PROPOSED CHANGE: Animal Companion

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Brumm
Posts: 2242

PROPOSED CHANGE: Animal Companion

Post#1 » Sun Apr 07, 2019 7:59 am

Hello everbody!

Too many players asked for getting Animal Companions to work so I finally decided to give it a try. To make this a reality we will go a completly different route than vanilla NWN2 did:

Each animal companion will get it's own and unique build which can be designed with the NWN2DB builder and will be made public for discussion before we implement it. If you want to participate in the process, you are very welcome to design a build for one of the animal companions. For now we focus on the vanilla companions:

Badger
Wolf
Brown bear
Boar
Giant spider
Panther
Dinosaur

If you want to come up with a build you can desing it with NWN2DB and post it here. Please keep the following in mind:

1. No custom classes
2. No custom feats the AI can't use (we might add some of them later)
3. No caster classes (the AI sucks)
4. ROT custom class feats will be granted automatically on the apporiate level (the builder won't show them though)
5. If ROT grants extra feats on a specific level the animal companion can take a feat on that level too. If the builder does not allow you to take such a bonus feat because it is outdated, just write the level and the feat into the description.

Greetings
Brumm

Edit: Just because the question came up on Discord: We will further scale the animal compansions to suit the ROT power level. But we will add a scaling based on the base-build.


We'll have to go a slightly different route. I'll come up with more details soon.

Brumm
Posts: 2242

Re: PROPOSED CHANGE: Animal Companion

Post#2 » Sun Apr 07, 2019 4:03 pm

Ok, new route (because the former one didn't work out so well):

All animal Companions get the same feats as a baseline when they level up:
- Toughness
- Dodge
- Mobility
- Cleave
- Multiattack
- Weapon prof creature
- Lightning Reflexes
- Iron Will
- Great Fortitude
- Alterness

Now we need to come up for each companion with
- a BAB progression we want to have
- a list of feats we want to add on which level.

I plan to change the following companions for now:

- Badger
- Wolf
- Brown bear
- Boar
- Giant spider
- Panther
- Dinosaur

When we are done with the basic builds I'll write a scaling script to boost them to ROT level. The scaling will probaly be percent-based to keep the difference between the different companions.

kc2345
Posts: 698

Re: PROPOSED CHANGE: Animal Companion

Post#3 » Sun Apr 07, 2019 8:10 pm

I believe Blind Fight and Uncanny Dodge should also be made baseline feats for all companions, as combat performance is significantly worse without them.

AB wise, a target AB of (2 × Companion Caster Level + 5 × ER) could be set.

Thus,
30 without ERs has an AB of 60
30 ER4 has AB 80
40 ER5 has AB 105

Coding wise, this could be implemented with the formula written above, with a penalty to account for Str/Dex bonus to AB.

AC could possibly follow the same formula, +10 to account for baseline AC.

70 AC for a fresh 30
90 AC for a 30 ER4
115 AC for a 40 ER5

HP could be set at 50/level, with a 5% bonus per ER - in the same vein as Epic Warding.

1,500 for a fresh 30
1,800 for a 30 ER4
2,500 for a 40 ER5

Regen could be 1.8 × Companion CL, with 5% per ER

54 for a fresh 30
64 at 30 ER4
90 at 40 ER5

Any comments on these numbers is welcome. Ideally, they should not be OP for levelling, whilst still retaining utility for end game.
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Brumm
Posts: 2242

Re: PROPOSED CHANGE: Animal Companion

Post#4 » Mon Apr 08, 2019 1:18 am

I see your point but that would make all companions pretty equal in their stats and I would prefer to make them more different.

But the numbers are solid as a base to balance the different companions around in my opinon.

Edit: Maybe it makes sense to define target values for the important stats for each companion first. Then we can think about stuff to compensate for lower stats (like special abilities/feats) and finally write the scaling code which brings each creature to the desired powerlevel. What I mean by that:

Lets say we want a Bear to have 3500 HP on LVL 40 and a Badger to have 2500 HP. Then we can design the base build for the Bear with roughly 1750 HP and the Badger with 1250 HP and add a script based HP sacling of 100% later on.

Same works for BAB progression (AB needs to be taken into account here). Let's say we want a Bear to have a final BAB of 80, a Badger of 75 and a Wolf of 70. Then we could grant the bear a full BAB progression (40 on lvl 40), the Wolf a half progression (30 on lvl 40) and the Badger a half progression with a bonus of +1 BAB on lvl 20, 25, 30, 35, 40 (35 on lvl 40).
The script based scaling could add another 1 BAB per companion level on top so that we end with the desired 80 / 75 / 70.

konst3d
Posts: 621

Re: PROPOSED CHANGE: Animal Companion

Post#5 » Mon Apr 08, 2019 5:03 am

I agree with everything suggested and I love the idea to have companions differ.
I'd suggest to make a panther a sneaky\rogue type.
Give her sneak dice (progression could be as for a rogue) and HiPS.
Badger could have a barbarian rage, or something similar.
As for the boar - damage reduction? I feel like boar and bear should be tanky ones.
Could spider just use melf's acid arrow?
Magic is impressive, but now Minsc leads! Swords for everyone!

kc2345
Posts: 698

Re: PROPOSED CHANGE: Animal Companion

Post#6 » Tue Apr 09, 2019 10:48 am

A long proposal for how to scale animal companions. As with any proposal, the opinions stated here are my own and are open to debate/discussion.

Scaling the Companion
The central determinant for the animal companion’s power are

a) The “Caster level”, determined by:
For regular companions: (Druid Level) + (Cleric Level, Animal Domain only) + (Ranger Level – 3) + (Lion of Talisid Level) + (Paladin Level – 4, Exalted Tracker Required) + Feats

For Telthors: (Shaman Level – 3) + (Lion of Talisid Level) + (Paladin Level – 4, Exalted Tracker Required) + Feats

I propose that this “Caster level” be given a 5% bonus per ER, so that it scales from 1 to 50 for a straight 40ER5 Druid without feats. This keeps it in line with Spellcasting levels.

All formula for combat-relevant secondary stats will hence be scaled relative to this “Caster level”. The “baseline” will represent a bare minimum for that attribute in animal companions, and most companions can get a scaling bonus, as listed below.

b) The type of companion:
- Badger
- Wolf
- Brown bear
- Boar
- Giant spider
- Panther
- Dinosaur
- Telthor
- Dragon
- Fire Elemental
- Air Elemental

I am proposing multiple animal-type specific enhancements to secondary stats based on the type of companion. E.g. A bear could get a 150% HP relative to the baseline, whilst the panther remains at 100% baseline.
In addition to scaling of secondary stats, different companions could get one or more species-specific feats, skills, and abilities to further differentiate them. E.g. Panther gets 1d6 sneak dice per 2 “Caster levels”, maxing at 25d6 (grant improved sneak attack feats to advance beyond 20d6 basic sneak) and HiPS.

Character Feats
There are 4 main companion feats that a player can select:
Natural Bond, Improved Natural Bond, Epic Animal Companion, and Exalted Companion (Shared Rage is not really useful)

Improved Natural Bond is very niche, requiring either a Telthor Companion (offsetting the SS -3 CL penalty or Devoted Tracker, which comes with a 4 CL penalty anyway). Recommend leaving it unchanged as it has no effect on maximum scaling.

I would recommend increasing Natural Bond and Epic Animal Companion to +4 CL each to keep it in line with the Practiced Caster line of feats and the Arcane’s Mirror Golem. An arcanist can get a CL60 Mirror Golem by taking Practiced Caster with 40 base CL, and using a staff runeword. Similarly, raising both these feats to +4 each means a totally pure Druid can hit a CL60 animal companion by going 40 Druid (a massive investment as no feat dips) and taking both feats.

Exalted Companion could be reworked to a defensive boost, specifically Critical Hit, Death, Drain and Mind Spell Immunity together with Evasion. Although normally covered by Death Ward, this acts as an additional insurance in case of dispels.

Primary vs Secondary Stats
Primary statistics refer to the 6 primary character ability scores – Strength, Dexterity, Con, Intelligence, Wisdom and Charisma. These scores range from 0 (-5 modifier) to 50 (+20 modifier).

I think trying to differentiate animal companions via primary statistics does add good RP flavour, but makes scaling and balancing unnecessarily complex due to their effect on secondary derived statistics like AB, AC and HP.

Hence, I propose all animal companions start with 16 (+3) in all ability scores, and gain an additional +8 per ER, to a total of 50 in all stats at ER5. This grants a good +4 to all secondary stats per ER, making up for the lacklustre +1.5 CL bonus from the 5% increase – a Player character in contrast gains a great deal of power in the ERs, from access to Epic Forged Gear to ER3 metals. ER5 notably only adds +2 to all stats, but players likewise aren’t seeing a huge power jump from ER4 to 5 anyway.

To keep animal companions from being too same-ish, secondary stats can be directly modified instead of primary stats. These are the stats that directly affect combat, specifically:
- Attack Bonus (AB), and Base Attack Bonus (BAB)
- Damage (Dmg)
- Armor Class (AC)
- Health (HP)
- Saves (Fort, Reflex, Will)
- Regeneration (Regen)
- Damage Resistance/Reduction/Immunity (DR, DI)
- Conceal
- Combat Feats (e.g. Epic Dodge, Expose Weakness)
- Initiative (Meh)

Modding these stats has a direct, very visible impact on combat performance in contrast to modding primary stats, where performance differences are entirely due to their knock-on effect on secondary stats.

Baseline Companion Feats
The following feats should be available to all companions as a baseline:
- Blind Fight (Huge performance differences vs concealed mobs)
- Uncanny Dodge
- Knockdown Immunity
- Spring Attack (to prevent creature deaths from moving around in a crowd)
- Weapon Proficiency (for obvious reasons)
- Passive Haste (Not really a feat, but helps companion keep up)
- Steadfast (So they don’t get petrified by spamming beholders)

Scaling Formulae
Level:
Companion Level = Caster Level

This determines Base HP, HP contribution by Con, and unmodded BAB, Saves. Don’t think there’s much to discuss here. Assuming the Beast class for all companions, this means d10 HD and 3/4 BAB progression.

Attack Bonus:
BAB = Caster Level × 1.3 (Assuming BAB can be set directly from a function, ignoring basal BAB)
Weapon EB = Caster Level × 0.2
CL 1: +5 (1 BAB + 3 Stat + 1 Haste)
CL 20: +34 (26 BAB + 4 EB + 3 Stat + 1 Haste)
CL 30: +49 (39 BAB + 6 EB + 3 Stat + 1 Haste)
CL 36 (ER4): +73 (46 BAB + 7 EB + 19 Stat + 1 Haste)
CL 50 (ER5): +96 (65 BAB + 10 EB + 20 Stat + 1 Haste)

Attack oriented companions can be granted weapon focus or Epic Prowess feats, or the BAB scaling multiplier can be boosted to increase this number. Of course, Spells will buff these numbers higher.

Damage:
Basal Weapon + EB + Str Mod + 4 × Scaling Dice Bonus
Dice Scale:
CL 55+ = 6d12 (39)
51-54 = 5d12 (32.5)
46-50 = 4d12 (26)
41-45 = 4d10 (22)
36-40 = 3d12 (19.5)
31-35 = 3d10 (16.5)
26-30 = 2d10 (11)
21-25 = 1d10 (5.5)
16-20 = 1d8 (4.5)
11-15 = 1d6 (3.5)
1-10 = 1d4 (2.5)

The scaling dice should be elemental (avoid fire due to flame weapon), and avoid physical types due to non-stacking with EB. Attack focused companions can have a 5th or even 6th scaling dice bonus.

I think it may be worth it to have animal companions drop natural weapon/multiattack as it causes issues with buffs and secondary attacks. Instead, they can use renamed hidden Player weapons. This avoids issues associated with Multiattack and opens a whole range of base damage dice/crit multipliers. It also allows for Ki Criticals.

Armor Class:
Deflection = Natural = Shield = Dodge = Caster Level × 0.25
Armor Bonus = Caster Level × 0.6
CL 1: 14 AC (10 Base + 3 Dex + 1 Haste)
CL 20: 46 AC (10 Base + 12 Armor + 4 × 5 + 3 Dex + 1 Haste)
CL 30: 60 AC (10 Base + 18 Armor + 4 × 7 + 3 Dex + 1 Haste)
CL 36 (ER4): 87 AC (10 Base + 21 Armor + 4 × 9 + 19 Dex + 1 Haste)
CL 50 (ER5): 109 AC (10 Base + 30 Armor + 4 × 12 + 20 Dex + 1 Haste)

The reason for scaling multiple types of AC is to prevent Shield of Faith or other specific buffs from becoming too strong. On live, animal companions and summons have 0 deflection, and gain a full +18 AC from Shield of Faith. Barkskin in contrast does nothing, as an animal companion is completely based on Natural AC. By splitting the buffable AC types, both Barkskin and SOF add 6 AC at max CL for a CL50 companion. Defensive companions can be granted AC boosts by pumping up the Armor multiplier from 0.6 to 0.7 or even 0.8.

Hitpoints:
Base HP = (10 + Con Mod) × Caster Level
Total HP = Base HP + 10 × Caster Level
Assuming beasts are d10 HD.
CL 1: 23 HP (13 Base + 10 Bonus)
CL 20: 460 HP (260 Base + 200 Bonus)
CL 30: 690 HP (390 Base + 300 Bonus)
CL 36 (ER4): 1,404 HP (1,044 Base + 360 Bonus)
CL 50 (ER5): 2,000 HP (1,500 Base + 500 Bonus)

Durable companions like the bear can get a scaling multiplier on the bonus HP of up to 3x or so (1,500 Base + 3×500 Bonus) = 3,000 HP

Saves:
Saves = Stat Mod + Caster Level × 0.7

This gives up to +55 all saves at baseline at CL50, which is comparable to a non-paladin/BG player character.

Regeneration:
Regeneration = Total HP × 0.04

This basically is a 4% regeneration. 80 HP/6s on a 2,000 HP companion. It makes sense that scaling HP upwards should scale regeneration, and by tying these 2 stats together, we can do so.

Damage Resistance/Reduction/Immunity (DR, DI):
DI (Universal) = 30%, non-scaling
DR = 8 to all types, non-scaling

Durability can be increased by changing the HP of the companion. Messing with DR/DI while adjusting HP results in quadratic scaling of toughness, which is difficult to control. That said, it could be possible to make highly tough creatures have higher baselines. E.g. Boar has 40% universal, 10 DR.

Others:
I think conceal should only be given to certain companions, as with the combat feats. Once a basic plan is agreed on, it would be good to look into which companion gets what.
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konst3d
Posts: 621

Re: PROPOSED CHANGE: Animal Companion

Post#7 » Wed Apr 10, 2019 4:08 am

I'm not sure about level 40 hp\ac\regeneration values. Not sure it's enough to make pets survive event server areas. This would be enough for player controlled character, but may be not enough for AI. Main problem with pets - is when they die, you loose everything you have invested into them.
Another problem, you can only summon companion once per day, and once again - if it will be killed, you will lose it until rest. So maybe allow multiple usages, to make it more forgiving? Let's say 1 use per 5 druid\ranger\etc level?
Magic is impressive, but now Minsc leads! Swords for everyone!

kc2345
Posts: 698

Re: PROPOSED CHANGE: Animal Companion

Post#8 » Wed Apr 10, 2019 8:55 am

I'm not against having it summonable more than 1x/day, but I believe the numbers from the formula should be more than sufficient unless you're trying to solo EX6 Event server content or something along those lines.

Realistically, we can expect a level 40 druid who bothers with a companion to have at least 36 druid levels and both Natural Bond and Epic Animal Companion. This yields an animal companion CL of (36 + 4 + 4) x 1.25 = 55

At 55, we are looking at
AB: 71 BAB + 11 EB + 20 Stat + 1 Haste = 103 AB - This is comparable to most divine melees, even before buffs kick in
Damage: Base Weapon + 11 + 20 + 6d12 x 4 - More than adequate
AC: 10 Base + 33 Armor + 4 x 13 + 20 Dex + 1 Haste = 116 - This is roughly the AC of a Dex melee with a shield, without buffs
HP: 1,650 Base + 550 Bonus = 2,200 - 40 Barbarian level HP with rage up
Regen: 88 - decent. Casting regeneration on the companion adds 220 more regen

This is just at baseline. A bear/boar or other defensive pet could see AC/HP values rise even higher, or even get conceal.

I think pet management should be part of playing a character with a companion. Having one that is so tough as to be unkillable is hardly fun, and is arguably overpowering. Ideally it should survive most things comfortably, but not be unkillably tough.
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Itaasi
Posts: 803

Re: PROPOSED CHANGE: Animal Companion

Post#9 » Wed Apr 10, 2019 1:22 pm

kc2345 wrote:Realistically, we can expect a level 40 druid who bothers with a companion to have at least 36 druid levels and both Natural Bond and Epic Animal Companion. This yields an animal companion CL of (36 + 4 + 4) x 1.25 = 55

Doesn't Natural Bond and Epic Animal Companion "only" boost the animal level by 3 and not 4?

kc2345
Posts: 698

Re: PROPOSED CHANGE: Animal Companion

Post#10 » Wed Apr 10, 2019 6:41 pm

kc2345 wrote:Character Feats
There are 4 main companion feats that a player can select:
Natural Bond, Improved Natural Bond, Epic Animal Companion, and Exalted Companion (Shared Rage is not really useful)

Improved Natural Bond is very niche, requiring either a Telthor Companion (offsetting the SS -3 CL penalty or Devoted Tracker, which comes with a 4 CL penalty anyway). Recommend leaving it unchanged as it has no effect on maximum scaling.

I would recommend increasing Natural Bond and Epic Animal Companion to +4 CL each to keep it in line with the Practiced Caster line of feats and the Arcane’s Mirror Golem. An arcanist can get a CL60 Mirror Golem by taking Practiced Caster with 40 base CL, and using a staff runeword. Similarly, raising both these feats to +4 each means a totally pure Druid can hit a CL60 animal companion by going 40 Druid (a massive investment as no feat dips) and taking both feats.


You're completely correct that it currently works like that. I was assuming the numbers based on the proposed changes I highlighted.

How to use the formula to generate an animal companion:
You can either use Brumm's idea of a target stat level or a % modifier on the baseline to define a companion-specific value

Some examples below. CL 50 is assumed unless stated otherwise.

Proposed Example 1:
The Bear
Weapon type: Warhammer (1d8, 20/x3 Blud)

HP: Target - 3,000 HP at CL50 or +50% of base (Bears are tough)
Looking at the formula of (10 (Beast HD) + 20 (Con Mod@CL50)) x 50 (Companion Level @CL50) + (10 x 50), we can achieve this by multiplying the (10 x 50) bonus HP by 3.

This makes the bear gain 30 bonus HP per HD instead of the baseline 10/HD

This also automatically means Regen for the bear scales up with HP to 120 (from 80 base) at CL50

AC: 114 target (Bears have a tough hide)
This can either be achieved by changing the scaling formula, or granting Armor Skin III feat over baseline. (109 Base + 5 Armor Skin III)
Grant Armor Skin I at 21
Armor Skin II at 31
Armor Skin III at 41

AB: Unchanged

Dmg: Unchanged

Saves: Unchanged

DR/DI: slight boost to 35% all immunity, DR 10 all

Bonus Combat Feats/Abilities: Quake Shock at CL30

Overview: The bear is designed to be a high HP tank. With a huge HP and regeneration boost, this companion is for players who desire a companion that requires minimal maintenance in combat.

Proposed Example 2:
The Fire Elemental
Weapon type: Scimitar (1d6, 18-20/x2, Slashing)

HP: Unchanged

AC: Unchanged

AB: Unchanged

Dmg: add a scaling damage dice (Fire) for 5 total elemental damages, instead of the baseline 4.

Saves: Unchanged

DR/DI: 100% fire immunity. Otherwise Unchanged

Bonus Combat Feats/Abilities:
Passive damage shield that does 2 fire dmg/CL when struck
Persistent Body of the Sun. Effect cast at CL = companion CL

Overview: The Fire Elemental is designed for higher damage output and hitting stuff with Fire.

Body of the sun means it excels at fighting swarms of weaker enemies. (Swarms of strong enemies will kill it handily)

On a related note, could we increase the radius of Body of the Sun/Lesser Aura of Cold to 10'? Currently, enemies have to be directly adjacent for the damage to trigger, and creatures with larger models may have issues if given these abilities.
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