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PostPosted: Tue Dec 25, 2018 2:01 am 
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Ok, so inspired by video games, and bearing in mind it is possible to have dogs, and mules and other npc units that act like seekers, perhaps it might be worthwhile to develop a character based on animal handling. Might be a good reason to expand monster intelligence in the dragwars system, perhaps a dog can somehow outsmart a cloudspider... well, maybe not but thats where the players come in...

Bearing in mind that it might be possible to capture a bear and train it, why not cloudspiders? Historically animal raising was one of the earliest professions of man, so why not a profession based on his use of dog trackers, guard dogs, falcons, domesticating leopards, bears and cloudspiders? I'm sure a 12th rank 'animal handler' would figure out how.... ways of containing them, pacifying them, attracting them, breeding cloudspiders in captivity and making them perform tricks. Has anyone seen blackfish, the documentary? How about teaching dragons to play fetch?

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 25, 2018 2:37 am 
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The Huntsman path ( Cadaver Draconis ) does a bit of this. Usopi has a couple of skills from it.

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 26, 2018 1:52 pm 
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The first question I would always ask when thinking about a new profession is what makes it sufficiently distinct that it must be predetermined at character creation based on supernatural aptitudes, social constraints, or such developed training that it would not be possible to learn their skills later in life.

The hunter profession is a perfect example of where this breaks down - before the hunter profession came along, adventurers of all persuasion happily foraged for food and dug pits in which to ensnare the unwary but now the hunter has these as special abilities, the GM must either constrain the other professions (i.e., they can no longer do these things) or diminish the hunter. Animal handling, to me, sounds like it would fall into the same category. We already know that knights and barbarians can train warhorses (no details are given, but the rules for training hippogriffs in the bestiary allude to these professions also being able to train warhorses) and, by virtue of their popularity as a knightly pursuit, I'd allow knights also to be able to train falcons and hunting dogs, for example. So wouldn't animal training simply be a skill that anyone could learn but with which some professions (especially the underdeveloped-by-comparison-to-the-later-professions knight and barbarian) start?

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 26, 2018 2:57 pm 
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The first question I would always ask when thinking about a new profession is what makes it sufficiently distinct...

I'm not sure this is really a separate profession. It also depends whether you use DW as originally written, or whether you allow some kind of skill system into your game (either those in the Players Guide pg. 107 - 109, or something of your own devising). If you allow skills, then an 'animal handler' is simply someone of the existing Professions who happens to have spent plenty of time around animals and has learned (or been trained) to raise and care for them.

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I'd allow knights also to be able to train falcons and hunting dogs, for example.

Yes. Again, how well a knight might be able to train falcons and hunting hounds may depend on his upbringing (and interests). This could be down to character background (and role-playing), or could be determined by skills. Most rich manors would have a Master of Hounds (to do the difficult work of rearing and training special dogs) and a Falconer (to tend to the mews as well as the lord's hawks and falcons).

What Profession you allow a Master of Hounds or Falconer to be might depend on how you portray Knights and Barbarians in your game.* In my game, the principal difference is the fighting style to which they are accustomed; so any Coradian man-at-arms (trained in discipline and fighting in heavy armour) would be considered a Knight while those wilder, exuberant tribesmen used to a mobile, 'hit and run' style of fighting would be Barbarians. Whether a Knight is an actual noble would then depend on their character background...
...there would, obviously, be nothing to prevent Barbarian societies from having their own specialist 'animal handlers' if their society can support such individuals.

* A Master of Hounds or Falconer need not be of the adventuring professions. There's a good chance he may not be trained in arms and have the fighting skills of a peasant. If the post is held by an esquire, then he would have the fighting skills of a knight (if not the equipment).


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 26, 2018 3:08 pm 
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Hm... try breeding cloudspiders! Takes a real expert to do it. At least, it might be worth including in a future expansion. Right now I'm not seeing much in the way of rules for hounds and falcons. I figure a dedicated profession would be in order if you're a full time animal handler. Who else can tame a lion? Try pacifying a saber tooth? Although a knight might dig a hole or fire a bow, it takes a specialist to really befriend animals.

Maybe if I think about it there may be room to explore how to use this, to discourage bear attacks, special skills like getting animals to signal back what they see, training special skills like bear dancing and detecting explosive devices or 'magic potions'...

Its basically a summoner class. Instead of getting their hands dirty, they can get that bear to dance and distract and do acrobatics....

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 26, 2018 3:27 pm 
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Hm... try breeding cloudspiders! Takes a real expert to do it.

Considering their terrifying cries and corrosive mist, I'm not sure that's a creature much given to being... erm... domesticated. Or the kind of pet you'd really want to have around.

As mentioned earlier, there are rules in the Bestiary for training Hippogriffs, so it is not unreasonable to suggest that other creatures could be trained. I could see some real difficulties for a character who managed to train a lion or a tiger and then decides to wander into a local town with it...
(Note that, historically, 'dancing bears' usually travelled with a troupe of entertainers* and were often smaller varieties of bear - e.g. black bears - than the type that would be of real use to a PC.)

* Skomorokhi in ancient Rus'.

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...to discourage bear attacks...

I would have thought anyone who adventured regularly in the wild would have some knowledge of this. It's not just bears after all, but wolves and anything else hungry that happens to chance upon the characters' campsite...

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...and detecting explosive devices...

Erm... What era DW are you playing in?

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Its basically a summoner class. Instead of getting their hands dirty, they can get that bear to dance and distract and do acrobatics....

So, a Sorcerer using Enslave, basically? If the GM is generous, you might get away with use of Command in certain circumstances.


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 10, 2019 9:06 am 
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Although I know the default response to any suggestion of creating a new profession is "No!" (I'm guilty of this myself sometimes), I think the animal handler idea is a great one. After watching Green Room a while ago I was impressed by how effing lethal dogs can be, and a profession that is pretty feeble except for their ability to train and command animals is pleasingly different from any of the existing professions.

In regard to the objection that by making a profession that specialises in something you rob other professions of being able to do that thing, this is clearly a failure in implementation and mechanics, not the idea itself. Its not complicated: there are many skills that anybody can learn, and even grow proficient at, but nobody can be an expert at everything. If the rules don't reflect that, then the rules need to be fixed, not the idea of the profession.

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-Kyle


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 10, 2019 10:23 am 
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I couldn't agree more that skills in Dragon Warriors are hopeless but I still disagree that this means an animal handler would make a fully fledged and sufficiently distinct profession with a development path, skills of the mighty, etc., without diminishing the scope of opportunity for other professions to incorporate animal companions into their narratives.

I'd expect knights, barbarians, hunters, and others, to be able to train hunting dogs. Horses are a staple of adventurers and I'd extended horsemanship skills to warlocks. Knaves might train ferrets, too, and, if you think of elementalists and some kind of nature-mage, they may take wild animals as pets and even train them as guardians/companions. These professions may have stereotypical leanings towards adopting and training certain animals to support their roles both in the society from which they came and the adventures on which they go, but why couldn't any character of any profession with a background that has them working with animals pick up animal training techniques? Even my sorcerer character (not a profession one typically associates with non-magical animal companions) in one of the play-by-forum adventures on this site grew up on a sheep farm where, presumably, he picked up some techniques for training dogs (either as sheep dogs or guard dogs). Or perhaps sorcerers, being typically solitary souls, keep animals as pets for company? It might not be animal training, but he'd certainly pick up animal welfare skills.

So other than what we could expect anyone to be able to do, what could an animal handler profession do and what would its unique background be that made it so distinct that no-one else except someone of that profession could do it?

What I could see is a variant mystic that was a little more Beastmaster-y. Skills and variant spells built around a rapport with animals. The mystic profession is ripe for branching paths (a la demonologist). I could also see another way to introduce animal skills within the existing professions would be to swap out some of the ill-thought-through Hunter abilities and replace them with some more animal-y ones - although these should be sufficiently distinct from general training and welfare skills to be something that could only be wrought through working closely with working animals over a long period of time.

But I maintain that if you want companion animals in your campaigns, a separate profession is not the way to do it. Someone with the time might want to formulate a skills framework, recommended training times and costs, animal statistic profiles, etc., that could be adopted by any character that wanted to train their own animal companions. The treatment on horses on the wiki (and published, if I remember correctly, in the Players' Guide) would be a great template for presenting dogs, hawks, weasels, and even fantastic creatures, should you play a high-fantasy version of Dragon Warriors.

That said, I wouldn't want to put anyone off producing an animal handler profession - I do find the alternative works that people produce inspiring. And whilst I have (strong) opinions about DW professions and skills, how I choose to play is not necessarily how everyone chooses to play (probably far from it...).

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 10, 2019 11:06 am 
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I couldn't agree more that skills in Dragon Warriors are hopeless but I still disagree that this means an animal handler would make a fully fledged and sufficiently distinct profession with a development path, skills of the mighty, etc., without diminishing the scope of opportunity for other professions to incorporate animal companions into their narratives.


Firstly, I think we should be careful to avoid the D&D/World of Warcraft etc assumption that all professions need to be perfectly balanced. An animal trainer may not end up being as powerful as most of the other professions, or have as many bells and whistles, but for a game that tries to concentrate on the role playing aspect of the game, this is not a fatal flaw.

Anyway, it doesn't need to diminish anybody's scope. Just like a sorcerer can pull out a sword and fight if he wants, so to can another profession train an animal. Its just that they won't be particularly great at it.

Cobwebbed Dragon wrote:
So other than what we could expect anyone to be able to do, what could an animal handler profession do and what would its unique background be that made it so distinct that no-one else except someone of that profession could do it?


The problem as I see it is that although there's no rule of nature preventing a knight from training a dog or whatever, there are only so many hours in the day. Knights and Barbarians focus on fighting, Sorcerers on spellcasting, Elementalists on sucking etc. They can possibly become passable animal trainers in some narrow sense, but in the real world they simply wouldn't have the time, skills, or experience to become superlative animal handlers.

Cobwebbed Dragon wrote:
What I could see is a variant mystic that was a little more Beastmaster-y. Skills and variant spells built around a rapport with animals.


I reckon this would be an important skill for any animal handler.

Cobwebbed Dragon wrote:
But I maintain that if you want companion animals in your campaigns, a separate profession is not the way to do it.


I don't see it as a simple companion animal a la Torchlight though; a skilled animal handler would go on campaign with a regular menagerie of beasts. He would have several fighting dogs to tear apart his foes and guard the campsite while everybody sleeps, a pigeon for carrying messages, a fighting falcon that can strike Deaths Heads out of the sky, a trained weasel to steal a key from the other side of some locked bars, a clever monkey that could climb a wall and drop a rope to the party or pick a pocket like the world's best Assassin, a grey parrot that can listen into conversations and fly back to repeat them to his master, or even a trained snake that can be thrown onto an enemy's helm where it will slither into his armour and bite his vulnerable parts. A trained bat or owl could help navigate in a lightless underworld and the elevated senses of a trained (oh I don't know, let's say) shrew perched on the shoulder would make surprise by an enemy impossible. Many trained animals can catch food and bring it back for the party to keep them alive in the countryside. The animal handler knows the ways of wild animals and can help the party avoid, befriend, or defeat those they encounter. The list of things the animal handler could do is endless.

Some of these are stretching credibility in our world, but not in the relaxed reality of Legend.

The major problem with the Animal Handler therefore would not be the scope of the profession, but rather the logistical challenge. A bit like the Sapper in that respect...

Cheers,

-Kyle


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 10, 2019 11:54 am 
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WodenKrait wrote:
Firstly, I think we should be careful to avoid the D&D/World of Warcraft etc assumption that all professions need to be perfectly balanced. An animal trainer may not end up being as powerful as most of the other professions, or have as many bells and whistles, but for a game that tries to concentrate on the role playing aspect of the game, this is not a fatal flaw.

This I agree with too - "balance" in most RPGs just means that they have equal capacity to contribute to combat, which kinda misses the point of RPGs. What I was referring to about being a fully fledged profession is that it has somewhere to go as the character develops, not that it can compete with the other professions in combat. I'd also be wary of overloading any new profession with hundreds of skills (knave, hunter, priest, etc.), as they almost feel like they're in a different game to the stalwart knights and barbarians. I blame the assassin - possibly the worst-fit profession of the original series...

WodenKrait wrote:
Anyway, it doesn't need to diminish anybody's scope. Just like a sorcerer can pull out a sword and fight if he wants, so to can another profession train an animal. Its just that they won't be particularly great at it.

Good analogy, and I like what you're suggesting - whereas an animal trainer profession could train multiple animals, the other professions would only be able to train common animals indicative of their profession/background (dogs, horses, hawks, ferrets, etc.) with simple tricks (fetch, guard, attack, hunt, etc.). It would require specialist (and time-consuming-to-learn) skills to train a snake or a monkey or whatever to do complex things.

WodenKrait wrote:
I don't see it as a simple companion animal a la Torchlight though; a skilled animal handler would go on campaign with a regular menagerie of beasts. He would have several fighting dogs to tear apart his foes and guard the campsite while everybody sleeps, a pigeon for carrying messages, a fighting falcon that can strike Deaths Heads out of the sky, a trained weasel to steal a key from the other side of some locked bars, a clever monkey that could climb a wall and drop a rope to the party or pick a pocket like the world's best Assassin, a grey parrot that can listen into conversations and fly back to repeat them to his master, or even a trained snake that can be thrown onto an enemy's helm where it will slither into his armour and bite his vulnerable parts. A trained bat or owl could help navigate in a lightless underworld and the elevated senses of a trained (oh I don't know, let's say) shrew perched on the shoulder would make surprise by an enemy impossible. Many trained animals can catch food and bring it back for the party to keep them alive in the countryside. The animal handler knows the ways of wild animals and can help the party avoid, befriend, or defeat those they encounter. The list of things the animal handler could do is endless.

Yes, these - some good examples (some, as you say, stretched quite far, but for top-of-your-head examples, a good list) and would definitely fit well with the Hunter profession. As a standalone profession, it still doesn't feel like it would be enough - a dog that anyone could train could warn against surprise, catch food, attack/defend, fetch, etc. - but some of these more advanced examples might fit into the Hunter profession. I think there'd still need to be a scalable and flexible resolution mechanic for each of the kinds of activities you mention that would also have to work for animals trained by other professions and it would need to be careful not to stray too far into cinematic/high-fantasy territory (which it could do quite quickly...) unless it resorted to supernatural traits to explain the preternatural rapport the profession has with animals.

Some good ideas there. I like it and would be interested to see how they could be developed into a profession. I'd also be interested to know how the animal handler would replace his dogs lost in combat - if he loses a dog or two per adventure, say, and they take umpteen months/years to breed/train to an elevated standard, how long before the tolls of adventuring reduce the animal handler to the level of a hotblood? I think I read somewhere that it takes a little over a year to train a guide dog for the blind, and it seems reasonable that the advanced skills we're discussing imparting to an animal would be comparable.

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