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Hippogriff as Improved Familiar


Suggestions/House Rules/Homebrew

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Card Game Subscriber

Here is the backstory. I have a player in my campaign that is playing a Sable Company ranged Ranger. At 4th lvl she gets a Hippogriff as an animal companion. At this point everything was okay. Now she has decided she wants to become an Arcane Archer. The plan is to stick with Ranger until lvl 7 to get the enhancement for the Hippogriff. Then take a lvl in Wizard at lvl 8 and finally Arcane Archer at lvl 9. No problem here but now she wants to know if I would let her use Improved Familiar to make her Hippogriff her familiar.

Here is where I am stuck. Fundimentally, I don't have a problem with it, but at what level should I make her wait to use the feat? A normal Hippogriff is a CR 2 monster. Looking at other Improved Familiar that would put it around lvl 7. But as has been pointed out before, an animal companion isn't really a full blooded creature. So would you put it at lvl 5. I could even see a case for lvl 3 because she has already spent so much time with the creature.

So two questions to those better at the rules than me:

1 - Would you let her make her Hippogriff her Improved familiar and at what level?
2 - What type of Wizard [or even would you use Wizard] for her dip for the arcane spells?

Grand Lodge

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

I would take it completely out of the familliar mechanics and work on it as a cohort.


Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

Why not simply pick up the Boon Companion feat?

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Card Game Subscriber

It's already an animal companion. Kinda hard to make it into a cohort at that point.

The reason why she wants to do this is so that her hippogriff will scale with her. If she just stayed Ranger, then there isn't any problems because it scales as a companion. But the move to Arcane Archer basically means it will always stay as a lvl 4 companion. By letting it become her familiar, then it can scale with her under those rules.

Edit: Boon companion is a good idea, but doesn't that just bring it up to a lvl 7 companion since that is when she stopped taking Ranger levels.


The main problem I see is that it would have armor, strength, dex, and intelligence boosts from being both.

Generally the rule of thumb would be that they cannot be both. The problem is you let a magical beast be an animal companion in the first place. I'll over look that for now since that is a relatively minor feature of hippogriffs.

Depends on if you want a strict yet fair limitation on multiclassing. If a druid wanted to take fighter levels, their animal companion does not get any benefit (not withstanding certain feats such as boon companion) Yet his hippogriff suddenlt gets a large and diverse boost to its stats? But this is your game, so you can decide whether this is fair or not.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Card Game Subscriber

I didn't let her take a magical beast as a companion, the rules for the archetype Sable Company Marine allowed it. Mind you it isn't just a stand up Hippogriff. It has been nerfed down to turn it into an Animal Companion.


Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

When you dip arcane, go Wildblooded(Sylvan) and the Animal Companion feature from the two classes will stack.

Combine with Boon Companion.


Honestly I've Done this before and it usually works fine if you just allow both but only take the better from either (higher of natural armor form either) calculate its hp as the companion level it is and use that (or take half or the characters hp whichever is greater) and so on. If there not advancing as the same time you most likely can add the natural armor bonus together.

The take the better rule came about when a character had there animal companion also be a familiar (touch of house ruling but once they were both going to be celestial animals of the same type I figured why not, via aasimar feat celestial companion) the only concern that ever arose was advancing as both at the same time and getting both natural armors.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Card Game Subscriber

Just dawned on me. The familiar will not scale with her because Arcane Archer doesn't increase familiars.....hmmmm. Now what?


or take eldritch heritage feats to get sylvan bloodline(if you would allow it, not much of a stretch), and say it caps at your level.

(because i think RAW that would make the total above your actual level, since sylvan bloodline as eldritch heritage would make the AC be your total character level - 5, with ranger level -3 added on to it, with boon companion it might technically get higher that the character level)


since they were willing to burn feats for improved familiar the eldritch heritage option might be best, then ignore whatever level it might come out to be (I have no idea how EH:Sylvan + Ranger + Boon Companion are supposed to stack) and just let it be full (Ranger level = effective druid level)


TClifford wrote:
Just dawned on me. The familiar will not scale with her because Arcane Archer doesn't increase familiars.....hmmmm. Now what?

I was going to say... Arcane Archer levels aren't doing anything for a familiar. Making the hippogriff into her familiar isn't going to do much anyway. She'd be better off taking a bonded item, and the Boon Companion feat as blackbloodtroll suggests. Switching from the Sable Company Marine to Arcane Archer is a character choice that has ramifications, and having a weaker companion is one of them. The player needs to realize they are trading off the increased power of their companion for the Arcane Archer abilities.


If I were building this character I'd think strongly about taking the level dip in Magus (maybe even a two level dip to get spellstrike). That way they can still cast in light armor without spell failure. I might even think strongly about taking a 4-level dip in Magus with the Myrmidarch archetype to get that ranged spellstrike at level 4.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Card Game Subscriber

I guess I could get really Monty Hall in this situation. Allow her to take Improved Familiar and Boon Companion. Allow the Boon Companion to stack with both the companion and familiar part. Therefore, at 7 Ranger/1 Wizard/4 Arcane Archer the Hippogriff is the equivalent to a lvl 7 animal companion and a lvl 5 familiar. But that would be it unless she took more levels in Ranger or Wizard.

So for the lost of Favorite Terrain 1 and cost of 2 feats, she gets a companion/familiar that looks like:

Size: Large
STR 17 Dex 17 Con 14 Int 8 Wis 12 Cha 9 [+1 to one of them]
Init: +3; Senses darkvision, low-light vision, scent

AC 22 [+3 Dex, +9 Natural Armor]
HD: 6 or 1/2 HPs of character [Not sure how to handle the hps]

Speed: 40 ft, Fly 100 [average]
Melee Bite +7 [1d6+3], 2 claws +7 [1d4 +3]

Fort: +7, Ref: +8, Wil: +3
6 Skills, 3 Feats, 3 Tricks

Link, Share Spells, Evasion, Devotion, Alertness, Improved Evasion, Empathic link, Deliver Touch Spells, Speak with Master.

I don't think that is game changing.


Improved Familiar works off of Caster Level. You have to be a minimum of Caster level 3 to get any new familiar, so Ranger7/Wiz1/AA3. So... level 11.

I like the Wildblooded(Sylvan) suggestion from blackbloodtroll way better... Sorcerer that grants animal companion. Will stack with the ranger.

So hippogriff will be at Ranger level -3, and Sorc Level -3(minimum 1).
So Ranger7/Sorc 1 will be level 5 companion. Boon Companion to bring it up to 7, and will get you through to 9th level. Then take Robes of Arcane heritage to make your Sorc level effectively 5, thus adding 2 instead of 1. So 10th level without much worry.

If he really wants to invest in his companion, allow him to take Boon Companion again, but only adding +2 EDL instead of +4.


The Leadership Feat allows people pick mounts as cohorts. At a certain level (I forget at the moment) it allows for a griffon which is a step up from the Hippogriff as a cohort. Cohorts advance 2 levels behind the PC. This would let the Hipogriff stick around and continue to advance.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Card Game Subscriber

Nice suggestions, but a lot of people are going off on tangents. Again, she is already a Sable Company Ranger so already has a hippogriff and wants to be an Arcane Archer. Yea, I get it that Sylvan archtype and Boon Companion would allow the Hippogriff to go up to lvl 8, but then no more because Arcane Archer doesn't increase animal companion levels.

Also, the Leadership route in my opinion doesn't work. It would allow her to have a second Hippogriff cohort, but at what level. How are you going to level up the cohort when a Hippogriff only has a 2 INT and that makes it kinda hard to give it character levels. Mind you, since she already has a companion, that puts her Leadership score already at a -2.


eldritch heritage-sylvan i mentioned would make it always level with her regardless of what classes she levels in, no need for any familiar rules. 2 feats and youre done.


Ah sorry, missed that archetype. Hippogriffs are just generally confusing, magical beast generally having 3+ int, but mentally hippogriffs are the same as normal animals... all weird.

Still, the point remains that mixing familiar and animal companion settings gets weird (plus by RAW, it is stated that an animal cannot be both).

Eldritch bloodline might be best. Since it would count your sorcerer levels -2...that would mean that you'd get it to level 18, and if we just let the sorcerer levels stack directly with ranger since they both have that "druid -3" rules, that lets it get to level 15 and with boon companion it goes to level 19. no problem. You'd also have to have a skill focus in Knowledge nature. Not a bad feat..I guess, but still takes up room.

You could also go with a sylvan sorcerer for the source of the level 1 arcane spells to save two feats...but telling whether the leveling of an animal companion through an arcane class stacking with an arcane prestige class would get....weird. Paizo adds interesting things to classes, but it usually presumes you take the most direct route. The rules for mixing of class features like this...gets weird. But hey, you were already willing to bend the rules for the familiar bit, why not here too? Much easier to hand wave.


the difference though is that taking a single level of sylvan sorcerer doesnt do anything for the companion leveling up with you, but eldritch heritage would mean you wouldnt even need boon companion eventually, as long as you had 8 levels of ranger(and the OP mentioned taking at least 7)

your eldritch heritage would give you your total character level - 5 (-2 for eldritch heritage, and -3 for sylvan sorcerer) always for your base, which would stack with ranger which would be ranger - 3. it's weird but that is how it would work, every level of ranger level 4+ would count for 2 levels of animal companion. enough ranger levels to give you a level 5 AC on its own would make sure your AC is always equal to a druid of your total character level, regardless of what other classes are mixed in there.


Why not have the class levels of her cohort apply to the first Hippogriff? If you just give it levels in barabarian, limit the feats to fitting ones, replace the weapon proficencies with an increase to its natural attack and reflavour the rage to some kind of magic-energy-surge?

I haven't done the math, this might come out a little too much on the strong side, but it can always be nerfed. Heavy houseruling of course, but if the player just wants to keep the companion alife and viable, this sounds ok for me.


TClifford wrote:


Also, the Leadership route in my opinion doesn't work. It would allow her to have a second Hippogriff cohort, but at what level. How are you going to level up the cohort when a Hippogriff only has a 2 INT and that makes it kinda hard to give it character levels. Mind you, since she already has a companion, that puts her Leadership score already at a -2.

I believe Hippogriffs Sable Co Hipogriffs have a 3 int which allows them to take class levels I believe. At 8th level Leadership allows you to attract a Griffin Cohort at level 8. So rather than giving her a Griffin cohort let her Hippogriff advance as a cohort. This puts you in position to 1- not bend the rules to make a companion/familar hybrid which might have weird complications. 2- It lets the character's current compaion continue be useful and let the character advance down the path they have chosen.


No I am wrong thier int is 2, but that can be upped as the companion advances prior to taking no ranger levels.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Card Game Subscriber

Thank you for all your great suggestions. We talked and I think we have a plan. Now, what do you do for her husband that wants to make his Oath of Vengenance Paladin into a Hell Knight?

Silver Crusade RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16 , Dedicated Voter 2013, Marathon Voter 2014, Star Voter 2015

Consider the Feat, Horse Master, which pretty much solves problems like this for a Cavalier. The Feat basically requires one be 6th level, and have at least 4 levels of Cavalier.

The problem with just allowing the Ranger to take an identically themed Ranger Feat, is that the Cavalier gets their pet at 1st level, and the Ranger at 4th, so in general it will be 3 levels more "effective" for a Ranger than for a Cavalier. Might I suggest a "tax" Feat that either emulates "Expert Trainer" from Cavalier, or satisfies the prereq, OR even better does the following: Allows a pet owner to add up to 3 levels to their effective Druid level for the purposes of their pet AND qualifies them for the Horse Master Feat. I'd word it similarly to how the Magical Knack trait is written for caster level, and require one to have a pet to start, so a Ranger-1 couldn't take it. This would allow a Ranger (and quite a few multiclass options) to get their pets at level, or close to with the one feat, but need the second feat if they had dipped, or were not pursuing other pet class levels.

How about this:

Gifted Trainer - Prerequisites: Has a familiar, special mount, or animal companion; Pick a class when you gain this Feat — your class level in that class gains a +3 bonus as long as this bonus doesn't raise your class level above your current Hit Dice for the purposes of determining your pet's abilities. This Feat also satisfies the Expert Trainer prerequisite for the Horse Master Feat.

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