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Animal Companion selection


Advice


I'm very tempted to play a Sorcerer with Sylvan bloodline in my next campaign, for RP reasons, and this bloodle give me an animal companion...
My problem is that I never played a Druid or Ranger before, which means I have very few knowledge about animal companion alternative, and my DM would like to have some news of my character sheet very soon.
Thus... I need some help with the animal companion selection.

I have two important points to consider for my choice:

- Scout: the campaign will be mainly outdoor, and my party cruely lacks means a scout. We lack someone with the survival skill, and we have low perception scores, so it would be really helpful if my animal companion could be send forward to check whatever lies ahead on a regular basis.

- Combat: what my party doesn't lack however is people ready to go in melee combat, which means that if we ever get in a narrow place, it is going to be hard for everyone to strike foes. I would need a way for my animal companion to deal with it... I don't know if there are animals with reach, or ability to jump above the front line, or strike from range... I'm taking ideas on this point

PS: I'm only seeking help for the animal companion, I do not wish to consider another class/bloodline ATM, thanks for your understanding


If you're playing a small race, and the campaign is actually mostly outdoors, something that grows to medium sized and has flying would be a good choice. That way, you could ride the companion, and use it to both put your in the best position to cast your spells and minimize incoming attacks against your sorcerer.


Don’t count on an animal companion to scout things out. The problem is they are animals and have a very limited understanding of a lot of things. Since they do not talk, they also have a very limited means of communicating what they do understand. Since you do not have access to speak with animals your animal companion is not going to be able to let you know what it finds very well. Sure it can locate things and if it flies probably circle over them to let you know where they are. It will not be able to eavesdrop on conversations, give you details of what you are up against.


Mysterious Stranger wrote:
Don’t count on an animal companion to scout things out. The problem is they are animals and have a very limited understanding of a lot of things. Since they do not talk, they also have a very limited means of communicating what they do understand. Since you do not have access to speak with animals your animal companion is not going to be able to let you know what it finds very well. Sure it can locate things and if it flies probably circle over them to let you know where they are. It will not be able to eavesdrop on conversations, give you details of what you are up against.

I agree

If you have lots of Melee guys already you can look at flying mount options.

Dire Bat and Rocs are great.

I like Giant Geckos as mounts for spider climb as they can go anywhere.

Medium PCs can take Undersized Mount and ride Medium animals which helps them fit into dungeons.

Staying out of combat and raining down spells is a good way to do things. You can scout from the backs of them with Invisibility or Invisibility Sphere.


Keep in mind that Undersized Mount has an important drawback. Many things you'd ride don't have a huge strength score, and carrying your medium sized character (on a medium mount) with the character's gear is going to slow it down a lot. This is even more important for flying mounts, as having a medium or greater load prevents it from flying (can't fly while mounted in medium or heavy armor, and medium or heavy load counts as armor of the same amount).


Mysterious Stranger wrote:
Don’t count on an animal companion to scout things out. The problem is they are animals and have a very limited understanding of a lot of things. Since they do not talk, they also have a very limited means of communicating what they do understand. Since you do not have access to speak with animals your animal companion is not going to be able to let you know what it finds very well. Sure it can locate things and if it flies probably circle over them to let you know where they are. It will not be able to eavesdrop on conversations, give you details of what you are up against.

I was thinking to use the Totem Guide animal companion archetype to communicate with it.


The heron is an amazing flying mount. It is much more durable than most other flying mounts and is medium to start.

One of the best parts of playing a sylvan sorcerer is share spell on your companion. You can mirror image them, cast overland flight, ploymorph them into dragons, or get crazy with anthropomorphic animal and transformation.

Having an animal scout is just asking for it to be killed. If you don't have a scout use spells vanish, invis, invisibility sphere, greater invis, arcane eye.


The Totem Guide could work, but not until you are 6th level. But even then it is still an animal so will not be able to give all the information you may need. If you boost its INT up to at least 3 it will help a great deal, but it will still not be able to do everything a character could on scouting.

A familiar would actually work a lot better for this than an animal companion. They start with a much higher INT and starting at 5th level they can actually talk to their master. The animal companion is going to be a lot tougher in combat, but the familiar is going to make a lot better scout. Since a familiar uses can use either its own skill ranks or yours it will have a lot more skills. You also gain the benefits of alertness when the familiar is within arm’s reach. You also get a bonus on one skill when the familiar is within 1 mile. Choose a hawk and your own perception just went up by +5 when the familiar is with you.


Grandlounge wrote:
Having an animal scout is just asking for it to be killed. If you don't have a scout use spells vanish, invis, invisibility sphere, greater invis, arcane eye.

Certainly if you know where the enemy is in the first place... but if you start traveling and need your scout to spot potential threat down the road, you're likely to deplete your spellbook even before you reach the first encounter.

A simple bird animal companion will perform this task all day long, and free of charge... and even if it is spotted... who actualy ring the alarm just because he saw a bird fly in the sky?


Mysterious Stranger wrote:
A familiar would actually work a lot better for this than an animal companion. They start with a much higher INT and starting at 5th level they can actually talk to their master. The animal companion is going to be a lot tougher in combat, but the familiar is going to make a lot better scout. Since a familiar uses can use either its own skill ranks or yours it will have a lot more skills. You also gain the benefits of alertness when the familiar is within arm’s reach. You also get a bonus on one skill when the familiar is within 1 mile. Choose a hawk and your own perception just went up by +5 when the familiar is with you.

I know that already, but the bloodline I want to play is the Sylvan one, not the Arcane one.


Take the feat Eldritch Heritage and have both. This will require sill focus with any knowledge skill, but it would work Take two hawks on for combat on for scouting. Since the familiar will eventually be able to talk to the other hawk they could even team up for scouting missions.


The nature of skill checks in pathfinder mean scouting is highly likely to fail. There should be on perception check per enemy per action. A small bird may go unnoticed in a forest but not in dungeon, so even an animal scout is highly situational. As with most things redundancy is useful. Arcane eye can map a floor of a dungeon, often. Insect Scouts before bed with rope trick, keep watch, allows you to safely scout with no impact on the next days spells.

A figment familiar is the best option for an animal with high stealth but it has a limited range. Improved familiars are the kings as they have spell-like abilities to help.

Animal companions are small, at best, and have fewer than 1 skill rank a level. You would be forced to spend feats like skill focus to make the build work. A small cat could be vialable. High Dex, class skill, common enough, but it will get seen.

If this is the criteria "the true rule of scouting is not to not be seen" an animal companion is the worst option. They are also incapable of dealing with alarm, true seeing, realizing scent is present etc.

So, that all considered, I would still play the sylvan because they are awesome and fun and ride make using metamagic way easier. Use eldritch heritage to get a familiar, or play another bloodline and replace the first bloodline power. Then take improved familiar.


Well I certainly do it this way.
Eldritch Heritage (Arcane) for a scouting familiar, and taking a flying animal companion for attack.

I just wonder how exactly would combine a Roc with Flyby Attack with a spellcaster on his back?
Can you attack a target with the talons and throw a Fireball in a target from the roc's back during the same round?

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