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I have purchased the Pathfinder version of The Noble Wild from Paizo as found here: http://paizo.com/products/btpy8d08
It appears there are various threads on the book as well as some input from the author, Lee Garvin who appears on the message board, but does not appear to be active lately.
Reflecting on the book, it doesn't appear very "Pathfinder-y." I'm new to D&D in general, and very new to Pathfinder, but the tone of the book does not seem to tie in with Pathfinder lore. I understand it wasn't originally written with Pathfinder in mind, and it was meant more as a 3.5e splat-book. As I understand it, the numbers were 'tweaked' just to make it mesh better with Pathfinder, and that's about it. I don't mind being corrected on this perception, I'm simply trying to get a feel for where my perception of Noble Wild does not seem to mesh with my perception of PFRPG.
Part of the problem is the "Serve or Challenge" question posted as a 'primary law' for Noble animals. To the Orc: Serve or Challenge Humans! Uhm... no. To the Humans: Serve or Challenge Elves! I don't think so. The Noble Wild character I have in mind is a ferret. Rather my personna is that of a ferret. I do not serve humans, I do not challenge them. To my ferret ears the "Serve or Challenge" question was posed by some moron God who simply lacks a clue on what *MY* interests are, and said deity can go take a flying leap back into the void it crawled out of. I don't 'serve' humanoids, though I may join them where we have mutual benefit, or I may choose to hire one or negotiate a contract with one. I certainly have better things to do than 'challenge' them.
The 'magic transparency' issue seems rather odd to me as well, unless it is some aspect of, "We can't let humanoids know we exist!" Well, we do. I'm me, and I don't give a rat's backside who knows I'm 'awakened', or whatever it is you two-legged creatures call it. If Noble animals exist at all, certainly as described in, "The Noble Wild", then while it may not be 'common' knowledge, the notion of trying to keep it a 'secret' is damned silly and it is a waste of my time. Don't waste my time.
So the aspect of magic of Noble Animals being transparent compared to any other arcane power feels horribly unnatural. It's the same magic that does the same thing.
There are various other aspects to the book, but the reason I started this thread was to see who reading the boards has an interest in the topic, and perhaps may share some of my concerns. The ferret persona comes very natural to me and I have a very good idea of how my ferret PC would view things. What I would like, somehow, is to have some sort of map or plan that takes The Noble Wild and modifies the content in a reasonable way that makes it a natural extension of the Pathfinder world. Some way that when you look at the whole thing, one would go, "Why yes, of course this makes sense in the Pathfinder campaign setting." The Noble Wild doesn't quite seem to be there, yet that is where I would like my ferret PC to be.
Thank you for considering this with me, and perhaps Lee Garvin would take an interest in this towards a new Pathfinder edition of his book that is well received by the Pathfinder community.
I'm not sure what 'Dot' means, but I'll go with it. :)
I think what I'll end up doing is dissect the book in general terms without quoting specifics... we *do* want people to *BUY* the silly thing, after all, and I have no interest in violating copyright. But I very much want the feel and sense of "Noble Wild" to be as if it were either always a part of Pathfinder lore, or as if The Gods Must Be Joking/ Allowed New Magic or something for select animals, or some new form of arcane, or something. I plan to chew on this one carefully, hope it catches Lee Garvin's attention and input, and otherwise I would really like to see something 'good' become 'fantastic', at least as far as sentient PC animals go in Pathfinder lore.
But that isn't something I can do tonight, I'll just have to work on it bits at a time.
--I am Romaq, and as a PC I'm a common ferret with Just a Little More.
Dot means I was planning on reading back over this because it seemed interesting.
So I am guessing this book is more of an Ideas book less than a include everything book. And might allow for a Lion King, Narnia, and/or
Kingdom Hearts based campaign.
If only I had the 17$... Don't suppose the content is available for free?
Ah. Well, the book is a 'splat-book', classes, spells and features to allow for vastly more powerful familiars, PC animals, PC animals with *humanoid* familiars, classes, prestige classes, magic spells and four brief stories that suggest how a campaign might work using the rules.
The PDF is available on Paizo for sale as well as the dead-tree copy. If the content is available 'free' it isn't legal. My Paizo copy is watermarked.
As a splat-book, the feel of the content is 3.5e-ish. It has no references to 3.5e or Pathfinder dieties, just a reference to "The Gods." The last story presented very much feels like "Lion King". Other stories are more like "Narnia", "Rats of NIMH" and "Charlotte's Web" depending upon what degree of interaction the story has with humanoids as a way to show how to approach a campaign.
So the trick for me here will be to present an approach to the material, suggested changes to mechanics and so on so it has more a fit with the Pathfinder flavor. It would be like having Michael Whelan's fantasy art show up in Pathfinder books. It's nice enough, but the style difference is too jarring.
(EDIT: Shouldn't post before morning coffee)
Start with page 11,"... born of a special bloodline... " I think this is a mistake. If Noble Animals must be born, it implies a secret heritage that must be protected. If the gods directly intervene at whim, it is no longer a secret heritage issue to protect, and any secrecy is a matter of choice. The Ferret has his own agenda and protecting some secret animal cabal is not on the list.
In this light, any animal at any point may have direct divine or arcane magic intervention by a number of venues. A dragon gets friendly with a donkey? You get a sorceress donkey and a cease & desist from an animation studio. Lady Desna watches a ferret dance with joy, then grants him the will and wit of a human being. The death of a powerful druid grants her wolf familiar the mind and power to carry out an important mission. This has a better fit in my opinion, and no secret animal cabal to protect.
But the most important gift given the noble beasts was a question: Will you serve or Challenge? - page 15
Since the origin of each Noble Animal varies, this 'gift' may please go away. Each Noble Creature has their own agenda unique to its origin and background.
The second law, sometimes more observed in the breaking than the keeping, is this: You shall not prey upon your fellow nobles, no matter their species.-- If there is no power of enforcement, if you can't make an order you expect to be obeyed, you don't have a law, you have a joke. This goes away. Same goes for the last law, the origin of the Noble Animal makes this go away.
Ugh. I did those last two notes using a tablet while trying to get to sleep, but it was the only time I could work on it to at least put down my thoughts. One of the things from the 3.5e core rulebooks and other books I've seen is the sidebar. It is helpful to have the side-bar explain why certain design choices were made. Perhaps it would help to know why the "Noble Animal Bloodline" was given as such, or that it requires a secret cabal to maintain it. Side-bars would also tend to have variant rules. Perhaps a refactoring of Noble Wild for Pathfinder could include something like this? As I looked at Noble Wild reviews, others did not care for these aspects of the book either. If you are going to do an Animal Only/ no humanoids campaign, perhaps a Noble Bloodline makes sense. But I would prefer a well worked out variant in the book that does away the "Serve or Challenge" line yet still accomplishes the effect Lee Garvin had in mind without the Secret Animal Cabal. The same for those 'laws' which appear to have no enforcement mechanism. Indeed, while stating the second law of predation, Lee Garvin writes, "You shall not prey" and then makes predation a mechanism for getting new feats as well as openly admitting the law is violated as much as it appears to be observed. If it is not enforceable and you do not expect it to be obeyed, it is *not* a law!
Next in the book are the species and how they work as classes. I'm going to take the ferret one, since that is my particular interest. When I am using the tablet, the posts will have to be shorter. I found there is no 'undo' on my tablet keyboard, so one mistake ruins things. :(
Ok! I am looking over natural weapons on page 16. The baseline traits and mechanics look fine. In the case of The Ferret, http://www.cypresskeep.com/Ferretfiles/Vision.htm appears to have good information about ferret eyesight. I would suggest in this general section to know or learn about your animal species. If you are looking for killer stats, go watch the Dungeon Bastard Guide to Racial Profiling, @ http://www.dungeonbastard.com/?cat=7 . A good question to consider: what is your Kryptonite? I imagine using sidelong glances to talk with other players and doing without my eye glasses, as I am horribly near-sighted.
Thanks for buying The Noble Wild; I was overall pleased with how it came out.
As far as your questions go, let me take a stab at them:
NW was intended to be a sort of "toolbox" supplement, allowing you to take what you like and play with it in your own way, building as you go. In that respect, the very thin world-building I did was more an attempt to show an example of what one could accomplish. One of my chief inspirations was, of course, Narnia; hence the talking-animals-as-specific-bloodline thing. I thought this was important because it made the characters remote from the experiences of a human of the 21st century, but made them different enough from the other (non noble) animals so that you didn't have the moral quandary of having to eat someone who was begging you quite clearly in your own language not to.
The "Serve or Challenge" question is again, just a tool. Think of as a litmus test for your character's philosophy: Do you bedevil the two-legs around you by stealing all of their shinies because you think they don't deserve them? Or because you think they have good taste, and want them to know you think so?
As far as Magical Transparency goes; yes, this is the most unpopular and most ignored element of the book. I included it because I imagined a GM introducing NW to an ongoing campaign and trying to explain why, if magical talking animals existed, the world at large seemed entirely unaware of them. I thought that if their magic occupied a different stratosphere, as it were, the question would not be so awkward. This was also a reason for making the Noble Animals rare: Not every Lion you ever run across is Aslan, nor every horse Shadofax.
If Magical Transparency doesn't suit you, just don't use it.
As far as the perceived "toothlessness" of the three laws, well that would be up to the local Noble's council, and how they decided to run things. The whole purpose of the third law is to gather and discuss disputes, which would include violations of the first and second laws.
Imagine if you will:
The council is called and the Stag King calls the gathered animals to order. It appears Roohga, the alligator, has declared himself "god of the river," and is eating any who venture near, natural and Noble alike. This is clearly a violation of the second law, and must be dealt with. Volunteers are called for; enter the PCs.
At another council, a coyote is reprimanded because his "service" to a particular family of gnomes has driven one of them mad. He must now explain his actions. The coyote, in the fashion of his kind, spins a tale explaining how it is sometimes necessary to be cruel to be kind, and that the family is all the stronger now that they know their own limits. Depending on how charming and persuasive he is, the Stag King might order him to make reparations to the gnomes, choose a new group of humanoids to "serve", or to finally admit that he has been "challenging" the entire time.
Ultimately, it's intended to be a societal pressure, and nothing more. Think about how may blatantly illegal actions your human and elven characters perform on a regular basis!
I hope this answers some of your questions. If I missed anything, or if you have others, please continue this thread!
Thank you for responding! The one thing I could wish for in a "second edition" of the book is to have 'side bars' separate from the main text to explain things you just said, along with alternate versions. Just in reading it as is, I'm inclined to attempt to take the whole smash 'as is', even though that may not quite be your intention.
I do not yet have a GM willing to seriously consider allowing me a ferret PC, though if I could get them to seriously consider it, I would be quite pleased to buy them their copy of the book for material. Bribery, if you will. I just need to sort out at least in my own mind how The Ferret would work in the context of the Pathfinder world.
I understand what the bloodline aspect is attempting to do, in both the rarity and uniqueness of a PC animal as well as so you don't have to argue with your dinner. In the context of 'side-bar' text, I would recommend alternate explanations, particularly those that may fit more easily in the Pathfinder world. I don't know if you could talk with the authors of the Pathfinder Tales novels, such as Robin D. Laws or Dave Gross, I'm not sure who "The Keeper Of The Lore" would be at Paizo. But a 'secret animal bloodline' does not seem to feel right in the Pathfinder context. Not the least of which is that such a secret would appear likely to me to be 'outed' long, long ago. So what way could this happen that we could, at least in theory, see this in a Pathfinder Tales novel? My desire of a Pathfinder game is participating in something like, "If I wrote all this down, it would be a Pathfinder Tale." And that is my hope with this thread, tweaking things to where I could see, at least in my own mind, such a beast. :)
'Serve or Challenge' is ok as an optional rule, but as I stated before I would see Noble Animals as having their own agenda for which "server or challenge" simply doesn't show up on their radar.
I do have other things I'm struggling with, particularly in the nature of boons and such. I plan to continue my discussions of those within this thread. And thank you for understanding that it is not my intent to disrespect your work, but to grapple with the material to a point where I can see, at least in my own mind, "The Ferret" as a serious character in a Pathfinder Tales story *and* within a Pathfinder game. Thank you for your work towards that end, and for the opportunity to discuss this with you. :)
I'm somewhat interested in PbP, unfortunately if my backside is in the chair I have a huge stack-o-stuff I have to do. I use Pathfinder/ D&D so my wife and I have an evening out with real life people. We don't do the bar-hopping/ sports thing, we don't go to church, so...
Back on topic after we get back from appointments and meeting with a Pathfinder Society GM about setting up our own PFS play. Unfortunately, when his games are while we work, we're only available when he's working. :(
I bought Noble Wild to make a Wolf Ranger PC (with a halfling companion). The Pdf is updated, but there are still a lot of errors in it. I had to look through the threads to find out that the starting stats for the wolf are wrong (same error in both the 3.5e & the PF version).
I like the species, class changes, skills & feats. The boons (& Grant spells) and magic items (fetishes, jujus, etc) are a bit confusing and could use more descriptive information.
One thing that annoyed me is the 'Noble Wild' type. How do you treat these animals for templates and spells? They are not animals, magical beasts or humanoids. Was never answered as far as I could see.