5E Druid with Animal Companion - how to build?

bedir than

Adventurer
I may have finally convinced my wife to try D&D. The mini I picked out is from the Wardling line at WizKids, because I knew that she'd want a companion (plus I guess it's just the two of us for a few more weeks). Thing is I think she's more of a Druid than a Ranger.

How would you build a 5e Druid with an Animal Companion via?

My current thoughts are;
  • D&D Essentials/UA sidekick style
  • Take Magic Initiate/Ritual Caster and call it a familiar
  • Ranger 3/Druid X
Any other close to RAW paths?
 

Weiley31

Adventurer
Either UA Sidekick rules, Revised Ranger Beast Master animal mechanic, UA Class Variant feature's Primal Beast, or Battle Smith's Might of The Master feature for upgradable Animal Companions.
 

jgsugden

Adventurer
I have a first level spell in my games. It allows druids, rangers and nature clerics to gain an animal companion that follows their verbal commands, but is an NPC. They can cast it at higher levels to get stronger animal allies, and the animal advances in ability with the PC. It is not broken, and it allows a lot of fun.
 

Perun

Mushroom
If it's just the two of you (i.e. one player and a DM) I'd just stat the companion as a character (with modifications here and there, to better fit the animal), and let it advance in levels as any other PC. With just one character, you don't have to worry too much about the balance, and having another PC-like character could help with the adventures.

I don't know what animal companion you had in mind, but I figure champion and/or thieves might be a decent fit for a number of animals.

This is just a thought, I haven't really looked at the rules to see how viable it could be.
 
I may have finally convinced my wife to try D&D. The mini I picked out is from the Wardling line at WizKids, because I knew that she'd want a companion (plus I guess it's just the two of us for a few more weeks). Thing is I think she's more of a Druid than a Ranger.

How would you build a 5e Druid with an Animal Companion via?

My current thoughts are;
  • D&D Essentials/UA sidekick style
  • Take Magic Initiate/Ritual Caster and call it a familiar
  • Ranger 3/Druid X
Any other close to RAW paths?
  • if she wants it for the story (and minor functions but not combat), buy a puppy pet and train it
  • if she wants it to fight along, make it an animal NPC

I like the option of Call Familiar, which opens up some spellcasting tricks, if she's ok with the heavier magic bent. I am instead not fond of sidekicks rules (just use the animal or NPC as is) and I'd certainly avoid multiclassing gimmicks.
 
I may have finally convinced my wife to try D&D. The mini I picked out is from the Wardling line at WizKids, because I knew that she'd want a companion (plus I guess it's just the two of us for a few more weeks). Thing is I think she's more of a Druid than a Ranger.

How would you build a 5e Druid with an Animal Companion via?

My current thoughts are;
  • D&D Essentials/UA sidekick style
  • Take Magic Initiate/Ritual Caster and call it a familiar
  • Ranger 3/Druid X
Any other close to RAW paths?
I've used a slightly modified sidekick as a companion for a ranger. It works fine. If the other players want parity you can just let them have sidekicks as well.

Progression after level 2 is as an unmodified warrior sidekick.
 

Attachments

Weiley31

Adventurer
Grey Wolf Hexblade sounds like a perfectly fine animal companion. Make it wield its pact weapon like Great Wolf Sif.
 

bedir than

Adventurer
She's definitely going to be a Druid or Ranger. They fit her passions, and as a first time player I'm getting the sense she wants something familiar.

I'm down to UA: Sidekicks or UA: Class Options

The figure came with a little stone creature.
 
Circle of the Woods

Primal Companion


When you choose this circle at 2nd level, a Primal Spirit finds you. It takes the form of an animal companion. Choose Beast of the Air or Beast of the Sea from the UA-ClassFeatureVariants for the Ranger Beast Companion (https://media.wizards.com/2019/dnd/downloads/UA-ClassFeatures.pdf), but use your Druid level instead of your Ranger level, and otherwise use the Beastmaster Animal Companion and Companion's Bond from the Beastmaster Ranger.

Additionally, you can use a bonus action to expend one spell slot to heal your companion 1d8 hit points per level of the spell slot expended.

Primal Attack

Starting at 6th level, when you cast any spell as an action your companion can also expend its reaction to make an attack. In addition, your companion's attacks count as magical for the purpose of overcoming resistance and immunity to nonmagical attacks and damage.

Elemental Smite

At 10th level, when your companion hits with a melee attack, you can expend a spell slot as a reaction. The attack deals an additional 1d8 damage, plus 1d8 damage per level of the spell slot (max 6d8). The additional damage is either fire, cold, poison, or lightning damage. Until the end of your next turn, any creature that hits your companion and is within 15' takes 1d8 damage of the same type.

Companion Form

At 14th level, as an action you can expend a use of your wild shape in order to become a Beast of the Land or Beast of the Air, as if it was your companion. While in this Beast form, you can use Elemental Smite on your own melee attacks (including the damage if you are hit), and your Primal Companion feature to heal yourself.

There, try that. (I basically mashed up the Beastmaster and the Circle of the Moon to make a new druid circle centered around a companion).
 
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Blackrat

He Who Lurks Beyond The Veil
When my group switched from 3.5 to 5e and recreated the existing characters, I just gave the druid access to call familiar, told her the companion now used familiar rules and went with that. She had a hawk so it was a rather easy conversion.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
I may have finally convinced my wife to try D&D. The mini I picked out is from the Wardling line at WizKids, because I knew that she'd want a companion (plus I guess it's just the two of us for a few more weeks). Thing is I think she's more of a Druid than a Ranger.

How would you build a 5e Druid with an Animal Companion via?

My current thoughts are;
  • D&D Essentials/UA sidekick style
  • Take Magic Initiate/Ritual Caster and call it a familiar
  • Ranger 3/Druid X
Any other close to RAW paths?
One way to go is to give her a feat where she counts her MC spellcaster level as her Druid level for spellcasting, and build a Druid/Ranger, with the UA Beast of Earth or Beast of Air stats.

The feat effectively just lets her prepare Druid spells for those weird levels where otherwise she would have slots but no spells (which isn’t much of a feat, and the UA ranger pet works much better for an MC Ranger, because it’s easier to heal and Rez.

You could make the Spellcasting feat also let the pet use her total level for calculating HP.

A feat to make the MC math and stuff just work without confusion seems appropriate to me, and a custom feat is one of the least impactful home brews I can think of for this idea.
 

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