D&D 5E How might you fix the beastmaster's animal companion?

77IM

Explorer!!!
Supporter
The big problem I have with NPC allies in general is overshadowing PCs.

My favorite solution to this is something I noticed in Lego Star Wars, of all places. The computer-controlled characters in that game seem to deal a lot less damage, but they take less as well. By not dealing much damage, they don't take away game play opportunities from the player: you have to kill stuff yourself. By not taking much damage, they are not a liability either: you're not spending every moment guarding them.

So my favored solution would be to make the animal companion into a deliberate meat shield. Its attacks wouldn't be great, but it would be a big sack of hit points. You would position it on the battlefield to harass and block enemies while the PCs get down to the business of actually killing people. I'm not sure what rules tweaks would be required to make this happen but that would be the game-play experience I would want.
 

log in or register to remove this ad

I'd have a pool of xp rather than a single creature up to Challenge 1/4. So you can have two CR 1/8 creatures. And I'd have that pool increase so you can have more creatures at higher level, upgrading to a CR 1/2 and then maybe a CR 1.
I'd also have rules for training creatures encountered in play, ala wild empathy, treating found animals as temporary companions.

But mostly I'd increase the hp gained each level. The beast effectively gains 4hp a level (ranger level x 4), which puts it on par with a Con 10 wizard. That's too damn low. 5 or even 6 would be more appropriate.
A little extra damage wouldn't hurt either. Maybe giving it an ability score bump or two.
 

Zaran

Adventurer
I'd have a pool of xp rather than a single creature up to Challenge 1/4. So you can have two CR 1/8 creatures. And I'd have that pool increase so you can have more creatures at higher level, upgrading to a CR 1/2 and then maybe a CR 1.
I'd also have rules for training creatures encountered in play, ala wild empathy, treating found animals as temporary companions.

But mostly I'd increase the hp gained each level. The beast effectively gains 4hp a level (ranger level x 4), which puts it on par with a Con 10 wizard. That's too damn low. 5 or even 6 would be more appropriate.
A little extra damage wouldn't hurt either. Maybe giving it an ability score bump or two.

I don't know. They get the Ranger's Prof bonus to damage already. I don't mind the low hit points but I could see the ranger and companion sharing hit points through their connection.
 

I was just wondering if Ranger subclass was the way to go for a beast companion in the first place, maybe it should have just been a feat and allow other classes to have access to it where it makes sense Barbarian, Druid, Nature Cleric or some kind of tribal sorcerer. Or maybe have it folded into the spell system like special mounts and familiars.

Your solution looks pretty good though for someone who wants to play archetype of ranger though. I would love to see how this plays out in actual play. I doubt it would break anything. I don't think it would be competitive combat-wise with the Hunter Ranger, but I am pretty sure anyone picking Beast Master is less concerned about that in the first place, even as is, the Beast Master gives a lot of exploration options beyond combat.
 

I don't know. They get the Ranger's Prof bonus to damage already. I don't mind the low hit points but I could see the ranger and companion sharing hit points through their connection.
Proficiency to damage is neat but it's +1 every 4 levels. It doesn't go up often, compared to monsters that jump in number.
 

Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
Again the issue is "what do you want the beast companion to do?"

Controlled mounts cannot fight nor gain HP per level. They can only be mounts.
Independent mounts are not controlled.
Summoned mounts suck at combat.
Familiars can't fight unless you are a warlock. Then they just suck at it.

Here's what I'd do to Ranger's Companion. Changes in bold.

"At 3rd level, you gain a beast companion that accompanies you on your adventures and is trained to fight alongside you. Choose a beast that is no larger than Medium and that has a challenge rating of 1/4 or lower (stuff). Add your proficiency bonus to the beast's AC, attack rolls, and damage rolls, as well as to any saving throws and skills it is proficient in. Its hit point maximum equals its normal maximum or four times your ranger level, whichever is higher.

When you gain a beast companion, you choose a method of training for the beast. This may alter its statistics. Once the choice is made, it cannot be changed until you spend a week retraining it.


The beast obeys your commands as best it can. It takes its turn on your initiative, though it doesn't take an action unless you command it to. On your turn, you can verbally command the beast where to move (no action required by you). You can use your action to verbally command it to take the Attack, Dash, Disengage, Dodge, Help, Hide, or Search action. Once you have the Extra Attack feature, you can make one weapon attack yourself when you command the beast to take the Attack action.
As an action, you can order the beast to attack freely. The beast will take the Attack action each turn. The beast continues to fight until it must flee (due to injury, being frightened, or the like) or its opponent is defeated. When the beast is attacking freely, it will only listen to your command to stop which requires an action.
While traveling through your favored terrain with only the beast, you can move stealthily at a normal pace.
If the beast dies, you can obtain another one by spending 8 hours magically bonding with another beast that isn't hostile to you, either the same type of beast as before or a different one.

Methods of training:

Scout: The beast's hit point maximum equals its normal maximum or four times your ranger level, whichever is higher The beast also has proficiency in Wisdom and Charisma saving throws. As a bonus action, you can command the beast to take the Hide or Search action on its turn.

Warbeast: The beast's hit point maximum equals its normal maximum or four times your ranger level, whichever is higher The beast also has proficiency in Strength and Dexterity saving throws. As a bonus action, you can command the beast to take the Attack action on its turn.

Watchbeast: The beast's hit point maximum equals its normal maximum or eight times your ranger level, whichever is higher. The beast also has proficiency in Strength and Constitutions saving throws."
 

You could make it so the beast can attack on its own, but only gets your proficiency bonus as an attack/AC/damage bonus when you are actively commanding it as per RAW. Otherwise it's "just" a cougar like normal.
 


Ruzak

First Post
I think we will just let the companion attack on its own, since that is the only thing that really makes sense to me in the narrative. We always think of companions more like extra party members anyway, so it doesn't matter if they are overpowered. I guess the player has too much power, but the ranger himself doesn't, so it doesn't seem a problem .
 

pming

Legend
Hiya.

I can't see what's wrong with the Ranger - Beast Master. As far as I can tell, it doesn't need any changes. Hmmm...

The Good
The Ranger doesn't need to acquire higher CR creatures. Adding the proficiency bonus to...everything...and using the new HP calculations means that the companion isn't irrelevant.
This adds HP to the party. Without taking any actions, the ranger can stick their companion in the line of fire and use it like a meat shield.
Compared to a weapon, it's viable, and more flexible. Because its attacks take the place of your own, its worth comparing this to the other weapons you could use. An animal companion does decent damage when compared to most martial weapons (especially when you add your proficiency bonus to damage), and can do this damage at any range. It could also do things other than damage.
It can do things for you. Need a trap-filled corridor traversed or a switch flipped or a vial snatched? Animal companions are good for suicide missions, or when you need to hit something across a room. Flying companions are especially good at this.

The Questionable
It does nothing unless you use your action?. A mount can move or dodge. A familiar can help. Compared to that, a companion just stands around drooling unless you spend time to make it do something. A familiar doesn't add as much HP, and doesn't necessarily scale well, but it can do things for you AND use the Help action. A mount might not scale as well, and it can't attack, but it's a bunch more HP for the first few levels, it's replaceable, AND it can Disengage for you. Companions don't seem as good as just buying a friggin' horse or conjuring up a celestial badger, at least for a while.
It has to be Medium or smaller?. I WANT A PONY. This is likely based on a "you should be able to bring it into a dungeon" requirement, but iconic animal companions are often larger than medium. The mountain man befriends a bear, the outrider befriends their horse, etc.
Compared to the Hunter's abilities, this is no great shakes. Colossus Slayer ups my damage by a d8 almost every round. Hoard Breaker and Giant Killer give me extra attacks under certain circumstances. They're pretty context-dependent, and they don't up survivability or increase utility like a companion, but it's a little weird that having a panther claw and bite for me won't actually up my damage very much.
Is this meant to be an animal friend or just some expendable beast?. The ability to acquire a new one implies the latter, but the HP totals imply the former, and the archetype certainly contains "me an' this bear were raised together!" kinds of narratives.

Your "Good" seems to imply you only see the animal as a data set of numbers to be used against other numbers in a game of numbers. This...is....odd? I'm not sure what words I'm looking for. I guess I'm sort of equating it to a father or mother looking at their 5 year old daughter and only being concerned with how she can be used to further their own wealth or career. "Hmmm...listen, Suzy, why don't you go over to that tiger in the tiger exhibit there and pull it's tail. It's ok...mommy and daddy will get lots of money for your death. We can always have another child". <-- ok...that was REALLY harsh! But I'm trying to make a point. I guess the point is...you should probably just stop reading this post right here if you have no problem with that scenario in terms of an RPG situation.

Right. So... With regards to your "Questionable" parts...

It does nothing unless you use your action? Er, I suppose...if your DM is a complete and utter twit. This isn't a video game or a game with cold, hard, immutable rules. It's a roleplaying game. I'm pretty sure your animal companion would do whatever you would expect an animal to do...unless it was told to do something else. I would assume that the beast has some kind of affection for you, so I'm also pretty sure it would attack anyone attacking you. That said, if you were to command it to do something else, it would. But, lacking that command, any DM worth his salt would play the beast as a loyal, protective, and loving companion. Of course, if you just see it as a "bunch of numbers to be used in combat", and so does your DM...well, I guess that's on you.

It has to be Medium or smaller? As per the rules, yup. *shrug* I really have no comment on it other than to say that this would fall squarely on the "Hey, I have an idea...can I [insert cool idea]?" players shoulders. And then firmly into the DM's court of "Yeah, I can see that. Sounds cool. Go for it!". But, again, if you just see everything as a "list of numbers to be exploited in a RAW manner, as best as possible, and totally for combat purposes"...well, again, I guess that's on you.

Compared to the Hunter's abilities, this is no great shakes. Yeah, but...well... *sigh* Colossus Slayer can't help you detect hidden foes or fly overhead to try and detect ambushes. Hoard Breaker and Giant Killer won't help keep watch during the night, nor will they provide warmth when deep into the bowels of the earth, and no, they won't go running off to go and try and find help to bring back to your unconscious (and slowly dieing) body. Any other combat/damage-based Feat/Ability you toss out there is only 1/3 of the 5e pie. Animal companions have FAR more benefits than how much DPS they can bring to bare. I mean, I've seen so many fantasy movies where the "animal companion" is used for comic relief, or to pull on our heart strings, or to otherwise show all the stuff that being heroic and fighting evil is all about: saving or helping people and making their lives better. But, again...if it's all about the "combat numbers", ...yadda yadda yadda.

Is this meant to be an animal friend or just some expendable beast? Really? I mean, seriously really really? o_O Uh, I'm going to go with 'the former' due to the fact that it's kinda the archtypes KEY ABILITY/FOCUS/SCHTICK. Would it make more sense for this archtype to suddenly loose it's key thing forever? That's like equating a barbarians Rage to a can of spinach. If the barbarian ever looses that can of spinach (re: it gets disintegrated, lost at sea, stolen by thieves, eaten by a grue, etc), the barbarian forever looses the ability to rage.

...Holy Curmudeonly Grognarditis Batman! I just reread what I wrote. I guess I'm definitely in a snarly mood or something. I'm gonna leave this here before I *really* say something I'll regret.

^_^

Paul L. Ming
 

Remove ads

AD6_gamerati_skyscraper

Remove ads

Recent & Upcoming Releases

Top