Hound Master

Base Requirements

  • Races: Any
  • Sub-Classes: Any
  • Ability Requirements: Wis 12, Cha 11
  • Alignments: Any
  • Starting Cash: By class

Weapon Proficiencies

  • Weapon Slots: By class
  • Bonus Weapon Proficiencies: none
  • Required Weapon Proficiencies: Dagger or Knife, Whip
  • Allowed Weapons: By class
  • Allowed Armors: Chainmail or lighter, Bucklers

Non-Weapon Proficiencies:

  • Non-weapon Slots: By class
  • Available Categories: By class
  • Bonus Non-weapon Proficiencies: Animal Lore, Animal Training, Appraising, Hunting
  • Required Proficiencies: none
  • Recommended Proficiencies: Animal Handling, Blacksmithing, Direction Sense, Endurance, Fire-building, Fishing, Gaming, Grooming, Herbalism, Land-based Riding, Leatherworking, Musical Instrument, Rope Use, Running, Set Snares, Sign Language, Signalling, Survival, Swimming, Tracking, Veterinary Healing, Weather Sense
  • Forbidden Proficiencies: none

Thief Skills:

  • Pick Pockets:
  • Open Locks:
  • Find/Remove Traps:
  • Move Silently:
  • Hide in Shadows:
  • Hear Noise:
  • Climb Walls:
  • Read Languages:

Overview: A human’s best friend is also a demihuman’s best friend. The elves have elven dogs (cooshees), the halflings have hunting and guard dogs, goblins have wargs, and dwarves sometimes capture wolf cubs and raise them. Some warriors devote their lives to breeding, raising, and training canine packs that track down intruders, bandits, humanoids, or escaped prisoners; patrol regional boundaries; guard special buildings or people; sniff out illegal or dangerous cargoes; and scout wilderness lands for enemy forces. A common love of dogs led some trainers to informally share their knowledge over the centuries, leading to the development of experienced hound masters. Hound masters tend to be rural characters and love the wilderness.

This kit can be adapted for use by trainers of other more exotic animals, such the hyenas kept by gnolls or the bears favored by some firbolgs and dwarves. Mention is reluctantly made here of the gnomes, who use tame giant weasels exactly as other races use dogs. No one has grown accustomed to calling them “weasel masters,” however, and their control over their bloodsucking companions is doubted by all. Mention is not made of gnome tinkers who are said to have imported giant hamsters to an unrevealed location and now claim to be “hamster masters, ”—no, they will not be mentioned at all.

Description: Hound masters use similar methods of training and commanding their charges, and so have much in common despite racial and cultural differences. At home, hound masters do not wear armor around their dogs, instead choosing rustic, serviceable clothing that the hounds are accustomed to smelling. Dull, natural colors (maroon, brown, dark green, gray) are most common. On a mission, a human, elf, or half-elf hound master is often mounted on a light horse; dwarves and halflings ride ponies. Medium armor is worn so as not to encumber the mount. Thick gloves offer protection from dog bites when dragging dogs off their prey. Hounds are allowed to run free if in full pursuit but kept leashed if the hound master must travel on foot.

Role-Playing: Dogs are usually trained to attack their prey and kill it, unless the prey escapes up a tree or into a cave. If possible, a hound master trains his dogs to chase but not attack certain types of unkillable prey, like trolls or lycanthropes. Some dogs are trained to hunt silently, not barking to alert their prey until they actually see it. Many hounds respond to sign language or coded horn blasts. If prey is anticipated to be very dangerous, the dogs can be trained to wear light armor (equivalent to leather or studded leather). Some canines are trained as pack animals for very light loads. Goblins occasionally ride wolves or wargs, but no other race trains canines as mounts.

Most hound masters work with war dogs, but cooshees (elven dogs), wolves, hyenas, and even giant weasels are also trained in exactly this manner, as noted earlier. Some evil hound masters have great luck with worgs, but coyotes, dingoes, and dire wolves can be trained if available. (Whatever is said about dogs or hounds here also applies to these related species, including mustilidae and ursines.) The most talented hound masters may work with canines that have exceptional intelligence or magical abilities, such as blink dogs, winter wolves, or shadow mastiffs.

Special Abilities:

  • Each hound master starts with one fully-trained war dog for free. He is free to spend any of his starting gold on additional animals (which are also assumed to be fully trained by him).
  • A hound master is so skilled at training dogs that he gains a +1 bonus on all Animal Training proficiency checks when working with one of the allowable creatures named above. The initial animal training proficiency allows the hound master to train up to four animals at once, with an additional animal added with every new slot given this proficiency. Each slot added to this proficiency reduces by one week the time needed to train the animals, down to a minimum training time of two weeks. Each slot added also increases by one the total number of tasks that can be taught.
  • If wild animals like wolves, worgs, or giant weasels are being trained, the hound master gains a +4 bonus to tame them if the animals were from a litter of a mother that the hound master has trained himself. When working with such animals, the hound master’s commands are obeyed on a roll of 1-19 on 1d20, and are ignored on a 20.
  • A hound master can teach his charges to respond to commands in foreign languages or even sign language, coded light signals, horns, etc. The hound master must first have proficiency in either the language to be used, signaling, music instrument, or other appropriate talent.
  • A hound master can appraise the value and condition of the specific type of animal he is training. With the appraising proficiency, he can tell an animal’s health with great exactness. (For game purposes, he knows how many hit points it has.)
  • Hounds make no morale checks if defending their master from attack and, because of their senses, hounds are able to tell instantly if their master is afraid or feels threatened. If the master is attacked, the hounds gain a +4 saving throw vs. magical fear or enchantment/charm spells.
  • A hound master with Herbalism or Veterinary Healing proficiencies improves the health of his dogs over time. With every level he gains and with every slot devoted to either of these two proficiencies, each of his trained hounds permanently gains one extra hit point.
  • A trained hound, wolf, or other relevant species has a +6 bonus to avoid being surprised by anything that makes noise or gives off an odor, and tracks as if using the Tracking proficiency and an assumed Wisdom of 12.
  • A whip is used to control the dogs when they are too stirred up to obey orders; merely cracking the whip over their heads provokes a morale check on their part. This can be done in place of any attack (so a high-level hound master may be able to do this two or more times per round). Actually hitting the dogs with the whip is bad, as the dogs fight back and could be seriously injured.

Special Disadvantages:

  • If the hound master’s dogs are killed or injured in an encounter, he must train a new group of dogs. It is recommended that a hound master have plenty of dogs on hand at home, cared for at all times by his family or trusted hirelings. He should consider armoring his hounds and should always use them wisely in battle, calling them off if the prey is too dangerous.
  • The death of a hound is very traumatic for a hound master, who loves his charges greatly. For 2d4 days after the death of one of his dogs, a hound master takes a -1 penalty to attack rolls and saving throws. An additional penalty of +1 days and -1 to attack and saving-throw rolls is applied for every hound beyond the first that is killed in the same encounter. However, if the hound master finds the being that killed his beloved canines, these penalties cease and he gains instead a +2 bonus to attack and damage rolls against the killer, bonuses that last until the killer is dead.
  • Caring for his animals is an important part of a hound master’s daily rituals. Working dogs need quality food, plenty of fresh water, grooming, and daily training. Establishing and maintaining ownership of (and dominance over) a hound means providing for it; hounds that are forced to fend for themselves soon learn that they need no master and become increasingly difficult to control. Therefore, unless a hound master carries a food supply for his animals (or if he runs out of food and the hounds have to hunt for their supper for more than three days), the hounds become eligible to make morale checks when their owner is threatened. Furthermore, characters who do not interact with (“train”) their hounds on a daily basis—-those who simply treat them as equipment, to be used when convenient-—may be called upon to make Animal Training proficiency rolls during any
    occasion in which above-average control is needed.

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Hound Master

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