[RPG] How are Oriental Adventures shaman animal companions updated for 3.5


The book Oriental Adventures for D&D 3.0 was updated in Dragon magazine #318, but it didn't include an update for the shaman's animal companion from 3.0 to 3.5.

I have heard that the druid had the same system of obtaining and using its animal companion as shamans did in 3.0 books. I don't have access to 3.0 books so I don't know if that's true.

Can anyone help with this? How would the 3.0 Oriental Adventures shaman's animal companion be updated to 3.5? Is it just the same as a druid's?

Best Answer

The Animal Companion wasn't 'updated' in Dragon Magazine.

In 3.0 the Shaman and the Druid had the exact same type of animal companion. With 3.5, the spell Animal Friendship was removed and the Animal Companion that druids enjoy now are what they became. The Shaman didn't receive that update. Your DM would have to make a ruling.

  1. Make it the same as a Druid's Animal Companion.

    This makes the most sense functionally since Oriental Adventures 3.0 became Legend of the Five Rings rather than Oriental Adventures 3.5. This option would correctly capture the possible intent of the original Animal Companion. This option is superior to any other houserule the DM may come up with, simply due to the mechanics of the time matching the classes of the time. Times and mechanics were updated for one (the druid), but not the other (the shaman) because WoTC didn't update Oriental Adventures at all, a third party did in the form of Legend of the Five Rings. To call it like you see it, make the Animal Companion 3.0 be an Animal Companion 3.5.

If the DM doesn't want to make it the same as the Druid's Animal Companion, like the DM should, the DM can houserule some other possibilities, such as:

  1. Make it the same as a Ranger's Animal Companion.

    This makes the second most sense. If a DM thinks allowing only a Druid should have the most powerful Animal Companion, then the Ranger is the runner-up. Ranger's Animal Companions being the same as a Druid's, only weaker, still gives a decent Animal Companion.

  2. Make it the same as a Wizard's Familiar.

    This suggestion comes into play strictly by the original wording of "...can't have more than two hit dice." Once again, if a DM only wants a Druid to have the most powerful Animal Companion, and if he wants to keep the hit dice limitation, then allowing it to function as a familiar would at least give it some survivability and some other perks such as allowing it to deliver spells.

  3. Give you Wild Cohort as a bonus feat.

    This option gives the player an Animal Companion, but is slightly weaker than the Druid's and the Ranger's, therefore being a little more unique. This option would only be good if your DM wants the Druid's and the Ranger's Animal Companion unique to them - without costing you a feat.

  4. Keep it the way it is (ensuring your animal companion will be a housepet around level 6.)

    This option is if the DM wants to keep it literal to the text, however is extremely limiting because of the spell is no longer "a thing.") If he allowed it to be cast anyway, your Animal Companions, although numerous, would be extremely weak, and would serve merely as mooks to stand in your enemies way - which may or may not be too bad of a thing.

  5. Give some sort of bonus to Handle Animal.

    Giving, say, a bonus to Handle Animal and allow you gather animals in that fashion would be the least favorable, but if he is an absolute adamant about not giving the other options, giving a bonus in power similar to a Rogue's Trap Sense, would still be something; which would be better than nothing.

What would I do as DM?

I would allow the player to have the same Animal Companion as a Druid. It would not be game breaking. The Shaman is not a Druid, after all.

Information from Books

Rokugan Campaign Setting, Page 76

This book did not have a shaman as a core class. It had a shaman as a prestige class, and is for Ratlings. Hence, the name of the prestige class was Ratling Shaman.

Oriental Adventures, Page 24

Animal Companion: A 1st-level shaman may begin play with an animal companion. This animal is one that the shaman has befriended with the spell animal friendship. It can have up to 2 Hit Dice. (While the shaman is 1st level, this particular animal is loyal enough to stay with him, even though an adventuring shaman usually can only maintain animal friends whose Hit Dice total up to his level.) Alternatively, the shaman may have more than one animal companion provided the animals’ total Hit Dice don’t exceed 2. The shaman can also cast animal friendship in play (see the spell description in the Player’s Handbook).