Themes: Animal Handler

Most of the “profession” themes are extensions of a Profession skill. Profession as a skill has always felt weird to me; I don’t understand how it takes as much time and effort to learn to jump as it does to learn how to run every aspect of an independent business, and I say this as a person who has done both business and jumping. Themes let a character extend their Profession skill to other aspects of their adventuring career. Even if a theme does have Profession as a theme skill, like the soldier, there’s still logic in having a Profession skill for almost every profession theme.

Almost.


ANIMAL HANDLER
You are as comfortable with animals as you are with people, perhaps more so. You may be a farmhand, a professional training, or a wilderness expert who befriended animals for survival. You don’t view them as a mean to an end, but as your companions or friends, and your relationship with all animals is one of mutual trust.

Theme Skills: Handle Animal, Knowledge (nature), Ride, Survival
Theme Feats: Animal Affinity, Lightning Reflexes, Mounted Combat, Run, Toughness
Theme Quests

Novice Quests: These quests are appropriate for advancing through 3rd tier.

  • An orcish warband is moving into a forest, capturing and killing animals as much for sport as necessity. Their sudden fervor is driven by an unknown motivation, and if left alone they’ll kill dozens of animals each day.
  • An important animal trainer has gone missing. Without him, the animals under his care will not listen to anybody and tend to lash out at anybody who tries to interact with them. If he does not return many people could be hurt by his animals, and he had to return before the authorities decide to put them down.

Expert Quests: These quests are appropriate for advancing through 6th tier.

  • A large, dangerous animal is on the loose. Stories vary on whether it’s a brutal threat to everything around it or a gentle creature abused by its owners or handlers. Everybody does agree that it needs to be stopped, and it’s far too deadly a target to be handled by the local authorities.
  • A sage approaches the animal handler asking for help finding and researching a particular animal. It’s very elusive, enough that most people don’t even believe it exists, and he needs help proving his theories so he is no longer a laughingstock. His drive may get him in far over his head.

Advanced Quests: These quests are appropriate for advancing through 9th tier.

  • A disease is infecting animals, transforming them into dire versions of themselves. After a few brutal, violent days, the animals die as their bodies fail to handle their new physiology. So far it is believed that the disease has a mundane source, but it could just as easily be the workings of a druid in the final stages of his plan to build himself an army of perfect soldiers.
  • Word has gotten out that a world-famous hunter is seeking her most daunting prey yet. Her target is a specific, extremely rare species of animal, one that lives in an inhospitable wilderness days from civilization. Not much is know about this creature except that it is in an incredibly dangerous ecosystem, and killing just a few could spell the end of the entire species.

Legendary Quest: A guild of magical researchers announces the creation of a new level of animal. As dire animal are to normal animals, these “legendary” animals were created through careful research and magical experimentation. But they prove a far greater threat then their creators could imagine, and the animals quickly escape their confinement. It soon becomes clear that they are capable of commanding others of their own kind, and the only thing on their mind is revenge against their captors.

Theme Abilities

Animal Speaker (Ex): Your gestures and commands strike a chord with all animals. You can make Handle Animal checks to improve a creature’s attitude in only 2 rounds, though you take a -10 penalty on your check. You must be at least 7th tier before selecting this ability.
Combat Focus (Ex): Animals raised by you are better suited for fighting. When you make a successful Handle Animal check to rear an animal, the animal gains Toughness as a bonus feat.
Harsh Trainer (Ex): You can more easily break wounded creatures. You gain a theme bonus to Handle Animal checks against wounded animals. The bonus equals half your theme tier, to a maximum of +1 for each 20 points of nonlethal damage the animal has taken. You must be at least 4th tier and possess the whip expert theme ability before selecting this ability.
Improved Companion (Ex): Your bond with your companion grows even when you do not focus on it. You can add one-third your theme tier (minimum 1) to your effective class level to determine the abilities of your animal companion, to a maximum of your Hit Dice. This only applies to animals you gain as companions from a class feature or similar ability.
Night Vision (Ex): Your eyes have adjusted so you can see what your friends see. You gain low-light vision. If you already have low-light vision, you can see three times as far as a human in dim light.
Trainer’s Grace (Ex): Your attitude inspires nearby creatures. Friendly and helpful animals adjacent to you gain a resistance bonus to saving throws equal to one-third tier. You must be at least 4th tier before selecting this ability.
Whip Expert (Ex): Some animals need a firm hand. You gain proficiency in the whip and you ignore the attack penalty for dealing nonlethal damage with it. You can use a whip to damage creatures regardless of their armor bonus or natural armor bonus, but only when dealing nonlethal damage.
Work Focus (Ex): Animals raised by you are better suited for labor. When you make a successful Handle Animal check to rear an animal, the animal treats its Strength score as 2 higher when determining its carrying capacity.
Wild Motion (Su): You can run with beasts. When you start your turn adjacent to an animal with a climb or swim speed, you gain that movement type for one round. Your speed for this movement type is half the animal’s speed.

Advancement Abilities

Animal Whisperer (Ex): You understand beasts in a way few can without magic. At 4th tier, You can make a Handle Animal check to improve the attitude of creatures with an Intelligence of 1 or 2. This otherwise works like a Diplomacy check. In addition, you can use Handle Animal to push an animal as a standard action. It you can already push an animal as a move action, you gain a +2 theme bonus to your check.
Sudden Diplomacy (Ex): Your words and actions can soothe a beast before it attacks. At 7th tier, you can make a Handle Animal check to improve a creature’s attitude as a free action when you roll initiative. You can only make this check for one creature, and the check fails if you or your allies have dealt damage to the creature. Whether you succeed or fail on this check, you treat your initiative as though you rolled a natural 1.
Friend to All Creatures (Su): Animals who have never met you trust you inherently. At 10th tier, animals have a starting attitude of friendly toward you unless you or your allies have previously engaged them in combat.

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