Animal Companions Getting Smarter?

4 posts / 0 new
Last post
MinusInnocence
MinusInnocence's picture
Animal Companions Getting Smarter?

So let's say you are a druid or ranger and have an animal companion. Over time, your animal companion receives bonus Hit Dice. This might have a number of consequences: they gain feats and skill points for progressing this way, for example. However, would you rule that these are indeed BONUS Hit Dice and that they aren't ACTUALLY gaining Hit Dice? Because when a creature gains Hit Dice, for every four they gain, they raise one of their ability scores by 1 just like PCs.

If you do think the animal is actually progressing in Hit Dice, would you allow someone to raise his or her animal companion's Intelligence score above 2? This would technically make the creature sentient and allow it to learn a language (although still be unable to speak it unless it had the necessary physiology). However, one of the defining characteristics of an animal is that its Intelligence is only 1 or 2 (herbivores often have the former while predators usually claim the latter). Is it really an animal anymore? If not, is it a viable candidate for an animal companion? If it ceases to be an animal companion, does it retroactively lose all its Bonus HD and become just a regular creature again? If so, why would you allow it to advance to Intelligence 3 in the first place?

Talanall
Talanall's picture

I do consider the bonus Hit Dice for an animal companion valid for the purpose of adding ability score increases to the creature. But I specifically would not allow Intelligence to be increased past 2.

Here's why: the creature description for the animal type specifies "no creature with an Intelligence score of 3 or higher can be an animal." Smarter critters are supposed to be typed as magical beasts instead; that is literally the point of definition for the type—it's entirely possible for the magical beast type to be totally devoid of any hint of the supernatural.

Example: the ankheg and sea cat, which are different from any other predatory animals solely in that they are kind of funny-looking. The ankheg is even an exception to the usual "predatory animals are smarter" rule; it has Int 1. But most magical beasts have Int 3+ or some sort of magical ability, or both. In any event, raising an animal companion's Int higher than 2 would require it to change type, which it can't do by the specifications of the core rules in the druid and ranger classes.

Wæs se grimma gæst Grendel haten,
mære mearcstapa, se þe moras heold

MinusInnocence
MinusInnocence's picture

This is where I and the designers of the Pathfinder system part ways. It is official errata that you can raise your animal companion's Intelligence to 3 or higher, teach it to understand (but not speak) any language you want, and all sorts of other stuff, including taking Teamwork feats and all that jazz. But I mean... it's right there in the rules. Animals have Intelligence 1 or 2. If you raise it to 3, it's not an animal, like we already covered. It's plain as day to me, at least in the new ruleset, so I was interested in what people had to say about v3.5.

"Every normal man must be tempted, at times, to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag and begin slitting throats." - H.L. Mencken

Talanall
Talanall's picture

3.5 is extremely clear on this, I think.

Wæs se grimma gæst Grendel haten,
mære mearcstapa, se þe moras heold