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Broadly speaking any player character or non-player character can have one or more animal companions. These companions could have a variety of functions or uses such as mounts, working animals, guard animals, attack animals, sport animals, or even simply beloved pets. Most wild animals can be trained to become animal companions, though this requires “taming” the animals first. Where as domesticated animals are general bred to become either livestock or a companion of some sort. Domesticated animals do not require taming, though they may still require training before they can become useful as an animal companion.
Taming is the first step in making a wild animal into a animal companion, followed by training. However not every wild animal can be tamed and trained, and those that can require a wide variety of different techniques. Some animals require a gentle hand and soft words, while others respect only strength. In some cases it is a test of wills between trainer and animal. Regardless in order to Tame and/or Train an animal you must have the Animal Trainer Secondary Skill.
Before an animal can be tamed and./or trained you must of course actually have access to that animal. This means either hunting/finding one in the wild and attempting to tame it in its natural habitat or capturing it and bringing it back toa more controlled environment. In some cases you may be able to purchase an animal and then tame and/or train it your self.
- If an animal is tameable it will list (under its entry in the CoC) the required Animal Trainer skill level, the required stat roll-off (trainer stat vs. animal stat), as well as any other restrictions
- A stat roll-off is required for every level of the animal, if even one test fails, the taming process has failed and cannot be attempted again for the rest of the day (a stalemate roll does not count as a failure or a success are simply extends the process another round)
- Failing to tame the animal will result in it attempting to flee or attacking, depending on the animal and where the training took place (i.e. if in a secure pen an animal that would normally flee may instead attack)
- A successfully tamed animal will become docile and not attack the trainer, though may still attack other perceived threats if not further trained
- Taming is not required if the animal is already tamed or domesticated, such as in the case of livestock or an animal raised in the care of humans (etc…) from birth
- If attempting to tame an animal in combat each taming stat roll takes one instant AND action to complete, therefore requires effectively 1 round per level of the animal, with the same rule of one failed stat roll-off constituting a failure to tame the animal for that day
- Animal companions that are to be used as mounts require an additional step before they can be trained, this is called Breaking the mount
- In order to break a mount it must first be tamed, unless it is already domesticated
- Breaking a mount follows the exact same process as taming (one time per level) but cannot be attempted on the same day that the mount was tamed
- If failing one or more of the mount breaking stat roll offs the mount will usually just buck the trainer off and call it a day (may result in a minor impact injury and cannot be attempted again that day)
- Once tamed (and broken if used as a mount), the animal must be trained before it will follow even the most basic commands
- The number of weeks of training required is listed in the CoC entry for that animal along with the stat roll-off required (trainer vs. animal) once per week
- A failed stat roll-off or a stalemate results in no progress, effectively extending the training time by another week
- If multiple weeks are required fails or stalemates do not result in losing progress from previous weeks
- Training can be carried out while on the road or on an adventure/quest so long as there is justifiably enough spare time available (GM discretion)
- Separate training is required for commands that differ too much (i.e. a horse trained to carry a pack then later broken in as a mount would require additional training to be ridden in combat)
Even after an animal has been tamed and trained their handlers must still maintain a degree of control relative to the animal itself. The wilder and more ferocious the animal the more control will be required.
- Each animal will have a one or more methods of control that they will respond to, listed as two stat requirements. These are cumulative if controlling more than one animal. The six basic methods are:
- Dominance (Strength & Initiative)
- Force (Stamina & Strength)
- Will (Initiative & Stamina)
- Affection (Charm & Wisdom)
- Insight (Intellect & Charm)
- Cunning (Wisdom & Intellect)
- Without the Animal Trainer Secondary Skill a character can only use one control method at a time.
- In order for a character to maintain control of their animals BOTH of the required stats must be equal or greater in value than the cumulative required amounts. This restricts the number of animal companions you can have under your control based on the stats you have available (i.e. if controlling 2 animals by Force, one requiring Stamina 8 and Strength 10, and another requiring Stamina 8 and Strength 7, the character must have Stamina 16 and Strength 17 in order to control over both animals)
- If the animal has gained levels and/or titles, increase the required control by one for every additional level and/or title
- If at any time one of the stat requirements for a given method is no longer met the character immediately loses control of ALL animals being controlled through that method (which reacts similar to failing a taming roll)
- This can happen because either the characters stats are reduced (due to injury, de-buffs, spell effects, etc…) or the animals control requirement increases (due to agitation, hunger, environmental effects, etc…). As such it is generally a good idea to leave a buffer so that you don’t lose control of your animal companions every time you get a particular debuff or your pet hasn’t eaten in a while
- If a character has the Animal Trainer Secondary Skill they are not only granted bonus reductions to the control requirements of every animal, they can also utilize an increasing number of control methods at the same time. This allows them to control not only more creatures, but making them much better at controlling animal companions than those without the skill
- When control has been lost the animal will need to be re-tamed, though it will retain any training it previously had
- Some animals have racial preferences that will modify the amount of control required, either up or down depending on how they view that race (i.e. Unicorns prefer Elves, requiring less control, and hate Orcs, requiring more control)
- While under your control all animals can be issued commands and take their turns during the controlling characters turn, effectively treated as one unit for the purposes of turn order, using the controlling characters initiative
- Likewise, while mounted, both rider and mount are considered to be one unit for the purposes of turn orders
- Animals that are out of control get their own Initiative Score and therefore their own place in the turn order, regardless of what behaviour they follow when out of control