Animal companions


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From dev comments late in the Paladin thread, we have some more info about how the Paladin mount works. Instead of summoning a random magic horse out of the ether, it looks like you actually upgrade an existing companion into the special companion. This opens a lot of potential, and room for speculation, re how the druid/ranger companion or wizard/witch familiar might work. Especially in conjunction with all monsters having levels now rather than hit dice and CR.

Maybe you no longer have to have an "approximation" of an animal raked over the coals for balance purposes. I'm guessing for animal companion, you can now just literally designate a fully built beast out of the Bestiary of your level or lower, not some weird puny version of that animal. And if the level is lower than yours, you advance it and give it abilities according to a universal animal companion table.

I'm guessing that at least Improved Familiar will work the same way. You just pick an eligible creature of your level or less, advance it and stack mystic connections on it.

We also now know there are feats in the CRB to improve a paladin mount with stuff like angel wings. I'm guessing similar "mutations" or "teamwork benefits" or the like might show up in the CRB for companions of other stripes as well. So we might not have to wait years for later supplements before we see anything of the sort.

That's all good news to me if I'm guessing everything reasonably correctly. A couple players at my table who favor pet classes will be happy at options both simultaneously streamlining and getting better. As the GM I will no longer be cheating quite so hard if I just give an NPC an animal out of the book because I didn't have time to run it through the companion table. And it would offer much more room for future expansion. :)

Also, in the Bestiary... They could literally just have a tag or icon by a creature's name, indicating it is selectable as a companion!


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If it is made like you said, it would be really cool. Especially like the leveling up bit and the tag idea.

What would be cooler would be that all types of tamed animals goes through the same process of "leveling up" to meet your character's level, not just animal companions, familiars and paladin mounts. Mounted characters tend to be really hard to play since normal mounts are easily killable when you reach high levels, and no player wants to take time taming a wild animal and making it a non-magical pet since it will quickly become useless in combat.


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Almarane wrote:

If it is made like you said, it would be really cool. Especially like the leveling up bit and the tag idea.

What would be cooler would be that all types of tamed animals goes through the same process of "leveling up" to meet your character's level, not just animal companions, familiars and paladin mounts. Mounted characters tend to be really hard to play since normal mounts are easily killable when you reach high levels, and no player wants to take time taming a wild animal and making it a non-magical pet since it will quickly become useless in combat.

I do remember reading that skills could grant you a companion now. So if people want to invest in this, any class should be able to get one.

The classical classes that get them already will probably still have the option to get ahead and get better ones by use of class features that boost the pets further. Like the paladin which seems to have some awesome stuff.

Silver Crusade

I wonder if we will have a druid preview that might help answer this?


Amaron Blackthorn wrote:
I wonder if we will have a druid preview that might help answer this?

I just want to place my vote over this-a-way for something that looks like a kirin for a paladin mount.

At the appropriate level, ofc.

Chaos Knights might get something inspired by the keketar.

...at the appropriate level, ofc.


I wonder if familiars might become a ritual (maybe feat dependent, maybe skill dependent) as well. Aladdin can't be the only rogue who fancies a skilled and more intelligent than usual monkey.


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

It would be nice if anyone can get an animal companion or familiar if they wanted. Though I wonder if it would actually be worth it in this system.


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Starfinder Charter Superscriber

I'm one of the nay-sayers who hates pets.

95% of wizards I've seen with familiars completely forget about them, and pick them only for the fixed mechanical bonus they provide.

Animal companions are either so strong they basically give the player an extra Fighter to run or so weak they're cannon fodder.

I know they're a part of the game and aren't going anywhere, so this is just me venting :)


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*Groan* You are going to make me dig through the Paladin threads, because now I know interesting mechanics are being discussed and not just circular arguments about alignment.

Silver Crusade

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Captain Morgan wrote:
*Groan* You are going to make me dig through the Paladin threads, because now I know interesting mechanics are being discussed and not just circular arguments about alignment.

Spare yourself! Just scroll through Mark Seifter's recent posts instead.

Friday's Twitch stream with Mark also had some material, including discussion of the righteous ally feature and confirmation that Paladin spellcasting is all via spellpoints rather than Vancian (but they get a lot of really cool abilities and tons of spell points so they're kind of "super spontaneous casters").

For the twitch stream, to get to the interesting info quickly I'd recommend skipping the first half hour or so since it's all recap of the blog and alignment stuff, and watching at 2x speed.


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PF2 was a perfect opportunity to drop Companions. Shame it was squandered... :(


Joe M. wrote:
Captain Morgan wrote:
*Groan* You are going to make me dig through the Paladin threads, because now I know interesting mechanics are being discussed and not just circular arguments about alignment.

Spare yourself! Just scroll through Mark Seifter's recent posts instead.

Friday's Twitch stream with Mark also had some material, including discussion of the righteous ally feature and confirmation that Paladin spellcasting is all via spellpoints rather than Vancian (but they get a lot of really cool abilities and tons of spell points so they're kind of "super spontaneous casters").

For the twitch stream, to get to the interesting info quickly I'd recommend skipping the first half hour or so since it's all recap of the blog and alignment stuff, and watching at 2x speed.

Good call! Lots of fun stuff in Mark's posts.

Quote:
PF2 was a perfect opportunity to drop Companions. Shame it was squandered... :(

While balancing companions can be very difficult, they are an incredibly fun RP addition to have around. And they tend to be incredibly fun for their player, too. It's usually the rest of the party that suffers, and sometimes the DM if balancing encounters becomes harder.

Liberty's Edge

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

Not to mention that it would be pretty hard to justify while keeping setting-continuity

Also PF2 seeks to add more options, not less ;-)

Silver Crusade

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Captain Morgan wrote:
Quote:
PF2 was a perfect opportunity to drop Companions. Shame it was squandered... :(
While balancing companions can be very difficult, they are an incredibly fun RP addition to have around. And they tend to be incredibly fun for their player, too. It's usually the rest of the party that suffers, and sometimes the DM if balancing encounters becomes harder.

Yeah, companions & summons in PF1 cause a lot of problems with balance, ease of play, and speed of play.

I'll be very interested to push the Playtest rules hard to see how they perform on this.


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Crayon wrote:
PF2 was a perfect opportunity to drop Companions. Shame it was squandered... :(

I think it's a perfect opportunity to drop MORE Companions in the game!!! Pets for everyone along with your mandatory familiar! ;)

I mean, do you want to make a paladin cry by selling it's horse?

Paizo Employee Designer

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Joe M. wrote:
Captain Morgan wrote:
*Groan* You are going to make me dig through the Paladin threads, because now I know interesting mechanics are being discussed and not just circular arguments about alignment.

Spare yourself! Just scroll through Mark Seifter's recent posts instead.

Friday's Twitch stream with Mark also had some material, including discussion of the righteous ally feature and confirmation that Paladin spellcasting is all via spellpoints rather than Vancian (but they get a lot of really cool abilities and tons of spell points so they're kind of "super spontaneous casters").

It's less that you have tons of Spell Points and more that each Spell Point goes a really long way for a paladin. Like a paladin can manage to gain powers with a low cost and equal to a top-level spell for a full caster. That's a big deal; most powers are in between a cantrip and a top-level spell for a full caster.


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Don't animal companions have only 2 actions and you have to take an action to "control" them?


Pathfinder Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Dragon78 wrote:
Don't animal companions have only 2 actions and you have to take an action to "control" them?

Yep, last we heard. We don’t have any details on what they do if you don’t spend an action, though.


Mark Seifter wrote:
Joe M. wrote:
Captain Morgan wrote:
*Groan* You are going to make me dig through the Paladin threads, because now I know interesting mechanics are being discussed and not just circular arguments about alignment.

Spare yourself! Just scroll through Mark Seifter's recent posts instead.

Friday's Twitch stream with Mark also had some material, including discussion of the righteous ally feature and confirmation that Paladin spellcasting is all via spellpoints rather than Vancian (but they get a lot of really cool abilities and tons of spell points so they're kind of "super spontaneous casters").

It's less that you have tons of Spell Points and more that each Spell Point goes a really long way for a paladin. Like a paladin can manage to gain powers with a low cost and equal to a top-level spell for a full caster. That's a big deal; most powers are in between a cantrip and a top-level spell for a full caster.

Most Paladins will probably have better than average spell points based on prioritizing charisma, no?

Silver Crusade

Captain Morgan wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:
Joe M. wrote:
Captain Morgan wrote:
*Groan* You are going to make me dig through the Paladin threads, because now I know interesting mechanics are being discussed and not just circular arguments about alignment.

Spare yourself! Just scroll through Mark Seifter's recent posts instead.

Friday's Twitch stream with Mark also had some material, including discussion of the righteous ally feature and confirmation that Paladin spellcasting is all via spellpoints rather than Vancian (but they get a lot of really cool abilities and tons of spell points so they're kind of "super spontaneous casters").

It's less that you have tons of Spell Points and more that each Spell Point goes a really long way for a paladin. Like a paladin can manage to gain powers with a low cost and equal to a top-level spell for a full caster. That's a big deal; most powers are in between a cantrip and a top-level spell for a full caster.
Most Paladins will probably have better than average spell points based on prioritizing charisma, no?

I'd have to go back and listen but I think what I was thinking of was the high charisma + extra spell points when you take a new power so the pool keeps growing. (That's a thing, right? Or is this all a misremembered hash?)


Joe M. wrote:
Captain Morgan wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:
Joe M. wrote:
Captain Morgan wrote:
*Groan* You are going to make me dig through the Paladin threads, because now I know interesting mechanics are being discussed and not just circular arguments about alignment.

Spare yourself! Just scroll through Mark Seifter's recent posts instead.

Friday's Twitch stream with Mark also had some material, including discussion of the righteous ally feature and confirmation that Paladin spellcasting is all via spellpoints rather than Vancian (but they get a lot of really cool abilities and tons of spell points so they're kind of "super spontaneous casters").

It's less that you have tons of Spell Points and more that each Spell Point goes a really long way for a paladin. Like a paladin can manage to gain powers with a low cost and equal to a top-level spell for a full caster. That's a big deal; most powers are in between a cantrip and a top-level spell for a full caster.
Most Paladins will probably have better than average spell points based on prioritizing charisma, no?
I'd have to go back and listen but I think what I was thinking of was the high charisma + extra spell points when you take a new power so the pool keeps growing. (That's a thing, right? Or is this all a misremembered hash?)

That's a thing, but I think it was said in the context of the clerox blog, so I'm not sure if it can be extrapolated out to the Paladin. Could be, though!


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

So what is this about the "power"..I mean spell pool growing?

Silver Crusade

Dragon78 wrote:
So what is this about the "power"..I mean spell pool growing?

Somewhere in the Cleric or Domain thread it was mentioned that when you select a new power (e.g., buy into a domain's advanced power), you got extra spell points as well. And I thought Mark mentioned that in the Twitch stream as part of explaining Paladin casting. That Paladins not only get really cool powers (as he reiterated here) but that the high Charisma and extra spell points each time you take. new power meant that you shouldn't be hurting for spell points. Or something like that.


Pathfinder Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Dragon78 wrote:
So what is this about the "power"..I mean spell pool growing?

Whenever you spend a feat on a new use for your spell points, it increases your pool of spell points. So a Paladin who invests in new spells (whatever the term is for those spotless spells) will have a large list of options and lots of points to spend on them. (I imagine occasionally action economy means you’d want to spend a feat or two on a more passive benefit like wings or a better weapon bond.)


Pathfinder Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Joe M. wrote:
Dragon78 wrote:
So what is this about the "power"..I mean spell pool growing?
Somewhere in the Cleric or Domain thread it was mentioned that when you select a new power (e.g., buy into a domain's advanced power), you got extra spell points as well. And I thought Mark mentioned that in the Twitch stream as part of explaining Paladin casting. That Paladins not only get really cool powers (as he reiterated here) but that the high Charisma and extra spell points each time you take. new power meant that you shouldn't be hurting for spell points. Or something like that.

I think the gist was more that Paladin powers (spells) are cheap. Ones that might cost another class Two spell points cost only one, and they tend to be on par with top level spells, rather than the usual standard of “better than cantrips, worse than top-level spells”.


Yep, basically, your Spell Points pool will be (CHA x nb of powers).
So if your CHA mod is +4 and you have 4 powers, you'll have 16 pts to spend.
What I wonder, is if the pool expend if your mod grow, but I would be more surprised if it didn't. Would be weird to end up with 21pts after getting your CHA to +5 and gaining a new power... would make calculating the pool a mess.

Silver Crusade

QuidEst wrote:
Joe M. wrote:
Dragon78 wrote:
So what is this about the "power"..I mean spell pool growing?
Somewhere in the Cleric or Domain thread it was mentioned that when you select a new power (e.g., buy into a domain's advanced power), you got extra spell points as well. And I thought Mark mentioned that in the Twitch stream as part of explaining Paladin casting. That Paladins not only get really cool powers (as he reiterated here) but that the high Charisma and extra spell points each time you take. new power meant that you shouldn't be hurting for spell points. Or something like that.
I think the gist was more that Paladin powers (spells) are cheap. Ones that might cost another class Two spell points cost only one, and they tend to be on par with top level spells, rather than the usual standard of “better than cantrips, worse than top-level spells”.

Okay, I went back to check what I was thinking of. The discussion of Paladin spellcasting starts at 46:22 in the Twitch stream. The specific part I was thinking of starts around 49:07. Here's a rough transcript. You'll see that the main point is what Mark reiterated above, but there was the passing mention of getting more spell points, which for some reason stuck in my mind.

Mark wrote:
. . . The way we handle it, actually—we buff up the Paladin spells by giving them really badass spells. They're still mostly Paladin-only, like they were in first edition, right—the Paladin had some that everybody could cast that they were getting and then these other ones that were secretly better that were Paladin-only—we just made them powers. And you just get a pretty robust spell point pool for a Paladin. They get some things that cost 1 spell point that sometimes other classes probably would have had to honestly pay 2 spell points for an ability that good. So they have an efficient pool. It almost makes the Paladins into super spontaneous casters. Because any spell you've got you can cast with your spell point pool, and it's always growing when you get new powers. So that lets us give you cooler powers right away . . .


Pathfinder Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Elfteiroh wrote:

Yep, basically, your Spell Points pool will be (CHA x nb of powers).

So if your CHA mod is +4 and you have 4 powers, you'll have 16 pts to spend.
What I wonder, is if the pool expend if your mod grow, but I would be more surprised if it didn't. Would be weird to end up with 21pts after getting your CHA to +5 and gaining a new power... would make calculating the pool a mess.

Pretty sure you’re wrong about that scaling. They mentioned higher level characters having over ten points, but your method gives that by level six. I’m guessing powers come with one or two points, not three or more.


QuidEst wrote:
Elfteiroh wrote:

Yep, basically, your Spell Points pool will be (CHA x nb of powers).

So if your CHA mod is +4 and you have 4 powers, you'll have 16 pts to spend.
What I wonder, is if the pool expend if your mod grow, but I would be more surprised if it didn't. Would be weird to end up with 21pts after getting your CHA to +5 and gaining a new power... would make calculating the pool a mess.
Pretty sure you’re wrong about that scaling. They mentioned higher level characters having over ten points, but your method gives that by level six. I’m guessing powers come with one or two points, not three or more.

Hum... I KNOW the initial pool you get when you get your first power is WIS for clerics... But yeah, they never say by how much getting new powers grow your pool... Maybe it's a flat number, but IMHO, I would find it weird.


Pathfinder Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Elfteiroh wrote:
QuidEst wrote:
Elfteiroh wrote:

Yep, basically, your Spell Points pool will be (CHA x nb of powers).

So if your CHA mod is +4 and you have 4 powers, you'll have 16 pts to spend.
What I wonder, is if the pool expend if your mod grow, but I would be more surprised if it didn't. Would be weird to end up with 21pts after getting your CHA to +5 and gaining a new power... would make calculating the pool a mess.
Pretty sure you’re wrong about that scaling. They mentioned higher level characters having over ten points, but your method gives that by level six. I’m guessing powers come with one or two points, not three or more.
Hum... I KNOW the initial pool you get when you get your first power is WIS for clerics... But yeah, they never say by how much getting new powers grow your pool... Maybe it's a flat number, but IMHO, I would find it weird.

The trouble there is that it’s quadratic growth with level, which they’re moving away from. Your version would give about eighty spell points at level 20 if you just focused on it. That’d be enough for 26 legendary weapons.


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Twenty Six Legendary Weapons sounds like an awesome title for a kungfu movie, or maybe a monk focused module.


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"Maybe you no longer have to have an "approximation" of an animal raked over the coals for balance purposes. I'm guessing for animal companion, you can now just literally designate a fully built beast out of the Bestiary of your level or lower, not some weird puny version of that animal."

Please let this be true. There's almost nothing in PF1 I liked less than the way animal companions worked. I played a hunter in PFS, with a small cat, and I was terrifically disappointed to realize my cat would never be able to achieve the basic stealth and climbing skills of the most ordinary member of its species. I'd have given up about half my class abilities just to give my animal companion the missing skills it could never achieve.

The most conspicuous lack in animal companion classes, IMO, is a feat or power or ability similar to what Mounted Combat does in PF1 for riders i.e. some way, via a check or a sacrifice on the character's part, of protecting the animal in battle, keeping your pet alive--without resorting to a spell.

I'd have happily given up my teamwork feats just to have some reliable way of protecting this animal I supposedly love, yet am constantly dragging into perilous circumstances.


Yolande d'Bar wrote:
I played a hunter in PFS, with a small cat, and I was terrifically disappointed to realize my cat would never be able to achieve the basic stealth and climbing skills of the most ordinary member of its species.

But it's not an ordinary member of its species when it becomes bonded to a PC. The animal gains a lot more than it loses in terms of combat functionality. Maybe not when you first acquire it, but once you get into the higher levels, your AC is far more formidable than a normal cat of its type. What's more, you are customizing it to suit your needs. It would not make sense for it to retain all the abilities of the same animal un-companioned.

Quote:
I'd have given up about half my class abilities just to give my animal companion the missing skills it could never achieve.

You can set it free, then use Wild Empathy on it. It's not going to follow your Handle Animal checks, but you might still get it to follow you around.

Quote:
The most conspicuous lack in animal companion classes, IMO, is a feat or power or ability similar to what Mounted Combat does in PF1 for riders i.e. some way, via a check or a sacrifice on the character's part, of protecting the animal in battle, keeping your pet alive--without resorting to a spell. I'd have happily given up my teamwork feats just to have some reliable way of protecting this animal I supposedly love, yet am constantly dragging into perilous circumstances.

That's probably because the A/C is viewed as a combat proxy for the Druid/Hunter (but not so much the Ranger). The class feature is not meant to be something the PC protects from harm, but something that protects the PC from harm. Keeping the animal out of harm is essentially contrary to the point of the companion as a class ability. Sure, you can play it that way, but that's not what the designers had in mind for the class ability.


Yolande d'Bar wrote:
I played a hunter in PFS, with a small cat, and I was terrifically disappointed to realize my cat would never be able to achieve the basic stealth and climbing skills of the most ordinary member of its species.

The Hunter companion can match "real" Small Cats at level 2 (3HD companion), since Animal Aspect bonus to Stealth is same as Racial bonus. Even without that, further HD ranks, automatic Stat boosts, Feats like Stealthy, and Skirmisher Tricks like Chameleon Step and Skill Sage can boost it way beyond a normal cat. Skirmisher Trick Quick Climb grants superior Climb Speed (25' vs 20'), and even without that Climb bonus is addressable via Aspects/Feats/HD Ranks/StatBonus.

Yolande d'Bar wrote:
The most conspicuous lack in animal companion classes, IMO, is a feat or power or ability similar to what Mounted Combat does in PF1 for riders i.e. some way, via a check or a sacrifice on the character's part, of protecting the animal in battle, keeping your pet alive--without resorting to a spell. I'd have happily given up my teamwork feats just to have some reliable way of protecting this animal I supposedly love, yet am constantly dragging into perilous circumstances.

You have the +4AC from Back to Back and the Duck and Cover Teamwork Feat chain for Reflex, atop benefits of better Saves, Hit Points, AC, inherent Stat Boosts, Armor, Amulets and other Feats Companion may take, as well as Skirmisher Tricks like Bolster Companion, Heel, and Surprise Shift.

Really, this is nothing special, it's just applying the automatic HD skill ranks towards stuff you prioritize along with Stat/AC/Save boosts, and using the Animal Aspect and Skirmisher Tricks the class pushes in your face, although fact the latter and Teamwork feats aren't all in same place can be a pain.

N N 959 wrote:
Quote:
I'd have given up about half my class abilities just to give my animal companion the missing skills it could never achieve.
You can set it free, then use Wild Empathy on it. It's not going to follow your Handle Animal checks, but you might still get it to follow you around.

AFAIK, there is no limitation to Handle Animal applying only to Companions, the latter just often have bonus to check and bonus tricks. Certainly if it's friendly/helpful after Wild Empathy you can use HA on 'normal' animals just fine (rules aren't clear on this requirement, but it can be inferred as implicit thru similarity to Diplomacy). Non-Companion class PCs doing just that with purchased/wild animals is perfectly normal for that reason (and why PFS went out of it's way to ban larger animal purchases).


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Quandary, I shall trust you that it's possible in a level or two to get the small cat up to the skills of the animal in the Bestiary, but--as a non-optimizing player who makes no claim to system mastery--when I was sitting there leveling up, I could never figure out any way to get the cat's skills anywhere near the wild variant.

Maybe the problem is that the class is pushing my animal companion into a combat role, and what I wanted was a stealthy, climbing scout type animal—you know, a cat—but with getting one tiny skill point each level for ten levels I just couldn't ever seem to make my cat seem like an actual cat.

I'd have honestly preferred to have been told, Small cats, because of their skills, are so very powerful that only an x lvl hunter can have one as her companion, so you must wait to choose that animal. I'd have gladly waited and I'd have really looked forward to it--as long as, when I got the cat, it was actually as good at sneaking and climbing as cats are.

N N 959, I hear what you're saying, but doesn't anyone playing a hunter want to have her companion be as competent as a real animal at basic stuff like swimming or hiding? I don't care about AC, atks, pounce, all that crap. I just wanted the skills. I felt like my animal companion was a poorly-made robot imitation of an animal.

(I mean, I could use Summon Nature's Ally to get animals that were so much more competent than my freakin' animal companion at stealth, for instance. It felt weird.)

I'm sure the rules as they are allow for more combat-worthy animals, but don't you think most players of a animal pet class kind of want to have an animal actually competent at the things animals do?

Animal companions are more skill-starved than fighters.


NN959 wrote:
You can set it free, then use Wild Empathy on it. It's not going to follow your Handle Animal checks, but you might still get it to follow you around.

Let me clarify. Once freed, the animal no longer knows any tricks. So you essentially don't have any DC 10 HA commands. If you succeed on a WE check, you'll have to "push" it as a full round action (DC 25 across the board), because it is no longer your companion, and because it's no longer a companion, you're not getting the +4 you'd normally get.

Quandary wrote:
Certainly if it's friendly/helpful after Wild Empathy you can use HA on 'normal' animals just fine (rules aren't clear on this requirement, but it can be inferred as implicit thru similarity to Diplomacy).

YMMV.

Quandary wrote:
Non-Companion class PCs doing just that with purchased/wild animals is perfectly normal for that reason (and why PFS went out of it's way to ban larger animal purchases).

Wild animals have a starting attitude of "unfriendly." Diplomacy rules require a creature to be indifferent before you can make any requests. Ergo, you can't use HA on wild animals, not even if you push them. So buying a wild animal shouldn't allow one to do anything with it unless you can make a Wild Empathy check, which you can't unless you have it as a class feature or via some feat e.g. wildling. Diplomacy/Charisma checks are not allowed as a substitute for Wild Empathy.


Yolande d'Bar wrote:
N N 959, I hear what you're saying, but doesn't anyone playing a hunter want to have her companion be as competent as a real animal at basic stuff like swimming or hiding?

As stated, that isn't really the intention for the animal companion. You can have a "pet" by simply using call animal in the appropriate setting, using Wild Empathy, and then training it.

If this is for PFS, I'm not sure if you can buy a wild animal like a small cat. However, my PFS Ranger purchased a hawk which I use as a scout, but never in combat.

Quote:
I don't care about AC, atks, pounce, all that crap. I just wanted the skills. I felt like my animal companion was a poorly-made robot imitation of an animal. ***Animal companions are more skill-starved than fighters.

Yeah, that is more along the lines of a familiar than a companion. What you can do is put your animal's ability modifiers in INT and choose things like Skill Focus. That can help out. But I agree, the AC's really suffer on the skills front. I was appalled to find out Survival is not a class skill *facepalm*. But I can kind of let that slide since they don't have that normally (must be a lot of cold and hungry animals in Golarion).

Quote:
I'm sure the rules as they are allow for more combat-worthy animals, but don't you think most players of a animal pet class kind of want to have an animal actually competent at the things animals do?

No. Wild animals are not competent as adventurers, that's not what they do. They wouldn't otherwise enter dungeons, crypts, or non-Material Planes. They wouldn't travel out of their normal environment. So for me, it's appropriate for the transformation into a companion to also rob them of some of their normalcy.

Let me offer you a trick: Whenever I'm in a PFS scenario where animals might be present e.g. rats in a city, birds in forest, I use Wild Empathy and a speak with animals wand to convince them to do things for me e.g. scout sewers, follow suspects, carry packages, etc.


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Yolande d'Bar wrote:

Maybe the problem is that the class is pushing my animal companion into a combat role, and what I wanted was a stealthy, climbing scout type animal—you know, a cat—but with getting one tiny skill point each level for ten levels I just couldn't ever seem to make my cat seem like an actual cat.

*****

I'm sure the rules as they are allow for more combat-worthy animals, but don't you think most players of a animal pet class kind of want to have an animal actually competent at the things animals do?

Pretty sure actual cats don't scout for their owners. Good luck to you in getting your pet cat trained to do so.

Animal Companions are supposed to be in a combat role normally. If you want something else, look at the companion archetypes.


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Nobody else thinks it's lame that animal companions aren't good for anything except as attack robots?

I feel like there are a lot of literary and film versions of this archetype that are more interesting than the Pathfinder version. And I can't think of one of them in which the companion animal is incompetent at just being the kind of animal it is.

But, since I seem to be alone in this opinion, I shall retreat from the field. . . .


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I had a bat companion function as a radar once. Saved us from the sneaky stabbers until it was struck by lightning.
That DM was kind of a butt...

Dark Archive

I'm with Yolande here: who says that animal companions "should" be in any particular role? As is, most of the companion's are actually pretty terrible at combat, and are also worse at being their animal type.
Sure, animal companions can be in a combat role, but with so many to choose from, I'm hoping that PF2 opens up a wider range of options for what they can do (which, given they're designing animals with more appropriate species-specific abilities, I'd say is a definite possibility)

I play a lot of animal companions, and I don't like that they feel pigeonholed into a combat role, as it makes me feel reluctant to choose many of the companions in favour of choices like the wolf, the cats or the deinonychus. Why can I not play with my hawk as a scout with good vision (when a base familiar is better at the role than the animal companion?) The hawk and falcon animal companions don't even get bonuses to Perception, despite the falcon being described in UW as having "amazing eyesight".

I for one hope that animal companions are made more diverse and their unique abilities deepened so you can feel different having a big cat as opposed to a deinonychus, or actually feel like choosing a falcon will give you some benefit for the thing the falcon is supposedly good at.


The falcon companion's lousy eyesight is another great example.


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Wolventad wrote:

I'm with Yolande here: who says that animal companions "should" be in any particular role? As is, most of the companion's are actually pretty terrible at combat, and are also worse at being their animal type.

Sure, animal companions can be in a combat role, but with so many to choose from, I'm hoping that PF2 opens up a wider range of options for what they can do (which, given they're designing animals with more appropriate species-specific abilities, I'd say is a definite possibility)

I play a lot of animal companions, and I don't like that they feel pigeonholed into a combat role, as it makes me feel reluctant to choose many of the companions in favour of choices like the wolf, the cats or the deinonychus. Why can I not play with my hawk as a scout with good vision (when a base familiar is better at the role than the animal companion?) The hawk and falcon animal companions don't even get bonuses to Perception, despite the falcon being described in UW as having "amazing eyesight".

I for one hope that animal companions are made more diverse and their unique abilities deepened so you can feel different having a big cat as opposed to a deinonychus, or actually feel like choosing a falcon will give you some benefit for the thing the falcon is supposedly good at.

Weeeeell... Stats and skills aren't really even the biggest disadvantage animals have over familiars for scouting. The familiar shares an empathetic link with it's master and has the ability to speak with the master. Unless you have Speak with Animals, no amount of skill ranks will ever make an animal companion a better scout. And that's before you get into various Improved Familiar magic powers that help for espionage.

I'm not saying you shouldn't be able to do those things with an animal companion, but it seems like the question you really gotta answer first is "How magical is this bond?" Because the answer has to be "pretty magical" to make it work.

I wouldn't hate it if animal companions had a combat track and a more familiar like track they could explore. I love the Improved 5e Familiars. Those little spies have been MVP for me more than once.

EDIT: Also, it feels worth mentioning that familiars aren't very hard to come by in PF1. Lots of classes get them, lots of archetypes let other classes get them, and there are at least 3 feats that let you get them. If you want a non-beat stick pet there's lots of ways to get it. I'd be fine with them being even easier to get in PF2.


Yolande d'Bar wrote:
Nobody else thinks it's lame that animal companions aren't good for anything except as attack robots?

In general, no. Most people who take classes with full HD companions are doing so with the expectation that their companion will be serviceable in combat, especially once buffed.

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I feel like there are a lot of literary and film versions of this archetype that are more interesting than the Pathfinder version.

I wasn't aware Pathfinder is under obligation to replicate popular tropes. More to the point, you're only looking at it from your perspective: you want what makes your game better, irrespective of how that affects other PCs.

One of the design constraints/considerations that companions have to work under is that a player can't have two characters. You're essentially asking for you to have two full PCs at your disposal. That isn't fair to others at the table. The companion/familiar, by design, cannot be as interesting or as complete as another PC. To put it another way, the companion is intended to be two-dimensional.

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And I can't think of one of them in which the companion animal is incompetent at just being the kind of animal it is.

Good fiction =/= Good gameplay. There are many things we enjoy in fiction that cannot translate to a game.


Ooooh, wait, Hunters get the ability to speak to their companion, and the empathetic link of the familiar, AND the ability to see through the animal companion's eyes! So for Hunters who pick hawks or small cats or whatever, yeah their skills falling behind the familiar's suck a little. Except you get flexible all day buffs from Hunter's focus that I imagine should more than make up for it.

So it seems like the answer to having a scouting pet is "be a hunter" or "get a familiar." :)


Captain Morgan wrote:

Weeeeell... Stats and skills aren't really even the biggest disadvantage animals have over familiars for scouting. The familiar shares an empathetic link with it's master and has the ability to speak with the master. Unless you have Speak with Animals, no amount of skill ranks will ever make an animal companion a better scout. And that's before you get into various Improved Familiar magic powers that help for espionage.

I'm not saying you shouldn't be able to do those things with an animal companion, but it seems like the question you really gotta answer first is "How magical is this bond?" Because the answer has to be "pretty magical" to make it work.

I wouldn't hate it if animal companions had a combat track and a more familiar like track they could explore. I love the Improved 5e Familiars. Those little spies have been MVP for me more than once.

EDIT: Also, it feels worth mentioning that familiars aren't very hard to come by in PF1. Lots of classes get them, lots of archetypes let other classes get them, and there are at least 3 feats that let you get them. If you want a non-beat stick pet there's lots of ways to get it. I'd be fine with them being even easier to get in PF2.

It'd be nice if there was a feat that, if you had access to an animal companion, upgraded it to also be a familiar; or vice versa. So you have your companion, who is also as smart as a familiar and can communicate with you. Without having to resort to rules kludges and the Awaken Animal spell/ritual and so forth.


Wolventad wrote:
I'm with Yolande here: who says that animal companions "should" be in any particular role?

You mean apart from the people who designed the game?

As I've stated several times and Captain Morgan reiterates, the role Yolande is describing is that of a familiar. 3.5 designed the familiar to be a skill compliment and the companion to be a combat compliment. It's no more appropriate to complain about the companion not acting as a familiar as it is the familiar not acting as a companion.

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As is, most of the companion's are actually pretty terrible at combat, and are also worse at being their animal type.

They are not. Some companions are intended to be mounts, some are more appropriate for specific settings. The problem isn't that the average pet is bad, the problem is that a select few are just flat out better at combat, especially when buffed, and this makes the rest of them look subpar. Remember, the companion is meant to be a buffer for a full caster, so if you make it sufficient to stand on its own without the aid of a caster, the caster pushes it over the top.

Quote:
Sure, animal companions can be in a combat role, but with so many to choose from, I'm hoping that PF2 opens up a wider range of options for what they can do (which, given they're designing animals with more appropriate species-specific abilities, I'd say is a definite possibility)

And that would infringe upon the specific design space of a familiar. I vote Paizo keeps them separate. You want a scout, you play a class with a familiar. You want combat, you play a class with a companion.

Quote:
Why can I not play with my hawk as a scout with good vision (when a base familiar is better at the role than the animal companion?) The hawk and falcon animal companions don't even get bonuses to Perception, despite the falcon being described in UW as having "amazing eyesight".

The work around is to buy it as a trained pet. You still get to use HA.

Quote:
I for one hope that animal companions are made more diverse and their unique abilities deepened so you can feel different having a big cat as opposed to a deinonychus, or actually feel like choosing a falcon will give you some benefit for the thing the falcon is supposedly good at.

That's a great idea in theory, but it works like crap in practice. The designers have to be on guard against making any particular companion "better" than the others. They also have to watch out for convergence: places where a specific set of abilities combine with another set of abilities makes the sum more powerful than the parts. The more moving parts you have on an ability, the more exploits you create. Remember, the companions cannot be the equivalent of another PC in combat or out of it and several can arguably exceed martials in combat.

In addition, I don't want companions allowing Druids/Hunters to be skill monkeys or exceed at set of skill normally reserved for other classes via their companions.


Fuzzypaws wrote:
Captain Morgan wrote:

Weeeeell... Stats and skills aren't really even the biggest disadvantage animals have over familiars for scouting. The familiar shares an empathetic link with it's master and has the ability to speak with the master. Unless you have Speak with Animals, no amount of skill ranks will ever make an animal companion a better scout. And that's before you get into various Improved Familiar magic powers that help for espionage.

I'm not saying you shouldn't be able to do those things with an animal companion, but it seems like the question you really gotta answer first is "How magical is this bond?" Because the answer has to be "pretty magical" to make it work.

I wouldn't hate it if animal companions had a combat track and a more familiar like track they could explore. I love the Improved 5e Familiars. Those little spies have been MVP for me more than once.

EDIT: Also, it feels worth mentioning that familiars aren't very hard to come by in PF1. Lots of classes get them, lots of archetypes let other classes get them, and there are at least 3 feats that let you get them. If you want a non-beat stick pet there's lots of ways to get it. I'd be fine with them being even easier to get in PF2.

It'd be nice if there was a feat that, if you had access to an animal companion, upgraded it to also be a familiar; or vice versa. So you have your companion, who is also as smart as a familiar and can communicate with you. Without having to resort to rules kludges and the Awaken Animal spell/ritual and so forth.

Honestly, I'm not sure such an option doesn't already exist. There's a lot of content for familiars and animal companions. There's a feat for giving animal companions the spirit ability of the Shaman familiar, seems like there's gotta be something for this other stuff.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Captain Morgan wrote:

Ooooh, wait, Hunters get the ability to speak to their companion, and the empathetic link of the familiar, AND the ability to see through the animal companion's eyes! So for Hunters who pick hawks or small cats or whatever, yeah their skills falling behind the familiar's suck a little. Except you get flexible all day buffs from Hunter's focus that I imagine should more than make up for it.

So it seems like the answer to having a scouting pet is "be a hunter" or "get a familiar." :)

Or be a summoner. Eidolons can be skill monkeys.


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Pathfinder Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Captain Morgan wrote:
Unless you have Speak with Animals, no amount of skill ranks will ever make an animal companion a better scout.

I asked if you'd be able to get a talking cat in one of the Friday Twitch streams, and they said that Druids and Rangers would get some sort of option along those lines for their animal companion.

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