Finding the Path – Clerical Domination: Animal Domain

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Hello everyone, and welcome to the second in a series of articles focusing on the Cleric Domains in the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game. The goal for each of these is to provide you with a quick overview of your domain powers, spells, and introduce you to a god or goddess from real-Earth mythology who could be a deity using this particular domain.

All that said, welcome to this week’s article on the domain of: Animal

The animal domain is described as “You can speak with and befriend animals with ease. In addition, you treat Knowledge (nature) as a class skill.” – It’s probably pretty safe to say that this is a nature-inspired god, one who focuses on animals in one form or another, though it doesn’t say if these are domesticated or wild creatures.

The powers given are: “You can speak with animals, as per the spell, for a number of rounds per day equal to 3 + your cleric level.”

Speak with Animals
This spell allows you to talk to talk to animals (technically the spells says “questions of and receive answers from animals” but let’s widen that just a bit, as it seems to make no real difference), but it does NOT change their attitude towards you, so they may not necessarily be inclined to talk to you, even if they understand you. Similarly, not all animals are intelligent (most animals are in fact at an Intelligence of 1 or 2; any higher than that and they tend to be magical beasts meaning this spell doesn’t work), so your answers might be quite limited or even seem dumb.

Your second power is Animal Companion, which grants you an animal companion like that of a druid (though your level counts as 3 lower), allowing for a loyal companion that you can use as a guard, attack “dog” or a scout depending on the creature chosen.

 

Spells:

The spells you get with the Animal domain are as follows:

Calm Animals
Calm Animals allows you to get animals to become docile and non-threatening. Importantly though, while it renders them docile, it does NOT change their actual view of you, so they might still be hostile, but they will not attack unless threatened first at least. This, like Speak With Animals above, only affects ordinary animals (those with Intelligence 1 or 2) and not magical beasts.

Hold Animal
Hold Animal is yet again limited to animal targets, but this one leaves the target paralyzed, i.e. completely helpless, apart from being able to take purely mental actions (which animals are very unlikely to have). However, being helpless means that a target can be on the receiving end of a coup de grace, which can take out even the toughest target in a single full-round action.

Dominate Animal
This allows you to CONTROL the actions of an animal, without them being able to resist it. That means that they can act directly against their own will. The limit is that as animals, they can only perform simple tasks such as “Attack,” “Run,” and “Fetch,” and they ignore suicidal orders (usually determined as attacking a creature 2 size categories larger than themselves, so, unfortunately, no rats attacking a hill giant).

Summon Nature’s Ally IV
This allows you to summon creatures that can perform all kinds of actions for you IF you can communicate with them. And that is the kicker for these spells, as you cannot guarantee that you can communicate with them, unless you plan it out ahead of time, and if that is the case, then they can only perform basic functions for you, like “Attack,” “Defend,” (typically this would be the case for most animals, BUT this spell is not limited to just animals, unlike many other domain spells here); whereas if you can communicate with them, they can perform much more complicated things like “Go over there, pull that lever and when the door opens, rush through it and distract the most dangerous seeming foe there, while distracting the enemy.” This also allows you to summon a small army of back up to help you out, though it’s worth bearing in mind that you get this spell at level 7 and the creatures summoned by this spell are between Challenge Rating 3 and 4, so on their own, they would not be much of a fight for an opponent of your own level.

Beast Shape III
This spell allows you to take on the shape of various animals, and gain the abilities that these creatures might possess, provided that the physical form of the animal has that ability. Otherwise, that ability is not available, just like you cannot gain abilities that the form doesn’t have (so no bears with pounce, for example). Specifically, this spell allows you to take on the shape of any animal with a size of Diminutive to Huge OR a magical beast of size Small or Medium, where you gain access to these abilities (if the creature has them):
Burrow 30 feet, climb 90 feet, fly 90 feet (good maneuverability), swim 90 feet, blindsense 30 feet, darkvision 60 feet, low-light vision, scent, constrict, ferocity, grab, jet, poison, pounce, rake, trample, trip, and web.

Further you gain certain size bonuses as well, depending on the size of the creature chosen (I’ve outlined them by size below):

Diminutive animal: If the form you take is that of a Diminutive animal, you gain a +6 size bonus to your Dexterity, a -4 penalty to your Strength, and a +1 natural armor bonus.
Tiny animal: If the form you take is that of a Tiny animal, you gain a +4 size bonus to your Dexterity, a -2 penalty to your Strength, and a +1 natural armor bonus.
Small animal: If the form you take is that of a Small animal, you gain a +2 size bonus to your Dexterity and a +1 natural armor bonus.
Small magical beast: If the form you take is that of a Small magical beast, you gain a +4 size bonus to your Dexterity, and a +2 natural armor bonus.
Medium animal: If the form you take is that of a Medium animal, you gain a +2 size bonus to your Strength and a +2 natural armor bonus.
Medium magical beast: If the form you take is that of a Medium magical beast, you gain a +4 size bonus to your Strength, and a +4 natural armor bonus.
Large animal: If the form you take is that of a Large animal, you gain a +4 size bonus to your Strength, a -2 penalty to your Dexterity, and a +4 natural armor bonus.
Huge animal: If the form you take is that of a Huge animal, you gain a +6 size bonus to your Strength, a -4 penalty to your Dexterity, and a +6 natural armor bonus.

Antilife Shell
This spell summons a sphere with a 10 feet radius, that keeps out all living creatures, provided you do not attack. This means that their physical melee attacks cannot damage you, though they may have other ranged weapons or spells that are capable of reaching and damaging you. It is an excellent defensive spell, even if it does not keep out constructs, elementals, outsiders, or undead.

Animal Shapes
Similar to the Beast Shape III spell outlined above, this allows you to change the form of a creature into an animal form. However, this allows you to target several creatures (up to 1 per level), giving them the same abilities as they would have if they’d cast Beast Shape III, and they retain the ability to end the spell as a full-round action, should they wish to do so.

Summon Nature’s Ally VIII
Again, similar to Summon Nature’s Ally IV, the creatures summoned here are much more powerful, at CR 11 and 12, though none of these creatures are animals, but 1 giant, 1 magical beast, and 1 elemental.

Shapechange
The Shapechange spell allows you to take on a multitude of shapes, all varying upon other spells. It is by far the most powerful shapechange spell, and if you cannot find a shape that you like, shame on you for not thinking about dragons, plants, giants, and others. 😛

 

New Deity

Freyr
Lord of Harvest, Summer and Fertility
Alignment LG
Worshipers farmers, men and women wishing to be parents, those who live of the land.

Cleric Alignments LG, LN, NG, N
Domains: Animal, Good, Plant, Sun, Weather
Sub-domains: Day, Friendship, Growth, Light, Seasons
Favored Weapon: Longsword
Symbol: a flying sword or a golden-furred boar

Freyr is a fertility god, both in the marital sense and in the farming sense, and is associated with virility, prosperity, fair weather and sunshine. He enables farmers to control their animals and allows the growing of crops. Married to a giant, and the owner of a magical boar and ship, he’s clearly a wealthy lord and allows his followers to pursue material wealth, though they should be willing to give it all up for true love.

Rites to Freyr are performed in the morning, with the rays of the sun just starting to peer over the horizon, as he expects his worshipers and priests to tend to their animals and crops like the best of farmers. His holidays are all tied to farming as well, such as “first planting,” where his priests bless the land for the coming season, and during harvest time, where they pray for the safety of the workers, and help in the fields. Once the last of the harvest is in, they start preparing for the final holy day of the year, winter solstice, where they throw open the doors to their temple, inviting all around for a great feast, to celebrate the coming of the warm season.

Next week, we take a look at the Artifice domain. Let us know in the comments if you have anything you wish to add or see addressed.


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Kim Frandsen

Kim Frandsen

37 years old, and a gamer since I was 13. These days I freelance as a writer for various companies (currently Fat Goblin Games, Flaming Crab Games, Outland Entertainment, Purple Duck Games, Rusted Iron Games and Zenith Games) as well as editing the Pathfinder and D&D 5th edition lines for D20PFSRD Publishing. I've dipped my hands into all sorts of games, but my current "go-to" games are Pathfinder, Dungeon Crawl Classics and SLA Industries. Unfortunately, while wargaming used to be a big hobby, with wife, dog and daughter came less time.
Kim Frandsen

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