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I play the role of a cleric in a game that also has a ranger.

This ranger happens to have a wolf as a companion. It happened a couple of times that the wolf fell to 0 hp and was declared dead by the DM.

Even though I know that this creature is a beast and it should die once it reaches 0 hp, I can seem to not be bothered by it since I focus on keeping us alive.

I am aware of the Monster And Death section of the book which states that:

Most DMs have a monster die the instant it drops to 0 hit points, rather than having it fall unconscious and make death saving throws.

Mighty villains and special nonplayer characters are common exceptions; the DM might have them fall unconscious and follow the same rule as player characters.

This here is more in the sense of possibility vs a clear rule stating the fact.

I saw nothing about this in the ranger's companion section.

Is there a rule or clarification that I would have missed somewhere? I would like if there was a clear rule or clarification on this somewhere that I would have missed.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Did you discuss your thoughts on this with your DM, regarding the 0 HP issue for your beast companion outside of the game? \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Mar 2 '18 at 14:29
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    \$\begingroup\$ Yes I did mention it to him I was just looking for strong arguments. \$\endgroup\$ – samol518 Mar 2 '18 at 18:42
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Most everywhere I have seen they say RAW, it is DM discretion.

However according to Mike Mearls via Twitter (Sage Advice, Twitter conversation), his advice is simply: Yes. They get death saving throws.

@tobyfernando: does the new BM Ranger companion get death saving throws upon reaching 0 hp?

@mikemearls: yes

**Please note that only Jeremy Crawford's tweets were ever official (but they no longer are). Tweets from Mike Mearls are treated as the personal rulings of a particularly well-informed DM.

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There are no explicit rules, but the intent seems to allow it

A ranger's companion seems to be considered an NPC (rules as intended)

Jeremy Crawford has called a ranger's animal companion an NPC on multiple occassions:

Want an NPC companion? No one needs a special class feature to have a companion. Roleplaying, skills (such as Persuasion for intelligent creatures and Animal Handling for beasts), and the adjudication of the DM are all you need.

and again:

No one has to take a subclass to have [an animal] companion, and the DM controls whether NPCs decide to stick around.

Special NPCs often get to use PC rules instead of monster rules

That would put it into the potential category of "special nonplayer characters" as outlined in the rules covering Monsters and Death:

Most DMs have a monster die the instant it drops to 0 hit points, rather than having it fall unconscious and make death saving throws. Mighty villains and special nonplayer characters are common exceptions; the DM might have them fall unconscious and follow the same rules as player characters.

Note that this is explicitly in the realm of DM rule here, but there is indication that NPCs making death saving throws is not only allowed but "common". Being that animal companions seem to be considered NPCs, applying that rule here seems very reasonable.

Allowing death saving throws does not seem to have many significant downsides

The only downsides that I can think of from my experience at several tables where animal companions did get death saving throws are that it occasionally adds more dice-rolling and bookkeeping potentially slowing down certain combat situations.

Allowing death saving throws is generally more fun

Generally, nobody likes to have a companion die. Thus, a rule making companion death less likely to occur is probably going to mean less stress and a bit more fun at the table. Obviously, the threat of death is there and real (just as it is for the PCs), but allowing them to be treated the same at least reduces the possibility that a freak accident or crit instantly kills a potentially treasured and dear companion with no chance of prevention.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Wow, he really does hate the Beastmaster Ranger. "Anyone can have a more powerful version of your only class feature for free. It's totally fine!" \$\endgroup\$ – Miniman Mar 2 '18 at 15:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Miniman The UA Beast Master is a decent improvement. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Mar 2 '18 at 19:23
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This is up to the DM:

As noted in PHB 198 (emphasis mine)

Monsters and Death (in this case player controlled monster)

Most DMs have a monster die the instant it drops to 0 hit points, rather than having it fall unconscious and make death saving throws. Mighty villains and special nonplayer characters are common exceptions; the DM might have them fall unconscious and follow the same rules as player characters.

Depending on how your DM rules he could say that it is technically an NPC/Monster even if you control it most of the time. Or he could say it is an extension of the player character and thus follows the same rules. Bottom line is you need to ask them. It would be unlikely that he/she would not allow them to follow the same rules as the players as they usually become part of the party, like a mascot.

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