Prestige Classes


"I'd rather not travel with your band. Here in the dungeon, I'll stick with my companions. They talk less and fight harder."

-Daktar Goretusk, half-orc beast heart adept

Adventurers face monsters every time they descend into a new dungeon. Most view the creatures as horrid abominations that want nothing more than to cut them down where they stand. However, the beast heart adept sees through a monster's frightening visage. By attuning himself to the bestial urges of dungeon creatures, he learns to form powerful bonds with a small number of monsters. These creatures become his devoted allies, and together they form a potent fighting combination.


The role of a beast heart adept is not an easy one. A potential member of this class must throw himself into the rugged, dangerous world beneath the ground. There, he submerges his civilized urges and learns to live as a beast. He uses this experience, along with his knowledge of magic, animal husbandry, and subterranean ecology, to unleash the monstrous creature that hides within his heart. Once he completes this process, he becomes capable of forming a powerful bond with certain creatures.


Sometimes you shun other humanoids, but you are always at ease among the strange monsters that form your pack, talking and singing to them regularly. You enjoy watching your monster allies in action, directing their movements to turn them into an efficient fighting machine. As the leader of your pack, you revel in your victories and mourn your losses. In the end, the pack must survive.

The dungeon is your home. In fact, some powerful beast heart adepts wander into the deepest subterranean levels and are never seen again. Rumors abound of entire dungeons having been taken over by the mightiest adepts and their countless minions. Adventurers who enter these places are allowed to leave, as long as they do not harm the creatures that live there. Should the intruders attack, a considerate beast heart adept might hang their skulls at the dungeon's entrance to warn other fools. Evil beast heart adepts spread stories of the great wealth to be found in their dungeons, the better to lure victims who bring magic weapons and items.


You are a member of a pack, and in battle you seek to maximize the combination of your abilities and those of your monstrous companions. If you specialize in ranged attacks, choose companions that have a high number of hit points and can hold back the enemy. If you favor melee combat, pick mobile companions that hit hard so that you can form deadly flanks.

Abilities that improve your companions' fighting prowess are doubly useful. Bardic music abilities, spells such as bull's strength, and so on make your entire pack more deadly. In most cases, a monstrous companion will not be able to handle the toughest foes you face. For example, if you encounter a hill giant and a number of trolls, send your companion against the trolls - the giant might be able to squash it with a single blow. Let your companion hold back the trolls while the rest of your adventuring party battles the main threat.

While you see your monstrous companions as members of your pack, do not neglect your fellow adventurers. Your ankheg companion can stand beside the party's wizard to guard her against attackers, while your manticore can carry the rogue over the enemy and drop him in a flanking position.


Handle Animal is the most obvious skill choice, though Diplomacy can be just as useful if your monstrous companions are intelligent. An even distribution of Knowledge skills can keep you informed about any creature you might face. If one of your companions can serve as a mount, spend a few skill points on Ride, and consider taking Mounted Combat and the associated feats. Leadership is also an excellent choice, if your DM allows it. A monstrous cohort (such as a kuo-toa cleric or a minotaur barbarian) will deepen your bond with beasts while bolstering your party's strength.


Most rational adventurers prefer to kill monsters rather than keep them, so you have few peers when it comes to training your monstrous companions. Any beast heart adepts you meet, however, are eager to talk shop. You also have a tenuous relationship with druids and rangers. While they often agree with you on the principle of communing with beasts, they question your choice of companions. They cannot understand how someone could admire monsters the way they value animals.

You have a kinship with professional animal trainers, particularly those who train unusual mounts for local knights. They might provide you with feed and a stable when you come to town, though the smaller the community, the more questions your "pets" will raise. It is best to leave your more intelligent companions in the wilderness (with a prearranged rendezvous time) rather than risk bringing them into a city that will not tolerate their presence.


"Did you see that - that - that thing go by? Monsters, here, in our fine city? I tell you, I never thought I'd see the day. Scandalous!"

-Lucius Araphani, aristocrat

Beast heart adepts usually dwell on the outskirts of civilization, disparaged as adventurers who became fascinated with their opponents. Many are eccentric hermits, living with their monstrous companions and shunning a world that does not understand their special relationships. The monsters are odd pets and helpers, aiding the beast heart adept with mundane tasks. The juxtaposition of deadly dungeon creatures and the daily chores of rural life can be unnerving, to say the least - just ask anyone who has seen a chimera painting a barn.


Beast heart adepts have no formal organization of their own, but many are loosely associated with local dungeoneering guilds. Not only are beast heart adepts valuable allies when exploring below ground, but they also train inexperienced adventurers by providing real monsters for use in nonlethal battles. However, beast heart adepts usually remain outside the hierarchy of the guild, whose members both need and disdain them. The sole advantages for beast heart adepts are compensation (feeding monsters is expensive) and legitimacy. With proper papers from the guild, beast heart adepts can bring their monsters into a city without arousing the ire of the local authorities.

Beast heart adepts who used to be druids often retain ties to whatever formal organization they had joined previously. Essentially, they are specialists among druids, focusing on magical beasts instead of animals. Druids grudgingly admit that most of a beast heart adept's companions have as much a place in the natural world as any animal, and they call upon the nearest beast heart adept when they need to remove a monster from their region. Just as with the dungeoneering guilds, however, beast heart adepts cannot advance in druid society beyond the rank of "distasteful but necessary."

NPC Reactions

Most people see the monsters long before they notice the master, if they notice him at all. In civilized areas, the majority of townsfolk are hostile to monsters, and by extension to the beast heart adept who brought them. However, commoners are indifferent to a beast heart adept who travels solely with companions that are known for their good temperament or that are used as mounts, such as hippogriffs, giant eagles, or griffons. Still, these creatures are fairly unusual, and the beast heart adept probably treats them more like friends than beasts of burden, anyway.

In wilderness regions, NPC attitudes improve. Seasoned adventurers are indifferent to a beast heart adept and his monsters, no matter what their breeds, once informed that these particular creatures are not for slaying. Druids and rangers are friendly to a beast heart adept whose companions are magical beasts. They appreciate his intentions, even if they find his methods strange. If he has any aberrations in his pack, however, druids and their ilk are merely indifferent.

Monsters react differently only if a beast heart adept keeps one of their own kind. Creatures that have an Intelligence score of 1 or 2 regard any monstrous companion of the same race as friendly. Smarter monsters treat similar creatures indifferently, unless the companion's alignment has changed significantly as a result of serving its master. For example, a lawful good blink dog might become neutral evil while serving as a monstrous companion. In such cases, others of its kind treat the companion with open hostility, considering it a perversion to be destroyed. The beast heart adept is treated with equal hostility for bending the creature's nature to his will.


Characters with ranks in Knowledge (dungeoneering) can research beast heart adepts to learn more about them. When a character succeeds on a skill check, the following lore is revealed, including the information from lower DCs.

DC 10: Some adventurers would rather learn about monsters than fight them. They call themselves "beast heart adepts."

DC 15: Beast heart adepts train and befriend common dungeon monsters. They keep to themselves, mostly, but you'll never find anyone who knows more about the ways of monsters. They're your best bet for firsthand knowledge about all kinds of creatures.

DC 20: Many beast heart adepts are former druids who have given up contact with the outside world, sick of trying to explain their fascination with monsters. Just because a particular creature is typically evil, that doesn't mean a beast heart adept who trains one is evil, too. Somehow, he can convince even the nastiest monsters to see things his way.

Beast heart adepts live far from civilization, which can make them difficult to find. Luckily, when they come to town, the locals rarely forget it. A successful DC 15 Gather Information check will tell the PCs whether a beast heart adept has passed through the community in the last few years, though the story will grow in the telling. A successful DC 25 Gather Information check will put the PCs in contact with an animal trainer who has an acquaintance who has a friend who knows a beast heart adept. However, most trainers respect a beast heart adept's desire for privacy, so the adventurers will have to persuade the trainer to lead them to the reclusive pack leader.


It can be a challenge to add beast heart adepts to a campaign, but no more of a challenge than adding a character who has the Leadership feat. The presence of monstrous companions will complicate combat encounters, but the beast heart adept's player controls the creatures, so most of the burden will remain with him. Furthermore, as the PCs attain higher levels, they will gain more power than the monstrous companions will, relegating some of the creatures to noncombat functions.

Cities are the bane of a beast heart adept; an urban adventure will likely deprive him of most of his class features. Dungeon crawls, on the other hand, are his specialty, allowing him and his odd companions to explore the setting for which they were created.

Players who like outlandish characters will enjoy playing a beast heart adept. Perhaps they previously considered playing a member of a bizarre race just for the fun of it, or maybe they obsess over the details of every monster they face. This prestige class allows them to put different monsters through their paces and learn how the creatures handle combat. The class might also appeal to strategists because it lets them direct several combatants in battle and thus have more control over the tactical situation.


Some campaigns might include organizations of beast heart adepts that focus on one specific monster (or one group of monsters) to the exclusion of others. For example, a beast heart adept guild might train aerial creatures to defend a mountaintop city, adding hippogriffs, giant eagles, griffons, and pegasi to the city's garrison. Such trainers might call themselves "aeriemasters" instead. On the other hand, orc wolfmasters could be bound to packs of worgs and winter wolves, leading them in war against their hated elf rivals. In both cases, consider replacing the monster empathy and monster lore abilities with other minor powers more suited to a narrow focus.

Sample Encounter

Beast heart adepts often consider particular dungeons their stomping grounds. If they catch wind of a group of PC intruders, they might demand tribute or some other sign that the adventurers acknowledge their rule. Beast heart adepts can be difficult to handle, particularly since many of them disdain society's rules, but turning one into an ally is a major coup. Few know a dungeon as well as a beast heart adept who calls it his home.

EL 9: Daktar Goretusk (CG male half-orc ranger 5/beast heart adept 4) prowls the upper levels of the Dungeon of the Emerald Eye. He uses a series of long-forgotten secret passages dug by the diabolic monks who built the maze of halls. The dungeon's other inhabitants are unaware of the hidden tunnels, allowing Daktar and his girallon ally Bonecracker to come and go as they please. Daktar hates the fire giants that populate the dungeon because they slew Howler, his wolf companion. Adventurers who show him the proper respect gain him as an ally. More important, he shares the secrets of the dungeon's hidden passages.

Hit Die: d8.


To qualify to become a beast heart adept, a character must fulfill all of the following criteria.

Skills: Handle Animal 8 ranks, Knowledge (arcana) 4 ranks, Knowledge (dungeoneering) 4 ranks.

Feats: Animal Affinity.

Special: Spend at least one week living alone in a dungeon complex.

Class Skills

The beast heart adept's class skills (and the key ability for each skill) are Climb (Str), Concentration (Con), Craft (Int), Diplomacy (Cha), Handle Animal (Cha), Heal (Wis), Jump (Str), Knowledge (arcana) (Int), Knowledge (dungeoneering) (Int), Knowledge (nature) (Int), Knowledge (the planes) (Int), Profession (Wis), Ride (Dex), Survival (Wis), and Swim (Str).

Skill Points at Each Level: 4 + Int modifier.

Table: The Beast Heart Adept

Level Base
1st +1 +2 +0 +2 Monstrous companion, monster empathy, monster handler
2nd +2 +3 +0 +3 Monster lore
3rd +3 +3 +1 +3 Alternative monstrous companion
4th +4 +4 +1 +4 Monstrous flank
5th +5 +4 +1 +4 Extra monstrous companion
6th +6 +5 +2 +5
7th +7 +5 +2 +5 Monstrous tactics
8th +8 +6 +2 +6
9th +9 +6 +3 +6 Extra monstrous companion
10th +10 +7 +3 +7 Monstrous team-up
Class Features

A beast heart adept forms something like a pack, with himself at the center and his bestial allies as the members. Under his tutelage and care, these monsters become stronger and tougher. Over time, the beast heart adept learns to optimize his fighting ability when battling alongside his newfound allies.

All of the following are class features of the beast heart adept prestige class.

Monstrous Companion (Ex): You gain the service of a monstrous companion. The creature is similar to a druid's animal companion, but it is a magical beast or aberration rather than an animal. Choose one of the following as your monstrous companion: ankheg, blink dog, giant eagle, giant owl, hippogriff (4 Hit Dice), krenshar (4 Hit Dice), otyugh, owlbear, pegasus, or worg. Except for the hippogriff and the krenshar, which are larger than normal, the monster is typical of its kind. If its Intelligence is greater than 2, the companion has the same alignment as you.

If you have levels in other classes (such as druid or ranger) that give you the ability to have an animal companion, those levels do not stack with your beast heart adept levels for the purpose of determining which kinds of monstrous companions you can select (and what the abilities of those companions are).

At 3rd level or higher, you can select from alternative lists of monsters (see the sidebar). Just as with a druid's alternative animal companion, an alternative monstrous companion gains abilities as if your beast heart adept class level were lower than it actually is.

Monster Empathy (Ex): You can use body language, vocalization, and demeanor to improve the attitude of a magical beast such as a chimera or a gorgon. This ability functions like the druid's wild empathy class feature, except that it affects magical beasts regardless of their Intelligence score.

You can also use this ability to influence an animal (such as a dire bear) or an aberration that has an Intelligence score of 1 or 2 (such as a rust monster), but you take a -4 penalty on the check.

If you have the wild empathy ability from another class, add your levels in that class to your beast heart adept level when influencing magical beasts or animals. In addition, you no longer take a penalty to your monster empathy check when influencing animals. If you have 5 or more ranks in the Handle Animal skill, you gain a +2 bonus on your monster empathy checks.

Monster Handler (Ex): You can make Handle Animal checks with regard to magical beasts and aberrations without penalty. This ability applies only to creatures that have an Intelligence score of 1 or 2. Magical beasts and aberrations that have higher Intelligence scores cannot be controlled by Handle Animal at all.

Monster Lore (Ex): At 2nd level, you gain uncanny knowledge about all types of living monsters, including their habitats, behavior, abilities, and weaknesses. You can make a special monster lore check to identify monsters or their special abilities or vulnerabilities. The check functions as a Knowledge check, except the monster lore check can identify any living creature. You gain a bonus on this check equal to your beast heart adept level + your Int modifier. You can attempt this check in addition to making the relevant Knowledge check to learn about a creature.

If you have levels in the bard class or the loremaster prestige class, you can add those levels to your beast heart adept levels when determining the bonus on the monster lore check.

Monstrous Flank (Ex): At 4th level, you learn to better coordinate your attacks with your monstrous companion. When you form a flank with a companion, both you and the creature gain an additional +2 bonus on attack rolls and damage rolls against the flanked opponent.

Extra Monstrous Companion (Ex): At 5th level, you gain a second monstrous companion, chosen from the list of companions available to a 1stlevel beast heart adept. Treat your beast heart adept class level as if it were four levels lower for the purpose of determining the monster's abilities (or of selecting an alternative companion at higher levels).

At 9th level, you gain a third monstrous companion, chosen from the list of companions available to a 1st-level beast heart adept. Treat your beast heart adept class level as if it were eight levels lower for the purpose of determining the monster's abilities (or of selecting an alternative companion at higher levels).

Monstrous Tactics (Ex): Starting at 7th level, you and your monstrous companions make an excellent team. Through coordination and practice, you have learned to optimize your combined efforts. When one of your monstrous companions strikes an opponent with a melee attack, the target provokes an attack of opportunity from you. With this ability, you can make an attack of opportunity against a particular target once per round.

In addition, your companions do not grant cover against your enemies when you use ranged attacks or spells.

Monstrous Team-Up (Ex): When you reach 10th level, all the members of your adventuring party now gain the benefits of your monstrous flank and monstrous tactics abilities. Any references to "you" in those abilities now include your allies.


The beast heart adept's monstrous companion is superior to a normal animal of its kind and has special powers, as described below.

Armor Adj.
1st-2nd +0 +0 +0 1 Link
3rd-4th +2 +2 +2 2 Evasion
5th-6th +4 +4 +4 3 Devotion
7th-8th +6 +6 +6 4
9th-10th +8 +8 +8 5 Improved evasion

Monstrous Companion Basics: Use the base statistics for a creature of the companion's kind as given in the Monster Manual, but make the following changes.

Class Level: Use the character's beast heart adept level.

Bonus HD: Add this number to the base creature's existing Hit Dice. Extra Hit Dice improve a monstrous companion's base attack bonus and base save bonuses, and grant it additional feats and skill points (for details, see Improving Monsters). Monstrous companions do not increase in size as a result of these extra Hit Dice.

Natural Armor Adj.: Add this number to the base creature's existing natural armor bonus.

Str/Con Adj.: Add this number to the base creature's Strength score and Constitution score.

Bonus Tricks: The value in this column is the number of bonus tricks known by the monstrous companion, in addition to any other tricks the beast heart adept might teach it. These bonus tricks do not require training time or Handle Animal checks, and they do not count against the normal limit of tricks known by the monstrous companion. The beast heart adept selects these bonus tricks, and once selected, they cannot be changed. Only monstrous companions that have an Intelligence score of 1 or 2 must be taught to perform a trick; smarter monsters can be directed verbally.

Link (Ex): A beast heart adept can handle his monstrous companion as a free action, or push it as a move action. The beast heart adept gains a +4 circumstance bonus on monster empathy checks and Handle Animal checks regarding a monstrous companion.

Evasion (Ex): Beginning at 3rd level, your monstrous companion can avoid damage from certain attacks with a successful Reflex save. See the monk class feature.

Devotion (Ex): A monstrous companion's devotion to its master is so complete that it gains a +4 morale bonus on Will saves against enchantment spells and effects.

Improved Evasion (Ex): Beginning at 9th level, your monstrous companion can avoid damage from certain attacks with a successful Reflex save and take only half damage on a failed save. See the monk class feature.

Alternative Monstrous Companions

A beast heart adept of sufficiently high level can select his monstrous companion from one of the following lists. Apply the indicated adjustment to the beast heart adept's level (in parentheses) when determining the monster's characteristics and special abilities.

3rd Level or
Higher (Level -2)
5th Level or
Higher (Level -4)
7th Level or
Higher (Level -6)
9th Level or
Higher (Level -8)
Digester Chimera Chuul Behir
Girallon Wyvern Destrachan Gray render
Manticore Dragonne Yrthak
Winter wolf