D&D 5E Thoughts on a DM ruling for Beastmaster Ranger

Asisreo

Patron Badass
A DM I am playing with had ruled that once a beastmaster's companion dies, they can allow any beast that isn't hostile to be my new companion regardless of size or CR. Their thoughts is that since they can essentially control what's "hostile" that it won't be in the realm of unbalanced.

I'm not opposed to this ruling but I've never seen it ruled this way. Thoughts? Basically that only the initial beast has the restriction.
 

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aco175

Legend
Any beast sounds a bit open-ended and up for abuse. I can see a lot of low-level rangers having their companion 'accidently' kick the proverbial bucket. "Oh shoot Fluffy died- Can I get a T-rex."

The DM does control what hostile is and can use this to force a certain animal on you, but a better DM would work with you to give you a beast you also want. Reminds me of the old 1e wizard story where he steps on his toad familiar since he wanted a raven or such and then takes half the damage and kills himself.

You will see others post that its the DMs game and he is always right, but it is also worth a talk with him before it gets that far.
 

Asisreo

Patron Badass
Any beast sounds a bit open-ended and up for abuse. I can see a lot of low-level rangers having their companion 'accidently' kick the proverbial bucket. "Oh shoot Fluffy died- Can I get a T-rex."

The DM does control what hostile is and can use this to force a certain animal on you, but a better DM would work with you to give you a beast you also want. Reminds me of the old 1e wizard story where he steps on his toad familiar since he wanted a raven or such and then takes half the damage and kills himself.

You will see others post that its the DMs game and he is always right, but it is also worth a talk with him before it gets that far.
To be clear, I'm the beastmaster and I'm not planning on abusing the ruling but I was curious if there is any forseeable consequences to this that I wouldn't have control over. I trust they won't just say "you only find rats, the end." But it might also mean he gives me a companion that outshines others or is underpowered in most situations like a shark...
 

CreamCloud0

One day, I hope to actually play DnD.
If interpreted RAI I’d say that’s not possible, all beast companions must be 1/4CR medium creatures.

If being a bit more generous and putting my own spin on things I’d say 1/4CR medium creatures are the ones they can summon/bond with at will but anything above those restrictions require you to find the creature in the world and make a not insignificant animal handling check, also I’d probably cap the max CR of the alternate creatures they can bond with according to the tier they’re at, 1/4CR per tier i think maybe? So at T2 they could bond a 1/2CR beast and T3 a 3/4CR one and so on, Would that be balanced?
 
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iserith

Magic Wordsmith
I wonder what the purpose of that house rule is. It seems like the goal is to give you the possibility of a stronger beast than normal, but then that's ultimately up to the DM. Of course, so is whether you encounter any beast and whether you can make it your companion. So I'm not sure what purpose this serves.

But anyway, just take animal friendship and spam it on all the best beasts until you find one that fails a saving throw.
 

aco175

Legend
I would still talk with the DM. He is affecting part of your class. Kind of like changing spells on the wizard or moving 2nd wind to 4th level on the fighters. As a general, I think DMs should stay out of the PHB and leave that to the players. Not all the time and he does need to make rulings that affect their game, but this is why you talk to him before it becomes a problem. Maybe he has something cool planned for this one campaign.
 


DEFCON 1

Legend
Supporter
If the DM trusts you as a player, and your game takes story aspects seriously (things like NPC reactions to wild animals, the ins and outs of stabling animals within cities etc.) there's no reason not to let you just find a creature you are interested in having be your animal companion.

You will know based upon where your character is what the likelihood of different beasts are out there to find. If you and the DM takes the world seriously, you both know you won't be able to just go out and "find a T-Rex" or "find a Winter Wolf" or "find an orca" or any of the odd/or and overpowered choices... you will have to make realistic searches for what animals you might come across. And truth be told... if you did happen to lose your original companion... you might very well end up finding a new one based upon the adventures you have and who you come across as part of the story, rather than just doing the lame thing of flipping through the Monster Manual and finding the biggest and baddest beast there is and pointing at it, declaring "This is the one I want!"

The Beastmaster subclass and its animal companion is as much Story as it is just additional PC combat power. And if the DM believes you will treat your choices in that way... as an extension of your character's growth... then it won't matter what type of animal it is if you are more interested in playing the relationship between you and it, rather than just using it as another random damaging attack.
 

Asisreo

Patron Badass
So I talked some more with the DM and he says it's RAW and RAI that it's any beast. He claims that because there was no stipulations in the last clause that mentions CR or size like the first clause, that the next beast can be whatever the party happens to encounter that isn't hostile.

I noted that this isn't how it's worded but he says that you have to read the PHB by the letter and that the letter doesn't specify what the next companion can be.

I also noted how it might be broken and he said they "need" the buff anyways which I disagree with. I'm not against being stronger but interparty balance is something that I, as a fellow DM, am very wary of.

I don't know if I want to bother convincing him since it's his rules and I'm not even opposed to it fundamentally but I feel like it's somehow wrong to call it RAW.
 

DEFCON 1

Legend
Supporter
I don't know if I want to bother convincing him since it's his rules and I'm not even opposed to it fundamentally but I feel like it's somehow wrong to call it RAW.
Then don't. No one has to call it RAW or RAI or RAC or anything. Just find a normal companion you like that suits you and go with it. No reason for anyone to worry about what you end up selecting, provided you don't go over the top with your selection.
 


Vaalingrade

Legend
What's the specific concern here? That you're going to not get to choose the companion you get, or that the companion is going to be unbalanced for the game?

Because as long as you get to pick and you're being thoughtful of the rest of the group, as you seem to be, what's stopping you from declaring you go out and tame a specific appropriate critter?
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
I've already got your first goal: Go the nearest Jungle Primeval and navigate flawlessly via Natural Explorer (Forest), tracking with the help of your wolf companion's keen senses to find yourself a tyrannosaurus rex. Feed your wolf to the t-rex to make it your new companion. (I've seen players do this in combo with animal friendship.)
 
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Asisreo

Patron Badass
I've already got your first goal: Go the nearest Jungle Primeval and navigate flawlessly via Natural Explorer (Forest), tracking with the help of your wolf companion's keen senses to find yourself a tyrannosaurus rex. Feed your wolf to the t-rex to make it your new companion. (I've seen players do this in combo with animal friendship.)
As funny as that sounds, I don't think the campaign world even has T-rex's lol.

I also realized animal friendship doesn't necessarily make a creature non-hostile. It just charms them and convinces them that you mean no harm. I guess it's always up to the DM.

Feeding your animal companion to a different beast is definitely something for a comedy campaign, though. Love that.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
As funny as that sounds, I don't think the campaign world even has T-rex's lol.

I also realized animal friendship doesn't necessarily make a creature non-hostile. It just charms them and convinces them that you mean no harm. I guess it's always up to the DM.

Feeding your animal companion to a different beast is definitely something for a comedy campaign, though. Love that.
Yeah, the trick with animal friendship is that it at least puts you in the best position. It's not attacking you and doesn't expect to be harmed by you and isn't hostile. It's also charmed which means you have advantage on any ability check to interact socially with the creature. A speak with animals spell will sort out the communication at which point you can try to work out some kind of arrangement. Hopefully you're able to do it and in 8 hours you have a new companion. As you say, it's definitely going to be up to how the DM wants to resolve it though. This is how I would do it and have seen it done. It's also how I replaced my dead boar Belvedere with a cursed three-eyed mountain goat named Bafomet that constantly screamed.
 

Amros

Explorer
I also noted how it might be broken and he said they "need" the buff anyways which I disagree with. I'm not against being stronger but interparty balance is something that I, as a fellow DM, am very wary of.
If power level is his only concern, or the bigger one, after playing several Beastmasters I can tell you that you only need a bit more beast survivability. Nothing more. You can try to talk to him and implement these changes:
  • Beast HP is 5 x Ranger Level + Wis mod instead of only 4 x Ranger Level. It has a number of Hit Dice equal to your Ranger Level.
  • If the beast doesn't have any Saving Throw Proficiency, give it 2. For example, a Wolf can be proficient in Dex and Wis Saves.
  • Don't let your beast die at 0 HP, it's not a random critter. Treat it as a special NPC or Sidekick at let it roll Death Saving Throws.
If your DM still goes with "choose any beast", then just choose with care as Vaalingrade said.
 

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