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I recently came into the possession of an Owlbear egg, and my DM confirmed that there is a chance the egg might hatch. For that reason I have started to wonder if training the Owlbear would be possible, both for combat but also general purpose (riding, carrying stuff etc.).

I know that Owlbears are considered very aggressive animals, for that reason "taming" them is almost impossible and domesticating them is also nearly impossible, though possible if you are in possession of the cub from the very start.

The two things I am interested in knowing are:

  1. What proficiencies would be required for domesticating an Owlbear? I have found answers for later editions of the game, but can't find an answer for ADND2E.
  2. What would the DC check be? Owlbears are magical creatures, which makes it harder, additionally it is very aggressive (as I previously mentioned).

A "bonus" question is whether or not I can use my herbalism proficiency to make an herb mix of sorts to help calm the creature?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Since AD&D 2e doesn’t use DCs, can you clarify what do you mean by “DC check”? Are you using a homebrew skill system? \$\endgroup\$ May 19, 2018 at 16:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ Regarding your bonus question, it might be possible if your DM allows it. See: rpg.stackexchange.com/questions/116305/… \$\endgroup\$
    – ZwiQ
    May 20, 2018 at 7:19

2 Answers 2

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Depends on the sort of owlbear

Most of the information on possible owlbear rearing in this answer is from The Ecology of the Owlbear in Dragon #214. The other information is from the Monstrous Manual and the Player's Handbook.

First of all, you may not have realized how smart owlbears are. Owlbears aren't just magical beasts, they are sentient magical beasts with their own language and quite intelligent. Specifically, they are of intelligence 'Low (5-7)' for all varieties, which is more intelligent than most animals and on par with your average troll, and more intelligent than what the Animal Training skill allows:

A character can choose even more exotic creatures and monsters with animal intelligence (although these are difficult to control).

(emphasis added)

Second of all, you should be aware that people have been actively trying to domesticate owlbears since their creation and they've yet to succeed even once, at least in the case of the standard and winged owlbears:

Owlbear eggs are worth 2,000 silver pieces and hatchlings are worth 5,000 silver pieces on the open market. These are typically bought by wizards; while they are impossible to domesticate, they make formidable guardians and wizards sometimes place them in locations of strategic importance (it has been said that an owlbear is a less subtle version of a "keep out" sign).

and

Winged owlbears tend to live slightly longer than the normal variety, often reaching 25 years or so. They are sought after by wizards, even though to date no one has managed to domesticate one; nonetheless, eggs can go as high as 4,000 silver pieces, while the price for live young can reach 10,000 silver pieces.

So, then, your best hope would be to have acquired the egg of the potentially gregarious Arctic Owlbear (while the Monstrous Manual lists the standard owlbear as a pack animal in the table as well, that's clearly out of touch with the detailed description in the text. Not so for the Artic Owlbear, which says nothing about forming mated pairs beyond the contents of such a pair's lair), but:

There are rumors of white arctic owlbears, a cross between arctic owls and polar bears, but no specimens have ever been captured

Regardless of which creature you wish to futilely try to enslave, the appropriate non-weapon proficiency is probably still Animal Training (Owlbear), with the aforementioned 'you can't actually take this skill according to the rules' caveat. If I were GMing, though, I would instead require you to possess both Animal Training (Bear) and Animal Training (Owl), both of which are legal (though Bears are too intelligent to be normally affected by the skill, their statblock indicates they can nonetheless be trained).

Regarding the 'DC', that's not how non-weapon proficiencies work. A significant negative modifier to your ability score for the proficiency check(s) would be appropriate.

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You can’t

... while they are impossible to domesticate, they make formidable guardians and wizards sometimes place them in locations of strategic importance (it has been said that an owlbear is a less subtle version of a "keep out" sign).

Monstrous Compendium

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