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D&D 3E
Question about Cohorts and low stats 
9th-Mar-2006 01:24 pm
One of my players wants to play a druid with the Leadership feat in my next campaign. We're carefully not mentioning how badly it went when he played a Leader in the last campaign, in hopes that it turns out better this time. He's not playing a Paladin, so the wildly chaotic players in my game will likely not drive a druid away like they did the paladin. Or like they drove away the druid in the current campaign. Huh. Hadn't thought of that...

Anyway, he would like for his druid to have a lion for a cohort, and have it gain experience and go up levels as a cohort ordinarily would. I'll be reading up on this this weekend, but is this basically doable? Does the lion need to be Awakened, or can he just play one as-is from the back of the Monster Manual? Since Awaken adds 2 hd, does that raise the lion's ECL by 2?

He also found out that WildShaping druids sometimes start out with really low physical characteristics, because once they get a good enough wildshape, their own stats don't matter. I told him we'd be using a 32-point buy so that people didn't feel they had to start out with low stats just because they rolled them that way, so he showed me a druid with STR 3, DEX 6, CON 7. Sigh. I'm tempted to Rule 0 this and say, do over, but I'm wondering: What does a strength of 3 really mean? He has all the muscle power of a weasel. Can he even stand? I'm assuming somebody with this low a score would be in a wheelchair in the real world; stairs and ladders are a serious challenge, and there's no way he can climb a rope, because he can't lift his own weight... how woefully unheroic... I realize, Gandhi and Mother Theresa may have been terrific Leaders and probably wouldn't have done too good climbing ropes, either, but this is supposed to be an adventuring Leader...

So, any thoughts or suggestions? In general, would a druid with stats this low be unbearably wimpy until he got a good Wildshape going, and what level would that occur at? The campaign's starting at 3rd level.
9th-Mar-2006 07:37 pm (UTC)
I would rule no. Animals are granted by the Animal Companion ability. Leadership represents the character's ability to lead groups of people. I would expect that any cohort or other followers under the Leadership feat would need more than animal intelligence.

By this logic, I would allow an Awakened creature to be a cohort.

I can't quote a rulebook on the better-than-animal-intelligence thing... but one of a DM's jobs is to provide common sense rulings.
9th-Mar-2006 07:39 pm (UTC)
In my current game one of the druid's has an animal companion of a lion (Dnd 3.5). We house rules that the young lion looked like a leopard at 4th level, then advanced to look like a lion at 7th and a dire lion at 10th. After that he was going to let it advance along the normal progression. Is your player wanting to take a lion in addition to his normal animal companion?

In my opinion, a druid with these stats would be unplayably weak at many points during the game. At 5th level, sure you can turn into a medium sized animal, but its only 5 hours a day and only once a day. As well, you can't use any of your gear when in animal form. A medium sized animal is no where as good (or survivable) as a well equipped 5th level fighter.

I'd require him to redo the stats with nothing less than an 8 personally, and make sure he understands how crippling this will be to play. Any time you're actually RPing, he'll need to be in human form (unless he likes to RP an animal who can't talk). And in that form he's weak, sickly and uncoordinated.
9th-Mar-2006 08:06 pm (UTC)
I'm not sure if it is explicitely stated in the rules, but 8 is generally the minimum score you can take in a point buy (with 18 being the max). Your final score could go lower or higher because of a racial modifier, but you should never see scores like those.

9th-Mar-2006 08:18 pm (UTC)
STR means different things to different people: its how much you can lift in addition to supporting your own weight. I checked this when I started thinking what would happen if you cast ray of Enfeeblement on a clumsy-flying Dragon: would it fall out of the air if it was just a little weaker? The answer is no, as even with a STR of 1 it can fly its tons of bulk around, it just can't fly with a rider on its back.
9th-Mar-2006 08:22 pm (UTC)
I wouldn't allow it.

Or, allow it, and when he gets run down by a halfling child and beaten in an alleyway with a wifflebat, he'll quickly rethink his stats.
9th-Mar-2006 08:23 pm (UTC)
As for the lion, I would say it needs to be awakened.
9th-Mar-2006 08:50 pm (UTC)
Oh, yeah... I forgot about the Vow of Poverty and Nymph's Kiss (?) feats.

I'll look up the point buy thing tonight to see if he's even allowed to buy his stats down. Even if there's no official rule, he has inspired me to make one up...
9th-Mar-2006 10:30 pm (UTC)
I posted about this a while ago, as there are no guidelines for stating down. People could check the archives for input about that.
9th-Mar-2006 08:53 pm (UTC)
I'd try to explain it this way:

The game system is designed to allow for a wide variety of fantasy heroic concepts, from Frodo to Gandalf to Conan to Elric. Pick any fantasy character, and you can probably build it in D&D.

But that means that the system is flexible enough to build characters that really have no place in fantasy literature. The STR 3 druid is an example of that.

The game would work better for him if he picked a fantasy character from a book or a movie, and designed a PC to conform to that image, rather than a set of rules loopholes.

My suggestion for character builds: start with 24d6, and apportion dice to each attribute. For example, a barbarian might choose:
STR -- 5d6
DEX -- 4d6
CON -- 4d6
INT -- 3d6
WIS -- 5d6
CHA -- 3d6
Then the player rolls the allotted number of dice and takes the best three.
9th-Mar-2006 11:17 pm (UTC)
Wow! That's a really fascinating way to do it. I'll consider that if I ever run a non-point-buy game. Awesome!
9th-Mar-2006 09:18 pm (UTC)
Str 3- He's weaker than most children. Smack him and tell him to try again.

Animal cohort-
What I would do would be to combine the Animal Companion with the Cohort: meaning, make a Lion an animal companion (if he even can) and then allow that Companion to become a Cohort, gaining HD and such as they adventure and get exp. The beauty of that is: he won't be getting many other animal companions, so he won't have a gigantic entourage of animals following him around, just a big frikkin attack kitty.
9th-Mar-2006 09:27 pm (UTC) - Imagine this. . .
You let the druid have a 3 Strength, with an appropriate physique, especially with his 7 Constitution. His lion companion, is kept from food for too long by the adventure. . . .Suddenly the druid looks like the weakest sickliest member of the adventuring herd. . .
10th-Mar-2006 12:14 am (UTC) - Re: Imagine this. . .
Whatever you do . . . don't fail a single charisma check.
9th-Mar-2006 10:34 pm (UTC)
If he has a strength of 3, a size tiny creature could easily grapple him...

Frankly, stuff like that is just bullshit powergaming, and I wouldn't allow it simply because he wants to use it as a loophole. If he actually wanted to play a character who practically in a wheelchair, maybe a Professor X variation, I might allow that (assuming I knew he could roleplay, and it doesn't sound like this player can). Then I'd give them maybe a 5 or 6 in strength and con. No lower.

Nip this in the bud man. It'll come back to haunt you.
9th-Mar-2006 11:19 pm (UTC)
I like the Professor X loophole, actually, but that would be way more appropriate for a Rifts game (e.g.) than a D&D one. Medieval fantasy world society? Not so much with the mobility for the crippled.
10th-Mar-2006 12:29 am (UTC)
Wait... you know what this guy is? He's a weakling with a pet battle cat who, when needed, becomes all powerful and strong? If he could wold shape into a humanoid he'd be He Man...
10th-Mar-2006 01:06 am (UTC)
Master of Many Forms. Complete Adventurer.
10th-Mar-2006 03:19 am (UTC)
Thanks for all the suggestions, guys. I'm going to have to cut him off at the knees and say no buying stats below 8, which is the simplest way to avoid this issue. Like I said, woefully unheroic.
10th-Mar-2006 03:32 am (UTC)
We had a...god, what was he, even? I think he was a barbarian/frenzied berzerker, with the Feral template, and possibly a few more. Point-bought his Int down to 3, then took the negative modifier for Feral, but it couldn't go below 3 because that's not allowed by the rules...oh, it was awful. And hideously complicated. The DM allowed it because it was a one-shot, silly game anyway, but....yeeeek. (We made him purchase a Headband of Intellect so he'd at least be capable of speech.)
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