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Monsters in the Party


Pathfinder RPG General Discussion


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Has anyone else wondered why, if they are not races(Leadership) or normal animals(animal companions), the options for having monsters in the party are terrible and overvalued to the point you don't want to take them?

I was trying to find some way Monstrous Companion or monster cohorts could be good, but looking at that and things like the saddening drake archetypes... I can't help but think Paizo doesn't want players actually having anything the Leadership feat doesn't grant.

To give two examples, let's look at Pegasus and Young Dragons. This assumes the GM is allowing the monster cohorts, of course.

A pegasus is listed as a level six cohort, so you can get one at level eight at the earliest. At level eight you have a CR 3 creature with 4 HD and two spell-like abilities. It's strong enough to carry a rider, but only has 34 HP and, for level eight, pretty low saves.

At the same time, getting a Young Dragon is truly a waste of a feat. The lowest CR among them is the Young White Dragon at 6, so it has a Cohort Level of 14. How is a CR 6 creature of any us when you are level 16?

Is there something I'm missing on what should be a cool option?


I don't get it either, but I completely agree that it's rather dumb. It should be much easier and less taxing to play cool nonstandard stuff in Pathfinder.


I always figured that's where "house rules" came into play.

It appears you have researched this a bit and would quickly discover if your rules need tweeking or if they are fine.


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I guess that the old D&D3.xx Savage Species could be adapted fairly easily to PF...


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Nah, you're not really missing anything. It's a system that isn't designed to make monster integration into parties easy, and it can be really frustrating.

House rules are your friend on this front.


The more I think about it the more the higher of CR or HD working as the base cohort level makes sense to me. This could give a 7th level paladn(for example) a Pegasus with a level in something else, likely Fighter or Cleric, as a cohort. It would actually have a little more use and a slight better chance to survive.


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Azten wrote:
The more I think about it the more the higher of CR or HD working as the base cohort level makes sense to me. This could give a 7th level paladn(for example) a Pegasus with a level in something else, likely Fighter or Cleric, as a cohort. It would actually have a little more use and a slight better chance to survive.

That's exactly the house rule I use for monstruous cohorts. But you must remember that some monsters don't work with it : erynie or avoral, with their constant True Seeing, are way too powerful cohorts in that case.


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That is a fairly good point. It could be, however, worthwhile if they use something like Planar Ally to get the cohort.


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Well, the one line about using monsters as pcs in the bestiary says treat CR as character level. So I'd use that as the basis.
There's also the part about monster pcs should gain an extra class level every 3 level-ups N times where N=CR/2, but that just gets complicated.


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Yeah, houseruling is your best bet.

The way I see it, it’s going to depend on your table and your play style. You know your group so you know best what options to present/allow as a gm or ask for as a player.


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Darigaaz the Igniter wrote:
Well, the one line about using monsters as pcs in the bestiary says treat CR as character level. So I'd use that as the basis.

Yeah but some monsters have more HD than their CR. Look at Valkyrie (CR 12, 16 HD) and tell me it is balanced as a lvl 12 cohort ...


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Noir le Lotus wrote:
Darigaaz the Igniter wrote:
Well, the one line about using monsters as pcs in the bestiary says treat CR as character level. So I'd use that as the basis.
Yeah but some monsters have more HD than their CR. Look at Valkyrie (CR 12, 16 HD) and tell me it is balanced as a lvl 12 cohort ...

Well the passage mentions that racial HD are generally inferior to class levels, that's why there's the whole thing about monster pcs getting every class levels every so often. And before you go off about monster X, Y, and Z having SLA's or other features that would be unbalancing, remember that there's an exception to every rule. Adjudicating corner cases is part of the GM's job.

EDIT

PRD wrote:
Note that in a mixed group, the value of racial Hit Dice and abilities diminish as a character gains levels. It is recommended that for every 3 levels gained by the group, the monster character should gain an extra level, received halfway between the 2nd and 3rd levels. Repeat this process a number of times equal to half the monster's CR, rounded down. Using the minotaur example, when the group is at a point between 6th and 7th level, the minotaur gains a level, and then again at 7th, making him a minotaur barbarian 4. This process repeats at 10th level, making him a minotaur barbarian 8 when the group reaches 10th level. From that point onward, he gains levels normally.


Dragons and other monsters have so many special abilities that make them very unbalanced in many games if you allow them in a party.

If you want a stereotypical dragon rider, use the drakes instead or wyvern. And houserule the prerequisites. Riding a wyvern is not very unbalanced for a mid level party, so you can easily allow it if flying isn't that unusual in your game world.


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I don't really know about that. Especially when the they don't gain racial HD and get the cool stuff. Oh no, SR that will never go up! DR X/magic! The best things Dragons typically have are number of natural attacks(which PCs can rival), a fly speed(which PCs can get and be better at), and a breath weapon that might, based on subspecies, have a neat effect instead of just area damage(and PCs have ways to get both).

Then there's the poor Pegasus, woefully outmatched because of some strange vendetta against non-humanoid (N)PCs in a party.

I'm not saying it shouldn't be behind a regular cohort by a bit, just that it shouldn't be a dang trophy cohort.


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I am curious why the Stone Giant is a 18th level cohort. The table caps at level 17, so you can never get it.

I know I would love to get some kind of hag as a cohort. Then I could have a real coven. But there is only the Blood Hag at 16th level. Seriously? A Sea Hag is only 4HD and CR4. Surely it could be a much lower level cohort. Getting a hag means you are going for a coven, but that can be countered by GM fiat requiring coven work only happens out of combat. [Either that, or like a familiar that attacks, it gets targeted.]

If you allow leadership in the first place you probably have an agreement with the player not to derail the campaign. I would be happy with such, but it never happened. Sigh. Just remember, Simulacrum is available at 13th level, and can be finessed before that. Paying someone to cast it for you and making a sim sea hag only costs 1,910 gp. [If you can find a caster -- nasty GM.]

Additionally, you can use limited wish to cast it in a round since it is also summoner 5.

/cevah


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Azten wrote:
I don't really know about that. Especially when the they don't gain racial HD and get the cool stuff. Oh no, SR that will never go up! DR X/magic! The best things Dragons typically have are number of natural attacks(which PCs can rival), a fly speed(which PCs can get and be better at), and a breath weapon that might, based on subspecies, have a neat effect instead of just area damage(and PCs have ways to get both).

You're right, they are not strong as combatants. But their huge array of perception and movement abilities are very unbalancing to have in a party.

We had a dragon PC in a game once... it couldn't fight a lot (yet won the day a few times the evil spellcaster was left alone far behind) ... but the party NEVER got surprised and they nearly always surprised the enemies. All due to the dragon scout.


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Monsters are not designed like PC's are. Monsters are designed with racial HD which are not as strong as class based HD, and monsters are designed around a single encounter basis. Classes are based around an entire day of fighting.


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Another thing is that it is hard to compare monsters to character levels. A monster can abilities that make it cause problems as a character such as teleportation abilities, but be too weak to be in the party for other purposes.

Paizo knows that it might be someone that is occasionally wanted, but this is more GM territory. This was known years ago when 3.5 try to have LA, but it was found that while a monster's LA might make sense when it first entered the party it would sometimes fall behind or maybe still be too far ahead.

Unearth Arcana came up with the idea of buying back levels so that monsters didn't get stuck being weaker than supposedly equal party members, and it worked in some cases, but depending on the specific monster it still didnt work.

Basically not every monster of CR X is equally viable as a party member, and how fast they lose usefulness will vary by monster.

So the issue is not so much that Paizo is against what you use. It is more that there is no way to accurately make the judgement based on how monsters are designed.

That is part of the reason why the race points option doesn't work. You can't just say all RP 30 races are equal, nor can you say that all CR 4(random number chosen) monsters are equally viable as party members, and will keep the same level of usefulness.

As shown by the disapproval with the cohort options you are better off assigning your own values to them.

WotC would have had to design the system a lot differently to make this work and they didn't. The main idea was that you are in a fantasy setting fighting monsters, more than having them as buddies in your party. What WotC did effects Pathfinder because it is mostly based on their rule set. A large portion of the core rules were just copied and pasted over.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I think that for monsters who are in a similar RP range to the core races, including them in the party works fine if they work with the story the adventure is going to tell. This also assumes they have a good back story to explain being good.

I also have a party now working its way through an AP where I let people be some of the very high power monsters, but we trimmed the abilities back to get them to about 15 RP. I often let them keep things cosmetically without the mechanical benefit, like wings. These changes weren't by GM fiat, but instead came from ideas thrown back and forth between me as GM and them as players. The entire party is like this, so the fact that core races would be weaker doesn't matter. Yes, sometimes it reduces the challenge a bit, such as when everyone has darkvision, but it tells a good story and everyone seems to be having a good time. I also can throw different kinds of challenges at them, because I know what they are good at.


Azten wrote:

Has anyone else wondered why, if they are not races(Leadership) or normal animals(animal companions), the options for having monsters in the party are terrible and overvalued to the point you don't want to take them?

I was trying to find some way Monstrous Companion or monster cohorts could be good, but looking at that and things like the saddening drake archetypes... I can't help but think Paizo doesn't want players actually having anything the Leadership feat doesn't grant.

Well, yes, because then you would be getting a lot more out of a feat than a feat should grant (with Leadership being the thing-that-shall-not-be-named inherited from 3e. ...crap, I just named it, didn't I?)

A feat should not be equal to a scaling class-feature (such as animal-companion).

- -

RP gimmick: You're a summon type, and you personally greet everyone you bring.

"Hey, Fred, long-time-no-see. How the wife n' kids? --Oh, *jeez*, I didn't mean to take you away from the *game*! I feel terrible now. Let's see if we can wrap this up fast, and I'll get you back for the replays."


just run it like the monsters as pc's rules instead were a cr 6 monster would be a lvl 6 character meaning a lvl 8 PC could have it as a cohort then either progress the cohort with with class levels or make them progress in creature class (young dragon becomes juvenile, adult becomes mature adult ect.)

Slim Jim wrote:

A feat should not be equal to a scaling class-feature (such as animal-companion).

there are several feats that do just that.... so yes a feat is equal to a scaling class feature


Lady-J wrote:

just run it like the monsters as pc's rules instead were a cr 6 monster would be a lvl 6 character meaning a lvl 8 PC could have it as a cohort then either progress the cohort with with class levels or make them progress in creature class (young dragon becomes juvenile, adult becomes mature adult ect.)

Slim Jim wrote:

A feat should not be equal to a scaling class-feature (such as animal-companion).

there are several feats that do just that.... so yes a feat is equal to a scaling class feature

Exceptions are not the rule, and should not be the rule.

(Otherwise, why be XYZ class when you can just take the XYZ feat that hands you everything on a silver platter and makes all other feats in the game look lame?)

I will stipulate that Monstrous Mount is crappy. (You're better off being a half-orc with Feral Mount, or going Mammoth Rider as a martial with a powerful sidekick. A druid's animal will receive Strong Jaw, but you'll share rage and have three to four times as many combat and teamwork feats, and will scarcely know the difference. Of course the druid remains a full caster, and you're not, so, meh.)

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