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Improving Animal Companions

dreaded_beast

First Post
Are there WotC feats out there that allow you to improve your animal companion?

If there are, could you point me to where I can find it and maybe a small description of what it does?
 

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Corsair

First Post
If you are a ranger, there is a feat which gives you +3 to your druid level (negating the ranger -3) for purposes of animal companions.
 


Corsair said:
If you are a ranger, there is a feat which gives you +3 to your druid level (negating the ranger -3) for purposes of animal companions.

What the feat actually does is pretty similar to the Practiced Spellcaster feat from ... Complete Arcane ... ?

It increases your effective Druid level for purposes of your animal companion up to your hit dice or +3 or 4 (I can't remember which), whichever is less.

It is thus effective for multiclass druids, as well.
 

Ridley's Cohort

First Post
Beastmaster PrC and Natural Bond feat from Complete Adventurer.

Natural Bond lets you boost your effective druid level for purposes of the Animal Companion by up to 3, but not more than your actual hit dice. (So it does nothing for a straight Druid.) This is excellent for the Ranger who wants to boost his Animal Companion to a useful power level for the lowish to middling levels.

The Beastmaster PrC lets you get a straight +3 with no limitation added to your effective Druid level. Theorectically a Druid could take this PrC but it is not really worth the prereqs (8 ranks Handle Animal + Sill Focus Handle Animal) except for roleplaying considerations.

The Beastmaster is an excellent choice for a Ranger.

Go 5 levels of Ranger, picking up Skill Focus at level 3. At level 6, pick up your first level of Beastmaster and Natural Bond. Your effective druid level for AC is now 9, giving you, say, an 8 HD Wolf (with piles of bonus abilities). You will probably trade up to a Dire Wolf or Lion, but that still keeps you in the ballpark of 7 or 8 HD and the beast probably is better in a straight fight than you are.

Beastmaster class: +1 BAB per level, d10, good Fort & Reflex, 4 skill points per level.

Oh, and you get additional animal companions if you stick with Beastmaster, although these will tend to be pretty weak because your "effective druid level" is going to be character level -8 in the best case. They are "free". So you can have that eagle or cute monkey on your arm without feeling like you are wasting your Animal Companion ability. These secondary animals are more for fun and flavor. OTOH even a normal 2 HD Wolf could be trained to open flanks and Aid Other...
 

Klaus

First Post
There is also the Wild Plains Outrider (CAdv), whose levels stack with ranger/druid levels for companion purposes is the companion is large enough to serve as a mount. Plus it's only 3 levels.
 


Kind of like an Improved Familiar feat? Hrm. Can't think of any off the top of my head.

EDIT:

There are all kinds of spells, however, that do these things. Consider crafting (either on your own or with the help of your friendly neighborhood wizard / artificer) some magic items for your beast to wear.

Note that any animal trained for war has armor proficiency, and can wear barding, which can be enhanced just like normal armor.
 


Jack Simth

First Post
Well, let's see... there's Permanency and Greater Magic Fang, if you could put a Helm of Comprehend Languages and Read Magic on the Animal Companion and get it to read the various stat-boosting Tomes, you could raise it's stats that way (could also do so with straight, consecutive castings of Wish). You could Gate in Noble Dijinn and force them to use the three wishes they can grant to the same effect. You could note that an Animal Companion gets feats from advancing HD, and some of the feats under Monster Feats do real nifty stuff, you get your Animal Companion Polymorphed (by Polymorph Any Object) into something with different base stats (hmmm.... would it use the net Hit Dice (critter HD + Bonus Hit Dice), or just the base HD? And would the Animal Companion still get bonus HD, stat boosts, armor increases, and other special abilities from you advancing as a Druid?). Why burn your feats?
 

sullivan

First Post
Jack Simth said:
...Helm of Comprehend Languages and Read Magic on the Animal Companion and get it to read the various stat-boosting Tomes...

Whoa, whoa, whoa. My instincts tell me that just isn't going to fly by itself. You'd first have to bump up it's Int to 3, and even then I don't think I'd allow it. It's a Helm of Comprehend Languages and Read Magic, not a Helm of Helm of Comprehend Languages, Read Magic, Be Capable of Abstact Thought, and Gain Self-Awareness. Even familiars with their Int 6+ possess a mental mindset that are not built for such things.
 

Jack Simth

First Post
sullivan said:
Whoa, whoa, whoa. My instincts tell me that just isn't going to fly by itself. You'd first have to bump up it's Int to 3, and even then I don't think I'd allow it. It's a Helm of Comprehend Languages and Read Magic, not a Helm of Helm of Comprehend Languages, Read Magic, Be Capable of Abstact Thought, and Gain Self-Awareness. Even familiars with their Int 6+ possess a mental mindset that are not built for such things.
It's a quirk of the rules, and should rightly be squashed by a DM - but it is, however, RAW:
SRD said:
Helm of Comprehend Languages and Read Magic: Appearing as a normal helmet, a helm of comprehend languages and read magic grants its wearer the ability to understand the spoken words of any creature and to read text in any language and any magical writing. The wearer gains a +5 competence bonus on Decipher Script checks to understand messages written in incomplete, archaic, or exotic forms. Note that understanding a magical text does not necessarily imply spell use.

Faint divination; CL 4th; Craft Wondrous Item, comprehend languages, read magic; Price 5,200 gp; Weight 3 lb.
The helm grants literacy,
SRD said:
Tome of Clear Thought: This heavy book contains instruction on improving memory and logic, but entwined within the words is a powerful magical effect. If anyone reads this book, which takes a total of 48 hours over a minimum of six days, she gains an inherent bonus of from +1 to +5 (depending on the type of tome) to her Intelligence score. Once the book is read, the magic disappears from the pages and it becomes a normal book. Because the tome of clear thought provides an inherent bonus, the reader will earn extra skill points when she attains a new level.

Strong evocation (if miracle is used); CL 17th; Craft Wondrous Item, miracle or wish; Price 27,500 gp (+1), 55,000 gp (+2), 82,500 gp (+3), 110,000 gp (+4), 137,500 gp (+5); Cost 1,250 gp + 5,100 XP (+1), 2,500 gp + 10,200 XP (+2), 3,750 gp + 15,300 XP (+3), 5,000 gp + 20,400 XP (+4), 6,250 gp + 25,500 XP (+5); Weight 5 lb.
while ANYONE READING one of the tomes gets the bonus. It's completely insane, but by RAW, it should work - although you wouldn't want to try Clear Thought on your Animal Companion (animals can't have an INT score over 3, and it has to remain an ANIMAL companion) - Leadership and Influence, Understanding, Bodily Health, Gainful Exercise, and Quickness of Action are much better choices.
 

dreaded_beast

First Post
The reason I ask is that one of my players, a druid, wants to improve his animal companion, as in better stats.

I was wondering if I gave his animal companion the 'elite array' of stats, would that unbalance the game by any noticeable amount?

I was going to have him quest for an 'upgraded' version of the animal he wants.
 


Klaus

First Post
dreaded_beast said:
The reason I ask is that one of my players, a druid, wants to improve his animal companion, as in better stats.

I was wondering if I gave his animal companion the 'elite array' of stats, would that unbalance the game by any noticeable amount?

I was going to have him quest for an 'upgraded' version of the animal he wants.
Well, IMC I allowed the ranger to "evolve" his wolf companion into a dire wolf. Although effective druid level gets diminished, the advanced animal options have better stats overall (a wolf has, iirc, Str 13, vs. the dire wolf's Str 27).

Instead of trading an animal for another, you fluff it into being a ritual that evolves the companions form.
 

Ridley's Cohort

First Post
I could see sticking with the regular Wolf and buildling the Spring Attack feat chain for fun, except that Dire Animals have much better Will saves. That makes the trade up far, far to sweet to ignore.
 

Ovistavin

First Post
In a campaign I am playing in the DM let me roll the stats for my wolf companion. So my wolf has a Dex of 22 with a 7th level Druid. When I run my own campaign again (the group rotates DMs each with there own campaign) I have no problem rolling the stats for animal companions. I was allowed to roll my own because I know the rules better than everyone else and I don't take advantage of that fact (I am an equal opportunity rules lawyer).
 


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