The degree of usefulness Handle Animal has


Advice


OK, so my younger brother wants to play a archery ranger. As we were looking through his skills we looked at handle animal and he asked why would he get this skill beyond maybe a "one-point wonder" dip. To be honest I have no idea. When I played a druid I never really used my handle animal skill, I preferred to wild shape and summon nature's ally for my animal buddy needs. I just maxed it out because it felt like thing to do, like it would feel wrong to have a rogue without disable device. So I had no proper answer for him and now I'm here asking the following. What are the better uses for handle animal beyond making friends with the neighborhood stray dog?


You can Rear a Wild Animal for awesome results. If your campaign spans for years, you can raise a Basilisk as your hunting dog and a Roc as your mount)


it is required if you have an AC, so you can teach it tricks and command it in battle. you should be make rolls all the time for it in that case. if you don't have a AC you don't really need it. it option for when you travel by horse or as Manve if is a long term game you can use it to raise some strange creatures to use.


In the beginning I (like 2000 or so) I thought the skill was for people to do things like train a pack of wolves to attack, or to train a Griffin to be a mount.

I'm not sure I have ever seen an example of a Fighter who trained a Griffin or other magical creature to be a mount. Never seen a low level Fighter with his pack of wolves either.

To be honest though I am really sick and tired of all these little checks that you have to do to play exactly as the rules are written. If you do you have to make checks for all kinds of crap.

Unless it is cinematic or something like standing on the back of a running horse I don't bother anymore. Even then I have to pull things out of my butt.

It irks me about the flying mounts though. That is pretty bog standard fantasy, but have you ever seen a module or anything where McGuffin the Fighter has a Griffin mount he raised from an egg and trained to be a mount?

Or his gigantic Python that lurks in his cave? That's the kind of thing I expect to see from someone with say a +15 Handle Animal check. Or calming down a pack of guard dogs in a medieval junkyard.


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Ideally you want a +7 modifier to Handle Animal for an animal companion class. This gives you a +11 bonus for your AC, and guarantees success to get your AC to perform known tricks when wounded (DC 12 IIRC).

So 4 skill ranks and a +3 class skill bonus is really enough, unless you want to have other pets/combat animals.


I'm not even a druid or ranger, but I used it to convince a dino not to attack me. As I am a diplomancer, there is a lot of overlap with handle animal as far as effects go, so my skill is good even without many ranks.

The option to deal with nature and convince it to leave you alone as you go past the guardian's lair means you expend no resources, do not alert the enemy, and do some cool roleplaying.

/cevah


After a few levels, there really isn't much point in continuing to level it.

You can auto-succeed by about level 3 or so to handle animal companions on most average builds...

Training is a tiny bit harder...

By the time you hit higher levels, animals won't be enough of a threat for this skill to be relevant.

It's primarily roleplaying after a while.

I mean, really, if your level 11 and are attacked by... a T-Rex, you could pretty much take it out with a dagger.


I've seen GMs houserule it to be something you can use "on-the-spot" to deal with wild animals, like Cevah did. Otherwise, it's pretty specialized. If it fits the character and/or you want to later acquire a griffon, just make sure to talk it out with your GM so they know what you're expecting.


If your PC can train animals some DMs might allow animals to help you in combat. I wouldn't expect it though. From a roleplaying perspective I enjoyed having my PC in Kingmaker train wild animals and even an owlbear to live in our capital city's menagerie and perform in his Varisian uncle's circus.

There are a few ways to get animal companions via feats, and Handle Animal would be useful for PCs with such aspirations. Other than that I think you can use the Handle Animal skill to drive certain vehicles, so I guess it could come in handy during a wagon chase. It is the sort of skill where the player and DM might need to look for times when it can be fun.


sunbeam wrote:


To be honest though I am really sick and tired of all these little checks that you have to do to play exactly as the rules are written. If you do you have to make checks for all kinds of crap.

Unless it is cinematic or something like standing on the back of a running horse I don't bother anymore. Even then I have to pull things out of my butt.

nothing wrong with straight-up roleplaying, but without rolling dice, it isn't really a game anymore

sunbeam wrote:


It irks me about the flying mounts though. That is pretty bog standard fantasy, but have you ever seen a module or anything where McGuffin the Fighter has a Griffin mount he raised from an egg and trained to be a mount?

No, because in Pathfinder they're called Cavaliers or Paladins.

(also, dunno where you got the idea that having flying mounts was "standard fantasy")


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If you summon an animal to fight for you and you want it to do anything other than attack the nearest threat (such as "they surrendered, stop attacking" or "stop running from that wraith and attack it!"), you need the skill to push them to do it.

Your summoned animals aren't combat trained, so they won't attack undead or other unnatural enemies (note: there is debate about this, expect table variance and ask your GM). And if you can't speak to them (such as the speak with animal spell), then they can't follow your commands (other than attacking your opponents). Unless they're intelligent, they won't move to tactically optimal positions, like flanking. You'll need Handle Animal to move them.

The only thing your summoned animals will do is attack your opponents to the best of its ability. Anything else and you need the skill.

You'll also need the skill to train or push other animals, such as any you purchase, or your animal companion if you have one.


^ Came here to say that. The main use is for druid companions and summons, getting them to actually do what you want which often goes beyond tricks (companion) or is needed for anything other than summons' instinctive choice of attack target for summons.


bookrat wrote:
If you summon an animal to fight for you and you want it to do anything other than attack the nearest threat (such as "they surrendered, stop attacking" or "stop running from that wraith and attack it!"), you need the skill to push them to do it.

This seems at odds with:

SNA I wrote:
This spell summons a natural creature. It appears where you designate and acts immediately, on your turn. It attacks your opponents to the best of its ability. If you can communicate with the creature, you can direct it not to attack, to attack particular enemies, or to perform other actions.

I could see using Handle Animal for more complex control, but for employing its natural repertoire of tactics (including flanking for pack animals) and keeping on going when wounded I wouldn't require Handle Animal.

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Handle Animal is the check for driving a vehicle that's under animal power, like a wagon. I know nowadays we don't see many adventurers running around with wagons but it used to be a thing.

I guess I'm saying that if you ever have a wagon or carriage chase it comes in handy.


I find the most irksome thing about Handle Animal is that it's required to get your Animal Companion to do stuff. You know, your supernaturally enhanced, bonded critter, a class feature that already grants you extra actions a round, slowing down combat and it even requires a little more extra time because you have to see if it feels like doing what you ask every round.


Palinurus wrote:
bookrat wrote:
If you summon an animal to fight for you and you want it to do anything other than attack the nearest threat (such as "they surrendered, stop attacking" or "stop running from that wraith and attack it!"), you need the skill to push them to do it.

This seems at odds with:

SNA I wrote:
This spell summons a natural creature. It appears where you designate and acts immediately, on your turn. It attacks your opponents to the best of its ability. If you can communicate with the creature, you can direct it not to attack, to attack particular enemies, or to perform other actions.
I could see using Handle Animal for more complex control, but for employing its natural repertoire of tactics (including flanking for pack animals) and keeping on going when wounded I wouldn't require Handle Animal.

It isn't at odds.

I could see a wolf flanking with another wolf. Maybe even you. I could not see it naturally choosing to flank with one of your allies without direction, which requires the handle animal skill or some means of communicating with it (such as Speak with Animals). Another potential way to communicate is if you had a familiar in the party capable of speaking with animals of its kind.

The only real thing I could see it doing is attacking your opponents. Anything else will require a means of communication or the handle animal skill.

I'll also note that none of the examples you gave contradicted the examples I gave in the section you quoted. Wraiths have unnatural auras that make animals panicked; the summon animal spell will not override that. Likewise, the summoned animal will keep attacking until the spell is done or until you command it to stop. The only way to command it is with some means of communication or the handle animal skill.

In addition, the spell specifically states that you have to be able to communicate with it in order for it to attack specific enemies or to stop attacking. Without any means of communication, you will need the handle animal skill. This also means that the animal chooses who it will attack, not you (and it knows who your enemies are because of the spell).


ryric wrote:

Handle Animal is the check for driving a vehicle that's under animal power, like a wagon. I know nowadays we don't see many adventurers running around with wagons but it used to be a thing.

I guess I'm saying that if you ever have a wagon or carriage chase it comes in handy.

I still do this. :)

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps Subscriber

I've gotten a ton of use for it in PFS.

With a +15 to my roll at level 6, I've used it to shut down all sorts of animal encounters.


RogueMortal wrote:
I find the most irksome thing about Handle Animal is that it's required to get your Animal Companion to do stuff. You know, your supernaturally enhanced, bonded critter, a class feature that already grants you extra actions a round, slowing down combat and it even requires a little more extra time because you have to see if it feels like doing what you ask every round.

Animal companions are not magic. They are entirely mundane and, indeed, quite replaceable.

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