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In my experience, Animal Companions for Gestalt characters seem especially underpowered. As the DM, I have a 2-part plan to address this.

  1. Max out HP vs Rolling
  2. Allow Gestalt Druid/Rangers to combine levels for determining companion statistics. This means a level 6 Character can have a companion equivalent to a level 9 Druid.

Limitations, this is for an E6 campaign so the given example is the high extreme.

  1. Does this seem too powerful?
  2. Are there established methods to resolve this issue I am unaware of?

I am the DM of this small adventure; I thought that would be understood by the changes I was trying to implement but since I didn't make it clear I've edited the question to state it explicitly.

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2 Answers 2

For Gestalt characters, as far as I know there isnt a hard and fast rule other than the "take the best of a class and use that". That said these options might be amenable to your DM.

1) If there only a few Gestalt Characters then you might consider maxing out rolls and giving an automatic appropriate template of choice with DM approval if the player has 2 animal companion classes. In addition allow the levels to stack to a max of actual character level (6ranger/6druid is still level 6, so use the higher of the 2 for determining animal) per normal rules for Gestalt. A template plus maxed stat rolls should be more than enough to give a companion a fighting edge albeit weaker than an actual additional party member in most cases. This case makes the player with such a split feel like they are "viable" and attended to for their focus on the animal companion given the other options that may offer better synergy.

2) If there is an average amount of gestalt characters allow a template OR maxed out stat rolls. The key here is that the players should be the focus a lot more of the focus than one players character boon. It should be fine combat wise without overshadowing the main focus which should always be the players themselves. Per usual, the higher of the class benefits should dictate the level/CR of the animal companion.

3) Bump up size category (stat and rule wise, not logistics wise IE the large ape doesnt actually become huge but hits and defends as if he were) of the animal in addition to normal gestalt rules.

One of these three should be palatable enough for a DM to agree with. Dont assume that its a given, work with the DM.

Ultimately, this is an issue you have to plead your case with the DM about. Let them know what the character's design is suppose to be and try to work together to come to a conclusion that doesn't feel munkin-y. Everyone wants their time to shine at the table.

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I've edited question to clearly state I AM the DM. I like your answers, but to clarify, I'm not worried about over shadowing the characters (Gestalt characters are pretty impressive anyway) but my exp has shown that animal companions are drastically more vulnerable and can't contribute to an encounter, if they're lucky enough to survive. –  Ben-Jamin Feb 21 at 15:24
    
Ah ok. One DM to another, this should allow the companions to be on par without causing power issues later. having a 20/20 ranger druid with a lvl 30 pet (excluding mythic/epic levels, depending on the system) would tend to be a tad ridiculous. –  user3303373 Feb 21 at 15:44
    
True, but E6 campaigns max out at lvl 6, so this would never truly be an issue. Although the proposed method would let the animal companions get to lvl 9 they would then cease to improve while the PCs continue to improve via feats indefinitely. –  Ben-Jamin Feb 21 at 18:06
    
I was not aware of the feats bit. You could just go tit for tat on that then, every time the player qualifies for a feat the companion could as well, allowing it to potentially draw on monster feats. I know pathfinder has feats specifically for monsters but cant recall if there was a one to one for 3.5 for that. –  user3303373 Feb 21 at 18:13
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The animal companions aren't supposed to be very powerful because they're just support to the other players for the most part, and would make being a Druid too overpowered and off balanced (even more so than it already is). However, this seems to be reasonable, but a better solution would be to get better companions that are stronger. ex: the fleshraker, which is extremely powerful (though I would recommend choosing something not AS op as that).

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The campaign will be normal, but the difficulty is that there will only be 2, maybe 3 players so the companion will def help. BTW, I've edited ? to make clear that I AM the DM, but I want to make sure my proposed changes seem fair/resonable/balanced etc. thx –  Ben-Jamin Feb 21 at 15:20
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