Feats for my Griffon Animal Companion?


I have an Aasimar Seeker Nature Oracle that will be getting the Celestial Servant (already has this), Monstrous Mount and Monstrous Mount Mastery feats and trying to decide on which feats to get for her Griffon Animal Companion. This is a PFS character.

First of all the concept of the character is to be able to pinch hit and fill any role. She is currently only 2nd level but I have big plans for her. The idea isn't to take the spotlight away from anyone. If someone is better than her in a party then she is happy to let them take that role. But in PFS it is good to diversify as you never know what will be at your table and the goal with this character is to help fill in at any table. It is a combination of a thought experiment with a role playing concept I really wanted to try.

As a Seeker she can handle the role of trap scout. She has the Skilled racial trait which helps with her perception checks. With a 14 Int she has a decent number of skill points as well. The downfall I am finding to Seeker is getting rid of the class skills which would really help with a Nature Oracle with a Mount.

A 19 Cha goes a long way to making her competant as a party face, Skilled gives a +2 bonus to Diplomacy as well. I plan on getting a Circlet of Persuasion and Cha headband as well so this is only going to get better. Of course as a buffer and healer she has that covered fairly well just by being an Oracle. Nature Mystery helps here as well in a few ways. The only role she doesn't really fill well is artillery or blaster but later on she could get a few spells to fill in for that as well. Her save DCs should be pretty high so she shouldn't be too bad there.

For combat, though, she doesn't do much directly. She relies on her Animal Companion for that. Currently her Animal Companion is a Celestial Horse (or Featherhorse if you prefer, hehe) named Raisins. At 5th level Raisins is going to digivolve to Belatrix (a Celestial Griffon) and at 7th level I will be able to ride her while flying. Thanks to Nature's Whispers, a Mithral Agile Breastplate and a Mithral Heavy Shield she should be fairly survivable in melee. Her attacks are terrible though. Outside of the occasional Gozreh's Trident I doubt she will be contributing directly to combat much. I was considering getting a Transformative Spear that I could use as a Lance but her attack bonus is so low I doubt it is worth it.

So with this in mind I am looking for ways to help the Griffon be able to meaningfully contribute in combat consistently. Here are some things I am considering:

Toughness: This is a must have. Regardless of my other choices I am definitely going to take this.

Improved Unarmed Strike -> Dragon Style: For charge based Animal Companions (especially those with pounce) this is a pretty solid strategy. However, with the Griffon flying after 7th level it makes this less appealing as difficult terrain will rarely interfere with charge lines and allies will rarely be in the way.

Hover or Skill Focus: Fly: With average maneuverability and Large size that nets a -2 modifier to fly checks. It does have a workable static Dex of 15 which scales with level. By 7th level it will have a +2 to Str and Dex from Animal Companion chart bonuses. With a rank in Fly as a class skill that would make it's Fly skill a 6. Reading the Fly skill that makes this kinda bad. One idea I had to fix this without spending feats and skill ranks is picking up a Sky Marine's Elite Saddle to get a +5 competance bonus to Fly checks. I probably am getting this anyway as my character could use the bonus to Ride checks as well anyway and the Featherfall effect seems valuable.

Improved Unarmed Strike -> Grapple line of feats: This would help with locking down an enemy and making sure the Rake attacks hit after a charge. Grapple isn't really something I'm interested in, though.

Weapon Focus (Claws? Talons?): I think I'm going to skip this to avoid a rules quagmire. Griffons have Talons on the front and get Rake attacks on the back. The normal Griffon statblock lists the Rake attacks as "Claws". So I probably can't get Weapon Focus on both Talons and Claws without spending two feats like Great Cats can. Besides I'm also considering picking up Evolved Companion to give my Griffon Wing Buffet attacks. On a multiattacking Animal Companion with 4 different types of natural attacks Weapon Focus isn't very desirable.

Death from Above: +5 on charge attacks from the air rather than +2 seems good. Unlike Weapon Focus it applies to all attacks on a charge and with Pounce that can be devastating.

Power Attack: Its scaling damage. It might be better on a one big attack type Animal Companion but then again with a potential 7 attacks (8 with Divine Power) coming the enemy's way each turn dealing more damage per attack seems good. It also will help with punching through DR.

Combat Reflexes -> Bodyguard -> In Harm's Way: Even with a high standing AC the character isn't going to have a lot of HP. The Griffon, on the other hand, will. It will have Toughness, a good Con and +3HP from the Blackthorn Rancher trait. The downfalls are that a Griffon doesn't have reach so part of Combat Reflexes goes to waste. On the other hand being Large sized at least threatens more squares. Righteous Might will give it reach, so there is that. Bodyguard helps with AC but she should already be pretty high with Cha to AC, Breasplate, Shield, Barkskin and the occasional Shield of Faith. I'm not sure if it is worth investing 2 feats from my Animal Companion to up my already high AC. In Harm's Way is good for being able to take a hit for me, though, but I'm not sure it is worth the 3 feat investment.

Armor Proficiencies: I don't normally do this on Animal Companions. Mithral Chain Shirt barding is cheap and has a 0 ACP so proficiency isn't necessary. It has a good natural armor bonus and Dex. Barkskin will help as well as the occasional Shield of Faith. I doubt heavier armor proficiencies will be needed and besides it all adds to weight which I need to try to keep low.

Teamwork Feats: I thought about some of these but I don't get enough feats for it to be effective. The saddle that I plan on getting allows for sharing of the rider's to the Animal Companion so it is possibly doable with one or two feats late in my build. Precise Strike could be a good boost in damage. Outflank and Pack Flanking could help with lousy to hit bonuses on my character but generally I think of that as a lost cause anyway. Still it would help with the Griffon hitting if my buffs weren't enough. The biggest problem is this cuts into my character's feats which are already in short supply.

Narrow Frame: Its useful for getting the Griffon into tight places. Unfortunately it lacks the usefulness of Belt of the Weasel or Corset of the Viskkanya which would give him Compression and actually let him get into and out of places he couldn't normally fit. For this reason I tend to think that Extra Item Slot might be better. Speaking of which...

Extra Item Slot: Belt of the Weasel could be good but that precludes being able to get a Strength Belt. A Belt of Thunderous Charging seems ideal for a Griffon. I could take this feat twice and also get the Griffon a Corset of the Vishkanya.

Flyby Attack: This feat is terrible. Its worse for a pouncer. Same goes for the Spring Attack line of feats.

Other generally useful feats: I could take Dodge, Iron Will or any of the saving throw feats. I kinda feel like several of these would be a waste. It will already have stellar saves due to gaining my character's Cha bonus to saves (via Friend to the Animals). It's AC should already be fairly high. Run? Endurance? Diehard?

Any other ideas? Opinions on which of these might be most useful? Any obvious choices I may have missed?

Any other suggestions about gear options or character options that would be applicable to this Griffon?

Aw... nuthin?

Dirty Fighting:
Benefit(s): When you attempt a combat maneuver check against a foe you are flanking, you can forgo the +2 bonus on your attack roll for flanking to instead have the combat maneuver not provoke an attack of opportunity. If you have a feat or ability that allows you to attempt the combat maneuver without provoking an attack of opportunity, you can instead increase the bonus on your attack roll for flanking to +4 for the combat maneuver check.

Special: This feat counts as having Dex 13, Int 13, Combat Expertise, and Improved Unarmed Strike for the purposes of meeting the prerequisites of the various improved combat maneuver feats, as well as feats that require those improved combat maneuver feats as prerequisites.

Narrow Frame and extra item slot: shoulders (for cloak of resistance)

Tyrant Lizard King: Dirty Fighting for what follow up feats?

Abraham Z.: Do you think it still needs higher saves even after Friends of Animals giving it my Cha bonus (+5-6) to saves? It will also get Devotion for another +4 to Will and Evasion.

I would strongly suggest Iron Will and anything else you can do sure up that Will save. If you are riding it, then there's a number of Teamwork Feats that can be good in this regard.

Grand Lodge

The point of combat reflexes on the bodyguard is defensive so you can aid ac multiple time a round so reach is no necessary. I like this route with the shield companion spell. It provides a good amount of support to your team with out using any actions.

Played with a larger animal companion from 4-13 not once did I need narrow frame. Carry companion is the easiest way to move your AC from place to place for the lowest investment.

You should be able to get a decent fly skill with out feats. Get something made of griffon's main for an extra +2.

Dragon style is not super useful as a flying creature you always have a charge lane. Getting to damage to natural attacks takes a lot of feats.

Grapple feats are good. Only grapple casters.

Death from above is good.

Power attack can be good if you are buffing your AC with divine favour etc.

Extra item slot is good.

Iron will on every animal companion.

Do you guys still think it needs higher saves even after Friends of Animals giving it my Cha bonus (+5-6) to saves? It will also get Devotion for another +4 to Will and Evasion.

Also, Carry Companion isn't on my spell list. :( I'm considering getting a small sized +1 hostilling tower shield that I can put in a Handy Haversack when not using my Griffon.

Griffon is a magical beast, not an animal, I believe...

Grand Lodge

Friends of Animals does not work with the Griffon. Like Abraham said so yes.

Evolved companion, can also be useful. Increase damage dice, or natural ac increase.

Grand Lodge

It is not a feat taken by the AC and it is not PFS legal. But it is usually a good recommendation.

Friends of Animals does work. Read Celestial Servant.

Grand Lodge

you may still treat it as an animal when using Handle Animal, wild empathy, or any other spells or class abilities that specifically affect animals.

Emphasis mine.

Griffon was never an animal it can't 'still' be an animal. This falls in rules grey areas which I avoid for my builds in PFS. It is your build and your call though. I stand by my advice.

I would pick a role either grapple, pounce/damage, or bodyguard. Each should be fun in there own right.

Oh, Evolved Companion isn't legal in PFS. I guess I'll have to take that out of my build.

It isn't a grey area at all.

Benefit: Your animal companion, familiar, or mount gains the celestial template and becomes a magical beast, though you may still treat it as an animal when using Handle Animal, wild empathy, or any other spells or class abilities that specifically affect animals.

It doesn't matter what the critter was before. It gains the celestial template and is treated as an animal for spells and class abilities. Friend of Animals is a class ability. No grey area at all.

I'm less conversant in the details of PFS legality, but here are my suggestions.

Your biggest issues are being severely feat constrained (isn't it everyone's?) and falling out of the sky on fly skill checks. I'd focus on cheap items that can give you skill bonuses like Ioun stones for your Griffon. This page is a good start, but it isn't vetted for PFS.

Skip IUS and just get a Perfectionist Shavtoosh, it gives IUS as a slotless item.

I'd never take armor proficiency for a flying mount. You either have options which reduce ACP to 0, or you're looking at not being able to fly at all with medium and heavy armor.

Also double check if saddles take up the belt slot. I seem to remember they do.

Honestly Monstrous Mount and Mastery is a complete trap. I think you're better off just getting Air Walk as a spell known and maybe digivolve your Horse into a Genie-touched Companion Horse from the recent Qadira splatbook. If you pick the Air Genie-touch Horse, it can even cast its own Air Walk as an SLA.

With a Griffon you have a fly speed of 40 ft and you're constantly under threat of straight up falling out of the sky. With an Air Walk-ing Horse your movespeed is higher and you don't have to make fly checks. With an Air Walk-ing Shissah (a breed of horse from the same Qadira splatbook), the Thoroughbred trait, Totem Spirit, Quah Bond, and Totem Beast Stag you can get a land movespeed ~90 ft that also works in the air with no fly checks. I don't know how much of that is PFS legal though.

Unless I'm missing something, you don't qualify for Monstrous Mount.

I would use Dirty Fighting if you intend on getting any Combat Maneuver feats since Improved Unarmed Strike would not benefit your companion. IUS and Dragon Style would be a waste of feats IMO since the damage would only be 1d4 for a Large creature AND, as you mentioned, Flying.

Lune wrote:
Improved Unarmed Strike -> Grapple line of feats: This would help with locking down an enemy and making sure the Rake attacks hit after a charge. Grapple isn't really something I'm interested in, though.

Rake attack can be made at the end of a charge as long as you have *Pounce. You don't get to make additional Rake attacks from successfully initiating a grapple. You can make 2 Rake attacks as Free actions when you maintain a grapple.

I think the Bodyguard line would work well once you are constantly riding. Especially if your companion has the Bodyguard archetype.

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Bonded Mount from the Nature Mystery is a Mount class feature. Should qualify just fine.

Hushed: Thank you for your post. The linked page has 3rd party material on it mixed in with Paizo stuff. I have my own sheet that I have built over the years that has similar things. I agree, feat starvation is prevalent in almost all of my builds, even my pure Fighter ones. No exception here, that is for sure.

Perfectionist Shavtoosh is surprisingly PFS legal. It is even an amazing value for what it does. I am opposed to having an feats that require an item to be used, though, as if it doesn't have access to the item it loses the use of feats that use it as a prerequisite. Still... at that value it is worth considering.

Alas, you are also right on the Belt slot taking up Saddles. I think it is going to be a near requirement for me to get that Saddle. Its too bad that it precludes the use of Belts. Ah well. I may still get Extra Item Slot to get it a Corset of the Vishkanya as it is strickly better than Narrow Frame.

While you have interesting horse ideas with the content from the Qadira book, I'm going to take a pass on this build. Besides, Griffons from Monstrous Mount Mastery get a fly speed of 80ft, not 40.

Tyrant Lizard King: As Hushed said, I qualify for Monstrous Mount just peachy. :)

I did think about getting Combat Maneuver feats. There just aren't any that I'd like. However, Dirty Fighting does help to open up Style feats. ...although I can't think of any that are particularly good there either.

I know that Rake attacks can be made as part of a pouce which is why I said "after a charge" in my first post. As in the round after a charge when maintaining a grapple. We are on the same page here.

I will not be getting the Body Guard Animal Companion Archetype for this build. It replaces too many things that are amazing. Share Spells alone is not worth giving up but also losing Evasion? No thanks, hard pass. On a non-full caster I would consider it and definitely on a Cavalier. But not on a full Oracle.

But out of curiosity what are your thoughts on a 3 feat investment to get to In Harm's Way? By that level my character should be rocking a pretty hefty AC. I count around a 30 AC (+7 from Mithril Agile Breastplate, +3 from Mithril Heavy Shield, +6 from Cha, +1 Ring, +3 Barkskin) with reasonable gear and no short term buffs. Getting an extra 2 points from Bodyguard seems a drop in a bucket. In Harm's Way is good though particularly for touch attacks. But I would have invested 3 feats by then.

I'm leaning pretty heavily to the following in priority order:
Power Attack
Death From Above

after this it is a toss up between Extra Item Slot to get a Corset of the Vishkanya for it first or continuing on into the In Harm's Way line.

I'm kind of dubious about your flying mount taking a hit for you. It seems like it could end with griffon and aasimar blood on the ground, surrounded by delighted enemies ready to stab them.

Lunge and extra item slot seem like better choices to me.

Lune wrote:
Besides, Griffons from Monstrous Mount Mastery get a fly speed of 80ft, not 40.

The Monstrous Mount Mastery note I'm reading says their fly speed is reduced by half if carrying a rider. It's in the Griffon stat block. So a Griffon has a fly speed of 80 ft as long as you aren't on it.

It's also possible to get around the things you trade away for the Bodyguard archetype.

Improved Spell Sharing is better than Share Spells and Improved Share Spells and gets shared by your Saddle.

Totem Beast: Mouse gets your evasion and improved evasion back.

I still wouldn't suggest it, though. You really don't have the feats and while it makes your Animal Companion more survivable, making your character more effective will probably improve its survivability more.

You might think you qualify for monstrous mount, but you should absolutely prepare for table variation.

It may sound similar and act similar, but there are differences. I'd love it to work, but I know plenty GMs that would call it illegal

I thought the point of PFS was not to have to deal with that kind of table variation. Quote the channel is channel is channel rule at them, then run away to a different table.

table variation is common, too many things are open to interpretation... Especially when it comes to something where the wording doesn't quite match

Just be ready is all I'm saying

plaidwandering wrote:

The channel is the channel is why I think it should work

Read the archer fighter can't have weapon training faq, for it works slightly differently so it can't have nice things perspective

Yeah, I was complaining about that FAQ in another thread. It managed to be arbitrary and self contradicting all in one class. By the examples they gave Unarmed Fighter should both have and not have weapon training. Really they just need to errata. Or come out with Pathfinder 2.

I highly doubt that table variation will be an issue. I am fully aware of the SKR post linked above and the fact that it holds water still. Where his post says "those all are intended to work the same way, even though they're not given identical names." my case is even stronger as the class abilities not only says it works like the other class ability it is named the same thing. In other words Monstrous Mount calls out needing "Bonded Mount" and that is the name of the class ability that I have. Like I said, there is no grey area here for there to be table variation on.

I agree that on vague rules that table variation can and does exist in PFS. This is not one of those situations. I dismiss this as a possibility as an issue that I will have to deal with. Further, I don't need to argue about it with people on the internet that I won't nd up playing with and couldn't convince me of their incorrect interpretation anyway. And, on the off chance that I did ever sit at a table with someone with the opinion that it doesn't work I am confident that I could convince them otherwise. If I couldn't I am sure a member of leadership (many of which I have already spoken with on this issue) could. If not then they are not the type of GM I am willing to play under and I have no issue with making it a non-issue by excusing myself from that table.

avr: You have a good point on it taking too big of a hit and us both end up plummeting from the sky. In my experience GMs rarely have enemies target mounts. This might change with a flying mount though. I can't stop that but I can choose to not use In Harms Way if I doubt it will survive. Also, if my character goes down then my mount loses it's healer. If my mount goes down (less likely as it is far more durable) then at least my character is still alive to bring the mount back up. Or more likely just heal it up.

Still, you have a good point.

But why Lunge? It doesn't work outside of my turn so it doesn't work with Combat Reflexes.

Hushed: Ah, so you are correct. I am fine with 40ft fly speed. Good points on Bodyguard Archetype ability replacement. I still think I'm better off with an archetypeless Animal Companion. I would love to one day be able to use Animal Growth on it. :)

So what are your suggestions if I start with Toughness, Power Attack, Death From Above?

Why lunge? With flight & lunge or other reach you can attack some enemies without ever entering their reach, from a position (10' above the enemy) where they can't move and attack you.

Hushed wrote:
Bonded Mount from the Nature Mystery is a Mount class feature. Should qualify just fine.

Bonded Mount(Su) and Mount(Ex) are two different class features. Just because they both have "Mount" in their name doesn't mean they are considered the same ability.

You need:
Divine Bond(Sp),
Hunter's Bond(Ex) or

A generous GM may allow it if he likes the concept, like myself, but one who is strict on rules may disapprove.

Lune wrote:

Hushed: Ah, so you are correct. I am fine with 40ft fly speed. Good points on Bodyguard Archetype ability replacement. I still think I'm better off with an archetypeless Animal Companion. I would love to one day be able to use Animal Growth on it. :)

So what are your suggestions if I start with Toughness, Power Attack, Death From Above?

Extra Item Slot. You could also get a lot of mileage out of Additional Traits. Once your character has Pack Flanking and the saddle, Dirty Fighting probably gives you your widest array of options.

Sadly the Griffon will be so focused on just flying it won't be able to give you utility intimidate or anything skill based.

Tyrant Lizard King: Yes, it does mean they are considered the same thing. Bonded Mount is a Mount class feature. Saying otherwise directly disagrees with develope intent per the linked post.

I tire of passive aggressive non-disagreement. Either say you disagree and wouldn't allow it or say you agree and would allow it. Until you point out someone who actually disagrees that it is illegal I call your point moot. Even if you find someone who believes that it isn't allowed it likely isn't someone I play with. If it is I am happy to point them in the direction of my leadership who agrees that it works. If this imaginary person still disagrees then I am happy to dismiss myself from the table of someone who wishes to ignore PFS rules dictating that they follow developer intent when it is posted and ignoring campaign leadership.

Can we move on now?

Can you please share this post you are referring to?
Or at least the rules that clarify that Bonded Mount(Su) "counts/functions as" or "is considered" the Mount(Ex) class feature?

The post was shared further upthread by hushed.

It's not an imaginary person, I have several specific people in mind. Maybe people in your area are more relaxed. I've played in two areas and in both there's been a mix of relaxed and hard ass GMs

both of the non-cleric channels say "like a cleric" which is cited in SKR's logic

bonded mount does not say like a cavalier's mount, so opponents are going to tell you the post doesn't apply. To me it does meet the quacks like a duck part of SKR's logic.

I very much want it to work for you, I want to play one like this myself - however I know I'd run into trouble with some of the GMs that I play with so I haven't bothered.

we're not trying to be passive aggressive non-disagreement or whatever, we're just trying to make sure you have a heads up to a potential issue

Still no one who actually disagrees. Still only warnings that someone may. Still imaginary people.

I know you say you are trying to look out for my best interest but I have already done my do diligence and vetted the concept with local leadership and other GMs I play with. Despite the warnings here of possible dissection and disagreement I have never heard anyone actually say they think it doesn't work.

Can we move on now?

Don't be bitter about people not wanting you to be unable to play a concept that may get turned down. It's coming off really defensive against people trying to support your concept.

They just are warning you it may not fly. And I agree. I'm glad you did your due diligence in making sure things are kosher on your end.

I'll be bitter if I'd like, thank you very much. I guess I'm just a bitter kinda guy. I have asked if we can move on repeatedly to more constructive discussion. The warning was acknowledged and dismissed repeatedly.

Bonded Mount(Su) from the Oracle Revelation IS NOT the Mount(Ex) class feature. Nowhere does it say that it is treated or functions as the Mount class feature. I'm glad your GM approves your concept, like I said I would, but by the rules it's not permitted.

TyrantLiazardKing wrote:
Just because they both have "Mount" in their name doesn't mean they are considered the same ability.
Lune wrote:
Yes, it does mean they are considered the same thing.

By that logic, you are saying you could qualify for Combat Patrol with Combat Expertise instead of Combat Reflexes because they both have "Combat" in their name. You are wrong.

I asked you to provide something supporting your perspective and you couldn't. As I said before, a GM can approve that if he wishes... that doesn't change the fact that it's not permitted normally. If you're gonna be salty with everyone who offers advice you don't like then people will start ignoring you... on here and in person. You can move on with that.

Channel is channel is channel. You are wrong.

I'm pretty sure (about 100%) bonded mount gives you a mount that acts as a mount.

Grand Lodge

Please parse my logic. Bounded Mount is definitely a druids animal companion equivalent. Like channel it is called out in the revelation.

Now the feat in question, monsterous mount, does not apply to druid animal companions but sub set of three specific but releated class features divine bond, Mount or or hunter's bond.

So what has to be shown is that Bounded Mount = Mount without invoking the druid animal companion (because the druid ac would not qualify for this feat)

Evidence for: it has the same animal restrictions, gives int like divine bond and has mount in the name. The paladin's mount in its text is actually called a Bounded Mount.

Evidence against: it calls out the druid class feature not mount. It lacks features of the either the mount or divine bond class feature.

I hope I got everything. I'm trying to be fair with the hope, not of changing minds but that a clean summary will let people make there own decissions.

Hope I helped if not sorry.

Grand Lodge

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I got around it in my worg-riding build by taking a single level of cavalier (added bonus of a free teamwork feat(!), a d10 starting hit die, full bab, free armor proficiency for my pet, and no ACP for ride checks). And 3 more levels of hunter made it a 4th level mount that qualifies for Monstrous Mount. Though specifically saying it requires "Divine Bond(Sp), Hunter's Bond(Ex) or Mount(Ex)" is just wrong. The book doesn't say that.

Specifically the book (pdf) says

Inner Sea Combat, 14 wrote:

Prerequisites: Handle Animal 4 ranks; Ride 4 ranks;

divine bond (mount), hunter’s bond (animal companion),
or mount class feature with an effective druid level of 4.

But in the end my character wasn't an oracle. I did consider that to qualify for Monstrous Mount though, and no one had any issues with it when I asked then.

Community & Digital Content Director

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Removed a post. Condescending commentary towards other participants in the thread are not necessary.

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