Animal Ken and your manticore

So I was considering the idea of making a companion, who perhaps was some sort of "raised in a covenant" or "failed apprentice type" and had Animal Ken.

Now this companion becomes fascinated by fantastic creatures and begins collecting them. To make his life's hobby worthwhile he occasionally sells say a vial of manticore blood or griffon feathers to the occasional sorceror.

Yes, it did dawn on me that there are some Harry Potter jokes to be made, but I suppose my ultimate question is...

How effective is animal ken with mythological creatures?

Is there a market for such resources? (keeping in mind the guy likes the animals and is not harvesting them, just trying to make ends meet)

And how would a covenant respond to a woodsman type guy living off in a hut with say three chimera, a harpy, and of course his favorite manticore which he raised from an egg.

There are rules in RoP:M for training magical creatures, and how Abilities such as Animal Ken work with them. Basically. there is a Virtue, called something like "Trainer of (Form) Creatures" (sorry, at work currently) which allows you to be able to train magical creatures, although there are a few circumstances which permit you to do this without the Virtue. It sounds like this character could do with Trainer of Animal Creatures.



Also take in mind that he would only ever botch his animal ken roll once with such deadly beasties around.

Hi again,

Slight correction: The Minor Virtue is called "Master of (Form) Creatures", and it allows you to train animals and unintelligent creatures whose Might is aligned to the given form.

The training rules are in Chapter 5 of RoP:M. To tame a creature you need to accumulate a number of points equal to the creature's Might. Magi use Re(Fo), magical trainers use their own Might (or Magic Lore if they have no Might) and Animal Handling, and mundane trainers use Animal Handling alone. The Magical trainers (i.e. those with the above Virtue) get to double their Might Score if the Form of the creature's Might matches their own. In all cases, the creature's Might is subtracted from the training total.

Once tamed you can then teach the creature tricks and stunts. Animal Ken is specifically noted to not help in taming, but it does allow more complex commands to be given to the creature.

Hope this helps,


Thats nuts. It should.

If Mark is referring to a magical creature I could see why it would not but if he is referring to Animal Ken in general then I agree with you.

Reasoning is that a magical creature like a Manicore or Griffon would be much different than a horse or hawk. It is just magical :astonished:

These are rules for magical animals. The rules for mundane animals are given in a sidebar, and more fully explained in A&A. However, taming an animal (magical or otherwise) need not necessarily be helped by Animal Ken (I can't remember what the A&A rules are, but they are based on these ones in RoP:M).

These rules only apply to creatures with Cunning - so by definition, you cannot reason with them. They are pure instinct, and their instinct is telling them to run away from or to eat their trainer. Once the animal is tamed - i.e. inclined to do neither - then Animal Ken becomes important, as I noted above. It allows you to give more complex commands to your tamed animal.



And whoever came up with that fantasy seems to never have worked with neither tame OR wild animals.

Otherwise you might as well say that knowing the opposite parts language or not doesnt matter at all for neither diplomacy nor teaching.

Having never trained a manticore, I couldn't comment :slight_smile:
However, the argument is that Animal Ken allows an animal to understand you, but you can't necessarily hold a conversation with it. Animals in Mythic Europe are not intelligent, much like in the real world (the latter is debatable; but then there is no good definition of "intelligent" either - at least not one that lumps humans and animals in the same category).

In my book (and in my game) Animal Ken allows you to ask an urban rat which way the man in the red hat went, but you couldn't discuss philosophy with it. Nor would the rat be able to comment on hypotheses or inferences regarding the man's escape route. So it wouldn't/couldn't say "he had blood on his hands so he might have been heading for the river to wash them" -- this is conjecture and has no place without an intellect to support it.

To get back to the matter at hand, under this view you couldn't say to a dog "If you do what I say I'll give you a treat", because to be able to consider alternatives requires a reasoning mind. When an animal is trained, the trainer is modifying its behavioural traits in order to produce a conditioned response. That is, you are guiding its learning. Because it gets the treat whenever it responds in a particular way, it responds in that way when the command is given. There is no reason here - as far as we can tell, the dog doesn't actually think "he's told me to sit, and if I do I'll get a treat, and I want a treat, so I will sit." A dog that has been trained to sit using this method does not expect a treat every time it sits down - only when it is commanded to do so by its trainer using the specific command word.

Whether language would assist in laying down a conditioned response is unknowable to us. I could see an argument both ways. But training a beast with Cunning is nothing like the process of negotiation or teaching (in the scholastic sense). I can see how it would be useful in issuing more complex commands (as the text of RoP:M states).

[size=75][I would note that if the manticore (or whatever) has an Intelligence stat rather than Cunning, then you don't train it at all. You negotiate with it.][/size]

I'm sorry - I don't understand this sentence at all.

I've just checked the A&A rules, and Animal Ken does add to the taming/training total for mundane beasts. This makes the whole thing a bit of a mess, because we have two similar rules-sets with directly contradictory effects with respect to Animal Ken. I suggest you use the one which suits you best.


I dont have A&A so i cant say anything about that, but only based on what is said about Animal ken.

And that is that using it you can communicate with animals as well as with humans.

And its very simple, taming OR training any animal, the biggest problem is always understanding and accurate communication.

And the sentence means what it says. You´re argument is saying that quality of communication doesnt matter.
That it is no harder to teach someone a language(or anything) without a common language to begin with than it is with it.

Thats almost irrelevant, the important part is that communication is made ever so much easier.

Who said it was? Why would anyone assume it is because you improve the level of communication? Strawman argument to the most idiotic level.
Because X>1 then X must be >1000000000000000 sort of argument.

And how long will it take you get the dog to understand that you want it to specifically "sit" or whatever else?
Or for taming, to get it to understand that you´re not trying to harm it or whatever.

Saying that animal ken doesnt improve chances of success there is just dreadful.

Hey, I'm just trying to make sense of the rules as they stand. You are free to believe that the rules are wrong (which is obvious that you do).

However, according to the advancement rules (that is, for humans, in the core rulebook), having a language in common is not necessary for Training. I'm guessing that the rules for training magical animals used these for inspiration.


Not necessary, fine. Not making ANY difference? Absurd.

Direwolf, I think Mark Shirley is being very nice in answering our questions, and extremely polite. While it's easy to occasionally slip a comment that's a bit "stronger" than what we mean, personally I find the tone in your last few posts in this thread way too aggressive. If I were Mark Shirley I would have probably already responded nastily, or, (much worse for us) withdrawn from the conversation. Since I do enjoy Mark Shirley's comments, could I plead with you for some extra "care" when phrasing your opinions?

Ah thanks Mark! I am checking out the virtues and suggestions with my fellow experienced gamers. I shall have to beg and borrow their books.

The Master of (Form) Creatures virtue seems terrifically in keeping with the character. I am actually going to do the short form and post the stats maybe.

The training rules will help as well. And Mark don't pretend you are not the same Mark who does the stupid-mythological-beast tricks with your manticore on the tele. heh heh

I agree with Direwolf somewhat, that Animal Ken allows you to communicate with a animal on a supernatural level that allows you to speak in a way that they can understand entirely. This meaning, that you are actually speaking in a way that they instinctually comprehend. I can tell my two year old all about algebra and he will totally understand the "what" I am saying, picking out words he knows such as letters and numbers, but would never comprehend the implications of what I am saying. ((Although I am still holding out that he is a mathematical and musical genius with mystical ninja fighting skills))

However if I were to talk with say a Thai boy who never heard a single word of English, then he would not at any level know what I was saying. I think that this way of seeing Animal Ken sorta helps me when gaming to grok just what I doing.

The animal will completely grasp the language I am using, and that goes a long way to training... but of course a lion does attack other lions and bulls do fight other bulls and I am sure it's not a matter of them not knowing Esperanto. Hah hah! :>) Instinct is still instinct.

Of course as I have read and reread... the two illustrations of the rules regarding animals, training, Ken, and interactions do seem to contradict. I have a great group so I am sure this will be a house ruling that will work out, but on the off chance it doesn't I want a 500 year old dragon as my Magical Animal companion... just in case the osprey is confused but what I am telling it.

Without a doubt I found more answers to my question than I thought possible so far... awesome thanks all. :smiley:

Since you missed it, the last post was directed straight at the rules he quoted and not at him. And i dont normally attack a person anyway, but if their reasoning is screwed up, thats open season.
It wasnt aggressive in the slightest. Just in case you failed to miss that also.

And considering his replies i think he understood that i was arguing his statements and not him alot better than you apparently did.
Or are you of the sort who believes that its nasty to attack others arguments?

The most offensive post in this thread sofar is yours. And probably this because im responding in kind to yours.
I actually think Mark is perfectly capable of "playing" mod himself if he finds a need.



Well, you gotta handle that somehow either way, and being able to directly TELL the animal that if you try messing with me you WONT like it, thats going to work wonders compared to knocking it out whenever it attacks you.

Well as Jebrick and Mark both have noted, it might be different with magical animals so you could probably run it in whatever way you want to. Which i think is probably the best way to handle it regardless as long as you dont have the "advantage" of a "must stick to the rules" nerd in your group. :wink:

Good you get something from it.

I have to agree with ezzelino here: from my perspective, Direwolf's comments are the ones that have been intentionally snarky. Whether or not any comments have crossed the line isn't for me to decide; but Direwolf, just consider that your posts have had this impression on more than one person.

So what do you think? Does this work?

The companion idea. (very very short and lacking any detail other than those necessary)

Everard the Sojouner

As a child he was guided by the mysterious call within him. As soon as he could reasonably walk the boy left humans behind and went into the wilds. (Feral Upbringing flaw) (Incomprehensible flaw) He survived instinctually hunting, making his clothes, and excelled and lived joyously as a man-beast. (Carefree flaw) (Intuition virtue) (Keen Vision virtue)

On one occasion, the beast-man was tracking a giant stag and had managed to wound the creature's powerful hind. As he fell upon the creature intending to feast well, he was dumbfounded to find the tables turned on him. Suddenly he was prey to a Bjornaer, who's magics not only healed his wounds but sufficiently rebuked the man-beast and dealt his own grievous injuries.

The boy woke to find himself in a large, well-lit cave, made a home and sanctum by the magus, and having his wounds tended by the silent Bjornaer. The boy typically would have felt trapped and panic, but was oddly soothed and calm by the old mage's demeanor.

The boy took on duties fitting of a human, while also performing tasks that came naturally to his instincts. The two took to, in the twilight hours, racing through the forest's shadows at peace with a natural existence. And slowly, naturally, the magus began to teach the boy magic, language, and abstract concepts of the heartbeast mystery. (Student of Magic Realm)

The years passed in peace, the boy was named Everard, and the two adventured into foreign lands to experience new and dangerous existences. The nameless beast-man was now an named apprentice and learning student of the Bjornaer, and was steadily learning to interact with the periphery of human society. The master and pupil were close and glad of each other's company, and although the boy was not the smartest of learners (Poor Student flaw) his passion for animals and the understand of the heartbeast mystery more than pleased the old magus. (Trainer of Magic Creatures virtue)

The time was drawing close that the apprentice would be sent to test in the Gauntlet when the bizarre and cruel hand of Fate struck down upon the boy's happiness. Handling one of his master's exotic creatures called a amphisbaena, a serpent with a poisonous head at each end of a powerful and lissom body, the boy was overwhelmed by the creature. He had secured the "forward" head of the beast with one hand and in the midst of searching for the other he became trapped in the mythic creature's coils. It was then the "backward" head speared out from amidst the writhing mass, and struck the boy in the face, with two rows of sable, venom-dripping fangs. (Disfigured flaw)

The master drove the beast off with thunderous magics and astutely began the seemingly impossible task, to save the fading life on the apprentice. Working day and night, the days and weeks smeared into a blur of exhaustion and Warping, but the Bjornaer refused to allow his child perish. For all his effort, the boy did live, but the cost and suffering were harrowing. The Gift perished, perhaps from the venom of the magical beast, or perhaps from the Warping magics of the master, expended to save the boy's life. What ever the cause Everard now would never become his heartbeast. (Failed apprentice virtue)

It was a very long winter in the Bjornaer's cave. The recovery, slow and anguished, was more challenging for Everard than the actual attack. He begged to be allowed to die. The heart ache and wretched sorrow drove the magus away from the boy, coming only when the boy slept to provide healing and to leave food.

In this dark time, as he regain the ability to move and support brief activity, Everard found, sleeping within his bedding, a hibernating badger. The creature seemed to have been there the entire winter, and yet when the boy questioned the magus, there was no answer only a look of confusion. The boy took to watching the passive beast, caring not to disturb the sleeping animal. He spent days silently contemplating the animal, and a obsessive thought began to form; a heresy if he ever spoke it to his master. Could this animal... BE IT? (Magical Animal Companion flaw)

As spring returned, the badger awoke and so did the boy's spirit and vigor. The boy may not have magic to use but he had no issue with communicating with the small black and white creature. He found it natural to speak in the badger's voice and could understand with clarity the expressions of his new friend.

The magus however was bothered by this new entity and it's influence on the aura of magic within his home. Half a dozen seasons passed, but the time soon came that the master, with a onerous heart, asked the boy to find his own way in the world. Everard was sent off well provisioned and with the promise of fidelity, should he ever find himself in need.

The years came and went, and the boy explored his abilities, finding that not only could he hold conversations with animals, but that he also could locate magical creatures and auras, and that he had some measure of skill in controlling them. (Abilities Animal Ken and Magic Sensitive) (Trainer of Magical Creatures virtue) His ever present companion, the badger, was wise beyond that of a natural animal, which further convinced (however correct or incorrect the assumption) Everard that the animal was his heartbeast somehow sprung to life beyond his body, as possibly his soul and Gift were spared destruction. Of this he never spoke to any person, except his dear companion.

He traveled far across the lands, collecting, bargaining, and trading great and marvelous animals. (Social Contacts virtue) Everard surpassed his own dreams encountering such mythological entities as the lammasu of Babylonian stories, the Re'em of the Jewish tales, and even witnessed, and survived, an actual "le drac" off the coast of Normandy. It was only when he returned to a fair which he frequented often in his early years that he discovered a bizarre and astounding fact.

Making his way to a seller of esoteric traps for magical beast smaller than voles, the man was stopped by a hand upon his arm. The man appeared ancient, his face weathered, liver-spotted, and stark of hair and was mumbling something bewildering. It was only when Everard agreed to sit with the man that he was confronted by a shocking realization. This sage was his old master, and the magus was bewildered to find that Everard, though gone from his cave for over a score of years, had not aged a single day. (Unaging virtue)

Perhaps it was the venom of the magical creature that, having survived, diminished the hand of Cronos upon Everard; or perhaps some other manifestation of his life's experiences. The matter is a curiosity that Everard does not seem to concern himself with, choosing to simply add it to another mystery of which he does not speak to those with whom he interacts. (Carefree flaw)

His fortieth year has come and gone, and Everard seems no older than a man of twenty. He abides by natural laws to govern his life and is compassionate to the plight of animals both mystical and mundane. (Duty Bound flaw) (Compassionate flaw) He continues to travel and to trade stories and animals with those others who find magical beast fascinating. (Social Contacts virtue) As of late he has taken to staying with covenants and offering his skills in trade for learning extensively about the area and it's mythological fauna. (Covenfolk social status) It is not so simple for him to find text and read about the creatures, he must experience them to grasp the knowledge he seeks. (Poor Student flaw) When he has satisfied his curiosity, or on rare occasions finds himself incapable of tolerating the cruelties of zealous humans, Everard moves on to his next home. At least for a while.

Very nice, but I would not really call it short...

That's just the way he is though. You have to take it all in perspective. He didn't swear or steal his girlfriend or anything. Just words made of pixels, and not as harsh as he can be when you rile him up.
Hmmm..., I am guessing you are unfamiliar with the Berklist? It has been calm there for a long time, but the flamewars can really heat up over there. I should know, I have been the source and origin of one or two of them :wink:.
Free speech is sacrosanct, and people shouldn't bother getting upset over e-mail, blogs, and forum posts.
To clarify, I do think DW gets a little off kilter sometimes, but nothing ever offensive. And he clarified he is attacking the argument, not the person (cognizant that he may be misunderstood).