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    MindFlayer

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    Default The Beastmaster's Stable: A guide to animal companions.

    So I didn't see a similar thread already, if there is one, awesome. The eventual concept is just that I want to put together a list of all options available to a Beastmaster for his animal companion, with some notes regarding their efficacy or lack thereof. This is very much a WIP and right now I'm just trying to get together all the options, so I can later add more meaningful analysis. If you are aware of a creature that qualifies (CR 1/4 or less, medium or smaller, beast) which is in a location other than the "Misc Creatures" appendix, please feel free to point out what and where it is! I'll be updating this post as we go along.

    Baboon - Has a climb speed and pack tactics. Strictly worse than a Wolf other than the climb speed.
    Badger - In theory, if you need a tiny (and thus relatively easy to conceal) companion with a burrow speed, this is your pick. Otherwise there is no reason not to go with a Giant Badger over this that I'm aware of.
    Bat - Makes a better familiar than Animal Companion, the blindsight is the best range of any creature and it does have a fly speed, so there is some theoretical use as a scout.
    Blood Hawk - Has Pack Tactics, and flies. Strictly better combat stats than the Vulture, but it can't be used as a mount, thus the lower ranking.
    Boar - Potential Mount. Has relentless, which starts off great and gets worse as you get higher in levels. Otherwise it's strictly worse than the Wolf.
    Cat - Again, a better familiar than a mount. No redeeming qualities, except possibly killing Wizards with housecats to keep the tradition alive.
    Crab - Amphibious, good Blindsight, but there is no reason I can think of you would ever choose this over the Giant Crab.
    Deer- Potential mount. Passable AC, but terrible to hit and damage. Redeemed somewhat by great speed, but not enough to make it competitive with the other options available.
    Eagle - Strictly worse than the Blood Hawk.
    Flying Snake - Same AC as a Giant Poisonous Snake and great damage, due in large part to not allowing a save against its poison damage. Has a flying speed, blindsight, a swim speed, and flyby attack prevent it from causing AoOs. Less effective against enemies immune to poison damage. For those who want a tiny Animal Companion, or a flying Animal Companion they don't intend to ride, by far the best option.
    Frog - Can not attack. Do not pick this. If you want a frog or toad, grab a Giant Frog instead.
    Giant Badger - Potential mount. It and its smaller variant are the only companions with Burrow speeds I am aware of. However, multiattack does not work with the Beastmaster's abilities. As a result, with its terrible AC and mediocre to hit bonuses, not the strongest combat option.
    Giant Centipede - Climb speed, 30' Blindsight, decent damage due to poison. Compares unfavorably to the Giant Poisonous Snake.
    Giant Crab - Potential Mount. The highest AC value I'm currently aware of for Animal Companions. Blindsight in a good range, a swim speed, amphibious and automatic grapple on a hit. A good option under any circumstances, the Giant Crab becomes fantastic in a heavily coastal or otherwise aquatic themed campaign, where he can drag those without swim speeds into the briny depths and provide transport for PCs that need it underwater, so long as they can hold their breath.
    Giant Fire Beetle - It provides illumination, but beyond that questionable benefit, is no better than a housecat.
    Giant Frog - Potential mount. Amphibious, good jump distance, but perhaps most importantly, it has the ability to swallow a target, with no listed means of them escaping short of the death of the creature, which is harder with the improved stats it gains as an Animal Companion. Pairs beautifully with the mechanical benefits provided by being an Animal Companion.
    Giant Poisonous Snake - Potential Mount. Blindsight, 10' reach on attacks, great AC, the best to hit value I'm currently aware of, with attacks that cause great damage due to poison. Has a swim speed, and venom can be harvested from it for your own use. From a strictly Damage Per Round standpoint, the strongest choice in the game, and a pretty darn good choice for other considerations as well.
    Giant Rat - Pack tactics. Strictly inferior to a Wolf.
    Giant Weasel - Potential Mount. No discernible advantages compared to other choices for a mount.
    Giant Wolf Spider - Potential Mount. Blindsight, (minor) poison damage, spider climb, web walker, good stealth scores, and paralysis for up to an hour in very specific circumstances all combine to make a unique, powerful, and flavorful animal companion.
    Goat - Potential Mount. Sure footed has some minimal use, and combined with its charge attack it has at least some merit, but it is vastly inferior to the Wolf, amongst others.
    Hawk Slightly better AC and to hit can't make up for inferior damage and the loss of pack tactics. You're better off with a Blood Hawk.
    Hyena - Potential Mount. Pack tactics. Strictly worse than the wolf.
    Jackal - Not even Pack Tactics can save the value of this creature, which is by far the worst choice available of those that include pack tactics.
    Lizard - Better as a familiar than an animal companion. Has a climb speed, is otherwise completely useless.
    Mastiff - Potential mount. Trip effect on attacks, like the Hyena it's strictly inferior to the wolf.
    Mule - Potential Mount. Sure footed and Beast of Burden both provide beneficial effects, just ones better suited to a pack animal than an animal companion.
    Octopus - Cannot breathe out of water. In a heavily coastal or aquatic themed campaign, it's average, but even then is vastly inferior to the Giant Crab.
    Owl - 120' darkvision and flyby provide redeeming qualities for a creature that is otherwise strictly inferior to the Flying Snake.
    Panther - Potential mount. Great speed, a climb speed, and pounce, but sadly you'll never get to use the bonus action attack barring DM houserules. Its abilities do not provide as much synergy with the rules on Animal Companions as other options.
    Poisonous Snake - Worse in every possible way than the Flying Snake, there is no discernible reason to ever choose this option.
    Pony - Potential mount. Worse in every possible way than the Wolf, it lacks any unique or meaningful characteristics to compensate for its deficits.
    Pteranodon (Dinosaur) - Potential Mount. One of two medium flying creatures eligible for taking as an Animal Companion, which makes it a possible flying mount. Has Flyby instead of Pack Tactics, is otherwise strictly superior to the Vulture.
    Quipper - Cannot breathe out of water. An average choice only in campaigns set entirely within an aquatic environment, as it lacks even the 30 minutes the octopus can spend out of water.
    Rat - Better as a familiar than a Animal Companion, and probably a poor choice even then. There is no discernible reason to ever take this creature.
    Raven - Its mimic ability may or may not be useful, depending on DM adjudication. Otherwise strictly inferior to the Blood Hawk and Flying Snake.
    Scorpion - Strictly inferior even to the regular poisonous snake.
    Sea Horse - Cannot breathe out of water, -and- it lacks any means of attacking. The worst possible choice for an Animal Companion, if I could invent a new color for it I would.
    Spider A better familiar than animal companion, it is strictly inferior to the Giant Wolf Spider.
    Stirge (HotDQ) - Decent AC and attack bonus, its real strength lies in the fact that you do not need to use your action for it to continue to deal damage. Rather, it deals its damage (5 + proficiency bonus) each turn so long as it remains attached, a condition it must willfully end (it *can* detach itself by spending 5' of movement once the target has taken 10 or more damage, but does not appear to be required to do so), or which requires an action on the part of an enemy to end. A unique choice, it is strongest in the levels before your beast gains its second attack (at 11).
    Vulture - Potential mount. One of two medium flying creatures eligible for taking as an Animal Companion, which makes it a possible flying mount. Has pack tactics instead of flyby, is otherwise strictly worse than the Pteranodon.
    Weasel - The same is true for it as is true for the Rat, there is no discernible reason to ever take this companion.
    Wolf - Potential mount. Good AC, good to hit bonus, free trip effect on attacking, which may provide advantage for other melee combatants, and it has pack tactics. Large enough to serve as a mount, and its abilities are well suited to that purpose. An excellent choice.
    Last edited by GiantOctopodes; 2015-07-14 at 08:16 PM.

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    Default Re: The Beastmaster's Stable: A guide to animal companions.


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    Default Re: The Beastmaster's Stable: A guide to animal companions.

    The Hoard of the Dragon Queen Supplement has a Tiny CR 1/8 Beast in it that is actually quite worth mentioning: The Stirge.
    What makes the Stirge interesting is that it only needs to attack once and then it continues inflicting its damage each turn unless someone spends an action pulling him off. At levels prior to 11 that would be quite an asset for a Beastmaster but it would lose its luster post level 11 but that is one of the cool things of the BM - starting with a Stirge doesn't mean you can't change it up when it becomes less useful.

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    Barbarian in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: The Beastmaster's Stable: A guide to animal companions.

    Thanks! As much as this seems much more of a waste of time now, I'll still end up rounding this out since I started already haha. One important note from his guide: He lists the Giant Badger as being able to use its multiattack. Based on the rules for the Beastmaster, since he can command it to take the Attack Action, and multiattack is not the attack action, I don't see how that's supported, unless I'm missing something? Still holds honors as the only companion I know with a Burrow speed, but as far as I can tell, isn't multiattack useless in this context?

    and Giant2005, thanks much! That's exactly the kind of info I was looking for! I'll add that in as soon as I have a chance

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    Default Re: The Beastmaster's Stable: A guide to animal companions.

    Quote Originally Posted by GiantOctopodes View Post
    He lists the Giant Badger as being able to use its multiattack. Based on the rules for the Beastmaster, since he can command it to take the Attack Action, and multiattack is not the attack action, I don't see how that's supported, unless I'm missing something? Still holds honors as the only companion I know with a Burrow speed, but as far as I can tell, isn't multiattack useless in this context?
    He probably wrote that guide based off Crawford's tweets that cited the Giant Badger could use its Multi-Attack when commanded by a Beastmaster. That has since changed via the Errata which puts that previous guide out of date - the Giant Badger can no longer multi-attack (Until he gets to level 11) and is now quite useless as a companion.
    Last edited by Giant2005; 2015-07-14 at 07:06 AM.

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    Default Re: The Beastmaster's Stable: A guide to animal companions.

    Ya, his guide was likely not updated w/ the errata.

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    Default Re: The Beastmaster's Stable: A guide to animal companions.

    Quote Originally Posted by GiantOctopodes View Post
    Thanks! As much as this seems much more of a waste of time now, I'll still end up rounding this out since I started already haha. One important note from his guide: He lists the Giant Badger as being able to use its multiattack. Based on the rules for the Beastmaster, since he can command it to take the Attack Action, and multiattack is not the attack action, I don't see how that's supported, unless I'm missing something? Still holds honors as the only companion I know with a Burrow speed, but as far as I can tell, isn't multiattack useless in this context?

    and Giant2005, thanks much! That's exactly the kind of info I was looking for! I'll add that in as soon as I have a chance
    As of the errata, the giant badger can use Multi attack once it has Bestial Fury. The damage is competitive with other classes.

    I think you might be undervaluing the boar, though. The extra d6 of damage from and knocking prone from Charge makes it very competitive as a mount, strictly better than the wolf in damage.
    Last edited by EvilAnagram; 2015-07-14 at 07:30 AM.

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    Default Re: The Beastmaster's Stable: A guide to animal companions.

    Also, this thread covers most of the same ground. The strengths and weaknesses of any particular Companion choice depend a lot on how your DM rules. For example, if your DM doesn't allow your Companion to use its Bonus Action, then the Panther is a terrible choice.

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    Quote Originally Posted by EvilAnagram View Post
    As of the errata, the giant badger can use Multi attack once it has Bestial Fury. The damage is competitive with other classes.

    I think you might be undervaluing the boar, though. The extra d6 of damage from and knocking prone from Charge makes it very competitive as a mount, strictly better than the wolf in damage.
    Ah, thanks for the clarification! No reason I can discern to use multiattack vs two claw attacks in its case, but definitely good to know!

    Regarding the Boar, when I'm looking at it, it has worse AC, lower to hit values even before you take into account Pack Tactics (which is HUGE), and its prone attack, instead of applying on every attack, requires 20' of straight movement, which can be difficult to obtain in dungeons or other cramped environments. Combine this with it not having a way of extracting itself without drawing AoOs and only having 40' of movement, and I can't say for sure that it'll even be possible to get the charge attacks on turns after the first, much less a good idea. When it does get the charge, its trip effect is the same as the Wolf gets on each and every attack, and its damage rises from 4 to 7, also identical to what the Wolf gets on every attack. It may be that I'm undervaluing relentless, but otherwise I'm just not seeing it.

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    I think you are seriously over-valuing the Wolf.
    The Wolf isn't terrible but by no means should it be on the same level as the Giant Poisonous Snake.
    The only really notable thing the Wolf has going for it is Pack Tactics but even that is kind of worthless considering the Ranger will most likely be casting Beast Bond anyway.

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    flying snake is probably the best non-mount option by a significant margin. the poison is better than the giant snake's poison because there is no save DC whatsoever, which likely makes it pull ahead against any enemy with decent con saves (but not immunity to poison).

    pulls ahead even further when you consider the value of milking the flying snake poison for use on your own weapons, which will remain valuable even as saving throws and con attributes increase.

    also, while the crab may have better AC, the flying snake's AC is all dex, which means it benefits a lot from a mage armour spell if someone in the party can spare one. it also benefits better from medium barding if you can persuade your DM that snakes can have barding, though admittedly I don't consider that one an easy sell (and naturally, plate is identical either way).

    about the only thing you could do to make it more amazing is make it medium and keep the same stats so that small characters could ride it.

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    Default Re: The Beastmaster's Stable: A guide to animal companions.

    The crab's auto grappling is more effective than one might think; while they are not winning any damage contest they make good pets and are good at positioning for a reaction-attack of opportunity and grab to ruin an enemy's turn

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    Quote Originally Posted by Person_Man View Post
    For example, if your DM doesn't allow your Companion to use its Bonus Action, then the Panther is a terrible choice.
    I agree, but I didn't know this was a common thing.
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    Quote Originally Posted by SharkForce View Post
    also, while the crab may have better AC, the flying snake's AC is all dex, which means it benefits a lot from a mage armour spell if someone in the party can spare one.
    I'm pretty sure Mage Armor is self only.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Madfellow View Post
    I'm pretty sure Mage Armor is self only.
    It's not. You touch a willing target.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Giant2005 View Post
    I think you are seriously over-valuing the Wolf.
    The Wolf isn't terrible but by no means should it be on the same level as the Giant Poisonous Snake.
    The only really notable thing the Wolf has going for it is Pack Tactics but even that is kind of worthless considering the Ranger will most likely be casting Beast Bond anyway.
    Yeah, I agree. I was originally going to run DPR comparisons and show how much advantage positively influenced it, and though such analysis would not have been wrong (at 20, vs AC 19 enemies, assuming they make their saves vs poison it's 11.2 damage per hit, or 22.4 per round for the giant snake, vs 10.92 per hit for the Wolf, or 21.84 per round), and talk about how the prone effect is better because though the poison and the ability to harvest it can potentially boost your DPR, this can improve the DPR for the whole party, and so on and so forth. However I realized the levels where there is the narrowest difference in damage are also those where there's very little chance that appropriate CR enemies are ever going to be knocked prone. During low levels, when the knockdown has the greatest impact, the difference in their effective DPR is just too great to justify having the same ranking. The Wolf has been knocked down accordingly. It's likely for the best this way anyway, as this way there's a champion on land (giant poisonous snake), sea (giant crab) and air (pteranodon).

    Quote Originally Posted by SharkForce View Post
    flying snake is probably the best non-mount option by a significant margin. the poison is better than the giant snake's poison because there is no save DC whatsoever, which likely makes it pull ahead against any enemy with decent con saves (but not immunity to poison).

    pulls ahead even further when you consider the value of milking the flying snake poison for use on your own weapons, which will remain valuable even as saving throws and con attributes increase.

    also, while the crab may have better AC, the flying snake's AC is all dex, which means it benefits a lot from a mage armour spell if someone in the party can spare one. it also benefits better from medium barding if you can persuade your DM that snakes can have barding, though admittedly I don't consider that one an easy sell (and naturally, plate is identical either way).

    about the only thing you could do to make it more amazing is make it medium and keep the same stats so that small characters could ride it.
    Best tiny animal companion no doubt. Best non-mount flying companion most definitely. But his bigger brother has him beat overall, in my book, and it's actually precisely because of the difference in poisons. The Giant Poisonous Snake can be harvested for Giant Serpent Venom (or whatever they call it) to apply to your own weapons, or those of your allies. Flying Snake Venom is not a type of poison that exists in the rulebook, and thus it cannot be harvested by RAW at all. Now, if your DM allows you to harvest unlimited 7 damage (no save) poison from the Flying Snake, sure, that makes a difference. But that comes back to DM discretion, and I've got to write this up assuming no house rules. Besides, in a straight combat comparison the Giant Poisonous Snake wins anyway. The Giant Poisonous Snake deals 5 more base damage (with the same to hit and AC), deals only 2 less poison damage on a successful save (and thus 4 more total damage) and deals 3 more damage on a failed save (thus 9 more total damage). He doesn't have flyby, but he does have reach.

    I can't think of any sane DM that would deny a serpent the use of scale mail but regardless do want to point out that the flying snake, giant poisonous snake, and giant crab all have +2 or more Dex bonus, so they all have the same AC with medium or heavier armor.

    Quote Originally Posted by Naanomi View Post
    The crab's auto grappling is more effective than one might think; while they are not winning any damage contest they make good pets and are good at positioning for a reaction-attack of opportunity and grab to ruin an enemy's turn
    Not to mention that all they need to do is *start* their turn restrained, and even if they escape, it's no movement for them that turn. Definitely very potent.
    Last edited by GiantOctopodes; 2015-07-14 at 04:58 PM.

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    Default Re: The Beastmaster's Stable: A guide to animal companions.

    You forgot to mention the Giant Frog's potential as an amphibious vehicle, provided you gain acid resistance.

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    Quote Originally Posted by GiantOctopodes View Post
    Not to mention that all they need to do is *start* their turn restrained, and even if they escape, it's no movement for them that turn. Definitely very potent.
    Can you clarify this point? I understand if a creature is grappled/restrained, then its movement is 0. But if it escapes the grapple and is no longer restrained, then its speed is no longer 0. Why can it not then choose to use its normal movement?

    I had thought it was like follows: Creature of speed 30 is grappled and knocked prone. He has speed of 0 as a result of the grapple. On his turn, he spends his action to escape the grapple (he succeeds on the opposed check). Now his movement is no longer 0, but 30 again. He can spend half (15) to stand up, and then 15 to move.

    Is there a tweet or rulebook line stating that if you start with speed 0 on your turn, you can not use any movement, even if the condition that reduced your speed to 0 has ended prior to the end of your turn?

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    I'm disappointed that the Stirge hasn't been added yet! IMO the Stirge is the only beastie that can compete with the Flying Snake for the title of best non-mountable companion.
    This would also be the only guide of this sort that would include the Stirge.
    Last edited by Giant2005; 2015-07-14 at 07:11 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Giant2005 View Post
    I'm disappointed that the Stirge hasn't been added yet! IMO the Stirge is the only beastie that can compete with the Flying Snake for the title of best non-mountable companion.
    This would also be the only guide of this sort that would include the Stirge.
    My apologies, the situation has been rectified!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Giant2005 View Post
    I'm disappointed that the Stirge hasn't been added yet! IMO the Stirge is the only beastie that can compete with the Flying Snake for the title of best non-mountable companion.
    This would also be the only guide of this sort that would include the Stirge.
    the only problem with the stirge is that it is supposed to be full up after a measley 10 HP.

    so long as your DM doesn't rule that the stirge explodes in a shower of blood and gore after sucking too much blood out of targets, it can work.
    Last edited by SharkForce; 2015-07-14 at 08:59 PM.

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    I'm AFB. Do swarms count as beasts or are they their own category?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Madfellow View Post
    I'm AFB. Do swarms count as beasts or are they their own category?
    animal companion specifies one animal, iirc.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Madfellow View Post
    I'm AFB. Do swarms count as beasts or are they their own category?
    http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showt...-for-BM-Ranger

    Some discussion on the topic of Swarms. My preferred companion (Swarm of Rats), but it does require some DM interpretation/rulings to function.
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    Default Re: The Beastmaster's Stable: A guide to animal companions.

    An important consideration is what animals could reasonably wear barding. It maybe possible to break the AC system if your animal is in full plate because you add your proficiency modifier to AC. I think it is perfectly reasonable for a riding horse to have barding, but absurd for a stirge to have barding. A boar or a wolf or snake would be maybe depending on DM.

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    Default Re: The Beastmaster's Stable: A guide to animal companions.

    Greetings,
    I am looking for info on animal companion hp. how much hp do they get and do they level up? I ask because the book makes them seem very weak and says nothing about them leveling.

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    Quote Originally Posted by catman -ranger View Post
    Greetings,
    I am looking for info on animal companion hp. how much hp do they get and do they level up? I ask because the book makes them seem very weak and says nothing about them leveling.
    Animal Companion HP is 4x Ranger Level, as said in the text. Everything they get as you level up is detailed in the Beastmaster text, they don't get any further goodies.

    Yes, Animal Companions have taken a fairly sized hit compared to previous editions. They're not front line fighters who can stay in melee for extended periods of time. To get the most out of them in 5E you need to use them tactically.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Alcibiades View Post
    Animal Companion HP is 4x Ranger Level, as said in the text. Everything they get as you level up is detailed in the Beastmaster text, they don't get any further goodies.

    Yes, Animal Companions have taken a fairly sized hit compared to previous editions. They're not front line fighters who can stay in melee for extended periods of time. To get the most out of them in 5E you need to use them tactically.
    yeah, well they were never the most powerful things and yeah seems like 5E nerfed them. One question is exactly how do they level up? what goes up when?

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    Default Re: The Beastmaster's Stable: A guide to animal companions.

    When you gain a Ranger level, its Max HP goes up by 4. (Since Max HP = Ranger Levels x 4) so it's ill-advised to multiclass with beastmaster, the Companion is squishy enough as-is.

    When your proficiency bonus increases, it likewise increases the AC, attack rolls, damage roll, and saves/skills it's proficient in by 1.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Alcibiades View Post
    When you gain a Ranger level, its Max HP goes up by 4. (Since Max HP = Ranger Levels x 4) so it's ill-advised to multiclass with beastmaster, the Companion is squishy enough as-is.

    When your proficiency bonus increases, it likewise increases the AC, attack rolls, damage roll, and saves/skills it's proficient in by 1.
    great! thanks for the info. I appreciate it!

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