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I was invited to a savage themed campaign recently that features shamans, cave monsters, and all that prehistoric goodness.

I'm going to be playing an awakened wolf named Virginia, and have no idea how to build her since she doesn't have hands. The wolf's stats aren't stellar, and I have a level adjustment of 2 to work with as determined by the DM. I'm going for a physical attacker role since wolves suck at everything else. I will be starting at level 5.

Pathfinder material only if you don't mind.

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FWIW, there is precedent for allowing a non-human to use spells with somatic components: reddit.com/r/rpg/comments/1ihvnp/…. The attribute scores might be a bit tricky to get decent though. –  Cthos Jun 18 at 20:07
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If you're an awakened wolf with an LA of 2, wouldn't that make you ECL 6? Wolves have base HD of 2, Awaken gives you +2 HD, and then the LA makes 6. Do you know how the DM determined that LA? I can't find anything in the wolf's description that would warrant even a +1 LA. Are you using the normal wolf stats? –  DuckTapeAl Jun 18 at 20:56
    
Also, do you know the general power level of the game? I'm guessing that since it's prehistoric, that weapons are going to be crappier, or at least limited to the ones made of wood and bone. Is magic similarly limited? You might be able to be a good battlefield control druid, since you get a +2 to Wisdom. –  DuckTapeAl Jun 18 at 21:01
    
How are you doing stats? Are you doing the normal point buy with your wolf racial stat bonuses (+2 Str, +4 Dex, +4 Con, +2 Wis, -2 Cha), or something different? –  DuckTapeAl Jun 18 at 21:07
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It sounds like he's taking the +2 HD from the Awaken spell and just using that as the LA...which isn't right. –  Cthos Jun 18 at 22:31

2 Answers 2

up vote 8 down vote accepted

Hands!? We don't need no stinking hands!

Play to your strengths! Choose classes that give bonuses to damage, or allows you to better trip people. (This is assuming the DM lets you have the trip ability mentioned here, and that you're just taking the monster and playing it as a character. If that's not the case, ignore everything about trips in this answer!) More trips give other party members a better chance of doing their damage, which will be greatly appreciated. This is especially true at low levels, where chance plays a much larger role in a party's success.

Barbarian

Yes, be a barbarian! No hands required! I'm assuming you're proficient with your bite attack. The bonuses to rage would be amazing! It's not like you can switch weapons (no hands, just teeth), so getting things which amps up your strength amps up your damage! Since you're a wolf, and naturally have a bite attack, you add 1-1/2 your strength to attacks. Plus you've already got trip from your wolfi-ness, plus a nice bonus to tracking.

Ranger

Nice hit dice. Favored enemies will help you do damage. This class also plays to the strengths of wolves, like tracking, making you more valuable than just a big damage-dealer. Combat Style? Well, if you include the natural attack style as an option, things are looking pretty good. Spells may be an issue. Additionally, the class works well in wild areas.

Dip Into Rogue?

Sneak Attack only requires flanking. You don't need hands to do that! Extra damage dice is nice, but static bonuses to damages results in more consistent damage. Additionally, hit points may be an issue.

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All of these become even better with Alternate Class Features. Examples include: Barbarian: Savage Barbarian (bonuses for not wearing armor) and Mad Dog (gain a rabid companion = bring you mate). Ranger: Beastmaster (gain multiple companions = bring your whole pack!), Guide (instead of favored enemy, you focus on any one target), Skirmisher (instead of spells, gain a large set of "combat tricks"). Rogue: Thug (scary and vicious, no trapfinding), Scout (sneak-attack by charging and moving), Chameleon (superior hiding in "favored terrain"). –  G0BLiN Jun 20 at 23:18
    
My armor will take a hit but the barbarian is definitely looking like it will be more fun long term. –  Julia Jun 21 at 13:49

Druid

Have a chat with your GM, and have the Natural Spell feat allowed at level 3 instead of level 6. Then channel the FUREH of NAYTCHAH. Druids have great spells to buff melee combat, and some of their best spells target animals. Beast Shape etc aren't limited just to humanoids - you can use it on yourself and pick up abilities you don't have, as well as the stat bonuses.

It's thematic as hell, and being an awakened beast shaman of nature is just a damn cool concept. Your LA hurts, but you're still playing one of the strongest classes in the game, and the array of options that druid gives you should allow you to contribute in combat no matter where it's occurring.

Plus, you get to be a Wolf, that turns into a Wolf, has a Wolf companion, and summons Wolves.

Synthesist Summoner

You know that transformers thing, Beast Wars? This is basically going to be a lot like that. A Synthesist summoner calls down an EPIC POWERFUL SPIRIT and melds with it, becoming THE BEST OF BOTH WORLDS.

Notably, your melded form can have arms if you so choose - having a humanoid 'spirit form' would let you use spells, and be delightfully weird for a wolf.

Without it, though, you're still really terrifying. For a start, there are evolutions that improve bite attacks - notably, adding reach, and the ability to 'push' foes away or 'pull' them closer, knock them down, add energy damage to the bite, and all kinds of crazy stuff. Evolutions that increase strength, increase SIZE, increase natural armour. That let you FLY. That give you powerful flaming auras.

It's the 'turn you into a monster' class, and exactly how I would make a 'savage epic magical spirit wolf' in pathfinder.

A version of Natural Spell for summoners could be negotiated with your GM.

Armoured Tactical Wolf

Weirdly, Fighter could really work as a wolf. Barding, armoured teeth, and the various feats that spiral around the Trip chain, combat expertise and the like could make you a very tough and hard to deal with wolf. There's some iconography and trope stuff that works with that too. We view wolves as being disciplined, in some senses, and being canny fighters. That works really well with Fighter as a class. A wolf that embraces civilization and a cool head in savage times is actually a really interesting concept, too.

'Wolf Flies Through Heavens'

Wolf Monk.

I'm not going to ruin this with words.

LA and Stuff

Awakened Wolf has 4 HD, and no listed LA.

Also, those wolf stats are based on the wolf having straight 10's before racial modifiers, like all monster entries.

PCs get to assign stats before racial characteristics. Apparently you don't add LA to a race if it's CR is lower than it's Racial Hit Dice, which a wolf's isn't (even before you Awaken it).

The wolf has if I am not mistaken: Str +2 Dex +4 Con +4 Wis +2 Cha -4 It has 2 animal hit dice (d8, medium BAB, good Fort and Ref saves and 2 skillpoints per HD) from race, and 2 further from Awaken. It has the special abilites like scent, +4 bonus to stealth and perception and +5 bonus to survival when tracking with scent. And it can trip with a bite.

The general advice on the paizo forums seems to be that most GMs would waive the animal HD and allow the wolf player to take PC classes from the get-go, since not having magic item slots/hands is a serious downside, worth the other bonuses.

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Note that monk damage replaces unarmed strike damage; It doesn't add to natural weapon damage. For some reason I've met a lot of people who don't realise this, so I feel compelled to mention it here. –  GMJoe Jun 19 at 1:09
    
That's a shame, it would sync really well. –  Julia Jun 19 at 13:40
    
@Julia - it's worth noting that nothing stops you from using Bite as a secondary natural weapon, with the Multi-Attack feat to only take a -2 penalty for doing so. You can get an Unarmed Strike/Unarmed Strike/Bite/Trip/Bite attack routine with one level of monk and 2 feats (Improved Trip, Greater Improved Trip). –  Jack Lesnie Jun 26 at 2:00

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