The petting looks fine. We should never start by petting a dog on the top of it's head as an introduction, as that is a dominance move. Under the neck/chest is the safest, so they can see where our hands are. Watching how vets do it, I dislike the earliest dialog option being to "pet the dog."
Also "kneel down to show the dog you are not a threat" is not a particularly great alternative opener.
This is a pet peeve of mine, since my dog is a rescue greyhound and she never had a chance to be socialized when young. It can be awkward trying to tell someone who approaches her head-on from a kneeling position, that the way they normally behaved with a family dog that had trust already, isn't the same as what they should do as a stranger or with a dog who is scared.
If a dog is growling at you, you shouldn't kneel down to show it you are not a threat, since that can do the exact opposite of what you're intending if they feel boxed in from it. Especially if they are guarding something like a bone or in this case their previous owners lifeless corpse.
If it tilts it's head at you, you definitely shouldn't put your hand out and reach for it at that point. A dog titling its head does not signal cute curiosity, it means they are nervous or unsure of something.
Panting likewise can be a sign of unease. Just cause it might look like a smile when they are doing it, its not. Its what they do when they are anxious and trying to calm themselves down. Panting is how they regulate their internal temperature to cool themselves down, so you can think of it like that on an emmotional level too. Like when trying to calm someone down by telling them to breathe. If they aren't overheating or from just exercising, that's what they are doing when they start panting out of nowhere. A sudden change in breathing, panting, yawning or lip smacking, again not a clear invitation to insta petting.
I feel like someone with animal handling skills in-game should know not to do that at the start.
The move is to turn away and hold your hand out behind your back to receive the sniff and allow the dog to approach you. What we should probably get is a first dialogue option to...
"Remain calm and divert your gaze. Give the dog some time to realize you're no threat."
"Offer the dog some food from your pack, so he knows you are a friend"
Then "Pet the dog"
Ps. Also just an aside, but I love how the initial encounter concludes. That was a definite animal handing way to handle getting the dog back to the camp, by scent and at his own pace. The whole interraction and the animations once the dog is cool are pretty good honestly. I just wish the first dialog option was more like calm yourself and wait until the dog is calm, before doing the "pet him" part. Since that is useful for real life interactions as well, asking first and being invited to pet the dog, before just going in for the pet immediately. Scratch is my favorite camp follower.
Sorry still thinking on this, but it would actually be cool to have a number of dialog options, with certain dialogs promoted if the the Character has animal handling as skill or if they do not.
So for example, in the Scratch case the dialogs which follow a proper order might have better chances of successes. Failures could result also in different sequences. So you might go first to "the dog bares his teeth" or "the dog continues to growl" or "the dog barks" or finally "the dog snaps!"
Scratch should always stop at the snap with the PCs.
Scratch is a good dog like all dogs inherently.
The PCs should not be allowed to kill him. Ever.
If attacked by surprised melee the dog should bite the PC immediately like an attack of opportunity, with hella damage, and then bolt away, disappears.
He should yelp and run away immediately if the PC tries to initiate surprise ranged attack, or save vs spell and the dog darts off, disappears.
After that the PCs should instantly be facing some serious shit from a gang of TPK style enemies with no loot and worth no xp even if you manage to 'kill them' they also should disappear at the last moment. Or the PCs should just all be struck down by lightning.
The dog should always get away.
That would be my strong preference in the case of Scratch.
Last edited by Black_Elk; 07/03/21 02:22 AM.