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Noble Animal Changes to Skills

Changes to Skills

The following contains a variety of new skills or replacement skills available to Noble Animal characters. Also included are a number of existing skills, such as Ride and Survival, which have been modified with the needs of Noble Animal characters in mind.

Craft (Beavercraft) (Int; Trained only for non-beavers)

This specialized Craft skill covers the various structures that a noble beaver might want to build, including any that he might invent for a specific purpose. This skill operates differently from other Craft skills.

Check

Table: Simple Structure DCs
Structure DC
Barricade 5
Wall 10
Simple Dam (no lair) 12
Beaver Dam (with lair) 15
Palace Dam (with extensive lair) 20
Unfamiliar Environment +2

Using the Craft (Beavercraft) skill, you can build any number of “primitive” structures, using materials to be found in the wild (sticks, mud, rocks, clay, etc.). Unlike other Craft skills, it is not necessary to have any sorts of tools, or even to pay for materials to create Beavercraft items.

The materials needed for a given structure will always be found near the site of the construction. If you are attempting to build in an area that is a foreign environment to you (desert, tundra, artic), you will simply find substitute materials native to where you are (with +2 unfamiliarity modifier added to the DC of the check). To create a beavercraft construction, follow these steps:

  1. Find the structure’s DC on the Table: Simple Structure DCs, or have the DM set the DC for a structure not otherwise described.
  2. Make the skill check using the given DC.
  3. The time required to complete the construction is equal to the DCx2 in hours.
  4. The time is reduced by one half (½) hour for every one (1) that your roll beats the DC by.

When building a beavercraft structure, you must still eat and sleep. If another animal is willing to gather food for you, you may work uninterrupted for up to 18 hours in a single day. If you have no such assistance, you may only work 12 hours a day. Constructions which take longer than that to complete are, naturally, completed on subsequent days.

For example, Amik, a noble beaver expert, has decided to build himself and his mate a nice new home. He wants something simple, with room for what he hopes to be a big family. Unfortunately, Amik’s adventuring career has taken him far from the temperate river valley where he was born, and he must build his home on an unfamiliar, yet fertile, river running through the middle of a great desert. The DC to build the dam he wants is 17 (15 for a beaver dam, +2 for unfamiliar locale). This project should take 34 hours to complete. Since he wants to surprise his mate, Amik is doing the work alone, so he’s looking at three days of work. He rolls a total of 24 (die roll 14, +3 Int bonus, +7 ranks in Craft (Beavercraft)). This roll is not only a success; it also shaves 3 ½ hours off the time required, making it 31 ½ hours, which still means he will be busy for three days (but he can take a nice long nap on the third day).

Action

Does not apply. Craft (Beavercraft) checks are made once for each project.

Try Again

Yes, but the detritus of the failed attempt must be cleared away first, which will take a number of hours equal to one half the DC of the desired construction. Alternatively, you may choose to simply build in another location, which removes this necessity (but no self-respecting beaver leaves his neighborhood littered with the evidence of their architectural failures).

Special

Only beavers (natural or noble) may use this skill untrained. Furthermore, any non-beaver character using this skill has a –4 species penalty to all Craft (Beavercraft) checks.

Deft of Jaw (Dex)

This skill replaces Sleight of Hand for noble animals.

Check

Table: Deft of Jaw Skill DCs
Sample Task DC
Slip a coin-sized object into your mouth 10
Lift a small object from a person or animal 20

A DC 10 Deft of Jaw check lets you slip a coin-sized, unattended object into your mouth.

When you use this skill under close observation, your skill check is opposed by the observer’s Perception check. The observer’s success doesn’t prevent you from performing the action, just from doing it unnoticed.

You can also use Deft of Jaw to entertain an audience as though you were using the Perform skill. In such a case, your “act” encompasses elements of legerdemain, juggling, and the like. This is a popular use of this skill among performing apes.

Action

Any Deft of Jaw check normally is a standard action. However, you may perform a Deft of Jaw check as a free action by taking a –20 penalty on the check.

Try Again

Yes, but after an initial failure, a second Deft of Jaw attempt against the same target (or while you are being watched by the same observer who noticed your previous attempt) increases the DC for the task by 10.

Untrained

An untrained Deft of Jaw check is simply a Dexterity check. Without actual training, you can’t succeed on any Deft of Jaw check with a DC higher than 10.

Disguise (Cha)

When playing in a world with intelligent, talking animals, it is inevitable that some noble animal is going to find itself in a situation where it needs to look like something else.

Noble animal characters are limited in the Disguise skill by their shapes, of course. It is only possible for a noble animal to disguise itself as an animal of a similar shape and the same size category. It is up to the GM to determine what a possible disguise would be. Obviously, wolves, coyotes, and many dogs can impersonate each other with little trouble; many rodents can pass as other rodents; and a lion with a good dye job might make a reasonable tiger. No matter how good a disguise is, without magical intervention, a horse will never be able to pass itself off as a blue jay.

Just as when a humanoid uses this skill, they can choose to impersonate a particular individual or a type. Most animals will require some assistance in making a disguise believable; the application of dyes, the styling of fur, etc. are all difficult tasks for an animal alone.

Escape Artist (Dex; Armor Check Penalty)

This skill can come in quite handy for a noble animal character in ridding themselves of tiresome harnesses, leashes, tresses, or yokes.

Knowledge (Humanoids) (Int)

The world of the two-legs can be a confusing and frustrating one for animals, noble and otherwise. Many of the things they do simply make no sense from an animal’s point of view. This skill allows a noble animal character to understand the customs and objects of humanoid societies. The table below gives some sample DCs for various tasks using this skill.

Table: Knowledge (Humanoids) Sample Task DCs

Sample Task DC
Tell the difference between a house and a barn 5
Tell the difference between a dance and a threat display 10
Perceive representational art 15
Recognize a uniform or heraldry device 17
Determine the use of a tool 18
Determine the function of a structure 20

Linguistics (Int; Trained Only)

Linguistics (Optional Rule)

Noble animals have a strange relationship with humanoid language. While most of them do learn Common at some point (in order to better “Serve or Challenge” humanity), they never need to learn any other human language. The reason for this is that, to noble animals, all members of a single species, no matter where they are originally from, speak the same language. The only differences are in the form of differing accents and idioms. As far as noble animals are concerned, there is only one human language, with thousands of different accents.

What does this mean? It means that a noble animal character (and only a noble animal character) who understands Common, will also be able to understand French, or Chinese, or Thorian, or Old Chelmacs with the same ease, and can further be understood by humans who speak a human tongue. All human language is as one to a noble animal, with the exception of secret or artificial languages.

At the same time, all Elves, be they High, Wood, Sea, or Drow, all speak the same language as far as animals are concerned. Likewise for all Dwarves, and so on.

A human in the company of a noble animal will be able to understand the animal when it speaks Common, even if the animal is currently speaking to a human who speaks another language. The humans will not be able to understand each other if they speak different languages, but they can speak to the noble animal. To try to understand why this is has given many human sages migraines. The animals don’t understand it either, but they are much less concerned.

Noble animals have a hard time even understanding why humans will often need to have translators while speaking to members of their own species. For this reason, noble animals make terrible translators.

Special

You must be trained to use this skill. None of the animal languages, including High Fauna, have a written component.

Learn a Language

Whenever you put a rank into this skill, you learn to speak and read a new language. Common noble animal languages (and their typical speakers) are listed below.

Bat

Spoken By: All bats, no matter what type, speak a variety of this.

Camel

Spoken By: The language of camels, though most camels learn Herdspeak and Equine as well.

Canine

Spoken By: Almost all the various canid species speak this language.

Crocodilian

Spoken By: The language of alligators and crocodiles.

Elephant

Spoken By: Elephants have a very complicated language.

Equine

Spoken By: While horses are the primary speakers of this language, there are several other species who speak it is well.

Feline

Spoken By: Every cat, from the tiniest kitten, to the greatest tiger, speaks Feline.

Herdspeak

Spoken By: This language is used by a huge number of herbivorous herd animals.

High Fauna

Spoken By: This is a form of common tongue, spoken by all noble animals.

Linguistics (Optional Rule)

High Fauna is the only animal tongue available to be learned by humanoids. While spells or special abilities may allow them to speak to normal animals for a brief time, humanoids can never learn the animal languages themselves.

Hyena

Spoken By: The language of hyenas is spurned by most other animals.

Lizard

Spoken By: The thousands of species of lizard all speak the same language.

Monitor

Spoken By: Few monitors deign to speak anything but their own language.

Raptor

Spoken By: The language of hunting birds.

Rodent

Spoken By: The language of mice, rats, squirrels, rabbits, and other rodentine creatures.

Serpent

Spoken By: The language of all snakes.

Simian

Spoken By: This is the language of many primate species.

Songbird

Spoken By: Almost all birds that do not speak Raptor speak Songbird.

Ursine

Spoken By: This is the language that bears share.

Whale

Spoken By: All sea-borne mammals speak Whale.

Woodland

Spoken By: This language is spoken by a huge variety of animals, most of whom are small, and live in or around woods.

Profession (Various) (Wis; Trained only)

Table: Bloodhound Sample Skill DCs
Sample Task DC
Show handler where the quarry is 10
Tree quarry 15
Recognize attempts to cover tracks 20
Table: Border Dog Sample Skill DCs
Sample Task DC
Spot stray animals 5
Lead sheep to corral 10
Spot a stalking predator 15
Table: Chase Hound Sample Skill DCs
Sample Task DC
Distinguish between prey and other fast-moving objects 5
Chase prey in desired direction 15
Table: Guide Animal Sample Skill DCs
Sample Task DC
Recognize common threats to your master 5
Guide your master across a busy street 15
Guide your master through the trap-laden entrance to an ancient ruin 20
Recognize when your master is being short-changed 25
Table: Messenger Sample Skill DCs
Sample Task DC
Recognize landmarks 5
Recognize recipient 15
Deliver memorized message 25
Table: Rescue Animal Sample Skill DCs
Sample Task DC
Smell fresh air or water 5
Listen for signs of life 15
Locate survivor in rubble 18

Listed here are a few specific Profession sub-skills that a noble animal might learn. These skills are all about working with humanoids, so any character with one of these skills has firmly planted his flag on the Serve side of the Serve or Challenge question. Below is a list of several new Profession sub-skills especially designed for noble animal characters.

Bloodhound: This Profession is one of the hunting dog specialties. It encompasses the knowledge and ability to lead other characters (usually humanoids) after the trail of a given quarry. This skill does not allow a character to track, but rather to successfully lead others while tracking and attend to other duties that a hunting dog may have.

This skill is not limited to dogs; in fact, some lizard folk tribes use monitor lizards, and many gnolls employ hyenas – it’s just that most humanoids use dogs.

Border Dog: This Profession skill represents the knowledge and ability to control a herd of non-noble sheep or cattle or similar herdbeasts, usually under the direction of a humanoid, but a noble animal with this skill can very likely do the job on his own.

While the name of this skill certainly suggests a canine- only skill, it is not unheard of for members of other species to take up this profession (there was this one pig, for example).

Chase Hound: Another hunting dog specialty, this subskill represents the knowledge and ability to chase down a quarry that has been flushed from hiding. While not necessarily good trackers, chase hounds are very valuable partners to some hunters. As with most hunting dog Professions, this job is more about how one relates to the hunter.

Once more, dogs are the most common type of chase hounds found, but what hunter wouldn’t be tickled pink to have a cheetah serve as a chase hound?

Guide Animal: When a humanoid loses their sight or hearing, they sometimes use specially trained guide animals to help them go about their daily lives. Dogs, especially, feel quite proud to protect a human charge in this manner.

Messenger: Able to carry messages across vast distances, many noble birds take this profession to serve as wartime couriers or simply as a postal service. Some aquatic elf tribes use porpoises as messengers.

Rescue Animal: A popular profession among heroically- minded noble animals, a rescue animal is adept at finding lost people, whether they are buried in the rubble of an earthquake or are wandering aimlessly in the desert.

Retriever: The last of the hunting dog specialties, a retriever finds and returns quarry that a hunter has brought down. Though primarily used for small game and the like, sometimes a retriever might be asked to fetch something else, like an item of treasure or a message.

Check

There are two types of skill check used by noble animal characters with a Profession skill. The first is the same as that used by humanoids; to make a living. Because animals do not generally earn, nor care about money, this is a simple test against a DC of 10, to make sure your master is pleased enough with your work to keep you around.

The second type of check is used to perform job-specific tasks, should the need arise, and the DCs for these are listed with the sub-skills themselves.

Action

The skill check to remain employed is not an action, but rather represents a week’s labor. The more specific checks listed below are usually full-round actions, as determined by the GM.

Try Again

Varies. An attempt to remain employed cannot be retried, but several other checks may be, as determined by the GM.

Untrained

An untrained Deft of Jaw check is simply a Dexterity check. Without actual training, you can’t succeed on any Deft of Jaw check with a DC higher than 10.

Ride (Dex)

In addition to being used to ride creatures, this skill can also be used to allow oneself to be ridden. The DCs and uses for this skill are the same as they would be if the rider were the one making the checks.

Survival (Wis)

A noble animal’s lifetime of practice makes the Survival skill simply instinctual. While other uses are done the same way as in the core rules, a noble animal only needs to beat a DC of 5 in order to get along in the wild. A noble animal can provide food and water for one other member of his own species for every 2 points by which their check result exceeds 5. To provide food and water for members of other species, they still need to beat a 10.

Section 15: Copyright Notice

The Noble Wild. Copyright 2009 by Lee Garvin and Skirmisher Publishing LLC.