Monster Cowboy

While many adventurers thrive in the wild frontier, few overcome its dangers with the flair and bravado of the monster cowboy. A monster cowboy is an expert rider and wrangler, able to subdue even the most savage and terrifying of beasts with a lasso in one hand and a pistol in the other. His control and influence over the monsters he engages physically are rivaled only by the most skilled enchanters.

He is possessed of a soul made hard by an even harder life that allows him to destroy the will of other creatures. Through sheer force of personality he transcends the mundane and is able to ascend to the level of the supernatural in terms of his ability to dominate creatures.

Hit Dice: d10.

Role: A monster cowboy engages monsters at close range, either jumping on their backs to ride them, or capturing them with his lasso. In this way he can control their actions and behavior, making them easy targets, or even involuntary allies.

Alignment: Any

Starting Wealth: 4d6 × 10 gp (average 140 gp.) In addition, each character begins play with an outfit worth 10 gp or less.

Class Skills: The monster cowboy’s class skills are Acrobatics (Dex), Bluff (Cha), Climb (Str), Craft (Int), Diplomacy (Cha), Escape Artist (Dex), Handle Animal (Cha), Intimidate (Cha), Knowledge (arcana) (Int), Knowledge (dungeoneering) (Int), Knowledge (nature) (Int), Knowledge (planes) (Int), Profession (Wis), Ride (Dex), Survival (Wis), and Swim (Str).

Skill Ranks Per Level: 6 + Int Modifier

Class Features

Table: The Monster Cowboy
Level Base Attack Bonus Fort Save Ref Save Will Save Special
1st +1 +2 +2 +0 Gunsmith, monstrous mount, wildrider
2nd +2 +3 +3 +0 Lasso trick
3rd +3 +3 +3 +1 Bonus feat, steely soul
4th +4 +4 +4 +1 Brand, monstrous influence
5th +5 +4 +4 +1 Horse whisperer
6th +6/+1 +5 +5 +2 Lasso trick
7th +7/+2 +5 +5 +2 Bonus feat
8th +8/+3 +6 +6 +2 Firebrand
9th +9/+4 +6 +6 +3 Horse whisperer
10th +10/+5 +7 +7 +3 Lasso trick
11th +11/+6/+1 +7 +7 +3 Bonus feat
12th +12/+7/+2 +8 +8 +4 Greater firebrand
13th +13/+8/+3 +8 +8 +4 Horse whisperer
14th +14/+9/+4 +9 +9 +4 Lasso trick
15th +15/+10/+5 +9 +9 +5 Bonus feat
16th +16/+11/+6/+1 +10 +10 +5 Total dominance
17th +17/+12/+7/+2 +10 +10 +5 Horse whisperer
18th +18/+13/+8/+3 +11 +11 +6 Lasso trick
19th +19/+14/+9/+4 +11 +11 +6 Bonus feat
20th +20/+15/+10/+5 +12 +12 +6 Master of monsters

Weapon and Armor Proficiency

The monster cowboy is proficient with all simple and martial weapons, with all firearms, and with lassos and nets. He is proficient with light armor, but not with shields.


At 1st level, a monster cowboy starts play with a pistol. His starting weapon is battered, and only he knows how to use it properly. All other creatures treat his gun as if it had the broken condition. If the weapon already has the broken condition, it does not work at all for anyone else trying to use it. This starting weapon can only be sold for scrap (its worth 4d10 gp when sold). The monster cowboy also gains Gunsmithing as a bonus feat.

Monstrous Mount (Ex)

At 1st level, a monster cowboy forms a close bond with a monster that he rides into battle. This loyal companion follows all rules for a druid’s animal companion except that it is not limited to animals. In addition, the monstrous mount’s class skill list includes all class skills for its creature type and it can select any feat or skill possessed by a standard creature of its type regardless of its Intelligence score. At 4th level and onward, a monster cowboy’s monstrous mount alway has his personal brand upon it.

In addition to the options presented on the druid’s list of potential animal companions the monster cowboy may select one of the following monsters to serve as his mount: ankheg, bulette, gorgon, hydra, owlbear, shambling mound, or winter wolf. The statistics for each of these monsters are provided later in this class entry. With a GM’s permission the player of a monster cowboy is encouraged to create their own mount based on an existing monster if none of the choices appeal to him.

Wildrider (Ex)

At 1st level, the monster cowboy ignores all penalties to Ride checks for riding exotic or unusually-shaped creatures. He is capable of riding creatures with any number of legs, even if they walk upright. The monster cowboy can even ride creatures of his own size category (but not smaller size categories) without penalty, although his weight encumbers the creature normally. He is unable to ride creatures whose anatomies make normal physical contact impossible, such as most oozes and incorporeal undead. A monster cowboy can’t mount a humanoid (though monstrous humanoids are acceptable) with this class feature.

As a standard action the monster cowboy can jump on a non-allied creature that has no intention of serving as a mount and ride it involuntarily. This provokes an attack of opportunity. He then makes a Ride check opposed to the creature’s CMD, and if he is successful he is able to mount the creature, entering it’s square atop the creature. If he fails, the monster cowboy is knocked prone. Bonuses that add to a creature’s CMD against grapple attempts also apply against attempts to be mounted. Bonuses that apply to the monster cowboy’s CMB for grappling do not apply to the Ride checks.

When fighting this way, neither the monster cowboy nor his involuntary mount are considered grappled. The monster cowboy is considered mounted for rules that distinguish this condition. However, both mount and rider continue to act independently on their own initiative countsthis ability by itself does not grant the monster cowboy any influence over the mounted creature’s actions.

While the monster cowboy is mounted on a hostile creature, he gains a +4 dodge bonus to his AC against attacks made by that creature’s attacks. The creature may use a standard action to buck the monster cowboy off its back or to escape. This requires a CMB (adding any bonuses for grappling) or Escape Artist check opposed by a Ride check from the monster cowboy. This otherwise works exactly like escaping a grapple, except that if it is successful, the monster cowboy falls prone in the creature’s space.

Lasso Trick (Ex)

At 2nd level, the monster cowboy can enlarge the loop of a lasso in order to use it again as a swift action instead of a standard action. He adds this Dexterity modifier to the Escape Artist DC required to escape entanglement from his lasso, and to the concentration DC to cast spells while entangled by his lasso. In addition, the monster cowboy selects one of the following combat maneuvers: disarm, drag, reposition, steal, or trip. Whenever he successfully entangles a foe with his lasso, he can attempt that combat maneuver against the foe as a free action. As long as the foe remains entangled, he can perform that maneuver at range against the foe through his lasso as a standard action.

At 6th level, and every 4 levels thereafter, the monster cowboy selects another combat maneuver from the same list that he can perform through his lasso. He can only attempt a single combat maneuver per round in this fashion. The monster cowboy can select a combat maneuver more than once for this class feature. Each time he selects a maneuver beyond the first, the monster cowboy gains a cumulative +1 bonus to his CMB when using that maneuver through the lasso.

How does a Net/Lasso work, again?


When you throw a net, you make a ranged touch attack against your target. A net’s maximum range is 10 feet. If you hit, the target is entangled. An entangled creature takes a –2 penalty on attack rolls and a –4 penalty on Dexterity, can move at only half speed, and cannot charge or run. If you control the trailing rope by succeeding on an opposed Strength check while holding it, the entangled creature can move only within the limits that the rope allows. If the entangled creature attempts to cast a spell, it must make a concentration check with a DC of 15 + the spell’s level or be unable to cast the spell.

An entangled creature can escape with a DC 20 Escape Artist check (a full-round action). The net has 5 hit points and can be burst with a DC 25 Strength check (also a full-round action). A net is useful only against creatures within one size category of you.

A net must be folded to be thrown effectively. The first time you throw your net in a fight, you make a normal ranged touch attack roll. After the net is unfolded, you take a –4 penalty on attack rolls with it. It takes 2 rounds for a proficient user to fold a net and twice that long for a non-proficient one to do so.


A lasso allows you to entangle a foe like you would using a net. An entangled creature can slip free with a DC 15 Escape Artist check as a full-round action. The lasso has 2 hit points and AC 10. It requires a DC 23 Strength check to break it. The concentration DC to cast a spell while entangled with a lasso is 10 + the spell level being cast.

Special: On a successful hit, the lasso tightens; to use it again you must spend a standard action sliding the knot to enlarge the loop.

Bonus Feat

At 3rd level and every 4 levels thereafter a monster cowboy gains a bonus feat in addition to those gained from normal advancement. These bonus feats must be selected from the list below:

Toughness, Endurance, Mounted Combat, Mounted Archery, Mounted ShieldAPG, Mounted SkirmisherAPG, Trick RidingAPG, Ride-by Attack, Trample, Net AdeptUC, Net & TridentUC, Net ManeuveringUC, Spirited Charge, Weapon Focus1, Weapon Specialization.
1: These may only be taken in one of the following weapons: any firearm you are proficient in, nets, or lassos.

A monster cowboy need not have any of the prerequisites normally required for these feats to select them unless the prerequisite is a feat listed on their list of bonus feats (for example: The monster cowboy would need to take Net Adept before taking Net & Trident because Net Adept is a prerequisite for Net & Trident).

Steely Soul (Ex)

At 3rd level, the monster cowboy’s soul is finally able to connect with that of the beasts he mounts. This grants the monster cowboy the power to dominate and influence the creatures he rides through sheer force of will. He gains a pool of steel points that represent his ability to dominate the will of others. A monster cowboy has a number of steel points per day equal to 1/2 his monster cowboy level plus his Charisma modifier.

A monster cowboy recovers 1 steel point the first time he successfully mounts a new creature. He can never gain more points then he starts with at the beginning of the day (1/2 monster cowboy level + Charisma modifier) and can never recover a point for mounting the same individual creature. In order to be worthy of restoring a point, the creature must pose a challenge to the monster cowboy. This is typically a creature who is part of an encounter of an appropriate CR, but the final discretion lies with the GM.

By spending 1 steel point, a monster cowboy use his wildrider ability without provoking attacks of opportunity. He may also spend 1 steel point to make an attack or combat maneuver using his lasso that does not provoke attacks of opportunity.

Monstrous Influence (Ex)

At 4th level, the monster cowboy can exert physical control over the actions of the creatures he rides and the creatures he entangles with his lasso. He can take a swift action or relinquish an attack of opportunity at the start of a mounted or entangled creature’s turn to issue a command to it. He makes a Handle Animal check (DC 10 + creature’s HD) regardless of the creature’s type - this is a mind-affecting effect. If he succeeds he can choose to expend 1 steel point at one point during the creature’s turn as a free action to give the creature a single command of his choosing from the following list:

  • Attack: Causes the creature to lash out and attack a creature the monster cowboy designates. It can only be a typical standard action attack with a natural weapon or special ability tied to the creature’s biology (such as a dragon’s breath weapon). This cannot cause a creature to cast a spell, perform a full round attack, use an item, or use a specific class feature that requires willful activation, and the creature making the attack may chose the fashion in which they attack their target (example: The creature may elect not to use Power Attack against a friend). All attacks made must be lethal (unless desired to be non-lethal) and made only with the weapons designated by the monster cowboy.
  • Move: Causes the creature to move via a non-dangerous route the monster cowboy designates up to a maximum of the creature’s normal movement speed. If entangled by something like a lasso, this movement must not cause the creature to go beyond the range of it.
  • Run: Causes the creature to take a double move in a straight line. The monster cowboy may spend a 2nd steel point to cause the creature to make a run action in a straight line instead. If entangled by something like a lasso, this movement must not cause the creature to go beyond the range of it.
  • Prohibit: The monster cowboy can prohibit the creature he is influencing from taking an action. The choice can be made after it has been declared by the creature. The creature may chose to make a different action once what is prohibited is declared. Example: “Don’t attack Bill the Barbarian ”.

Brand (Su, Sp)

At 4th level, a monster cowboy can spend 1 steel point as a standard action while mounting a creature to mark its soul with his own personal brand. This requires a touch attack against the mount. A brand causes 1d6 non-lethal damage for every 2 levels of monster cowboy and may only be successfully applied to a creature once per day. Once applied, a brand lasts for 1 day per monster cowboy level.

This is a tangible mark left upon the spirit of the creature. This mark is invisible, though detectable in the same fashion as one can detect an invisible arcane mark. A monster cowboy of 4th level or higher can always see brands left by other monster cowboys. A monster cowboy gains a +2 bonus on attempts to mount a creature carrying his brand as well as an equal bonus on Diplomacy and Intimidate checks against that creature.

In addition, a monster cowboy can pay 1 steel point to cast any of the following spells as spell-like abilities to aid him in locating or influencing his mount. The monster cowboy’s effective caster level is equal to his monster cowboy level for these supernatural abilities. The subject of these spells must be a creature with his brand on it and, even if it could effect more creatures, only ever affects creatures with the monster cowboy’s personal brand on it.

  • 4th Level: Charm monster, deathwatch, fear, confusion, suggestion
  • 8th Level: Confusion, locate creature, modify memory
  • 12th Level: Mind fog, unwilling shield APG
  • 16th Level: Euphoric tranquility, geas/quest

Horse Whisperer (Ex)

At 5th level and every 4 levels thereafter a monster cowboy selects one of the following creature types: animal, construct, dragon, magical beast, monstrous humanoid, outsider, undead, or vermin. He gains a +1/4th monster cowboy level insight bonus on Ride checks (including those in the wildrider class feature), Handle Animal checks (including those in the monstrous influence class feature), identification checks (via the appropriate Knowledge skill), and on damage rolls made against creatures of that creature type. In addition, if a monster cowboy’s mount from their monstrous mount class feature is of this creature type it adds 10 feet to one of its movement speeds.

Firebrand (Su)

At 8th level, as a swift action, a monster cowboy can expend 1 steel point to make a Ride check (DC 10 + 1/2 mounted creatures HD + Charisma modifier) to force a target they have mounted and branded to work harder. This grants the benefits of haste to the creature until the start of the monster cowboy’s next turn – additionally the creature takes the damage from their brand again.

Greater Firebrand (Su)

At 12th level the benefits of a firebrand improve. Rather than their mount simply getting a +1 bonus on attack rolls and a +1 dodge bonus to AC and Reflex saves from the haste effect they instead gain a +1/4th monster cowboy level bonus on those things instead.

Total Dominance (Su)

At 16th level, a monster cowboy can, as a free action at the start of their turn, spend an amount of steel points equal to 2 + the creature’s Charisma modifier (minimum total cost of 3) to fully dominate a branded and mounted creature for 1d4 turns. This means the creature is fully under the command of the monster cowboy as if it were an animal companion or mount. Each time within a 1 hour period that a monster cowboy successfully uses this on the same creature the cost to do so increases by 1. The creature receives a Will save (DC 10 + 1/2 monster cowboy level + Charisma modifier) to resist this. If the save is successful, the monster cowboy regains the spent steel points.

Master of Monsters (Ex)

At 20th level, a monster cowboy can permanently tame a creature as his mount. He must have a creature mounted and branded for a period of 1 hour. Then he must spend all his remaining steel points so long as he spends a minimum of 5. The creature receives a Will save (DC 10 + 1/2 monster cowboy level + Charisma modifier + 1 for every point spent beyond 5). If he is successful, that creature permanently becomes his mount. It replaces his current mount and the creature receives the modifications for being a mount of a monster cowboy of that level.

Monstrous Mount Choices


SIZE Medium; SPEED 30 ft., burrow 20 ft.; AC +4; ATTACK bite (1d6 + 1d4 acid); ABILITY SCORES Str 13, Dex 12, Con 15, Int 1, Wis 13, Cha 7; SPECIAL QUALITIES darkvision 60 ft., low-light vision

SIZE Large; AC +3; ATTACK bite (1d8 + 1d4 acid); ABILITY SCORES Str +4, Dex -2, Con +4, SPECIAL ATTACKS spit acid; SPECIAL QUALITIES tremorsense 30 ft

  • SPIT ACID (EX): Once every 6 hours, an ankheg can spit a 30-foot line of acid. Creatures struck by this acid take 4d4 points of acid damage (Reflex DC 10 + ½ HD + Constitution modifier halves). Once an ankheg uses this attack, it must wait 6 hours before using it again. Additionally, during this time period, its bite attack does not inflict any additional acid damage.


SIZE Medium; SPEED 30 ft., burrow 20 ft.; AC +3 natural armor; ATTACK bite (1d6), 2 claws (1d4); ABILITY SCORES Str 18, Dex 15, Con 15, Int 2, Wis 13, Cha 3.

SIZE Large; AC +2 natural armor; ATTACK bite (1d8), 2 claws (1d6); ABILITY SCORES Str +6, Dex –2, Con +4, SPECIAL ATTACKS leap, savage bite

  • LEAP (EX): A bulette can perform a special kind of pounce attack by jumping into combat. When a bulette charges, it can make a DC 20 Acrobatics check to jump into the air and land next to its enemies. If it makes the Acrobatics check, it can follow up with four claw attacks against foes in reach, but cannot make a bite attack.
  • SAVAGE BITE (EX): A bulette’s bite is particularly dangerous. It applies 1-1/2 times its Strength modifier to damage inflicted with its bite attack, and threatens a critical hit on a 19–20.


SIZE Medium; SPEED 30 ft.; AC +5; ATTACK gore (1d6), 2 hooves (1d4); ABILITY SCORES Str 16, Dex 12, Con 16, Int 2, Wis 14, Cha 8.

SIZE Large; AC +5; ATTACK gore (1d8), 2 hooves (1d6); ABILITY SCORES Str +6, Dex -2, Con +6, SPECIAL ATTACKS breath weapon, trample (1d8 + Strength modifier)

  • BREATH WEAPON: A gorgon can use its breath weapon once every 1d4+1 rounds to create a 30-foot cone of green gas. Those caught in the area of the gas can attempt a Fortitude save (DC 10 + ½ HD + Constitution modifier) to resist the effects, but those who fail the save are immediately petrified. This petrification is temporary—each round, a petrified creature can attempt a new Fortitude save to recover from the petrification.


SIZE Medium; SPEED 30 ft.; AC +2; ATTACK bite (1d6); ABILITY SCORES Str 13, Dex 14, Con 14, Int 2, Wis 11, Cha 9; SPECIAL QUALITIES hydra traits

SIZE Large; AC +4; ATTACK 3 bites (1d8); ABILITY SCORES Str +4, Dex -2, Con +4, SPECIAL ATTACKS pounce, SPECIAL QUALITIES fast healing, regenerate head.

  • FAST HEALING (EX): A hydra’s fast healing ability is equal to its current number of heads (minimum fast healing 3). This fast healing applies only to damage inflicted on the hydra’s body.
  • HYDRA TRAITS (EX): A hydra can be killed by severing all of its heads or slaying its body. Any attack that is not an attempt to sever a head affects the body, including area attacks or attacks that cause piercing or bludgeoning damage. To sever a head, an opponent must make a sunder attempt with a slashing weapon targeting a head. A head is considered a separate weapon with hardness 0 and hit points equal to the hydra’s HD. To sever a head, an opponent must inflict enough damage to reduce the head’s hit points to 0 or less. Severing a head deals damage to the hydra’s body equal to the hydra’s current HD. A hydra can’t attack with a severed head, but takes no other penalties.
  • REGENERATE HEAD (EX): When a hydra’s head is destroyed, it regrows the head in 1d4 rounds. To prevent new heads from growing, at least 5 points of acid or fire damage must be dealt to the stump (a touch attack to hit) before they appear. Acid or fire damage from area attacks can affect stumps and the body simultaneously. A hydra doesn’t die from losing its heads until all are cut off and the stumps seared by acid or fire.


SIZE Medium; SPEED 30 ft.; AC +2; ATTACK bite (1d4), 2 claws (1d4); ABILITY SCORES Str 14, Dex 14, Con 12, Int 2, Wis 12, Cha 8; SPECIAL QUALITIES low-light vision, scent.

SIZE Large; AC +3; ATTACK bite (1d6), 2 claws (1d6 + grab); ABILITY SCORES Str +6, Dex -2, Con +4

Shambling Mound

SIZE Medium; SPEED 20 ft., swim 20 ft.; AC +4; ATTACK 2 slams (1d6 + grab); ABILITY SCORES Str 16, Dex 12, Con 14, Int 7, Wis 10, Cha 8; DEFENSIVE TRAITS plant traits; RESIST fire 10.

SIZE Large; AC +4; ATTACK 2 slams (1d8 + grab); ABILITY SCORES Str +6, Dex -2, Con +4, IMMUNE electricity; SPECIAL ATTACKS constrict (1d8 + Strength modifier).

Winter Wolf

SIZE Medium; SPEED 30 ft.; AC +3; ATTACK bite (1d6 + 1d4 cold + trip); ABILITY SCORES Str 16, Dex 13, Con 14, Int 6, Wis 12, Cha 8.

SIZE Large; AC +3; ATTACK bite (1d8 + 1d6 cold + trip); ABILITY SCORES Str +2, Dex -2, Con +2, SPECIAL ATTACKS breath weapon

  • BREATH WEAPON (SU): Every 1d4 rounds, 15-ft. cone, 6d6 cold damage, Reflex half (DC 10 + ½ HD + Constitution modifier).

A Player’s Guide to the Monster Cowboy

Monster cowboys excel at controlling opponents, to a degree that almost matches enchanters. Being able to jump on an enemy’s back and drive them around is an effective way to ruin their day; drive them away from the party wizard, or towards the party barbarian. In addition, the monster cowboy brings a hardy animal companion to the fray with him. Between an angry owlbear and a pistol-slinging cowboy, things are sure to be interesting.

When building a monster cowboy, consider how much time you want to spend on your enemy’s back. If you plan to spend as much time as you can riding around unwilling mounts, make sure your Ride and Handle Animal skills are as high as possible. Invest in feats that raise your AC or hp, as you are going to be attacked while riding around. Remember you don’t always have to make your unwilling mount attack each turn; sometimes just forcing it away from the fight can turn the tide.

If you plan to spend more time riding around on your animal companion, you can focus more on harassing enemies with lassos. Drag enemies to their knees with trip maneuvers, keep them where you want with reposition, force them to fight empty handed with disarm, or just keep them tied up in knots. No matter how you do it, soften the enemy up for your loyal mount. Feats that boost combat maneuvers should be a priority, as should feats that boost your ranged attacks.

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