Saturday, April 11, 2015

Friends for the Druid & Ranger

This is a completely different subject from the recent posts, but perhaps some of the readers will be glad I'm not talking about weather.

For years I've played with a rule for 'animal friends' for druids and rangers, something I made reference to in the mass combat posts.  I've finished putting those rules up on the wiki, for anyone interested in reading them there.  I'm going to post the details below, anyway, because it makes a post for today.  I've got to start getting ready for my campaign tonight.

Note this is not a spell.  This is a kind of henchman/follower.  Be sure and check out the tables on the links.

Animal Friends

Druids that reach the 4th level and Rangers of 7th level of experience may, if they wish, call for 'animal friends.' For the purpose of clarification, in this article player characters with animal friends will be referred to as the 'Sire.'

This will be one or two animal creatures that, once called, will attach themselves to the Sire in a manner similar to henchmen. These animals will be wholly loyal and will be 'run' by the player - but they will be subject to morale checks like followers. Moreover, because animal friends are not as intelligent as most henchmen, there are limitations as to what actions they can take.


Animal friends will conform to four levels of intelligence, consistent with their having 1 to 4 intelligence points ('animal' or 'semi-intelligence'). The smarter the animal, the greater the animal's versatility. A complete list of animals and their intelligence can be found below. Note that all animals of any level of intelligence will come when called and show affection to the Sire.

Int 1: Animal Intelligence
These are animals driven by instinctive motivations - mating, rearing of young, finding food to consume and fleeing danger. They will be highly resistant to attacking other creatures unless cornered or protecting their Sire - in this case, the Sire. Because of that, they have a starting morale of 9.

Unless speak with animals is employed, friends of animal intelligence cannot be given complex instructions. They can be told to find food for themselves, to rest or to sleep. If it is an animal that can bear a burden or a rider, it can be told to hold still in order to be loaded or mounted. If the Sire is able to speak with the animal, however, it can be given a direct order (presuming it is something which the animal can do) that it will obey for three melee rounds. Once the three rounds have passed, however, the Sire must spend a full round acquiring its attention in order to give it new instructions. If the animal is beyond 40 feet from the Sire, however, it must be first called for, so that it can return to where it will be close enough to speak.

When not being given orders - and when the Sire is not threatened - an animal friend will tend to remain within 2 full rounds of the Sire (this would be equal to three times its normal movement rate per round, given that during the second round the animal will be moving at double speed). Very large animal friends may prove troublesome if not sent away at times when stealth is desired.

If the Sire's person is attacked (and the animal sees), then the animal will rush in and defend the Sire. In the case of very large animals, the Sire may suffer incidental damage on account of this action. In cases where the Sire is attacked, even if the Sire indicates otherwise there is a high probability that the animal will ignore the Sire (it must make an intelligence check to listen).

Int 2: Training Intelligence
These are animals that can be taught voice and gesture commands, so that directions can be given to the animal without the need for speak with animals. The commands that can be given include the following:
  • Attack. The animal can be directed to attack a specific individual until the designated creature is killed, the Sire calls the animal off or a morale check fails.
  • Guard. The animal will interpose itself between the Sire and attackers, defending against any attackers for as long as it is able (morale is improved by +1 by this command).
  • Fetch. The animal can be told to return a familiar object or person that has been placed or thrown by the Sire.
  • Home. The animal can be sent away to a specific location for safety.

Other instructions can be given to the Int 2 animal using speak with animals. Like Int 1 animals, Int 2 animals will seek to remain within 2 rounds and will rush in to defend if the Sire is in danger. To change the orders given to an Int 2 animal (either by voice command or through speak with animals), the animal must be within 40 feet; the time necessary will be less, only 3 action points.

Int 3: Comprehensive Intelligence
These are animals that will be able to understand human speech so that commands may be given without speak with animals. In all ways they will conform to Int 2 animals, except that the voice and gesture commands that may be give are unlimited, and only 2 action points are required to give them instructions.

Int 4: Intuitive Intelligence
These are animals intelligent enough to function as ordinary followers, able to act on their own much of the time without the necessity of being told to change targets, take up a guarding position or fetching things on their own, as well as a variety of other things. On the whole, the player is free to run these animals as though they are possessed of a mind all their own; however, once beyond line-of-sight of the Sire, these animals will seek to complete the task they are given and return as soon as possible.

Calling Animals

Druids may call new animals friends at 4th level and every three rounds thereafter (7th, 10th, 13th, etc). Rangers may begin call new animal friends at 7th and every three rounds thereafter. When determining the animals called, rangers are treated as three levels below their own. A 7th level ranger, therefore, would call animal friends equal to a 4th level druid.

For each calling, the Sire must use the table which corresponds to the environment where the calling is done. If the Sire wishes an animal from another environment, the calling must be suspended until that environment is entered. Animals may not be called from inside urban or heavily cultivated areas, nor from underground.

The following tables outline the animals found in each environment:

There is no requirement for the character to call animals if they are not wished. As well, if an animal friend is killed, a new animal friend may be called after three months of game time has passed.

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