Author Topic: [PF] Optimizing the Drake Companion  (Read 105 times)

Offline Power

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[PF] Optimizing the Drake Companion
« on: December 04, 2019, 12:00:21 PM »
Legacy of Dragons added a Drake Companion feature so players could have their very own dragon as a specialized companion. The dragon was more powerful than a regular animal companion but came at a price of drake companion archetypes having to sacrifice a lot to obtain it. Then an editor pulled a Jason Bulmahn, panicked at seeing such a strong feature, and proceeded to nerfbat the Drake Companion heavily before print, making all the Drake Companion archetypes collateral damage in the process. It seems the Drake Companion was initially supposed to receive full HD and likely full BAB too, seeing as the Drake Companion's skill ranks explicitly scale with HD and yet the skill rank chart increments by 3 for every level not just when HD increases. Similarly the Drake Companion tops out at 15 HD instead of 16 like the regular AC, which is conveniently concurrent with the BAB. Probably it used to receive drake powers more often and had a better initial starting shape too. So instead they have trash stats and abilities.

Even so, I think Drake Companions have a solid optimization ceiling. They just look like shit by the standards of regular animal companions, but the important part is that Drake Companions are solid skill monkeys, get 15 BAB unlike the usual twelve, are intelligent creatures that can take any feat they want, and get UMD as a class skill. That's important in case you want to give them Skill Focus (Use Magic Device), Magical Aptitude, equip a Circlet of Persuasion (4.5k gp) (does not stack with Greater Hat of Disguise, however, as they both use Head slot) or Cracked Magenta Prism Ioun Stone (800gp), add a Cracked Pink and Green Sphere Ioun Stone (200gp), and they will have +9 to UMD, not counting favored class bonus and skill ranks or charisma modifier. Seeing as the Drake Companion is PFS legal and it explicitly gets UMD as a class skill, this is a very reliable means of getting a UMD companion without worrying about table variation.

In addition to that, you can also deck out your drake companion with Point-Blank Shot, Precise Shot, Deadly Aim, Rapid Shot, Manyshot, equip a Greater Hat of Disguise and Lesser Bracers of Archery (they function as Greater Bracers of Archery aside from the lowered bonus, so wearer can use any bow as though proficient) and turn them into your very own pet archer. Or you can give them Two Weapon Fighting, Improved Two Weapon Fighting, Greater Two Weapon Fighting, and Rapid Shot which means you need to equip a Blinkback Belt with the Quick Draw feat or a Belt of Mighty Hurling with either a Rope Dart or Shuriken, which allow you to full attack without special support. Use a Flawed Opalescent White Pyramid Ioun Stone (3k gp) to gain proficiency with the weapon of choice while taking a -2 dex penalty, which is a non-issue on Mighty Hurling builds (alternatively burn a feat on weapon proficiency). If you add a Wayfinder you get +1 attack with the weapon too, assuming your 25% chance gives you a working resonance power. The main pain of this build will be stacking dex bonuses high enough to qualify for all the feats.

Archer Variant:
1. Point-Blank Shot
3. Precise Shot
6. Rapid Shot
9. Manyshot
11. Deadly Aim

TWF Variant:
1. Two-Weapon Fighting
3. Point Blank Shot
6. Rapid Shot or Precise Shot
9. Improved Two-Weapon Fighting
11. Deadly Aim or Rapid Shot
14. Greater Two-Weapon Fighting

I feel like there should be more ways to take advantage of the Drake Companion, so anyone have any thoughts? I think Intellect and Keen Mind are the best drake powers to get.
« Last Edit: December 04, 2019, 12:04:20 PM by Power »

Offline Nanashi

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Re: [PF] Optimizing the Drake Companion
« Reply #1 on: December 04, 2019, 06:56:15 PM »
One thing to remember if you go with with the circlet over the greater hat of disguise is that Drakes not only don't have hands, they're not even quadrupeds.

That will make activating non-worn items a lot harder

Offline Power

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Re: [PF] Optimizing the Drake Companion
« Reply #2 on: December 04, 2019, 07:10:01 PM »
Yes, but you can make a DC25 Activate Blindly UMD check to activate them without using the proper method anyway. The entire point of UMD is to let people use magic items improperly and make them work anyway. It's part of the reason why Paizo is on drugs to hand it freely to spellcasters and everyone. Spellcasters can already use wands, scrolls, staves, magic robes, etc. without using UMD. UMD was meant to be a skill for the rogue classes (ie. Thief and Bard) to give them versatility and item trickery potential (a classic example being a Thief swinging a Sacred Avenger as if he were a Paladin). Instead making your familiar into a UMD delivery device is really easy in PF now and you can have Wizards use scrolls and wands of Cleric spells and so on since you can even make UMD an int-based class skill just through traits.

Also, for PFS Legal Alter Self options (Greater Hat of Disguise is not PFS legal), I can only think of Wand of Alter Self (4.5k gp), Robe of Blending (which, I'm not sure you can get a robe that fits a Drake), Wandering Punishment (which is a 30k gp melee weapon that has to be equipped for transformation to remain in effect), and Elemental Earth Belt which only allows the wielder to use Elemental Body III to become an Earth Elemental once per day. Seems like a Wand of Alter Self is the way to go, and I suppose a Belt of Mighty Hurling would remain active even when melded into the Drake's form.
« Last Edit: December 05, 2019, 08:48:17 PM by Power »

Offline Nanashi

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Re: [PF] Optimizing the Drake Companion
« Reply #3 on: December 06, 2019, 01:37:49 AM »
You don't have to hold an item to activate it blindly with UMD?

Robe of Blending won't have a fitting problem.

Quote
When an article of magic clothing or jewelry is discovered, most of the time size shouldn’t be an issue. Many magic garments are made to be easily adjustable, or they adjust themselves magically to the wearer. Size should not keep characters of various kinds from using magic items.
Real problem is it says "another humanoid", implying it was supposed to be only for humanoids.

Offline Power

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Re: [PF] Optimizing the Drake Companion
« Reply #4 on: December 06, 2019, 10:01:59 AM »
May as well cite the relevant rules text for convenience's sake now that we're digging into it:
Quote
Activate Blindly: Some magic items are activated by special words, thoughts, or actions. You can activate such an item as if you were using the activation word, thought, or action, even when you're not and even if you don't know it. You do have to perform some equivalent activity in order to make the check. That is, you must speak, wave the item around, or otherwise attempt to get it to activate. You get a +2 bonus on your Use Magic Device check if you've activated the item in question at least once before. If you fail by 9 or less, you can't activate the device. If you fail by 10 or more, you suffer a mishap. A mishap means that magical energy gets released but doesn't do what you wanted it to do. The default mishaps are that the item affects the wrong target or that uncontrolled magical energy is released, dealing 2d6 points of damage to you. This mishap is in addition to the chance for a mishap that you normally risk when you cast a spell from a scroll that you could not otherwise cast yourself.

As long as the drake can clutch or grasp the item somehow, it will suffice for performing "some equivalent activity" to holding an item with Activate Blindly. If you make some crude fiddling motion with the limbs holding it, it will be a sufficiently equivalent activity to any fine finger manipulation required with Activate Blindly. It explicitly counts even waving an item around as an equivalent activity to whatever fine digit manipulation is normally required (ie. the activities don't even need to be similar, just equivalent). Like I said, the entire point of UMD is to let you activate items improperly and make them work anyway. That's all it's for.

Robe of Blending won't have a fitting problem.
Yes but in PFS whether the drake companion even gets a body slot in its drake form will be a matter of debate. If you were to adapt the animal companion item slot rules, only monkey-like bipedal animal companions and familiars get the body slot, which the drake isn't.
« Last Edit: December 06, 2019, 01:01:00 PM by Power »