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ronpyatt
08-14-2008, 03:49 PM
Animal Cohorts: Familiars, companions, homunculus, mounts, and others I can't think of...

Previous edition animal cohorts have played only a minor role in the overall scheme that is D&D, but animal cohorts have been cherished by a few that could really take advantage of having an extra hand. They added flavor to certain classes; Sometimes a crutch, sometimes a hindrance, sometimes a boon, but there is no doubt that some of us now playing 4e miss those creature companions.

Because of 4e's party / encounter dichotomy, adding a companion or familiar (using old system rules) to the mix means there is one more character to consider when constructing encounters. A standard 5 character party with one animal companion turns the party into a group of 6. For all intents the cohort is a 2nd character for a player to manage, and often requires a separate character sheet.

As I see it, there are two ways to add animal cohorts to your party.
One, have your cohort never get involved in encounters. They're just flavor, and act outside of game mechanics.
Or two, bring cohorts into the game with some special rules inspired by the Combat Mount feat.
In order to bring back our animal cohorts, I have devised an evil plan to... no wait... that's not right. Let me check my notes. Ah, here they are...

http://www.penandpapergames.com/userpages/showentry.php?e=98 (http://www.penandpapergames.com/forums/../userpages/showentry.php?e=98)

...
So, instead of treating your cohort as a separate character, make it an extension of you. This means you don't have to throw off the party / encounter balance. It does mean an extra mini at the table, if you use minis.

What sorts of companions would each class be capable of?
Wizard is easy: a familiar.
A cleric?
A fighter?
Rangers could have wild animal companions.
Warlocks could have little devils, fey animals, or what?
Rogue?
Warlord?

Christopher_rowe
08-14-2008, 04:28 PM
Man, thank you so much. This is exactly what I've been looking for. My wife decided she wanted to play D&D when I got the Fourth Edition stuff, and then decided she wanted to make her character an amalgam of Mary Pickford and a circus waif who left the circus when she freed all the animals, bringing along the dog from her act, Ponygirl. So, what am I to do with Jojo and her dog? This! This!

Thanks!

fmitchell
08-14-2008, 06:54 PM
A cleric power called Guardian of Faith creates a sort of cohort: a spectral protector that damages any enemy who stays too close. Arcane familiars could follow the same pattern, or they could grant some other ability (like seeing through their eyes or augmenting other powers and skills).

Martial characters are a little trickier. A trained monkey to grab shiny things for a Rogue? A trained attack dog/wolf/wildcat, providing an extra attack?

ronpyatt
08-15-2008, 01:24 AM
Martial characters are a little trickier. A trained monkey to grab shiny things for a Rogue? A trained attack dog/wolf/wildcat, providing an extra attack?
Sort of like that, yes.
Using a special arcane or divine ritual, an animal cohort could be bonded to the PC. I like the idea of a guardian spirit for the cleric.

I wanted to avoid giving a PC extra attacks, because it means extra actions, and that pushes the cohort into the realm of a having a 2nd character, which would change the party / encounter balance.
However, other feats could augment your cohort's actions, such as "Cohort Shift" granting a 2 square shift or "Cohort Move" that allows your cohort to move 2 squares as a free action during your turn or "Cohort Attack" where once per encounter, your cohort can make a basic attack as a free action on your turn.

Out of combat is where a cohort would come in handy, allowing your character to get a sense of the surroundings from high in a perch or convey messages from distant places. One of the hazards to this distance travel (or separation) is if your cohort were to get hurt, it would directly affect your hit points (or healing surges).

Another ritual or maybe set of circumstances would be required to remove or replace the cohort. This would reflect the ability to drop the cohort feat, and gain another during leveling.