D&D 5E The problem with Pet classes and a possible solution?

DEFCON 1

Legend
Supporter
So pet abilities should be very limited, an attack, movement and maybe a bonus action.

When you start creating different pet abilities you are developing a tiered pet that is a heck of a lot more complex.
If you make pet abilities that are a replacement for the Ranger's spells... the class is no more complex than it normally is. The only difference is that the game mechanics that would come from of the Ranger when they cast spells will instead originate out of the pet (or pet and master combined.)

If a player doesn't want their pet to do anything more than just move and attack, they don't have to use this new class idea. (Considering the fact that my idea is not actually going to happen in the actual game anyway and is purely a homebrew concept someone would have to make for themselves.)
 

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Undrave

Hero
I'm probably the only one who dont care if the pet is actually like a 2nd character. Give it the same actions and HP as a character, I dont mind. It still doesnt have any features, weapons, armors, spells, language etc

Its just a bag of HP with mediocre attacks and AC, with maybe 1-2 trained skills. Having its own set of actions isnt the end of the world.
My solution has, for a long time, been to just remove the beast companion from the PC class: a Beast companion should just be a specific Sidekick class. Just accept that adding a beast companion is just adding an extra member of the party and that someone gets to control 2. Maybe the party can share controlling duty, or the DM can do it, it doesn’t matter. It’s an extra character that can do stuff on its own and level up on its own, but it also adds to the encounter balance in a obvious way and the DM can just adjust their expectation to the increased party size. Now any class can get a pet.

And if a player is jealous someone gets to play two characters, then they can just get a sidekick themselves if they can handle the extra effort.
Pets can act like sidekicks, which is basically another PC in the party. Might not be great if the party is already at 5-6 people.
Yup!
The biggest problem with pets in my experience isn't really balance, although I grant that can be a problem.

The biggest problem with pets, steeds, summoned creatures, henchmen, minions, etc. is that when the PCs become a small army instead of a squad of commandos it massively slows down play. I groan inside whenever a player wants to play a concept that invests in minions of any sort because that one player's turn can take as long as the entire rest of the party.
I stopped playing a Shepperd Druid because it got way too good to the point of being boring and managing 8 wolves was a paint in the butt, even if I was really efficient (for one thing we just abstracted the damage taken so that as soon as we got enough combined damage to past one of their HP one of them would fall, regardless of position)
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, all you need to do to accomplish this is put a decent chunk of the pets power in a feature that uses spell slots.

I wouldn’t love that version, but it’d be a lot better than removing Spellcasting from the base class or making the pet most of the classes power. That dynamic fits a “mage or priest with pet” class a lot more than it does the ranger.

Having played with a revised BM and DMed for one as well, it’s nicely balanced, doesn’t overshadow anyone else, and is a lot of fun.
That's not a bad idea. The Smite analogy is really good.
 

jgsugden

Legend
I would agree with this design, but I think many modern players would be offended when their pet Wolf turns and flees after getting hit with Dragon fear ...... which is what should happen if a wolf get frightened by a Dragon.
I've played with hundreds of players. With the exception of a few that were not invited back (a very, very few), I've not run into players that objected to the DM (me) saying, "you run your PC - everything else is an NPC unless the rules say otherwise."

When I've had players express a desire to run a beast master ranger in 5E, I tell them they can, or they can run another type of ranger and have a beast NPC ally that will generally follow their commands, but will be an NPC with free will. Then I give them some examples of how it would play out. I'e used the same technique as an offering to all rangers, druids and nature clerics. It has been very favorbly accepted. Outside one beast master early in 5E that was a short term PC, people prefer this option.
 

Tales and Chronicles

Jewel of the North, formerly know as vincegetorix
My solution has, for a long time, been to just remove the beast companion from the PC class: a Beast companion should just be a specific Sidekick class. Just accept that adding a beast companion is just adding an extra member of the party and that someone gets to control 2. Maybe the party can share controlling duty, or the DM can do it, it doesn’t matter. It’s an extra character that can do stuff on its own and level up on its own, but it also adds to the encounter balance in a obvious way and the DM can just adjust their expectation to the increased party size. Now any class can get a pet.

And if a player is jealous someone gets to play two characters, then they can just get a sidekick themselves if they can handle the extra effort.
Exactly my way of doing this. Its a game: giving the Friendly Neighborhood Bear its own character and features should be fun and its a party responsibility. If it creates jealousy or resentment, I remove it. Done.

As I often say in my day-to-day life: ''play nice with your friends and share your toys so that everyone gets to play.''
 

Hawk Diesel

Adventurer
I have reworked all pet classes to have the pets function as retainers (from Matt Colville's Strongholds and Followers). So far it's worked pretty well. The class abilities are generally less about the pet's increase in power (since it automatically increases in level as a retainer would), and more about how the class interacts with the pet or options that are thematically linked to the pet but may not necessarily require the pet to use. This makes the class somewhat independent of the pet, which is nice. Also, since retainers could join the party in ways other than having a specific class to support it, it ensures that taking such a class is not required to have a pet / partner. I've also done this with conjuration spells, where the spellcaster is given specific options for a kind of retainer they want, and the level of the spell used determines the conjured retainer's level.
 

Weiley31

Legend
You know, with how One D&D does Two Weapon fighting now, at least you don't have to worry about choosing to swing your weapons or telling your Dire Wolf to bite somebody now.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Another thing I’d add to my take on the BM.

The subclass features shouldn’t all revolve around the pet, as such. Give the BM ranger teamwork benefits, let them hunt as the leader of a pack, and that will naturally dovetail with having a beast companion. Let them spend spell slots to include more than one ally, but make the at will benefits have a small boost when used with a beast.
 

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