The term "minion" is used to here to denote a druid or ranger's animal companion, a paladin's bonded mount, or a wizard's familiar. All of them use the same ruleset, as noted below.

A minion is different from a normal animal of its kind in many ways. Paladins' mounts and wizards' familiars are treated as magical beasts, not animals, for the purpose of all effects that depend on their type (though they retains an animal's HD, base attack bonus, saves, skill points, and feats). Druid and rangers' animal companions are still animals.

Table 1: Minion Abilities

Class Level
Armor Adj.
Bonded Mount Familiar
1st–2nd +0 +1 +0 Link, share spells Evasion, share spells, empathic link
3rd–4th +1 +2 +1 Evasion Touch
5th–6th +2 +3 +2 Devotion Empathic link, share spells Speak w/master
7th-8th +3 +4 +2 Multiattack Improved speed, evasio Speak w/animals
9th–10th +4 +5 +3 Improved evasion Blood bond Scry on minion, improved evasion
11th–12th +5 +6 +3 Scry on minion Multiattack Spell resistance
13th-14th +6 +7 +4 Stabilize master Stabilize master Possess familiar
15th–16th +7 +8 +4 Improved evasion Unfettered thriving
17th–18th +8 +9 +5 Increased aura Telepathy
19th-20th +9 +10 +5 Spell resistance Teleport to familiar

Druids and rangers can train their animal companions to learn extra tricks, as noted on the table below. Paladins' bonded mounts and wizards' familiars are smarter than others of their kind and increase in intelligence as their masters gain levels.

1st–2nd 0 4
3rd–4th 1 5
5th–6th 2 6
7th–8th 3 6
9th–10th 3 7
11th–12th 4 8
13th-14th 5 9
15th–16th 6 9
17th–18th 6 10
19th–20th 7 11

Animal Companion Basics: Use the base statistics for a creature of the companion's kind, but make the following changes.

Class Level: The character's class level. Class levels stack with levels of any other classes that are entitled to an animal companion (for druids and rangers), a mount (for paladins), or a familiar (for wizards) for the purpose of determining the companion's abilities and the alternate lists available.

Bonus HD: Extra eight-sided (d8) Hit Dice, each of which gains a Constitution modifier, as normal. Remember that extra Hit Dice improve the animal companion's base attack and base save bonuses. An animal companion's base attack bonus 3/4 of its HD. It has good Fortitude and Reflex saves and gains additional skill points and feats for bonus HD as normal for advancing a monster's Hit Dice.

Natural Armor Adj.: The number noted here is an improvement to the animal companion's existing natural armor bonus.

Str/Dex Adj.: Add this value to the animal companion's Strength and Dexterity scores.

Int: The mount or familiar's Intelligence score.

Bonus Tricks: The value given in this column is the total number of “bonus” tricks that the animal knows in addition to any the druid might choose to teach it (see the Handle Animal skill). These bonus tricks don't require any training time or Handle Animal checks, and they don't count against the normal limit of tricks the animal knows. The druid selects these bonus tricks; once selected, they can't be changed.

Minion Abilities

Blood Bond (Ex): The mount gains a +2 bonus to all attacks, checks, and saves if it witnesses the paladin threatened or harmed. This bonus lasts as long as the threat is immediate and apparent.[[/div]]

Devotion (Ex): An animal companion gains a +4 morale bonus on Will saves against enchantment spells and effects.

Empathic Link (Su): The paladin has an empathic link with his mount out to a distance of 1 mile. The paladin cannot see through the mount's eyes, but they can communicate telepathically. Even intelligent servants see the world differently from humans, so misunderstandings are always possible.

Evasion (Ex): If a minion is subjected to an attack that normally allows a Reflex saving throw for half damage, it takes no damage if it makes a successful saving throw.

Improved Evasion (Ex): When subjected to an attack that normally allows a Reflex saving throw for half damage, an animal companion takes no damage if it makes a successful saving throw and only half damage if the saving throw fails.

Improved Speed (Ex): The mount's speed increases by 10 feet.

Increased Aura (Su): While mounted, a the radius of the paladin's aura of courage is doubled.

Link (Ex): A druid can handle her animal companion as a free action, or push it as a move action, even if she doesn't have any ranks in the Handle Animal skill. The druid gains a +4 circumstance bonus on all wild empathy checks and Handle Animal checks made regarding an animal companion.

Multiattack: A minion gains Multiattack as a bonus feat if it has three or more natural attacks and does not already have that feat. If it does not have the requisite three or more natural attacks, it instead gains a second attack with its primary natural weapon at a –5 penalty.

Scry on Minion (Sp): The master can scry on her minion (as if casting the spell scrying) once per day.

Share Saves: For each of its saving throws, the mount uses its own base save bonus or the paladin's, whichever is higher. The mount applies its own ability modifiers to saves, and it doesn't share any other bonuses on saves that the master might have.

Share Spells (Ex): At the character's option, she may have any spell (but not any spell-like ability) she casts upon herself also affect her minion. The minion must be within 10 feet of her at the time of casting to receive the benefit. If the spell or effect has a duration other than instantaneous, it stops affecting the minion if it moves farther away than 5 feet per class level and will not affect it again, even if it returns before the duration expires.

Additionally, the character can cast a spell with a target of "Self" on her minion (as a touch range spell) instead of on herself. A character and her minion can share spells even if the spells normally do not affect creatures of the minion's type (animal or magical beast).

Speak with Master (Ex): The familiar and master can communicate verbally as if they were using a common language. Other creatures do not understand the communication with out magical help.

Speak with Animals of its Kind (Ex): The familiar can communicate with animals of approximately the same type as itself (including dire variants). The communication is limited by the Intelligence of the conversing creatures.

Spell Resistance (Ex): A companion's spell resistance depends on its master's class level: up to 11: moderate; 12-19: major; 20-27: full; 28+: legendary.

Stabilize Master (Su): Once per day, if the master is unconscious or dying, the minion can stabilize him as a full-round action. The minion must touch its master to stabilize him, and the minion takes 1 point of Con damage in so doing.

Telepathy (Su): Master and familiar can communicate telepathically as long as they are within 1 mile per master's class level and on the same plane. If either master or familiar is in an area that prevents magical or supernatural abilities, the telepathic link is broken.

Teleport to Familiar (Su): Once per day, a wizard can teleport (as the spell) to his familiar's side if the familiar is on the same plane and within 100 miles per class level. If there is not enough room for the wizard to appear next to the familiar, he appears in the nearest space large enough to hold him within 20 feet; if there is no such space, the ability fails. A wizard cannot teleport to a dead familiar.

Touch (Ex): If the master is 3rd level or higher, a familiar can deliver touch spells for him. If the master and the familiar are in contact at the time the master casts a touch spell, he can designate his familiar as the "toucher." The familiar can then deliver the touch spell just as the master could. As usual, if the master casts another spell before the touch is delivered, the touch spell dissipates.

Unfettered Thriving (Ex): If the familiar's master dies, the familiar retains its intelligence, HD, increased natural armor, and all powers except those that require a master. Speak with Master becomes the ability to speak with other beings of the same race as the former master.

Improved Animal Companions

A druid or ranger of sufficiently high level can select her animal companion from one of the following lists, applying the indicated adjustment to the character's level (in parentheses) for purposes of determining the companion's characteristics and special abilities.

Table 2: Improved Animal Companions

5th Level (Level -4)
Ape Leopard
Bear, black Lizard, monitor
Bison Manta ray1
Boar Snake, const.
Cheetah Snake, lg viper
Dire badger Wolverine
Dire weasel
9th Level (level -8)
Bear, brown Dire wolverine
Crocodile Lion
Dire boar Shark, large1
Dire wolf Snake, huge viper
13th Level (Level -12)
Bear, polar Rhinoceros
Deinonychus Shark, huge1
Dire ape Snake, giant const.
Dire lion Tiger
Octopus, g.1 Whale, orca 1
17th Level (Level -16)
Crocodile, g.1 Elephant
Dire bear Megaraptor

1 Available only in an aquatic environment.

Improved Bonded Mounts

A paladin of sufficiently high level can choose a bonded mount from the following lists, provided its alignment is only up to one step away on each of the alignment axes (lawful through chaotic, good through evil).

Improved bonded mounts otherwise use the rules for regular bonded mounts. Apply the indicated adjustment to the character's level (in parentheses) for purposes of determining the mount's characteristics and special abilities.

Note: This list is not all-inclusive. Almost any creature capable of bearing a rider can be made into a bonded mount, subject to the DM's discretion. Use the table below to assign new creatures based on ECL. As a rule of thumb, a mount's ECL should be no more than 3/4 of the paladin's class level; the paladin must be at least one size smaller than his mount. This rule can also be applied to other creatures that don't appear here.

Table 3: Improved Bonded Mounts

Bonded Mount Alignment
4th level (Level +0)
Hippogriff N
Warhorse, hvy or lt N
8th level (Level -4)
Dire wolf N
Howler CE
Pegasus CG
Spider eater N
Worg NE
12th Level (Level -8)
Chimera CE
Griffon N
Nightmare NE
Unicorn LG
16th level (Level -12)
Dire bear N
Dragonne N
Drake Evil
Draken Evil

Dragons: While they are an obvious choice for a paladin's mount, dragons' ECLs vary too widely to place them into a table with any degree of accuracy - you have to factor in the paladin's size (which must be at least one smaller than his mount's) as well as his level.

Improved Familiars

A wizard of sufficiently high level can choose a familiar from the following lists, provided its alignment is only up to one step away on each of the alignment axes (lawful through chaotic, good through evil). A wizard of any alignment can choose a True Neutral familiar.

Improved familiars otherwise use the rules for regular familiars, with two exceptions: If the creature's type is something other than animal, its type does not change; and improved familiars do not gain the ability to speak with other creatures of their kind (although many of them already have the ability to communicate).

The list in the table above presents only a few possible improved familiars. Almost any creature of the same general size and power as those on the list makes a suitable familiar. Nor is the master's alignment the only possible categorization. For instance, improved familiars could be assigned by the master's creature type or subtype.

Table 4: Improved Familiars

Familiar Alignment
3rd Level (Level -2)
Celestial hawk1 Good
Fiendish tiny viper2 Evil
Homunculus3 Neutral
Stirge Neutral
5th Level (Level -4)
Elemental, small (any) Neutral
Formian worker Lawful neutral
Shocker lizard Neutral
7th level (Level -6)
Imp Lawful evil
Mephit (any) Neutral
Pseudodragon Chaotic good
Quasit Chaotic evil

1 Or other celestial animal from the standard familiar list.

2 Or other fiendish animal from the standard familiar list.

3 The master must first create the homunculus, substituting ichor or another part of his body for blood if necessary.

Care and Treatment of Minions

Too many players treat animal companions, bonded mounts, and familiars as little more than meat-shields - an extra set of claws/teeth/whatever in a fight. While exceptionally loyal pets will fight to defend their masters, that's all they'll do - if a tiger's master isn't in danger, he isn't likely to go help his master's friend the fighter from getting his arm ripped off by that ogre. If his master is incapacitated, he definitely won't be helping; all he'll do is guard the body (likely from everyone including those who could otherwise help).

In order to most closely simulate this paradigm, you can use the Speechcraft system. A PC must attend to his minions needs (feed it, play with it, groom it, etc.) and show it love and attention in order tokeep its attitude toward him high. This is reflected by making Wild Empathy checks. A minion's initial attitude toward its master is always Friendly, but can go lower over time through neglect, mistreatment and/or abuse. A well-treated minion's attitude can go as high as Fanatical, though this usually requires years of companionship and constant attention (a dog raised from a pup is a good example).

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