I am more of a cat person, mainly because they are easier to care for, but I think that dogs are amazing animals. Their sense of smell and to a lesser extent the intelligence some of them display are impressive but their loyalty to each other and their owners that some show is simply mind boggling.
What was originally likely just two animals (us and them) associating with each other for mutual benefit has grown into the sort of bond that great stories are made of. There aren’t many people who can sit through the end of Ol’ Yeller with a dry eye and I have to admit that I got choked up when (spoiler alert) my character’s dog in Fable 2 got killed.
Stories of dogs risking their own lives to save those of their owners abound. In fact, it sometimes seems as though dogs are more willing to endanger themselves for humans than humans are.
So in honor of Man’s Best Friend, here’s some rules for having an unquestionably loyal ally to help you face the dangers of the world.
A trained fighting dog can be purchased for $200. This is represented by the dog listing in the Savage Worlds rulebook. Characters without the money for a fully trained dog but with time can train one themselves. Puppies of the appropriate breeds can be found through the course of adventuring or bought for $100. It takes a full year to properly train a fighting dog after which time the trainer makes a Knowledge role. The GM must determine which Knowledge skills are appropriate but Animals, Nature and even Battle are obvious possibilities. A failure means that another month must be spent training the dog at which time another roll should be made. Critical failure means that an additional month must be spent and the training is never perfected. The dog suffers loses a die type in its fighting skill when the training is complete. Success means that the trainer now has a viable fighting dog with the stats given in the Savage Worlds book. Each raise on this check increases the animal’s fighting by a die type.
While these generic animals are fine for enemy guard dogs or wolves, a character’s close companion deserves a little more attention. To this end, an animal either bought or trained by a character can be treated as a distinct ally. To do so, the player can apply hindrances and edges to their animal companion at creation (either when the animal is first trained or when it is bought.) The normal rules of a single Major Hindrance and two Minor Hindrances apply and the points gained in this way follow the same rules as normal character creation and can be used for the same purposes. Of course, not all hindrances and edges are appropriate for our four legged friends. GM’s have final approval of what is or is not an option but Hindrances like All Thumbs, Delusional, and Doubting Thomas would require a lot of explaining as would edges like Two-Fisted, Rich and Beast Bond. For that matter, not all skills are appropriate. Persuasion, piloting and streetwise are obviously out of the question as are a myriad of knowledge skills.
Additionally, these distinct allies should gain advances like the characters they are associated with. This means that they can buy new edges, advance their stats and buy new skills just like the characters they are associated with. Of course, these distinct allies might not participate in all the adventures that the character they’re associated with does, so they may not advance at the same pace. Depending on how closely you want to follow this, they could have their own experience track or their advancement could simply be considered part of the advancement of the associated character and they would get an advance every time the character did.
Distinct allies are still extras unless they buy an edge that makes them wild cards with one of their advances.
It is entirely possible for one character to buy a number of dogs or other pets and effectively have several characters under these rules. While this is legal, it can be annoying. It is quite possible for one player to hog the spotlight with a bunch of allies and steal the focus from the other players. GM’s should keep an eye out for this. A good rule of thumb is no more than two or three of these companions for a player. After all, they should be fairly unique, special creatures and having more than a few takes some of that individuality away.
Special Edges for Dogs:
Requirements: Novice, Canine, Agility d6
Somewhere in your bloodline is a greyhound, saluki, or other sight hounds. These animals are known for their insane speeds more than their ability to hunt or fight and at least some of that fleet-footedness has come down to you. Your pace increases by 2 and you role a phenomenal d12 when running rather than a d10.
Requirements: Novice, Canine, Loyal Hindrance
You truly are one man’s best friend. While you are loyal to all your companions, you are more than willing to lay down your life for one person. Once per turn, when you are within one inch of your chosen companion, and he is attacked, you may interpose yourself between him and his attacker. The attack is then carried out against you as normal with the attack and damage role made as normal. Your position does not change because of this.
Requirements: Novice, Canine, Tracking d6
A dog’s nose is a thing of wonder and yours is one of the more amazing ones. You are capable of following tracks more by scent than by sight. You get a +1 to all tracking rolls when following anything that has a smell and you ignore lighting condition modifiers when tracking. Additionally, you suffer no negative modifier when your quarry tries to hide their tracks unless they do something to cover their scent as well.
Requirements: Seasoned, Canine, Vigor d8
You are a truly remarkable specimen of your species. You have been at your master’s side through thick and thin. Experience has made you tougher, luckier and more skilled. You are now a wild card and gain all the benefits of such status.
And here are a few pieces of equipment useful to dogs and their owners, both mundane and magical:
Barding: Few knights would consider going into battle without armor to protect their trusty steeds. People who depend on and love their dogs as much as knights depend on and love their dogs, would not wish to enter battle without similar protection for their canine companions. This dog barding protects the dog’s body and head but, to keep from interfering with its freedom of movement it does not cover their legs.
Leather: Armor: +1 Weight: 10 Cost 35
Chain: Armor: +2 Weight: 20 Cost 200
Vicious Collar: This leather collar features spikes that verge on being ridiculously large. It has been enchanted with magic that makes the dog wearing it that much more adept and fierce with its bite. Any dog wearing this collar gains a bonus to attack and damage when using its bite. This bonus can range from +1 to +3 depending on how powerful it is.