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I'm specifically looking for the resource/book/reference that I found basically the following:

It was an entry, showing how those with Animal Companions could have their companion undergo a Ritual at certain levels, to help keep them viable at higher levels, but also so they didn't have to switch them out...

Thus, for example, a Druid that took a Wolf at 1st level, at 7th level could have it undergo a Ritual and have it metamorphosis into a Dire Wolf, and several levels after that, it would become a Legendary Wolf, and then later an Epic/Mythic wolf...


Honestly, it's been so long since I referenced the material, I don't remember if it was official D&D 3 - 3.5 (though unlikely with all the books I've referenced trying to find it, but I could have easily overlooked it), a 3rd party publisher, or maybe even Pathfinder... I simply don't remember, so which game this was in is part of my search.

I seem to remember that this particular book dealt with a lot of rituals, and not just those for animal companions in particular. If I remember correctly it also had rituals for characters to change their race.

As I recall, the entry was discussing how even with the progression given in the books, you could still easily find that your loyal Wolf would soon become more of a handicap and liability than an asset... Transforming them into 'Dire' and more powerful versions later on were suggested to help keep them alive and useful to the character(s).

Please forgive this question for not being more informative... I'm primarily trying to give as much as I can to help try and figure out what the resource was, if nothing else.

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Masters of the Wild

A ritual to enhance a druid's animal companions appeared in Masters of the Wild (2002), p. 37, a D&D 3.0 book.

Improving a Companion

Some characters, abhorring the prospect of abandoning a trusted friend every level or two, seek a way out of this situation. Long ago, druids developed a magical ritual to deal with this problem. During this ritual, which takes a full day to perform at a holy site or natural glade, the druid's touch imbues one animal companion with additional strength. The druid loses 200 XP, as if she had cast a spell with that XP cost. Only animals with a listing for "advancement" in their statistics can improve through this ritual.

This ritual increases the animal's hit dice by one, which may increase its size once it hits a certain hit dice threshold.

It doesn't change the animal into a dire or legendary creature, but I suspect what you're remembering is the statistics for dire animals and legendary animals, which almost immediately follow this section in the book (p.37 - 43). It's also possible that your gaming group originally misinterpreted or house-ruled the ritual to mean you can upgrade a creature to one of these of equivalent hit dice.

According to the D&D 3.5 Monster Index, there is nothing called an epic or mythic animal in an official D&D product during 3.0 or 3.5. You may be thinking of the legendary bear and legendary tiger, which appeared in the Epic Level Handbook (2002).

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  • \$\begingroup\$ This ritual only makes sense in the world of 3e-style animal companions, though, which would be worth mentioning. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Jun 19 '18 at 22:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ This sounds suspiciously like what I was looking for... I'll check out my books... Having been so long... I could have very easily gotten things mixed up! \$\endgroup\$ – AOKost Jun 20 '18 at 4:25
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Wizards of the Coast options

None of these quite match what you want, but these are what Wizards of the Coast had on offer:

Savage Species rituals

My first thought was Savage Species, since it has several rituals, many of which deal with changing creatures to other creatures, and really, it’s the only official 3.0e/3.5e publication that does. But nothing in it seems to have anything to do with animal companions. The detailing of wish-as-major-ritual could probably be used for this purpose, but the other major rituals require the subject to expend XP—which animal companions don’t really have. So unless we’re talking about wish, or the DM makes some favorable rulings on how the other major rituals can be used on animal companions, Savage Species surprisingly doesn’t help.

Legendary animal

There are legendary animals in Monster Manual II, but like dire animals, this isn’t a template, just a series of animals all named “legendary X.” A legendary wolf is offered, but it is... extremely lackluster (it’s still Medium, for example, and doesn’t even have the feats it should have for its 14 HD—probably an artifact of the fact that MM2 is a 3e book). There is no option to get one as an animal companion, much less turn an existing wolf or dire wolf animal companion into one.

Warbeast

While we’re looking at Monster Manual II, though, the warbeast template deserves mentioning: that costs nothing but some time spent training, and substantially improves an animal’s combat prowess. Druids cannot turn a templated animal into an animal companion, but the books are less explicit about adding templates to existing animal companions. Ask your DM; warbeast is very, very good for its very low cost, if allowed.

Horrid animal

Looking further, Eberron Campaign Setting details the horrid animal template, a template that can be applied to dire animals to make them even dire-er. As far as I know, this is the only published opportunity for an upgraded form of dire animal. And there are even entries allowing a druid to get one, generally causing the druid to count 3 levels lower than he otherwise would for the dire version of the animal. Furthermore, the description says that

The Gatekeepers, a militant sect of druids, created the first horrid animals to defend Khorvaire against incursions from the nightmare plane of Xoriat. The druids took various animals and magically altered them to create new animal species that breed true.

Nonetheless, the book does not mention how the Gatekeepers achieved this originally. Faiths of Eberron has more on the Gatekeepers, but not this aspect of them. So it’s not much of a stretch to allow a druid of sufficient level to just have some roleplayed ritual that causes him to lose 3 effective druid levels in order to grant the horrid template, but the books don’t actually come out and say that. So ask your DM. Or maybe don’t bother: even if it costs nothing but the effective −3 to druid level, I’m not sure it’s worth it—the template isn’t all that good.

Fantasy Flight Games options

And that’s it for WotC-published options, so far as I can tell.

However, searching online suggested that Fantasy Flight Games’s Legends & Lairs: Mastercraft Anthology has several “druid rituals.” As I do not own this book, however, I cannot confirm that it’s there (much less that it’s the one you’re thinking of). And HeyICanChan stated in a comment that the book does not have this option for animal companions. However, he points out that it is an incomplete collection of excerpts from other Fantasy Flight Games publications—the original source of these rituals, Spells & Spellcraft, may have it.

Default option of just leaving the animal alone

Also, bear in mind that you don’t necessarily need to “upgrade” your animal companion. A wolf is a 1st-level animal companion, while a dire wolf is a 7th-level companion—meaning you are treated as a druid of your level minus 6 for the purposes of its animal companion benefits. That means the wolf gets 4 bonus HD, +4 natural armor bonus to AC, +2 to Strength and +2 to Dexterity, and 3 more bonus tricks for being an animal companion versus what the dire wolf gets for being an animal companion. The wolf also gets devotion and evasion, while the dire wolf only gets link and share spells.

  • Since the dire wolf has 6 HD to the wolf’s 2, the +4 HD bonus for the wolf-as-animal-companion matches that perfectly.

  • The wolf also has substantially higher natural armor (6 to the dire wolf’s 3).

  • On the other hand, the dire wolf has massively higher Strength (25 to the wolf’s 15), so that goes to the dire wolf.

  • The wolf has higher Dexterity (17 to 15), while the dire wolf has higher Constitution (again 17 to 15), which probably slightly favors the dire wolf.

  • The dire wolf is also Large—which, since the dire wolf is a long creature, doesn’t come with reach and so isn’t nearly as much of a benefit as it ordinarily would be, and the impossibility of getting the dire wolf into some spaces in a dungeon could be a serious drawback.

  • And again, the wolf has evasion and devotion, while the dire wolf does not.

  • Finally, the dire wolf comes with Alertness and Run as its 3rd-HD and 6th-HD feats, while the wolf gains its 3rd HD and 6th HD in the druid’s care. While the common houserule allowing druids to pick their companions’ feats is a houserule, and a potentially-imbalancing one, even in a strict enforcement of the rules, the druid likely has some influence over the feats that the wolf gains. Beating Alertness and Run would not be difficult, as those are some of the worst feats in the game.

So it’s not necessarily true that the dire wolf is an upgrade over the wolf. The large increase in Strength is by far the biggest factor in the dire wolf’s favor, and that is certainly a big deal, but the wolf will fit more places, has better defenses, and can be customized more, and there is ample opportunity to best the dire wolf’s feat choices.

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    \$\begingroup\$ As an owner of a treeware Mastercraft Anthology (title error graciously forgiven—we're 3e players, after all), it's a dirt-cheap collection of excerpts from some of Fantasy Flight Games' other books. The 3 druid ceremonies don't upgrade the druid's animal companion, but 1 summons a slightly better animal companion (it's using 3e rules). Since it's an excerpt, more rituals can probably be found in the book whence those rituals were originally published, Spells and Spellcraft, which I don't own. \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Jun 19 '18 at 19:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan Same! Do check page 79, which has an improvement system for familiars. \$\endgroup\$ – fectin Jun 19 '18 at 22:55
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Not a ritual, but...

Does this article ring any bells?

It contains the Wild Cohort feat, which allows anyone to have an animal companion that advances along with the character, just like a cohort. It also has a few other feats, new tricks, and some other bonus material.

So, this has the advancement portion of your question, if not the ritual portion.

For something more ritual-like, there is the variant rule for Incantations, which allow any character to potentially produce magical effects, which could, of course, be targeted at an animal companion.

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