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Monkey See, Monkey Do? An FAQ on Intelligent Animals

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

This is an odd FAQ item that we see pop up on occasion in a variety of different places. What happens when an animal gets an increased Intelligence score? There are a lot of different ways this can happen, and a number of strange routes that a GM could take when resolving this issue. Today, we are going to attempt to untangle this particular knot and see if we can't come up with some guidelines that make sense.

There are many ways an animal can gain intelligence. It can gain hit dice and apply its ability score boost to Int. It can gain the advanced simple template. A druid could cast awaken on it. Regardless of the source, an increase in Int comes with all of the standard bonuses, such as additional skill points. Once a creature's Int reaches 3, it also gains a language. This is where things start to get tricky. "Really, now my pet monkey can talk?" Well, not really. Allow me to explain.

Gaining a language does not necessarily grant the ability to speak. Most animals do not possess the correct anatomy for speech. While a very intelligent dolphin might be taught to understand Common, there's no way for him speak it. There is also the issue of learning the language. The rules are mostly silent on this front, due to ease of play for PCs, but a GM should feel safe in assuming that it might take years to actually teach Common to an intelligent animal. All of this, of course, assumes that the animal even bothers to fill that language slot. Possessing the ability to use a language does not necessarily mean that such an ability is utilized.

Another aspect of intelligent animals is tool use. There are a number of feats that convey an understanding and the proper use of weapons and armor. Generally speaking, these feats are off-limits to animals, but when their intelligence reaches 3, the rules state that they can use any feat that they are physically capable of using. Some people take this to mean that they can equip their animal companion in chainmail and arm him with a greatsword given the correct feats. While you could interpret the rules in this way, the "capable of use" clause is very important. Most weapons require thumbs to use properly, and even then, few animals would choose to use an artificial weapon in place of the natural weapons that have served them all their life. It's what they were born with, after all, and virtually no amount of training will change that. In the end, the GM should feel free to restrict such choices if he feels that they take away from the feel of his campaign. The rules themselves are left a little vague to give the GM the latitude to make the call that's right for his campaign.

The Handle Animal skill functions similarly no matter how intelligent an animal becomes. A character must still make Handle Animal checks to train his animal and get him to perform the appropriate tasks. A GM should, however, make exceptions in the case of how such an intelligent animal might react in absence of instructions. It might not know to unlock a door to escape a burning building—as that's a fact that's learned over time and experience—but a smart animal might have a better chance of finding a way out.

The spell awaken changes much of this, however, since the spell is specifically designed to raise a creature up to sentience. GMs should feel free to loosen the above guidelines in the case of animals who have been the subject of this spell (since they become magical beasts), but should also note that awakened animals do not continue to serve as animal companions or familiars. Such creatures gain their own desires and feelings, and may seek to set out on their own to determine their own fate. They may not leave right away, but GMs should keep in mind that eventually any such creatures (or trees) may wish to leave to find their fortune.

Note that while the monster guidelines talk about a maximum Int for an animal, this only applies to the creation process. Giving an animal a higher Intelligence score does not somehow transform it into a magical beast, unless the effect says otherwise, such as in the case of awaken. Animals can grow to have an Int higher than 2 through a variety of means, but they should not, as a general rule, be created that way.

Well, that about wraps up our look at intelligent animals. We hope these guidelines and ideas help inform the issue in your game. If you have any further questions on the topic, ask them in the comments to this blog. Until next time!

Jason Bulmahn
Lead Designer

More Paizo Blog.
Tags: Animals Design Tuesdays Frequently Asked Questions Mauricio Herrera Pathfinder Roleplaying Game
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Cheliax

1 person marked this as a favorite.

huh... this does kind of make a lot of sense...

Lantern Lodge

Jason Bulmahn Wrote:
"The spell awaken changes much of this, however, since the spell is specifically designed to raise a creature up to sentience. GMs should feel free to loosen the above guidelines in the case of animals who have been the subject of this spell (since they become magical beasts), but should also note that awakened animals do not continue to serve as animal companions or familiars. Such creatures gain their own desires and feelings, and may seek to set out on their own to determine their own fate. They may not leave right away, but GMs should keep in mind that eventually any such creatures (or trees) may wish to leave to find their fortune."

I agree that an awakened animal is now its own master, and would no longer serve as an animal companion or familiar. That said, what about a cohort? if the PC has treated the animal well and proven to be a worthy master I see no reason (other than the amount of extra work for the DM) why a PC could not use the leadership feat to gain his/her newly awakened trusted animal companion as a loyal follower.

Rise of the Runelords:
Recently in my Rise of the Runelords campaign, one of my players went through the long, expensive, and time consuming process of convincing a local druid to cast an Awaken spell on her trusty mount, a giant Gecko. She acquired the gecko in Burnt Offerings (from the Goblin King), and tickled pink by its adorable nature, has lavishly pampered it ever since. She visited the druid right after finishing the Skinsaw Murders, and left the newly awakened gecko in the care of the druid Devarre (Realm of the Fellnight Queen) on the edge of the Whisperwood, while she went to deal with a local Fey incursion. Now having spent some time abroad, and given the awakened gecko time to contemplate its new sentient existence, she returns to the druid grove to humbly ask the awakened gecko if it will continue adventuring with her. As the PC has taken the leadership feat, and currently has no cohorts, I plan on allowing the PC to take the awakened gecko as a loyal follower. As to where it goes from there, only time will tell. Then again, after the gecko meets the Grauls (Hook Mountain Massacre), it may decide adventuring life is a little too exciting :) !!


How does it work for intelligent animals to gain class levels? Say... an intelligent lion taking a level in rogue?


Saedar wrote:
How does it work for intelligent animals to gain class levels? Say... an intelligent lion taking a level in rogue?

They might not be able to take full use of some of their class abilities...I know how I would adjudicate it, but I'm curious what Jason has to say. :)

Paizo Employee Creative Director

A lion with levels in rogue would quickly become a killing machine, I know that for a fact. Pounce + several attacks + sneak attack = bad-ass.

Osirion

Saedar wrote:
How does it work for intelligent animals to gain class levels? Say... an intelligent lion taking a level in rogue?

Fear the monkey ninja!

Seriously, though, Barbarian levels on worgs are fun.

Andoran

1 person marked this as FAQ candidate.

This comment surprised me:

Note that while the monster guidelines talk about a maximum Int for an animal, this only applies to the creation process. Animals can grow to have an Int higher than 2 through a variety of means, but they should not, as a general rule, be created that way.

Compare that to the Animal Type:

Intelligence score of 1 or 2 (no creature with an Intelligence score of 3 or higher can be an animal)

These two statements would seem to contradict one another.

With the very specific and obvious exception of animal companions and other similar animals gained as a class feature, the rules would seem to be pretty clear in saying NO animal can have an Intelligence score of 3 or higher.


Saedar wrote:
How does it work for intelligent animals to gain class levels? Say... an intelligent lion taking a level in rogue?

I imagine there's tons of information on that in the book "The Noble Wild" which is available right here on Paizo.

And thanks, Mister Bulmahn, for this very helpful FAQ. Being rather fond of sentient beasts for a long time, I'll be getting some mileage out of this.

Osirion

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Cards, Companion, Maps, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
James Jacobs wrote:
A lion with levels in rogue would quickly become a killing machine, I know that for a fact. Pounce + several attacks + sneak attack = bad-ass.

Didn't you print an awakened lion as a Critical Threat in Dungeon?

Can't remember the class, but it was likely ranger or druid.

Paizo Employee Lead Designer

Marc Radle wrote:

This comment suprised me:

Note that while the monster guidelines talk about a maximum Int for an animal, this only applies to the creation process. Animals can grow to have an Int higher than 2 through a variety of means, but they should not, as a general rule, be created that way.

Compare that to the Animal Type:

Intelligence score of 1 or 2 (no creature with an Intelligence score of 3 or higher can be an animal)

These two statements would seem to contradict one another.

With the very specific example of animal companions and other similar animals gained as a class feature, the rules would seem to be pretty clear in saying NO animal can have an Intelligence score of 3 or higher.

They do and this is an intentional change we are making. The rules leave no room for an animal to gain intelligence without somehow transforming into a magical beast, which comes with a whole host of changes. There has to be room here for corner cases and exceptions, which this absolute rule does not allow.

Jason Bulmahn
Lead Designer
Paizo Publishing


So does a familiar gain Ability score increases, bonus languages and extra skill points due to its base type as it effectively gains hit dice alongside its master; in addition to those gained by virtue of it being a familiar?

Contributor

In the Paizo Blog, Jason Bulmahn wrote:
Regardless of the source, an increase in Int comes with all of the standard bonuses, such as additional skill points.

For the sake of completeness (this is a FAQ, after all), I should point out that 'additional skill points' just means a lower Int penalty. Since animals only get 2+Int modifier skill points, that means they have the same number of skill points per animal HD from Int 1 all the way to Int 9: 1. Since the now-intelligent animal might gain class levels (which could theoretically grant more skill points than its usual animal advancement), they could certainly get more skill points, but a standard animal whose Int is increased doesn't necessarily get more skill points as a result of that increase.

RPG Superstar 2009, Contributor

Cool topic! Can you touch a little bit on the situation where an animal companion or familiar gains a boost in Int and then has its owner/master die?

Of course, the common approach is that they go back to being "normal" again...and yet, some stories, adventures, or encounter ideas touch on the possibility of what happens if such an intelligent "animal" or magical beast retains its Intelligence, even if only for a short time.

Any thoughts along the lines of new rule developments to explore that possibility in the game?

Designer's Note:

Spoiler:

I ran into this situation when adding a powerful stallion named Windchaser who led a herd of horses in Kingmaker's "Blood for Blood." It was basically a druid's animal companion, but then the druid passed away and the horse outlived him. James and I worked out a method by which the druid cast awaken on the horse before dying, thereby releasing his faithful companion back into the wild...only it was now far more intelligent than the usual horse. And this made it better able to attain a position of leadership among the herd which it eventually joined.

That's also what made Windchaser such a fierce protector in the event the PCs attempted to catch and break a few of the wild horses under his charge. And, ultimately, the stallion itself could once again become a companion for someone...a PC ranger, druid, or maybe the rising king of the Stolen Lands...if they managed to impress him.


in 3.5 it wasnt unheard of for awakened animals to take levels of druid. Once they take wild shape they can turn into medium animals...Meaning humans. ;-)

Paizo Employee Lead Designer

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Ambrus wrote:
So does a familiar gain Ability score increases, bonus languages and extra skill points due to its base type as it effectively gains hit dice alongside its master; in addition to those gained by virtue of it being a familiar?

A familiar does not gain Hit Dice along with its master. It is treated as if it has more Hit Dice for the purpose of effects related to Hit Dice. All of the other adjustments (hit points, bab, skills, etc) are specific exceptions and bonuses due to the level of its master.

Should a master die, the rules are silent as to whether or not the familiar retains these bonuses. On the whole, I would say that the familiar slowly reverts back to a normal animal of its type.

Jason Bulmahn
Lead Designer
Paizo Publishing


Another question. I couldn't find where a CR adjustment would be for an Awakened animal. Is there an adjustment?

From my earlier Lion Rogue example, what would his CR be? How about his effective level for the Monsters as PC rules, as written?

For reference: 5hd Lion + 2 hd Awaken + 1hd Rogue.

Paizo Employee Lead Designer

Brian Cortijo wrote:
In the Paizo Blog, Jason Bulmahn wrote:
Regardless of the source, an increase in Int comes with all of the standard bonuses, such as additional skill points.
For the sake of completeness (this is a FAQ, after all), I should point out that 'additional skill points' just means a lower Int penalty. Since animals only get 2+Int modifier skill points, that means they have the same number of skill points per animal HD from Int 1 all the way to Int 9: 1. Since the now-intelligent animal might gain class levels (which could theoretically grant more skill points than its usual animal advancement), they could certainly get more skill points, but a standard animal whose Int is increased doesn't necessarily get more skill points as a result of that increase.

Of course, Brian here is correct.

Jason Bulmahn
Lead Designer
Paizo Publishing

RPG Superstar 2009, Contributor

Jason Bulmahn wrote:
Should a master die, the rules are silent as to whether or not the familiar retains these bonuses. On the whole, I would say that the familiar slowly reverts back to a normal animal of its type.

The rules are silent, which is kind of sad and unfulfilling. That's why I consulted James back during development on Kingmaker. And I even dredged up some old Design Notes from Skip Williams on Wizards' 3.5 site to see what they'd considered in this circumstance. They too had the animal or familiar reverting back to normal intelligence...

...but at what rate? Automatically? Does the Intelligence fade a little at a time? Something akin to ongoing ability damage from a curse or poison? Could such an animal be capable of acting intelligently for a short period of time in order to carry out one last act in dedication to its master? Could it temporarily "remember" its former intelligence somewhere down the line to do the same?

If so, I think stuff like that could make for the basis of some pretty interesting plot devices or encounters. And, it would be nice to see one of these Design Blog Tuesdays explore such a development within the Pathfinder rules....

Just my two cents,
--Neil

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 16

blog post wrote:
There are many ways an animal can gain intelligence. ... It can gain the advanced simple template.

I find it a little wierd that a "GM's rule hack" for bumping up CR has the side effect of granting sentience. I always thought that template didn't bump INT in the case of animals. That makes a few encounters in the Kingmaker AP fairly strange.

I just hope all of those rules-literal GMs I keep running into don't do something too bizarre with this.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Tales Subscriber

VINDICATION!

Andoran

Oh mighty Bulmahnator -

I am sort of unclear on something now. I always fell into the camp of "If your animal companion increases it's INT and spends a skill rank in Linguistics, you need not use the Trick system", but you've said above that this is not the case.

So, why would anyone ever raise INT to 3? Since we know that skill ranks basically aren't going any higher than 1/level (see Brian's post above) regardless of what you do with skill point increases, and if you're saying that you still have to use handle animal and teach the thing tricks, what advantages would an INT of 3 actually have?

It seems like I can say to my large cat, "Cat, what a nice day this is", and since the cat has an INT of 3, it knows that I think it's a nice day. But there's no actual benefit to this knowledge at all. If I want the cat to actually do anything, I have to have invested time to teach it to do the thing, and invested ranks in Handle Animal, and roll suitably well. That seems like...well, it seems like I should have used the skill point increase on Strength, which might actually be worth it.

My post is getting long, and I'm mindful of your time. Although I could expound upon what I'm saying a bit, I think you get the idea. Why would anyone choose to put an Ability Score increase into INT?


Well then, if I'm playing a 3 int human people should have to use "handle animal" on me to get me to do anything as well.

Osirion

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Cards, Companion, Maps, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Neil Spicer wrote:

The rules are silent, which is kind of sad and unfulfilling. That's why I consulted James back during development on Kingmaker. And I even dredged up some old Design Notes from Skip Williams on Wizards' 3.5 site to see what they'd considered in this circumstance. They too had the animal or familiar reverting back to normal intelligence...

...but at what rate? Automatically? Does the Intelligence fade a little at a time? Something akin to ongoing ability damage from a curse or poison? Could such an animal be capable of acting intelligently for a short period of time in order to carry out one last act in dedication to its master? Could it temporarily "remember" its former intelligence somewhere down the line to do the same?

I think some delay is necessary, otherwise what happens in the case of a wizard who dies, but is brought back a few days later via raise dead? Does he come back to be reintroduced to a now-unintelligent familiar? Does the familiar 'snap out of it', and revert back to its higher Int once the master is revived? Or does the wizard have to renew the spiritual connection ritual?


Snorter wrote:


I think some delay is necessary, otherwise what happens in the case of a wizard who dies, but is brought back a few days later via raise dead? Does he come back to be reintroduced to a now-unintelligent familiar? Does the familiar 'snap out of it', and revert back to its higher Int once the master is revived? Or does the wizard have to renew the spiritual connection ritual?

Something along the lines of one day (or week) per Master's HD? That seems pretty reasonable to me.

Taldor

Neil Spicer wrote:

...but at what rate? Automatically? Does the Intelligence fade a little at a time? Something akin to ongoing ability damage from a curse or poison? Could such an animal be capable of acting intelligently for a short period of time in order to carry out one last act in dedication to its master? Could it temporarily "remember" its former intelligence somewhere down the line to do the same?

Probably more out of nostalgia, but I can't help but think of the decline in Flowers for Algernon in parallel for this.

The entire book is a great story based on this concept of gaining / loosing superior intellegence. Highly recommend a read if you haven't already.

Andoran

nathan blackmer wrote:

Well then, if I'm playing a 3 int human people should have to use "handle animal" on me to get me to do anything as well.

"FYE-TOR NOT UNDERSTAND! FYE-TOR WANT SMASH!! NOT "GUARD"!!"


Dom C wrote:
Neil Spicer wrote:

...but at what rate? Automatically? Does the Intelligence fade a little at a time? Something akin to ongoing ability damage from a curse or poison? Could such an animal be capable of acting intelligently for a short period of time in order to carry out one last act in dedication to its master? Could it temporarily "remember" its former intelligence somewhere down the line to do the same?

Probably more out of nostalgia, but I can't help but think of the decline in Flowers for Algernon in parallel for this.

The entire book is a great story based on this concept of gaining / loosing superior intellegence. Highly recommend a read if you haven't already.

That's an elegant comparison, and one of my favorite stories.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 8

When I read this thread, all I can think of is Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles...:).

Player: I cast awaken on the turtle. Once it's awakened, I begin training him in the ninja arts. He'll dual wield katanas.
DM: But the turtle doesn't have hands.
Player: What do you mean it doesn't have hands? Haven't you ever read the comic or seen the cartoon? Turtles have hands!


nathan blackmer wrote:

Well then, if I'm playing a 3 int human people should have to use "handle animal" on me to get me to do anything as well.

Arguably, that's exactly what your character's parents did when your character was a baby.


Jeremiziah wrote:
nathan blackmer wrote:

Well then, if I'm playing a 3 int human people should have to use "handle animal" on me to get me to do anything as well.

"FYE-TOR NOT UNDERSTAND! FYE-TOR WANT SMASH!! NOT "GUARD"!!"

"Fye-tor, would you please, please, PLEASE go hit that dragon?" begs Tansi the pyromancer "Pretty-please?"

GM - "Roll handle animal."

Tansi rolls a 4.

Fye-Tor - "BUNNIIIIIESSS!!!!" Fye-tor begins hopping excitedly away from the party.

GM - Generic, the red dragon, looks on amused.

Tansi - "Wait, I've got....CANDY!" Tansi produces a stick painted navy blue.

GM - That'll get you a re-roll, at +5. He likes candy.

Fye-tor - it's true. "C...Candy?!??"


Jeremiziah wrote:

Oh mighty Bulmahnator -

I am sort of unclear on something now. I always fell into the camp of "If your animal companion increases it's INT and spends a skill rank in Linguistics, you need not use the Trick system", but you've said above that this is not the case.

So, why would anyone ever raise INT to 3? Since we know that skill ranks basically aren't going any higher than 1/level (see Brian's post above) regardless of what you do with skill point increases, and if you're saying that you still have to use handle animal and teach the thing tricks, what advantages would an INT of 3 actually have?

It seems like I can say to my large cat, "Cat, what a nice day this is", and since the cat has an INT of 3, it knows that I think it's a nice day. But there's no actual benefit to this knowledge at all. If I want the cat to actually do anything, I have to have invested time to teach it to do the thing, and invested ranks in Handle Animal, and roll suitably well. That seems like...well, it seems like I should have used the skill point increase on Strength, which might actually be worth it.

My post is getting long, and I'm mindful of your time. Although I could expound upon what I'm saying a bit, I think you get the idea. Why would anyone choose to put an Ability Score increase into INT?

The maximum number of learnable tricks, if I recall, is based on Intelligence, so an increase in Int would allow more tricks to be learned. If one imagines that the number could increase exponentially after 2, where the rules don't normally cover, then you could count all the various behaviors and abilities a character with a fairly normal intelligence could learn as "tricks". And as I previously mentioned, the people bringing you up as a child essentially would have taught you your "tricks" via application of the Handle Animal skill.

Come to think, Jason, that might make for a good rules addition - if the "animal" can understand your language then you get a bonus to teaching it tricks and getting it to perform them.


Neil Spicer wrote:
Jason Bulmahn wrote:
Should a master die, the rules are silent as to whether or not the familiar retains these bonuses. On the whole, I would say that the familiar slowly reverts back to a normal animal of its type.

The rules are silent,

If so, I think stuff like that could make for the basis of some pretty interesting plot devices or encounters.
--Neil

The rules should stay silent on this. An interesting plot device does not need to be in the rule books.

If detailing the "rate at which an awakened animal companion loses it's intelligence after its master dies" is not the very definition of rules bloat, I don't know what is...


Jeremiziah wrote:

Oh mighty Bulmahnator -

I am sort of unclear on something now. I always fell into the camp of "If your animal companion increases it's INT and spends a skill rank in Linguistics, you need not use the Trick system", but you've said above that this is not the case.

So, why would anyone ever raise INT to 3? Since we know that skill ranks basically aren't going any higher than 1/level (see Brian's post above) regardless of what you do with skill point increases, and if you're saying that you still have to use handle animal and teach the thing tricks, what advantages would an INT of 3 actually have?

I have to admit I'm not crazy about the idea that a 3 Int animal still follows the Handle Animal rules. Note that it leaves some gaps in the skill description; for instance, an animal with 1 Int can learn 3 tricks and an animal with 2 Int can learn 6 tricks. An animal with 3 Int? Undefined.


Derek Vande Brake wrote:
nathan blackmer wrote:

Well then, if I'm playing a 3 int human people should have to use "handle animal" on me to get me to do anything as well.

Arguably, that's exactly what your character's parents did when your character was a baby.

I agree, but it seems like they're making a distinction between human and animal intelligence, and I'm hoping against hope that they don't make a distinction like that, essentially setting up two different int scales.

Because if so, a 16 int animal and a 16 int person are VERY VERY different.


hogarth wrote:
Jeremiziah wrote:

Oh mighty Bulmahnator -

I am sort of unclear on something now. I always fell into the camp of "If your animal companion increases it's INT and spends a skill rank in Linguistics, you need not use the Trick system", but you've said above that this is not the case.

So, why would anyone ever raise INT to 3? Since we know that skill ranks basically aren't going any higher than 1/level (see Brian's post above) regardless of what you do with skill point increases, and if you're saying that you still have to use handle animal and teach the thing tricks, what advantages would an INT of 3 actually have?

I have to admit I'm not crazy about the idea that a 3 Int animal still follows the Handle Animal rules. Note that it leaves some gaps in the skill description; for instance, an animal with 1 Int can learn 3 tricks and an animal with 2 Int can learn 6 tricks. An animal with 3 Int? Undefined.

You could houserule it to be 9 tricks if you really wanted to as that seems to follow the pattern.


Pathfinder Maps, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
hogarth wrote:
Jeremiziah wrote:

Oh mighty Bulmahnator -

I am sort of unclear on something now. I always fell into the camp of "If your animal companion increases it's INT and spends a skill rank in Linguistics, you need not use the Trick system", but you've said above that this is not the case.

So, why would anyone ever raise INT to 3? Since we know that skill ranks basically aren't going any higher than 1/level (see Brian's post above) regardless of what you do with skill point increases, and if you're saying that you still have to use handle animal and teach the thing tricks, what advantages would an INT of 3 actually have?

I have to admit I'm not crazy about the idea that a 3 Int animal still follows the Handle Animal rules. Note that it leaves some gaps in the skill description; for instance, an animal with 1 Int can learn 3 tricks and an animal with 2 Int can learn 6 tricks. An animal with 3 Int? Undefined.

At 3 INT, it's a sentient being. It's just barely a sentient being. You, as a sentient being, can learn all sorts of 'tricks' if someone takes the time to teach you. You can learn 'cook mashed potatoes' trick, you can learn 'wash the laundry' trick, you can learn 'wipe your butt after using toilet' trick. There's no limit to how many tricks you can learn, it just takes some people longer than others to learn those tricks.

A 3 INT animal is sentient, it can learn any trick it wants, if it wants to, and if someone takes the time to teach it that trick. So, to me, what the blog post is saying is that a sentient (3+ Int) animal still has to be taught tricks (just like your average 5yo has to be taught numbers, and how to pour milk). There wouldn't be any limit to what tricks he could learn, just the time taken. A normal animal (2 or 1 int) has an upper limit on the number he can learn because he's not sentient.


Neil Spicer wrote:
Jason Bulmahn wrote:
Should a master die, the rules are silent as to whether or not the familiar retains these bonuses. On the whole, I would say that the familiar slowly reverts back to a normal animal of its type.

The rules are silent, which is kind of sad and unfulfilling. That's why I consulted James back during development on Kingmaker. And I even dredged up some old Design Notes from Skip Williams on Wizards' 3.5 site to see what they'd considered in this circumstance. They too had the animal or familiar reverting back to normal intelligence...

...but at what rate? Automatically? Does the Intelligence fade a little at a time? Something akin to ongoing ability damage from a curse or poison? Could such an animal be capable of acting intelligently for a short period of time in order to carry out one last act in dedication to its master? Could it temporarily "remember" its former intelligence somewhere down the line to do the same?

If so, I think stuff like that could make for the basis of some pretty interesting plot devices or encounters. And, it would be nice to see one of these Design Blog Tuesdays explore such a development within the Pathfinder rules....

Just my two cents,
--Neil

Also another silent question with this ruling is if the master is resurrected does the familiar or animal companion regain intelligence?


In a recent game our halfling cavalier used his wolf to Ride up the side of buildings. Hed feed it potions of Spider Climb and Fly. the Int 3 worked as a justification to explain having it do things a wolf would likely normally freak out at.

the part that seemed to cause contention though was the Insistence by the Dm that the wolf would freak out around wraiths. (we were around lvl 10 by this time)

The Faq here seems to suggest the Dm's call was right.

Though the player at the time pointed out He and the wolf had charged in Mid air a Dragon which is far scarier than the Wraiths. which caused the point of contention.

Cheliax

Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Maps Subscriber

Is there any truth to the claim that the Paizo staff is mostly made up of awakened animals?


This came up first with my dwarven druid and her lion animal companion in 2nd Darkness. I bumped it to INT 3, giving it the opportunity to learn a few feats that it otherwise couldn't learn, as well as the knowledge of dwarven, and the ability to act on its own initiative, rather than automatically delaying until I gave it instructions. We pretty much did away with the entire "tricks" system at that point (not that we'd had much use for the system before that point, TBH) and assumed that, as a sentient creature with an INT of 3, it was capable of making its own (albeit poorly educated) decisions, much as an INT 3 half-orc barbarian would be.

Similarly, the druid in the Kingmaker game I'm currently DMing for did the same thing with her lion's first stat bump, granting it sentience and the ability to act on its own. I really don't see why a sentient creature would have to continue being goaded into doing a handful of things to get anything accomplished.

Further, the comment about weaponry training bothers me - granted, opposeable thumbs (or the opposeable enhancement from Masters of the Wild)are necessary to wield a weapon, but saying that an intelligent creature would opt to continue using its natural weapons when a much more efficient and powerful tool is available is kind of odd - it'd be like saying that humans should only be using their fists, because that's what we were born with and have used most of our lives. If I was a dimwitted but self-aware giant ape, you can bet I'd opt for an enormous length of sharpened steel that bursts into flame when I strike the enemy over my dagger-like claws. I may be stupid, but I'm not an animal...

Osirion

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mdt wrote:
At 3 INT, it's a sentient being. It's just barely a sentient being. You, as a sentient being, can learn all sorts of 'tricks' if someone takes the time to teach you. You can learn 'cook mashed potatoes' trick, you can learn 'wash the laundry' trick, you can learn 'wipe your butt after using toilet' trick.

Oh, come now.

You know very well no-one ever goes to the toilet in an RPG.


2 people marked this as FAQ candidate.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion Subscriber
Jason Bulmahn wrote:
Another aspect of intelligent animals is tool use. There are a number of feats that convey an understanding and the proper use of weapons and armor. Generally speaking, these feats are off-limits to animals, but when their intelligence reaches 3, the rules state that they can use any feat that they are physically capable of using. Some people take this to mean that they can equip their animal companion in chainmail and arm him with a greatsword given the correct feats. While you could interpret the rules in this way, the "capable of use" clause is very important. Most weapons require thumbs to use properly, and even then, few animals would choose to use an artificial weapon in place of the natural weapons that have served them all their life. It's what they were born with, after all, and virtually no amount of training will change that. In the end, the GM should feel free to restrict such choices if he feels that they take away from the feel of his campaign. The rules themselves are left a little vague to give the GM the latitude to make the call that's right for his campaign.

With regard to PFS does this mean that polearm-wielding gorilla animal companions are legal for play?


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Boy this seems to solve one issue by opening up a mess of others.

Previously there was a clear line between the "Handle Animal & Wild Empathy" world and the "Language & Diplomacy" world.

Now some creatures of the Animal Type you approach with diplomacy, some with wild empathy, some by talking to them, some with handle animal, some by using speak with animals.... with any possibly one or the other with no clear definitions for which is which.

The value of having universal rules for creatures, uncluding Types, is to have rules consistency and faciliatate clear determinations, but this makes the Animal Type ambiguous in a way that impacts whole catagories of skills, spells and abilities.

Is this really a good idea?

Why not, rather presume Animal Type creatures could use their stat bonuses to raise Int above 2, instead recognise 2 as a hard Int cap in general, and let exceptional effects like Awaken define those specific exceptions?

Andoran

mdt wrote:

At 3 INT, it's a sentient being. It's just barely a sentient being. You, as a sentient being, can learn all sorts of 'tricks' if someone takes the time to teach you. You can learn 'cook mashed potatoes' trick, you can learn 'wash the laundry' trick, you can learn 'wipe your butt after using toilet' trick. There's no limit to how many tricks you can learn, it just takes some people longer than others to learn those tricks.

A 3 INT animal is sentient, it can learn any trick it wants, if it wants to, and if someone takes the time to teach it that trick. So, to me, what the blog post is saying is that a sentient (3+ Int) animal still has to be taught tricks (just like your average 5yo has to be taught numbers, and how to pour milk). There wouldn't be any limit to what tricks he could learn, just the time taken. A normal animal (2 or 1 int) has an upper limit on the number he can learn because he's not sentient.

That's fine, but to be realistic, does the benefit of potentially unlimited tricks warrant the investiture of an attribute point into intelligence? Given that there are 12 defined tricks, and that a Druid can teach his INT 2 companion every single one of them by 15th level, and fully over half of them at level one, if he so desires?

It's a trap option, this way - it makes no sense.


Pathfinder Maps, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Jeremiziah wrote:
mdt wrote:

At 3 INT, it's a sentient being. It's just barely a sentient being. You, as a sentient being, can learn all sorts of 'tricks' if someone takes the time to teach you. You can learn 'cook mashed potatoes' trick, you can learn 'wash the laundry' trick, you can learn 'wipe your butt after using toilet' trick. There's no limit to how many tricks you can learn, it just takes some people longer than others to learn those tricks.

A 3 INT animal is sentient, it can learn any trick it wants, if it wants to, and if someone takes the time to teach it that trick. So, to me, what the blog post is saying is that a sentient (3+ Int) animal still has to be taught tricks (just like your average 5yo has to be taught numbers, and how to pour milk). There wouldn't be any limit to what tricks he could learn, just the time taken. A normal animal (2 or 1 int) has an upper limit on the number he can learn because he's not sentient.

That's fine, but to be realistic, does the benefit of potentially unlimited tricks warrant the investiture of an attribute point into intelligence? Given that there are 12 defined tricks, and that a Druid can teach his INT 2 companion every single one of them by 15th level, and fully over half of them at level one, if he so desires?

It's a trap option, this way - it makes no sense.

I was addressing the question about why you still use handle animal to teach them tricks if they're sentient, and how many can they learn. At Int 3, the animal gets access to more feats (things he couldn't necessarily get before), access to take class levels, etc.

If you're talking about an animal companion, he's got other limits. He's not going to be able to take class levels, he's just a sentient animal companion. He can learn feats he couldn't have before, but that's about it. It all depends on whether you want your monkey to use daggers or not.

Osirion

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Neil Spicer wrote:
Jason Bulmahn wrote:
Should a master die, the rules are silent as to whether or not the familiar retains these bonuses. On the whole, I would say that the familiar slowly reverts back to a normal animal of its type.

The rules are silent, which is kind of sad and unfulfilling.

In my Freeport game, the PCs ended up working for a contact who spoke only from the shadows of building rafters, or from rooftops at night, or dropped notes to them, since he was a Raven ex-Familiar with a Ring of Invisibility (his master got tired of replacing Familiars, and crafted a Ring for this one). He'd retained his intelligence, speech, natural armor bonus, etc. (stuff on the Master Class Level chart, although empathic link, share spells and speak with master were unusable) and picked up a few levels of Wizard, but didn't have the skills, HD, half hp or saves of his former master, having had to learn his own skills and use his own HD, saves, etc.

I left it unclear whether or not this was a rare occurence that could happen to any familiar, under certain circumstances, or if there was something hinky about this particular case.

I liked keeping it open, but I didn't want it to be something that would happen regularly. (Maybe the ex-Familiar gets a Will save to retain it's abilities, at a ridiculous DC. Maybe it needs to roll a 20. Maybe it has to roll a lesser Will save every month or lose 1 'wizard level' worth of familiar benefits.)

.

As I mentioned at some point during the Beta, lo those years ago, the 3.X awaken spell has always bugged me. Changing the animal's type, and adding HD, seemed like they didn't fit what the spell was doing. If there was to be a Druid spell that added HD to an animal (or plant), that should be something different, and not a freebie that comes with giving a bat a 10 Intelligence. (An Int 10 diminutive bat that now has the HD of a size large *gorilla* or an entire *swarm* of Int 2 bats...)

Similarly, making it a Magical Beast changes it's HD type, it's BAB progression, grants it darkvision, etc. That's a whole lotta nonsense for a spell that's just supposed to make a smarter-than-average bear...

I'd much rather there be a lower level awaken spell that just makes an animal smarter. It can keep the animal type, with a subtype to represent that it's an exceptional housecat, that's busted the glass ceiling and become as smart as a commoner (perhaps as a result of killing so many of them...). Given the theme of the spell, a bump to Charisma and the ability to speak and comprehend one of the casters languages, also makes sense, but not the other stuff.

No extra (or bigger) HD, no higher BAB, no free darkvision.

(And none of that 'becomes a Magical Beast, but *doesn't* adjust HD, BAB, etc.' crap. Exception-based design gives me hives!)

Heck, there's room for several spells here;

Awaken - makes animal smarter, but still an animal (augmented)

Cultivate - increases an animals' HD, but doesn't change type or make it smarter (using 3.X advancement rules, or the quick-and-messy giant and / or simple template option, minus the Int/Wis/Cha boost)

Ennoble - makes an animal become a magical beast, with all the goodies that come with it

Osirion

Eric Hinkle wrote:

I imagine there's tons of information on that in the book "The Noble Wild" which is available right here on Paizo.

I think this is a subtly different topic...

If you want animals with the same average intelligence of a human, granted by the Gods (or, in a Modern campaign, by SCIENCE!), then The Noble Wild is EXACTLY what you're looking for. These creatures gain levels much like any other race (though the "tougher" animals have racial class levels if they want to reach their full awesome animal potential, for game balance). There are even rules about those creatures who are blessed with natural advantages like Opposable thumbs (and caster levels) granting those boons to other animals in a mystical form either temporarily or permanently. All weapons are considered Exotic except, I believe, for rocks and sticks. There creatures are born intelligent, spend the entirety of their lives intelligent, and nothing short of a pissy GM will make their intelligence fade to normal animal intelligence. There are even prestige classes for playing an arcane caster's familiar.

If you start with a normal animal who just happens to be born a little exceptional, or is granted intelligence solely from being a familiar or animal companion, it's a different thing altogether. Though the mechanics in tNW might make some of this run a little smoother.

I did not schill this product. I was never here.


Disciple of Sakura wrote:


Further, the comment about weaponry training bothers me - granted, oppose able thumbs (or the opposeable enhancement from Masters of the Wild)are necessary to wield a weapon, but saying that an intelligent creature would opt to continue using its natural weapons when a much more efficient and powerful tool is available is kind of odd - it'd be like saying that humans should only be using their fists, because that's what we were born with and have used most of our lives. If I was a dimwitted but self-aware giant ape, you can bet I'd opt for an enormous length of sharpened steel that bursts into flame when I strike the enemy over my dagger-like claws. I may be stupid, but I'm not an animal...

The Faq Seemed to suggest a difference between a Sentient Creature and an animal with a 3 int. Specifically when he talks about Awaken Animal. that assuming i am interpreting it right seems to be the only way to get a truly sentient animal.

I also rather agree with he Commentary on weapons. Really the PC's understanding that the giant Metal club with spikes is better and the Animal's are different.

that Said, i think teaching a Gorilla to use a greatclub should be quite feasible. I think that a Halberd would be different. But i guess its all up to interpretation


Mojorat wrote:

The Faq Seemed to suggest a difference between a Sentient Creature and an animal with a 3 int. Specifically when he talks about Awaken Animal. that assuming i am interpreting it right seems to be the only way to get a truly sentient animal.

I also rather agree with he Commentary on weapons. Really the PC's understanding that the giant Metal club with spikes is better and the Animal's are different.

that Said, i think teaching a Gorilla to use a greatclub should be quite feasible. I think that a Halberd would be different. But i guess its all up to interpretation

But that supposes that there are two different kinds of INT 3 - a humanoid's INT 3 (half-orc barbarian, for example) and a smarter than normal gorilla's INT 3. The game doesn't make that distinction - at least, not mechanically. If there was such a distinction, then there should be a distinction between animal and sapient charismas, wisdoms, dexterities... etc. Intelligence is intelligence is intelligence. An intelligence of 3 is rated as being sapient, capable of understanding language, and taking whatever feats it wants. I don't see why one bipedal creature with two thumbs would be able to figure out it should use this weapon, but another wouldn't be, especially if you trained it by giving it a feat (though, in all honesty, even without. Apes are tool-users naturally, after all...)


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Maps, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I don't see a whole lot of clarification in that article at all.

Hopefully this thread will make all the difference.

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