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Monster Trainer

Art by Jeff Porter and Raynaldo Perez ©2019 Samurai Sheepdog. Used with PermissionFor ages, raising creatures as pets and companions has been a tradition held by druids, rangers, and, to a lesser degree, other divine and arcane spellcasters. Most acquire the services of domesticated animals, while some dedicate their time to more exotic beings. But, for all their knowledge; for all their skill in the art of handling animals and lesser beings, these groups still fail to understand the bond shared between a trainer and her monsters.

Monster trainers have learned how to tap into the natural well of arcane power that lives within all sentient beings. It is the same power from which sorcerers manifest their bloodlines and with which summoners bond to their strange, beautiful creations. This power grants trainers the unique ability to tether the essence of monsters to their souls.

Each trainer is different because few trainers bond with the same creatures that others might. It is this perceived individuality that sets monster trainers apart, even from their own peers.

Role: Monster trainers are self–sufficient heroes who capture and use monsters to achieve greater success in all walks of life. How versatile a trainer can be depends on her choice of active monster. The trainer may use a powerful animal or magical beast that grants her few spells and instead offers her more physical options during battle. Or, she can call forth a tiny fey and use its spells to confuse her enemies while she fights them in closer quarters. At higher levels, it can be expected that a trainer will usually have some option available to her in any situation, even if that choice isn’t the most optimal.

Alignment: Any; see trainer aura.

Hit Die: d8

Starting Wealth: 4d6 × 10 gp (average 140 gp.) In addition, each character begins play with an outfit worth 10 gp or less.

Class Skills

The monster trainer’s class skills are Appraise (Int), Bluff (Cha), Craft (Int), Diplomacy (Cha), Fly (Dex), Handle Animal (Cha), Heal (Wis), Intimidate (Cha), Knowledge (arcana) (Int), Knowledge (dungeoneering) (Int), Knowledge (geography) (Int), Knowledge (nature) (Int), Knowledge (religion) (Int), Perception (Wis), Perform (Cha), Profession (Wis), Ride (Dex), Sense Motive (Wis), Spellcraft (Int), and Survival (Wis).

Skill Ranks Per Level: 4 + Int modifier.

Table: Monster Trainer
Level Base Attack Bonus Fort Save Ref Save Will Save Special Spells Per Day
1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th
1st +0 +0 +2 +2 Capture monster, monster training, eschew materials, trainer aura 3
2nd +1 +0 +3 +3 Favored enemy, monster growth, spell familiarity 4
3rd +2 +1 +3 +3 Empathy, talented trainer (spell-like) 5
4th +3 +1 +4 +4 Spell familiarity, trainer perk 6 3
5th +3 +1 +4 +4 Shared senses 6 4
6th +4 +2 +5 +5 Spell familiarity 6 5 3
7th +5 +2 +5 +5 Talented trainer (supernatural) 6 6 4
8th +6/+1 +2 +6 +6 Spell familiarity, trainer perk 6 6 5 3
9th +6/+1 +3 +6 +6 Great trainer 6 6 6 4
10th +7/+2 +3 +7 +7 Spell familiarity, temporary control 6 6 6 5 3
11th +8/+3 +3 +7 +7 Talented trainer (extraordinary) 6 6 6 6 4
12th +9/+4 +4 +8 +8 Spell familiarity, trainer perk 6 6 6 6 5 3
13th +9/+4 +4 +8 +8 Channel monster 6 6 6 6 6 4
14th +10/+5 +4 +9 +9 Spell familiarity 6 6 6 6 6 5 3
15th +11/+6/+1 +5 +9 +9 Swap monster 6 6 6 6 6 6 4
16th +12/+7/+2 +5 +10 +10 Spell familiarity, trainer perk 6 6 6 6 6 6 5 3
17th +12/+7/+2 +5 +10 +10 Perfect capture 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 4
18th +13/+8/+3 +6 +11 +11 Spell familiarity 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 5 3
19th +14/+9/+4 +6 +11 +11 trainer perk 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 4
20th +15/+10/+5 +6 +12 +12 Master trainerspell familiarity 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6

Class Features

All of the following are class features of the monster trainer.

Weapon and Armor Proficiency

Monster trainers are proficient with all simple weapons, all bows and the whip. They are proficient with light armor, but not with shields. A trainer can cast trainer spells while wearing light armor without incurring the normal arcane spell failure chance. Like any other arcane spellcaster, a trainer wearing medium or heavy armor, or using a shield, incurs a chance of arcane spell failure if the spell in question has any somatic components. A multiclass trainer still incurs the normal arcane spell failure chance for arcane spells received from other classes.

Spells

A monster trainer casts arcane spells that she gains from the monsters she captures. When a trainer controls a monster that grants her spells in some way, the trainer gains the ability to cast those spells as a sorcerer of her same level. She also gains the ability to cast that monster’s 0-level spells (cantrips) at will, if it provides any.

A monster trainer can cast any spell she has access to without preparing it ahead of time. To gain access to or cast a spell, a trainer must have an active monster that grants the spell and a Charisma score equal to at least 10 + the spell level. The Difficulty Class for a saving throw against a trainer’s spell is 10 + the spell level + the trainer’s Charisma modifier.

Like other spellcasters, a monster trainer can cast only a certain number of spells of each spell level per day. Her base daily spell allotment is given on Table: Monster Trainer. In addition, she receives bonus spells per day if she has a high Charisma score (see Table: Ability Modifiers and Bonus Spells).

The trainer can cast her spells through her active monster, using its space as the point of origin to determine her line of sight and effect as the spell is cast (as if she were in the space in that moment). This doesn’t grant the trainer any of her active monster’s special senses, however. Because it is physically in the space when the spell is cast, the trainer’s monster draws any attacks of opportunity, not the trainer herself. The trainer can still cast defensively to avoid harming her monster, and must still make a concentration check if either is damaged while casting.

The monster trainer spell list provides a full list of spells that can be granted by monsters. It also acts as a reference for class or archetype abilities that grant specific spells beyond those granted by monsters. Alternatively, the trainer spells by monster list offers a fast way to learn what a trainer would need to capture to gain access to a particular spell.

Capture Monster (Sp)

Every monster trainer knows and can cast the capture monster spell at will and may heighten that spell as if she possessed the Heighten Spell metamagic feat. At 1st level, a monster trainer has already either captured her first monster or been given one by a mentor such as a monster researcher.

Capturing Unconventional Creatures: A monster trainer can accept willing creatures into her essence without casting capture monster. In this way, she can obtain creatures not usually considered monsters. A charmed or dominated creature does not have the capacity to willingly accept capture.

The trainer can also obtain monsters from other trainers as an exchange or gift. Accepting willing monsters into her essence has no direct cost (although some trainers are known to buy and sell captured monsters), and takes 1 minute per CR of the highest CR monster being gifted or exchanged.

Monster Training (Ex)

Monster training is the act of calling, controlling, and recalling monsters in or out of combat.

Calling Monsters: As a move action, a monster trainer can call upon one of her monsters. This is identical to drawing a weapon, except that the trainer doesn’t need a +1 base attack to call upon her monster while moving. A monster trainer with Quick Draw can call upon a monster as a free action.

Calling upon even one monster is a rigorous mental activity, and if the trainer is unable to take 10 on actions, she cannot call upon more than one monster at a time. When faced with an immediate threat or distraction, all but one monster of the trainer’s choice are returned to her essence as a free action.

When first called upon, the now active monster appears in an unoccupied space within 10 ft. of its trainer with hit points equal to the trainer’s current hit points (anything over the monster’s total hit points are considered temporary, and anything under can be healed as normal). If no such space exists where the monster can fit, the ability fails and the action is lost.

Controlling Monsters: In the same way a human fighter can’t wield a bow and a greatsword at the same time, a trainer can only give her attention to one monster at a time in combat.
Unlike a wizard’s familiar or a druid’s animal companion, a trainer’s monster does not gain its own actions during combat. Once the monster appears, the trainer uses her own actions to direct and communicate with it telepathically out to 100 feet. The monster doesn’t gain actions or special (Sp, Su, or Ex) abilities of its own, only those granted by the trainer. If the trainer is reduced to 0 or fewer hit points but not dead, she can still direct her active monster to take a single move or standard action on each of her turns.

Recalling Monsters: The trainer can use her telepathic bond to call her active monster back into her essence as a move action, equivalent to sheathing a weapon. When a monster is recalled, it fades away from reality, disappearing entirely. The trainer’s hit points are reduced to match the monster’s remaining hp if lower than her own (this loss of hit points cannot be redirected or reduced), and all negative effects on the monster are removed, as with a heal spell. If a monster is reduced to 0 or fewer hit points, it is immediately recalled from any distance at 0 hit points as a free action. If a trainer dies, her monster fades back into her essence as a free action. A trainer’s spirit can still gift monsters to other trainers if they have a means of communicating with it.

Downtime Activities: During downtime, a trainer can call upon some or all of her monsters to spend time with them; training animals, playing, interacting with or showing her monsters off to others. Doing so requires the trainer’s full attention and gives no special benefit to the monster trainer, so she can’t also work or progress in crafting items.

A trainer’s monsters with 2 or lower Intelligence (or Int –) gain the attack trick twice automatically when captured, but must still be trained to perform other tasks. The trainer can use the training process and Handle Animal to teach tricks to any of her captured monsters with Intelligence 2 or less (mindless creatures count as having an Intelligence of 1 for this purpose).

Eschew Materials

A monster trainer gains Eschew Materials as a bonus feat at 1st level.

Trainer Aura (Ex)

The alignment displayed by the monster trainer’s aura can be misleading because it is affected by the monsters she has captured. A creature observing the trainer’s aura will see a muddled mix of alignments, though often one will stand out more prominently, such as when a trainer captures a majority of evil monsters. Anybody attempting to detect a trainer’s alignment requires a number of additional rounds equal to one-half the trainer’s level (minimum 1) to do so.

The trainer determines the exact visual nature of her aura. For example, the trainer’s aura can appear to be a swirl of energy around her head or a pouch of orbs at her waist containing each monster she’s captured. The trainer can make her aura visible, though it provides no mechanical benefit to do so.

Favored Enemy (Ex)

At 2nd level, a monster trainer gains favored enemy, which functions as the ranger class feature, except trainer’s favored enemy bonus never increases beyond +2 without a trainer perk or levels in another class that gains this feature. The trainer gains additional favored enemies at 5th, 10th, 15th, and 20th level.

Monster Growth (Ex)

Starting at 2nd level, when she gains a new trainer level, the monster trainer can improve one of the monsters she has obtained (through capture or otherwise). This process, called growth, allows the trainer to keep her monsters relevant for longer periods of time. Not every monster is able to grow in this way. If the trainer doesn’t have a monster that can grow at a given level, she can hold onto this ability until she captures a compatible monster or reaches a high enough level to help one or more other monsters to grow.

Source – Player’s Advantage: Monster Trainer. Trainers will sometimes use this ability to help wild monsters or other trainers’ monsters grow in exchange for their temporary assistance with a specific task or on a mission. When traded in this way, monster growth is valued at 1/4 of the receiving monster’s new CR (minimum 1), squared, x 2,000 gp (the trainer would receive half this value if she were to sell her ability to grow a monster for that level).

Monster growth allows a trainer to choose a monster with a similar heritage to a monster she captured previously and begin using that monster instead. This change is generally permanent, so trainer’s are always encouraged to think carefully before making such a decision.

Monsters that grow include:

  • Monsters that share a name (formian, gremlin, water dog)
  • Demons can become other demons of a higher CR (but not higher than the trainer’s level).
  • Devils can become other devils of a higher CR (but not higher than the trainer’s level).
  • Dragons do not grow into each other; but they can age rapidly (wyrmling through great wyrm) to match the trainer’s level.

Spell Familiarity

At 2nd level, and every even level thereafter, a monster trainer chooses one spell granted to her by a monster she has captured. She can now cast that spell regardless of the monster she has active. At the time she gains these new spells, the monster trainer can also swap one previous spell gained with spell familiarity for another of the same level.

Empathy (Ex)

A monster trainer can improve the attitude of any monster type she counts as a favored enemy. This ability functions just like a Diplomacy check made to improve the attitude of a person. The trainer rolls 1d20 and adds her monster trainer level and her Charisma modifier to determine the empathy check result.

The typical monster has a starting attitude of indifferent, while more feral monsters are usually unfriendly at best.

To use empathy, the trainer and the monster must be able to study each other, which means that they must be within 30 feet of one another under normal conditions. Generally, influencing a monster in this way takes 1 minute but, as with influencing people, it might take more or less time.

Talented Trainer

Starting at 3rd level, the trainer can direct her active monster to use its special attacks, defenses, and abilities a number of times per day equal to her Charisma modifier + 1/2 her monster trainer level. Those abilities must have an immediate effect on combat (afflictions, curses, diseases, and poisons are not typically gained with talented trainer). If the monster has any special abilities that act like spells, it can’t use those abilities until the trainer could cast spells of that level. Spells not found on the trainer’s spell list are treated as one level higher than the highest level at which a class could cast them.

The trainer can direct her monster to use its spell-like abilities at 3rd level, supernatural abilities at 7th level, and extraordinary abilities at 11th level. The trainer can also use these abilities herself, acting as their point of origin.

In addition to her daily limitation, the trainer and her monster share any other restrictions on abilities. For example, if the trainer uses her dragon’s breath weapon, she and the monster must both wait 1d4 rounds before one of them can use it again. Constant effects (but not senses) are shared, but abilities listed in a monster’s stat block as (self only) can only be used by the monster and only while it is active.

Trainer Perks

At 4th level, the trainer gains a perk that she can use whenever she has any monster active. When the trainer gains a new perk, choose from the following list. Some perks are better while specific monsters are active, but all should be usable at any time. She gains a new trainer perk at 8th, 12th, 16th, and 19th level.

A complete listing of trainer perks can be found here: Trainer Perks.

Shared Senses (Su)

Starting at 5th level, the monster trainer and her active monster share their senses, including blindsight, darkvision, low-light vision, scent, tremorsense, and true seeing. This doesn’t allow them to see through each other’s eyes, but they can still communicate their observations telepathically.

Great Trainer (Ex)

At 9th level, a monster trainer can spend 1 use of talented trainer to cast a heightened capture monster spell as a standard action (or as a swift action if she also applies Quicken Spell).

Temporary Control (Sp)

Beginning at 10th level, the monster trainer can spend 1 use of talented trainer to cast charm monster as a spell-like ability. The spell only works on monsters she can capture and lasts only up to 1 round per level. The trainer cannot have another monster active when using temporary control.

Channel Monster (Ex)

At 13th-level, a monster trainer has learned how to shape her essence without a monster to draw from. Each morning, when she regains spells, the trainer chooses one monster she has captured. When she has no other active monster, the trainer can cast spells from the chosen monster’s trainer spell list as if it were her active monster.

Swap Monster (Ex)

Once per day at 15th level, When the monster trainer calls her active monster back into her essence, she can call upon a new monster as part of the same action. If she does, the trainer can apply her previous monster’s remaining hp (if lower than her current hit points) to the new monster, rather than herself.

Perfect Capture (Ex)

When the monster trainer reaches 17th level, she learns a special secret that has eluded most trainers their entire lives. She can now capture a single monster without any saves or checks. She can do this once, and the monster must still be one she is able to capture. If the trainer ever releases the monster captured in this way, she regains master trainer the next time she rests for at least 8 hours.

If able, a monster released from master trainer returns to the location from which it was captured, traversing planes to do so if it must. If it is unable to return, the monster instead appears in a space adjacent to the trainer, free to do as it wishes.

Cunning monsters previously captured with master trainer may sometimes seek the trainer out once more in order to punish her for capturing them in the first place.

Master Trainer

At 20th level, a monster trainer has achieved her lifelong dream of becoming a master trainer, recognized for her skill and talents across the region. She gains her choice of one master perk or three trainer perks.

Favored Class Bonuses

Instead of receiving an additional skill rank or hit point whenever they gain a level in a favored class, some races have the option of choosing from a number of other bonuses, depending upon their favored classes. The following options are available to the listed race who have monster trainer as their favored class, and unless otherwise stated, the bonus applies each time you select the listed favored class reward.

Table: Alternate Favored Class Bonuses

3rd Party Publishers

Northwinter Press
Core Races
Race Bonus Source
Dwarf Add +⅓ to the trainer’s natural armor bonus when using the natural armor trainer perk. Blog
Elf Add a +½ bonus on empathy checks to change a monster’s attitude. Blog
Gnome Gain energy resistance 1 against acid, cold, electricity, or fire. Each time the trainer selects this reward, increase her resistance to one of these energy types by 1 (maximum 10 for any one type). Blog
Half-Elf Gain +⅓ use of monster growth. Half-elf trainers with an animal companion can instead add +1 skill rank to the animal companion. If the half-elf ever replaces her animal companion, the new companion gains these bonus skill ranks. Blog
Half-Orc Add +¼ to the damage bonus granted by favored enemy. Blog
Halfling Add a +¼ luck bonus on the saving throws of the trainer’s active monster. Blog
Human Add a +½ bonus on Knowledge checks related to monster lore. Blog
Other Races
Aasimar Add a +1 bonus on empathy checks made to improve the attitude of good outsiders and celestial monsters. Blog
Catfolk Add +1 hit points to the trainer’s active monster. Blog
Changeling Add a +1 bonus on empathy checks made to improve the attitude of monsters with the shapechanger subtype. Blog
Dhampir Add a +1 bonus on empathy checks made to improve the attitude of undead. Blog
Drow Add a +1 bonus on empathy checks made to improve the attitude of aberrations and vermin. Blog
Duergar Add +⅓ to the trainer’s natural armor bonus when using the natural armor trainer perk. Blog
Fetchling Add a +1 bonus on empathy checks made to improve the attitude of undead. Blog
Gillmen Add a +1 bonus on empathy checks to influence monsters with the aquatic or water subtype. Blog
Goblin Choose one: Add +1 hit points to the trainer’s active monster or Gain +¼ use of one spell-like or supernatural ability possessed by a captured monster while a monster with that ability is active. The choice cannot be changed later. Blog
Grippli Add a +½ bonus on concentration checks. This bonus doubles in a forest or swamp terrain. Blog
Hobgoblin Add +¼ to the damage bonus granted by favored enemy. Blog
Ifrit Add a +1 bonus on empathy checks made to improve the attitude of monsters with the fire subtype. Blog
Kitsune Add a +½ bonus on empathy checks to change a monster’s attitude. Blog
Kobold Choose one: Add +⅓ to the trainer’s natural armor bonus when using the natural armor trainer perk or Gain +¼ use of the breath weapon special ability while a monster with that ability is active. This choice cannot be changed later. Blog
Merfolk Add +1 hit points to the trainer’s active monster. Blog
Monstorin Add +1 spell of a level you can cast from your base monster’s available trainer spells to your spell list as if it were gained through the monster trainer’s spell familiarity class feature. Blog
Nagaji Add a +½ bonus on empathy checks to change a monster’s attitude. Blog
Orc Add +¼ to the damage bonus granted by favored enemy. Blog
Oread Add a +½ bonus on Knowledge (nature) checks relating to plants and burrowing monsters. Blog
Ratfolk Add a +1 bonus on empathy checks made to influence animals and magical beasts that live underground. Blog
Samsaran Add a +½ bonus on Knowledge checks related to monster lore. Blog
Strix Add a +1 bonus on empathy checks made to improve the attitude of evil outsiders and fiendish monsters. Blog
Svirfneblin Gain energy resistance 1 against acid, cold, electricity, or fire. Each time the trainer selects this reward, increase her resistance to one of these energy types by 1 (maximum 10 for any one type). Blog
Sylph Add a +½ bonus on Knowledge (nature) checks relating to weather and flying monsters. Blog
Tengu Add a +¼ luck bonus on the saving throws of the trainer’s active monster. Blog
Tiefling Add a +1 bonus on empathy checks made to improve the attitude of evil outsiders and fiendish monsters. Blog
Undine Add a +1 bonus on empathy checks to influence monsters with the aquatic or water subtype. Blog
Vanara Add a +½ bonus on empathy checks and a +½ bonus on Handle Animal skill checks. Blog
Vishkanya Add +1 hit points to the trainer’s active monster. Blog
Wayang Add a +1 bonus on empathy checks made to improve the attitude of undead. Blog

Archetypes & Alternate Class Features

When a character selects a class, she must choose to use the standard class features found or those listed in one of the archetypes presented here. Each alternate class feature replaces a specific class feature from its parent class. For example, the elemental fist class feature of the monk of the four winds replaces the stunning fist class feature of the monk. When an archetype includes multiple class features, a character must take all of them—often blocking the character from ever gaining certain familiar class features, but replacing them with equally powerful options. All of the other class features found in the core class and not mentioned among the alternate class features remain unchanged and are acquired normally when the character reaches the appropriate level (unless noted otherwise). A character who takes an alternate class feature does not count as having the class feature that was replaced when meeting any requirements or prerequisites.

A character can take more than one archetype and garner additional alternate class features, but none of the alternate class features can replace or alter the same class feature from the core class as another alternate class feature. For example, a paladin could not be both a hospitaler and an undead scourge since they both modify the smite evil class feature and both replace the aura of justice class feature. A paladin could, however, be both an undead scourge and a warrior of the holy light, since none of their new class features replace the same core class feature.

Archetypes are a quick and easy way to specialize characters of a given class, adding fun and flavorful new abilities to already established adventurers. The monster trainer class has several sub-categories of archetypes.

Table: Archetypes / Alternate Class Features
Archetype / Alternate Class Feature Class Features Changed or Replaced
HD/ BAB Weapon & Armor Spells Monster Training Eschew Materials Favored Enemy Monster Growth Spell Familiarity Trainer Perks Great Trainer Temporary Control Channel Monster Master Trainer The Monster Within
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
Paizo
                                             
3rd Party Publishers
Northwinter Press
Monster Auror                                 X   X     X X
Monster Breeder                         C     C X   X   X    
Monster Gambler                             C   X   X        
Monster Performer                   X X X           X          
Monster Researcher C C                             C       C    
Monster Scout C C X         X X X X X         C            
X=replaced, (X)=optionally replaced, C=changed, 1=archetype package 1, 2=archetype package 2
Section 15: Copyright Notice

Mystical: Kingdom of Monsters, © 2015-2019, Samurai Sheepdog; author Kevin Glusing.

Mystical: Kingdom of Monsters Anniversary Edition, © 2019, Samurai Sheepdog; author Kevin Glusing.