Seemingly OP PCs


Advice

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I've recently started GMing a Pathfinder game with a group of friends, one of whom knows the system far better than I do. He has made a druid character whose companion (a Stegosaurus) apparently has an AC of 24 at Lvl 1. While there seems to be nothing wrong with his working (+6 nat armor, +4 dex, +4 hide armor) this seems very overpowered compared to the rest of the party. Similarly, he claims that at Lvl 2 he can acquire a feat for his companion that gives it DR 4/-. This also seems somewhat OP (considering heavy adamantine armor gives DR 3/-), and I can't find any feat which could have this effect. Are there any rulings which contradict what he has said, and if not any advice on how to properly balance encounters for this power level vs the rest of the party, bearing in mind everyone else is a standard Lvl 1 character?


Make sure his stego has taken the feats for light and medium armor proficiency or else it'll be eating a -3 to every attack roll it makes. (On second thought, animal companions only have one feat at first level unless I'm missing something?) I don't know about a feat that would give a creature DR4/-, and if it exists I'd like to see it.

As far as balancing fights goes, "an animal will attack only humanoids, monstrous humanoids, giants, or other animals" unless the druid uses up a trick slot, so the stego will be mostly useless against undead, constructs, aberrations, etc until he does. Remember that you decide how his animal companion acts; the druid has to make his HA checks to influence his dinosaur pal's behavior and otherwise it acts like (maybe a particularly loyal) stegosaurus.


I'm not sure if Animal Companions can wear Hide Armor actually. Don't they need Barding instead?

As for the feat, I think it's Spirit's Gift. It checks out. Animal Companions are pretty powerful early on.


Spirit's Gift was nerfed in the ACG errata.


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What was said above. Make sure it's actually taking the -3 on every attack roll. And also make sure its slowed down to 20ft movement speed in combat. Make sure he paid for barding instead of regular armor. DR thing is legit, but he has no way of getting a feat at level 2 as a druid. But it's only 1 time per day, and lasts 1min/lvl.

In the end, it's vulnerable to the same thing all other characters are. Disable it and it's fancy armor means nothing. Animal companions have garbage will saves.

Really though, if it becomes a serious issue where all of your other players are feeling left out, take him aside and talk to him person to person. Ask him to scale it back a bit.


Okay, so step 1 is "it's not our job to prove or disprove something exists. If a player says they can do X, it's up to them to prove they can do X." Then you need to decide whether it's from an approved source (the stuff that looks overpowered also tends to be from the softcover setting line, not always allowed automatically) and whether you approve. That being said, it's entirely possible that something like that exists (though I don't think the DR would be that high). From Evolved Companion most likely. Though I'm curious how he's taking the feat at level 2, as only his companion gets a feat at level 2 (and that's from a very limited list). If he gives it 3 Int it can pick from the full list but only with the approval of the GM. So if you don't want him to take the feat with his animal companion, you can just say no. If it's a feat for the druid himself he can't take it until 3 and is reducing his own power (by not taking crafting or metamagic feats) to make his companion better, and that's fine. Either way, I doubt a feat that gives the person who takes the feat DR 4/- exists since every non-barbarian ever would be taking it. It's probably something with "animal companion class feature" as a requirement, so only the druid can take it (at level 3).

Step 2, you need to look at the whole picture. You have yourself a classic spitball machinegun monk (max dex and wis for defense, no strength for offense). The stego has an AC of 24... and an attack bonus of -2 for 2d6 damage. It might take weapon finesse to up the attack bonus but the damage is still piddling (and it can't take power attack). It's a big, hard to hurt monster... that can't hurt you back, so you just ignore it. It's a "tank" in a system with no aggro mechanic and no reason a smart opponent would keep swinging at someone they can't hit but who also can't hit them back. Also, it would only have a speed of 20 feet. Medium armor reduces speed. And since it can't be proficient in medium armor at level 1 (only one feat and it doesn't start proficient) it also takes the ACP as a penalty to all attacks (the attack bonus is +1 BAB +0 STR -3 ACP). Oh, and it only has 9 HP (average of 2d8 with 10 Con) so it better hope nothing is capable of actually hitting it and nothing rolls a 20, or it's going to die.

Last, animal companions are great early on. For one thing, they have >=HD than players until level 7. They tend to have great stats and special abilities. The problem is that every feat, piece of gear, or other thing the actual class devotes to the companion is taken away from the class itself. Taking feats to power up the animal companion is great, but it means you're not powering yourself up. Putting nice gear or armor on the animal companion helps it out but leaves you less well defended. It's a balancing act.

So I guess in conclusion, double check that the dino is slow (medium armor) and sucks at hitting anything (Attack bonus of -2 for 2d6 damage, seriously) and realize that that 24 AC is extra super great... until enemies realize it can't hurt them either and ignore it for the probably much squishier druid. And any enemy that does manage to hit has a fair chance of killing it, since it only has 9 HP.

Edit: Oh, and I forgot, a CMD of 14. Or better than even odds a martial grabs it in a headlock and repeatedly hugs it to death. Or trips it, or blinds it, or whatever other combat maneuver the person specialized it. It does get a bonus to trip defense for extra legs but it's pretty much even odds it gets combat maneuvered into the ground for people not specialized, the specialists it's more like 60-70% chance.

Shadow Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
Handaxe Beak wrote:

Make sure his stego has taken the feats for light and medium armor proficiency or else it'll be eating a -3 to every attack roll it makes. (On second thought, animal companions only have one feat at first level unless I'm missing something?) I don't know about a feat that would give a creature DR4/-, and if it exists I'd like to see it.

As far as balancing fights goes, "an animal will attack only humanoids, monstrous humanoids, giants, or other animals" unless the druid uses up a trick slot, so the stego will be mostly useless against undead, constructs, aberrations, etc until he does. Remember that you decide how his animal companion acts; the druid has to make his HA checks to influence his dinosaur pal's behavior and otherwise it acts like (maybe a particularly loyal) stegosaurus.

This. Plus remember that if his stego is large the barding should cost double, a large sum considering that is money coming out of his starting gold. Also make sure he has tricks listed that it knows. Making an animal (even an animal companion) do an action it is not trained to do requires the PC to make a DC 25 Handle Animal check as a move action and if they fail the creature DOES NOT know what to do and either does nothing or continues its last action. Remember they aren't like familiars or teammates with a 10 Int, they are animals and can only do or comprehend so many things before you lose them. So if he starts telling his stego to do a bunch of stuff he didn't teach it make sure to call for the roll. Also he needs to make these rolls even when it's a trick the creature does know, but the DC is 10 then and a free action with his animal companion. Still, if he doesn't have a +9 Handle Animal you've still got a chance of him bricking and the Stego not knowing what to do.

Finally, remember that the stegosaurus is an animal and as such is fights more simplistically and in ways natural to it's disposition. The Steg won't flank it will trundle into combat and whack things with its tail cause that's how it fights when it's gotta fight. If it's got power attack it leads with that and sorts out the "why aren't I hitting it?" part later so don't let it suddenly start doing some crazy tactical maneuvers like flank charging or herding targets unless your druid TEACHES IT to do that. Honestly the Animal Companion is also one of those character pieces that is also listed as something you as the GM should likely govern the actions of more than your player in combat both to help avoid this issue and to help emphasize the more animal like qualities of this particular partner in crime. Like Handaxe said, your druid makes the rolls but you in the end decide how it acts therein.

Lantern Lodge

Which spirit animal gives DR 4/- ?


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens Subscriber

The numbers seem large, but there are other things to consider.

1. The stegasaurus needs to be proficient in Medium Armor, which will take the first 2 feats (not accomplishable at 1st level), or suffer a -3 penalty to hit. Since the Stegasaurus for some reason has a way higher Dex than Str (10), he probably wants Weapon Finesse, pushing Medium Armor proficiency to the 3rd feat. Or he shells out money for mE Hide armor so the penalty is only -2. At first level, you're looking at +1 to -3 to hit in Hide armor, and assuming he uses the feats for more helpful abilities (like Power Attack), he'll be stuck with a -2 to hit penalty unless he also shells out for Darkleaf cloth (assuming it is available in local markets). Plus, armor class doesn't rise as fast as To Hit bonuses as encounters become more challenging.

2. ACs don't get Max HP at first nor do they roll HP. They get average HP, so 4.5 HP per level plus Con, rounded down. A couple of magic missles, alchemical fire, a pit trap, etc could down it at first level. At higher level that makes it even more likely to go down to a fireball and some magic missiles.

3. There is a feat. It's called Spiritual Ally, and it grants DR 5/- (or other things that are less impressive). It's not as bad as it seems. It's better for low armor ACs. You get around it by using spells or big strong, power attacking Ogres with class levels. Remember, average d8 HPs.

4. While I'm not a fan of making life hard for people with animal companions, I'm just not a fan of dinosaurs, so I'll suggest this: climbing. The stegosaurus can't climb a wall or a ladder. If the AC can't get to the fight/enemy, it's as good as dead.

Again, once it's higher level and actually a combat threat, spells can take it down pretty easily.

Also enforce the animal handling rules and trick limits. It's amazing how fast you use up tricks. Attack, attack unusual foes, down, come, stay, guard... We're probably already over the steg's 1st level limit. Now you want Flank, Seek, and whatever else.

It's not that bad. Think of this: nobody can hit the stegasaurus, so thry focus fire on the squishier druid and friends. Sure, the steg killed all the goblins after the party went down bleeding, but he can't use the heal skill and has nobody to command him. Alas.

Shadow Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

I would also say the barding is likely to cost even more since with the unusual shape of the stego and his back plates it likely falls into that category of barding for unusual creatures, further increasing the cost.


Blake's Tiger wrote:

2. ACs don't get Max HP at first nor do they roll HP. They get average HP, so 4.5 HP per level plus Con, rounded down. A couple of magic missles, alchemical fire, a pit trap, etc could down it at first level. At higher level that makes it even more likely to go down to a fireball and some magic missiles

ac start with 2 hd

The Exchange

It only seems OP on paper.

If you follow the advice here it won't become too big an issue in game.

1) Make sure you enforce the rules for all the feats. If the DR4/- is in play, its only 1 minute per level, one per day. Good for boss fights.

2) Note the combat penalty and cost penalty for arming the animal.

3) Dinosaurs may be cold blooded. Environment could affect it pretty hard.

4)Handal animal checks to make it use its tricks. Enforce those rules. Make sure the player knows them too. If he hasn't taken attack twice (once for normal, second for the unusual types of critters), then there are whole swathes of things his animal just won't attack.

5) Make him pay or account for feeding it. They eat a lot.

6) This one is my personal one, only something to try if your game style/party matches. Make sure he treats it like a companion, not just a number addition to his character. If he starts mistreating it or deliberately sacrificing its health without regard to the animal itself, have the companion begin to refuse his instructions. Insight check and handle animal skills can determine why it's starting to rebel. If he keeps it up, have it leave him.


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber
Wrath wrote:


6) This one is my personal one, only something to try if your game style/party matches. Make sure he treats it like a companion, not just a number addition to his character. If he starts mistreating it or deliberately sacrificing its health without regard to the animal itself, have the companion begin to refuse his instructions. Insight check and handle animal skills can determine why it's starting to rebel. If he keeps it up, have it leave him.

I don't think that's the only possible interpretation of the nature bond that grants a druid an animal companion. I could also spin it as nature providing a servant or protector to the druid, a tool or resource, not a pet. That's something that, hopefully, a GM and player would come to some kind of agreement on - how much of it is a personal, emotional bond and how much is a natural resource.

Sczarni

The above advice will work also, but I suggest not allowing dinosaur animals at all if you are a new GM and zip the problem from the start. PC's often take them as animal companions because of numbers only and little of it has to do with flavor. Dinosaurs are the strongest animals to pick from.

Adam


Malag wrote:

The above advice will work also, but I suggest not allowing dinosaur animals at all if you are a new GM and zip the problem from the start. PC's often take them as animal companions because of numbers only and little of it has to do with flavor. Dinosaurs are the strongest animals to pick from.

Adam

And then he picks a kitty instead. Which is a better choice than a stegosaurus anyway, so you just made the problem worse. Heck, kitties are the best choice period. The best dinosaur option(the Allosaurus) is actually a touch worse than a Big Cat due to the lack of rake (although they are pretty similar).

Shadow Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
Snowblind wrote:
Malag wrote:

The above advice will work also, but I suggest not allowing dinosaur animals at all if you are a new GM and zip the problem from the start. PC's often take them as animal companions because of numbers only and little of it has to do with flavor. Dinosaurs are the strongest animals to pick from.

Adam

And then he picks a kitty instead. Which is a better choice than a stegosaurus anyway, so you just made the problem worse. Heck, kitties are the best choice period. The best dinosaur option(the Allosaurus) is actually a touch worse than a Big Cat due to the lack of rake (although they are pretty similar).

What he said. Also if he likes it and you're cool with it enjoy it. I've got dinos running around the hinterlands as enemies and animal companions and I can say it's a blast. They are far less terrifying than you'd think as animal companions and they can be such a blast when the players really enjoy them ^-^.


The stegosaurus has only 1 attack and it is not even a bite so at least one good low-level buff spell (acid maw) doesn't work.

I'm just playing a hunter with a stegosaurus. It started with AC 22 because, instead of a hide armor barding I gave mine a leather armor. Without armor check penalty it doesn't even need light armor proficiency.
Depending on where you play dinos are actually a decent choise fluff wise. We are playing serpent skull and my pc is from that region, where dinos are indigenous.


Keep in mind that the player doesn't control the animal companion, the GM does.

Tricks allow the character to issue commands, and he can burn move actions to attempt DC 25 checks to make it do stuff it isn't trained to do as well...

Other than learned tricks and him using Handle Animal DC 25, you determine what it does.

What would a dinosaur do in town if left to it's own devices? Is it trained to 'Stay'? Sure hope so, cause otherwise it will likely wander off and start eating the nearest vegetable cart or flower vendors wares... :D

Someone hits it with a broom to stop it from eating their produce? Of course it will attack back. Hope it is trained with "Down"...

just some thoughts. :D


alexd1976 wrote:

Keep in mind that the player doesn't control the animal companion, the GM does.

Tricks allow the character to issue commands, and he can burn move actions to attempt DC 25 checks to make it do stuff it isn't trained to do as well...

Other than learned tricks and him using Handle Animal DC 25, you determine what it does.

What would a dinosaur do in town if left to it's own devices? Is it trained to 'Stay'? Sure hope so, cause otherwise it will likely wander off and start eating the nearest vegetable cart or flower vendors wares... :D

Someone hits it with a broom to stop it from eating their produce? Of course it will attack back. Hope it is trained with "Down"...

just some thoughts. :D

As long as you treat all animal companions equal that are reasonable rulings. But a horse not trained to stay is just as likely to behave like that. Or a wolf, boar etc.


Just a Guess wrote:
alexd1976 wrote:

Keep in mind that the player doesn't control the animal companion, the GM does.

Tricks allow the character to issue commands, and he can burn move actions to attempt DC 25 checks to make it do stuff it isn't trained to do as well...

Other than learned tricks and him using Handle Animal DC 25, you determine what it does.

What would a dinosaur do in town if left to it's own devices? Is it trained to 'Stay'? Sure hope so, cause otherwise it will likely wander off and start eating the nearest vegetable cart or flower vendors wares... :D

Someone hits it with a broom to stop it from eating their produce? Of course it will attack back. Hope it is trained with "Down"...

just some thoughts. :D

As long as you treat all animal companions equal that are reasonable rulings. But a horse not trained to stay is just as likely to behave like that. Or a wolf, boar etc.

Agreed. That's why all my animal companions have Stay and Down, and I usually use Dogs. Fits in a lot better than a horse sized wolf does... scares less peasants.

Ultimately, MOST AC are roughly equal, more so than in 3.X anyway. You get some exceptions like the Stegosaurus, and in these cases, GM should enforce existing rules to make sure player doesn't abuse the situation.


Ok, this whole thing works waaaay differently to the way he's been playing it, he's been treating it like a whole separate PC which can act perfectly and independently just like another character. Can you guys point me towards the exact rulings which show that the GM controls the animals, they need tricks and the handle animal DC25 stuff, cos there's no way he's not going to argue with that if I just say it with no proof.


TheCR155 wrote:
Ok, this whole thing works waaaay differently to the way he's been playing it, he's been treating it like a whole separate PC which can act perfectly and independently just like another character. Can you guys point me towards the exact rulings which show that the GM controls the animals, they need tricks and the handle animal DC25 stuff, cos there's no way he's not going to argue with that if I just say it with no proof.

Seriously? Wow... um...

Ask him where it says he gets to control the AC _without_ the use of tricks.

It isn't your job to explain how things work to him, it's his job to explain how things work to YOU.

Link (Ex)

A druid can handle her animal companion as a free action, or push it as a move action, even if she doesn’t have any ranks in the Handle Animal skill. The druid gains a +4 circumstance bonus on all wild empathy checks and Handle Animal checks made regarding an animal companion.

That is probably the most relevant thing to quote. Link doesn't grant complete and total metagame control of the animal, it allows the character to use existing tricks and pushing to control it. What it does aside from this is UP TO YOU.

Same applies to Leadership.

A lot of GMs grant players total control of their animal companions, mounts, followers etc... do not do that, it leads to stupid metagaming madness.

His character has the critter as a class ability, it is NOT an extension of himself.


I guess another way of putting it is this:

You can train your dog to go fetch a beer, it takes time to train it, and he may not know how to get bottles if you trained him to get cans...

Training your dog to do this is a trick, and it doesn't allow you to mentally control your dog at a range.


alexd1976 wrote:


It isn't your job to explain how things work to him, it's his job to explain how things work to YOU..

Got to disagree with that. GM says how it works. Player has to show source for rules that the GM doesn't know, GM then decides if he wants to allow it.


The stegosaurus isn't an exception. You could already get a similar creature in the boar (same NA, less Dex but smaller, way more Con and more Str). The companions just run the gamut from glass cannon to stone wall, and the player picked a stone wall. The tortoise is arguably worse since as far as I can tell it gets another 8 NA at level 7 when it advances. And like any other stone wall "offense" is a distant memory of a better time.

As for controlling the animal companion, it's in the rules for Handle Animal.

I'll quote some bits here.

Handle an Animal wrote:
This task involves commanding an animal to perform a task or trick that it knows. If the animal is wounded or has taken any nonlethal damage or ability score damage, the DC increases by 2. If your check succeeds, the animal performs the task or trick on its next action.
Push an Animal wrote:
To push an animal means to get it to perform a task or trick that it doesn't know but is physically capable of performing. This category also covers making an animal perform a forced march or forcing it to hustle for more than 1 hour between sleep cycles. If the animal is wounded or has taken any nonlethal damage or ability score damage, the DC increases by 2. If your check succeeds, the animal performs the task or trick on its next action.
Untrained wrote:
If you have no ranks in Handle Animal, you can use a Charisma check to handle and push domestic animals, but you can't teach, rear, or train animals. A druid or ranger with no ranks in Handle Animal can use a Charisma check to handle and push her animal companion, but she can't teach, rear, or train other nondomestic animals.

Bolding mine, but you'll notice it specifically says that Druids and Rangers need to use the mechanics of Handle Animal to control their animal.

It's all repeated in the animal companion rules with Link.

Link (Ex) wrote:
A druid can handle her animal companion as a free action, or push it as a move action, even if she doesn't have any ranks in the Handle Animal skill. The druid gains a +4 circumstance bonus on all wild empathy checks and Handle Animal checks made regarding an animal companion.

Now, you don't necessarily have to be screaming "Fluffy, KILL!" but you have to be actively commanding the animal companion to do something. Some commands are open ended and last a while (Defend, Guard, and Heel come to mind), you can probably use Attack on a group of enemies instead of individually, but regardless you have to give it the command.


CountofUndolpho wrote:
alexd1976 wrote:


It isn't your job to explain how things work to him, it's his job to explain how things work to YOU..
Got to disagree with that. GM says how it works. Player has to show source for rules that the GM doesn't know, GM then decides if he wants to allow it.

You agree with me, you just re-wrote what I said. Clearly you understood what I meant.

The point remains, it isn't the GMs burden to prove how things work, it is the players.

Nowhere does it say that having an animal companion grants total control, at limitless range, without verbal communication.

There ARE rules regarding Tricks and handling the animal, so clearly the intention was to use these.

The Exchange

Bill Dunn wrote:
Wrath wrote:


6) This one is my personal one, only something to try if your game style/party matches. Make sure he treats it like a companion, not just a number addition to his character. If he starts mistreating it or deliberately sacrificing its health without regard to the animal itself, have the companion begin to refuse his instructions. Insight check and handle animal skills can determine why it's starting to rebel. If he keeps it up, have it leave him.
I don't think that's the only possible interpretation of the nature bond that grants a druid an animal companion. I could also spin it as nature providing a servant or protector to the druid, a tool or resource, not a pet. That's something that, hopefully, a GM and player would come to some kind of agreement on - how much of it is a personal, emotional bond and how much is a natural resource.

Yeah Bill, that's why I said this one was a personal one of mine. My group knows and accepts that's how its done. it is definitely something to outline before a campaign starts or very early into it at least.


TheCR155 wrote:
AC of 24 at Lvl 1. While there seems to be nothing wrong with his working (+6 nat armor, +4 dex, +4 hide armor)

It's only AC 24 if not touched and not flat-footed. Ranged touch attacks (e.g. by necromancers with Spectral Hand spell) can cause some trouble for little dino, especially if the attackers are protected.

Additionally, he has only one attack per round (no Cleave, if I got it correctly), so you could swarm it with many little creatures (e.g. goblins) and it will be busy for a while. That's some time where the others can shine.

Further, stego has no darkvision, no climb speed, no swim speed, can't fly, is not resistant against any element etc. - don't look too much for its strengths, look for its weaknesses. Dominate Animal can be cast by a level 5 opponent, while the companion's Devotion feature (+4 saves vs. enchantment) comes at level 6.

Make sure to keep the balance, though. Show the druid his stego is no default win, but let him some opportunities to shine.


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

Devoting all these enemy resources to taking this stegosaurus down is really letting it win. If it's not a significant threat (low to-hit or damage), enemies can safely ignore it. It sounds like it'll be basically supplying a flank. Let it do that. It's not a big deal.


Berinor wrote:
Devoting all these enemy resources to taking this stegosaurus down is really letting it win. If it's not a significant threat (low to-hit or damage), enemies can safely ignore it. It sounds like it'll be basically supplying a flank. Let it do that. It's not a big deal.

Well put.

Keep in mind what I have been talking about though, he doesn't control the Steg, you do.

His tricks let him force behaviour he wants, make sure the rules are enforced.


Source Ultimate Campaign

In a typical campaign, each player controls one character. However, there are several ways for you to temporarily or permanently gain the assistance of a companion, such as an animal companion, a cohort, an eidolon, or a familiar. The combat advantages of controlling a second creature are obvious, but having a companion also has drawbacks and requires an understanding of both your role and the GM's in determining the creature's actions. This section addresses common issues for companions and the characters who use them.
Controlling Companions

How a companion works depends on the campaign as well as the companion's nature, intelligence, and abilities. In some cases, the rules do not specify whether you or the GM controls the companion. If you're entirely in control, the companion acts like a subsidiary PC, doing exactly what you want just like a true PC. If the GM is control, you can make suggestions or attempt to influence the companion, but the GM determines whether the creature is willing or able to attempt what you want.
Aspects of Control

Whether you or the GM controls a particular companion depends largely on the creature's intelligence and level of independence from you.

Nonsentient Companions: a nonsentient companion (one with animal-level intelligence) is loyal to you in the way a well-trained dog is—the creature is conditioned to obey your commands, but its behavior is limited by its intelligence and it can't make altruistic moral decisions—such as nobly sacrificing itself to save another. Animal companions, cavalier mounts, and purchased creatures (such as common horses and guard dogs) fall into this category. In general they're GM-controlled companions. You can direct them using the Handle Animal skill, but their specific behavior is up to the GM.

Sentient Companions: a sentient companion (a creature that can understand language and has an Intelligence score of at least 3) is considered your ally and obeys your suggestions and orders to the best of its ability. It won't necessarily blindly follow a suicidal order, but it has your interests at heart and does what it can to keep you alive. Paladin bonded mounts, familiars, and cohorts fall into this category, and are usually player-controlled companions.

Eidolons: Outside the linear obedience and intelligence scale of sentient and nonsentient companions are eidolons: intelligent entities magically bound to you. Whether you wish to roleplay this relationship as friendly or coerced, the eidolon is inclined to obey you unless you give a command only to spite it. An eidolon would obey a cruel summoner's order to save a child from a burning building, knowing that at worst the fire damage would temporarily banish it, but it wouldn't stand in a bonfire just because the summoner said to. An eidolon is normally a player-controlled companion, but the GM can have the eidolon refuse extreme orders that would cause it to suffer needlessly.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
TheCR155 wrote:
Ok, this whole thing works waaaay differently to the way he's been playing it, he's been treating it like a whole separate PC which can act perfectly and independently just like another character. Can you guys point me towards the exact rulings which show that the GM controls the animals, they need tricks and the handle animal DC25 stuff, cos there's no way he's not going to argue with that if I just say it with no proof.

Look at the Handle Animal (or possibly Animal Handling, sorry, quite tired) skill in either the Core Rulebook or PRD.


Berinor wrote:
Devoting all these enemy resources to taking this stegosaurus down is really letting it win. If it's not a significant threat (low to-hit or damage), enemies can safely ignore it. It sounds like it'll be basically supplying a flank. Let it do that. It's not a big deal.

Depends.

Give it weapon finesse and it has a good to hit to start with. Later retrain weapon finesse when the stego becomes large and strong. But with 2d6 base damage it isn't too low on the damage.

alexd1976 wrote:
You get some exceptions like the Stegosaurus, and in these cases, GM should enforce existing rules to make sure player doesn't abuse the situation.

What is this exception you are talking of? That it is a dino? Or that it is a more defensively AC?

Sczarni

Snowblind wrote:
Malag wrote:

The above advice will work also, but I suggest not allowing dinosaur animals at all if you are a new GM and zip the problem from the start. PC's often take them as animal companions because of numbers only and little of it has to do with flavor. Dinosaurs are the strongest animals to pick from.

Adam

And then he picks a kitty instead. Which is a better choice than a stegosaurus anyway, so you just made the problem worse. Heck, kitties are the best choice period. The best dinosaur option(the Allosaurus) is actually a touch worse than a Big Cat due to the lack of rake (although they are pretty similar).

It's not that much about damage honestly, it's more about their high AC. I'v witnessed some pretty big horrors walking around with 30+ AC. Creatures of party's APL couldn't really touch it. It becomes annoying to play with those untouchable beasts. There is also another factor in place, a new GM and experienced veteran player. 24 AC seems a bit pushing your new GM to far into the border of unhappiness.

Yes, there is probably small difference in animal companions, but dino's usually have more natural armor, more natural attacks or a single powerful natural attack. I never made the total comparison, but it seemed correct enough from all animals that I have seen so far. I could be mistaken of course, but that's my current experience so far.


Just a Guess wrote:
Berinor wrote:
Devoting all these enemy resources to taking this stegosaurus down is really letting it win. If it's not a significant threat (low to-hit or damage), enemies can safely ignore it. It sounds like it'll be basically supplying a flank. Let it do that. It's not a big deal.

Depends.

Give it weapon finesse and it has a good to hit to start with. Later retrain weapon finesse when the stego becomes large and strong. But with 2d6 base damage it isn't too low on the damage.

alexd1976 wrote:
You get some exceptions like the Stegosaurus, and in these cases, GM should enforce existing rules to make sure player doesn't abuse the situation.
What is this exception you are talking of? That it is a dino? Or that it is a more defensively AC?

The exception is that this particular animal has a much higher AC than most.

Really, in ALL cases, the GM needs to enforce the rules. I'm simply saying that in regards to the original poster, ensuring rules compliance is an easy way of reigning in the player that he (the OP) first mentioned.

No house rules required at all, simply a clarified understanding of the existing rules.

For example, the animal is using medium armor... which, without taking feats, has substantial penalties.

The Exchange

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Lv 1 roc, weapon finesse, toughness, leather armor barding. 21 ac. +6:to hit and 3 attacks per round with 80 ft flight is more then enough for lv 1 fun. A little more gp and its mw studded leather. No acp, at 22 ac, all legit. Eye for talent could give 23 ac by increasing dex, to hit goes up to +7. Only 9 hp, but hey, its possibly more then the party wizard. There's definitely worse things he could habe done. At least you ended up with a slow amd unwieldy tank instead of a flying ball of death incarnate. Just get intelligent monsters try to smack stego abit before trying to find someone else to smack. Ought to keep him happy.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens Subscriber
TheCR155 wrote:
Ok, this whole thing works waaaay differently to the way he's been playing it, he's been treating it like a whole separate PC which can act perfectly and independently just like another character. Can you guys point me towards the exact rulings which show that the GM controls the animals, they need tricks and the handle animal DC25 stuff, cos there's no way he's not going to argue with that if I just say it with no proof.

Check the Druid description inside the CRB, especially Nature's Bond, then check the Animal Companions rules. You'll note they reference the Handle Animal Skill, check that out too.

To sum it up: an animal companion can only act after it receives an order that it can understand and can easily do only things it is trained to do. In game that means the player has to use the handle animal skill to train his Animal Companion and to order it around as it was a normal animal. The only difference is the Animal Companion gets bonus tricks as it advances of level and ONLY THOSE BONUS TRICKS DO NOT REQUIRE ROLLS. At level 1 an animal companion gets ONE bonus trick.

It works this way: the player has to choose a certain number of tricks he wants to teach his animal companion usually 6 + 1 bonus trick at first lvl for an int 2 animal companion), spend a week FOR EACH TRICK and roll handle animal for EACH TRICK OR he can train the animal for general purpose which means he will teach a certain set of tricks (if he has them avaiable).
Let's say your player wants to teach his stegadon the following tricks: attack (twice)/down/stay/flank/guard and he chooses fetch as a bonus trick.
He will have to spend 1 week for each trick training his animal companion and then roll handle animal with the listed DC. Let's suppose your player has an handle animal score of +4, which increases to +8 due to the link ability of the Animal companion (4+4). To teach attack (twice since he wants his animal attacking every kind of opponent) the player spends 2 weeks and rolls handle animal DC20 twice:
Handle Animal DC 20: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (17) + 8 = 25
Handle Animal DC 20: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (20) + 8 = 28

Seems like he got it. His animal companion now has the attack trick.

Then the player tries to teach the down trick:
Handle Animal DC 15: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (18) + 8 = 26

Again he suceeds: after another week of training his animal companion has learned the down trick.

Then he spends another week teaching the stay trick
Handle Animal DC 15: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (20) + 8 = 28

... and he teaches that one as well

And another week for the flank trick:
Handle Animal DC 20: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (12) + 8 = 20

This time he almost got sloppy but in the end he was able to suceed again

Lastly he rolls for the guard trick
Handle Animal DC 20: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (4) + 8 = 12

And fails. He spent a week tring to teach this skill but wasn't able to teach it to his animal companion. Note that the animal companion got fetch as a bonus trick and does not need to roll for it.

This is how the handle animal skill works in downtime. Now when in game time it works this way: an animal companion can perform a trick he knows with a DC 10 handle animal check. If the animal companion doesn't know the trick the player wants it to perform BUT the players want to try ordering it anyway, AND THE ANIMAL COMPANION IS PHISICALLY ABLE TO DO IT (meaning: a stegosaurus cannot fly, enche it cannot bombard an opponent, no matter what). In this case the player is trying to push the animal companion and the DC for that is 25 (for example: let's say your player's stegadon only knows the attack trick taken once and not twice, he'll need to roll Handle animal to a DC of 10 to get the stegosaurus to attack anything and to roll Handle animal to a DC of 25 in order to get it to attack un-natural opponents like tieflings or demons because he'd be pushing the animal to do something it would not normally do).

If your player isn't rolling to get the animal to do stuff then he's not doing it right.


Also, don't forget that once the AC is wounded, all handle animal checks increase in difficulty by two.


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Regarding Wrath's suggestion #3, giving the player trouble for selecting an animal companion which might be (just might be) cold blooded seems borderline cruel.

If you really want to be cruel you could also use the "DM controls animal companions" ruling to make the stegosaurus a net liability in combat, constantly lumbering into squares which other PCs were hoping to occupy, cutting off charge lanes, and generally getting itself in trouble. Some people would say that's going too far. Others might say it is what the player gets for having the audacity to select the animal companion class feature and then also present the DM with an Armor Class which is difficult to hit.

How dare that PC or his animal companion try to survive by being hard to hit? Kill them! Kill them now! Send in the low level Kobold Sorcerers with Magic Missiles and Acid Splash! Slay the high AC blasphemers! Using advanced tactics like actually wearing armor to raise your AC is a min/max offense against fun gaming. Make them pay!

(The opinions expressed in this post are not necessarily serious)


Devilkiller wrote:

Regarding Wrath's suggestion #3, giving the player trouble for selecting an animal companion which might be (just might be) cold blooded seems borderline cruel.

If you really want to be cruel you could also use the "DM controls animal companions" ruling to make the stegosaurus a net liability in combat, constantly lumbering into squares which other PCs were hoping to occupy, cutting off charge lanes, and generally getting itself in trouble. Some people would say that's going too far. Others might say it is what the player gets for having the audacity to select the animal companion class feature and then also present the DM with an Armor Class which is difficult to hit.

How dare that PC or his animal companion try to survive by being hard to hit? Kill them! Kill them now! Send in the low level Kobold Sorcerers with Magic Missiles and Acid Splash! Slay the high AC blasphemers! Using advanced tactics like actually wearing armor to raise your AC is a min/max offense against fun gaming. Make them pay!

(The opinions expressed in this post are not necessarily serious)

Having the Stego become a liability in combat is a dick move on the part of the GM.

I would just have fun with the in-town stuff. Have it eat peasants cabbage gardens, defecate in the town square...

You know, things a dinosaur would do. :D

I don't think it's an unbalanced critter, so long as the existing rules are enforced (like armor proficiency!)-it is something the class is entitled to, and Hunters still do it better.

Let him have fun with it, have everyone mob him in town to ask about his super exotic pet (unless dinosaurs are common in your world?).

On a related note, how would one RIDE one of those?


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens Subscriber
Devilkiller wrote:

Regarding Wrath's suggestion #3, giving the player trouble for selecting an animal companion which might be (just might be) cold blooded seems borderline cruel.

If you really want to be cruel you could also use the "DM controls animal companions" ruling to make the stegosaurus a net liability in combat, constantly lumbering into squares which other PCs were hoping to occupy, cutting off charge lanes, and generally getting itself in trouble. Some people would say that's going too far. Others might say it is what the player gets for having the audacity to select the animal companion class feature and then also present the DM with an Armor Class which is difficult to hit.

How dare that PC or his animal companion try to survive by being hard to hit? Kill them! Kill them now! Send in the low level Kobold Sorcerers with Magic Missiles and Acid Splash! Slay the high AC blasphemers! Using advanced tactics like actually wearing armor to raise your AC is a min/max offense against fun gaming. Make them pay!

(The opinions expressed in this post are not necessarily serious)

While I agree with the general ironic sentiment of this post I need to point out how the animal companion cannot wear hide armor at level 1, it only has 1 feat and hide armor is medium armor, so it needs 2 feats before being able to get it (proficent with light armor and then proficent with medium armor). Besides that it has been correctly pointed out how that armor should be adequately priced due to the stegosaurus size and strange shape, so it should cost more than regula armor and/or barding. This is not being mean to the player but respecting the rules. It's true a big cat is generally better than almost any other animal companion (barring Roc since it flies) and stegosaurus is basically just a tank, yet the fact remains it should not get stuff at a discounted price only because it's not top effective.


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Devilkiller wrote:

If you really want to be cruel you could also use the "DM controls animal companions" ruling to make the stegosaurus a net liability in combat, constantly lumbering into squares which other PCs were hoping to occupy, cutting off charge lanes, and generally getting itself in trouble. Some people would say that's going too far. Others might say it is what the player gets for having the audacity to select the animal companion class feature and then also present the DM with an Armor Class which is difficult to hit.

Joking aside, that actually seems to be a fair summary of some of the responses here, unfortunately. Make sure the player actually built his s**+ right (proper feats or take the penalties, pay the proper gold price, etc.), maybe don't handwave the rolls to make the animal companion do anything if you don't mind slowing the game down with it (personally I only enforce that if you're trying to make your animal companion do something off the wall), but take control of the player's class feature and f@#+ it up in a passive aggressive attempt to just have him go to the retrainer to get a domain instead? Meh, I'd pass on that.

Sovereign Court

doc the grey wrote:
Plus remember that if his stego is large the barding should cost double, a large sum considering that is money coming out of his starting gold.

Actually - if it were a large stego - it should cost x4 normal price. x2 for large, additional x2 for non-humanoid. x4 total.

Edit: However - at level 1, a stego AC is medium. So - only x2.


Charon's Little Helper wrote:
doc the grey wrote:
Plus remember that if his stego is large the barding should cost double, a large sum considering that is money coming out of his starting gold.
Actually - if it's a large stego - it should cost x4 normal price. x2 for large, additional x2 for non-humanoid. x4 total.

That is why all my characters with Animal Companions also have the trait: Rich Parents.

900gp at level one is damn useful.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens Subscriber
alexd1976 wrote:
Charon's Little Helper wrote:
doc the grey wrote:
Plus remember that if his stego is large the barding should cost double, a large sum considering that is money coming out of his starting gold.
Actually - if it's a large stego - it should cost x4 normal price. x2 for large, additional x2 for non-humanoid. x4 total.

That is why all my characters with Animal Companions also have the trait: Rich Parents.

900gp at level one is damn useful.

True that.

"Daddy, daddy... buy me that gigantic armor for steggy please, pretty pleeeeeaseeeeee!"

Ah the fierce and independent ways of modern day druids...


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
alexd1976 wrote:


That is why all my characters with Animal Companions also have the trait: Rich Parents.

900gp at level one is damn useful.

I can't tell if you're kidding or not, but I'm getting a really funny image of all the rich kids going into the forest and living off the land. Making a big show of their self-sufficiency (which is impressive on a ranger or druid) and then buying all their things with a trust fund.

Not making any comment on the mechanical choices, just getting a silly visual.

Edit: *shakes fist* Ninja'd.


Berinor wrote:
alexd1976 wrote:


That is why all my characters with Animal Companions also have the trait: Rich Parents.

900gp at level one is damn useful.

I can't tell if you're kidding or not, but I'm getting a really funny image of all the rich kids going into the forest and living off the land. Making a big show of their self-sufficiency (which is impressive on a ranger or druid) and then buying all their things with a trust fund.

Not making any comment on the mechanical choices, just getting a silly visual.

Edit: *shakes fist* Ninja'd.

What's to prevent a rich, noble child from going into the woods? Rich by accident of birth, Druid by choice. :P


Stegosaurs don't grow until level 7 anyway. By which point the price difference is utterly irrelevant.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Starfinder Maps Subscriber

I know that in PFS your first animal companion comes in fully trained at level 1, but if it dies or you replace it, you have to do the retraining.

I think that this is a sensible ruling as a way to start the game. It means that at level 1, a character can have an animal she already trained in her back story, and that she doesn't have to stop adventuring and spend weeks training her animal at the very start of the game.

Since I do PFS, I've had GMs who run the gamut in how they treat my animal companion, Pumpkin. I used eye for talent to pump Pumpkin's int to 4, allowing me to control Pumpkin's sheet, not the GM. Because of the high int, Pumpkin has access to feats that most animal companions cannot take (improved grapple) and a high number of tricks.

I've had GMs who make me roll Handle Animal skill every time I gave Pumpkin an order for a trick that Pumpkin knows... One only stopped doing that when I explained that I had a 9 in Handle Animal, and with the +4 from the link that I could not possibly fail the DC10 Handle Animal check.

However, if your druid has a handle animal skill of 5 or less, feel free to make him roll for his commands when conditions are freaky -- scary monsters, bad smelling gas, explosions, or when the stegosaurus gets wounded.

Sovereign Court

Renata Maclean wrote:
Stegosaurs don't grow until level 7 anyway. By which point the price difference is utterly irrelevant.

Depends what armor you're getting them. I'm in a campaign where my level 7 Samurai still hasn't gotten full plate for his horse despite the horse having heavy armor prof.

6,150gp is still a lot of gold at 7th.

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