The Beastmaster’s Manual

Fantasy tales are filled with stalwart animal friends that are a vital extension of the hero themselves. Such paragons of virtue as Argos and Odysseus, Naga and Korra, and even Skippy the Bush Kangaroo. These obviously exceptional animals have that extra something regular examples of their breed and experience lack. 

In the rigours of Classic D&D adventures our animal friends do not fair well, being used for little more than luggage carriers, mounts for fast travel, or in bleak times, as emergency rations. It’s time for that to change. As the AD&D system stretched into the 3.x to 5th editions some benefits were bestowed on animal companions, granting them supernatural powers, but do you have to be a druid or a ranger to have a really cool dog? How come a sylvan scout cannot have a bear for a loyal friend?

Inspired by sources such as the 1982 movie, The Beastmaster, and others, The Beastmaster’s Manual offers a rule set for BECMI D&D, as well as directions for use in other versions of D&D, that enables a character with an ordinary old skill in Animal Training (Handling) to have competent, well trained animals which have a chance to stand up to the dangers of higher level play. Advantages gained by druids and rangers in later editions can be layered over this rule set, thus rewarding characters who develop their animal handling skills by adding to what they naturally get.

An animal companion shouldn’t just be a stat block, he/she should be something special, with an identity all their own, and that’s the groundwork The Beastmaster’s Manual offers.

What to expect:

  • A rule expansion to the D&D Rules Cyclopedia that enhances the use of the Animal Training skill. The rules borrow from the Rules Cyclopedia Mastery system.
  • Conversion rules for AD&D 1, 2, 3.x & 5th edition.
  • Rolls to add positive and negative traits to animals to give them more personality.
  • A complete list of all trainable animals and monsters from the Rules Cyclopedia and Creature Catalogue, including modifiers for training and costs for barding.
  • A collection of Commands which can be taught, each of which provide actual rule results.
  • A full logistical breakdown of how training works, costs for upkeep and other articles.
  • A guide on how to find creatures to train and the costs involved. This includes costs to have an animal trained.

The rules have been extensively playtested to ensure the animal companions are meaningfully upgraded while still maintaining game balance. 

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