I am a DM and one of the PCs in my group bought five guard dogs. This has produced a couple of problems:
Gameplay: I'm handling the dogs' turns in combat since PCs don't get direct control over their animals. In our last session this led to the PCs waiting around for more time which they admitted they found a bit boring.
Game balance: The group is 5th-level. The dogs played a key part in combat, dealing extra damage and soaking up some hits.
How do you suggest I manage this situation?
Here are the solutions I have considered:
- Make a sort of "Guard Dog Swarm." I could try to design the "swarm" so that it has better game balance and doesn't take as long to control as five separate dogs. My concern with this is that such a thing would still probably consist of four squares not tied together and thus still take a little while to move. Also, I want the "swarm" to be at least a bit consistent with being five dogs so game balance may still be an issue.
- (From My ranger has tamed an absurd number of Animal Companions with Handle Animal) Make an appeal to logistics and tell the player he's only allowed two dogs or so. However, that question refers to many different and more exotic animals. I'm guessing that keeping five dogs around is still somewhat reasonable.
- Do a better job of dealing with these dogs. Plan encounters where they will be ineffective or a hindrance. This alone doesn't cover how they slow down gameplay though.
- In the name of the fun of the group, tell the player he can't have five dogs. This is the least desirable solution as I don't want to ban something without a decent in-world reason.
Game Balance: As to how the dogs are even surviving, for one, I mistakenly made them Riding Dogs (HP x2 over a normal Dog). For two, they have thus-far only been in a handful of (admittedly not well-designed) encounters. Finally, I admittedly have had a bad habit of babying my PCs.
It would seem I must curb that habit.
Gameplay: I am already grouping the dogs' initiative but moving each token (using roll20) and tracking HP, conditons, etc. takes some time.
Coupling the dogs more in general sounds like a good idea. Increased familiarity with roll20 (to find some good grouping features) would also likely help.
Logistics: We haven't been tracking logistics though I've mentioned that were it to matter we would (i.e. we're not tracking food but would if they went a long time without visiting a town).
I could argue that more than two dogs will be too difficult.