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Pathfinder—Teamwork Feats and Animal Companions

The Advanced Class Guide introduced the Hunter and the Sacred Huntsmaster Inquisitor as two characters who can automatically share teamwork feats with their animal companion.

This created a large but hidden combat sub-system involving animal companions, teamwork feats, and attacks of opportunity.

Here are a few sample characters to demonstrate how it works.

Discuss this page at the Paizo Forum here.

Fred the Foundation

Three Levels

LevelHunter's Feat
Level 1Combat Expertise
Hunter Bonus 2Outflank
Level 3Pack Flanking
Hunter Bonus 3Escape Route

Fred begins his adventuring career at a Hunter. (Or he could be a human Sacred Huntsmaster Inquisitor who takes Outflank as his fifth level feat. This option means he must pick up Handle Animal as a class skill using a trait. The obvious option is Beast Bond, but perhaps his backstory allows Adopted with either Animal Friend or Beast Bully.)

His animal companion probably has Narrow Frame to avoid being hindered in narrow passages.

He either rides his animal companion or stays adjacent to it. For the rest of his adventuring career he enjoys a +4 bonus to hit all the time, and does not provoke attacks of opportunity when moving.

His level three bonus feat can be changed as a standard action. Fred could sacrifice the mobility of Escape Route to instead use Precise Strike for extra damage. Or, if Fred wants to use a reach weapon, Paired Opportunists is an excellent choice—especially if he is human and has taken the feat Evolved Companion so his animal companion has reach.

A third-level animal companion mount is tougher than a horse. Even if Fred now changes to earn levels in a class that no longer advances his animal companion, it is still a respectable mount for an adventurer.

Because Fred is always flanking, the trait Group Fighter (regional) is appropriate.

If Fred is a Hunter, he also has first-level spells, the Animal Focus ability, Wild Empathy, and a small bonus to tracking.

If Fred is an Inquisitor, he also has first-level spells, a domain, constant alignment detection, Solo Tactics, and a bonus to initiative. If not continuing as an Inquisitor, he might want the Infiltrator archetype to trade out Stern Gaze, Monster Lore, and Tracking for alternatives that are not dependent on class level.

If Fred is using a keen rapier, he scores a critical hit 30% of the time. This provokes an attack of opportunity (with a very nice bonus to hit) from his animal companion (Outflank) as well as himself (Paired Opportunists).

The Primal Companion Hunter archetype is much more complicated, but allows creating a version of ths foundaton that is better at "going nova" a few times per day.

Maybe a Fourth Level

Fred might wish to continue with a fourth level in Hunter or Sacred Huntsmaster Inquisitor.

This gives him access to second-level spells. If a Hunter he gains Improved Empathic Link. If a Sacred Huntsmaster Inquisitor he gains Animal Focus.

Instead of having the animal companion take the feat Narrow Frame, the second-level Hunter spell reduce animal is another way to ride a large-sized mount in a narrow passage. (A medium-sized character would also need the feat Undersized Mount to ride a large-sized mount shurnk to medium-sized.)

It also means that if Fred switches to a class that does not advance his animal companion, the feat Boon Companion could some day raise his animal companion to eight levels strong, which provides an additional BAB and feat compared to being seven levels strong.

Ferocious Loyalty

If Fred is human and thus has one more feat choice, he might want the feat Ferocious Loyalty. It provides a +1 morale bonus to hit when he rides his animal companion or stays adjacent to it.

Fred might already have other sources of this morale bonus, such as bless from the party's cleric, or an ally with the Flagbearer feat. But if he does not, this feat is great! It resembles a versatile Weapon Focus that applies to all weapons. It also grants its bonus to both Fred and his animal companion!

Spirit Gift

The feat Spirit's Gift is not legal for Pathfinder Society play. But in other games it provides a powerful tool for making an animal companion even strong. Each day the character can choose whether to give his or her animal companion DR 5/adamantine, fast healing 1, slow flight, or constant blur, among other choices.

None of the sample characters below use this feat. But it could be included with any of them at a later level.


Nigel the Net-User

LevelHunter's Feat
Level 1Combat Expertise
Hunter Bonus 2Outflank
Level 3Pack Flanking
Hunter Bonus 3Escape Route
Level 5Power Attack

Nigel is an example of what can be done with the above foundation. He then took one level of Huntmaster Cavalier.

Thanks to how Hunter animal companions work, this keeps his animal companion at full strength. It also provides proficiency with whip and net.

Next level (as level five feat) Nigel finally gets Power Attack.

Nigel could continue taking levels as a Hunter, or switch equally well to a class such as Fighter or Barbarian. (However, to me the Burn Rider Barbarian, perhaps with the Boon Companion feat, looks like an especially promising and fun future.)


Shreve the Strong

LevelLore Warden/Hunter Feat
Level 1Power Attack
Fighter Bonus 1Paired Opportunists
Lore Warden Bonus 2Combat Expertise
Fighter Bonus 2Combat Reflexes
Level 3Pack Flanking
Hunter Bonus 1Outflank
Level 5Broken Wing Gambit
Hunter Bonus 3Precise Strike

Shreve is another example of what can be done with the above foundation.

Shreve began his adventuring career with two levels of Lore Warden Fighter. Then he switched to three levels of Hunter.

Because of Power Attack and Precise Strike he consistently does a lot of damage.

Shreve demonstrates the power of Broken Wing Gambit. Both his own attacks and those of his animal companion leave false openings. Any foes who counterattack either of them provoke an attack of opportunity (Broken Wing Gambit) from both of them (Paired Opportunists) with an additional +4 bonus to hit.

Shreve has another great trick. After he has attacked a foe, on his next turn he often has his mount deliberately step away from a foe and then step back. This does provoke an attack of opportunity from that foe. But thanks to Broken Wing Gambit and Paired Opportunists that allows two nicely-bonused attacks of opportunity from Shreve and his animal companion.

Having reliable ways to get attacks of opportunity means Shreve loves his fortuitous weapon, for which one attack of opportunity each round gains an iterative attack.

Those attacks of opportunity mean the trait Opportune Slayer (religion) is great for Shreve, unless the GM considers it taboo because it was originally associated with Lamashtu.

Notice that the feat Paired Opportunists has no prerequisites. Their party's other melee folk can take this one feat to share in all their attacks of opportunity when adjacent. There are enough of these attacks of opportunity (from enemy movement, through Outflank when scoring critical hits, and with Broken Wing Gambit) that Horace used his humam bonus feat to take Combat Reflexes.

Swarm Strike

If Shreve is human and thus has one more feat choice, he might want the feat Swarm Strike. It would provide Shreve and his animal companion with an untyped +2 bonus to hit when making an attack of opportunity.


Horace the Horseman

LevelHunter/Sohei Feat
Level 1Combat Expertise
Human Bonus 1Combat Reflexes
Hunter Bonus 2Outflank
Level 3Pack Flanking
Hunter Bonus 3Paired Opportunists
Sohei Bonus 1Spirited Charge
Level 5Broken Wing Gambit
Sohei Bonus 2Mounted Skirmisher

Horace is another example of what can be done with the above foundation. Although a "horseman" his animal companion need no be a horse.

After three levels of Hunter, Horace switched to two levels of Sohei Monk for the bonus mounted combat feats without prerequisites. He also gained Handle Animal as one of many new class skills, enjoys better saving throws, can always act in a surprise round, has Evasion, has a +1 bonus to initiative, and if the situation requires can use the monk's armor class bonus, Unarmed Strike, and Flurry of Blows.

Like Shreve, Horace uses Broken Wing Gambit.

Horace does not do as much consistent damage as Shreve. But Horace excels when his animal companion mount charges. He does double damage (or triple with a lance). He can take a full attack if the charge is not too far.

Horace's next feat might be Distracting Charge for an additional +2 bonus to hit after his mount charges.

Horace could allow his animal companion to also act in every surprise round. He could take the Lookout feat. Or, because the share spells ability is great for Hunters or Inquisitors, he could use the Bodyguard animal companion archetype and replace/enhance share spells with the Improved Spell Sharing feat. But this may not be worth it. Enemies are often too far away to charges during the surprise round, and Horace has spells he can use then instead. The rest of his future plans would determine if having the ability to charge during a surprise round is worth a feat.


Cassandra the Caster

LevelHunter Feat
Level 1Evolved Companion
Hunter Bonus 2Outflank
Level 3Callous Casting
Hunter Bonus 3Intercept Charge
Level 5Evolved Companion
Hunter Bonus 6Improved Spell Sharing

Cassandra does not use the above foundation, but does something different.

The Caster

Cassandra has penty of Wisdom for swapping her newest bonus teamwork feat after buffing her animal companion and herself. She usually fights with it swapped to to Escape Route or Allied Spellcaster.

She is not as potent a caster as a Druid, but does have more options for buffing her animal companion. These include lead blades, chameleon stride, and protective spirit.

The feat Callous Casting allows her animal companion a better version of charge. It can move once, be targeted by one of Cassandra's smaller spells, and then move again before attacking a perhaps shaken opponent. Twice movement without the restrictions of an actual charge!

The feat Intercept Charge allows her animal companion to intervene when an opponent decides to charge at the spellcaster. The feat Outflank does not usually help Cassandra or her animal companion, but can help when Cassandra needs rescuing.

Cassandra probably acquires a lesser metamagic rod of persistent during her sixth level and a lesser metamagic rod of dazing during her eighth or ninth level. Both work well with the Hunter spell lists.

At seventh level Cassandra can take a traditional spellcaster feat such as Spell Focus, Spell Penetration, Persistent Spell, or Craft Wondrous Item. She is admittedly a bit late with these. But she does have a full strength animal companion whose combat significance will not dwindle, and a very versatile pair of spell lists.

At ninth level Cassandra will probably take a metamagic feat, in preparation for her fourth-level spell slots at tenth level.

Her Animal Companions

Cassandra alternates between three animal companions.

Most days she adventures with her Big Cat. At eighth level, benefitting from Animal Focus, it will have 50' movement, Strength 26, Constitution 22, and +3 natural armor. (It is not as intelligent as her other animal companions.) She uses her two Evolved Companion feats to give it a 2d6 slam attack and a climb speed of 40'. Now it can scamper (technically an accelerated climb) along a wall to pounce with a 2d6 slam, 1d8 bite, and two 1d8 claws.

When she knows she will be able to ride a large animal, she changes to her Aurochs. At eighth level, benefitting from Animal Focus, it will have 50' movement, Strength 26, Constitution 16, and +4 natural armor. She uses her two Evolved Companion feats to give it a 3d6 slam attack. It then tramples for 3d6 damage (+12 Strength + 3 Power Attack) with a DC of 21 for half damage. It has the feats Awesome Blow to send foes flying.

When she decides defense is important, she changes to her sturdy Ankylosaurus. At eighth level, benefitting from Animal Focus, it will have 30' movement, Strength 22, Constitution 19, and +11 natural armor. She uses her two Evolved Companion feats to give its tail reach and improved damage. It also uses the Ability Focus feat, for its tail, wheich then does 3d6 damage (+9 Strength + 3 Power Attack) with a daze DC of 21. It also has the feat Stunning Irruption to dramatically burst through doors or walls.

Before an important combat, Cassandra will cast lockjaw on her animal companion to give it the grab ability for a few rounds, as well as other buff spells.


Alice the Archer

LevelInquisitor Feat
Level 1Point-Blank Shot
Human Bonus 1Precise Shot
Level 3Deadly Aim
Inquisitor Bonus 3Friendly Fire
Level 5Rapid Shot
Inquisitor Bonus 6see below
Level 7Wounded Paw Gambit
Level 9Manyshot
Inquisitor Bonus 9Target of Opportunity

Alice is a human "switch hitter" archer who can switch mid-combat from archery to melee weapon use.

Alice really excels when one of her other party members is a melee character willing to take the feat Paired Opportunists and stand adjacent to her animal companion to form the party's "front line".

Two Standard Levels

During her first two levels she focuses on archery. She casts divine favor to help herself and/or her animal companion. The trait Fate's Favored compliments that spell nicely.

Her animal companion learns the feat Combat Reflexes, and perhaps Paired Opportunists if she has that desired front line ally.

Some Tricky Shooting

Reaching third level gives her a great trick. Now each combat round she moves, if necessary, to make one shot at a foe that passes through her animal companion's map square. This Friendly Fire shot has an extra +2 bonus, so it has only a small chance of instead hitting the animal companion. No matter what—even if it misses completely—it provokes an attack of opportunity from her animal companion (and that front line ally).

More Tricky Shooting

At fifth level Alice learns Rapid Shot to shoot more arrows when not using Friend Fire. Although Rapid Shot is not compatible with Friendly Fire, it does allow her to "go nova" with the Bane class feature acquired at this level. The spell wrath can compensate for the reduced accuracy.

At fifth level her animal companion learns Stand Still to keep foes away from her until she is ready for melee combat. This helps because Alice lacks the feat Quick Draw, so she misses an attack unless she can move while drawing a melee weapon.

During sixth level she switches between Enfilading Fire and Coordinated Shot for her bonus feat, for additional accuracy.

Even More Tricky Shooting

At seventh level, Alice changes her sixth level bonus feat to Broken Wing Gambit and takes Wounded Paw Gambit as her level seven feat. Now she attacks as an immediate action whenever her animal companion (or front line ally) is counterattacked through its use of Broken Wing Gambit.

Unfortunately, the Wounded Paw Gambit attacks are too rushed to be compatible with Friendly Fire. They do not provoke beneficial attacks of opportunity.

Cooperative Volley

At ninth level she gets her final archery trick. Because of Solo Tactics, any time any ally makes a ranged attack against a foe within 30 feet, Alice also can use Target of Opportunity to attack as an immediate action. When combined with the spell coordinated effort it allows the party to rain down arrows on distant enemies.

As with Wounded Paw Gambit, the rushed attack of Target of Opportunity is incompatible with Friendly Fire so it does not provoke beneficial attacks of opportunity.

Swarm Scatter

If Alice does work with a group of "front line" allies, those allies would benefit from the Swarm Scatter teamwork feat, which provides a +1 circumstance bonus to AC for each adjacent ally with that feat.


Wallace the Whirlwind

LevelHunter's Feat
Level 1Combat Expertise
Human BonusWeapon Finesse
Hunter Bonus 2Outflank
Level 3Pack Flanking
Hunter Bonus 3Paired Opportunists
Level 5Combat Reflexes
Hunter Bonus 6Feint Partner
Level 7Twinned Feint
Level 9Improved Feint
Hunter Bonus 9Improved Feint Partner

Our final example must be human for the bonus feat at first level. (To be non-human the character could sacrifice some animal companion strength by starting with two levels of Lore Warden. Take Paired Opportunists and Weapon Finesse at first level, Combat Reflexes at second level, and the remaining feats work out nicely.)

Because Wallace has low strength, he really benefits if the GM allows the agile weapon property. Then his attacks are both more accurate and more damaging.

During his fifth level he hopes to acquire a rapier that is both agile and keen. During his eigth level he hopes to add fortuitous.

The Early Levels

Wallace shares the standard foundational three levels. He attacks using Dexterity (Weapon Finesse) and the animal companion also attacks.

He wants the trait Fencer (combat) for an additional +1 to hit with every attack of opportunity when using a sword or dagger.

His animal companion takes the feats Narrow Frame and Combat Reflexes.

The Middle Levels

Wallace uses his Hunter sixth level bonus feat to take Broken Wing Gambit. For a while he behaves much like Shreve the Strong, but using Dexterity instead of Strength.

At sixth and seventh level this hunter learns Feint Partner and Twinned Feint, which do nothing at that time.

Whirlwind Time

Upon reaching ninth level, Wallace stops using Broken Wing Gambit and adopts the listed feat plan to become a melee whirlwind—without using any normal attacks!

Wallace is riding his animal companion. Ready to try to count their attacks?

They start the combat round beside foe #1. Wallace feints once of two allowed feints per round (Improved Feint). This gives his animal companion an attack of opportunity (Improved Feint Partner) which Wallace also gets (Paired Opportunists).

After that pair of attacks, Wallace on his animal companion can move to foe #2. Or they can stay still, and attack the original foe again (so foe #2 is more foe #1).

Wallace feints a second time, at foe #2. Again both Wallace and his animal companion get an attack of opportunity (Improved Feint Partner, Paired Opportunists).

If possible, there is also a foe #3 adjacent to one of the others. Then Wallace can use one of the two feints against two foes at once (Twinned Feint). That, of course, again provides both Wallace and his animal companion with an attack of opportunity against foe #3.

But the combat round is not done! The animal companion still has a standard action, and it can also feint, before or after moving, even using Twinned Feint if two foes are adjacent. So it generates another pair of attacks of opporunity, if not two pairs!

So using only attacks of opportunity from feinting, Wallace and his animal companion are making 4-6 attacks on their turn against one two non-adjacent foes, or 8-10 attacks if two foes are adjacent. And they are still receiving additional attacks of opportunity from Outflank when a critical hit happens, and one iterative each round from the fortuitous weapon enchantment.

Whew.

Fortunately, Wallace has a 24 Dexterity (16 base + 2 racial + 2 level ups + 4 magical item). That gives him the 6 attacks of opportunity per round he needs.

At ninth level his animal companion can increased its Dexterity by 4. The Animal Focus ability gives it an additional +4 to Dexterity (Tiger) as well as an additional +4 to hit with attacks of opportunity (Snake). It is probably a Pteranodon, Quetzalcoatlus, Roc, Giant Weasel, Stegosaurus, or Parasaurolophus. Some choices might need a magical item for two more points of Dexterity.