View Full Version : Elephant Rider - Is there a better way to do this?

2009-06-13, 04:59 PM
I've been kicking around the idea of making a character focused specifically around the idea of Mounted Combat... while mounted on an Elephant.

>.> I admit, not something that's particularly useful on your typical dungeon crawl; but I'm thinking for a War oriented campaign, or one with lots of wilderness time; it could work. Mostly though I just think it would be cool.

Unfortunately - I'm having some difficulty actually getting a character with such a mount. (Kinda funny - it's actually simpler to get a Dragon as a mount <o.@> well unless you go straight Druid)

Because I'm aiming for a combat type character, and not a caster, the simplest way - Druid - simply isn't going to cut it >.<

Paladin, which was my first choice, doesn't really get the option. I might be able to work something out with a DM; but if there's a way to do it by the rules, I'd rather do that to save both myself and the potential DM the hassle of working something out.

So here's what I've found that will work; but unfortunately it leaves me with some extraneous abilities I don't care about, and I still have to wait until level 10 minimum.

Ranger 5/Beastmaster* 5

*Complete Adventurer

Feat: Natural Bond.


Natural Bond means my Ranger levels will all count toward my animal companion HD limit; and Beastmaster counts as a druid with 3 extra levels tacked on. An Elephant for the record requires 13th level (so I'm getting it 3 levels early).

So on the good side: In some campaigns I could start with the mount, in others, I'd be close to getting it relatively soon. (Starting from level 1 I'd probably play a different character)

On the bad side:

Beastmaster offers a lot of abilities I frankly don't care about:

Extra Animal Companions: These are all at varying penalties to my effective druid level; and the ranger/natural bond levels don't stack either. So I basically end up with some animal hangers-on. I could use them for scouting since the class offers Speak with Animals as a class ability; but ultimately a pretty weak ability.

Alertness, Low-Light Vision, Scent - If I were going for a more typical ranger type, I could see these maybe being useful (not great, but potentially useful).

For this character though... the latter two don't make much sense, and the first is pretty meh. (I'm not the party scout - I'm the guy with the walking tank.)

Speak with Animals and Wild Empathy - usable at times; but again, diverging significantly from what I want to do.

In other words: the only reason to take Beastmaster for this character is to get the Elephant as quickly as possible and make it as strong as possible.

(By level 15, I'd have an elephant with the first set of animal companion bonuses; which given an Elephant's starting stats is certainly welcome.

... and yes I do find the idea of an Elephant with Evasion hilarious.)

So then there's my problem:

I can have my elephant - but only if I essentially restrict myself to being a fighter without bonus feats. >.< I'm willing to do this for concept (I'll go ridiculously far for concept) - but I figured I'd ask here first if someone can think of a better way to make something like this workable.

I'm not in need of uber-power; all I want is:

A) An Elephant Mount - preferably through a class ability that gives bonuses to said Elephant so it can keep up with the team a bit better. (It's only a CR7 creature; though it does have high strength and great starting HP)

B) At least a couple useful class abilities for fighting. Bonus feats are particularly welcome as they give me options; but even just basic class abilities - even relatively weak ones - would be good.

- Though like I said, I'll drop B if I need to >.>

Appreciate any help >.<b

2009-06-13, 05:06 PM
There's always the Wild Cohort feat. It essentially gives you a Druid's animal companion, but at every "tier" of ability improvements, it has less boosts. I'm pretty sure it's in a book somewhere too, but you can find everything you need regarding it here :


Alternatively, ask your DM how much it would cost to buy an elephant, and use your own ranks in Handle Animal to train it for war.

2009-06-13, 05:14 PM
Or you could forget trying to use a living elephant. Get the party necromancer to raise an Elephant skellie or something.

Or you could ask your DM for a pure appearance refluff. E.g. if you are a paladin, your DM should readily permit you a mount that looks like an elephant, moves like an elephant, and sounds like an elephant, but has the underlying stats for a horse.

2009-06-13, 05:17 PM
Purchase a normal but exemplary member of the species, have it awakened and begin to take class levels as a cohort.

That'd be within something a level 6 character who saves up from his WBL to purchase the oliphaunt and pay a druid to cast the spell. level 9 if there's a druid in the party.

Tiki Snakes
2009-06-13, 05:19 PM
Just ask your DM for an Elephant and be done with it. If you want it enough, and he's a nice person, (Quite, you in the stalls!) then I'm sure he'll work something out. Hell, if it's just for the concept, no problem, because you wouldn't be using it in battle. If you want to use it in battle, just tell him in advance and let him adjust the battles accordingly. The extra strength on your side will just be balanced by extra forces on theirs, but NOT extra XP, to account for the extra 'Character'.

Simple, really. And no need to mess around with any beast-mastery stuff.

If your DM is particularly generous, you could even ask him nicely to let the Elephant Advance as you guys level up, (as under this idea he'd be getting his own xp for stepping on things) and your Elephant will continue being viable. *shrug*

If it's cool, it should be allowed without Drama. If it's not Cool, you just shouldn't do it. Nuff said. :)

2009-06-13, 05:52 PM
You could always de-advance an elephant's HD until it got to be reasonable for where you are, then have it mature with your level progress. This is the easiest way to make it work as an animal companion.

Side note: There are three types of elepants. These are African elephants, Asian elephants, and DIRE ELEPHANTS.

I recommend the latter.

2009-06-13, 05:54 PM
Ranger, fighter and barbarian all have handle animal as class skills, I fail to see what is so difficult about buying an elephant mount. Aside from the cost, but then the SRD doesnít give a cost for buying an elephant to use as a mount. The only book I can think of that does is Oriental adventures, and thatís 3.0.

Iíd get a lance or something suitable for taking advantage of the elephantís trample ability. as well as an good bow (or better yet mount a automatic crossbow or harpoon gun on it) for ranged fighting capacity. I believe an elephant would make a really stable shooting platform.

2009-06-13, 05:56 PM
That Animal Cohort feat looks like a good possibility...

I could still do the Paladin thing with it <@_@>

Though the only problem there would be: What to do with the Special Mount ability in that case?

Could give it up for Charging Smite, but to be honest that feels almost like cheating, given that I'd still essentially have a Special Mount. >.<;

Buying an Elephant and getting it Awakened could work too... I'm assuming to get it as a cohort in this circumstance we'd be talking Leadership?

@Tiki Snakes - I prefer asking for DM favors to be an absolute last resort >.< I mean obviously I'd be getting it cleared with the DM ahead of time (I definitely want to fight on this thing!) - but likewise asking for rules alterations and the like can cause all kinds of issues that no one forsaw; while going through the more regular route I feel can even the potential power out a bit.

Plus sometimes a DM will balk at something which would require a DM ruling when if you present the same situation via the rules, they'll accept it. (Heck, I do that myself as a DM sometimes, though thankfully when players point out I've mucked up I try to fix it >.<)

So long story short: I don't want to burden the DM; and I also don't want to have a character rejected based on needing a DM favor to work, when I could potentially make it work by the rules <@-@>b

(That said, I do appreciate what you're saying hehe <^-^> that's part of what DMs are there for; it's just that as someone who's done a bit of DMing, I like to lighten the load for them as much as possible.)

@JeminiZero - ... That is actually very clever hehe <@_@> I don't think I'd do it since I'm going for a Paladin or at least a very noble character; but now you have me thinking about a Blackguard villain for a campaign I may run later... <._.> MUWAHAHAHAAAA!

Evilness Check 1d1000


Hrmm... appears d1000 doesn't work <.<;; well then!

@TheThan - My main concern is that if the elephant doesn't grow with the character, it'll eventually become useless <;_;> and while I'd be inclined to keep it along for RP purposes, it'd be hard for a character of that level to rationalize endangering a mount when it can't really contribute anymore.

That's my concern of course, I may be just worrying too much <'x'> I do that sometimes.

2009-06-13, 06:12 PM
I see one primary problem with this.

An elephant is Huge. This is, certainly, a good part of their appeal. Nevertheless, they are Huge.

To compare, Medium-sized paladins and mounted druids often have difficulty dealing with their Large mounts in a traditional dungeon environment. In some games, sure, an elephant's size won't get in the way. If you're relatively certain that you'll be okay 95% of the time trying to get a Huge creature to go where you want it to go, then awesome. However, if you expect to go spelunking, or go dungeon crawling, or take seafaring vessels smaller than a warship, or explore other terrain that's not conducive to a Huge, multi-ton land beast lumbering around... well, you need some kind of alternative. Some way of getting your elephant where it needs to be. You also need to come up with a solution for "parking" it... if it's an advanced animal companion, sure, it can fight off whatever two-bit bandits try to hijack it or whatever snarling predators come sniffing around, but what if you need to leave it for a while? What if you need to go into a city with small alleyways? (Most stables won't fit an elephant!) You need to consider things like that. If you can swing getting it as a paladin mount, that's best, but if you can't... well, these are questions that need answering, you know?

2009-06-13, 06:31 PM
Good points - definitely >.<

Some of these I've thought through:

Namely, I won't be playing this character in a campaign unless we're reasonably sure it'll mostly be overland, however intercontinental travel remains an issue; as does thievery (especially since even in an overland campaign it's almost guaranteed we'll need to hit a cave eventually).

Paladin mount solves a lot of those problems; but you're right, that these contingencies need thought through.

Reduce Animal can help with some problems; and it's only 2nd level Druid spell; so maybe I can find a way to get it on a magic item of some kind. (Though a Large creature still won't fit in a lot of places, but it could help.)

Though now that I think of it... Leadership is a potential solution as well.

A cohort who can ride and fight with me, and followers to act as grooms while we're in-town and guards while out of town. Not perfect, but possible.

... and now I have more ideas even if I've got it as a Paladin mount <T_T> oh dear. (I'm entirely too easily inspired)

Suffice to say though, some thought will have to go into these things before I play the character <@_@>b I'll be thinking that over while I work on them I think.

2009-06-13, 06:44 PM
Bard (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/variant/classes/variantCharacterClasses.htm#bard) gets an Animal Companion at full progression. Toss in Beastmaster 1 and Natural Bond, and you've got a winner.

Tiki Snakes
2009-06-13, 06:48 PM
I see where you are coming from. I guess tailoring encounter size isn't exactly a simple thing in 3.5, either, which i tend to forget. (in 4th you kinda just chuck in another enemy of the same kind of point value, and bob's your uncle).

I personally endorse the Cohort/Leadership idea, actually. You've already got your mobile archery platform, which you'll either be reach weaponing from, lancing from, or what have you. Why not have someone else up there (not like nelly will notice) plinking away with a bow? It's good stuff. And afforded for in the Rules, too, so it's all good.

And the RP concern of having a hireling/retainer around to look after your 'mighty steed' appeals to me quite a lot, actually. You could work them both together and into your backstory quite nicely.

2009-06-13, 06:53 PM
...You know, Elephants only have 11 HD. Toss in an Awaken spell, and you can introduce yourself as 'Hi, I'm Jumbo, and this is my rider'. Much easier to get a Human than an Elephant on your side.

Deth Muncher
2009-06-13, 08:13 PM
You could, y'know, and this is a bit crazy, so bear with me because this may be a little insane, but you could always go for...A BABY ELEPHANT. Give it, say...5-7HD. I don't know what's comparable for Animal Companions/Mounts, I usually play casters. But yes. Make it Large instead of Huge, give it 5-7HD.

I can just imagine this next scenario happening:

You - Okay Dumbo, you're chilling outside the city for now.
Dumbo - Fwee!
*You and the rest of your party go about your business. However, some bandits have started eyeing Dumbo and thinking just how much they could make on the Black Market from a baby elephant, and are quite intrigued. They start sneaking up.*
Dumbo - *looks as cute and innocent as a baby elephant can*
Bandit 1- Aw, lookit. It's so cute. It's just a wikkle baby ewweyfan-OHGODMYBLOOD! IT GORED OUT ALL MY BLOOD! (Bonus points if you get the reference.)
*Bandit 2 runs away, having learned his lesson*

2009-06-13, 10:53 PM
Iím sure there is a dire elephant out there. Or better yet start stacking templates. Can you imagine something like feral, it gives you pounce, rake, and improved grab. So now your elephant can grab things with its trunk and toss it around... much fun is to be had.


team fortress 2 "video". on the heavy's famous sandvich. the scout gets his blood punched out by the heavy after eating it.

Deth Muncher
2009-06-13, 11:47 PM
Iím sure there is a dire elephant out there. Or better yet start stacking templates. Can you imagine something like feral, it gives you pounce, rake, and improved grab. So now your elephant can grab things with its trunk and toss it around... much fun is to be had.


team fortress 2 "video". on the heavy's famous sandvich. the scout gets his blood punched out by the heavy after eating it.


Actually, both of those are clap-worthy, I hadn't even THOUGHT of Savage Species. I need to go read that book sometime...

2009-06-14, 01:15 AM
MM2 has Dire Elephant, I believe. So, yes.
EDIT: Savage Species was disappointing to me. I just didn't really find much good in it.

2009-06-14, 01:44 AM
Paladin, which was my first choice, doesn't really get the option. I might be able to work something out with a DM; but if there's a way to do it by the rules, I'd rather do that to save both myself and the potential DM the hassle of working something out.

You'll still need to work with your potential DM eventually anyway.
See if you can ger one that's War trained (MM2)

2009-06-14, 11:06 AM
After some fantastic advice <^_^> I think I've developed a plan! (Thank you all very much; hehe, there's a reason I keep asking for advice here <^-^> you all do well at giving it!)

I think what I'll do is:

Buy a Warbeast Elephant as soon as I'm allowed (It's not actually that expensive surprisingly enough, 825gp; and that includes a nice template!) - for a good while, it'll just be a mount in the sense that any other would be. It just happens to be remarkably tough. - This could be relatively early, but it'll depend heavily on setting and DM allowance, since 825gp for a creature as powerful as a war-trained elephant is pretty inexpensive. So I'm estimating level 6-10 before I can buy it.

I'll also ask about what level it would be an appropriate Paladin mount. If the DM doesn't want to mess with that; I'll take Animal Cohort at 12th level (which means at 13th I could make my not-at-all-special mount into an Animal Companion, albeit it won't gain anything right off; but it'll let it grow with me from then on. 13th is the earliest.)

Probably take Leadership back at 6th level so that even if I don't have the elephant yet, I can be ready.

The best part is, this whole thing has added a neat roleplay hook that I hadn't thought up:

Rough on detail but:

The character is from a kingdom where Elephant cavalry are used with relative regularity; though they are a distinctly elite group. Like a feudal European knight, to be an elephant rider one would need to be of the nobility and trained from a young age.

Additionally, a quest must be undertaken before such an expensive and difficult to train animal can be entrusted to the elephant rider to be. The quest of course will vary by campaign; but ultimately it must be fulfilled before I can buy my elephant.

Obviously being a noble, it's expected that I'd have a body of men and women at arms to call my own (Followers), and a bodyguard (and likely friend).

It'll require tweaking dependent on the specific setting - in some cases I may have to adapt it to an order of elephant-knights who operate like one expects the typical D&D paladin to - generally independently going out and seeking evil; but an applicant first has to prove themselves. Same general idea applies though.

<._.> Ultimately, I am happy; thanks again all!

2009-06-14, 11:52 AM
Side note: There are three types of elepants. These are African elephants, Asian elephants, and DIRE ELEPHANTS.

theres also the legendary elephants from the masters of the wild

2009-06-14, 11:57 AM
theres also the legendary elephants from the masters of the wild

Don't forget Horrid Elephants from Eberron Campaign Settings!

2009-06-14, 12:14 PM
Or Holyphants, but I doubt you can take them as animal companions.

Justin B.
2009-06-14, 12:33 PM
I'll keep pulling on the towpath.
You keep floating on the river.
Yeah, until the day is done.
Keep on keeping on the low road,
Chesapeake and Ohio.
Because on the higher ground you will find

Elephant Riders to the northwest bring news from father.

Name the elephant "Clutch" and I swear I will love you forever.

On a more serious note- Seriously ham up the Elephant for the Paladin Mount deal, it's going to become so much more versatile in such a variety of different games that way. Worship a God who has Elephants as a major part of their ethos and jack down the HD as much as he wants to let you get it at level 5, then go into PrC's that let you advance it. There are a few of them out there for Paladins.

Plus, Battle Blessing is awesome.