Elven Ranger (Animal Henchmen)

I am confused about elven rangers friends of birds and beasts ability…

As friends of birds and beasts, elven rangers can understand the subtle body language and moods of normal animals (though the animals may not understand the character). This gives rangers a +2 to all reaction rolls when encountering normal animals, and allows them to take animals as henchmen. They also can identify flora and fauna with a proficiency throw of 11+.

What does the “take animals as henchmen” mean?
A PC in our group has two war dogs (by far the best fighters in the party) would this ability give him any special ability with them?
I thought Henchmen had classes and level and hirelings generally did not.

if you dig around in the Player’s Companion, there’s rules for things with Monster HD leveling up, use those rules to figure out the wardogs leveling up. The animal companion will keep all their same charecteristics, except that their HD will rise, which increases their HP and attack throws. You should probably also add 1 to whatever they save as. Generally your war dogs will continue to be good onward into high levels, as they’ll be very accurate with their hits, but they won’t do quite as much damage since that will remain static.

Aha, found it. it’s under Zaharan custom classes, page 91, second column, second paragraph. Basically it’s 3000XP + 500XP per special ability to go from 1HD to 2HD, and the values double thereafter, with values greater than 20,000XP rounded to the nearest 1000. Since the wardog is already 2+2HD, it will need 6000XP to reach 3+2HD, then 12,000XP, etc. etc.

I agree with Jard about the HD advancement. However, you’ll need to figure out how the XP is determined, since the animals probably don’t get a share of treasure. Personally, I just total up all XP earned from monsters & treasure, then give everyone their shares from that, and actual treasure division is handled separately - though generally intelligent henchmen get a ½-share of both XP and treasure.

Also, an animal henchman presumably uses loyalty rolls, etc., as usual - it’s not a trained animal you own, but an animal that chooses to follow you.

Taking war dogs as animal henchmen seems like a bit of a waste, although if you require the animal henchmen to have fewer HD than the PC has levels (that’s sort of a loose requirement), they’ll have to do at some point. IMO the intent is more to befriend wild beasts (e.g. bears, lions) and take them on as henchmen.

Plus, no reason animal-like monsters couldn’t be recruited as henchmen by rangers or PCs with Beast Friendship (which Rangers just have for free).

I’ve always done treasure and XP separately. The rules are pretty clear that a henchman will get a half share of XP, but get something in the realm of 15% of a share of treasure.

The same rules for levelling up as a monster also appear in the Transformations section of the Secrets chapter of the ACKS Core book, if I recall correctly.

Alex has clarified this issue (and agrees with your interpretation) at http://www.autarch.co/comment/9486#comment-9486