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Guide To Roleplaying As Animal Companions

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VespidOlive’s Guide To Roleplaying As Animal Companions

Okay, so everyone loves Snit and I have often been told that I do a great job of portraying Erahel’s ever loyal (and mischievous) fennec fox. Unfortunately, I do such a great job that OTHERS want me to portray their loyal animal companions as well. While I don’t mind, I can’t portray everyone’s pets, so this guide is to help give you an idea on how write loyal animal companions.

1. Research
Everyone has a cool pet in mind for what they want their character to have. Whether it’s a bear, a wolf, a dog, a frog, a hawk, or even a fox; EVERYONE can sorta imagine what their character’s pet would be if they had one (and were they type to take care of a pet). However, before you decide on your pet’s awesome personality and skills, you miiight wanna do some research first. Every animal has different needs, and the needs of a fox are vastly different then a frog’s (for example).

• Biomes - Not many animals can survive in every part of the world without some help. For example, you will not find a fennec fox living in the snowy artic just like you will not find a polar bear living in the scorching desert. The main reason is because of where they are from IRL and the adaptations they have developed to survive in said biomes. A fennec fox is small, has large ears, and extremely fluffy paw to survive in the desert. Their small size makes it easier to conserve water, the large ears makes it easier to detect predators, and the fluffy paws act as snow shoes for the ever hot desert sands. A bear, on the other hand, is large, extremely furry, and has claws. It’s size and fur allow it to stay warm in the winter, and the claws allow it to defend itself. The bear’s very same adaptations would end up killing it if it were suddenly moved to the opposite biome of its natural habitat. If you want a cool pet, keep in mind where you normally rp and how likely your “pet” is to survive if they were to move there IRL. If they can’t survive without a good reason (like magic), I recommend picking something else.

• Diet - Animals eat! A known fact, however WHAT they eat is different from species to species. One you pick a pet that is (likely) to survive in your normal Roleplay environment, look at what they would eat IRL and see if they can find that in the wild. If so, congrats! If not and you really really want your char to have that pet, I recommend your character having what they need to eat on hand. For example: Snit is an omnivore (they eat both plants and meat), meaning Erahel often has some sort of meat strips in her pack whenever she and Snit are traveling together, as well as an extra waterskin. Al’Adin is also known to give Snit figs, which the fox happily loves him for. Because of Snit’s omnivorous pallet, the fox can survive eating both (however I personally doubt foxes are supposed to have figs in the first place). Regardless, look up if your pet is a carnivore (eats only meat), herbivore (eats only plants) or an omnivore (can eat both) so your character can take care of them properly. If you have a wolf that only eats meat, eating some plants might make them sick, and a good pet owner usually wants to keep their best friend from getting sick.

• Temperament- A little different from personality, but some species are warier of people than others. For example: Dogs are much friendly then racoons IRL. IRL if a wild racoon approaches a human, then that means the racoon has rabies and the human should get the hell away from it. Tamed animals can be much friendly around humans if they were wild, but domistacted is usually your best bet. Look up to see what attitude your pet is known for. How do they play? How do they protect? Do they fight or do they run away? Are they skittish? Is the pet good around kids? ETC. Keep in mind, the temperament is how the species are in general, it does not determine your pet’s personality, but it can give you some ideas.

2. Skills and Use
From your research, it’s easy to see what your pet is known for. Hawks are excellent hunters, dogs are great at guarding secure locations, and cats are great at keeping pests away from food. If your pet has been around humans then you’ll find out historically what they were used for by humans. The wilder the pet, the odder their needs and uses will be. If your character works at the same location all the time (as opposed to being an adventurer) then it might be a good idea to have your loyal pet help your boss around the workplace. For example: Fennec foxes eat lizards, rats and other animals smaller then themselves. Snit acts as one of the Ratters for House Rousseau, meaning the fox is responsible for keeping the food stock and other areas free from pests like rats, mice, lizards, and beetles. See how your animal’s skills can be applied. If you have, say, a fire-breathing frog, then the frog can be VERY useful in alchemy when you needed something headed up, some frog slime, or just provide crispy insects. Typically, adventurers and nobles have pets for the sake of pets (granted the pet of an adventurer can defend themselves as no one can keep up with their little floof in the heat of battle ALL the time).

3. Personality and Backstory
Now HERE is the fun part. Just like all your humanoid characters, to make your companion come alive you need to have a little bit of backstory and personality for your pet. Fortunately, your backstory doesn’t have to be as detailed, starting from your pet’s birth. Their story can start from the moment they met your character. You just need to answer, “Why do they follow you?” and “Where did you find them?” and “Why do you keep them around?”
For example: Erahel found Snit when she was camping out in the desert. The fox tried stealing food from her pack, and after she chased off the little fennec three times, they still came back and tried to steal some of her food. So, she fed them and decided to keep them around. Otherwise, Snit would’ve kept trying to steal her food. Snit follows Erahel (presumably) because she feeds them, however over time the fox is genuinely loyal to the bosmer and those within House Rousseau due to the love and affection they receive. Plus, the House takes good care of the fox.
From the above story, we can gather that Snit is mischievous, determined, and loyal to those they care about much like Erahel herself, who saw something of herself within the fox. Temperment can give you an idea on their personality, but as mentioned earlier, it is not the be all end all.

4. Final Notes
Like your humanoid characters, keep your pet’s characterization consistent and keep what they do in roleplay realistic. You can bend some rules, but do not outright break them. For example: Snit shows being smarter than the average fox, being able to understand complex commands and make plans to get what they want. My explanation is due to Erahel’s race, as a bosmer, she has a unique connections to animals due to the Green Pact like most bosmer. However, you will never find said fox talking anywhere in Tamriel like a human, due to foxes being incapable to human speech as the Green pact doesn’t make animals talk or bosmer suddenly talk to animals and understand them (perhaps more like a sense). Magic can help bend rules, but for the love of the Eight do not make them be able to do stuff a normal humanoid do. Remember an animal’s limitations and think on how they can get around them.

I hope this guide helped give you guys an idea on how to write your loyal animal companions!

Now, as a bonus, I’d like to introduce those within House Rousseau to some of our own loyal animal companions that work for the inn and Rhea’s Estate.

Naia, Naya, Neian – Three alfiq cats that act as one. They are the three matriarchs of the inn's Cat Colony of Ratters. Naia is the professional one and will avoid humans in favor of hunting, Naya will watch from a distance and let Certain People pet her (Ruda is her favorite although she will cuddle with certain Stewards if asked), and Neian will eat whatever food is off the ground to keep rats from getting it. Neian is close friends with Goose. The cats’ sheer numbers make them formidable in dealing with unwanted persons, especially if they mean harm to the House.

Inchy and Buff - Guard Dogs of the Rousseau Inn. Inchy is a veteran old dog and Buff is still overgrown excited puppy. Both are damn good at their jobs and oversee many other hounds. The two have respect for all who are welcomed to House Rousseau, however, threaten their family and you will pay dearly. As expected of guard dogs, they work closely with the Sentinals and the Forth Hand when needed to hunt.

Xev - A Fennec fox much darker then Snit. Unlike Snit, Xev is extremely shy, especially around people and don't like to be pet. They like hunting rats more than people. It is said Xev prefers the darker corners of House Rousseau, where the less…honorable people meet, those who prefer the shadows. If Xev finds unwanted persons where they shouldn’t be, well, the fox is no stranger at alerting the guard dogs.

Goose - A mongoose who accompanies Neian in eating food off the floor, however Goose and a few others aid in keeping snakes out of the gardens. NO ONE knows the gardens and courtyards better then Goose. Goose’s favorite people who work for House Rousseau are the gardeners. If one is ever lost in the gardens, follow the mongoose. Unless they mean harm, then the mongoose will lead you to either the guards, guard dogs, Hissy, or worse.

Hissyfit/Hissy – A very large snake. It is unknown how BIG the snake is, just that it resides in the Serpent’s library. No one has any clue how long the snake has been there. Time amongst the various books has rendered the snake immune to various spells and runes, and the snake acts as a sort of guardian to the Library. It is said any who enter wishing to use the knowledge for ill or against the House have been known to disappear …whether through magical means or more…mundane means, no one knows. However, despite Hissy’s sinister reputation, the snake takes good care of the library and has been known to drag any Serpent’s stuck or caught sleeping in the library out, put up discarded books, keep the library free of pests, and managed to keep Wrenowith’s roost in the rafters in pristine condition.

If you'd like to create an animal companion for your character, go ahead! Those mentioned above are just examples that can be NPCed. Like what we do with Ruda! Now go! Create your animal friend!
Posted Sep 21, 17 · OP · Last edited Dec 19, 17
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*places love for Mr. Jumpy in here somewhere*

But in all reality, I love this. Really helpful, and great examples!
Posted Sep 21, 17
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Super insighftul and useful, Era! Thanks for writing this!
In-game name: @thehelmsman84
Guilds: House Rousseau - NA/DC (Officer), Sanctuary of the Lily - NA/DC, Spirits of Sand - NA/DC
Characters: Jahleen, Caela Venturia
Posted Sep 23, 17