Charm Animal

The description of Charm Animal states it affects both normal and giant sized versions of animals. Does this apply to giant insects, such as spiders? I had originally ruled that it did, because awesome, but am now not so sure.

Depends on campaign, probably. In a game where giant spiders are just enormous bugs, I’d probably allow it; bugs are animals after all (OTOH, Poison Is Scary, so there might be balance concerns). In my current game, where giant spiders are Shelob-style “evil things in spider form”, probably not.

Per ACKS default spiders and insects and such are ‘vermin’, and not affected by charm animal. Page 153.

I think that may actually be historically a default D&D thing - splitting out animals into vertebrate “animals” and invertebrate “vermin”.

The difference between real-world classification and DND classification is always amusingly anachronistic. My wife, a highschool biology teacher, once had a kid do a classification project based off the Monster Manual (3.5E, so everything was strongly typed)

My favorite is from an article in Dragon Magazine where it talks about certain types of dragon that can’t take human shape because “they can only polymorph into mammals.”

D&D biology is weird.

I’m not sure this resolves the question entirely, although I agree the omission of insects from the list of animals is suggestive.

The introduction says that categories are not mutually exclusive, so that a skeleton (for example) can be both a construct and be undead. And there are other places where vermin do seem to be regarded as animals. For example, the “animal encounter” tables (p 246) have vermin entries like crab spiders and giant leeches.

Most importantly, the “animal training” proficiency must also be inclusive of vermin to rationalize the existence of verminous hunter/guard troops, since there is no independent “vermin training” proficiency.

I think it’s pretty definitive (not to say that you can’t change it, each Judge is a law etc.), considering both categories specifically call out their interaction with Charm spells: Animals are affected by Charm Animal, but Vermin require the use of Charm Monster. The question around Animal Training is far more interesting. Vermin are referred to as being “mindless,” so that probably puts a serious crimp in any training attempt, but the idea of, say, Morlocks herding trained hunting spiders at the PCs makes me want to go do some adventure design…

Wasn’t there a late B-series module that had trained hunting spiders?

Charm Animal spell: As always, each Judge can decide for his campaign, but at least insofar as my intent went, Charm Monster rather than Charm Animal is required for the various mindless vermin.

Animal Training: In Lairs & Encounters I provide specific rules showing how hard or easy it is to train particular types of monsters. For instance:

  • Elephant: Training Period 3, Training Modifier +3
  • War Dog: Training Period 1, Training Modifier +2
  • Giant Black Widow Spider Training Period 12, Training Modifier +2
  • Caecilian: Training Period 6, Training Modifier -3

The training period is how long it takes to tame the monster and how long it takes to teach its first trick. Training Modifier is a modifier to how many tricks the monster can be taught.

So from the above, you can see that war dogs can be trained quickly and extensively. Elephants can be trained very extensively, but take a long time. Giant spiders can be extnsively trained, but take a VERY long time. Caecilians take a long time and are dumb as rocks.

Ooh, I like this. A specialist hired by my group has just finished one month of taming for 4 wolf cubs, with no initial trick. I think wolves would be a little harder to train than war dogs, but not to the level of spiders or other vermin… Maybe they deserve a 2 month taming period and a +2 training modifier.

And I suppose we have pet store signs to blame for the fact that D&D caecilians are classified as ‘worms’.

Huh. I’d never looked up “caecilian” until just now. Something new every day.

Okay - what about dinosaurs?

(In my home game, I allowed it - but gave the dinos a save.)