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I was looking at this answer from our fine cheese collection, and it occurred to me that it would be quite a lot more practical if we could arrange for the assistance of a gorilla and war mammoth with barbarian levels (especially as that would allow the gorilla to take levels in Ride). Awakening them is easily enough done, at which point they're in the same intelligence range as anyone else (and if they're too dumb, you can awaken another one) but I've not found a way to actually apply class levels to them once that was done. The Leadership feat offers a mechanic for hanging on to them, but doesn't seem to do anything for their further development. The Monstrous Companion feat actually does offer a way to inject class levels into an existing magical beast, but only of a specific list of magical beasts on offer.

So... is there something that I'm missing? Is there a way to turn a War Mammoth (awakened or otherwise) into a barbarian? I suppose I'd also accept a method for indefinitely turning a barbarian into a war mammoth, as long as the barbarian continued to enjoy the benefits of his class features. That one seems somewhat less likely, however.

The objective here is that the stack could be fielded by an appropriately designed party of characters, after enough levels had passed to gain appropriate resources, without having to pause to transform before battle every time. Whether the mammoth starts out as a PC or not is considered unimportant for the purposes of the question. likewise, if you can manage to cause a war mammoth (and gorilla) with appropriate class levels to come into being, it is assumed that you can come up with a way to convince them to hang around and rage-stack with you.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Not a serious answer: Bribe the GM, then then repeatedly kill the Barbarian and cast Reincarnation, until you roll 100? \$\endgroup\$
    – Isaac
    Nov 5 '20 at 11:34
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Isaac an amusing idea, but you'd have to roll 100, and then have the GM decide that "War Mammoth" is the appropriate form, when the general implication from the rest of the table is that it should be a humanoid suitable for a starting character race. That's... pushing it a bit. \$\endgroup\$
    – Ben Barden
    Nov 5 '20 at 14:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ This also might be useful: legacy.aonprd.com/bestiary/monstersAsPCs.html Though it is more guidance to GMs on how to handle monstrous PCs than it is options for players. \$\endgroup\$
    – Isaac
    Nov 6 '20 at 11:57
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Let's do the second aspect first: making a barbarian into a large animal. Multiclassing with Druid gives wild shape for hours/level, so by druid 8 (the point at which you are capable of turning into a Huge animal like a mammoth), you can have 3*8 hours=24 hours/day of being an animal. Note that the Ape Shaman archetype gives a +2 to your effective level when taking the form of an ape, so your "gorilla" only needs to be druid 6 (coincidentally the point at which Large animals become available) for full-day coverage.

So then, back to making animals into barbarians. The monster advancement rules allow for any monster with at least 3 INT to gain levels in any class. Similarly, the rules for monster cohorts state that gaining levels in one of their primary classes is how the cohort would grow with the PC. Since most awakened animals would presumably be combat role, they would have Barbarian as a key class and it would be their normal method of cohort advancement once acquired. You would need to determine the starting cohort level on your own though, as they are not in existing charts.

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    \$\begingroup\$ The Monster advancement rules appear to be GM-only. The monster cohort rules explicitly require GM permission, though that's closer, and worth bearing in mind, especially as it's not an unreasonable ask. The Druid multiclass answer looks solid at first, but I'm a bit concerned about stats/encumbrance, because wild shape isn't actually the same as turning into a mammoth. The druid becomes huge, and gets a +6 size bonus to strength, but is that going to be enough to carry the full barbarian stack (with gear) without issues? \$\endgroup\$
    – Ben Barden
    Nov 5 '20 at 14:45
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    \$\begingroup\$ A Huge quadruped with 24 STR (14 base+6 size+4 rage) can carry 1398 pounds as a light load. This is enough to carry a 400 lb gorilla (the weight listed in the bestiary), an average-weight human and halfling (from the random tables) while the entire stack is wearing appropriate-size breastplates and still have 533 pounds to spare. If you're super worried, you can also use the 1st-level druid spell Ant Haul to triple that capacity for 2 hours/level (so at level 8, all the time you won't be sleeping). \$\endgroup\$ Nov 5 '20 at 15:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ I don't think you can depend on 100% Rage uptime here. Still, it's reasonable that the character would be str-specced with appropriate magical items (items with constant effects continue to work during wild shape, with a few exceptions), and Ant Haul certainly handles any concerns that might linger after that. Sounds good. I will say that I think that including that logic in the body of the answer would improve it. \$\endgroup\$
    – Ben Barden
    Nov 5 '20 at 17:41

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