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Zergrusheddie
2009-07-05, 10:26 AM
It seems like all the decent animal companions are over 6 HD like the Dire Wolf. Unfortunatly, Fleshrakers are verbotten and I am trying to think of some new animal to Shape into and have as a Companion. Any suggestions?

Best of luck
-Eddie

Saph
2009-07-05, 10:33 AM
A riding dog for an animal companion works fine. I kept one in our World's Largest Dungeon campaign from level 3 up to level 18, and it achieved near-legendary status in our group by the end. :)

Riding dogs have a decent natural attack that isn't dependent on a full attack or a charge (their trip), and with barding and shared spells they can have an excellent AC. They're not flashy, but that's actually a benefit. It means they don't draw attention and you can actually take them into towns with you (guards and innkeepers tend to react negatively to carnivorous dinosaurs, for some strange reason).

For Wild Shape, black bear is the classic level 5 core form, or eagle if you want some mobility. Leopard and cheetah are fun too.

- Saph

Zergrusheddie
2009-07-05, 10:34 AM
Riding Dogs?! Why not change for a Dire Wolf or Tiger at higher levels?

Saph
2009-07-05, 10:45 AM
Lots of reasons.

Riding Dogs are Medium. Tigers/Dire Wolves are Large. If you're dungeoneering, small size is a benefit.
Riding Dogs have no animal companion level adjust penalty, so you get the full package of special abilities. This means, due to the Nat. Armour boosts, that your dog will have a better AC than a bigger critter.
It's a dog and not a huge scary monster. It might sound appealing to have a huge tiger as a pet, but trust me, if you go into civilised areas regularly, dealing with the hassles gets old fast.
There's this thing called 'roleplaying'. :P If you've had the same companion for months or years, then it's just possible that you might think of it as more than a replaceable class feature. My druid PCs are usually fonder of their companion than they are of the other party members.

- Saph

Zergrusheddie
2009-07-05, 10:48 AM
The SRD is pretty flimsy on describing the Riding Dog; does it come with Barding already available?

Gnaeus
2009-07-05, 10:49 AM
3 key questons:

What books are allowed?

What rules does your DM use for determining what you are familiar with?

What is your party role/what do you want your form/companion to do. I liked Dire Bat, for full time flight as a spell platform. Do you want a scout? A meleer?

Eldariel
2009-07-05, 10:49 AM
Dire Bat is an excellent companion at level 4, if that's what you're looking for. Flying, Large, great combat monster, great AC and Blindsense. Really, really good overall, and an excellent mount for medium creatures. The only drawback is that it's a bat, which is bleh for some characters (and you can't Wildshape into it, obviously). Deinonychus [SRD] is a fine Wildshape-form, as an example. In addition to what Saph said, of course.

Saph
2009-07-05, 10:51 AM
The SRD is pretty flimsy on describing the Riding Dog; does it come with Barding already available?

No, you have to buy your own. Check out the Armour and Equipment section for rules on barding. It's not particularly expensive. Masterwork studded leather if you want to spend a couple hundred gold, +1 mithral if you want to splash out.

- Saph

Zergrusheddie
2009-07-05, 11:01 AM
I mean do you need to take an armor proficiency feat to clad a St. Bernard in a chain shirt?

Saph
2009-07-05, 11:06 AM
I mean do you need to take an armor proficiency feat to clad a St. Bernard in a chain shirt?

Yes, if you want to avoid the penalties. Of course, if you pick a type of armour that has no Armour Check Penalty (like masterwork leather, or a mithral shirt) it doesn't matter if it has the feat or not.

- Saph

Yuki Akuma
2009-07-05, 11:12 AM
Masterwork studded leather. or just regular leather. ;)

Eldariel
2009-07-05, 12:05 PM
Yes, if you want to avoid the penalties. Of course, if you pick a type of armour that has no Armour Check Penalty (like masterwork leather, or a mithral shirt) it doesn't matter if it has the feat or not.

- Saph

Actually, War-trained doggies are proficient in armor. It's mentioned in the War-trained entries (same applies to War Horses & al.). This benefit isn't expanded though.

And I personally love Dire Bats; they rock.

Saph
2009-07-05, 12:17 PM
Actually, War-trained doggies are proficient in armor. It's mentioned in the War-trained entries (same applies to War Horses & al.). This benefit isn't expanded though.

Really? Link please? That's a benefit I didn't know about.

- Saph

Eldariel
2009-07-05, 12:31 PM
Animal-type (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/typessubtypes.htm#animalType): "Proficient with no armor unless trained for war."

Saph
2009-07-05, 12:34 PM
But it doesn't say what category of armour; that's kind of annoying.

Well, it probably means all categories, since I guess the rule's in there to allow heavy warhorses with plate barding. I always just used light armour on my dog anyway.

Though the idea of a Mecha-Dog in fullplate is amusing. :P

- Saph

Eldariel
2009-07-05, 12:34 PM
But it doesn't say what category of armour; that's kind of annoying.

Well, it probably means all categories, since I guess the rule's in there to allow heavy warhorses with plate barding. I always just used light armour on my dog anyway.

Though the idea of a Mecha-Dog in fullplate is amusing. :P

- Saph

What?! The only right armor for Mecha-Dog is MECHANUS GEAR! Duh; the "Mecha"-part is even in the armor-name! But yeah, in absence of any specifications, it means proficiency in all armor.

only1doug
2009-07-05, 01:20 PM
But it doesn't say what category of armour; that's kind of annoying.

Well, it probably means all categories, since I guess the rule's in there to allow heavy warhorses with plate barding. I always just used light armour on my dog anyway.

Though the idea of a Mecha-Dog in fullplate is amusing. :P

- Saph

Now that is just shouting for this picture
http://i115.photobucket.com/albums/n294/wolffe42/arms%20and%20Armor/dog-armor.jpg

Zergrusheddie
2009-07-06, 07:46 AM
Thanks for all the advice everyone. I've got Woofer with an AC of 25 (The Sword and Board Fighter is 23) and I think I am going to change into a Leopard until level 8 when I can go Large animal.

Are there any 'tool using' animals that are available before level 8? The earliest I could find was a Baboon but their Strength is a little low. I have a staff and one of the cooler things it does is on a melee attack, the subject must make a Fortitude DC 15 (we are level 5, so the DC is actually useful) or be effected by the Wither Limbs spell from BoVD; either their legs wither and they fall prone and can't stand up or their arms wither and they drop their weapons and can not cast spell that require Somatic Components.

Again, thanks for all the advice.
-Eddie