Archives of Nethys

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Companion Details | Companion Options | Archetypes

Accursed Companion

Source Horror Realms pg. 10
When a character calls upon the aid and companionship of one of nature’s children, she forges a sacred pact to care for and cherish that creature. In exchange, the animal companion serves as her guide and guardian. The bond between the two strengthens, and the animal companion moves beyond its primal instincts and its soul blossoms. This transcendence is both beautiful and wondrous, but as with all magic, there is always a cost. As an animal companion’s consciousness grows, it can sometimes attract the attention of the spiritual energies that hide in plain sight everywhere. While some of these forces are good or indifferent, others lurk in the void, in the deepest shadows where death waits. When the right moment comes, these darker entities latch onto these proud companions with a vicious hunger. Should the character fail to protect her companion, corruption ebbs forth and fills the once-magnificent creatures with vile intent. Cursed and corrupted, these companions return to their masters broken, scarred, and distraught. Theirs is a curse they are bound to share, for when mortals fail to protect their bonded companions, so too shall those mortals suffer.

When a cavalier, druid, hunter, ranger, or other character loses an animal companion to a disturbingly gruesome death, particularly if that fate could have been avoided through an act the character chose not to or was unable to take, the soul of the slain animal companion sometimes remains bound to the character. In such cases, this scarred soul infests the next companion the character takes.

Gaining an Accursed Companion

Any character with the animal companion or mount class ability can choose to gain an accursed animal companion once a previous animal companion has suffered a violent, humiliating, or particularly horrible death. The character must then choose to gain an accursed companion while performing the ritual to replace the slain companion. At the GM’s discretion, the player might automatically gain an accursed companion unless she takes the time to seek atonement for allowing her previous companion to die.

Accursed Companion Manifestations

An accursed companion’s unnatural condition manifests in one of the following ways, chosen at the time the companion is gained. Once selected, the choice cannot be changed. Who gets to choose the manifestation depends on the GM’s preference (the manifestation may even be randomly determined).

All manifestations grant a boon in combat to the animal companion but a disadvantage to the master. An animal companion’s accursed manifestation can be activated in one of two ways: the companion’s master can deliberately trigger a manifestation by making a successful DC 20 Handle Animal or wild empathy check as a move action, or the manifestation can take place when a specific trigger occurs, as detailed in each manifestation’s entry.

When an accursed companion manifests its condition, the companion’s master can resist or mitigate the debilitating side effect with a successful Will save (DC = 10 + 1/2 the accursed companion’s HD + the accursed companion’s Wisdom modifier [minimum +0]). However, manifestations that are constant (such as festering flesh or unsavory friends) have an equally constant effect on the companion’s master, and these effects cannot be mitigated or resisted in any way. An accursed companion can only be affected by a manifestation once per hour unless the manifestation is constant. All side effects on an accursed companion’s master are mind-affecting effects.

Bestial Flashes (Su): The companion is haunted by the previous companion’s fear and pain during its death. This manifestation is triggered automatically whenever the accursed companion takes damage from a single blow in excess of half its current hit points. When an accursed companion suffers bestial flashes, it gains a +2 morale bonus on all attack rolls and damage rolls made on natural attacks, and gains a +4 morale bonus on rolls to confirm critical hits. Once triggered, a bestial flash lasts for 1 minute. When a bestial flash occurs, the mind of the companion’s master is overwhelmed with images of feral savagery. She becomes confused for 1d4 rounds and is then sickened for the remainder of the minute that the bestial flash persists. On a successful Will save, the master is instead sickened for only 1d4 rounds.

Bloodthirsty (Su): The companion becomes consumed with bloodlust that drives it into a frenzy of savage ferocity. This manifestation is triggered automatically whenever the accursed companion makes a successful critical hit with a natural attack. When the companion becomes bloodthirsty, it flies into a rage and gains +2 Constitution and +2 Strength, but it also takes a –2 penalty to its AC. The rage lasts until the battle is over or for 1 minute, whichever is shorter. It cannot end its rage voluntarily. The companion’s master is overwhelmed with rage as well for this period, although this rage is unfocused and distracting, preventing the master from doing anything but growling, hissing, shrieking, and making other animalistic howls, during which time the master cannot speak or use spells with verbal components. A successful Will save reduces the duration of the master’s rage to 1 round.

Festering Flesh (Su): The companion looks horrific and smells worse. Its rancid flesh reeks of rot and crawls with fleas, ticks, and other vile parasites. Despite its obvious grotesqueness, the creature is quite affectionate, perhaps even overly and inappropriately so. This manifestation is always active—the accursed companion is immune to the sickened and nauseated condition. The master, on the other hand, becomes consumed by fears of contagion to the extent that she takes a –2 penalty on all saving throws against disease effects.

Palsy (Su): The poor creature is stricken with palsy. It drools constantly and its muscles spasm with tics and twitches. The palsy doesn’t impact its abilities, and actually aids the accursed companion when it loses mobility from other sources. The first time each day that the accursed companion becomes paralyzed, grappled or otherwise has its movement impaired, a freedom of movement effect automatically activates on the accursed companion. This effect persists for 1 minute, during which time the companion’s master becomes nauseated unless she succeeds at a Will save (in which case she is merely sickened for the duration).

Rabid Vomit (Ex): A crust of froth lines the rim of the accursed companion’s mouth. This manifestation is triggered automatically on the third round of any combat—on this round, the accursed companion always takes a standard action to vomit diseased pus and bile in a 15-foot cone (after moving, if it can, to capture as many enemies in the area of effect as possible). All creatures in this area must succeed at a Fortitude saving throw (DC = 10 + 1/2 the accursed companion’s HD + the accursed companion’s Constitution modifier) or become nauseated for 1d4 rounds and contract rabies (Pathfinder RPG Bestiary 87). On a successful save, the targets are merely sickened for 1d4 rounds. When the accursed companion makes this vomit attack, its master is overwhelmed by the sensation of a mouthful of diseased bile. She is stunned for 1 round and nauseated for 1d4 rounds thereafter unless she succeeds at a Will save, in which case she is merely sickened for 1d4 rounds.

Scavenger (Su): This companion is particularly intrigued by undeath, often playing with carcasses and presenting decaying body parts as gifts to its master. This manifestation is triggered automatically when the companion successfully damages a corporeal undead with a natural attack. For 1 minute, the companion gains a +2 bonus on all attack rolls, damage rolls, and saving throws against undead. During this time, the companion’s master becomes more susceptible to the undead, and takes a –2 penalty to all mind-affecting effects created by any undead creature.

Unexpected Frenzy (Su): The accursed companion looks normal, but some conditions or phrases cause the animal to fly into a murderous frenzy. When an accursed companion gains this condition, the GM determines three specific situations that can trigger the manifestation of the unexpected frenzy, such as a character petting the companion on the head, a keyword or key phrase such as “good dog,” or the sight of a specific type of creature within 10 feet. The first time each day one of the three triggers occurs, the accursed companion flies into its frenzy. Its eyes glow, and any sounds it makes take on an eerie, hollow echo. The companion acts as if under the effects of haste for 1d4 rounds before returning to normal, and it typically attacks the source of its trigger. While her companion is frenzied, the master is overwhelmed with shame and despair, suffering as if under the effects of a crushing despair spell for twice the length of the accursed companion’s frenzy. A successful Will save negates this effect.

Unsavory Friends (Su): The companion manages to attract the company of less desirable species. It has an uncanny knack for finding centipedes, bats, mice, and other vermin, even in areas where such pests might not be all that common. Even more unusual, the companion makes it a habit to play with such creatures and becomes angry and defensive if anything threatens its vermin friends. This manifestation is constant. Immune to the distraction effect caused by all swarms, the animal companion is comfortable and even welcomes the nauseating sensation of its crawling friends. The companion’s master, unfortunately, never gets used to finding squirming bugs or wriggling maggots in the companion’s vicinity and takes a –4 penalty on all saving throws against any swarm’s distraction ability.