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I have been trying to make a tripping wolf companion work for a while and have been stymied by the lack of Combat Expertise. I recently stumbled upon Dirty Fighting, which bypasses that requirement.

Unfortunately, I need to have my animal companion have at least 4 HD before I can take it, since I am required to bump it's intelligence. This means there are 2 feats used that cannot be adding to my trip plan.

How can I get more feats to aid in my plan, beyond leveling up? Is there any way to retrain animal feats, possibly through some use of handle animal?

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I found a way to unlock the 2 feats gained at HD 1 and 3 for the wolf. A human with the alternate racial trait Eye for Talent can start their animal companion with +2 in any stat. Pop that into Int and you have a 4 Int animal from HD 1, unlocking all feats from the get-go.

My tripping wolf companion now gets the feats, in order: Dirty Fighting, Improved Trip, Fury's Fall. After that, I think I will coordinate my character and companion to each have Tandem Trip, but that is still up in the air.

Anyway, to get feat selections earlier, Eye for Talent. You end up trading 1 character feat for 2 feat unlocks on your companion.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ That's very clever, but I can imagine a DM ruling that the character must himself rear the replacement animal companion for the new companion to get the same benefit of the wider range of feats. (That is, the animal companion couldn't've taken those feats in the wild, so the typical animal that's made an animal companion wouldn't have them.) \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Mar 3 '16 at 14:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ I would have no problem if a DM made that ruling. If I want a new companion with those feats, I would need to rear one in down time. That seems perfectly reasonable. \$\endgroup\$ – IanJohnstone Mar 3 '16 at 14:50
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If you're comfortable sacrificing your own feats, the Beast-Bonded Witch archetype lets the witch essentially hand off feats to their familiar. Instead of you learning a feat, you grant it to your familiar. After level 4 it also allows the witch to treat their familiar as a level higher than they actually are.

This works especially well with classes like Ranger or Fighter which are granted Combat Feats through normal level progression, as you only need one level in Beast-Bonded Witch to get the feat hand-off effect.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ That is very interesting. Thanks. Unless I am mistaken, though, a familiar makes for a weaker combatant than an animal companion. Also, how do you tie your familiar strength to your class level instead of to your witch level? \$\endgroup\$ – IanJohnstone Mar 4 '16 at 14:24

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