assorted questions

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Sharkforce
Posts: 29
Joined: Thu Feb 28, 2019 8:39 am

assorted questions

Post by Sharkforce » Thu Mar 14, 2019 1:50 am

So, just some other stuff I've been wondering about. mostly related to beastmasters in some way :P

1) are the tricks from animal training skill and talent separate? for example, suppose I buy a combat-trained griffon as a cavalryman or beastmaster, use animal bond so it counts as an animal companion, and start training it with my own animal training talent of, oh, for the sake of argument 8. I decide I want to give it +8 to its Dive (which I am also not clear on whether this is possible, but I think it should be; it is presumably a skill). does that mean I'm going to remove the combat training (which presumably takes 2 slots because it has willful). I mean, on the one hand, it seems a bit weird that you'd wind up losing the training, which was never from your talent in the first place, and which presumably would otherwise have lasted indefinitely (which technically shouldn't be possible, but I'm more than willing to chalk it up to a process that only an NPC would plausibly employ, such as spending years raising the animal from the day it was born). alternately, if I want to give a hunting dog +8 to their tracking skill, does that mean they no longer know the "track" command? (or whatever the equivalent is; I'm mostly just assuming they are trained to have that command by default, because it's a hunting dog). On the other hand, I'm not entirely certain it's desirable

2) just to separate it from the above question, what counts as a skill or talent for a creature for the purpose of animal training talent?

3) I find it interesting that most creatures that don't have the "____ are suitable as animal companions" line in their description have a fairly clear reason; basilisks are presumably not "natural" enough, cave trolls are sapient, and so forth. the two that I'm not sure why are the cave crab and the crakbill. neither seem to be sapient or particularly unnatural. certainly less unnatural than, say... a gate hound, which is *explicitly* "the result of Namegivers meddling with Nature." so, does anyone have any guesses why these two are not listed as being suitable as animal companions? is it possibly an oversight, or is there something about them that I just don't know? (note: I am aware that it may be *unwise* to travel around with something that dragons find so tasty that they'll set aside other things and come hunt it down, but while that should make it very *risky* to have a cave crab animal companion, that shouldn't make it impossible to try; after all, it is pretty unwise to track down a dragon lair and threaten to kill the dragon and take all of its loot unless it agrees to be your servant, but there is no rule in the intimidation skill that says you *can't* try that - or, well, at least try it once. most likely you won't get a chance to try it a second time).

alternately, feel free to bring up any exclusions you find unusual... I am presuming that giant insects and bugs are excluded either because they're part of a hive in many cases (and thus occupy a weird area somewhere between being a single creature and also part of a larger being) or because their minds are actually insufficiently developed (I'd prefer to phrase this as "not sentient enough", but unfortunately the modern usage of the word has clouded its meaning such that the actual restriction on what can become an animal companion in the book is that they *cannot* be sentient, and I've replaced it with sapient in my notes above because I feel that is a much clearer term for what I presume the author meant). but maybe you have different thoughts on that :P

ChrisDDickey
Posts: 411
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Re: assorted questions

Post by ChrisDDickey » Thu Mar 14, 2019 9:03 am

Most of your questions don't have answers that can be found in the books. Frankly, in order to do justice to the topic of Animal Companions would have required at least a whole chapter. Instead they just got paragraphs scattered around here and there. Also, quite frankly, the rules are unclear and sometimes contradictory on many topics, and Animal Companions are among the worst. This all leaves a LOT of room for the GM to stamp their own interpretation onto the topic. Unfortunately it also leaves a lot of conflict as players might have differing interpretations and seek an authority to override the GM. This is a topic where the rules are a mess and the GM ought to listen to all opinions, then lay down the law.

Nevertheless, the developers have, at times, answered specific questions, which, depending upon your skill at googling, you might uncover here on this forum. I will attempt to answer your questions with my own personal interpretations, but emphasize that it is just my personal interpretation.

As you pointed out, the skills an animal comes with when purchased ought to, according to the rules, fade out if the new owner does not have the Animal Training ability to renew those skills. However, this is clearly silly and unworkable. I have always played that an animal that is tamed/trained young (from a pup, chick, etc) retain their tameness and Mount/Combat/Tracking, etc. skills their entire life without it counting against the number of 'tricks' they can learn (as an adult). So if you capture an adult wild thundra beast and use your Animal Training Talent to teach it to be a mount and combat trained, these will always take up Animal Training slots, because it learned this as an adult. if you capture an infant thundra beast, and train it while it is young and easily teachable, when it becomes adult, the mount and combat training will not count against the additional tricks it can be taught. No you can't teach it OTHER things while young and not have it count against it's Tricks limit. You can just teach it the basic things that a normally trained beast of it's type knows. This is nowhere supported in the rules, this is just how I do it.

Now Griffons on the other hand, it specifically states that they can't be trained as adults, and can only be mount trained young, so maybe for Griffons, that training ought to still count against their limit. Who knows? GM call.

The difference between a hunting dog, a guard dog, and a war dog is partly breeding, and partly training. Assuming you raise a dog of a suitable breed from a pup and train it to be a hunting dog, you will end up with a "typical" hunting dog (or if you just buy a trained hunting dog). And it will have that base level of skill it's entire life regardless of whether the animal is ever trained again. In my opinion, it is from this base that a beastmaster works his special magic. If a beastmaster with Animal Training rank 8 wants to give a hunting dog +8 to tracking, or a guard dog +8 to awareness, they can. Note that for each "trick slot" you can only teach a new trick or give an additional +1 to a skill, the words "In addition to teaching the animal commands" are not meant to be taken that you do both at the same time. It should more correctly have been phrased "as an alternate to teaching the animal a new command".

Now as to whether "Dive" can be increased with Animal Training. I am not sure. The Animal Training Talent says " +1 bonus to a skill or talent the animal knows, including their natural Attack Step". Enhance Animal Companion says "any of the following characteristics: ... Damage Step". Tracking and Awareness are both listed as "Powers" that a dog can know. And both are listed as Skills and Talents in the book. So since Tracking is a Skill, then most certainly an Animal Trainer can train the animal to be better at tracking. However "Dive" and "Enhanced Senses" are not listed as talents or skills. They are merely powers. I am not positive that either Dive or Enhanced Senses can be directly improved since they are not listed as Talents. You can increase a dogs awareness, which is like (but better) than enhancing their senses. And you can train their attack or enhance their damage, both of which will affect their dive. But I am not convinced you can directly train their Dive power. I can see how a GM could reasonably rule ether way.

As for Animals that are not suited to be Animal Companions, it might just be something about their personality or physiology that makes them totally unsuited. For example, it is possible that the Crakbil occasionally releases it's Poisonous and Staining breath at random several times a day. This otherwise unimportant fact need not be mentioned in a brief description, but it does make them unsuited for hanging around near you. Or it might not be this thing that I just made up, but there are dozens of things that could make them unsuitable. The designers just decided they were unsuitable. (and designers don't like giving PCs too easy access to poison gas attacks).

Some AC you need to make special provisions for. If you want a Messenger Bat (and you do want one) or an owl, and you travel during the daytime, you better have a dark, well ventilated basket to use as portable daytime lair. But other animals require extreme lifestyle accommodation in order to be acceptable AC. For example, I consider the Crocodile to be almost totally unsuited to be an Animal Companion (except to a T'Skrang who never gets too far from water, or maybe the sort of home-owner who would employ moat monsters). Crocodiles have a good sprint, but are totally unsuited for overland travel of any distance. So listing it as being suitable as an Animal Companion is just giving fair warning that in a fight on a T'Skrang riverboat you might end up fighting the captains pet Crocodile. But it is totally and completely unsuited as an AC for most adventurers.

Or maybe the designer just felt that they were "mostly unsuited for almost all adventurers". I don't see Cave Crabs traveling at all outside of their normal hunting range. Unless you are an landowner that can provide it with a lair and hunting range, and you don't expect your companion to go anywhere more than half a days travel from your lair, I don't really see how it works. It dislikes the sun. Dislikes the heat (so traveling in an non-air conditioned wagon is out). Cave Crabs just strike me as born home-bodies.
Last edited by ChrisDDickey on Fri Mar 15, 2019 9:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Sharkforce
Posts: 29
Joined: Thu Feb 28, 2019 8:39 am

Re: assorted questions

Post by Sharkforce » Thu Mar 14, 2019 7:14 pm

eh, i've dug through the forums about as far back as the history goes, i think. possibly to the beginning of these forums (as opposed to the forums that existed before this, which i believe someone hinted at having been lost quite thoroughly somehow). it did answer a question or two that i had, but obviously not the ones i'm asking here :p

i mean, i also want to know, say... how much it would cost to buy non-mount animals that would routinely be sold (like a falcon or the various types of dog), or how much it would cost to buy or make barding for all manner of animal companions (possibly dig out the rules for unusual size and shape in armour and turn them up to 11?), and for that matter how much it should cost in upkeep for animal companions that are standard mounts (although that's probably mostly a function of size and diet, so a bit easier to estimate)... but i don't think anyone is going to have solid answers for those questions :P

and i would argue that while dive is not listed in the skills section, it is nevertheless a skill... the creature is using a specific technique to improve their attack. it isn't available to namegivers because only windlings have flight ability, but their flight ability does not appear to be designed for dive bombing things, just as many other flying creatures also don't have dive. still, i have to agree... it is somewhat of a grey area.

i don't think the poison spray is what makes the crakbill unacceptable. they later added the thorned toad, which has a 20 yard range on its tongue and can apply poison with it. also, they added the toxic mask that can allow any creature to spit poison to some distance. that said, the crakbill does not actually explicitly say "poison" anywhere, so maybe that is considered to be not natural enough. in contrast, though, shrieker bats can knock someone down and blindside them for several rounds at range, and that is apparently not too magical (i'm slightly surprised they're not considered more highly desirable animal companions, actually; that's one heck of a nasty attack, they're stealthy, they fly, pretty small so should be easy to feed (note: four foot wing span means the bat is probably about 2 feet long, which is big for a bat but not very big overall. the only drawback is that they're willful, but that just makes them harder to tame, not less desirable...)

anyways, as far as crocodiles, remember that nowadays you can give your animal companion a mask at sufficiently high rank in the enhance animal companion talent. sure a regular crocodile may not be good for overland travel, but how about if it's a flying air imbued alligator? :P

Bonhumm
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Location: Right behind you

Re: assorted questions

Post by Bonhumm » Thu Mar 14, 2019 9:26 pm

Speaking of Beastmasters, I was thinking of making a competition mechanic for them, a bit like the Swordmasters tournaments.

Basically, Beastmasters would tour the entire province to challenge other Beastmasters on a 1 vs 1 pet battle. As the Beastmasters and his pets gets more experience they would be able to challenge better opponents. Each Beastmaster would carry on them minor Pattern Item unique to them that they would turn over opponents who had beaten them as a badge of honor.

From time to time, a big tournament would pit the best Beastmasters against one another and the champion would then be able to move to another province and challenge the local Beastmasters. Thus every province would have its own tournament (we could call it a league, like the Barsaive League or the Vasgothia League), each having their own local and special pets for Beastmaster to tame with the hope of one day catching them all.

I’m sure this idea would be very effective!

Slimcreeper
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Re: assorted questions

Post by Slimcreeper » Sat Mar 16, 2019 12:45 pm

Hah!

Sharkforce
Posts: 29
Joined: Thu Feb 28, 2019 8:39 am

Re: assorted questions

Post by Sharkforce » Sun Mar 17, 2019 4:09 am

Bonhumm wrote:
Thu Mar 14, 2019 9:26 pm
Speaking of Beastmasters, I was thinking of making a competition mechanic for them, a bit like the Swordmasters tournaments.

Basically, Beastmasters would tour the entire province to challenge other Beastmasters on a 1 vs 1 pet battle. As the Beastmasters and his pets gets more experience they would be able to challenge better opponents. Each Beastmaster would carry on them minor Pattern Item unique to them that they would turn over opponents who had beaten them as a badge of honor.

From time to time, a big tournament would pit the best Beastmasters against one another and the champion would then be able to move to another province and challenge the local Beastmasters. Thus every province would have its own tournament (we could call it a league, like the Barsaive League or the Vasgothia League), each having their own local and special pets for Beastmaster to tame with the hope of one day catching them all.

I’m sure this idea would be very effective!
so, the person who becomes the champion of all the regions would be the best then. and, since it's the first time, you could even say that they would be the very best, like no one ever was. am i understanding you correctly? :P

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