D&D 5E Beast master wants to use pet to get +5 to passive perception

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
The only argument against it is that you have to use your Action to command the companion to Help. If you are using your Action to command it, you aren't keeping watch.

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However, at 7th level, it only requires your Bonus Action instead of your Action, so I would allow it at that point.

Also, since the companion is a beast, it needs to rest. It can't be on watch all the time and then function normally.
That’s in combat.
 

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Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
To grant a character advantage by Working Together (the Help Action is a combat thing, though to be fair the difference is subtle), you need to be able to do something that would actually be helpful. How would a wolf help you perceive things? Well, it could look, listen, and smell for things, and alert you of what it detects. In my book, that shouldn’t grant advantage to your perception check, it should mean the wolf should be able to use its own perception (rolled or passive, as appropriate to the action) and if it succeeds and you fail, it can alert you. Of course, thanks to the wolf’s Keen Hearing and Smell feature, this may actually be more useful than advantage on your own perception check, since three rolls is better than two, even if the wolf’s bonus to the roll is a little lower than yours.
 

tetrasodium

Legend
Supporter
Epic
Depends on what is being detected passively & when.

Trying to keep watch in the wilderness? Sure probably. Trying to keep watch in a busy city for someone specific? Not likely. Trying to keep watch from who knows what in an inn?... Yea good luck just trying to complete your rest. Trying to passively notice a pressure plate glyph of warding or unstable construction? Lolno!
 

I would allow it, and I would even design an encounter where the very high perception gives the PCs a huge advantage. I.e. some bad guys trying to sneak up to the camp where the PCs are resting, and then give the PCs 1 minute to set up an ambush. They'll love it.
 

See, I would get myself into this mess with the best of intentions: yes, that is what pets are for, I would tell myself. Yes, a dog is always watchful. Sure, go ahead, I would tell my player. And then every player at the table would narrow their eyes and smirk as they exchange knowing looks.

Then two weeks later, there would be a whole entourage of pet dogs in the party, and they would be helping the wizard scribe her scrolls, and helping the rogue with stealth and lockpicking, and helping the fighter's attack rolls, and helping everyone use first aid kits, and helping convince the emperor to withdraw troops, and helping the cleric with his Demonology research, and...
Then the answer is simple: just say "no". A dog can help with perception, because that is what dogs are for. Dogs cannot scribe scrolls, and would be a hindrance when sneaking. In order to use the "help" action the player needs to describe what they are doing that is actually helpful. It's narrative, not mechanical.

Also, dogs must be trained in order to be helpful. If the dog is not highly trained (or a beastmaster companion) it is not under the players' control, it is under the DM's control. Have it bounce around getting in the way and imposing disadvantage on everything.
 

DND_Reborn

The High Aldwin
That’s in combat.
:rolleyes:

To grant a character advantage by Working Together (the Help Action is a combat thing, though to be fair the difference is subtle), you need to be able to do something that would actually be helpful. How would a wolf help you perceive things? Well, it could look, listen, and smell for things, and alert you of what it detects. In my book, that shouldn’t grant advantage to your perception check, it should mean the wolf should be able to use its own perception (rolled or passive, as appropriate to the action) and if it succeeds and you fail, it can alert you. Of course, thanks to the wolf’s Keen Hearing and Smell feature, this may actually be more useful than advantage on your own perception check, since three rolls is better than two, even if the wolf’s bonus to the roll is a little lower than yours.
If you want to get technical, RAW the wolf couldn't "Work Together" with the Ranger because the wolf isn't a character.

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:p

EDIT: of course, if the player or another one was using the Sidekick classes and playing the Wolf as a PC, that would be different. ;)
 
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Notably, Help is a combat action. Working Together is for other challenges like exploration or social interaction. They mostly work the same; however, Working Together mandates that in order to gain advantage, the assistance must actually be productive. You may therefore decide as DM that sometimes the animal companion can help and other times it does not, depending on the situation.

As well, having a high passive Perception is good, but if you have concerns about that, it may be because of how you use passive Perception. First, to gain the benefits of a high PP, the character must be in certain rank of the marching order (depending on where the thing being noticed is relative to the party) and not performing other traveling tasks unless they are a ranger in favored terrain. They also need a light source or else they take a -5 to their PP if they are relying solely on darkvision.
People would benefit greatly from reading the travel activities rules.
 

The thing about pets is
So here’s the scenario. I have a player who is a beast master ranger (knowing that they tend to be a bit weak).

In general he wants to use his wolf to stand sentry most of the time, “use the help action” to give him advantage on perception checks (which then translates to a +5 to passive perception).

he already has a very high passive perception (observant) so this would definately push him into the “very high” territory.

what do you think, is that a reasonable way to use an animal companion?
I've been DMing a group for 5 years now, and one of them is a 20th level Ranger Beastmaster. I think the player is getting ahead of themselves. At lower levels your animal companion will have Advantage on Perception checks from their Keen Senses so you want them to track or stand guard anyway. At lower levels you can't give your Animal Companion the Help command without using your action. It's not until 7th level that the Ranger can give the Help command with a bonus action. That's the level I would allow them to "double stack" the feat and Beastmaster Help.

Another point that others have made, how do you know what your Animal Companion is perceiving? We ran into this problem right away, and apparently so did WotC because the UAs were coming out with all kinds of new stuff. Our solution was to give the Ranger a permanent Beast Bond with their Animal Companion. I don't think it makes them more powerful, not in my experience. However, it quickly justifies their extensive abilities.
 

I have no problem with it, since it's thematically appropriate for a wolf AND they are trained in perception. But I would keep an eye on the travel activities and the wolf would be assisting you specifically, tying up two 'actors' on a single task.

There are several ways to get advantage on Perception, and tying up your beastmaster pet is not the most powerful of them.
 

Lyxen

Great Old One
I have no problem with it, since it's thematically appropriate for a wolf AND they are trained in perception. But I would keep an eye on the travel activities and the wolf would be assisting you specifically, tying up two 'actors' on a single task.

What I don't like about the approach is that the ranger is purposefully adding his own observant to the wolf's capabilities. Because this is what it comes down to, in the end.

You see, if they are both keeping watch, they would each have a roll, and that would give two rolls exactly like advantage. But when the ranger is asking for having advantage, it's because he wants to have the equivalent of two rolls, both of them benefitting from his observant feat. And even more, he is capitalising on the rule for advantage on passive by getting a straight +5, which is way more powerful than two rolls when looking at high-value.

So overall, it's a lot of metagaming here based on principles that are not really clear, and I dislike the attitude there.

So, OK for the wolf standing watch, but it's not really "helping" in the rules sense (which is not supported by the rules anyway), it's his own creature with his own bonuses, and he does not benefit from the ranger being observant.

There are several ways to get advantage on Perception, and tying up your beastmaster pet is not the most powerful of them.

There are not that many ways, and what's more, most people also forget that there are tons of ways to have disadvantage as well, if only because of dim light, and in particular Darkvision only giving the perception of dim light.
 

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