Looking for Feat Recommendations for an Animal Companion


Advice


I've been looking at feat progression for animal companions and while I do have a plan for a build I feel like there are a lot of wasted feats and there may be something better.

Some background, my character is a cavalier/hunter with eye for talent and a bite attack. he will at minimum be sharing the following teamwork feats, outflank, paired opportunists, snapping flank, and precise strike. As well as some method to reliably flank.

the animal companion (to start with) will be a constrictor with an intelligence of 3. initially I was thinking of doing a grapple build, something like this

Build 1: Light Armor Proficiency(cavalier),Improved Unarmed Strike(1st), Improved Grapple(2nd), Improved natural attack(6th),Deadly Grappler/Throat Slicer(8th), Greater Grapple(10th), Rapid Grappler(14th), Bushwhack(16th)

But I've decided that I want build that emphasizes damage more. So, I'm looking at the following two builds

Build 2: Light Armor Proficiency(cavalier), Improved Unarmed strike(1st), Shark Style(4th), Weapon Focus[Bite] (5th), Martial Focus(8th), Boar Style(10th), Weapon Style Mastery (13th), Feral Combat Training(16th)

Build 3: Light Armor Proficiency(cavalier), Improved Unarmed strike(1st), Bleeding Attack(2nd), Weapon Focus[Bite] (5th), Feral Combat Training(8th), Boar Style(10th)

They both basically do the same thing, Build 2 adds 1d6 bleed to both my bite and unarmed strikes combined with a rend attack, compared to Build 3 which also rends but only adds a 1d4 bleed to said attacks. I feel like Build 2 is better but I'm taking 5 feats just to basically add a rend. Both builds leave out obviously good feats like power attack and improved natural weapon. But I wasn't sure how much mileage I'd really get out of them since animal companions don't progress as quickly as characters.

I have also realized that build 2 doesn't actually work because neither boar style nor shark style are valid choices for Weapon Style Mastery.

One last thing, at level 10 (when I take a level in mammoth rider) I will have the opportunity to upgrade to a lion or even warcat (if I can get DM approval). Which may or may not warrant a different set of feats.

any help will be appreciated

edit: I miss-clicked and posted this originally in the rules forum instead of the advice forum. I've flagged that post and it can be deleted.


Well, if you want to flank reliably, the teamwork feat Pack Flanking is a good choice. It lets you flank with your companion as long as you're adjacent or sharing a square and threatening the same target. Have the PC take it and you can share it with the companion as long as you have 3 levels of Hunter.

The PC can also take the feat Evolved Companion to get things like Improved Natural Damage, Improved Natural Armor, and even another attack for the companion. The feat lets you pick any single point eidolon evolution except Pounce and Reach.


Thanks, I was just trying to short hand things in order to avoid posting my whole build (which I can do if needed). My character will be getting the mythic ability mounted marshal. Hence, my statement about being able to easily flank with my companion. In case there's some good feats based on flanking my animal companion could take.

I have looked at evolved companion, unfortunately since my companion can't take the feat directly and it would only apply to one of my animal companions (the build ultimately ends up with 2) I had to pass on it. Now, if there's a way the AC could take the feat directly, that's very different.


Pack flanking is great. Since you want to reliably flank.

Liberty's Edge

Honestly, it looks to me like you are sinking a lot of feats into something that may not pay in combat. I would take Dirty Fighting, rather than IUS. Serves as IUS for prerequisites, as well as Combat Expertise and int and dex and opens up a lot of combat maneuver options when flanking. And if you take Pack Flanking, you will always be flanking. Many hunters dip one level of Wild Child brawler to bypass the 13 int requirement of Combat Expertise and allow flexing into combat (and teamwork) feats. The flexibility of teaching your companion a trick and letting it overrun or disarm while flanking is amazing.

Don’t overlook the skirmisher’s tricks you can teach your animal companion. They can’t use them many times per day, but a save-free entangle or shaken or half-damage to you can make all the difference in a close fight!

Shark style is a fun idea, although many creatures do not bleed at higher levels, and mobs tend to die quickly once you and you companion are full attacking them. Power Attack is absolutely worth it for a constrictor, since they follow the -1/+3 progression for their bit and all AOOs. I’m sad to see you not taking advantage of that beautiful grab ability, and wonder if you might prefer another companion in that case. If you are interested in rend you want multiple attacks, and the snake only has one until the Multiattack feat at level 9. Perhaps a tiger? Improved Natural Attack is Disappointing for constrictors. Their bite, when large, is a 1d4. Upping that to 1d6 is only +1 average damage.

I notice that you are playing a cavalier/hunter. Is it a Mother’s Fang cavalier, or some other type that allows those levels to stack for your effective Druid level for your ac? If you are planning on riding your companion, there are some additional mount feats you might want to look into, both for yourself and your companion. Valiant Steed, Mounted combat, Indomitable Mount, Ride—by-attack, and other charge feats.

If you’re going for a Paired Opportunist build, consider Broken Wing Gambit.

Iron Will is incredibly valuable for animal companions. Having them constantly feared, charmed, etc is very frustrating, and enemies will target that weak will save. Think about improving the defenses and flexibility of your companion, As well as it’s offenses.

Have fun with your critter!


keerawa wrote:
Honestly, it looks to me like you are sinking a lot of feats into something that may not pay in combat. I would take Dirty Fighting, rather than IUS. Serves as IUS for prerequisites, as well as Combat Expertise and int and dex and opens up a lot of combat maneuver options when flanking. And if you take Pack Flanking, you will always be flanking. Many hunters dip one level of Wild Child brawler to bypass the 13 int requirement of Combat Expertise and allow flexing into combat (and teamwork) feats. The flexibility of teaching your companion a trick and letting it overrun or disarm while flanking is amazing.

I'm mainly looking at ius so that it can gain an iterative attack. Especially since it loses multiattack to the charger archetype. wild child seems like a great option for the reasons you mention, im not sure if i have room for it and cavalier is already giving me combat expertise for free.

keerawa wrote:
Don’t overlook the skirmisher’s tricks you can teach your animal companion. They can’t use them many times per day, but a save-free entangle or shaken or half-damage to you can make all the difference in a close fight!

yep, it looks like fun :) are there any that you have found to be particularly useful?

keerawa wrote:
Shark style is a fun idea, although many creatures do not bleed at higher levels, and mobs tend to die quickly once you and you companion are full attacking them.

thats a fair point. i mainly saw that for basically one feat it will throw 3 to 4 bleed effects per round. sure they dont stack but 4d6 take the highest for applicable targets seemed nice

keerawa wrote:
Power Attack is absolutely worth it for a constrictor, since they follow the -1/+3 progression for their bit and all AOOs. I’m sad to see you not taking advantage of that beautiful grab ability, and wonder if you might prefer another companion in that case.

yeah, grab is nice but it didnt look like a grapple build would play nice with so many teamwork feats that trigger off of flanking i might stick to a grabble build for my non-mount companion. yeah, the higher returns on power attack make sense ill find some way to include it.

keerawa wrote:
If you are interested in rend you want multiple attacks, and the snake only has one until the Multiattack feat at level 9. Perhaps a tiger? Improved Natural Attack is Disappointing for constrictors. Their bite, when large, is a 1d4. Upping that to 1d6 is only +1 average damage.

yeah, a constrictor wouldn't of been my first choice but its what the archetype gives me and its not terrible at low levels. Having something ridable with both a climb and a swim speed seems extremely useful at low levels when magic is limited. Its what makes mammoth rider so appealing. It will specifically give me more options, `so ill be able to switch to a tiger.

keerawa wrote:
I notice that you are playing a cavalier/hunter. Is it a Mother’s Fang cavalier, or some other type that allows those levels to stack for your effective Druid level for your ac?

yes, mothers fang and pack lord. once i get horse master i can stick to hunter. its a wrath of the righteous campaign so ive also been looking at uprooter scout.

keerawa wrote:
If you are planning on riding your companion, there are some additional mount feats you might want to look into, both for yourself and your companion. Valiant Steed, Mounted combat, Indomitable Mount, Ride—by-attack, and other charge feats.

ill look at the mounted feats. i will be getting the mythic ability mounted marshal which basically gives me pack flanking for free and a triggerable spirited charge

keerawa wrote:
If you’re going for a Paired Opportunist build, consider Broken Wing Gambit

its on my short list, i get about 9 teamwork feats and have settled on 5 so far. for the other 4 i have a list of 6 feats and a note saying i get to pick 4.

keerawa wrote:
Iron Will is incredibly valuable for animal companions. Having them constantly feared, charmed, etc is very frustrating, and enemies will target that weak will save. Think about improving the defenses and flexibility of your companion, As well as it’s offenses.

yeah, i havent checked to see what its saves will look like. i had a necromancer get "killed" by his own undead minion and it prompted me to invest in a wand of halt undead. i put killed in quotes because his determination armor enchant kicked in and i finnally passed my opposed cha check. But its a lesson worth applying here as well.

thank you for the reply

Paizo Employee Customer Service Representative

Merged duplicate threads. Removed duplicate or posts made redundant by the merge and move to Advice forum.

Liberty's Edge

Skirmisher's Tricks?

My character is still low level, so I haven't tried these out in actual play. But Surprise Shift, for a swift free 5' step, that allows you to get a charge lane or take ANOTHER 5' step to full-attack, block a caster's escape, or offer another player a flank bonus, looks very tasty.

I would also pick up either Rattling Stike, for an excellent save-free debuff that lowers their attacks and saves, or Tangling Attack for a debuff that half the high-level enemies won't be immune to. I'm not sure about the Wrath of the Righteous campaign, but the list of enemies immune to mind-affecting and/or fear is depressingly long.

Sic 'Em may or may not work, giving your animal companion a chance to provide YOU with an extra attack on a target with a swift action. Check with your GM.

Bolster Companion could definitely save your life. Imagine something attacks you while you're on your mount - it uses its immediate action to up your AC by 4 and decrease any damage taken by half. You use your own immediate action for a ride check, to either drop down and use your mount as soft cover for another 4 AC, or counter a simultaneous attack against your mount with Mounted Combat!

Especially with multiple natural attacks like a tiger has, it's not generally worth using IUS for one primary attack and one -5 iterative, at the price of making all your natural attacks secondary, with a -5 to hit and only 1/2 str bonus to damage. Unless you're, IDK, trying to chew through a caster's mirror images or something unusual like that.

An animal companion's Will saves will be terrible. Indomitable Mount is so, so worthwhile. I just GM'd a game where I nearly killed a player whose character made the save against a harpy's captivating song - but his mount didn't. The mount, by the way, died horribly.

Escape Route and Improved Spell Sharing should also be on your list of teamwork feats to consider. Remember, your most recent Hunter TW feat can be switched to any other you qualify for as a standard action, wisdom bonus times per day. Also, you can easily retrain your companion's tricks, including skirmisher tricks, using Handle Animal. So if something isn't working out, or you know you'll be facing a particular challenge, change things up to rise to that challenge.

If you'll be fighting in the Worldwound, make sure your companions' attacks can overcome DR. Since constrictors don't have a neck slot, they can't wear a +x (or menacing) AOMF like many hunter companions would. The Feykiller hunter archetype lets first one, then all of your companion's natural attacks count as cold iron. The Eldritch Claws feat makes all natural attacks count as silver and magic.

Good luck with your character; sounds like you'll have fun with him!

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