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D&D 3E
Well, why not? 
10th-May-2006 05:08 pm
Etna Disgaea
So after my exercise in futility in finding companion-oriented Prestige Classes and feats, I decided to make one of my own.

After talking with the GM we decided to flavour-restrict this one to raptors (to fit in with the falconry idea I'm going for), but none of the elements that I see are things that would be exclusively of benefit to avian creatures.

You could restrict this otherwise, or even unrestrict it, and I think it would be fine. I didn't bother with the background information or fluffy bits, because that's something the GM and I are going to want to flesh out tomorrow before his game while we wait for players to arrive. The name is pure filler at this point.

I really can't gauge how the abilities will end up being in conjunction with the companion, as I don't have any time at this point (I'm at work) to actually mock up a character and companion for something to do. I spent most of my free time at the office writing this up. I am also fully open to name changes for the abilities and name suggestions for the class.

I am open to feedback, criticism, suggestions, and so forth. Most of these were just ideas that popped into my head, so I have no reservations about making changes. :)

So, without further delay...


Falconer Dilettante


Hit Die
d8

Requirements
To qualify to become a Falconer Dilettante, a character must fulfill all the following criteria.

   Skills
   Handle Animal 8 ranks, Knowledge (nature) 8 ranks
   Feats
   Skill Focus (Handle Animal)
   Spells
   Ability to cast charm animal.

Class Skills
The Falconer Dilettante's class skills (and the key ability for each skill) are Concentration (Con), Craft (Int), Diplomacy (Cha), Handle Animal (Cha), Heal (Wis), Hide (Dex), Knowledge (geography) (Int), Knowledge (nature) (Int), Listen (Wis), Move Silently (Dex), Profession (Wis), Ride (Dex), Search (Int), Spellcraft (Int), Spot (Wis), Survival (Wis)

Skill Points at Each Level

4 + Int modifier

Table: The Falconer Dilettante
Level BAB Fort
Save
Ref
Save
Will
Save
Special Spells per Day
1st +0 +2 +0 +2 Animal companion, wild empathy +1 level of existing class
2nd +1 +3 +0 +3 Companion specialty +1 level of existing class
3rd +2 +3 +1 +3 Gift of nature +1 level of existing class
4th +3 +4 +1 +4 Companion specialty +1 level of existing class
5th +3 +4 +1 +4 Companion mettle +1 level of existing class (edit: possible skip?)
6th +4 +5 +2 +5 Companion specialty +1 level of existing class
7th +5 +5 +2 +5 The ties that bind +1 level of existing class
8th +6 +6 +2 +6 Companion specialty +1 level of existing class
9th +6 +6 +3 +6 Two as one +1 level of existing class
10th +7 +7 +3 +7 Companion specialty, unity of spirit +1 level of existing class (edit: possible skip?)


Class Features
All of the following are Class Features of the Falconer Dilettante prestige class.

Weapon and Armor Proficiency
Falconer Dilettantes gain no proficiency with any weapon or armor.

Spells per Day
When a new Falconer Dilettante level is gained the character gains new spells per day as if he had also gained a level in a divine spellcasting class he belonged to before adding the prestige class. He does not, however, gain any other benefit a character of that class would have gained, except for an increased effective level of spellcasting. If a character had more than one divine spellcasting class before becoming a Falconer Dilettante, he must decide to which class he adds the new level for purposes of determining spells per day.

Animal Companion (Ex)
A Falconer Dilettante may acquire an animal companion, as a druid of her class level. However, the Falconer Dilettante may only choose a raptor (hawk, eagle, owl, and so forth) as an animal companion. As her effective druid level increases, he or she may select larger versions of existing raptors (dire eagles, for example) as companions.

If the Falconer Dilettante has the animal companion class feature from another class or classes, he may combine his effective druid level from those classes with his class level in this class to determine his effective level for this class feature.

Unlike most druids or rangers and their animal companions, the Falconer Dilettante has a much stronger bond to their animal companion, akin to that of a wizard. If the Falconer Dilettante's animal companion dies (or is dismissed), the Falconer Dilettante must attempt a DC 15 Fortitude saving throw. Failure means he loses 200 experience points per Falconer Dilettante level; success reduces the loss to one-half that amount. However, a Falconer Dilettante's experience point total can never go below 0 as the result of an animal companion's demise or dismissal. A slain or dismissed Falconer Dilettante animal companion cannot be replaced for a year and day. A slain familiar can be raised from the dead just as a character can be, and it does not lose a level or a Constitution point when this happy event occurs.

Wild Empathy (Ex)
A Falconer Dilettante receives the Wild Empathy ability as a druid or ranger, but may only use this ability with raptors.

If the Falconer Dilettante already has this class feature from another class, he may combine his levels in those classes to determine the total class level used for this ability. In addition, he receives a +2 circumstance bonus to the Wild Empathy check when using this ability with raptors.

Companion Speciality (Ex)
At 2nd level, the Falconer Dilettante's animal companion's training regimen grants it additional abilities, depending on the focus of the training. When this class feature is first obtained, the Falconer Dilettante choses a speciality.

Prowess: The Falconer Dillettante's animal companion receives a +4 bonus on all Strength checks, Strength-based skill checks, and opposed rolls involving Strength. At 2nd level, the Falconer Dilettante's animal companion receives the ability to rage as a barbarian of its hit dice. At 4th level, the Falconer Dilettante's animal companion receives the Power Attack feat as a bonus feat, even if it does not meet the prerequisites. At 6th level, the Falconer Dilettante's animal companion gains the greater rage class feature as a barbarian. At 8th level, the Falconer Dilettante's animal companion gains the tireless rage class feature as a barbarian. At 10th level, the Falconer Dilettante's animal companion gains the mighty rage class feature as a barbarian.

Cunning: Tumble and Bluff are considered racial skills for the Falconer Dilettante's animal companion. At 2nd level, the Falconer Dilettante's animal companion receives the sneak attack class feature as a rogue of half its hit dice. At 4th level, the Falconer Dilettante's animal companion receives the uncanny dodge class feature as a rogue of its hit dice. At 6th level, the Falconer Dilettante's animal companion receives the improved uncanny dodge class feature as a rogue of its hit dice. At 8th level, the Falconer Dilettante's animal companion receives Combat Reflexes as a bonus feat and is treated as having a 5 ft. reach for the purpose of determining threatened area. At 10th level, the Falconer Dilettante's animal companion receives the opportunist special ability as a rogue.

Stealth: Hide and Move Silently are considered racial skills for the Falconer Dilettante's animal companion. At 2nd level, the Falconer Dilettante's animal companion receives the trackless step class feature as a druid. At 4th level, the Falconer Dilettante's animal companion receives the camouflage class feature as a ranger. At 6th level, the Falconer Dilettante's animal companion receives the hide in plain sight class feature as a ranger. At 8th level, the Falconer Dilettante's animal companion is treated as having concealment when in a natural environment. At 10th level, the Falconer Dilettante's animal companion is treated as having total concealment when in a natural environment.


Note that learning each tier of these abilities requires a training period of approximately one week, so if the Falconer Dilettante seeks out another raptor, this ability would not immediately apply.

Speak with Companion (Su)
At 2nd level, the Falconer Dilettante receives the ability to speak with his or her animal companion as though he were permanently under the effect of a speak with animals spell.

Gift of Nature (Ex)
At 3rd level, due to their close ties to each other and to the forces of nature that surround them, the Falconer Dilettante's animal companion tends to be stronger and healthier than a typical creature of its kind. The Falconer Dilettante's class level is treated as two levels higher than it actually is for the purpose of determining the statistics of its animal companion.

Companion Mettle (Ex)
At 5th level, a Falconer Dilettante's animal companion can withstand even magical and unusual attacks with great resolve. If it makes a successful Fortitude or Will saving throw against an attack that normally has a reduced effect on a successful save, it instead suffers no ill effects.

The Ties That Bind (Ex)
At 7th level, a Falconer Dilettante and his companion have become so attuned to each other that they feed off of each others' movements and actions on the battlefield. So long as the companion and the Falconer Dilettante can see or hear each other, both receive a +2 insight bonus on attack rolls, skill checks, and saving throws. The Falconer Dilettante must have had his animal companion for a period of one month for these benefits to accrue, so if the Falconer Dilettante seeks out another raptor, this ability would not immediately apply.

Two As One (Ex)
At 9th level, a Falconer Dilettante and his companion's movements on the battlefield become almost synchronized. When determining the initiative order for combat, the Falconer Dilettante and his companion roll a single initative checks using the higher initiative modifier of the two, and both act on that initiative. The Falconer Dilettante must have had his animal companion for a period of one month for these benefits to accrue, so if the Falconer Dilettante seeks out another raptor, this ability would not immediately apply.

Unity of Spirit (Su)
At 10th level, a Falconer Dilettante and his companion's ties reach their closest point. As an immediate action, a Falconer Dilettante can provide his companion with a shield other effect as a caster of his character level. He may dismiss this effect as a free action on his turn.

At the Falconer Dilettante's discretion, the animal companion may receive the benefit of any spell cast upon him so last as the animal companion is within 100 ft. of the Falconer Dilettante.

In addition, any beneficial spell cast by the Falconer Dilettante upon his or her animal companion is treated as though it were subject to the extend spell and empower spell metamagic feats.

The Falconer Dilettante must have had his animal companion for a period of one month for these benefits to accrue, so if the Falconer Dilettante seeks out another raptor, this ability would not immediately apply.


Thanks. :)

Edit: 1st - Fixed some mistakes. 2nd - Clarifications. 3rd - Level 7 and 9 abilities should also require the one month 'bonding period', which has been added. 4th - Added notation about possible skipped spell levels for balance. 5th - Added companion death penalty as a familiar, changed two abilities around.

ETA: Can anyone think of any other specializations for the Companion Speciality feature or have I pretty much tapped the resource pool? Thinking I might create one that grants skirmish dice, now that I think about it.
Comments 
10th-May-2006 08:28 pm (UTC)
I absolutely abhor animal companions, but the class looks balanced.
10th-May-2006 09:21 pm (UTC)
Have you used any of the class-balancing systems out there? A google search should pop up a few.

18 skills is a little large for a 4 skill point/level skill list, IMO. Although, I don't recall the exact guidelines, I'd think around 15 would be better.

Prerequisite:
Specifying Charm Animals as a Divine spell seems superfulous. It is a Ranger/Druid spell, as it is. And if some future Arcane class gets it on their list, I don't see any reason why they shouldn't be able to take this PrC.

Spellcasting progression:
It seems a little strong, with respect to a 4 SP, Medium BAB, 2 strong save class. Admittedly, that's what Clerics and Druids already get, but that is already a strong/broken point for those classes. I'd probably do spellcasting progression for all levels but 4 & 9 or 3&8.

Wild Empathy: Why a straight +4 for dealing with raptors? Shouldn't it also stack with Ranger/Druid ability?

Resolve of Nature: This ability is usually called 'Mettle'.

Speak With Companion: How often? Is this at will? I'd be more comfortable if it were either SU, or if it were 'while in contact', or 'while they can share spells'.

Unity of Spirit: This needs to be Su or within a much closer range.

Also, share Spell is already powerful (Share Heals, Cures, etc.), if not sufficiently used. and there is a Feat in PHBII that extends the range of Share Spell. 1 mile seems awfully long, for that.




Also: Can the animal Companion be any other types of Raptors, that are more than the 1st level list? For instance, a Dire Eagle.
10th-May-2006 10:15 pm (UTC)
"18 skills is a little large for a 4 skill point/level skill list, IMO. Although, I don't recall the exact guidelines, I'd think around 15 would be better."

Yeah, I can easily axe three skills then. I was trying to keep a hybrid of the ranger/druid class lists, but we could probably drop Climb, Diplomacy, and Heal?

"Prerequisite:
Specifying Charm Animals as a Divine spell seems superfulous. It is a Ranger/Druid spell, as it is. And if some future Arcane class gets it on their list, I don't see any reason why they shouldn't be able to take this PrC.
"

Duly noted and something I can trim out.

"Spellcasting progression:
It seems a little strong, with respect to a 4 SP, Medium BAB, 2 strong save class. Admittedly, that's what Clerics and Druids already get, but that is already a strong/broken point for those classes. I'd probably do spellcasting progression for all levels but 4 & 9 or 3&8.
"

Also noted. I was using Clerics/Druids as a model, while trying to keep some pull for a ranger to pick this up. The ranger trades special abilities for himself for special abilities for the pet (gaining a stronger pet than a straight ranger as well), loses out on BAB and Reflex saves, and retains spell progression and Fort saves.

Druids trade Wild Shape advancement and their other abilities for a boost to the pet, while retaining saves and spell progression.

I'll keep it in mind if it proves to have too much 'kick'.

"Wild Empathy: Why a straight +4 for dealing with raptors? Shouldn't it also stack with Ranger/Druid ability?"

Ah, I completely forgot that there was a level-based modifer. The +4 will be changed to simply make it stack. Thanks for pointing that out.

"Resolve of Nature: This ability is usually called 'Mettle'."

It's also not in the core rules and the ability Mettle applies to the character that gets it. I renamed it and repasted the effect to illustrate the animal companion receives it instead of the character.

"Speak With Companion: How often? Is this at will? I'd be more comfortable if it were either SU, or if it were 'while in contact', or 'while they can share spells'."

Supernatural would probably fit better. I was leaning more towards the Han Solo/Chewbacca "understanding" versus any kind of supernatural or spell-like connection, but you're right on that.

"Unity of Spirit: This needs to be Su or within a much closer range."

Should be supernatural. Mea culpa.

"Also, share Spell is already powerful (Share Heals, Cures, etc.), if not sufficiently used. and there is a Feat in PHBII that extends the range of Share Spell. 1 mile seems awfully long, for that."

I find the 5' restriction is a little harsh. One mile may be too long, so I may toss it to say... 100' or the normal range of the spell?

"Also: Can the animal Companion be any other types of Raptors, that are more than the 1st level list? For instance, a Dire Eagle.</i" Definitely a reasonable suggestion. I don't think there were any on the default druid list and I wasn't really interested in guesstimating CRs at this point.
10th-May-2006 10:36 pm (UTC)
"Resolve of Nature: This ability is usually called 'Mettle'."

It's also not in the core rules and the ability Mettle applies to the character that gets it. I renamed it and repasted the effect to illustrate the animal companion receives it instead of the character.



Yeah, but it's still called "improved evasion" when a familiar or animal companion gets it, not "mystic damage avoidance" or whatever. Simplify, simplify! You could just say "At Xth level, the animal companion gains the ability Mettle."
10th-May-2006 10:57 pm (UTC)
Alright, I just renamed it to "Companion Mettle" to keep the connection to mettle proper, and left the description intact.
10th-May-2006 11:40 pm (UTC)
Good solution!

(Not that my opinion really even matters....eh!)
10th-May-2006 11:50 pm (UTC)
Like I said, I'll listen to anything at this point.

I'd rather get more commentary on balance-related issues than semantics (although the semantic issues are good to hammer down early).
11th-May-2006 12:37 am (UTC)
Yup yup, totally understandable. But I've never played with an animal companion, nor even been in a game with one (well, I DM'ed a first-level game once, but the player kept forgetting the companion) so I wouldn't be much help on the balance side of things.
11th-May-2006 12:48 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I can easily axe three skills then. I was trying to keep a hybrid of the ranger/druid class lists, but we could probably drop Climb, Diplomacy, and Heal?

I would have picked 'Swim' as one of them -- Raptors may attack things in water, but falconiers generally don't have a strong association with water. Ride and Move Silently would be other options, but my first 3 of note were Climb, Swim and Diplomacy.

Heal just makes too much sense, as you want to be able to bind the wounds of your companion.


Was there a response to 'Also: Can the animal Companion be any other types of Raptors, that are more than the 1st level list? For instance, a Dire Eagle.'? I didn't see one.
11th-May-2006 05:21 pm (UTC)
In the end I opted for Climb, Jump, and Swim.

As you said, swim isn't necessary, and I don't see anyone climbing or jumping anywhere with a well trained flying companion. :)

There was a response, but I don't think I copy-pasted it (I type everything in notepad and paste it here, because I've had LiveJournal eat my posts far too often).

Essentially I was saying that I don't see it being a problem, but since I didn't have time to guesstimate a list (since the default druid list doesn't have any that I saw) I didn't bother putting one in.

I may whip one up if I get a chance today during game and add it in.
11th-May-2006 12:19 am (UTC)
Would like a version relating to an arcane familiar... ^_^
11th-May-2006 01:45 am (UTC)
I don't think there'd be much difference. If you can think of what you'd like to see, I don't mind trying to set them up as game mechanics, but I'm not sure what you'd want that would be different *shrug*.
11th-May-2006 12:47 am (UTC)
I second that the spellcasting seems a little strong. I'm not sure for a druid that giving up wildshape totally makes up for all that is gained. Your main ability (the companion specialization) gives you almost another character to use, which seems pretty significant. I'd maybe 7/10 spellcasting. But then, I'm not real good with the balance stuff and tend to aim low (since I fear overpowered more than underpowered).
11th-May-2006 01:39 am (UTC)
Other than that, do the rest of the abilities feel overpowered, underwhelming, or fairly balanced?
11th-May-2006 02:59 am (UTC)
Mostly seems fair. Though I just noted the ability for the bird to become permanently invisible (total cover) at 10th level. That's pretty heavy.

The "The Ties that Bind" ability seems pretty powerful. I mean, just for having the animal the character gets +2 to everything basically. That's crazy. Maybe you should have one be able to give the other a +2 as a standard or a move action or something--so your druid could spend his turn pumping the bird.

For the initiative thing, it seems more fitting abilities I've seen to maybe let the character use either his own or the birds modifier, whichever is higher, instead of getting two rolls and taking the better. Such a change does weaken the ability some though. Hell, maybe you could just make the ability "Eyes of the Hawk" or something and have the character get Imp Init or Alertness or something as a bonus feat.

While this might limit the class in ways you don't want to go, I kind of feel that the penalty for losing a animal companion should be heavier. I mean, you forge this bond with the animal (especially at the Unity of Spirit level) so it seems that losing it would hurt a lot more. Of course, that would discourage using the falcon in combat in the chance that it would die, which defeats the point of the class. I don't know. Maybe just the "wait a year and a day" limit after losing a special companion (and then you could reduce the bonding time to a week). As a DM I'd like something like that for RP purposes, though it doesn't seem that necessary to balance the class.

Overall it seems pretty good. I'd be interested to see how it actually runs in play rather than just on paper.
11th-May-2006 05:04 am (UTC)
The suggestions sound good.

What if, say, The Ties That Bind was changed to an insight bonus (or a +1 insight bonus) instead of an unnamed bonus?

The initiative one works, although it's not necessarily what I was leaning for. Perhaps simply going with the higher of the two modifiers, making one roll, and having both act on that instead of playing 'better ball'?

I actually wanted a stronger penalty. I was leaning towards the loss for a familiar, but I couldn't find the rules in the SRD today (I must be blind) so I left it out. Do you have the details? It may be worth adding as a mitigating factor.
11th-May-2006 01:45 pm (UTC)
I think the +1 insight bonus would help. That way it doesn't stack with a ton of other bluffs, right?

Yeah, that's what I meant for initiative. Use the better (higher) of the two modifiers :p

Apparently there currently is no penalty for losing an animal companion (which again, makes sense since they are intended to be actively involved in combat). Familiar loss penalties are detailed under the class feature description:

If the familiar dies or is dismissed by the sorcerer, the sorcerer must attempt a DC 15 Fortitude saving throw. Failure means he loses 200 experience points per sorcerer level; success reduces the loss to one-half that amount. However, a sorcerer’s experience point total can never go below 0 as the result of a familiar’s demise or dismissal. A slain or dismissed familiar cannot be replaced for a year and day. A slain familiar can be raised from the dead just as a character can be, and it does not lose a level or a Constitution point when this happy event occurs.
11th-May-2006 05:17 pm (UTC)
Perfect, that's what I was looking for.
13th-May-2006 03:47 pm (UTC) - Just out of curiosity...
Did you get your idea for this character from the anime; Ragnarok The Animation, with the black girl Judia and her falcon?
13th-May-2006 04:57 pm (UTC) - Re: Just out of curiosity...
No, I honestly can't say I did.

Not familiar with that series. *shrug*
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