Please help me optimize my dog. (Not an animal companion!)


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion


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I'm playing Second Darkness and I'm in book three. Back in the first book we stole a dog from a bad guy, the dog being named Fetch. We used him to find someone, and decided to keep him around.

We put a Headband of Vast Intelligence +2 on the dog. With an Int of 4, the GM declared that the dog could take character levels. He took a rank in Linguistics so he could understand Common, and when he reached Fighter 2 (4 HD) he put his Int boost in Int. Then we gave the headband to the wizard. Sadly, this means the dog could not boost his Strength, Dex, or Con (all at 15).

The dog gains XP as a PC of his Hit Dice, but seeing how he couldn't pick stats and doesn't get much treasure, he's far behind us in terms of power. So ... I want to pump him up. Our characters are currently over the WBL by a bit due to some loot we found, so I'm going to spend gold on the dog instead.

So this is what the dog has so far: Fighter (Savage Warrior Archetype) 4, Strength 15, Dex 15, Con 15, Int 3, Wis 12, Cha 6. He has almost reached 5th-level, and I'm certain he will reach that before we can go shopping again. (We're in the middle of nowhere right now.)

AC 19 (chain mail barding, riding dogs get +1 natural armor). Way too low! I feel like an idiot for not making him noqual armor. (My character is wearing that, but is... not a dog.)

Savings throws: Fort +9, Ref +6, Will +2. Also too low.

Attack: Bite +9, Damage 1d6 + 6 and trip (+9, but can go up to +13 when flanking)

For skills, he's taking a Favored Class bonus skill, and gets Perception and Survival each level.

Gear: +1 wrappings (makes a single natural attack +1, and as he only has one, that's not a problem)
Circlet of Speech: lets him speak a single language (Common), which the GM ruled allows him to use command words for magic items. He has no such items; so far this just lets him be useful. (For instance, one time we cast Invisibility on him and told him to track a bad guy. He spotted them, reported what he saw, then chased them and held them until we could get to the bad guy. They were so surprised. LOL!)

Feats: Dirty Fighting (this is really cool), Skill Focus (Perception) (bonus dog feat), Improved Trip (just for the +2, might just switch this for Vicious Stomp), Weapon Focus (bite), Weapon Specialization (bite)

Canine abilities: low-light vision, scent, trip, speed of 40 feet

Fighter abilities: bonus feats, qualifies for fighter-only feats, Armor Training I (he can move at 40 feet despite wearing medium armor)

Savage Warrior Abilities: Spark of Life (+1 to saving throws against negative energy/death). At 5th-level he effectively gets Weapon Training I with natural weapons, including to CMB for grappling.

Feat ideas: You probably have better ideas than I have, but I'm thinking Blind-Fight, Dodge, Greater Trip, Improved Natural Attack, Iron Will, Vicious Stomp, and Vital Strike. I could not find any feats that would boost his charge damage, which is relevant because he only ever gets one attack.

Canine magic item slots: armor, belt (saddle), chest, eyes, head, headband, neck, shoulders, wrist.

Magic item ideas:

Armiger's Panoply, which lets him store one suit of armor (which my very strong PC would carry) in a bag. Three times per day the user could speak the command word, and the armor appears on them in one round. This is crucial for a character who cannot put on their own armor (due to not having hands).

But what armor should we buy? I'm thinking either Rhino Hide armor (but the AC would still be quite poor), +1 Mithral Plate of Speed (decent AC; he can't wear Boots of Speed, and he could get two attacks per round if he uses Haste when next to an opponent), or Dwarven Plate (Adamantine Plate), which would give him DR 3/- along with decent AC. The Dwarven Plate would reduce his speed, but he would get that back when he reaches 7th-level as a fighter. Those are just my ideas; you probably have better ones.

Greater Dire Collar. Give him Animal Growth. This only works once per day, but we could literally buy him several and just switch them as needed, or make a custom one that works 3/day.

Greater Hat of Disguise. Between his low Charisma and very low Intelligence, he wouldn't buy this for its disguise ability. Even if he never talked, people would notice his odd behavior. This uses Alter Self, and could temporarily turn him into a "human" and so ... give him hands! It's almost completely RP, but is necessary, a bit like teaching a child about money. He needs to learn to climb a rope and open doors at minimum, which he can't do in the form of a dog. It's combat ability would be pretty terrible. It gives him +2 Strength (Medium) or Dex (small) but he would lose his bite attack.

Those three we have to buy. But other suggestions:

Low saving throws. While we could just buy him a Cloak of Resistance, it would look really silly. Of course anything that looks different is either silly in other ways (such as a cracked pale green ioun stone), or is just expensive (lucky horseshoe, four-leaf clover).

Low ability scores. I'm thinking of either a Belt of Physical Might or a Belt of Perfect Excellence. If he wears Dwarven Plate, bumping his Dexterity would seem rather pointless. If he wears Mithral, then boosting all three stats are worth it.

Cloak of Fangs: +1 resistance, and 5/day can boost his damage by one die size. It's cheap. (Also he could technically bite in "human form" 5/day, although that's really silly.)

Dusty Rose Ioun Stone: looks silly, but who gives up AC.

We have a wizard PC who can craft any wondrous item, but my PC has to buy him any magical armor. The wizard hates the dog and always makes him the lowest priority :(

Note: I tried to post this in "Advice" but there was literally no new thread button. There was one last week when I asked for advice...


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Put the ioun stone in a wayfinder and hang it on the greater dire collar like a name tag.


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Pay a druid to awaken him, then take leadership and make him a cohort.


blahpers wrote:
Put the ioun stone in a wayfinder and hang it on the greater dire collar like a name tag.

That certainly solves the "weird-looking" problem! And the wayfairer is cheap. (I'm picturing Fetch randomly rolling "Read Magic" 1/day.)

Ryan Freire wrote:
Pay a druid to awaken him, then take leadership and make him a cohort.

I don't think that makes him more powerful. (I don't mind the phantom XP loss. At present my PC is 7th-level, so only one HD ahead of him, and has low Charisma, so he'd be terrible at Leadership.) Also, Fetch wouldn't be able to use the dire collar, as that would make him a magical beast. (I think.)


Awaken wrote:
An awakened animal gets 3d6 Intelligence, +1d3 Charisma, and +2 HD. Its type becomes magical beast (augmented animal). An awakened animal can’t serve as an animal companion, familiar, or special mount.

The int opens up more feats, specifically if you can get to 13 it opens up combat expertise which opens up the improved trip chain, which works with the bite/trip that dogs have. +2 hd is at least +1 to hit and the higher int reduces the chance that the dm can say "its only int 3 it doesn't understand what you want" when you need it to do something complicated, it also moves it out of the training/tricks level of what it can do.


Ryan Freire wrote:
Awaken wrote:
An awakened animal gets 3d6 Intelligence, +1d3 Charisma, and +2 HD. Its type becomes magical beast (augmented animal). An awakened animal can’t serve as an animal companion, familiar, or special mount.
The int opens up more feats, specifically if you can get to 13 it opens up combat expertise which opens up the improved trip chain, which works with the bite/trip that dogs have. +2 hd is at least +1 to hit and the higher int reduces the chance that the dm can say "its only int 3 it doesn't understand what you want" when you need it to do something complicated, it also moves it out of the training/tricks level of what it can do.

I hadn't thought of that. Awaken gives +2 HD? That would bump his HD above the Leadership cap. Although making him a cohort doesn't seem necessary. Sadly, he'd have to give up the Dire Collar. (I double-checked, and Awaken specifically would make him a Magical Beast.)

He does have Dirty Fighting (I hope I didn't forget that in the opening post) which acts like Combat Expertise for characters with low Int. Honestly, the only reason my brawler didn't take that was because of the Brawler's Cunning ability (but Dirty Fighting seems slightly better than Combat Expertise for him).


Kimera757 wrote:
Ryan Freire wrote:
Awaken wrote:
An awakened animal gets 3d6 Intelligence, +1d3 Charisma, and +2 HD. Its type becomes magical beast (augmented animal). An awakened animal can’t serve as an animal companion, familiar, or special mount.
The int opens up more feats, specifically if you can get to 13 it opens up combat expertise which opens up the improved trip chain, which works with the bite/trip that dogs have. +2 hd is at least +1 to hit and the higher int reduces the chance that the dm can say "its only int 3 it doesn't understand what you want" when you need it to do something complicated, it also moves it out of the training/tricks level of what it can do.

I hadn't thought of that. Awaken gives +2 HD? That would bump his HD above the Leadership cap. Although making him a cohort doesn't seem necessary. Sadly, he'd have to give up the Dire Collar. (I double-checked, and Awaken specifically would make him a Magical Beast.)

He does have Dirty Fighting (I hope I didn't forget that in the opening post) which acts like Combat Expertise for characters with low Int. Honestly, the only reason my brawler didn't take that was because of the Brawler's Cunning ability (but Dirty Fighting seems slightly better than Combat Expertise for him).

If his cha gets to 13 he can take improved bravery and shared bravery and be a willsave buffdog as well


I'd recommend a set of Bulette Armor, full plate. Mainly because I just like the image of a dog in a shark-suit complete with the very distinctive Bulette fin on the back. But more seriously Bulette armor gets a 2 better dex mod so it actually is good.

Awaken is a really cheap upgrade for what your dog gets out of it. Retroactively gaining lots of skill points, maybe a wis and cha increase. Mainly the extra HD are attractive. I wouldn't push to make the dog become a cohort. Let the GM decide when the dog retires.

There are actually quite a few other spell upgrades that would make sense. The cheap upgrade would be casting Polymorph Any Object on the dog to make it large. I'd recommend only choosing wolf-type monsters for the transformation, because you want your dog to remain a dog.

A more expensive alternative would be to use anthropomorphic animal and permanency. But...then it isn't really a dog anymore. I'm personally against this option.

Once you can consider permanency you might consider getting a druid to cast Greater Magic Fang on the dog as well. Since the dog only has one natural attack it shouldn't be prohibitive to make it into a +3/+4 enhancement bonus.


Kimera757 wrote:
Greater Hat of Disguise.... It's combat ability would be pretty terrible. It gives him +2 Strength (Medium) or Dex (small) but he would lose his bite attack.

Well, not necessarily. Alter Self is small or medium humanoids. Quite a few of them have bite attacks. Personally I use Troglodyte and Were-boar as my combat forms, but the dog might prefer Adlet. Being a 6' tall wolf-person with a d6 bite attack and hands could be a laugh.

Silver Crusade

Slap a saddle on Fetch, have HIM hire a gnome (or other small race) valet to provide him with a pair of hands to open doors for him... Even better if he can take Leadership himself...
Heck, if he can hire an Illusionist or Sorcerer henchman, have the henchman specialize in invisibility spells - then when combat starts, have the henchman cast invisibility as protection. The (invisible) henchman rides Fetch, and each round after he bites, uses a wand of vanish to "blink" Fetch out of sight. Monsters are going to think Fetch is a Blink Dog - appearing as he attacks (attacking from invisibility), then blinking out again.

LOL! I could see joining up as a player in your group just to play Fetch!

The Exchange

Sorry - I have to ask. Does Fetch speak with a Scooby accent?

"raht-roh!"


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Bob's Feet wrote:

Sorry - I have to ask. Does Fetch speak with a Scooby accent?

"raht-roh!"

Yes, that's exactly how the GM portrayed him.


Ultimate Wilderness has a new list of what magic items Animal Companions can wear. I believe headbands and belts are now allowed. For extra cost almost any magic item can be made to fit Fetch. Someone suggested Leadership to make fetch a cohort, might I suggest a slightly different idea. Take Leadership and get a crafting wizard instead. Use him just to make magic items. This serves three benefits the first is never having to worry if a particular magic item is available in a town or city. The second he can make things for the entire party including Fetch at a lower price then trying to buy things. Three it will probably annoy the party wizard whom you said hated Fetch. The two groups I have played with have done this with GM approval. It has worked out rather well. It removes a cohort from being used in combat which from a GM stand point is a relief. My current group we have like three cohorts involved in combat plus five PCs. By him a wagon so he can travel with the group but he never ventures inside dungeon crawls. Me and other GMs I have played with have been kind and have allowed this without problem.


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completely forgot about this guide

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kE3La8u5bnw


So I did a bunch of research and saw a feat called Demonic Style (from Ultimate Planes, or whatever), which gives bonuses on charge. It would actually be useful, although fairly weak for a feat.

I researched what feats are in that book and saw two feats that let me turn a dog's tail into an extra "hand" capable of wielding weapons. There was a similar tiefling-only feat that really confused me (since a dog is obviously not a tiefling). It takes two feats, but he's a fighter, so at least he gets lots of feats. He's going to need three more levels for those two feats, I believe.

I was more interested in just giving him something with fingers rather than the extra attack, and might still have to buy him a Monkey Belt so he can climb (Monkey Belt does not give him fingers) but this means I can avoid giving him a Hat of Greater Disguise. This also means I can avoid giving him something as weak as a grafted scorpion tail.

I saw 3.5 had a ton of options that would have suited Fetch, but... they're not Pathfinder.

Just for fun: I'm comparing him to an animal companion. Not that any druid would ever choose a riding dog as a companion.

As a 6th-level creature, he would be enjoying +4 natural armor and +2 Strength/Dex. His armor is actually slightly better (I'm assuming the typical animal companion wouldn't get chainmail, certainly not if "owned" by a druid) but his AC will fall behind, I guess, at very high levels. (A very high level animal companion could be wearing "wooden" plate armor.) He could get +8 Strength through the Greater Dire Collar so that's not an issue. A Monkey Belt gives him +2 Dex but that's basically it.


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Uh, adding class levels to any creature with racial hit dice results in them gaining a +4 to two ability scores, a +2 to two other ability scores, a +0 to a different ability score, and the final ability score gets a -2. This is detailed in the Monster Advancement rules of Bestiary 1 on Page 297.


.5


Reksew_Trebla wrote:
Uh, adding class levels to any creature with racial hit dice results in them gaining a +4 to two ability scores, a +2 to two other ability scores, a +0 to a different ability score, and the final ability score gets a -2. This is detailed in the Monster Advancement rules of Bestiary 1 on Page 297.

Oh wow! I'm sending that to the GM right now!


Meirril wrote:
I'd recommend a set of Bulette Armor, full plate. Mainly because I just like the image of a dog in a shark-suit complete with the very distinctive Bulette fin on the back. But more seriously Bulette armor gets a 2 better dex mod so it actually is good.

That seems pretty expensive. Isn't it 10x the cost of normal full plate?

The version I was able to check on seems like it might have a max dex of +2, rather than having an increase to max dex of +2 added to the +1 of full plate.

If it costs 15,000 and is only +2 max dex, mithral would be 4500 cheaper and have 1 higher max dex and 1 lower ACP.


Coidzor wrote:
Meirril wrote:
I'd recommend a set of Bulette Armor, full plate. Mainly because I just like the image of a dog in a shark-suit complete with the very distinctive Bulette fin on the back. But more seriously Bulette armor gets a 2 better dex mod so it actually is good.

That seems pretty expensive. Isn't it 10x the cost of normal full plate?

The version I was able to check on seems like it might have a max dex of +2, rather than having an increase to max dex of +2 added to the +1 of full plate.

If it costs 15,000 and is only +2 max dex, mithral would be 4500 cheaper and have 1 higher max dex and 1 lower ACP.

Make mithril bullette plate


Ryan Freire wrote:
Coidzor wrote:
Meirril wrote:
I'd recommend a set of Bulette Armor, full plate. Mainly because I just like the image of a dog in a shark-suit complete with the very distinctive Bulette fin on the back. But more seriously Bulette armor gets a 2 better dex mod so it actually is good.

That seems pretty expensive. Isn't it 10x the cost of normal full plate?

The version I was able to check on seems like it might have a max dex of +2, rather than having an increase to max dex of +2 added to the +1 of full plate.

If it costs 15,000 and is only +2 max dex, mithral would be 4500 cheaper and have 1 higher max dex and 1 lower ACP.

Make mithril bullette plate

So 24,000 gp for the armor before making it magic.

Oh, wait, I just remembered, the plan is to keep the dog a quadruped. So that doubles the base cost of the armor, so it would cost 39,000 gp if you can Mithral up Bulette Plate. So that'd be 13,000 gp in raw materials if you wanted to go the Fabricate route.

+9 Armor bonus, +4 or +5 Max Dex, -4 ACP, 35% ASF, & 32.5 lb for stats.

...

How does your GM feel about Piecemeal Armor, Kimera757?

Piecemeal Armor stuff:

Should be 590 gp for a MW suit comprised of Scale Arms and Legs and a Plate Torso(220 base doubled to 440, +150 for MW). That armor would have +9 Armor bonus, +3 Max Dex, -3 ACP, 40% ASF, 45 lb, and has the move speed reduction.

Should boost him up to 22 AC, 23 if the stat boost from taking levels is given to him and his dexterity increases. And then it'd just be another 1000 gp to pay someone else to make it +1 armor. Or 500 gp if you can get that Wizard in the party to do it.

And you could make it all Mithral for only 7000 gp due to the two pieces that are made with medium armor pieces. (2530 gp in raw materials for the Fabricate route)

You would almost certainly have to get it custom made or get the raw material and cast Fabricate or pay for Fabricate to be cast yourselves, though.


The bulette armor is a nice theme, but...

I think the plan is dog-shaped +1 Mithral Armor of Speed. I was also thinking Adamantine Plate instead, but Haste is just too good. Dogs don't get the boots slot (I've written his magic item slots on his character sheet) so I can't get him Boots of Speed. Of course nothing says I can't put a "fin" on the back (to radiate heat... yeah).

That would get him +10 AC, or AC 23, with fairly minimal ACP/Dex issues (he has Armor Training I!) and doesn't cost too much either.

As he's getting pretty close to the Dex cap, I hope to give him +4 Strength/Con and only +2 Dex. Also he needs a Monkey Belt (because his tail feats will not let him climb; he'd effectively be a one-armed person in terms of manual dexterity) and that gives him +2 Dex.

I haven't gotten confirmation on whether he will allow the stat boosts, but it's in the Bestiary, so I think the GM will say yes to that.


Drop everything!

You need more item slots for Fetch?

Take this feat: Extra Item Slot.


Mind blown. Maybe I can get him Boots of Speed and Adamantine Armor. Hmmm... Or maybe a Spider Climb item.


Kimera757 wrote:
Mind blown. Maybe I can get him Boots of Speed and Adamantine Armor. Hmmm... Or maybe a Spider Climb item.

Get him the adamantite armor anyway. adamantite armor + advanced armor training gives him comparable DR to an invulnerable rager. (there are some gaps at certain levels but by 19 you end up with a dr 11/-


I don't think I've seen DR stack...

Quote:
Armored Juggernaut (Ex): When wearing heavy armor, the fighter gains DR 1/—. At 7th level, the fighter gains DR 1/— when wearing medium armor, and DR 2/— when wearing heavy armor. At 11th level, the fighter gains DR 1/— when wearing light armor, DR 2/— when wearing medium armor, and DR 3/— when wearing heavy armor. If the fighter is 19th level and has the armor mastery class feature, these DR values increase by 5. The DR from this ability stacks with that provided by adamantine armor, but not with other forms of damage reduction. This damage reduction does not apply if the fighter is helpless, stunned, or unconscious.

Until now. Hmm... within a level he could get DR 5/-.


1. Retrain all of your character levels to Sohei monk.
2. Drink potions of Reduce person.
3. Get on that dog!


I could just take one rank of Ride and take the Undersized Mount feat. (Or use Martial Flexibility on the feat.)


You'll still want to be a Sohei (with at most one other level for proficiencies), or the thing will croak like a mouse as soon as any opponent rolls a 20 (or, really, any number that's high enough to merely hit and dump a ton of damage on this low-HD creature).

Take both Indomitable Mount and Mounted Combat, ...and I vaguely recall there was some other feat that let you use one or the other or both of them more than once per round. Keep Ride maxed, as everything piggybacks off it. Be mindful of armor check penalties, so mithral BP + Armor expert, maybe (since Sohei are proficient with light armor)....maybe Cavalier as your dip out (since that'd let you wear armor sans ACP while mounted).

You've told us all about the dog, but little about your character. Obviously you probably wouldn't be interested in retraining if you're a full caster right now. But if you're just some random bloke BSF #426, then go for it. In game terms, to keep things realistic, maybe you'd retrain two or three levels every level...whatever you and the GM are comfortable with for verisimilitude's sake.

Also don't forget Mounted Skirmisher, which is the bombdiggity for Sohei ignoring prereqs with their monk feats.


My character is a brawler, chosen specifically to avoid the mystical stuff. (The Unchained Monk doesn't suck, though, unlike the original, so maybe I'll try that one of these days.)

I don't know if the sohei works with the u-monk, but it's certainly mystical.

Fetch is pretty tough. He has 2 dog Hit Dice but 4 fighter Hit Dice (with armor). His lack of toughness was mainly because I didn't know he should get stat boosts, and because we didn't start spending money on him until very recently.

I wouldn't want to turn my character into a mounted PC (that would be a total rework, whether or not I trade classes) but I think it would be pretty funny if, once in a while, I rode the dog into combat. (Martial Flexibility is a beautiful thing. Speaking of which, last session I used all of my uses. All of them! And the last one saved my bacon!)


Indomitable Mount and Mounted Combat are just to keep it alive; I wasn't suggesting you become a lance-charger or some such.


Update:

The GM was perfectly okay with the stat boosts, and the dog performed very well last session. We actually got our butts kicked, due to bad luck and panicking over the bad luck, but the dog did very well. Until he was reduced to four hit points!

PCs: my brawler, alchemist (gun chemist), wizard (evoker), cleric, and cavalier/hellknight with a griffon mount. The cleric is a really weird build.

We were supposed to rescue "the Jerk", who was being attacked by a magical ballista on one of three watchtowers. "The Jerk" was in one watchtower and there was an empty one as well, near a bunch of shrubbery (difficult terrain). Team Spider Climb "sneaked" through the shrubbery (the Haste essentially negated the penalties for difficult terrain), climbed up the watchtower and started beating up drow. At one point a drow sergeant escaped, after being blinded by a spell, and emerged from the base of the tower. Fetch literally runs down the tower's wall and grabs him, pulling him up the tower wall. The sergeant shrieked (because he couldn't tell what was going on). He managed to escape when he regained his vision but was almost immediately killed due to not having many hit points left (between the spell and being attacked by said dog). IIRC Fetch killed three drow in the course of the battle.

Unfortunately he got flattened by a Huge stone golem (which also killed our cleric, almost killed our hellknight, knocked out his mount so he couldn't easily escape, and threatened our gun chemist... and laughed at us when we took control of the ballista to shoot it). Fetch was dropped to four hit points, which would have killed him had it not been for the Con boost :)

The GM had a quick discussion about Fetch, and we decided he was worth the XP we were essentially giving to him. (He is part of the XP split.) Even the wizard player agreed, since (in meta terms) he realizes the dog is now worth it. (The wizard PC still hates Fetch though.)

Fetch doesn't have any new items yet. It's going to be a while before we can shop for armor, his current biggest weakness. He's about 200 XP from gaining a level, when he will gain Mischievous Tail and will essentially have one functional hand (plus he'll be a 5th-level fighter, so get an extra +1 to hit and damage on top of the usual increases). Also, I'm seriously thinking of buying him Slippers of Spider Climbing, when he has enough feats for Extra Item Slot.

I've calculated the price of Dwarven Plate for him. I think when he gains his 7th-level of fighter (one level + 200 XP more) I'll take that Advanced Armor thing so he can gave DR 5/- against weapons. However it might not be possible to get him such really cool armor, as we don't have a source of adamantine. (We have a bunch of mithral chain shirts though, as Golarion drow typically wear those.)


Kimera757 wrote:
Fetch was dropped to four hit points, which would have killed him had it not been for the Con boost :)

Was not prepared to be a guardian angel. Glad I helped.

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