The Leadership rules list a number of special creatures and their level equivalent. Are there rules for adapting creatures that aren't on that list as Cohorts?
I have a character who wants to take his own severed and animated hand as a Cohort, but I have no idea how to determine the level the hand should count as before I start adding class levels.
Class levels for that will be interesting to say the least. It could take casting class levels if it doesn't need any verbal, material, or focus requirements and can perform the somatic components with a finger flick or while standing on the stump. If it takes martial classes I'd say it basically needs to be a monk, or unarmed fighter of some kind, because weapons weigh more than it does.
A permanent fly spell would be helpful for a lot of this, you'll want a backup way to do so if it gets dispelled. I can see it holding a sword or something of the sort if it can fly, still limited to one handed weapons for pretty obvious reasons.
I'd say the number of class levels is going to depend on what class he takes and how well it meshes with the limitations of the creature. A touch spell caster that can successfully use chill touch and fly with a high CMB to grapple and cast nasty things, fewer class levels than a barbarian hand that only does normal crawling hand stuff and happens to be tough and deal almost decent damage.
Start it off at half your level with DM agreement not to actually kill it for a while, raising the level a bit each adventure (as it acclimatizes to it's new form and abilities presumably) until it is contributing at the level you two and the party are comfortable with, then hold and call it good. Unfortunately there's not really a way I can tell you the exact level to put it at, but starting low and working up until it feels right is easier than guessing high and having to un-level it.
Yes, I'm aware of those feats. I like them as a concept, but they're pure feat-bloat. There's no reason for the feat line to exist when Improved Familiar already exists and is unequivocally better.
In the game I'm discussing the character already has a Crawling Hand familiar. The cohort is going to be his other hand.
He lost a hand at 4th level and animated it as his familiar. For a while he got by with only one good hand. He put his hand familiar into a spiked gauntlet, and made a bracket that would connect the gauntlet to the metal bracer/cap he wore over his stump (kinda like Ash's chainsaw mount in Army of Darkness). When he needs to he just twists and pulls to pop his familiar hand off and let it run around.
Halfway through 6th level he ended up losing the other hand. It was a problem for a bit, but we just hit 7th level and he picked up Leadership. So, new animated hand.
Also, we're in the process of making him one of these which will fit into the gauntlet. So even with both hands running aorund on thier own he'll still be able to cast spells.
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Once you solve that, go for a permanent version of this.
There are no rules for adding creatures to the cohort list. [If there were, I would add a lower level hag for my witch.]
I would look under advancing monsters for how to add class levels to unclassed monsters, and also also how to eval CR for classed monsters. While CR is not Level, it is similar, and can be used for this purpose.