ROYAL ANIMAL
Despite the claims of druids world-wide, ancient legends persist of animals that could talk and think like men. Animals capable of rational thought, speech, and extraordinary activities normally only associated with the more intelligent of creatures.
In truth, such creatures exist. A royal animal is just that: royalty amongst its kind. A royal animal is not a magical beast; it is not a creature that excels through magical might, it is not a supernatural creature, except perhaps in the sense of its advanced ability to think and reason.
A royal animal is much like the other animals of its kind, except usually larger and vastly more intelligent. A royal animal, however, is of a different breed; royal animals do not interbreed with their lesser kin; such pairing usually result in grossly deformed or monstrous creatures which, thankfully, are always sterile.

CREATING A ROYAL ANIMAL
Royal Animal” is an inherited template that can be added to any living corporeal animal of Tiny to Large size, hereafter referred to as the base animal. While this template may be applied to reptilian animals, it is most commonly found in mammals.
Size and Type: While royal animals are notably larger then their unintelligent kin, the royal animal retains the base animal’s size category, unless it increased due to Hit Die advancement. A royal animal retains the animal type and gains the royal subtype. The royal subtype is described below.
Hit Dice: Increase the base animal’s Hit Dice by 4, using the standard advancement for that animal. If the animal does not possess an advancement entry, then its Hit Dice increases by 4 and it retains its normal size.
If an animal has less then 1 HD, then round up if the animal as 1/2 of a HD or greater, and round down if the animal has less then 1/2 a HD. A royal cat, for example, would have 5 HD, while a royal rat would have 4 HD.
Speed: As the base animal, except all movement speeds it possesses improve by 10 feet.
Armor Class: The royal animal’s natural armor improves according to the table below.

{table]Size|Natural Armor Increase
Tiny| +2
SmallSmall|+3
Medium| +5
Large| +7
[/table]

Attacks: A royal animal retains the attack forms of the base animal, except it’s base attack increases due to its new Hit Dice. Animals have a base attack progression equal to 3/4 of their Hit Dice.
Damage: As the base animal, excepted adjusted for the new size category if the royal animal’s Hit Die advancement increases its size category.
Special Attacks and Special Qualities: As the base animal. Improve any save DCs according to the creature’s new Hit Dice, size, and any increases to ability scores.
Abilities: Increase from base animal as follows if the base animal is a carnivore or insectivore: Str +4, Con +2. Increase from base animal as follows if the base animal is an herbivore: Dex +2, Con +4. Increase from base animal as follows if the base animal is omnivore: Str +2, Dex +2, Con +2. Unlike normal animals, all royal animals have an Intelligence score greater then 2 and are capable of rational thought. Increase from base animal as follows: Int +8.
Skills: As the base animal, except the royal animal gains new skill points due to the royal animal subtype and due to its 4 extra Hit Dice. Treat any skills that the base animal possess as class skills. All other skills are cross-class skills.
Feats: As the base animal, except that the royal animal gains Alertness as a bonus feat, and it may gain additional feats based on its Hit Dice. If the base animal already had Alertness from its racial Hit Die, replace it with a different feat for which it meets the prerequisites.
Challenge Rating: As the base animal +2 if the animal remains the same size through Hit Die advancement. The animal gains a CR of +3 if it increases by one size category.
Alignment: Royal animals are intelligent, rational creatures. They usually have a neutral component to their alignments, but they’re very rarely true neutral. Pack or herd animals tend towards lawful alignments, while largely solitary animals are often chaotic. Royal animals of all types are frequently good aligned.
Languages: A royal animal retains the ability to ‘speak’ with the base animal on a simplistic level, and all royal animals are capable of speaking a unified tongue (similar to Druidic, accept that this language is unnamed). Any royal animal is capable of learning the languages of other creatures, provided it has sufficient Intelligence or spends the necessary skill points in the Speak Language skill.
Advancement: A royal animal advances as the base animal, or by character class. A royal animal must complete its standard Hit Die advancement before it may enter a character class. Royal animals usually have either Barbarian or Fighter as their favored class.
Level Adjustment: Royal animals are not suitable as player characters. A royal animal would make a suitable cohort with a level adjustment of +3.

THE ROYAL ANIMAL SUBTYPE
Royal Subtype: A subtype that can only be applied to creatures of the animal type. Unlike a regular animal, an animal with the royal subtype has an Intelligence score greater then 2. Royal animals retain the animal type’s d8 HD and base attack progression, but instead have 4 skill points per HD (plus their Intelligence modifier).
A royal animal is treated as an animal for all spells and effects that affect animals, except as follows: An animal with the royal subtype cannot be made an animal companion. A royal animal cannot become a familiar, unless the spellcaster possesses the Improved Familiar feat and is of at least 3rd level or greater (only animals that could become familiars before this subtype was applied can become familiars with the Improved Familiar feat). A royal animal can become a special mount, but the character’s level is treated as –3 for all effects that govern that character’s special mount.
The awaken spell effects a royal animal normally, except that it gains +1d6 Intelligence, rather then it’s currently existing Intelligence score being set to 3d6. It’s type still changes to magical beast, it gains the augmented animal subtype, and it loses the royal subtype.

It is impossible to become a royal animal through the use of spells or effects that change a creature's shape, such as the polymorph spell, or the alternate form and change shape special abilities. A royal animal that becomes a creature of any type other then an animal immediately loses all the benefits of this subtype.

INTRODUCING ROYAL ANIMALS
A royal animal may be introduced into a campaign in any number of ways. In any case, the DM must be careful of how he goes about it. For example, most players, when encountering an intelligent wolf, will assume the creature is a worg or winter wolf (depending on its coloration and size).
While the template and subtype above assume that royal animals have always existed, some methods of introduction could include already existing magical effects. For example, rather then become a magical beast, a familiar could gain the royal subtype (but not the template), and increase in Intelligence as its master increases in power. If the master were to die, or the familiar released from service, the animal would simply lose the royal subtype.
The awaken spell could also be used to make royal animals. Rather then the animal becoming a magical beast, it instead gains the royal subtype (but not the template). A more powerful version of the awaken spell could be devised that would actually apply the royal animal template to a standard or awakened animal, thereby creating the much stronger royal animals.

WHY INTRODUCE ROYAL ANIMALS?
Many fantasy sources refer to animals that are intelligent beyond the normal ken of such creatures, but simply applying the ‘magical beast’ to any such creature is a terrible misnomer at best. Many of these creatures are no more magical then a standard rock, they’re simply more intelligent.
Take the animals from the Narnia series of books by C.S. Lewis. While these animals are typically larger, braver, and fiercer then standard animals, they rarely possess any actual magical qualities that separate them from the dumb beasts.
The royal animals in this document are more directly based on the royal animals presented in Jane Lindskold’s Through the Wolf’s Eyes novel, and its sequels. The books detail the impact such creatures could have on not only a single campaign, but an actual setting or world.