CRB is a repository of all the creative things that float through my mind about the RPG Pathfinder. Two major features are random character generation and building characters based on the god they worship. Anything that seems like it adds to the creative aspects of the game will pop up from time to time, including location descriptions, adventure ideas and even short stories. CRB won't just be my own creativity, it will open the floor to anyone who has an idea sparked by what I present to you.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Lions and Tigers and Bears

Animal companions, one of my absolute favorite class features. I will go out of my way to take archetypes with an animal companion whenever I can. I personally don’t play a lot of full casters, but familiars also interest me a great deal. The question I’m going to ask myself today is how and why we choose our familiars and animal companions?

The most common reason for choosing a specific animal ally is mechanical benefit. Large cats and reptilian raptors very common choices because they have a pounce attack, allowing for obscene amounts of damage. Many people pick whichever familiar gives an initiative bonus because going first is incredibly important for most casters. I’m sure there are some companions and familiars that give a superior mechanical benefit than others, but that isn’t usually how I choose my creatures so I won’t try and speak on something that isn’t my forte.

Beyond mechanical reasons, why do people choose a certain companion? or at least why do I choose them? I think the number one reason beyond mechanics is connection to a certain animal. I’m a wolf person. I have been from an early age. I had a fascination with them that was further enhanced by the Elfquest comic and the wolfriders. Many of my friends are “cat people”; and there are some who, no matter what they are playing, if it gets a companion of any type they choose a cat. I even have one friend who is infatuated with snakes, every familiar – he usually plays full casters – is a snake of some kind.

What are other ways that we can choose a companion without relying wholly on mechanical advantage, and not using the same type of animal over and over again because of personal preference? Religion is a major factor in worlds like Golarion and Toril. Each god is given a favored animal and there is a good chance worshipers of that god may use that animal as their companion.

For a game I am running currently there was a NPC who was an inquisitor with the Sacred Huntsmaster archetype. He was a follower of Anubis and so his animal companion was a Jackal. As another example, I was tasked with creating an Orcish Arcanist follower of Alseta as a thought exercise. Alseta has the turtle as her favored animal. I took the Unlettered Arcanist archetype, which gave him the witches spell list and a familiar/spellbook like a witch. Thus I chose the turtle with the sage familiar archetype and wrote it as a conduit of knowledge from the God of Doors to aid her chosen follower.

Regional and cultural identity may also influence the choice of animal. Desert dwellers are far more likely to have a lizard or a camel than say a wolf or a mountain lion. Gnolls are attuned to hyenas and you will very commonly see members of that race who gain companions with one. Each of the Shaonti tribes has a sacred animal or two. The Lyrune-Quah or Moon Clan revere the bat, cave bear, field mouse, mountain lion, owl, and wolf. Companions and familiars chosen from these animals are probably most common among those who get them as a class feature.

There are probably 1,001 other reasons to choose an companion creature, these are just a few. Why do you pick the companion or familiar you have for your characters? How does the animal effect how your character acts? Bring other perspectives to the conversation here on the CRB.

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1 comment:

  1. One of my players is playing a druid with a dire-goat as their animal companion. It's been the MVP of the game so far.