Since we have introduced the cute pups to the Age of Ashes game, I think we should mention more about how animal companions tend to work in Pathfinder second edition.
Off the bat animal companions have three broad categories, standard animals, familiars and companions.
Animal companions are bonded to a player like a druid’s or ranger’s companion class feature where the ties to nature are so strong that only a bonded animal reflects that trait of the character. The idea of deep understanding and friendship characterizes an animal companion.
Familiars are a different form of bond. These creatures are bound by magic to their players. In some cases, the familiar maybe a reflection of the spell caster or the conduit of a greater more sinister power lending aide to the player for its own mysterious purposes. These bonds often take on the aspects of servitude.
As for game mechanics the familiars and companions control very similarly. The player spends one action to give their minion two actions to use. To prevent too many actions in a turn players are generally limited to one animal companion and 1 familiar. I am looking at you gnome druids with your animal accomplice and companion builds.
Standard animals, or ones not bound as familiars or companions, are more like real world trained animals. They can accomplish feats of bravery and skill but only as far as they have been trained. Because of the training investment involved two avenues are generally available to players who seek to train animals. Common roles like horse and dog mounts tend to be simplified and readily available. Domesticated animals have had their rules simplified. Exotic non-domesticated animals tend to require skill checks, role play and resources to acquire and maintain. Trained animals can be used in combat but are not as hearty as a companion or familiar.
The game represents this by giving companions and familiars the minion trait as well as stat boosts and abilities.
Familiars and companions are bonded to the player typically as a class feature, background or ancestry choice. Sometimes these creatures perish in combat so the rules provide information about replacement. Trained animals, especially non-domesticated ones may not be able to be replaced.
So where in this spectrum do our puppies fall? Wargs as creatures are fun case. They are more intelligent than animals with just below normal human intelligence but often oblige animalistic urges. Wargs are tactful, cunning and will team up with orcs and goblinoids when it suits them. Combining intelligence with ego focused desire fulfillment is the core of what makes wargs evil creatures but our cute little puppies won’t likely be raised in the wild. Our players have the challenge of nature versus nurture.
Our two little puppies have to be raised and fostered into members of the party. The adventure path provides the basics on what is required to turn the puppies into helpful allies and suggests that mechanically they should operate like a minion in combat. But will Taffy be able to bare the thought of her adorable puppy rushing head long into battle? Will Stheno rear the other into a disciplined fighting machine? Will Bread and Demos spoil them with tasty turtle jerky? I don’t know and I can’t wait to find out!