I have hitherto just sort of assumed that an animal companion generally tries to stay near its master unless given commands or presented with strange situations. I may be wrong about this premise, but if not then it seems the "come" command is entirely superfluous outside of some very specific situations in which the rules as written are interpreted in a very pedantic way.

If we assume the animal companion is generally traveling with its master, then the "come" trick only becomes necessary when the animal otherwise would not come toward her. Such situations can only arise when the animal is not already with its master, such as when it is fighting — via the "attack" trick or otherwise — or has been instructed to do something else such as "flee," "perform," "seek," or "stay". In the specific case of fighting, there is a specific command — "down" — which explicitly exists for the purpose of disengaging combat. If we suppose that "down" must be used to effect a disengage; i.e., that "come" or "heel" would be ignored in such a situation, then we may also assume the animal will adopt whatever its natural behaviour is after it backs down.

If my initial assumption above — that barring exceptional circumstances or explicit commands an animal companion will generally try to stay near its master — is correct, then the result of "down" seems to be the same as "come". If my second assumption — that "down" is explicitly necessary to effect disengagement because "come" and "heel" would be ignored in combat — is true, then "down" effectively replaces "come". If my initial assumption is not true, then "come" is necessary once the animal companion has disengaged, because the animal companion does not automatically return once it has ceased fighting. But must an animal first "come" in order to "heel"? If so, then there must exist some minimum distance between animal companion and master beyond which "heel" does not work. If such a minimum distance does not exist, then "come" is unnecessary and "heel" does the job just as well. And if an animal companion would accept the "come" or "heel" commands in combat, then "down" is also superfluous.

If these arguments seem absurd or contrived to you, know they also appear so to me. I am wracking my brain for a reason why anyone would use a trick slot for the "come" command when it seems to me as though "heel" should work in every situation "come" would work, and has extra functionality.


2 Answers 2


Down does not force the animal to Come to you, only to disengage combat. It could decide to walk off and lick its wounds.

Heel only works if the animal is already with you, but otherwise is very similar to...

Come forces the companion to come to you, even if it's otherwise busy being an animal. Maybe it decided to hunt a rabbit. Or went to the bathroom. Or is trapped in a room/cage that it could claw its way out of, but wouldn't try to without a command. Or another person is trying to use Handle Animal on your otherwise dedicated pet. They're not trying to steal it, or harm it, so you can't tell it Down. But if you do nothing, it might listen to this other person until you give it something specific to do.

Is it the most useful Trick? Not by far. But it, like most Tricks, is purely situational.

  • \$\begingroup\$ They will also Come! to you when they are scared of something. Most tricks that are not combat oriented will rarely see an active use because you normally can hit their DC with a take 10, or their failure or success will not affect the story in any form. \$\endgroup\$
    – ShadowKras
    Oct 19, 2017 at 10:02

I was in a campaign and I was a cleric pretending to be a wizard with an owl familiar (don't ask), and "come", "stay", and other commands were INCREDIBLY useful to both pretend it had intelligence (it was rather intelligent), and also just in general.

It's not the most niche or specific command, but nothing is worse than an animal that won't heed to you, and often "come" is a reliable way to have your pet nearby. It doesn't help if your animal is trapped as Ifusaso has stated though; There is a specific command for that called "Break out". Otherwise though, it is the only way to have your animal companion or trained animal in general heed to your side in a general manner, because most of the time, you don't need it to heel, but to simply be where you are at a given time.

Heel typically only works when you are travelling aswell, think of it as telling your animal companion to "follow". In my campaigns an animal only "heels" while you are in transit, and if you are standing still, it will be confused. That's the way we played it anyways.


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