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A hunter may teach her companion hunter’s tricks from the skirmisher ranger archetype instead of standard tricks. The animal companion can use skirmisher tricks when commanded, a number of times per day equal to half its Hit Dice plus its Wisdom modifier.

For the Skirmisher Ranger tricks that the Hunter can teach his animal companion (AC), what is the proper way to command the AC to use them? I mean, some of these tricks may only apply during the attack or after the attack hits, when the Hunter has no actions in combat. Example:

Hobbling Attack (Ex): The Ranger can use this trick as a free action when he hits with an attack. The target of the attack’s land speed is reduced by 1/2 for 1d4 rounds.

So the AC either can't use the trick at all, or it needs to be given very specific if-then instructions on the Hunter's turn, or it needs to use the trick on its own accord when it is just given the Attack command. Are there any official rulings either way, in FAQs or for PFS?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Are you asking from a mechanical or a narrative perspective? \$\endgroup\$ – MonkeyKB Oct 15 '17 at 5:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ From the mechanical. \$\endgroup\$ – Nox Oct 15 '17 at 8:03
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It would be a free action for the Skirmisher's companion to activate the trick when it hits, after the Skirmisher took a free action to command the companion to attack something. As per the Skirmisher Tricks

The animal companion can use skirmisher tricks when commanded

None of this modifies how the trick is activated, apart from shifting the activation to the companion.

The default for commanding an Animal Companion is a Free Action for a normal Hunter, Ranger or Druid, thanks to Link.

A druid can handle her animal companion as a free action, or push it as a move action, even if she doesn’t have any ranks in the Handle Animal skill. The druid gains a +4 circumstance bonus on all wild empathy checks and Handle Animal checks made regarding an animal companion.

According to the description, the Animal Companion makes the decision on when to use the trick, although since the companion is obeying the commands of the Skirmisher, and since the Skirmisher player is generally controlling the animal companion, this would mean the player is choosing when to apply the trick. For an in-universe explanation of this mechanic, I take it to mean that when the Skirmisher directs his Animal Companion to attack, he includes a command to apply Hobble, if able, rather than the animal deciding when to use it. e.g. "Go for the legs, Boo!"

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  • \$\begingroup\$ It's a free action to command the Animal to attack, that was clear, but your answer implies that the Animal is smart enough to decide when to use Hobbling or Aiding attack and will decide on its own, without specifically being told either way. \$\endgroup\$ – Nox Oct 15 '17 at 9:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Nox This is the answer to your question from a mechanical perspective. If you are struggling with the idea that the Ranger could prompt the animal for a follow-up trick after a successful attack, consider that he could speak to his AC even when it isn't his turn as a free action. It is absolutely feasible. \$\endgroup\$ – MonkeyKB Oct 15 '17 at 13:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ Are you sure it's a free action for the animal companion? It seems like it's actually a not-an-action action, technically. \$\endgroup\$ – Please stop being evil Oct 15 '17 at 21:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ @the dark wanderer Yeah, pretty sure - the tricks say the Companion may use the trick, meaning the Companion is activating the ability. Doesn't say anything different about HOW it activates, so we go back to the specific trick, which says it's a free action to activate. \$\endgroup\$ – YogoZuno Oct 15 '17 at 22:07

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