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I'm making a Lion Shaman Druid and was interested in picking up a Dragonne as my Monstrous Companion at higher levels. A Dragonne is a 9 HD / CR 7 magical beast. What is its effective Cohort level?

I'm confused because looking at the chart a hippocampus is Cohort level 5 but 2 HD / CR 1.

Dragonne Description says :

A character with the Leadership feat can take a dragonne as a cohort. Such characters must have an effective leadership level of 10th. Most dragonne cohorts gain levels in barbarian, fighter, or ranger.

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    \$\begingroup\$ You may want to include that one sticking point is that the dragonne description says, "A character with the Leadership feat can take a dragonne as a cohort. Such characters must have an effective leadership level of 10th," as that sentence makes no sense. (What the heck's a dude's effective leadership level?) \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Feb 1 '18 at 18:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ I believe it's calculated under the leadrship feat. I think Monstrous Companion came out after they printed dragonne and leadership. \$\endgroup\$ – Voromir Kadien Feb 1 '18 at 18:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan I think you just answered my question lol \$\endgroup\$ – Voromir Kadien Feb 1 '18 at 18:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ That certainly wasn't my intent! Really, the phrase leadership level appears in neither the feat Leadership nor the feat Monstrous Companion. It's as if someone wrote, "Such characters must have a baaaarf of 10th." Quick! Look at your character sheet! What's your baaaarf? :-) \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Feb 1 '18 at 18:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ maybe they're talking about leadership score? \$\endgroup\$ – Voromir Kadien Feb 1 '18 at 18:25
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The feat allows you to combine Leadership with animal companions

Effective cohort level is used to define the level of your Monster Cohorts (Leadership) and here it helps to calculate your druid level on the Animal Companion table for monster cohorts. This effectively reduces your druid level for the purposes of calculating feats, skills, bonus tricks and special abilities of your companion. This is explained under the feat Monstrous Companion (published on Cohorts&Companions Player Companion):

Benefit(s): You can select a magical beast as a cohort in place of your animal companion class feature. Table: Effective Cohort Level determines the effective cohort level for your monstrous companion based on your effective druid level.

In other words, those companions are stronger than standard companions (animals), and to balance that out, they gain fewer benefits from your effective druid levels. Keep in mind that non-druids can take this feat (rangers, cavaliers, hunters, etc), so effective druid level is that class's level as a druid, which may or may not be equal to their class levels (rangers are level -3 for instance).

To help explain it, this is the text from the book (page 9) right before Monstrous Companion:

Many classes grant characters access to animal companions. When they reach 7th level such characters can also acquire a cohort through the Leadership feat. This may lead to a single character having both an animal companion and a cohort, which can significantly slow down gameplay and cause the character to be less important than the allies at her side. The Monstrous Companion feat allows a character to combine a monster cohort and an animal companion, gaining benefits over either without having to keep track of both.

Monster Cohorts

Not many people know, but the GM may allow a character with Leadership to take Monster Cohorts (Bestiary, page 316). But this reduces the cohort's effective cohort level. Meaning that a Ghoul cohort (level 5 on the table) is harder to upgrade than a human npc, which would start with 5 class levels instead of none.

Monster cohorts can take one class level per level difference between your Cohort Level and the companion's Effective Cohort Level. And allowing the character to take a monstrous companion and an animal companion could easily unbalance the game, so the feat allows you to combine both into a single creature with class levels and animal companion bonuses.

Dragonnes

As explained in the bestiary entry for Dragonnes (bestiary 3, p. 104):

A character with the Leadership feat can take a dragonne as a cohort. Such characters must have an effective leadership level of 10th. Most dragonne cohorts gain levels in barbarian, fighter, or ranger.

So, dragonnes are level 10. Meaning that you must have a Leadership Score of 14+, and it would have to be a 17th level druid to be able to keep one as both your cohort and your companion, as illustrated under Monstrous Companion:

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And for every effective druid level above 17th, your dragonne would gain 1 class level on the Animal Companion table:

If the magical beast’s effective cohort level is lower than what is allowed by your effective druid level, the cohort gains class levels equal to the difference. A cohort with 1 class level gains the link and share spells abilities of an animal companion. A cohort with 3 class levels gains the evasion animal companion ability. A cohort with 6 class levels gains the devotion animal companion ability. If the class feature you use as a prerequisite for this feat does not grant one of those abilities (such as a cavalier’s mount, which does not gain share spells), your monstrous mount also does not gain the ability. The magical beast does not gain any abilities not listed here.

Alright, but what's the difference?

Leadership will allow you to take a dragonne as cohort, but you must have a Leadership Score of 14 to have a level 0 dragonne. This can be obtained at 14th level by a druid with +0 charisma, maybe earlier, maybe later, depends on your score really. A 17th level druid could have a dragonne with 2 fighter levels, for instance.

Monstrous Companion is an alternative, and you can't have both. A dragonne companion can be taken by a 17th level druid, and would have an effective animal companion level of 0, gaining one animal companion level per druid level above 17th.

If instead of a dragonne (10th), this 17th level druid takes a pegasus (6th), this pegasus would gain 6 class levels with Leadership, or 4 animal companion levels with Monstrous Companion.

But keep in mind that the GM has the final say on whether Leadership is allowed in his game. A druid that takes Leadership will have two "pets" to control, for a total of three characters. While Monstrous Companion is easier to balance out, since its a single creature.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I get that level 10 NPCs and creatures that possess an effective cohort level of 10 are equals. I'm totally on board with that. I'm just struggling with A character that has the Leadership feat must have an effective leadership level of 10th to pick the dragonne becoming A dragonne's effective cohort level is 10th when the latter is so much clearer than the former! It's like someone ran it through the Google RPG Translator or something. (I am also reminded of this Twitter feed.) \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Feb 1 '18 at 19:21
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    \$\begingroup\$ Monstrous Companion is indeed weaker than Leadership. But since most GMs will ban leadership without blinking, they may consider Monstrous Companion valid. \$\endgroup\$ – ShadowKras Feb 1 '18 at 19:30
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    \$\begingroup\$ Um. Seriously, even the PRD version of the Bestiary 3 description of the dragonne says, "Such characters must have an effective leadership level of 10th" (emphasis mine). (Had it said leadership score, I might've taken a shot at answering this question! :-)) \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Feb 1 '18 at 19:37
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    \$\begingroup\$ @VoromirKadien neither. The druid must be 17th level to get a dragonne as a level 0 companion, each additional level it gains one companion level. At druid 20, the dragonne has 3 levels as companion. This feat is known to not scale well with high effective cohort level companions, and its usually better (read: combat stats-wise) to have an animal companion like a tiger than a magical beast. \$\endgroup\$ – ShadowKras Feb 1 '18 at 19:50
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    \$\begingroup\$ Which is kind of interesting, because they are listed on the feat as options: In addition to the magical beasts listed in Table: Bestial Cohorts above, this feat can be used to gain an ahuizotl, aranea, blink dog, dragon horse, dragonne, giant eagle, giant owl, giant vulture, griffon, kirin, leucrotta, manticore, pegasus, sea cat, shedu, sleipnir, worg, or xanthos. (Sleipnirs are 16th) \$\endgroup\$ – ShadowKras Feb 1 '18 at 19:56

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