I recently finished reading The Beast Master by Andre Norton, which readers of this blog are probably vaguely familiar with from the (very) loose film adaptation. What surprised me is that Norton's novel is not a fantasy piece, but rather a planetary romance heavily inspired by the Western genre. In fact, the only similarity between The Beast Master novel and The Beastmaster film is that the two main characters have an empathic link with their animal companions.
While I found Norton's prose workmanlike, I was struck by how perfectly the novel fit into the Savage World of Krül. The planet Arzor is a hostile wilderness full of high-tech dungeons, hard-living settlers, dinosaurs and tribal aliens on the edge of a galactic empire. As such, I decided to put together a class imitating the abilities of the protagonist.
The Beast Master
Requirements: WIS 15, CHA 12, CON 12
Prime Requisite: STR, WIS, CHA
Hit Dice: 1d6
Maximum Level: None
This sub-class of the fighter is a low-level psychic capable of forming close emotional bonds with members of the animal kingdom. Forever alienated from their fellow man by their strange talents, beast masters may only own what may be carried and may never gain henchmen. Beast masters have the following special abilities:
Beast masters have a 1 in 1d6 chance of calming animals, increasing by 1 every three levels (2 in 1d6 at 3rd, etc.). The chance is increased by one for domestic animals and decreased by one for predators.
Beast masters may form a permanent bond with an animal which acts as a member of his "team". Team members act independently but generally in the interest of the beast master (acting his foes, etc.).
The beast master may have a number of teammates equal to the number of retainers available, although their combined HD must be equal or less than his level (rounding up). For example, a 2nd level beast master with CHA 15 could have a single war dog or two meerkats on his team.
Members of a beast master's team will follow simple verbal commands such as 'scout', 'attack', 'retreat', etc. More complex commands (such as opening a door) may be taught with 1d6 weeks of training. Attempting a complex command without training will take one full turn of concentration and the beast master must save vs. spells to telepathically impart the information.
Beast masters normally communicate with team members through verbal and physical cues, but may send commands through their empathic link once a day (Range: 1 mile).
Finally, a beast master's ability to lead his team is dependent on his complete self-control and competent decision-making. Should a beast master regularly expose his team to unncessary risks, panic in the face of danger, or suffer a humiliating defeat all members of his team roll Morale (modified by the beast master's CHA). Should they fail, herbivores and solitary predators will leave the team. Pack hunters, however, may (50% chance) challenge the beast master for leadership of the "pack".
The beast master uses the fighter attack matrix and savings throws and the ranger xp chart. The beast master must qualify in all prime requisites to gain an xp bonus.