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I am playing PFS and I wonder what could make a bird companion for a human druid useful.

Right now I have thought about the following:

  • It has 10 STR, so it has 0 damage modifiers on any of his attacks.
  • With Weapon Finesse, it can at least hit stuff with a +2 from it's DEX - this gets to +3 at level 3 at least
  • At Level 4 it can get +2 STR/CON so it get's it's first damage bonus that increases to +2 at level 6 from the base STR bonus.
  • At Level 4 I can give it +1 INT so it understands every order. As a flying animal I think it should be very much possible to tell him "Fly over the opponent and attack him from behind!" to give me or my teammates a flanking attack. I don't know weather or not "fly over" someone causes an attack of opportunity.

At least this is what I thought it can do - though I don't see it being that useful before Level 4. I am right now level 2 and most of my regular companions are melee, with me also charging into battle. The bird right now is more a hindrance than a boon, taking up space on the battlefield (as it occupies a space when it swoops down to hit something). Either I was very unlucky with my rolls, or a bird is simply that bad in combat. Right now I want to teach it "Spring Attack" so it can swoop down on an enemy and then make space for the real fighters. It can also sweep large open areas to see threats coming our way, but I have yet to go on an adventure where that helped us in any way (as no one wants to avoid a combat encounter).

Where do you see value in a bird companion? What can I do to improve it's long term combat viability? What can it do in later adventures that other companions might not?

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Increasing int won't give it sentience. The companion will still need handle animal checks and/or tricks to flank and move to designed spots. – ShadowKras Jul 15 at 17:12

3 Answers 3

A few things to keep in mind:

  • Aid Another, either attack or defense. That way it is always swinging at AC 10. Plus, the bonus it grants stack with any other character, NPC, or summoned monster. This option also gives merit to using the multiple lower CR creature option of Summon Monster and Summon Nature's Ally.

  • As a flying animal, it can learn the Bombard trick, so it can drop alchemist's fire, acid vials, or other touch based attack items on opponents. Also, 'fly over' will only provoke if the bird leaves one of the opponent's threatened squares. And, unless said opponent has the Combat Reflexes feat, it can only make one Attack of Opportunity a turn.

  • It can also learn the Deliver trick and drop beneficial to your allies. Or, down the line, it can be given a fire breath potion to use itself.

  • Scouting does not have to mean avoiding the fight. It could just be helping you to set up an ambush.

  • If a creature is Tiny or smaller, it can always use its Dexterity in place of Strength for CMB. This helps to mitigate its size penalty on those checks. With this it could use the Dirty Trick maneuver to Blind the opponent for a round.

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Out of Combat Benefits

  • A hunting bird can both scout and hunt for food.
  • With Speak with Animals or proper training, it can be used to find specific enemies/allies/points of interest from the air, deliver messages and act as an unobtrusive guardian.
  • If your GM allows companion archetypes, the Racer and Totem Guide have very interesting and thematically suitable options for a bird companion.
  • An aesthetic note - your druid can incorporate the bird's feathers in his clothes or decoration, as well as fletch his arrows with them.

Combat Viability

  • With a combat speed of 80 your bird should have no trouble maneuvering to a flanking position without risking attacks of opportunity - just use "fly around" instead of "fly over".
  • Instead of Spring Attack (with its long prerequisite feat list), your bird can take Flyby Attack (monster feat requiring only a fly speed) - it gives the same benefits as Spring Attack while flying - which is what your bird should be doing during a fight anyway.
  • With GM's approval, you can train your bird to use acrobatics while flying to attack - to avoid attacks of opportunity
  • At lower levels, the bird might be more useful in assisting rather than fighting on its own - it can flank, aid another, use dirty tricks, or harass spellcasters and ranged attackers.
  • Weapon Finesse will help improving the birds attacks, you can augment them further with spells such as Cat's Grace, Bull's Strength, Magic Fang, Enlarge Person (possible thanks to the Share Spells trait of a companion)
  • Your druid may take the Master of Falconry feat to improve the bird's attacks even further, and Friendly Switch to solve the "taking up space on the battlefield" issue in a different manner.
  • As suggested above, you can train it to drop items on enemies.
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With the raw core rules and the PFS setting, is it possible for my bird to "know" withouth 3 Int that it is better for it to flank instead of using the "take the first best spot to attack" when being issued to attack? The greatest problem for our group of 1 barb, 1 paladin, 1 meele druid with companion, 1 caster druid with companion and 1 ranger (that will take a wolf at level 4) is to be able to stand on the battlefield. We are hindering each other quite a lot - and "go around" is not a trick in any rule book I have, and we have a strict "no houserules" rule for PFS games. – salbeira Jun 9 '14 at 17:59
@salbeira - Grey area. It seems perfectly reasonable to me to say that your bird is trained to attack from behind (i.e. towards you). It at least makes as much sense as it does to say it always attacks straight ahead. Real-life animals understand positioning full well - just look at a pack of animals working together to bring down something larger, for instance. But there's no rules one way or the other that I know of. Try the PFS forums - I'm sure it's come up before, and there are some vague areas in the rules where any decision whatsoever is a house rule. – Bobson Jun 9 '14 at 18:14
According to the Official Pathfinder SRD, you can teach an animal the "flank" trick (it must already know the "attack" trick) - it will attack a target, and attampt to flank it if any allies are attacking that target as well. See here: – G0BLiN Jun 10 '14 at 14:00

Casts Raise Thread

Bird companion can be made pretty good, if you invest in it:

1: At 4th level, use the option to take +2 Dex & Con instead of the listed upgrade. Sticking with that means weapon finesse stays good and you just get more AC / Initiative & reflex for your evasion. Net attack roll goes up instead of down ;-)


2: Get it an Agile Amulet of Mighty Fists (4k gp), it will now add its Dex to damage instead of Strength (should be a +5 dex mod or more by 4th, if you follow advice #1 above.)

3: Consider being human, and taking the "Eye for Talent" alternate racial ability --gives up your bonus feat for +2 Dex to your bird, and you get a bonus on Sense Motive or something. That's another +1 to hit / ac / reflex / initiative / dmg (with Agile).

  • OR it could be +2 Int to start with an Int of 4... that's 6 more Tricks, and you can have your bird take -any- feat from level 1... How about juicy ones like Death From Above? Additional Traits? Flanking Foil? etc...

  • OR, ALTERNATIVELY: Be an Aasimar which allows you to take the Celestial Servant feat --gives your bird the simple Celestial Creature template: Darkvision, scaling damage reduction & elemental resistances, and Smite Evil 1/day... lol!!

4: If you're open to multiclassing, you could consider:

  • Hunter dip 2 levels: May seem redundant but a free Precise Shot feat for you (if ranged) or Outflank for both you and Bird (if melee) is nice, and so is ability to give your bird +2 all day to any physical stay, and hey also you get Resist Energy as a 1st level spell --bonus! Also, if you do this you can use some of your animal's tricks to teach it special Skirmisher Ranger abilities... like Entangling Strike, Tripping Strike, etc... That's pretty boss.

  • OR SIMILARLY: Sacred Huntmaster archtype for Inquisitor would give you Hunter style Animal Companion option for thos Skirmisher tricks (but not the Animal Focus buff).

  • ALSO If you push Hunter to 3rd level you get more options like either Teamwork feats with Bird or the Divine Hunter archtype: So humans can now make bird celestial anyway (and still get their +2 bird stat from Eye for Talent), OR, Aasimar can use Celestial Servant to make bird Celestial AND ALSO use Divine Hunter 3rd to make Bird Fiendish at same time... crazy but legal RAW. So bird now has scaling resist to all 4 elements and his DR is both Good & Evil (aka +5 weapon or Smite is only way past his DR.)

  • OTHER IDEA: Another weird dip is Huntmaster Cavalier. At 3rd level their Bird gets to make free Dirty Trick checks on every attack, from a limited set: Deafened or Dazzled, but, if target already Dazzled (say from your Death from Above partial charge in the Surprise round) then bird can do Blinded.

  • ...That's strong. Especially if they also have Skirmisher tricks like Entangle and Trip. That means at 4th level, in round 1 or 2 of combat the bird has made 1 target Blind, Deaf, Dazzled, Tripped and Entangled off of 3 or 4 attacks. And done damage 1d3/4 +5 or +6 like 3 or 4 times. That makes the summoner's Eidolon look like a chode, and the other druid's boring Big Cat look like a Big Pussy. lol...

Feats & Traits:

  • Trait: Blackthorn Rancher (regional). Take this to give your bird +3 Hp at 1st level. Gives you bonus to handle Animal as well.

  • Trait: Deadeye Bowman. Take this (and worship Erastil) to ignore soft cover from your Bird or your party meat shield... err... fighter, so you can shoot lots of Abundant Ammo Trip Arrows, Tangleshot Arrows and maybe even Pheromone Arrows (if anyone in your party has Scent) from a safe distance, without the Pesky -4 to hit. Works best paired with Precise Shot from Hunter 2nd.

  • Feat: Andoran Falconry (aka Master of Falcons). Requires Animal Affinity (sigh) but gives choice of bonuses to Bird. Best: +2 morale to Will saves if you took Totem Guide (since Bird lost Devotion in that case), or, +1 morale to attack rolls... IF you then give Bird Additional Traits feat and give it trait: Adopted: Half Orc (menacing or whatever it's called racial trait that adds +1 to damage whenever you have morale bonus for attacking... which is 100% of the time for your bird ;-)

  • Spirits Gift (non PFS only): Best feat for anyone with an animal companion. Probably use the DR 5 option most days at low level, though the 24 hours Blur is great too if you have Bird invest in stealth (effectively Hide in Plain Sight... yes, it's true, with 1 feat you take your Bird becomes a better Shadow dancer than the damned prestige class.)

  • Hunmaster: Requires being Human, Half-elf, half-orc or Aasimar (w/ Scion of Humanity alt trait): +1 effective level for your Bird companion, which unlike Boon companion or similar feats THIS CAN raise level past PC a actual level.

  • Evolved Companion (non-PFS again): this breaks the game. Avoid it unless you need revenge on a trash talking melee party member or whatever... in which case, reach on you bird is nice, as are all the other broken summoner options.

  • Totem Beast: Scaling +2/4/6 to a stat of your choice for your Bird. Sweet!


There's more you can do than this, but this should get you started.


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