How to handle animal companions?


Hell's Rebels


I started new campaign of Hell's Rebellion just a week ago. One player made a character of Goliath Druid with dinosaur animal companion. I allowed this, as... well, I would feel pretty bad denying the player his own pet dinosaur in the city where bardish superstar has one.

However, I feel that Barzillai's reign of terror would be ridiculous if it would not take measures against such things roaming city streets. I mean... this is g*+&&~n large dinosaur - and if it would be allowed to roam free, entire opressiveness of Barzillai's reign may be questioned. I think of requiring players to pay bribes to e.g. get this dinosaur across city gates and this one bridge. (Thankfully, they have some connections that may ease this one.)

What are your thoughts?


Out of interest why is a Goliath druid living in and keen to liberate Kintargo? May seem flippant but you don’t really want someone saying two and a half books in - “I could just leave town you know “

As to the dinosaur - doesnt it start quite small? I didn’t think any animal companions started as large but I could be wrong

I believe the players guide mentions animals aren’t unusual . Only if it is large size will there be a real issue. And once that happens the small rooms most of this campaign takes place in may be problematic

People have posted about increasing notoriety for obviously noticeable PCs so you could consider that? Hard to stay under wraps if you are a dinosaur or a group of grippli or aasimar for example...


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

it's probably not a good character concept for the AP. work with them to adjust it.

there's many 'social' scenarios in the book and having a triceratops walking around isn't going to make sense. you can get away with a fox or a cat or a raven though.

also... bardish superstar also having a pet dinosaur? what sort of party did you allow? did you not send them the player's guide?

it goes through the best familiars / companions for the RP. large dinosaurs are not listed amongst them.


Yakman wrote:

it's probably not a good character concept for the AP. work with them to adjust it.

there's many 'social' scenarios in the book and having a triceratops walking around isn't going to make sense. you can get away with a fox or a cat or a raven though.

also... bardish superstar also having a pet dinosaur? what sort of party did you allow? did you not send them the player's guide?

it goes through the best familiars / companions for the RP. large dinosaurs are not listed amongst them.

Is your bardish superstar comment a joke? Apologies if it is but it doesn’t come across online!


Lanathar wrote:
Out of interest why is a Goliath druid living in and keen to liberate Kintargo? May seem flippant but you don’t really want someone saying two and a half books in - “I could just leave town you know “

There is not a problem with motivation – Goliath being just an archetype, he’s just a good druid that found this particular lord disagreeable. I don’t think he will go ‘I abandon this city’. That player is really fine – and going along with the campaign just fine. It is more of a case of an experienced player that enjoys having weird builds than ‘give me my toy or I WILL REBEL’.

Now, I am really OK with this. However, I wonder how I should handle this – as on one hand AP is supposed to be about being low profile, and OTOH everyone (Haace, Sargaeta, etc.) is able to just waltz in Silver Raven’s den anyway. Cheliax is supposed to be prejudiced and hateful of many races and outsiders, yet I would be hard pressed to find many NPC for whom race has been an obstacle. And well... Kintargo has half a Bestiary hidden in it and noone bats an eyelid.

So… I wonder what perfect balance is, so the player would have his fun, yet Kintargo would be oppressive enough. Sure, I may increase Notoriety – thanks for the suggestion! - and warn that it’s either brining animal companion or increase of Notoriety. (I think he would leave his companion in hideout.) However, I wonder what problems should be aside from duh, you may have trouble being sneaky. Guards asking them to put a muzzle on? ‘You cannot pass!’ at bridges at gates? Player-tailored Proclamation forced removal of any reptile from the street?

Yakman wrote:
also... bardish superstar also having a pet dinosaur? what sort of party did you allow? did you not send them the player's guide?

I was talking about Shensen and not second PC’s animal companion, you know. I’d rather not deal with ‘Oh, and you told me that dinosaurs are a big no-no for Kintargo’s socialites?’ sulking down the line. :-)

Thanks for the remark about size! I think it may be mistake made in haste – and if so, it would take away much of the issue.

I also don’t really think that bear – which is included in animal companion list in Player’s Guide and stated to bring next to no troubles – is any more or less obnoxious than dinosaur. (I think that begs the question of whether strolling around Kintargo’s streets with bear is considered normal.)

Edit:

Lanathar wrote:
Is your bardish superstar comment a joke? Apologies if it is but it doesn’t come across online!

I think he was just quoting me - and I didn't really joke. It wasn't about PCs, tho, but Shensen ;-)


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
RadTek wrote:
Lanathar wrote:
Out of interest why is a Goliath druid living in and keen to liberate Kintargo? May seem flippant but you don’t really want someone saying two and a half books in - “I could just leave town you know “

There is not a problem with motivation – Goliath being just an archetype, he’s just a good druid that found this particular lord disagreeable. I don’t think he will go ‘I abandon this city’. That player is really fine – and going along with the campaign just fine. It is more of a case of an experienced player that enjoys having weird builds than ‘give me my toy or I WILL REBEL’.

Now, I am really OK with this. However, I wonder how I should handle this – as on one hand AP is supposed to be about being low profile, and OTOH everyone (Haace, Sargaeta, etc.) is able to just waltz in Silver Raven’s den anyway. Cheliax is supposed to be prejudiced and hateful of many races and outsiders, yet I would be hard pressed to find many NPC for whom race has been an obstacle. And well... Kintargo has half a Bestiary hidden in it and noone bats an eyelid.

So… I wonder what perfect balance is, so the player would have his fun, yet Kintargo would be oppressive enough. Sure, I may increase Notoriety – thanks for the suggestion! - and warn that it’s either brining animal companion or increase of Notoriety. (I think he would leave his companion in hideout.) However, I wonder what problems should be aside from duh, you may have trouble being sneaky. Guards asking them to put a muzzle on? ‘You cannot pass!’ at bridges at gates? Player-tailored Proclamation forced removal of any reptile from the street?

Yakman wrote:
also... bardish superstar also having a pet dinosaur? what sort of party did you allow? did you not send them the player's guide?

I was talking about Shensen and not second PC’s animal companion, you know. I’d rather not deal with ‘Oh, and you told me that dinosaurs are a big no-no for Kintargo’s socialites?’ sulking down the line. :-)

Thanks for the remark...

bear makes sense - street & circus performers in olden days (also not so olden days) frequently had trained bears for their shows.

having a dancing bear makes sense in a lot of ways, given the fact that the impetus for the whole AP is a shuttered opera house and an attack on the artist community ;-)

i guess a dancing dinosaur might make sense. dunno what a druid would be doing with a dancing dinosaur though...

i dunno. i'm a big fan of sticking to the 'conventional' stuff.


Yakman wrote:

bear makes sense - street & circus performers in olden days (also not so olden days) frequently had trained bears for their shows.

having a dancing bear makes sense in a lot of ways, given the fact that the impetus for the whole AP is a shuttered opera house and an attack on the artist community ;-)

i guess a dancing dinosaur might make sense. dunno what a druid would be doing with a dancing dinosaur though...

Sure, dancing bear or dinosaur is really cool idea! :-) However, we’re talking about animal kind-of freely roaming the streets, and not confined to the circus grounds. To put it into perspective: though some animals perform in contemporary circuses as well – and you wouldn’t be surprised to find one there – you would surely be taken if some guy walked into your office… followed by his freely-roaming pet bear ;) Kintargo may be used to some druid by the virtue of being part of fantasy setting… but eh, I think Chelish dottari may be prejudiced enough that it won’t make much of a difference.

Yakman wrote:
i dunno. i'm a big fan of sticking to the 'conventional' stuff.

I am fan of sticking to the ‘normal’ as well :-) However, this particular player is not – and I know that it is part of fun for him as well. Therefore, I focused on discussing the choices that would not be detrimental to rebel’s cause – like e.g. ‘no Strix’, as that would… well… not be suitable choice for Rebellion’s face.

Dinosaur is outlandish, yes, but the character itself has pretty forgettable physique. His animal companion may be well absent from some social interactions, be hidden below party’s hideout to chill together with the albino alligator guardian. (I am like 100% sure this particular party will befriend poor, starved alligator…) I plan on making it possible for the animal to be smuggled along for the dungeon crawly parts – most probably requiring some team action to e.g. deliever one barrel’s worth of dinosaur (officially: some sort of wine) to some nearby place.

Now, this is all workable - and I am just... not sure... how well Kintargo reacts to such novelties when they aren't hidden away. AP sends me sort of mixed signals with weirdness in places.


No I was wondering if Yakmam has missed that Shensen has a pet dinosaur. I could tell you didn’t

I urge you to watch out for size - the maps are mostly small in this AP. I know because on of my players complains about it quite a lot

Shadow Lodge

RadTek wrote:
on one hand AP is supposed to be about being low profile

No, it isn't. It's "about" organizing people to build power. The game gives you the tools to do that while keeping a low profile, and a lot of people assume they're meant to be playing the 26th July Movement, however, it is by no means the default assumption. If anything the assumption is that the PCs become popular public figures fairly quickly.


There isn't a right or wrong answer to the OP's question. The AP is written in downright contradictory fashion. There's a Notoriety score for the pc's/Rebellion that has negative (sometimes significant) consequences for going up and yet at many turns the AP assumes anyone who wants to talk to the Silver Ravens knows who they are and just where to find them. This is a deliberate feature of the AP - our friends from Paizo want the AP to be as flexible as possible (usable by the widest groups of players/pc's.) So it's left to the GM to decide how to handle it and which level of plausibility to sustain in the campaign. So some tables will be perfectly fine with both of those features and won't bat an eye at the ease with which quest givers show up at their door. Other groups would get freaked out or annoyed that everyone with a cat needing to be rescued knows exactly who they are and where to find them despite significant efforts to remain hidden/secret.

Quite simply, a pc with a dinosaur companion would be unhidable in a city of <12k people. Let alone a city ruled by Asmodeus worshippers and a whole cadre of Inquisitors and investigators, etc. Unless the pc's eliminate not just every participant in any Silver Raven encounter but every possible witness as well, a dinosaur is going to be the #1 thing everyone remembers about the encounter.

Spoiler:

The fact that the most popular rebel in the city pre-Night of Ashes had one doesn't make that better, it makes it worse.

But if you want to turn the realism dial down from 10 so you can turn the fun dial up, that's a fair choice. The people at the table are going to have to agree that sometimes the outcomes of the campaign will not necessarily be the most realistic or plausible.

I'd also argue that an animal companion that has to be constantly hidden or left behind isn't very fun not to mention potentially weakening the associated pc whose class features assume he's getting support from said animal companion. I'd probably ask the player to choose another weird companion who can blend in easier - make it a challenge to the player's creativity. You could also point out without too much spoilery that a major NPC in the campaign already has a dinosaur companion so he wouldn't be very original. (Though this could have the affect of encouraging the player...)


As an aside there is lots of discussion throughout the boards about how to have the NPC “quest givers” (Hetamon, Setrona, the Captain) ID the PCs that is not just walking up to them directly

For example I had Hetamon present as a kind of community leader during the tooth fairy incident. Also I had it implied he knew the revolutionary spirt in them from the very start and helped pull them together for the protest

But the dinosaur helps make the above not an issue - with the lack of direct action being simply because Thrune doesn’t plot direct action for some time

There are of course some events where it will be a real stretch for a dinosaur to be allowed in...
But I don’t think it should be penalised


On regards to Thrune and Friends(tm) not stomping the PC's at low levels, that's baked into the AP. With access to divination and a vast network of allies and informants in a relatively small city Barzy could easily track down the party and Night of Ashes 2.0. But he doesn't, because he doesn't see them as a threat. And by the time he does, they're too popular to martyr quietly (which may be another contradiction if your PC's were super secretive like mine).

Having a dinosaur should definitely stand out (as much as any exotic pet would) but I doubt the guard would treat it any differently than a lion or bear. It's just a big animal, and as long as it behaves it isn't a problem.

That said, I have a gunslinger in my game and I do totally increase noteriety any time he uses his weapon in an encounter that draws attention or gets investigated later. If anything gunshot wounds have become a Silver Raven calling card in my campaign. I'd do the same for dinosaur based carnage.

As an aside, since my PC's were extremely secrecy focused I ignored the whole "X NPC automatically locates your hidden location" and let the PC's be more proactive in finding allies. Two examples:

They found Hetamon Haace covered in blood from his murdered congregation member. Being a tiefling and fearing vigilante justice, he fled and I ran the chase rules. Eventually the party caught him and sorted things out.

Instead of Elia Nones magically zeroing in on the party, I had her asking around for them at the docks and some SR supporters overheard her and helped arrange a meeting on the PC's terms.

Both didn't take narrative control from the players. So that's what I did.


Artofregicide wrote:

As an aside, since my PC's were extremely secrecy focused I ignored the whole "X NPC automatically locates your hidden location" and let the PC's be more proactive in finding allies. Two examples:

They found Hetamon Haace covered in blood from his murdered congregation member. Being a tiefling and fearing vigilante justice, he fled and I ran the chase rules. Eventually the party caught him and sorted things out.

Instead of Elia Nones magically zeroing in on the party, I had her asking around for them at the docks and some SR supporters overheard her and helped arrange a meeting on the PC's terms.

Both didn't take narrative control from the players. So that's what I did.

A bit off topic but since I did something similar with Nones and had interesting results just last night I thought I would mention it here. I had her searching for the Ravens instead of automatically letting her find them. I thought this gave the players more control about what events/threads they chose in which order.

Spoiler:

Since the pc's knew about both Nones and the Lucky Bones, they chose to explore the Lucky Bones first. So they finished the Lucky Bones and then met with Nones and then Captain Sargaeta. Short version: they were 7th level by the time they got around to "rescuing" Marquel. Not much challenge for them: <bing> Urban Ranger is invisible. <bing> Urban Ranger can fly. Urban ranger flies to Marquel's window, gets his attention and delivers message. Marquel indicates he wants to be rescued. Urban Ranger commits that he and his allies will return that night. Says the group will send a message via Silver Raven if plan needs to change. Urban Ranger flies away. While the group discusses what to do, they come up with a plan. Why don't we have the wizard dimension door in and dimension door out then disguise Marquel and simply walk back to the Scourge? So they update Marquel via Silver Raven and it's pretty easy to find a discrete location to dimension door to and from from and bing, bang, boom it's done.

It was all good. I don't mind if players use their abilities smartly to overcome obstacles, etc. Just a cautionary note that if you make the AP more sandboxy, the players may take up the challenges in unexpected order which might lead to them being either under or over leveled for a particular encounter.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
zimmerwald1915 wrote:
RadTek wrote:
on one hand AP is supposed to be about being low profile
No, it isn't. It's "about" organizing people to build power. The game gives you the tools to do that while keeping a low profile, and a lot of people assume they're meant to be playing the 26th July Movement, however, it is by no means the default assumption. If anything the assumption is that the PCs become popular public figures fairly quickly.

clearly, it's not supposed to be the 26th July movement.

it's supposed to be a successful June Rebellion of 1832.

i.e. Les Miserables

"Do you hear the people sing?"


Yakman wrote:
zimmerwald1915 wrote:
RadTek wrote:
on one hand AP is supposed to be about being low profile
No, it isn't. It's "about" organizing people to build power. The game gives you the tools to do that while keeping a low profile, and a lot of people assume they're meant to be playing the 26th July Movement, however, it is by no means the default assumption. If anything the assumption is that the PCs become popular public figures fairly quickly.

clearly, it's not supposed to be the 26th July movement.

it's supposed to be a successful June Rebellion of 1832.

i.e. Les Miserables

"Do you hear the people sing?"

Would it be pedantic to say that there isn't really a 1:1 conversion from Earth history to Golarion?

Which is not to say that if you're a history buff that you can't make your Golarion like that. I'd love to play at that table, certainly, but I don't think it's reflective of most parties' experience.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

Not every encounter has to be difficult. If the group has the proper resources then they may very well find certain foes far easier to face.

Take, for instance, the dwarf in the Saltworks. He's got a high armor class. If you have someone who can target touch AC (like a gunslinger or a caster with touch attacks) he's not a huge threat. But if you have primarily-stealthy types on a 15-point build, then he's going to dominate the fight (especially if he does take out the melee-type early on with a tanglefoot bag).

Or for that matter, Nox. If you have a caster and the right spells you can easily take away Nox's effectiveness and eliminate her threat. But if you have a primarily-melee or stealthy party, you're going to have a bit more trouble.

Now, rescuing Marquel can still be a challenge for 7th level characters if they don't have a primary caster. If they went primarily melee or stealthy types, they might have to sneak into the area and hope the dice aren't cruel to them.

And heaven forbid if their group doesn't believe in stealth but don't have primary casters.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Artofregicide wrote:
Yakman wrote:
zimmerwald1915 wrote:
RadTek wrote:
on one hand AP is supposed to be about being low profile
No, it isn't. It's "about" organizing people to build power. The game gives you the tools to do that while keeping a low profile, and a lot of people assume they're meant to be playing the 26th July Movement, however, it is by no means the default assumption. If anything the assumption is that the PCs become popular public figures fairly quickly.

clearly, it's not supposed to be the 26th July movement.

it's supposed to be a successful June Rebellion of 1832.

i.e. Les Miserables

"Do you hear the people sing?"

Would it be pedantic to say that there isn't really a 1:1 conversion from Earth history to Golarion?

Which is not to say that if you're a history buff that you can't make your Golarion like that. I'd love to play at that table, certainly, but I don't think it's reflective of most parties' experience.

oh , not it's clearly not.

but i think with the flamboyant settings and side characters, if there ever were an AP made for a party of Bards & Musical Theater Majors, it would be Hell's Rebels.


Yakman wrote:
Artofregicide wrote:
Yakman wrote:
zimmerwald1915 wrote:
RadTek wrote:
on one hand AP is supposed to be about being low profile
No, it isn't. It's "about" organizing people to build power. The game gives you the tools to do that while keeping a low profile, and a lot of people assume they're meant to be playing the 26th July Movement, however, it is by no means the default assumption. If anything the assumption is that the PCs become popular public figures fairly quickly.

clearly, it's not supposed to be the 26th July movement.

it's supposed to be a successful June Rebellion of 1832.

i.e. Les Miserables

"Do you hear the people sing?"

Would it be pedantic to say that there isn't really a 1:1 conversion from Earth history to Golarion?

Which is not to say that if you're a history buff that you can't make your Golarion like that. I'd love to play at that table, certainly, but I don't think it's reflective of most parties' experience.

oh , not it's clearly not.

but i think with the flamboyant settings and side characters, if there ever were an AP made for a party of Bards & Musical Theater Majors, it would be Hell's Rebels.

Very much agreed.

I'd love to see a bunch of music and theater majors either real play stream or podcast Hell's Rebels.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Artofregicide wrote:
Yakman wrote:
Artofregicide wrote:
Yakman wrote:
zimmerwald1915 wrote:
RadTek wrote:
on one hand AP is supposed to be about being low profile
No, it isn't. It's "about" organizing people to build power. The game gives you the tools to do that while keeping a low profile, and a lot of people assume they're meant to be playing the 26th July Movement, however, it is by no means the default assumption. If anything the assumption is that the PCs become popular public figures fairly quickly.

clearly, it's not supposed to be the 26th July movement.

it's supposed to be a successful June Rebellion of 1832.

i.e. Les Miserables

"Do you hear the people sing?"

Would it be pedantic to say that there isn't really a 1:1 conversion from Earth history to Golarion?

Which is not to say that if you're a history buff that you can't make your Golarion like that. I'd love to play at that table, certainly, but I don't think it's reflective of most parties' experience.

oh , not it's clearly not.

but i think with the flamboyant settings and side characters, if there ever were an AP made for a party of Bards & Musical Theater Majors, it would be Hell's Rebels.

Very much agreed.

I'd love to see a bunch of music and theater majors either real play stream or podcast Hell's Rebels.

not to belabor the point, but the montage musical number of 'One Day More' is spot on to a tee to SONG OF SILVER and the attack on the Cathedral / Ringing of the Bells.

Shadow Lodge

Yakman wrote:
Artofregicide wrote:
Yakman wrote:
Artofregicide wrote:
Yakman wrote:
zimmerwald1915 wrote:
RadTek wrote:
on one hand AP is supposed to be about being low profile
No, it isn't. It's "about" organizing people to build power. The game gives you the tools to do that while keeping a low profile, and a lot of people assume they're meant to be playing the 26th July Movement, however, it is by no means the default assumption. If anything the assumption is that the PCs become popular public figures fairly quickly.

clearly, it's not supposed to be the 26th July movement.

it's supposed to be a successful June Rebellion of 1832.

i.e. Les Miserables

"Do you hear the people sing?"

Would it be pedantic to say that there isn't really a 1:1 conversion from Earth history to Golarion?

Which is not to say that if you're a history buff that you can't make your Golarion like that. I'd love to play at that table, certainly, but I don't think it's reflective of most parties' experience.

oh , not it's clearly not.

but i think with the flamboyant settings and side characters, if there ever were an AP made for a party of Bards & Musical Theater Majors, it would be Hell's Rebels.

Very much agreed.

I'd love to see a bunch of music and theater majors either real play stream or podcast Hell's Rebels.

not to belabor the point, but the montage musical number of 'One Day More' is spot on to a tee to SONG OF SILVER and the attack on the Cathedral / Ringing of the Bells.

No it isn't. The Song of Silver has been described as "haunting," while One Day More is more rousing. It can be inferred that the Song of Silver is in minor mode - One Day More is decidedly major. One Day More is an ensemble number. The Song of Silver is a solo aria.


zimmerwald1915 wrote:
No it isn't. The Song of Silver has been described as "haunting," while One Day More is more rousing. It can be inferred that the Song of Silver is in minor mode - One Day More is decidedly major. One Day More is an ensemble number. The Song of Silver is a solo aria.

Though, if you want it to be in your campaign, that's totally cool too. I'm not actually sure about my campaign actually, it may depend on whether my bard rejoins the campaign...

PS: while JJ was heavily involved in the AP and personally I tend to take his opinions as canon, technically if it isn't in the book then a forum post is just a suggestion. Albeit a suggestion from a talking dinosaur, who hopefully won't eat me.

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