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Darkantra
2007-05-22, 01:47 AM
So I've been thinking for a while that while the animal companions for druids and rangers are vastly more powerdul than regular animals or monsters they tend to lose effectiveness at later levels. To that extent I've created the Warder prestige class for rangers and druids that want to increase the effectiveness that they and their animal companion have in combat.

Warder

There are some Druids and Rangers that develop such a strong bond with their animal companion that they are able to grow on it. They both live to fight and travel at each otherís side, both excelling at close combat and in protecting the other from threats both physical and mystical.

WARNING: Rangers that have taken the Archery Combat Style tree of feats will lose out on some abilities of this class.

Hit Die: d8
Skills: Concentration (Con), Craft (Int), Handle Animal (Cha), Knowledge Nature (Int), Listen (Wis), Profession (Wis), Ride (Dex), Spot (Wis), Survival (Wis), Tumble (Dex)

Additionally Warders gain class skills in any skill that their companion has a racial bonus to.

Requirements:
Base Attack Bonus: +4
Skills: Handle Animal 8 ranks
Animal Companion with Weapon Focus in one of its natural attacks, and that has been bonded to the character for over a year.

Class Information
The Warder class stacks with druid and ranger class levels in determining the Bonus HD, saves and abilities.

The Language of Friendship
Through their months of companionship the Warder and animal companion have progressed beyond the normal reading of stance and emotion that all druids and rangers us to interact with their companions. Warders can speak only to their animal companion as if affected by a constant speak with animals spell.

Battle Instinct
The Warders animal companion now moves with more grace and precision in combat, becoming cannier in its attacks and movements. The base attack bonus of the companion changes from being a druid of the same HD, to a fighter of the same HD.

Death Bond
Both have a keen understanding of the others health, allowing the warder or companion to mentally take what might be a deadly blow in the others place. Once per day when either the Warder or the animal companion takes damage that puts them at 0 hit points or fewer the other can choose to take the damage instead. They must be within 30 ft of each other for this ability to function. Additionally the Warder gains a +2 insight bonus using the heal skill on their companion.

Tandem Attack
When either the warder or the animal companion deals damage to a creature the other gains a +2 circumstance bonus to attacks against that creature for the current round. The Improved Tandem Attack increases the bonus to +4.

Bolstering Presence
When either the Warder or the animal companion are dying (i.e. below 0 hit points) the other can stabilize them by their very presence. As long as they are within 5ft of each other then this ability applies.

Greater Bolstering Presence
When close to each other the Warder and animal companion can now support each other when their minds are assailed. Both gain a +4 circumstance bonus to saves against mind-affecting spells and effects (eg charm animal, domination, dragonfear) as long as they are within 10 ft of each other.

Ferocious Assault
Twice per day the Warder can absorb some traits from their animal companion. Their Str, Dex and Con increase by their companions base modifier in each statistic. Ferocious Assault lasts for a number of rounds equal to the Warder's now increased Con modifier.

If the Warder enters or is in a wild shape other than their animal companions kind when Ferocious Assault is activated then the number of rounds it is effective for is halved.

Bonus Feats
At the 2nd, 6th and 10th level the animal companion and warder each gain a bonus feat that can be chosen from the following lists. The requisite 13+ dexterity is not needed to select Combat Reflexes, Dodge, Mobility or Spring Attack but they must be taken in order.

Warder
Combat Reflexes, Dodge, Mobility, Improved Critical, Skill Focus (Handle Animal), Skill Focus (Ride), Spring Attack, Weapon Focus, Weapon Specialization.

Companion
Ability Focus, Combat Reflexes, Dodge, Mobility, Improved Critical, Improved Natural Armor, Improved Natural Attack, Spring Attack, Weapon Specialization.


Warder
{table=head]Level|Base Attack<br>Bonus|Fort Save|Ref Save|Will Save|Special

1st|
+1|
+2|
+2|
+0|The Language of Friendship, Battle Instinct

2nd|
+2|
+3|
+3|
+0|Bonus Feat

3rd|
+3|
+3|
+3|
+1|Death Bond

4th|
+4|
+4|
+4|
+1|Tandem Attack

5th|
+5|
+4|
+4|
+1|Bolstering Presence

6th|
+6|
+5|
+5|
+2|Bonus Feat

7th|
+7|
+5|
+5|
+2|Improved Tandem Attack

8th|
+8|
+6|
+6|
+2|Greater Bolstering Presence

9th|
+9|
+6|
+6|
+3|Ferocious Assault

10th|
+10|
+7|
+7|
+3|Bonus Feat[/table]

Thanks to Triaxx for pointing me at Fax_Celestis' tables.

Triaxx
2007-05-22, 06:50 AM
I love this. It would make rangers and druids all the more dangerous. Can Ferocious Assault be used while Wild Shaped? And how long does it last?

And Fax Celestis' Guide to Homebrewing has all the tables in pre-coded, fill-in the blanks format.

Darkantra
2007-05-22, 11:20 PM
Thanks Triaxx, good point about using wild shape. I'm not completely sure what should be done there, although maybe halving the time it is effective for would work if the character enters or is in a wild shape, unless they shift to their animal companions kind.

Darkantra
2007-05-23, 12:21 AM
One thing I was wondering about, when the animal companion advances does it gain feats at all? If not then I'd have to strike the Weapon Focus requirement from the list.

Dryad
2007-05-23, 07:41 AM
Yes, animal companions gain hit dice. As such, they gain feats, skill points, ability increase, and, for some animals, size increase, plus the extra Animal Companion Extras.
These alone are enough for a Wolf companion to have 4 hit dice at lvl 3, a str. score of 22, con score of 20, an AC of 17...
I'd say: Do not underestimate animal companions. Especially eagles and wolves. Eagles make good aerial mounts. Very good aerial mounts, especially to small characters. A wolf makes a good secondary close combat tank, since it's trip ability increases to +6 at third level, due to it's strength score.
Does it need to be enhanced even further?

By the way; the Warder class does already exists, though it is a fighter-ish prestige class from the Wheel of Time series.