Beast Rider Class

Lora the Griffon Rider

This class was recently featured in Issue #3 of Brave the Labyrinth, a fan-written magazine by Small Niche Games. I’m glad to have been a part of it. Go buy a copy! Available in pdf and print.

Beast Rider

Requirements: CHA 15
Prime Requisite: STR and CHA
Hit Dice: 1d8
Max Level: 18

A Beast Rider is special breed of Ranger who has worked with domesticated and wild animals their whole lives. They are the few who dare try to tame and control the largest of beasts in the world and, perhaps, to ride them. They form a bond with their mount that is closer than mere friendship. They are masters of mounted combat, especially with elongated weapons.

Beast Riders can be of any alignment. They are found amongst all the races and lands, although their role may differ. Human and elven Beast Riders are typically nobility and bear proud flying mounts like griffons or hippogriffs. Dwarven Beast Riders live in the wild and can be found either freezing atop of a mountain or deep beneath its roots, but when duty calls, they arrive on the back of a roc or a heavily armored giant beetle, perhaps even an ankheg.

Halfling and half-orcish Beast Riders come from wild and barbarous lands where they are revered as shamans for their ability to speak with the spirits of the beasts they tame. Halflings tend to tame giant versions of their favorite animal, while half-orcs arrive on scene riding a deadly manticore or wyvern. The truly insane among the Beast Riders seek to tame and ride dragons, but such is a dragon’s pride that it is a very rare feat to accomplish. It is so rare that those who succeed often enter legend, one way or another.

The player is encouraged to come up with evocative titles for their beast rider, based on their race and/or culture such as Highborn Griffon Rider of Lantos Fields or Dread Basilisk Rider of the Stonegaze Chaos.

Beast Riders can wear leather, studded leather, and chain mail armor as well as use shields. They are trained to use axes, clubs, swords, daggers, pole arms, tridents, lances, long spears, thrown weapons (throwing dagger, spear, javelin, oil), bows (but now crossbows), and slings. Beast Riders use the same Level Progression, Attack Table, and Saving Throw Table as the Ranger class. If playing with racial level limits, demihumans are limited to 12th level, except half-orcs who can rise to 15th level.

Animal Trainer

The Beast Rider is a skilled animal trainer. In general, this gives him a +1 bonus to CHA rolls and checks to determine an animal’s Reaction to him and to influence the animal’s attitude.

As an animal trainer, he must choose a type of animal to specialize in. Common domesticated animals like dogs and horses do not need to be chosen in order for a Beast Rider to train them. The type of animal or monstermust be non-humanoid, although it can be intelligent. It must be a specific type or species like large cat, bear, dire wolf, giant beetle, dragon, griffon, and so on. Naturally, this should be the same type that the Beast Rider later tries to tame. The Labyrinth Lord reserves the right to approve the type of animal.

Because the Beast Rider is a savant with animals, he can train them in behaviors (tricks).Generally, to tame a wild animal requires two weeks of uninterrupted effort, and to train it in a particular behavior requires two weeks. After the first behavior, it only requires one week per behavior. The trainer makes a CHA check each week of training. If the check fails, the training requires another week. If he stops training or if
the training is interrupted for more than a day, the animal can never be trained.

If the Labyrinth Lord wishes, the Maximum Spells per Level column of the Intelligence Table II in the Advanced Edition Companion™ would suffice for gauging how many behaviors an animal can learn. Behaviors might include: Attack a target, Guard a location, Defend the rider, Fetch an item, Heel, Mount training, and so on.

Note: See the Animal Retainers article in Brave the Labyrinth: Issue #2 for a detailed list of animal behaviors and their results.

Master of Reach

At 1st level, the Beast Rider is an expert with long weapons. When using a weapon like a pole arm, trident, lance, or long spear he gains +1 to-hit. This bonus increases to +2 at 6th level and +3 at 12th level.

Tracking

At 3rd level, the Beast Rider may track animals and non-humanoids as a Ranger.

Beast Master

At 6th level, the Beast Rider is able to acquire his special mount. If he befriended one before now, it will allow him to ride it with training. If he seeks one out and befriends it, the player may roll its hit points twice and use the best total.

The maximum HD of his mount cannot exceed the Rider’s level (so if he acquires a mount at 6th level, the mount cannot have more than 6 HD). At the Labyrinth Lord’s sole discretion, the mount may be a juvenile or young adult of its kind if the normal entry has more HD than the Rider can acquire.

In preparation for riding the beast, a special saddle and harness must be made worth 25 gp per HD of the creature. Training it in the behavior of riding is also required. The training requires a CHA check. If the check fails, it requires another week of training. Again, if the training is interrupted, the creature cannot be ridden and a new one must be found. If the beast is very intelligent, such training may not be required.

The bond between the Rider and the mount is very close and nearly empathic in nature. Should the mount die, the Beast Rider cannot train another special mount for one year.

Combat Training

At 7th level, the Beast Rider can train his mount to be more accurate and tougher in combat. If the mount has less HD than the Rider, he may spend one week training it. The training must be uninterrupted, but it can be reattempted. At the end of the training, the mount gains 1 HD. This training cannot give a
mount more HD than 1/2 the Rider’s level, rounded down.

This training does not require a CHA check, as they have grown accustomed to one another.

Example: Roshgar, a 7th level Beast Rider, acquires a hippogriff (a 3+1 HD creature) as his mount at 6th level. At this time, he cannot improve its combat abilities. When Roshgar reaches 8th level, he can spend a week training his hippogriff to make it a 4+1 HD creature.

Speak with Animals

At 9th level, the Beast Rider can speak with animals as an extraordinary ability. This is not considered a magical effect.

Empathic Healing

At 11th level, the Beast Rider can heal animals similar to the Paladin’s Lay-on-Hands ability. Once per day, he may heal 2 hp/level. This is an extraordinary ability and not considered a magical effect.

Empathic Link

At 13th level, the Beast Rider can sense whatever emotions its mount is feeling and get a general idea of what it is seeing or experiencing up to one mile away. This is an extraordinary ability and not considered a magical effect.
Improved Special Attack

At 15th level, the Beast Rider may train his mount in a special attack. The options available to it are up to the Labyrinth Lord and are contingent on the type of mount. It cannot learn more or improve more than one type of attack. The training takes one week of uninterrupted training. The training does not require a CHA check because of familiarity, but it cannot be restarted if it is interrupted. A new special attack may be trained instead, if it qualifies.

The following are a few examples of Special Attacks:
• With mounts capable of a Charge attack (which should be most of them), a successful attack causes 2.5x damage.
• Flying mounts may gain a Dive attack. If it already has a Dive attack, it gains +2 to-hit.
• Terrestrial mounts may gain a Trample attack. If it already has a Trample attack, it gains +2 to-hit.
• Large mounts may gain a Swallow attack. If it already has a Swallow attack, it gains a +2 to-hit.
• If it has a Poison attack, it gains +2 to-hit and the saving throw required to avoid its effect is at a -2 penalty.

Coordinated Attack

At 17th level, the Beast Rider’s bond with its mount has reached its peak. They both gain +1 to all saving throws when the Rider is on his mount and the mount’s speed increases by 1/3 for all its movement rates. When both the mount and the Beast Rider attack in the same round, they gain a +2 AC bonus, +2 to-hit, and +2 to damage to their attacks. If the mount has no natural weapons, this effect would only apply to the Rider.

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