor proficiency for animals trained for war. The magical beast type doesn't contain those special clauses, so an awakened goat would lose it's attack and damage penalties, and the awakened warhorse would lose its proficiency with barding. I decided to let the trained war animal keep it's armor proficiency, because it doesn't make much sense that it would just "forget" how to use it.


    WotC published Awakened animals:
    - Splitfang: The Dire Wolf Barbarian
    - Santa's Reindeers

    Both of these use all-d8 HD and animal BAB. Interestingly, neither has Darkvision. Maybe that's a 3.5 change? Splitfang's CR seems too high as well: Dire Wolf CR 3 + Awakened CR 1 + Brb1 = CR 5? (listed as CR 6 - I don't think Awakening is worth +2 CR)


    I managed to find a published counter-example as well. Dragon #313, p86 contains the "Elder Serpent" template, which is essentially an enhanced version of "Awaken Snake". I don't have the original article (could anyone please doublecheck this?), but the Crystalkeep index of templates lists it as switching to d10 HD and Fighter BAB. It has some pretty huge stat increases (+2 to all physical stats, +2d6+6 Int, +2d4+4 Wis and Cha), the usual +2HD, and a number of other SA and SQ. All for a measly +2 CR and +3 LA (which is useless if the underlying snake doesn't have an LA listed anyway).
    Last edited by Conaill; Wednesday, 7th April, 2004 at 10:24 PM.

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    Level Adjustments

    Level Adjustments for Awakened animals are a sticky issue - we may have to do them all by hand. There's a pre-3.5 issue of Dragon that listed fairly controversial ECL's, but that was before the whole LA issue was stabilized anyway.

    The best we can hope for is to get some sort of formula to calculate LA, probably based on HD, CR, size, etc. For now, here are some awakened animals which are realtively comparable to other intelligent monsters with a known LA:

    Baboon (M, 1HD, CR1/2) -> Bugbear (M, 3HD, CR2, +1 LA)

    Wolf (M, 2HD, CR1) -> Worg (M, 4HD, CR2, +1 LA)

    Ape (L, 4HD, CR2) -> Minotaur (L, 6HD, CR4, +2 LA)

    Dire Bear (L, 12HD, CR7) -> Stone/Frost Giant (L, 14HD, CR8/9, +4 LA)


    For a VERY quick-and-dirty approach to LA, you could use LA = CR - HD/3.

    Why? Well, CR is calculated based on HD/3 (actually, hp / 4.5 / 3) plus adjustments for various special abilities. This does *not* tend to take into account unbalanced ability scores etc though!

    ------------------------------------------------------------

    Estimated awakened animal Level Adjustments:

    Baboon: +1 LA (similar to Bugbear, Anthrop. Baboon)
    Dire Wolf: +3 LA (similar to Aw. Tiger)
    Dog, Riding: +1 LA (similar to Aw. Wolf, Anthrop. Riding Dog)
    Warhorse, Heavy: +3 LA (comparison with a human monk)
    Hyena: +1 LA (similar to Aw. Wolf and Aw. Riding Dog)
    Tiger: +3 LA (based on Ftr and Monk comparisons)
    Wolf: +1 LA (similar to Worg, Anthrop. Wolf and Clr comparison)
    Last edited by Conaill; Thursday, 6th May, 2004 at 02:20 AM.

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    I disagree. As I invoked in a previous thread, look at lycanthropes...

    If an intelligent dire bear has a LA of +4 and 12 HD, that means he's better than a lycanthrope dire bear?

    As I said before, I think the relative 'power' of various creatures is already calculated into their HD. A polar bear has the same stats as a brown bear, but is higher HD. Why? It has a few extras, like swimming. The higher HD 'pay' for this.

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    ø Ignore Conaill
    Just so we're all on the same page, let me cross-post Will's argument from this thread:
    My feeling is that an animal which is PC-like in control should be roughly ECL = HD. This is the pattern for, say, Lycanthropes, where the animal 'part' is ECL = HD.


    [...]the extra abilities of animals are already involved! That's how they set HD. Look at creatures with roughly similar HD... a tiger has much less strength than a bear, but has better Dex, and a few more abilities.

    It is my contention that HD function to balance animals in particular. They are like class levels that 'buy' ability advantages and other special traits.
    And to clarify: A lycanthrope's ECL is equal to the original creature's ECL, plus the base animal's HD, plus 2 or 3 (depending on whether it's an "afflicted" or "natural" lycanthrope). So compared to a normal wolf, a standard werewolf would be one HD higher, and have a LA of +2 or +3.

    I've just deleted a whole convoluted reasoning for why this argument would lead to approximately ECL = HD + 1 (the additional benefits the lycanthrope gets don't seem to add up add up to +2 or +3 LA). But fact is that a were-wolf is just such a different beast from an awakened wolf that this sort of comparison is bound to be somewhat suspect.

    In fact, I'm not convinced that the lycanthrope template Level Adjustment rules are all that great to begin with. For example, I'm 100% certain that a were - giant octopus would be hugely overpowered, because of it's NINE attacks per round. Note that most animals have a CR of around half their HD. Because of it's extra attacks, the Giant Octopus has a CR 8, for an 8 HD creature. Clearly in this case there are additional factors that *are* incorporated into it's CR, but not reflected in it's HD. And those additional factors should definitely be taken into account when calculating it's Level Adjustment as well, for the Awakened form as well as for the lycanthrope form!

    (BTW, my quick-and-dirty rule would account for that nicely: it would give the awakened Giant Octopus a +5 LA. Still doesn't account for other factors that wouldn't be included in the CR, of course.)

    Which brings us back to... well, calculating LA using the Savage Species approach, I guess. I would much rather trust individually verified LA's rather than "that's how the lycanthrope template does it". If Will's claim that animal HD are a "package" that should count one-to-one towards ECL is correct, then the LA calculation and playtesting should bear that out. So far, based on the equivalencies that are already in the MM (Awakened Wolf <-> Worg etc), I don't think it does.

  • #6
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    Do this for me chief. As you requested that we come over here and give you an opinion on the LA, but I need an example. Please do me a favor and create an animal, enhance it with your template and then we shall compare it to a cleric at equivalent level and go from there.

    Looking at it now it might just come out as a +1 overall or we might have to do each critter individually.

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    ø Ignore Conaill
    Why a Cleric comparison? It seems like with the high ECL and lack of hands (typically) a Monk might fit better.

    We already hashed through the awakened heavy warhorse over on the WotC boards, which we decided was worth about a +3 LA. Feel free to have a look and let us know if we missed anything.

    Meanwhile, let me post the awakened wolf, which we're currently discussing over on the sister thread to this one over on wizards.com. Feel free to post either in this thread or the other one, I'll crosspost if necessary.


    AWAKENED WOLF
    Medium Magical Beast (Augmented Animal)

    Hit Dice: 4d8+8 (26 hp)
    Initiative: +2
    Speed: 50 ft. (10 squares)
    Armor Class: 14 (+2 Dex, +2 natural), touch 12, flat-footed 12
    Base Attack/Grapple: +3/+5
    Attack: Bite +6 melee (1d6+2)
    Full Attack: Bite +6 melee (1d6+2)
    Space/Reach: 5 ft./5 ft.
    Special Attacks: Trip
    Special Qualities: Darkvision 60', low-light vision, scent
    Saves: Fort +6, Ref +6, Will +2
    Abilities: Str 14, Dex 15, Con 15, Int 10, Wis 12, Cha 8
    Skills: Hide +3, Listen +4, Move Silently +4, Spot +4, Survival +1*
    Feats: Alertness, TrackB, Weapon Focus (bite)
    Environment: Temperate forests
    Organization: Solitary, pair, or pack (7–16)
    Challenge Rating: 2
    Advancement: By character class.
    Level Adjustment: ?

    Trip (Ex): An awakened wolf that hits with a bite attack can attempt to trip the opponent (+2 check modifier) as a free action without making a touch attack or provoking an attack of opportunity. If the attempt fails, the opponent cannot react to trip the awakened wolf.

    Skills: *Awakened wolves have a +4 racial bonus on Survival checks when tracking by scent.

    AWAKENED WOLF CHARACTERS
    Awakened wolf characters possess the following racial traits.

    — +4 Strength, +4 Dexterity, +4 Constitution, +2 Wisdom, -2 Charisma.

    —Medium size.

    —An awakened wolf’s base land speed is 50 feet.

    —Darkvision out to 60 feet, low-light vision, Scent.

    —Racial Hit Dice: An awakened wolf begins with two levels of animal, and two levels of magical beast (augmented animal), which provide 4d8 Hit Dice, a base attack bonus of +3, and base saving throw bonuses of Fort +4, Ref +4, and Will +1.

    —Racial Skills: An awakened wolf's animal levels give it 5 skill points. Its levels in magical beast (augmented animal) give it additional skill points equal to 2 x (2 + Int modifier, minimum 1). Its class skills are Hide, Listen, Move Silently, Spot, and Survival. Awakened wolves have a +4 racial bonus on Survival checks when tracking by scent.

    —Racial Feats: An awakened wolf's combined levels give it two feats. An awakened wolf receives Track as a bonus feat.

    — +2 natural armor bonus.

    —Natural Weapons: bite (1d6).

    —Special Attacks (see above): Trip.

    —Automatic Languages: 1 + Int bonus of the caster of the Awaken spell

    —Favored Class: Ranger?

    —Level adjustment: ?.


    Note: The stats listed above include one stat increase for 4HD. In this case, I've somewhat arbitrarily chosen to put that +1 in Str, to more closely match the Worg.
    Last edited by Conaill; Saturday, 10th December, 2005 at 02:50 AM. Reason: corrected CON bonus to HP, and skill points

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    If you would rather work on something that's a bit more of a challenge and that we don't already have people looking at... we could really use some LA's for the fractional HD animals, because those will be most easily accessible for beginning players (low ECL), and they could pose some interesting LA calculation challenges.

    For example, how about an awakened *bat*? 2HD once awakened, but Diminutive size, no natural weapons, Str 1, blindsense and flight. Interesting package, no?

    The easiest of the <1HD crowd is probably the cat or rat. Somewhere in between on the difficulty scale would be the raven (Tiny flyer, rat with wings), or the tiny viper.

    Take your pick, and I'll write up the stats...

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    ø Ignore Conaill
    Another precedent is the Tauric template from MM2, where you take a humanoid upper torso and attach it to a Medium or Large 4-legged animal body. Humanoid mental stats, animal physical stats. Add HD together and a +3 LA. Has better BAB (as Ftr) than the awakened animal, and has *arms*. Otherwise fairly comparable.

    Note that the human-tauric-wolf would have exactly the same ECL as a natural human-were-wolf, but the latter is much superior, which could be another indication that lycanthrope LA's are fishy.

    Without the arms and with the poorer BAB, perhaps it might be fair to peg awakened animal LA at a +2? At least for Medium or Large 4-legged animals (i.e. no arms, no flight, no snakes)... On the low side for the warhorse, but I could live with that...
    Last edited by Conaill; Friday, 9th April, 2004 at 01:14 AM.

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    Well, regarding the octopus, remember it has the niggling drawback of only functioning underwater... (well, ok, octopi can drag themselves across land, but they aren't fully functioning)

    But one standing question... how much of a LA is an animal HD worth? I maintain that a 2 HD animal ~= 1 class level + 1 LA.

    What do people think of this?

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