I'm trying to find times for rearing/raising animals and magical beasts. Short of googling real life lifespans I have yet to find anything. Is there something I'm missing somewhere or is that a DM fiat thing? A player wants to be a beast trainer.
I know that the question is about the time needed to rear a creature so that it's domesticated—and, in short, that amount of time largely is the DM's call, the game not even providing lifespans for the majority of its creatures much less how long before they reach maturity—, but, first, I want to address the benefits of rearing a creature because, frankly, those benefits aren't worth the trouble. Broadly, there are only two benefits to rearing a creature so that it's domesticated:
- According to the extraordinary ability wild empathy (Player's Handbook 35), a domesticated animal usually has a starting attitude of indifferent, but a wild animal usually has a starting attitude of unfriendly.
- According to the skill Handle Animal (74–5), an untrained handler that possesses 0 ranks in the skill Handle Animal can make a Handle Animal skill check (that is, essentially, a Charisma ability check) against a domesticated animal to handle an animal (DC 10) so that the domesticated animal performs a trick it knows. An untrained handler can also make a Handle Animal skill check against a domesticated animal to "push" an animal (DC 25) so that the domesticated animal performs a trick it does't know, although success here is highly unlikely.
Also, so it's clear, although a creature can be taught tricks while it's being reared, a creature needn't be domesticated to be learn tricks. Wild creatures can be taught tricks as easily as domesticated creatures can. (That is, the real issue becomes changing the wild creature's attitude toward the trainer long enough to train it before it kills him.)
Prior to the 3.5 revision, the Player's Handbook (2000) made a much starker distinction between domesticated and wild creatures—domesticated creatures could be trained much more quickly than wild creatures, for example—, and the older Handle Animal skill provided a general rearing time of 1 year for animals and beasts (a type eliminated by the 3.5 revision, beasts becoming usually either animals or magical beasts) (68–9). Also, the Epic Level Handbook (therefore the SRD on Epic Skills on Handle Animal) lists a general rearing time for other types of creatures as varies (41).
With the 3.5 revision, the domesticated/wild distinction was mostly excised. Kept only were the extremely minor game effects in the bullet points above and the price an NPC charges for rearing some creatures in their descriptions. However, if a player insists on his PC rearing a creature, the DM could use a hodgepodge of pre-3.5 and 3.5 rules. Below is one way to reconcile the pre-3.5 rules with the current rules so that the PC can rear a creature:
For [Handle Animal skill] tasks with specific time frames noted above [like the 1 year it takes to rear an animal or "beast" pre-3.5], you must spend half this time [i.e. 6 months] (at the rate of 3 hours per day per animal being handled) working toward completion of the task before you attempt the Handle Animal check. If [at the end of 6 mo.] the [Handle Animal skill] check [attempt] fails [at that point], your attempt to… rear… the animal fails and you need not complete the… rearing… time [and you can't start over—attempts to rear can't be retried]. If the [Handle Animal skill] check [attempt] succeeds [at the end of 6 mo.], you must invest the remainder of the time to complete the… rearing…. If the time [spent, like, rearing] is interrupted or the task is not followed through to completion, the attempt to… rear… the animal automatically fails. (Adapted from PH (2003) 75)
In other words, this won't be convenient for the typical PC in the typical campaign, and a PC will usually be better off just straight-up buying an already reared and ready-to-ride giant owl (Monster Manual 205), pegasus (206-7), or spider eater (234). Really, most straight-from-the-book creatures that a PC can readily access—even if they're domesticated and trained—will probably be slain with alarming regularity by a PC's increasingly dangerous foes anyway; let an NPC invest the time into rearing those creatures.
Note: On the other hand, training creatures is sometimes worth the PC's time; that's covered in answers to this question.
You're not missing anything; 3.5e doesn't offer a clear timeframe for how long it takes to rear any kind of animal. Your only guidelines are:
- you can rear 3 wild creatures of the same kind at once
- you raise the creature from infancy
Personally, I would rule that raising a creature from infancy means "until it is adolescent". It may not yet be fully grown, but by that point it's either domesticated or it isn't, and if you've failed to overcome its wildness it thereafter has to be tamed as a wild animal. It's your judgement for what time period that requires - for real creatures, googling up on their development/growth seems the reasonable approach.
It's possible that some creature descriptions in the published material do go into the necessary detail on the age-related development of the creature (dragon age categories are the first material that springs to mind, but as intelligent creatures you can't use Handle Animal on them). In other cases you will simply have to use your best judgement.
Depending on your erstwhile beast trainer's motivations, it may not be worth the effort to actually "domesticate" animals. As written, Handle Animal does not actually require that an animal be domesticated in order to learn tricks, nor specify any particular benefit that being domesticated actually grants. I'd assume it means that the animal becomes generally friendly and comfortable around people and civilisation. A trained wild animal (who knows the Down trick) kept closely supervised by its handler could probably still be safely taken to most places and could well have a friendly attitude to its handler despite being generally unfriendly (or worse) to other creatures.