PROPOSED CHANGE: Animal Companion

Developers, want feedback? Ask the players here.
Posts: 2113

Re: PROPOSED CHANGE: Animal Companion

Post#11 » Thu Apr 11, 2019 1:38 am

Pretty nice what you are coming up with here! That is very helpful.

I played a bit around with the some code ideas yesterday and think we can get rid of the extra scaling code. We can just write a leveling plan for each companion without the need to factor in any percentage scaling. We are not restricted to anything in the leveling plan because it will be totally script based. Each creature starts without any feats at all besides of the basic weapon proficiency. A leveling plan coul could look like this then:

    Bear (Raw strenght melee fighter with lots of HP and very high pure physical damage)

    BAB Progresion: Full (This is just the baseline; we add more BAB during the leveling process)

    LVL 1: 1d2 Physical Damage
    LVL 2: Blind Fight, 50 Bonus HP, + 1 BAB
    LVL 3: +1 Natural AC
    LVL 4: 50 Bonus HP, +1 BAB
    LVL 5: Knockdown
    LVL 6: 50 Bonus hP, +1 BAB
    LVL 7: 1d8 Physical Damage

That makes adjustments of single companions easier because there is no overall scaling code which affects them all and which you need to factor in if you are making changes. And for the player it is easier to see what exactly he gets on each level.

This means that each companion caps out at LVL 40, of course. But I wanted to use that as a cap anyways. The determinant for the power level of animal companions isn't caster level anyways but companion level. So adding the 5% ER scaling is not really required to have a consistent system. I don't have all feats in mind right now but we might need to change a few of them to make sure that you can't get past LVL 40. Well, or they just won't have any effect past LVL 40.


Posts: 644

Re: PROPOSED CHANGE: Animal Companion

Post#12 » Thu Apr 11, 2019 8:40 am

Hi Brumm,

You're welcome! I'm trying to peg animal companion strength to the Mirror Golem's, as comparisons between both are inevitable. In general, I am thinking of a general power level of Dragon > Dinosaur > Other Companions = Telthor = Mirror Golem, due to the difficulty of getting the Dragon companion and the extra feats required for both Dinosaur and Dragon. A 40 basic companion should at least be somewhat comparable to a CL52-CL55 Mirror Golem given how easily accessible this is, otherwise I can foresee more “nerf arcane” cries from brownyman :D .

I've given some thought to decentralizing the companion coding completely, and do see some merits to adjusting single companions with such an approach. However, I still think that having a general scaling code alongside companion specific modifiers has some benefits.

1) It gives a handle if the general power level of all companions is seen as too low or high. Decentralized coding on a per-companion basis means that if something like this happens, you will have to adjust many different independent scaling scripts. For example, if k3d's concern about companions dying too often is proven valid and you want to increase AC across the board, the AC scaling formula can be tweaked for a universal AC boost instead of having to dig through the companions 1 by 1 and doing individual adjustments.

2) You can still easily scale individual companions independently of the overall scaling formula in cases where a particular companion is seen as too strong/weak relative to the others. For example, if the bear's HP boost is seen as too big an advantage, the code for its HP can just be adjusted from "SetHP = 1.5*BaseHP" to "SetHP = 1.3*BaseHP".

3) If there is ever a push to scale up the other summon spells and abilities (FS set amulet, Epic Gate, Hexblade Hound, Summon Creature etc...) these formulae can be used as a scaling baseline.

This approach thus gives 2 levels of flexibility, and can be built on for other non animal companion summons.

A pseudocode for the scaling can look something like this (I am terrible with nwscript syntax, so have no way of providing actually usable code)

Code: Select all

//Execute script on companion summon
//1st part of script defines the universal baselines based on the summoner level.
If companion == telthor
   level = (Shaman Level – 3) + (Lion of Talisid Level) + (Paladin Level – 4, if exalted tracker) + feats
   level = (Druid Level) + (Cleric Level, if Animal Domain) + (Ranger Level – 3) + (Lion of Talisid Level) + (Paladin Level – 4, if Exalted Tracker) + Feats
   BaseHP = F(level)
   BaseAC = F(level) etc for all the basic statistics
   Givefeat = "All universal baseline feats"

//Next, comes the 2nd part of the code where the companion type specific modifiers are applied to the baselines and assigned to the companion
If companion == bear
SetHP = BaseHP x 1.5
SetAC = BaseAC + 5
SetBAB = BaseBAB etcetc
   If level>20
      givefeat QuakeShock
else IF companion == wolf
   SetHP = BaseHP
   SetAC = BaseAC etcetc

In this code, BaseHP and BaseAC are not functions, but rather Integer values that are scaled based on the level of the summoner. They are assigned to the companion via SetHP and SetAC etc, with or without a companion-type specific multiplier or additive bonus.

You can adjust part 1 if an overall buff/nerf to all companions is desired without changing the relative power between companion types, and adjust part 2 if the companions need to be balanced relative to one another without changing overall general power level.

Of course, since you're doing the coding, it's up to you which would be better. I have no objection if we still go with the decentralized route.

A level by level scaling makes it hard for the player to envision the companion’s power level at any given level, as you have to add multiple lines of different variables. It’s one of my issues with the way the description for Curse Song was written. It’s really hard to get a summary of the effects given Bard Level X and Perform Skill Y without doing some serious math.

This approach of listing level ups as:
LVL 1: 1d2 Physical Damage
LVL 2: Blind Fight, 50 Bonus HP, + 1 BAB
LVL 3: +1 Natural AC
makes sense for player character classes, as a player needs to pick and mix classes, and such knowledge helps them decide how many of each class to take. (e.g. This info tells me I should take Frostmage to 6 because they get Piercing Cold, and then Sorcerer to 15 for bonus feat, and 2 Paladin for Divine Grace) This makes less sense for a companion as they follow a monotonic single path leveling progression without multiclassing options. No 10 Bear/10 Wolf/20 Badger crossbreeds for example.

Thus, I am not really comfortable with setting a leveling code on a level-by-level basis, as it becomes easy to over or undershoot a desired power level. If it's still preferred, perhaps this can be done by reverse-engineering a formula? This prevents severe over- or under-scaling.

On another note, given that physical damage is by far the most commonly seen immunity in high level mobs, and they are also given 10 DR on any EX level, a pet with purely physical damage (like the proposed bear) is going to see awful damage at high levels given the sheer prevalence of 50+% physical immunity on mobs.

I would thus prefer something like the Mirror Golem’s decentralized damage approach, where damage is split across multiple types. Although this is less coherent from a RP sense, it yields more consistent damage for the companions against a variety of content.

My thinking of scaling companions to 50 instead of 40 stems from the long length of time a player character spends in the ERs, and the huge power difference between a fresh 30 and a 30 ER4, rather than a simple desire to match it with spellcasting. A scaling of 40 levels would have the same companion for both these characters despite big power differences from ER stats, spell scaling and special metals/forges. A 40 level scaling would also need to put way more scaling between 30-40 compared to 1-30 per level due to the way player characters advance in power with level (better gear, synergistic feats along with character advancement)

Arturo Servantis
Posts: 38

Re: PROPOSED CHANGE: Animal Companion

Post#13 » Thu Apr 11, 2019 12:33 pm

I think if we're going with the unique levelling plan predetermined for each companion, then we need to make using each companion a compelling choice. It would be so boring if there was an obvious "best" companion that had the highest ab/ac/saves/hp. I think the companions should be based on archetypes:
Bear = Fighter/tank
Panther = rogue/dps
Fairy/Bat = Mage
Elemental types = Use a combination of spells and melee that are that elemental type.

Lady Seline
Posts: 36

Re: PROPOSED CHANGE: Animal Companion

Post#14 » Thu Apr 11, 2019 2:27 pm

While we're fixing Divine companions, can we fix class based summons too?
Use the same "balancing" formula for pale master three undead summon class abilities?
Blackguard have a hellhound...
Oh, and Shadow Dancers have a summoned shadow....
And the last one I can think of... Death domain cleric's shadow?

(or is that too hard?)

If we can fix these too, perhapse changing the 3 PM options from animate, summon and summon greater to Animate... squishy skeleton archer [L2], summon tanky ghoul/zombie [L4], and summon greater vampire rogue [L9]?
Last edited by Lady Seline on Thu Apr 11, 2019 6:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Lady Seline
Posts: 36

Re: PROPOSED CHANGE: Animal Companion

Post#15 » Thu Apr 11, 2019 3:04 pm

I just saw you're chaging the weapon type (bear, WT warhammer).

Please confirm the bite spells of druid still work or are adjusted to. Like magic fang, nature's favour/avatar.

Posts: 2113

Re: PROPOSED CHANGE: Animal Companion

Post#16 » Fri Apr 12, 2019 1:36 am

Hello everbody!

Seems like this is really a thing if so many players contribute.

@KC: I am not sure if I agree with you on the advantages of the overall scaling approach. Because even if we go the individual scaling approach we can add an overall scaling code on top of it. We can just hook into the different functions for the companion scaling with a function to increase or decrease values by a percentage margin. I am pretty sure I can handle that easily and will take it into account when I am writing the final code. But this is not a final decision, of course. I really have to see how things are handled best from a technical point of view.

@Arturo Servantis: That is what I am shooting for.

@Lady Seline: Yes, that is something we can do. I just can't promise when I get all this done. This can be a matter of a day or a month. Very hard to say at the current stage. So far I do not plan to change the creatures weapon to non creature weapons. So the spells you mentioned will work after a change.

Posts: 644

Re: PROPOSED CHANGE: Animal Companion

Post#17 » Sat Apr 13, 2019 1:58 am

@Brumm I think we need some general guidelines on how powerful to make the animal companions in order to give any concrete leveling plans. Perhaps you could post one (maybe the bear?) as an example, so others can propose others?

As I've mentioned before, I believe a baseline companion should roughly be as powerful as an arcane's Mirror Golem. A golem with Golem Mastery III should be close in power to a baseline companion or telthor with an additional 3 feat investment (Natural Bond, Epic Animal Companion and Exalted Companion).

Although it is arguable that the Mirror Golem's occupation of the summon instead of a companion slot is a disadvantage, animal companion classes cannot actually summon anything meaningful with their summon slot. The only really useful summons in the game for Event Server level content are the Shadow Simulacrum, which is Wiz/Sorc exclusive, and the Shadow Decoy, a Bard exclusive.

An arcanist summons a Mirror Golem at CL = (Base Caster Level + 4 Practiced Caster + 4 Inexorablis Runeword) x ER Bonus. Because the Practiced Caster modifier is not capped by the caster's level, the maximum Golem Caster level achievable is (40 + 4 + 4) x 1.25 = 60. Realistically this is not achievable by a bulk of players, and most Golems will lie in the CL50-60 range depending on build and gear.

Hence, since you are looking at 40 levels of scaling, I think we can peg the level 40 animal companion stats roughly at the level of a CL55 golem, and maybe add an expensive (though not quite arcane staff runeword level expensive as it doesn't also improve spellcasting) runeword that further enhances their stats to match a CL60 Mirror Golem.

Some Ideas on how to build the companions:
- Badger
Specialty is increased melee damage output vs single targets. Extra attacks through TWF or flurry type feats, and increase damage dice. Grant Expose Weakness

- Wolf
General purpose all-round pet. Slight increase in damage dice, AB, AC and Health. Given Expose Weakness, Improved Knockdown feats.

- Brown bear
HP tank pet. Massively boosted HP and regen. Quake Shock.

- Boar
Magic tank pet. Massively boosted saves and elemental damage immunity/resistance

- Giant spider
Ranged shooter pet (acid spit, implemented by giving a sling). Chaos shield passive. Web spell makes RP sense, but is a massive power nerf as it doesn't actually work on anything meaningfully - so avoid

- Panther
Rogue pet. HiPS, scaling sneak dice. Given Epic Precision, Expose Weakness

- Dinosaur
Badger level damage with Panther sneak dice (slightly lower progression, maybe 1d6/3 instead of 1d6/2)

- Telthor
50% passive conceal due to spirit nature. Expose weakness and Improved Knockdown like a wolf

- Dragon
Magical pet. Has boar's toughness modifiers, Badger's melee boosts and a Persistent Lesser Aura of Cold 10' Radius.

- Fire Elemental
Fire immunity, Persistent Body of the Sun 10' radius, +Fire damage to melee attacks, Fire Shield on taking hits

- Air Elemental
Electric Immunity. Persistent 100% range attack conceal, 50% melee conceal. +Electric damage.

Posts: 2113

Re: PROPOSED CHANGE: Animal Companion

Post#18 » Sat Apr 13, 2019 3:05 am

I like your suggestions.

I'll create a rod which lets you cast a modifyable animal companion which I fully scaled. That way we can test the powerlevel under real circumstances without the need of spending too much time on beta.

Lady Seline
Posts: 36

Re: PROPOSED CHANGE: Animal Companion

Post#19 » Sat Apr 13, 2019 4:09 am

... Is there any chance of an item or feat that when carried or gained disabled companion and or summon enhancement bonuses for RP chars in LLC? ^.^
Last edited by Lady Seline on Sat Apr 13, 2019 4:14 am, edited 2 times in total.

Lady Seline
Posts: 36

Re: PROPOSED CHANGE: Animal Companion

Post#20 » Sat Apr 13, 2019 4:13 am

I had an idea about agro pulling on a tank minion.

Since AI tends to attack last attacker, would an inate aura that worked like body of sun each round do the trick? If it cast a 24hr spell on itself at start of combat that did a short range (15-20 ft) Aoe each round that did a mighty... 1 pt unresistable positive damage, no save not trick-pull agro onto the pet? This could work on both the golem and the tanky bear...

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