Tooth and Nail: FedoraFerret's Guide to the Animal Companion


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Fresh off the presses, we dive into the world of animal companions, everyone's favorite murder-fluffs.


Been waiting for this! Glad to know my choice of the vulture is pretty alright.


It would be interesting to see your analysis about how MCing to get an Animal Companion works out.


FedoraFerret wrote:
Fresh off the presses, we dive into the world of animal companions, everyone's favorite murder-fluffs.

Thank you.

Nice. I'd probably rate the snake a little lower because it is slower to move around. The GM could freak out when you put barding on it - simply not allowed in PF1.
Many wasted actions getting it into place or even slowing the party down.

Have you done the numbers on animal companions at high levels. It's not good.


Paizo Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories, PF Special Edition, Starfinder Accessories, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

Nice guide. :-)

The Exchange

Two, quick notes/questions

1) Indomitable Companion is only allowed for Megafauna (might want to note that)

2) If you are playing a medium race and want a mount, you will need to take Savage since Nimble does not increase size. Given that you rate secondary DPR at 2 stars and mount at 3 stars, would you suggest medium size races take Savage everytime?


Gortle wrote:

Nice. I'd probably rate the snake a little lower because it is slower to move around. The GM could freak out when you put barding on it - simply not allowed in PF1.

Many wasted actions getting it into place or even slowing the party down.

I did consider that, but I think their constrict is sufficiently good to counterbalance that.

Quote:
Have you done the numbers on animal companions at high levels. It's not good.

I have. There is a reason why I value AC on them so highly, given that a savage bully bear is almost not missable by an equal level creature.

Hsui wrote:

Two, quick notes/questions

1) Indomitable Companion is only allowed for Megafauna (might want to note that)

I didn't distinguish because as far as I can tell, the only difference between a regular and megafauna companion is you have to declare it one or the other, given that all of the companion types can theoretically be a form of megafauna and no rules are actually given for what can be a megafauna and what can't be.

Quote:
2) If you are playing a medium race and want a mount, you will need to take Savage since Nimble does not increase size. Given that you rate secondary DPR at 2 stars and mount at 3 stars, would you suggest medium size races take Savage everytime?

I wouldn't, I would suggest they take Indomitable every time because Indomitable creatures also go to Large.


Gortle wrote:
FedoraFerret wrote:
Fresh off the presses, we dive into the world of animal companions, everyone's favorite murder-fluffs.
Have you done the numbers on animal companions at high levels. It's not good.

Not good at all.

It takes full investment to maintain an animal as a secondary combatant, which makes sense since the Druid remains a full caster. Frankly, I don't know how Ranger ACs are meant to survive without getting Heal/Heal Animal more often than they can supply. Maybe in easier home games?
And that's just melee combat. Add in AoEs & spells and you'll find your PC is the one protecting the AC rather than the other way around.

If there ever is a way to make an AC into a primary combatant, expect it to downgrade the PC into a secondary role (which might be unwise and/or lethal.) I expect when we see the Summoner we may get that mechanic.

As for MCD to get an animal, it's not worthwhile, as then you're getting a tertiary combatant since your AC is always one stage behind! Okay, so maybe for scouting or non-combat travel or some utility I'm overlooking, but not for power. You may as well buy trained animals for most uses, maybe even getting an animal through those general feats instead.
Or Summon. Those guys are easier to replace.

The Exchange

Castilliano wrote:
Gortle wrote:
FedoraFerret wrote:
Fresh off the presses, we dive into the world of animal companions, everyone's favorite murder-fluffs.
Have you done the numbers on animal companions at high levels. It's not good.

Not good at all.

It takes full investment to maintain an animal as a secondary combatant, which makes sense since the Druid remains a full caster. Frankly, I don't know how Ranger ACs are meant to survive without getting Heal/Heal Animal more often than they can supply. Maybe in easier home games?
And that's just melee combat. Add in AoEs & spells and you'll find your PC is the one protecting the AC rather than the other way around.

If there ever is a way to make an AC into a primary combatant, expect it to downgrade the PC into a secondary role (which might be unwise and/or lethal.) I expect when we see the Summoner we may get that mechanic.

As for MCD to get an animal, it's not worthwhile, as then you're getting a tertiary combatant since your AC is always one stage behind! Okay, so maybe for scouting or non-combat travel or some utility I'm overlooking, but not for power. You may as well buy trained animals for most uses, maybe even getting an animal through those general feats instead.
Or Summon. Those guys are easier to replace.

In PF2, the ACs are meant to be secondary/tertiary combatants (minion killing, bodyguard, etc). PCs are the stars and should never be overshadowed in design. Thinking they are bad because they would die horribly as frontliners is a little odd. In addition, thinking that a 2 feat investment (the initial MCD gives a nice set of cantrips already) should be on par with even secondary combatants is also a little unbalancing

*edit* The PF1 days of the AC tanking the BBEG while the rest of the party Derps it down or the AC providing half the derp are long gone (thank you).


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Hsui wrote:
In PF2, the ACs are meant to be secondary/tertiary combatants (minion killing, bodyguard, etc). PCs are the stars and should never be overshadowed in design. Thinking they are bad because they would die horribly as frontliners is a little odd.

The issue is that they're designed to be frontliners. All three of the roles I laid out in this guide require the companion to be moving into melee combat unless they're serving as a mount for an archer or mage. There are no other roles, they're either going into melee or they're doing nothing. I completely agree that they needed to be nerfed from PF1's standards, but I think this level of squishiness is an overcorrection.


Hsui wrote:
Castilliano wrote:
Gortle wrote:
FedoraFerret wrote:
Fresh off the presses, we dive into the world of animal companions, everyone's favorite murder-fluffs.
Have you done the numbers on animal companions at high levels. It's not good.

Not good at all.

It takes full investment to maintain an animal as a secondary combatant, which makes sense since the Druid remains a full caster. Frankly, I don't know how Ranger ACs are meant to survive without getting Heal/Heal Animal more often than they can supply. Maybe in easier home games?
And that's just melee combat. Add in AoEs & spells and you'll find your PC is the one protecting the AC rather than the other way around.

If there ever is a way to make an AC into a primary combatant, expect it to downgrade the PC into a secondary role (which might be unwise and/or lethal.) I expect when we see the Summoner we may get that mechanic.

As for MCD to get an animal, it's not worthwhile, as then you're getting a tertiary combatant since your AC is always one stage behind! Okay, so maybe for scouting or non-combat travel or some utility I'm overlooking, but not for power. You may as well buy trained animals for most uses, maybe even getting an animal through those general feats instead.
Or Summon. Those guys are easier to replace.

In PF2, the ACs are meant to be secondary/tertiary combatants (minion killing, bodyguard, etc). PCs are the stars and should never be overshadowed in design. Thinking they are bad because they would die horribly as frontliners is a little odd. In addition, thinking that a 2 feat investment (the initial MCD gives a nice set of cantrips already) should be on par with even secondary combatants is also a little unbalancing

*edit* The PF1 days of the AC tanking the BBEG while the rest of the party Derps it down or the AC providing half the derp are long gone (thank you).

You misunderstand my opinions about game balance. I actually agree an AC should be secondary (at most) being as it only represents a series of feats. I have no qualms with their position in the game, it's just I have little interest in investing so much for its returns.

But many players are going to assume with full investment they get a full combatant (not necessarily an OP PF1 AC, but a functional melee force.) But ACs aren't full combatants, rather secondary ones that need a lot of maintenance. That's not in their description so expectations mismatch. Who gets a bear thinking they have to guard the bear?
You can see it in much of the advice for Rangers to get an AC to support you or flank for you, as if that AC will thrive up front. (Some are even silly enough to think the GM won't attack them if they don't attack.)

Getting an MCD is fine on its own, yes, but getting an AC that's behind the AC curve which is behind the modest PC curve is tossing away a feat, or several, when you could simply buy an animal.
(Note that I did waste feats just so my gnome librarian could have a cat, but I knew exactly what I was (wasn't!) getting. First action in most combats was to have it flee!)

The Exchange

I agree that players will take the AC and based upon the descriptions and abilities expect to get the equivalent of a second rank PC that can hang but not necessarily do much damage. A sturdy little flank buddy who will provide some support benefit. They will be sorely disappointed *edit* would have been easier to give a feat such as "by spending one action, you summon some undetermined animal assistants who provides a support benefit"

For my case - I looked at the support abilities and promptly ignored them. I picked a companion based upon HP and potential AC since my character will then have a minor shield animal so the front liners don't have to split their attention to protect me as much. The AC is meant to: hold an ambusher (who is not the BBEG almost certainly) for 1-2 rounds so I can get away, attack some of the BBEG support minions on the side, and help cover the addenda of a normal combat (a party's focus should be on the BBEG and turning one PCs firepower - a main gun battery effectively - on support minions is rather inefficient).

Why did I pick an AC rather than just buying a guard dog/animal? The 2:1 action efficiency, the automatic command, the automatic 1 action at Mature, and no lag on when an action occurs. Savage/Nimble is just icing.

None of that is in the description or the expectation provided by Paizo.


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Hsui wrote:


In PF2, the ACs are meant to be secondary/tertiary combatants (minion killing, bodyguard, etc). PCs are the stars and should never be overshadowed in design. Thinking they are bad because they would die horribly as frontliners is a little odd. In addition, thinking that a 2 feat investment (the initial MCD gives a nice set of cantrips already) should be on par with even secondary combatants is also a little unbalancing

*edit* The PF1 days of the AC tanking the BBEG while the rest of the party Derps it down or the AC providing half the derp are long gone (thank you).

The Animal Companion is an extension of the PC. It is very expensive in actions to use. That is their major cost, more so than the feats.

Falling 2 points behind the martial PCs for AC and to hit is expected. 5+ points is not. Even more if you don't take the most optimal build path. Each point is 10-20% more damage. Then there are the critical specialisation effects that they will suffer.

You have to look at the role playing value. If the animal companion is not effective in its role as a big scary bear because its actually a bit of a wuss then players won't take it. Most of them are melee combatant and they need to be able to stay in melee.

The Exchange

Gortle wrote:
Hsui wrote:


In PF2, the ACs are meant to be secondary/tertiary combatants (minion killing, bodyguard, etc). PCs are the stars and should never be overshadowed in design. Thinking they are bad because they would die horribly as frontliners is a little odd. In addition, thinking that a 2 feat investment (the initial MCD gives a nice set of cantrips already) should be on par with even secondary combatants is also a little unbalancing

*edit* The PF1 days of the AC tanking the BBEG while the rest of the party Derps it down or the AC providing half the derp are long gone (thank you).

The Animal Companion is an extension of the PC. It is very expensive in actions to use. That is their major cost, more so than the feats.

Falling 2 points behind the martial PCs for AC and to hit is expected. 5+ points is not. Even more if you don't take the most optimal build path. Each point is 10-20% more damage. Then there are the critical specialisation effects that they will suffer.

You have to look at the role playing value. If the animal companion is not effective in its role as a big scary bear because its actually a bit of a wuss then players won't take it. Most of them are melee combatant and they need to be able to stay in melee.

The AC is NOT a defining feature in terms of feat spend. The design in PF2 seems to be that you use 1/2 (5) your class feats to create your "core" abilities and the other 5 are used to add customization/variety (thus the 3 feat investment for AC could actually be considered to come from the customization pool and is similar to taking an MCD). In PF1, the AC WAS the defining feature. It had the same or better AC, Attack, and Damage than almost any other martial PC character. Now an AC is a secondary feature

The Druid is a full caster (Probably one of the best Blasters in the game) with the AC being a secondary class feature . Making their AC a powerful combatant for this small of an investment would be highly overpowered. Also, it takes the third action in a round to command the animal (often 0 starting at 4th level).

Consider that the druid's primary schtick is casting spells which are usually 2 action items (similar to a wizard). The wizards 3rd action is usually what in terms of power? Look at 2 feats for a wizard of the same level (e.g. Widen spell and Bespell weapon). Do you really think getting a SECOND powerful character should be equivalent to being able to spend an action to widen your spell a little or adding a d6 damage?

*edit* Yes, the role-playing/build expectations have been set very high. People are expecting to get a second character for their druid. A frontliner companion who can hang and be a significant contributor for the entire battle as they charge into melee (since you mention 20% reduction being reasonable). The expectation was that with a druid, there would be no need for another close combat DPR in the party since they would supply both of them


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Comparing an AC to a martial demonstrates how skewed expectations are.

As a feature of a full caster, an AC should be compared to a full caster in melee yet worse. A full caster able to have stats for max blasting + an AC that can add Strikes as if the caster also had stats for striking (all in the same round and with a pool of extra hit points, while the actual PC is in a (hopefully) safer position) would be broken just as it was in 3.X/PF1.
Unfortunately, that puts ACs in a very tough spot as auxiliary melee combatant, which many combats have no use for.
(It's also why I like the relatively weak bird w/ Flyby Attack, due to ease of use.)

Yet, with Bards, allies instilling fear, Clerics doing AoE Heal, and so forth, that AC is another party member that can benefit. I can imagine a party focused on such support benefiting greatly from numerous ACs.
Which is another reason ACs can't start particularly strong.


At later levels the Animal Companion AC can be relatively competitive.

If you start with a finesse creature and take agile and daredevil for master Unarmoured AC and +8 Dex your AC isn't bad.it best in the game but not bad.

Your hit chance is going to be terrible because of the max expert Proficiency so even with +8 Dex.

Is their anyway to get item bonuses to your companions attack?


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Card Game, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
siegfriedliner wrote:


Is their anyway to get item bonuses to your companions attack?

Item bonuses, other than to AC or Speed, are specifically disallowed by the Animal Companion rules, which is a bummer.


siegfriedliner wrote:
If you start with a finesse creature and take agile and daredevil for master Unarmoured AC and +8 Dex your AC isn't bad.it best in the game but not bad.

At level 16 with Nimble and either Daredevil or Ambusher your companion is looking at 26+6 (proficiency)+2/3 (starting Dex)+5 (Dex boosts)=39/40 AC (depending on if you took a Dex companion type or not). A standard fighter at the same level will have 26+4 (expert armor)+5 (Medium Armor's AC cap, could go up or down 1 but that would be average)+2 (armor potency)=37 AC, 39 with a shield or parry. So your companion can have a good armor class, although it's still sitting there with literal wizard hp in melee and that AC makes no guarantees; an equivalent level creature is swinging at you for +32-33, which hits the highest AC you can have for this creature on a 7 and crits on a 17.

That's why I rate Nimble and the two Dex specializations so highly, because the next step down for AC is Indomitable and a non-Dex specialization which only comes out to 26+4 (proificency)+6 (barding cap)=36, and now you're suddenly getting hit on a 3 and crit on a 13 with your slightly higher wizard hp, and if you went savage you're looking at 2 lower than that and even less hp. All of this is ignoring that your party will fight a fair amount of creatures that are higher level, which will have sharp spikes in attack bonus that turn your companion to tissue paper.

Of course, this all applies to PCs too, since as we've seen the Nimble guy is actually ahead of the fighter (now, at level 15 it was actually still behind), but the difference is that our fighter has about 64 more hp than the companion does (plus or minus depending on if they've been maxing Constitution and if they took Toughness, but the answer to at least one of those questions should be "yes" anyway so I'm inclined to go with plus more than minus).

Companion damage keeps up really well with PCs if they hit (which is another issue that deserves its own post to break the numbers down if someone wants to hear it) and their tactical and support benefits are pretty solid, but my own experience with companions as well as the numbers point to them being very difficult to keep alive.


Paizo Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories, PF Special Edition, Starfinder Accessories, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

It seems to me that if you want to compare apples to apples you should compare a character with an animal companion to a character of the same class who doesn't have one.

The Exchange

FedoraFerret wrote:
siegfriedliner wrote:
If you start with a finesse creature and take agile and daredevil for master Unarmoured AC and +8 Dex your AC isn't bad.it best in the game but not bad.

At level 16 with Nimble and either Daredevil or Ambusher your companion is looking at 26+6 (proficiency)+2/3 (starting Dex)+5 (Dex boosts)=39/40 AC (depending on if you took a Dex companion type or not). A standard fighter at the same level will have 26+4 (expert armor)+5 (Medium Armor's AC cap, could go up or down 1 but that would be average)+2 (armor potency)=37 AC, 39 with a shield or parry. So your companion can have a good armor class, although it's still sitting there with literal wizard hp in melee and that AC makes no guarantees; an equivalent level creature is swinging at you for +32-33, which hits the highest AC you can have for this creature on a 7 and crits on a 17.

That's why I rate Nimble and the two Dex specializations so highly, because the next step down for AC is Indomitable and a non-Dex specialization which only comes out to 26+4 (proificency)+6 (barding cap)=36, and now you're suddenly getting hit on a 3 and crit on a 13 with your slightly higher wizard hp, and if you went savage you're looking at 2 lower than that and even less hp. All of this is ignoring that your party will fight a fair amount of creatures that are higher level, which will have sharp spikes in attack bonus that turn your companion to tissue paper.

Of course, this all applies to PCs too, since as we've seen the Nimble guy is actually ahead of the fighter (now, at level 15 it was actually still behind), but the difference is that our fighter has about 64 more hp than the companion does (plus or minus depending on if they've been maxing Constitution and if they took Toughness, but the answer to at least one of those questions should be "yes" anyway so I'm inclined to go with plus more than minus).

Companion damage keeps up really well with PCs if they hit (which is another issue that deserves its own post to break...

That perfectly illustrates a major point. In PF2, the animal choice itself is unimportant for the most part while the evolution choices are much more important. The difference between a bear a badger and a wolf at 16th level with the same evolutions are what in HP, AC, average first strike damage? (hint - miniscule). Thus, the key choices are what evolutions do I take bearing in mind that dex is almost idiotic to take after you hit +5 (+6 gives you +1 attack and NO AC advantage since you are of course using +2 light barding). Notice there is no soft cap on strength and especially con, so those stats are slightly more valuable


Hsui wrote:
FedoraFerret wrote:
siegfriedliner wrote:
If you start with a finesse creature and take agile and daredevil for master Unarmoured AC and +8 Dex your AC isn't bad.it best in the game but not bad.

At level 16 with Nimble and either Daredevil or Ambusher your companion is looking at 26+6 (proficiency)+2/3 (starting Dex)+5 (Dex boosts)=39/40 AC (depending on if you took a Dex companion type or not). A standard fighter at the same level will have 26+4 (expert armor)+5 (Medium Armor's AC cap, could go up or down 1 but that would be average)+2 (armor potency)=37 AC, 39 with a shield or parry. So your companion can have a good armor class, although it's still sitting there with literal wizard hp in melee and that AC makes no guarantees; an equivalent level creature is swinging at you for +32-33, which hits the highest AC you can have for this creature on a 7 and crits on a 17.

That's why I rate Nimble and the two Dex specializations so highly, because the next step down for AC is Indomitable and a non-Dex specialization which only comes out to 26+4 (proificency)+6 (barding cap)=36, and now you're suddenly getting hit on a 3 and crit on a 13 with your slightly higher wizard hp, and if you went savage you're looking at 2 lower than that and even less hp. All of this is ignoring that your party will fight a fair amount of creatures that are higher level, which will have sharp spikes in attack bonus that turn your companion to tissue paper.

Of course, this all applies to PCs too, since as we've seen the Nimble guy is actually ahead of the fighter (now, at level 15 it was actually still behind), but the difference is that our fighter has about 64 more hp than the companion does (plus or minus depending on if they've been maxing Constitution and if they took Toughness, but the answer to at least one of those questions should be "yes" anyway so I'm inclined to go with plus more than minus).

Companion damage keeps up really well with PCs if they hit (which is another issue that

...

Agile and Daredevil only boost unarmoured Proficiency not armored and Armor caps at less than the +8 you can get from Dex.


I am about to hit level 2 with a storm druid and having hard time deciding if an animal companion plus electric makes a better out of/saving spell mode than wildshape. So this guide has been quite informative.

The Exchange

My apologies. For some reason I thought Savage gave an increase in Barding proficiency. Ignore my comment about Dexterity cap above


So are there any considerations one should make as a Ranger with an Animal Companion that don't apply to the Druid with an Animal Companion, or vice versa?


PossibleCabbage wrote:
So are there any considerations one should make as a Ranger with an Animal Companion that don't apply to the Druid with an Animal Companion, or vice versa?

I think the only differences are that druids get the upgrade feats two level earlier, have access to three specialziations instead of one and that rangers animal companions can benefit from the rangers hunters edges especially precision.


Hsui wrote:
Thus, the key choices are what evolutions do I take bearing in mind that dex is almost idiotic to take after you hit +5 (+6 gives you +1 attack and NO AC advantage since you are of course using +2 light barding). Notice there is no soft cap on strength and especially con, so those stats are slightly more valuable

You are not, in fact, using +2 light barding because +2 light barding doesn't exist.

PossibleCabbage: In addition to what siegfriedliner said, ranger companion has a more limited free action, since it has to move towards your hunted target and can't attack anyone else, making them less good for a mount while ranged, and druids also get the ability to heal their companion. These are considerations I'll be including in champion guide coming out this Sunday and the druid guide coming out Soon(tm).


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Castilliano wrote:

Comparing an AC to a martial demonstrates how skewed expectations are.

As a feature of a full caster, an AC should be compared to a full caster in melee yet worse. A full caster able to have stats for max blasting + an AC that can add Strikes as if the caster also had stats for striking (all in the same round and with a pool of extra hit points, while the actual PC is in a (hopefully) safer position) would be broken just as it was in 3.X/PF1.
Unfortunately, that puts ACs in a very tough spot as auxiliary melee combatant, which many combats have no use for.
(It's also why I like the relatively weak bird w/ Flyby Attack, due to ease of use.)

Yet, with Bards, allies instilling fear, Clerics doing AoE Heal, and so forth, that AC is another party member that can benefit. I can imagine a party focused on such support benefiting greatly from numerous ACs.
Which is another reason ACs can't start particularly strong.

No I totally disagree with your rationale.

1) The AC does fall a couple of points behind the full casters. But the full casters are not supposed to be in the front line the animal companion - say a bear - is. It needs to be compared to the martials as it will be facing the same opponent in melee. A caster will be casting a more efficient cantrip rather than using his pathetic melee attack anyway.

2) Your contention is that it much be as equivalent as possible to the other classes. I say that is a flawed concept that leads to the bland hell that was 4th ed D&D.

There is a story concept of a ferocious pet. Players want it. The game should support it. Even if they have to sacrifice a few more abilities on the main character to get it.

There is no point in creating a savage bear that is crushed in the first round of every combat.

Stories are more important than balance.


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Gortle wrote:
Stories are more important than balance.

If AC Rangers become better than Barbarians, then you just killed the story concept of a ferocious barbarian :)

Balance makes stories.

Scarab Sages

SuperBidi wrote:
Gortle wrote:
Stories are more important than balance.

If AC Rangers become better than Barbarians, then you just killed the story concept of a ferocious barbarian :)

Balance makes stories.

Balance means we each get a story, but I think there are ways we can each have the one we want.


This discussion is tedious. It's just 5th Edition disappointment all over again. And all the arguments are just rehashed.

So let me fast-forward to the inevitable conclusion:

Why do game designers think anyone's content with an half-assed AC that can't do what people want it to do?

Ideally, the good old World of Warcraft class Hunter is the goal here.

You have a badass animal with no less staying power than any party member; while you stay at range killing foes just as well as any other ranged PC.

Sure, we can accept slight downgrades (your ranged damage plus animal damage doesn't need to exceed regular frontline characters, for example), but the truth of it is this:

The beastmaster archetype is inherently overpowered.

It simply must be. The AC can't be a weak link, or it can't be sent into melee. (It can't fulfil its "story purpose" of being a badass tiger or a huge bear or whatnot) And you yourself can't be gimped too much, since you're supposed to be a full player character. And the total package needs to be *much* better than just buying animals, or using hirelings etc.

Any game dev needs to understand and accept this. Offering up a "balanced" animal companion is always a waste of page count.

The only solution is to offer up a decent beastmaster (sub)class or dedication thing, and slap a sidebar onto it, saying something to the effect of "this player choice will steal more than a regular share of the spotlight, and is only playable with the express permission of both GM and every other player in the group".

You're welcome.


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Zapp wrote:
The beastmaster archetype is inherently overpowered.

Let me rephrase this for you: The expectations of the player base regarding the power level of the beastmaster archetype is complete nuts.

This is an RPG and you are exactly playing one character and one character only, so if there ever is a requirement to split that characters powers, then split it be.

That having said, in an ideal world a ranger going full bow, a ranger going full dual wield and a ranger going full AC should roughly be on the same page when it comes to ingame effectiveness (which does not mean that they need to be able to pull the same tricks or otherwise play almost identical).

In order to achieve this they should have gone the way they went with other classes. You chose melee ranger? You will only be at basic power level at range and only have a pet. You chose bow ranger? You will only be at basic power level in meleee and only have a pet. You chose beastmaster? You will only be at basic power level in meleee as well as at range because you now have a mighty animal companion at your disposal.

Nonetheless I wholeheartedly agree that an AC that a character has fully invested in needs to be able to carry his weight, else they do not need to offer one at all.


Paizo Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories, PF Special Edition, Starfinder Accessories, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

Speaking of Beastmasters, I confess to a strong liking for Andre Norton's original concept: a "commando" type fighter with stealth and, call them hunting skills, who isn't fantastic at either close or ranged combat, but is decent at both. With a team of "animal companions" with particular skills that are useful in different situations.

Hosteen Storm's team consisted of an African Black Eagle named Baku, an Apaloosa horse (acquired after he and his team retired from the military) named Rain-On-Dust, a sand cat named Surra, and a mated pair of meerkats named Ho and Hing. None of these (except the horse) are large animals. Meerkats are tiny, and sand cats and black eagles are small. Storm communicates telepathically/empathically with his team, and uses their native skills — long and short range scouting, sneaking and thieving, transportation — in his adventures. Surra's pretty good in combat, btw, but by no means a "front line fighter". These are genetically engineered animals, with enhanced intelligence and perhaps other abilities.

I guess my points are that animal companions should not necessarily be limited to just one, and it's the synergy of the companions' abilities as a team that matters, not whether a particular animal can go one on one with an equal level bad guy.


Ed Reppert wrote:

Speaking of Beastmasters, I confess to a strong liking for Andre Norton's original concept: a "commando" type fighter with stealth and, call them hunting skills, who isn't fantastic at either close or ranged combat, but is decent at both. With a team of "animal companions" with particular skills that are useful in different situations.

Hosteen Storm's team consisted of an African Black Eagle named Baku, an Apaloosa horse (acquired after he and his team retired from the military) named Rain-On-Dust, a sand cat named Surra, and a mated pair of meerkats named Ho and Hing. None of these (except the horse) are large animals. Meerkats are tiny, and sand cats and black eagles are small. Storm communicates telepathically/empathically with his team, and uses their native skills — long and short range scouting, sneaking and thieving, transportation — in his adventures. Surra's pretty good in combat, btw, but by no means a "front line fighter". These are genetically engineered animals, with enhanced intelligence and perhaps other abilities.

I guess my points are that animal companions should not necessarily be limited to just one, and it's the synergy of the companions' abilities as a team that matters, not whether a particular animal can go one on one with an equal level bad guy.

Hmm, interesting concept. While you can’t have multiple Animal Companions in PF2, you can can have a Companion and a Familiar, which could serve that concept somewhat. (Well, at least you have two ‘animals’ now to work with.)


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Zapp wrote:

The beastmaster archetype is inherently overpowered.

It simply must be. The AC can't be a weak link, or it can't be sent into melee. (It can't fulfil its "story purpose" of being a badass tiger or a huge bear or whatnot) And you yourself can't be gimped too much, since you're supposed to be a full player character. And the total package needs to be *much* better than just buying animals, or using hirelings etc.

This isn't completely true. One thing you can do is benefit from the action economy of PF2 to limit the beastmaster's power.

Right now, it costs an action to use the companion. You can add other actions giving your companion strong moves at the cost of your own actions. Even actions with the attack trait to limit even more your ability to play your Ranger and your Companion at the same time.
So, you'll end up with an acceptable Ranger and a strong Companion, but you will be able to play only one of them at the same time.


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Ubertron_X wrote:
Zapp wrote:
The beastmaster archetype is inherently overpowered.

Let me rephrase this for you: The expectations of the player base regarding the power level of the beastmaster archetype is complete nuts.

Sure - that's fair.

As long as you don't draw the wrong conclusions, forgetting my basic point:

Designing a "non-nuts" (your words) beastmaster archetype is an utter waste of time, energy and page count.

By this I mean that no matter how you look at it - the buck stops with the game devs.

Let me quote Master Yoda:

Do, or do not. There is no try.

Either create something players will want to use, or fess up to not having the will and desire to give players what they want, and then choose to spend the page count on something else.

Beastmasters as represented by the 5E Player's Handbook and now this, are nothing more than failures to heed this fundamental point.


SuperBidi wrote:

This isn't completely true. One thing you can do is benefit from the action economy of PF2 to limit the beastmaster's power.

Right now, it costs an action to use the companion. You can add other actions giving your companion strong moves at the cost of your own actions. Even actions with the attack trait to limit even more your ability to play your Ranger and your Companion at the same time.
So, you'll end up with an acceptable Ranger and a strong Companion, but you will be able to play only one of them at the same time.

Well, what my experience tells me is that a "balanced" Beastmaster is an holy grail - an unattainable ideal.

Which is why I become tired to the bone by first WotC and now Paizo shoveling out something so restricted.

In their quest for balance both companies lost sight of the goal: offering up options that players actually will want to use.

The only real use for the PHB and CRB offerings is to prove the point: "you ask for something that can be fun or balanced but not both".

My response, however, is the same as a little Mexican girl:

"why not both?" (just make the entire subclass/feat tree or whatever "Uncommon" so the GM needs to actively allow it)


Zapp wrote:
Well, what my experience tells me is that a "balanced" Beastmaster is an holy grail - an unattainable ideal.

I haven't played it enough to be sure, but 4Es ACs were at a good spot in my opinion. Balanced and powerful enough for the player to feel he has a strong companion.

But every time you wanted to use your companion, it was through a specific power. So there was no issue with having 2 characters as you were not able to play more than one at the same time.

Sovereign Court

Zapp wrote:

The beastmaster archetype is inherently overpowered.

It simply must be. The AC can't be a weak link, or it can't be sent into melee. (It can't fulfil its "story purpose" of being a badass tiger or a huge bear or whatnot) And you yourself can't be gimped too much, since you're supposed to be a full player character. And the total package needs to be *much* better than just buying animals, or using hirelings etc.

I like this as an analysis why designing AC rules is sooo hard.

I'm not quite as defeatist, I think something could be done by also designing other classes to be somehow "split" or "double" too. For example, give every wizard a substantial familiar. Give every champion a squire. Give the alchemist a battle homonculus. Give the death priest a zombie, the artificer priest a golem and so forth. It gets harder with the "mundane" classes, you have to wholly reimagine what your standard classes are.


The Animal Companion isn't bad it gives you a free action which can be used to flank or attack (doing about to a half of a martials strikes damage once adjusting for accuracy) and an extra pile of HPs for the enemies to deplete and in later levels a mount whose movement can supplement your own.

Its not overwhelming, impressive and it lacks charm and a wow factor but animal companions remains stoically useful throughout the levels of the game.


siegfriedliner wrote:
an extra pile of HPs for the enemies to deplete

With respect, you need to acknowledge that animals dying is a huge turnoff for some players. Sometimes even more than humans dying - since every party member has free will that **chose** to go down a dangerous dungeon. Not so much with a pet.

(For many players, the idea to bring along a sentient being just for it to die so you save x hit points amounts to nothing less than animal cruelty, albeit a fictional case. These players can't and won't ignore the story perspective where the animal trusts you and protects you, and they want to reciprocate by giving it a fair chance)

Quote:
Its not overwhelming or impressive but its remains stoically useful throughout the game.

If you treat it as a pawn, a resource to be used up, bled dry, maybe.

If you on the other hand expect your wolf or bear to share your adventures and fight alongside you for many levels, creating many exciting and happy memories you need an AC that's not made out of paper.

Which is exactly what fedoraferret concludes.


Ascalaphus wrote:


I like this as an analysis why designing AC rules is sooo hard.

Thank you.

I find it clears the atmosphere if we go directly to the core issue, bypassing all the intermediate stages...

Quote:
I'm not quite as defeatist

Me neither.

I mean, if I refuse to consider "any fun AC must by definition be OP" a defeat, I can't be called a defaitist, can I? Isn't the refusal to admit defeat the textbook definition of someone not a defaitist? ;-)

What I'm advocating is for game devs (at WotC and Paizo and elsewhere) to acknowledge the impossibility of the "balanced" animal companion and drawing their conclusions from that, instead of repeatedly trying - and repeatedly failing.

Of course, I don't want them to conclude "okay, so we won't give you a Beastmaster then".

Instead I want them to create a cool fun official subclass with the explicit design note "this character build choice will inherently use up more than one player's share of the spotlight, simply by virtue of having two viable creatures (master and beast), so only use it with the express consent of everyone participating". :-)


Ascalaphus wrote:
I like this as an analysis why designing AC rules is sooo hard.

Well, an alternative viewpoint - and a much more constructive one I would say - is that it isn't so hard after all.

Just do what WotC did with summoners in 5E - create an overpowered option. Just don't do what WotC then did: make it a "common" build choice (to use Pathfinder 2 parlance)...


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Well, you know, making your AC durable but not overpowered are not mutually exclusive options if for example you provide just enough armour class, hit points, saves and possibly even player death mechanics. Note that by doing so, the AC will probably take a hit in the damage and action economy department.

However I agree that at the moment ACs usefulness is extremely limited due to their fragility. Our party ranger selected a large dog/wolf as his companion and after a couple of trys now keeps his AC out of most melee combats for roleplaying reasons because experience told us that even one single mook can pretty much drop an AC with a lucky dual or triple attack.

Apart from that I am 100% against empowered classes, because if we do those, why aren't wizards empowered, they are always the strongest in most novels and all of fantasy literature?


I thought animal companions and everything else went though the death and dying rules so they need to reach dying 4 before they die.


My point, Ubertron, is that Beastmasters *ARE* an "empowered class", but that most people wanting one doesn't realize it.

There simply is no way to have an AC that can enter melee that isn't about as sturdy as any other frontline character. The pet might not do as much damage, but it needs similar staying power or it WILL be a weak link, which is exactly what a huge bear or whatever can't be for so many reasons.

And there's no way to create a master that remains balanced with such a beast, unless you thoroughly gimp it. Which is exactly what a player character can't be for so many reasons.

Ergo, the master + beast must be allowed to be > 1

(where 1 is a fighter or wizard or cleric)

The only solution (besides not providing a Beastmaster) is to accept that just like a high-level Wizard might dominate gameplay, a Beastmaster must be allowed a slightly larger share of the spotlight. After all, the player operates two "playing pieces" not just one.

Not by a huge amount, but perhaps by 50%. (That is, a Beastmaster that is 150% of the baseline)

That is, if you create a Ranger that operates at 75% of his friends, and you then design a Beast that also operates at 75% of his friends, then that might be sufficient for the customer base NOT to consider either master nor pet to be gimped.

In Paizo's 3-action system, the Ranger already loses its third action each round. Then it could be made to spend all its feats on the pet. Not sure if that leaves ut at 90% or 75%, but we're close at least.

Then the pet needs sufficient AC and HP to not be noticeably weaker than any other melee participant. But it doesn't need to have the attacks and the damage of the Fighter or Rogue. It should fairly easily reach 75%.

So the problem is that Paizo aimed for 100%, not 150%, thus dooming both master and pet to obsolescence. In PF2's case, the pet didn't even get 50%, since they mistakenly gave the master nearly 100%.

This is the reason why you end up with a melee animal that can't be used in melee.

Cheers


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Zapp wrote:
This is the reason why you end up with a melee animal that can't be used in melee.

Just an example, let's say they release a new Hunter's Edge saying that:

You animal companion has a +2 circumstance bonus to AC and Saves against attacks, spells and effects originating from your Prey. It also gains a +2 circumstance bonus to attack and damage against your Prey.

It would clearly make the companion far better on the survival part, better also on the offensive part, without touching the Ranger class features. And it doesn't look overpowered to me (I think we could even go as far as +3, maybe for the Masterful Hunter ability).


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As a player, I'd much rather have balanced characters than provide "some players" with 50% more power because they want it. The idea that demands for more strength is some areas without any balancing weaknesses must be honored, or rules pages are being wasted is silly. The game is full of hard choices. Being good at something means you are less capable at something else.


It might be worth examining which make the best mounts as well, because bird, as it turns out, is actually horrible. You can only use land speed if mounted on anything without "mount" and can't both move and use support. Bird, with this limitation, is pretty bad overall.


tivadar27 wrote:
It might be worth examining which make the best mounts as well, because bird, as it turns out, is actually horrible. You can only use land speed if mounted on anything without "mount" and can't both move and use support. Bird, with this limitation, is pretty bad overall.

Flyby Attack works well for its defense.

Not so good for Rangers who are Striking due to MAP, but fine for Druids casting as a side perk. Being able to apply Bleed at range is pretty nice (though I'd likely only use it on casters w/o melee or monsters that wouldn't/shouldn't bother with a bird.)

ETA: Flying companion mounts seem off limits until 20th by design.|
You can get flying companions or a flying mount or companion mounts, though the perma-fly/extra-mobility seems limited to Champions for now.

And if you're light enough or the bird's strong enough, you could have the bird carry you, albeit likely at a slower rate due to encumbrance. Haven't seen numbers on this yet.


Castilliano wrote:
tivadar27 wrote:
It might be worth examining which make the best mounts as well, because bird, as it turns out, is actually horrible. You can only use land speed if mounted on anything without "mount" and can't both move and use support. Bird, with this limitation, is pretty bad overall.

Flyby Attack works well for its defense.

Not so good for Rangers who are Striking due to MAP, but fine for Druids casting as a side perk. Being able to apply Bleed at range is pretty nice (though I'd likely only use it on casters w/o melee or monsters that wouldn't/shouldn't bother with a bird.)

ETA: Flying companion mounts seem off limits until 20th by design.|
You can get flying companions or a flying mount or companion mounts, though the perma-fly/extra-mobility seems limited to Champions for now.

And if you're light enough or the bird's strong enough, you could have the bird carry you, albeit likely at a slower rate due to encumbrance. Haven't seen numbers on this yet.

I don't understand what you're arguing here. Flyby attack literally can't be used if the bird is mounted. I'm not arguing that bird is good if you're not considering using it as a mount, but if you are, bird doesn't bring a lot to the table.

Also, do mounts/minions contribute to your MAP? I didn't think this was the case... EDIT: Ahh nevermind, mounts do, minions don't: "You and your mount fight as a unit. Consequently, you share a multiple attack penalty"

Regarding being "carried" by a bird, that'd be *highly* up to GM interpretation. I'd probably rule it was effectively the same as being a mount (it isn't any easier for the bird...) so would follow the same rules.

Also, Barding of the Zephyr can provide a temporary fix to that problem, as can Air Walk, which doesn't use a fly speed.

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