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Musher Ranger Archetype

The invention of the wheel ranks among humanity’s greatest achievements. When attached to a revolving axle, the simple, circular device maximizes the efficiency of land vehicles rolling across dusty trails, open grasslands, and man made roads. Almost everywhere on earth, the wheel is a godsend. However, at the poles it utterly fails. Ice and snow are too slippery to provide traction and are often too fragile to support the vehicle’s weight. Although these slick surfaces hamper the wheel, they provide the ideal medium for sleds and sleighs. No land vehicle fares better in this terrain than the dog sled. Although smaller than the conventional sleigh, these lightweight, surprisingly nimble vehicles can haul several hundred pounds of goods to remote villages and hamlets far from civilization. The musher, who functions as the vehicle’s driver, stands on the sled’s rear where he directs the actions of the dogs or wolves propelling the vehicle across the ice and snow. However, this wily ranger is more than a puppeteer pulling the strings for beasts of burden. He and his canine companions make up a closely-knit team. Their bond transcends the typical relationship between a dog and his master. The musher considers his animals family, and his bestial friends reciprocate the sentiment. Their unique rapport extends beyond operating their wintry vehicle. When either party faces danger, the musher and his companions fight as a well-oiled machine, building on each other’s strengths while masking their weaknesses.

Over time, the musher and his dogs learn to speak the same language and act in near unison, traits which make them a formidable adversary for any of the polar biome’s monstrous denizens.

Mush Team (Ex)

At 1st level, a musher earns the loyalty and service of a dog or wolf. This ability functions like the druid animal companion ability, which is part of the nature bond class feature, but the musher must take the dog or wolf animal companion.

The musher uses his ranger level as his effective druid level. The musher may have more than one animal companion, but he must divide up his effective ranger level between his companions to determine the abilities of each companion. For instance, a 6th-level musher can have one 6th-level companion, one 4th-level and one 2nd-level companion, or two 3rd-level companions. Each time a musher’s ranger level increases, he must decide how to allocate the increase among his animal companions (including the option of adding a new 1st-level companion). When a ranger level is allocated to a particular companion, it cannot be redistributed while that companion is in the musher’s service (he must release the companion or wait until the companion dies to allocate its levels to another companion, which he can do the next time he prepares spells). The share spells animal companion ability applies only to one animal companion of his choice at a time — the musher cannot use it to cast a one-target spell and have it affect all of his animal companions. The musher’s ranger levels stack with any other class feature granting an animal companion.

When driving a sled or sleigh using one or more animal companions across snowy or icy terrain, the DCs of all driving checks are reduced by 2, the acceleration increases by 5 feet, and the vehicle’s maximum speed increases by 5 feet for each animal companion pulling the vehicle.

This ability replaces favored enemy, and alters hunter’s bond.

Canine Empathy (Ex)

A musher’s wild empathy affects only canines. This ability otherwise functions as and replaces wild empathy.

Mush Tactics (Ex)

At 2nd level, a musher must select the following Intertwined combat style. A character can choose from the following list whenever he gains a combat style feat: Coordinated Defense, Coordinated Maneuvers, Duck and Cover, Lookout, Paired Opportunists, Precise Strike, and Swap Places. At 6th level, he adds Outflank to the list. At 10th level, he adds Coordinated Charge and Seize the Moment to the list.

In addition, he can grant all animal companions within 30 feet who can see and hear him one teamwork feat he possesses from his Intertwined combat style as a bonus feat as a standard action. Animal companions retain the use of this bonus feat for a number of rounds equal to 1/2 his ranger level. The musher can use this ability once per day at 2nd level, plus one additional time per day at 8th level and every six levels thereafter to a maximum of four times per day at 20th level. The animal companion does not need to meet the prerequisites of this bonus feat.

This alters the ranger’s combat style feat class feature.

Improved Empathic Link (Su)

At 7th level, a musher gains an empathic link with all of his animal companions. This ability functions as the beast master’s improved empathic link ability (Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Ultimate Combat).

This ability replaces woodland stride.

Team Intellect (Su)

At 11th level, the musher’s animal companions gain an effective Intelligence score of 3 when within 30 feet of the musher. The companions can speak one language known by the musher while benefiting from this effective Intelligence.

This ability replaces quarry.

Team Coordination (Ex)

At 19th level, when a musher and one or more of his animal companions threaten the same opponent, they are treated as if they are flanking the opponent regardless of their actual positioning.

This ability replaces improved quarry.

Musher Unison (Ex)

At 20th level, the musher and his animal companions cannot be surprised or flanked.

This ability replaces master hunter.