Friday, October 12, 2012

Proficiency of the Week: Animal Handling, Training, Lore, Riding

Moody Marcus the Ranger, AKA "Jon Snow" AKA "Marcus Half-Emo" AKA Johny 'Snow' Cash, AKA Snowcrash AKA The Mayor's Bastard, AKA the Bastard, AKA the Bastage, AKA the BAs-he's right behind me, isn't he?, or as Illica's Crow familiar calls him "Snow? No. Mark! Bark! Ark! Cow?" has what is called the "holy trinity" of horse skills. When he walks up to the meanest, nastiest horse in the horse market, it comes up to him like a puppy with it's tongue lolling out, and it's not only not mean, but is incredibly tame and well behaved.

So, you might ask yourself what those skills are that make him so awesome at handling those horseys? Part of it is that one of the benefits to rangers is that they do really well with animals in general, automatically, even if they don't take any bonus proficiencies in it. The other part of it is this. (Forgive him, he got the full nobleborn suite of bonus skills. I could've given him spellcraft as a freebie, too, but then he would've had me assassinated)
What he has is the equivalent of a non-ranger having Horse Riding, Horse Training, Horse Handling and Horse Lore. Those four proficiencies are sometimes called the Holy Trinity of animal skills (because you usually only need three of them to get the effect) and are this week's Proficiencies of the Week. You may notice some of these proficiencies are not precisely the same as the PHB descriptions, and this is because uAD&D uses a skill-tree approach to proficiencies...that is, some proficiencies can alter the score in other proficiencies when used together. These nested proficiencies do not alter the number on the page, but must be taken into consideration when the DM encounters a situation in which multiple proficiencies may be taken into account for the same action. Thus, Moody Marc, appraising the value of a horse, give free range to ride it around the pasture, pat it down, talk to the guy who trained it, etc., has the potential to add as much as a +6 to his check.

This is why it is so important that the animal be specified in these skills.

Animal Handling: Character must specify a normal, non-magical animal they are ‘specialized’ in, and gets a +2 to checks to any skill directly involving that animal. In addition, proficiency in this area enables a character to exercise a greater-than-normal degree of control over pack animals and beasts of burden. A successful proficiency check indicates that the character has succeeded in calming an excited or agitated animal; in contrast, a character without this proficiency has only a 20% chance of succeeding in the attempt. 

Animal Lore: This proficiency enables a character to observe the actions or habitat of an animal and interpret what is going on. Actions can show how dangerous the creature is, whether it is hungry, protecting its young, or defending a nearby den. Furthermore, careful observation of signs and behaviors can even indicate the location of a water hole, animal herd, predator, or impending danger, such as a forest fire. The DM will secretly roll a proficiency check. A successful check means the character understood the basic actions of the creature. If the check fails by 4 or less, no information is gained. If the check fails by 5 or more, the character misinterprets the actions of the animal.
   A character may also imitate the calls and cries of animals that he is reasonably familiar with, based on his background. This ability is limited by volume. The roar of a tyrannosaurus rex would be beyond the abilities of a normal character. A successful proficiency check means that only magical means can distinguish the character's call from that of the true animal. The cry is sufficient to fool animals, perhaps frightening them away or luring them closer. A failed check means the sound is incorrect in some slight way. A failed call may still fool some listeners, but creatures very familiar with the cry automatically detect a false call. All other creatures and characters are allowed a Wisdom check to detect the fake.
   Finally, animal lore increases the chance of successfully setting snares and traps (for hunting) since the character knows the general habits of the creature hunted.
   If desired, the player can limit this lore to one specific animal. In doing so, the character is assumed to know everything about that animal, including a +2 to all proficiency checks with that animal. The level of detail of knowledge of the specific animal is so detailed that the character is treated as proficient in other skills as they apply to that, specific animal, only. Thus the player with “Animal Lore: Horse” can appraise the value of a horse as if he had appraisal; can answer questions about horse anatomy as if he had Anatomy, can ride a horse without riding, can track a horse through mud without Tracking, etc. This lore bonus cannot be used for anything requiring a skill check, but does grant the automatic success on the baseline skill (the character knows the theory, not the practice. He can stay on a riding horse (something that requires no skill check with landbased riding) but is considered non-proficient if he tries to do anything difficult.)

Animal Training: Characters with this proficiency can train one type of creature (declared when the proficiency is chosen) to obey simple commands and perform tricks. A character can spend additional proficiencies to train other types of creatures or can improve his skill with an already chosen type. Creatures typically trained are dogs, horses, falcons, pigeons, elephants, ferrets, and parrots. A character can choose even more exotic creatures and monsters with animal intelligence (although these are difficult to control).
   A trainer can work with up to three creatures at one time. The trainer may choose to teach general tasks or specific tricks. A general task gives the creature the ability to react to a number of nonspecific commands to do its job. Examples of tasks include guard and attack, carry a rider, perform heavy labor, hunt, track, or fight alongside soldiers (such as a war horse or elephant). A specific trick teaches the trained creature to do one specific action. A horse may rear on command, a falcon may pluck a designated object, a dog may attack a specific person, or a rat may run through a particular maze. With enough time, a creature can be trained to do both general tasks and specific tricks.
   Training for a general task requires three months of uninterrupted work. Training for a specific trick requires 2d6 weeks. At the end of the training time, a proficiency check is made. If successful, the animal is trained. If the die roll fails, the beast is untrainable. An animal can be trained in 2d4 general tasks or specific tricks, or any combination of the two.          An animal trainer can also try to tame wild animals (preparing them for training later on). Wild animals can be tamed only when they are very young. The taming requires one month of uninterrupted work with the creature. At the end of the month, a proficiency check is made. If successful, the beast is suitable for training. If the check fails, the creature retains enough of its wild behavior to make it untrainable. It can be kept, though it must be leashed or caged.
Animal Training requires such a high-level of skill with the animal specified that it provides up to a +2 bonus to all proficiency checks involving that animal.

Riding, Airborne: The character is trained in handling a flying mount. The particular creature must be chosen when the proficiency is chosen. Additional proficiency slots can be used to learn how to handle other types of mounts. Unlike land-based riding, a character must have this proficiency (or ride with someone who does) to handle a flying mount. In addition, a proficient character can do the following:
· Leap onto the saddle of the creature (when it is standing on the ground) and spur it airborne as a single action. This requires no proficiency check.
· Leap from the back of the mount and drop 10 feet to the ground or onto the back of another mount (land-based or flying). Those with only light encumbrance can drop to the ground without a proficiency check. In all other situations, a proficiency check is required. A failed roll means the character takes normal falling damage (for falling flat on his face) or misses his target (perhaps taking large amounts of damage as a result). A character who is dropping to the ground can attempt an immediate melee attack, if his proficiency check is made with a -4 penalty to the ability roll. Failure has the consequences given above. Spur his mount to greater speeds on a successful check, adding 1d4 to the movement rate of the mount. This speed can be maintained for four consecutive rounds. If the check fails, an attempt can be made again the next round. If two checks fail, no attempt can be made for a full turn. After the rounds of increased speed, its movement drops to 2/3 its normal rate and its Maneuverability Class (see Glossary) becomes one class worse. These conditions last until the mount lands and is allowed to rest for at least one hour. The rider can guide the mount with his knees and feet, keeping his hands free. A proficiency check is made only after the character suffers damage. If the check is failed, the character is knocked from the saddle. A second check is allowed to see if the character manages to catch himself (thus hanging from the side by one hand or in some equally perilous position). If this fails, the rider falls. Of course a rider can strap himself into the saddle, although this could be a disadvantage if his mount is slain and plummets toward the ground. In particular situations, the training in this form of riding can add as much as a +2 to proficiency checks involving this animal.

Riding, Land-Based: Those skilled in land riding are proficient in the art of riding and handling horses or other types of ground mounts. When the proficiency slot is filled, the character must declare which type of mount he is proficient in. Possibilities include griffons, unicorns, dire wolves, and virtually any creatures used as mounts by humans, demihumans, or humanoids. A character with riding proficiency can perform all of the following feats. Some of them are automatic, while others require a proficiency check for success. The character can vault onto a saddle whenever the horse or other mount is standing still, even when the character is wearing armor. This does not require a proficiency check. The character must make a check, however, if he wishes to get the mount moving during the same round in which he lands in its saddle. He must also make a proficiency check if he attempts to vault onto the saddle of a moving mount. Failure indicates that the character falls to the ground--presumably quite embarrassed. The character can urge the mount to jump tall obstacles or leap across gaps. No check is required if the obstacle is less than three feet tall or the gap is less than 12 feet wide. If the character wants to roll a proficiency check, the mount can be urged to leap obstacles up to seven feet high, or jump across gaps up to 30 feet wide. Success means that the mount has made the jump. Failure indicates that it balks, and the character must make another proficiency check to see whether he retains his seat or falls to the ground. The character can spur his steed on to great speeds, adding 6 feet per round to the animal's movement rate for up to four turns. This requires a proficiency check each turn to see if the mount can be pushed this hard. If the initial check fails, no further attempts may be made, but the mount can move normally. If the second or subsequent check fails, the mount immediately slows to a walk, and the character must dismount and lead the animal for a turn. In any event, after four turns of racing, the steed must be walked by its dismounted rider for one turn. The character can guide his mount with his knees, enabling him to use weapons that require two hands (such as bows and Two-Handed swords) while mounted. This feat does not require a proficiency check unless the character takes damage while so riding. In this case, a check is required and failure means that the character falls to the ground and sustains an additional 1d6 points of damage. The character can drop down and hang alongside the steed, using it as a shield against attack. The character cannot make an attack or wear armor while performing this feat. The character's Armor Class is lowered by 6 while this maneuver is performed. Any attacks that would have struck the character's normal Armor Class are considered to have struck the mount instead. No proficiency check is required. The character can leap from the back of his steed to the ground and make a melee attack against any character or creature within 10 feet. The player must roll a successful proficiency check with a -4 penalty to succeed. On a failed roll, the character fails to land on his feet, falls clumsily to the ground, and suffers 1d3 points of damage. In particular situations, the training in this form of riding can add as much as a +2 to proficiency checks involving this animal.


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