When it comes to mounts, familiars, and minions, who gets to control them at your table, the player or the GM?


[FONT=Arial, sans-serif]My table seems to be a mix. As a chain-lock, my imp familiar is more or less mine to command in battle. Out of combat, however, he seems to have a mind of his own. Some fun stories about the li'l guy over here.

I am curious about how the rest of you guys handle it though.
[/FONT]When it comes to mounts, familiars, and minions, who gets to control them at your table, the player or the GM?


It is situational. When our paladin is mounted she controls her warhorse, when dismounted I do. Men at arms can be given orders and they will follow them to the best of their ability so long as the orders are clear and not suicidal. They will take the safest path to accomplish a given task.


Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
For the most part the player controls the critter, I only intervene in extreme situations. This is particularly for creatures that are "special" such as a paladins steed since they the paladin has "an instinctive bond with it that allows you to fight as a seamless unit". Regular animals can get spooked, although it's rare for trained war animals.


Goblin Queen
If a spell such as Find Familiar or Animate Dead, or a feature such as the Beast Master’s Ranger’s Companion or the mounted combat rules allows a player to control another creature in combat, that spell or feature specifies the limits of that control. For example, Familiars, as per the Find Familiar spell, act on their own Initiative, are controlled by the player in combat, abd cannot Attack (with the exception of Pact of the Chain warlocks, which can command their familiars to attack on their turn as an action.) I simply follow these rules as written. If an ability does not specify that a player can control a creature’s action - for example, in the case of an intelligent mount - then I control it.

The Beast Master’s Ranger’s Companion is an interesting edge case, because originally it was not specified what the beast did with its action if the player didn’t spend an action to command it. Personally, I filed that under the category of unspecified control, which meant it defaulted to me to choose how it acted, and generally I would have the beast’s first priority be to defend its master, and second priority be to defend itself. But then it was errata’d to take the Dodge action if not commanded otherwise, which I personally think is kinda dumb, so I ignore it and run it the same way I did prior to the errata.

Out of combat, players control their own characters and I control all other creatures. With familiars, mounts, animal companions, and minions, I generally allow the player a great deal of input on how they behave, but I ultimately narrate what they do.


It depends on a lot of specifics but as a rule nocs are gm controlled unless specific player abilities overrule that.


39th lv DM
Depends upon who's running the game.

One of our GMs leave all aspects 100% up to the player & give the things zero consideration. Even when that really doesn't make any story sense.

Some of our GMs will sometimes do something with/to a follower/henchmen. Familiars & such only receive attention in combat if they present as a decent target.

1) I LOVE familiars, animal companions, followers, etc! Thank you for providing me more points & ways on wich to build story. I promise to use them.
2) Even though you've gained them via class abilities, they are not your character. Since they are not your character, guess who actually controls them? Me! :)
That said? I'll let you run them most of the time (especially in combat) simply out of convenience. But I can resume direct control anytime.


A Title Much Cooler Than Anything on the Old Site
I tend to let the players control them as well as NPC allies in many cases. Anything to spread the DM workload.

Immortal Sun

Players always control their minions. DM always controls theirs.

You summoned it, you run it. Bog down the game with it(by not knowing its stats or what it does and so on) and I'll prohibit you from using the spell.

Sorry, the table doesn't have time for you to say "I cast 'Dm does my job for me'!"


It's your familiar, henchman, whatever. You deal with it. You, the player, make it as important as you wish in the campaign. I've got enough balls to juggle without worrying about stepping on your toes with some familiar or animal companion.
I let the players design and roleplay their familiars/companions freely.

Until combat starts... then I control their actions.

I've normally seen pets abused in combat when player-controlled, not outside of it.


The player - the DM has enough on their plate. The only time I might override a player is with henchmen, followers or sidekicks. Sometimes the sidekick has their own motivations, ideals and goals which the player may not know about and I have to step in RP-wise.

For example, my players encountered an "awoken" bear one evening at camp. It was supposed to be a throw-away encounter to make the world feel rich and diverse. Apparently I role-played the bear too well and they tracked him down and convinced him to travel and adventure with them. I'm fine with it, but the bear has his own hopes and dreams and chasing treasure isn't one of them.


Orcus on a bad hair day
In my game, anything that's a feature of your character (class feature, result of a spell, etc.) are 100% under your control. (And when I'm a player, I expect the same - that's part of my character, and I am absolute authority on is how my character acts (baring spells, etc.).)

Anything else (NPCs, trained/befriended animals, etc.) are under the DM's control - who may cede it to the player's control temporarily or permanently without giving up the right to veto and action or take back. For example I've RP'd NPCs but giving out monster stat write-ups for the players to run in combat.


In my group the mage has a familiar, he controls it. But he rarely uses it in combat like never.
Lately he got a robochicken in addition. I told him, he can control it by using his action (it can breathe fire for 1d4) but if he doesn't it will have its own head (I control it for :):):):):) and giggles). Anything contributing to potential harmful situations (not only open combat) can and will get hurt / killed.


[FONT=Arial, sans-serif]When it comes to mounts, familiars, and minions, who gets to control them at your table, the player or the GM?

A bit of both.

Technically, they are all NPC's and part of the domain of the DM. But they are NPCs which are generally loyal to the PC's, closely connected to them, and willing to take orders from them. Most of the time, it just speeds play to let the player play the NPC in a combat situation, on the assumption that the PC is issuing orders and in their absence the 'dog' or whatever is acting like a smart movie animal.

However, it's sometimes fun to step in and RP the pet, mount, familiar, or whatever.


Well I guess IMC they remain NPCs, and so ultimately under GM control. But I let player administer the crunch, and of course PCs can tell the critter to do stuff. A resummonable Familiar might do something suicidal if instructed, but a Ranger's animal companion probably won't, though it will take risks to help its companion humanoid. :D


I let the players design and roleplay their familiars/companions freely.

Until combat starts... then I control their actions.

I've normally seen pets abused in combat when player-controlled, not outside of it.
Weird. I'll usually go the exact opposite. The minion becomes my mouth piece in the party, but acts as a class feature once the dice come out.


Generally I let the PCs run things, especially during combat. Role-playing is left to me, and I also hold a veto on suicidal actions. For convinience, I have pets and famliairs act on the same turn as their owner, but henchmen/followers have their own turn. Non-henchmen/followers are still controlled by me.

If the player tries to abuse this, such as by having the familiar explore an entire adventure area (often resulting in death, dismemberment, or other horrible outcomes), the familiar will become agitated, object (if able to speak), then eventually flat out refuse (berating the PC if able to speak). Hasn't happened yet, mostly because I have an awesome group, but I'm prepared for it.