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Me and my players are running Hoard of the Dragon Queen and we just reached the dragon hatchery. One of my dragonborn players reached the Drake Nursery. Through some Animal Handling check, the ability to speak Draconic, and two natural 20s, he was able to convince the Guard Drakes that he was an ally of theirs, and now he has two pet guard drakes.

And in short, I have no idea how to run what are essentially animal companions for a rogue.

How am I supposed to run the creatures in terms of initiative? What action should my player take to command them? What type of commands can he/can't he make? What check should he make to keep them inline? And most importantly, should he even have these "animal companions" despite the fact that he's a rogue?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Did the party destroy the eggs? \$\endgroup\$ – ravery Jul 15 '18 at 2:34
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ravery I removed the answer/discussion portion of your comment and left just the request for information. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Jul 15 '18 at 3:20
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Good for your player -- he's recruited some temporary NPCs to help the group out!

Your header question asks how to "balance" this, but there's not a need for balance considerations since these NPCs are temporary. Your player will need to keep making checks to keep the guard drakes on his side.

You should have the guard drakes act on your rogue player's turn, for simplicity. You might assign your rogue player to run the guard drakes, or you might run them yourself to emphasize to the group that the guard drakes are temporary allies who make decisions for themselves and don't blindly obey.

At the start of each battle, your player might need to make an Animal Handling check to convince the guard drakes to attack. If the opponent is something the guard drakes would naturally want to attack, the check might be very easy, or no check might be required; if the opponent is something the guard drakes consider an ally, the check might be very difficult, and failure would likely mean the guard drakes attack your player.

Unfortunately for your player, most of the creatures in this area are creatures the guard drakes might consider to be allies. Kobolds are tending to the dragon eggs in this area, and the guard drakes know that the kobolds are their allies. Cultists are humans, but they're members of a dragon cult and they speak draconic, so the guard drakes probably won't attack those without some persuasion. The guard drakes might be willing to attack some of the human guards and berserkers in the area, though.

For the long term, it's probably best if you rule that the guard drakes won't leave this cave. Their job is to guard those dragon eggs, after all. And they're going to want to sleep in their nest, not on a bunch of dirt in the forest. This will ensure that the guard drakes don't somehow become permanent allies of the group.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Good points, already +1'd. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Jul 15 '18 at 15:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ Good to remind them that the persuasion check isn't a permanent thing. They're gonna get suspicious when their new "ally" is doing things/asking them to do things outside of their own belief of what they should be doing \$\endgroup\$ – Ben Jul 16 '18 at 9:53
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You Don't.

Why balance something that is already balanced? Even with a Nat20, these Guard Drake "pets" aren't going to be 100% loyal to your Rogue. I recommend treating them somewhat like an Awakened animal/plant.

The awakened beast or plant is Charmed by you for 30 days or until you and your companions do anything harmful to it. When the Charmed condition ends, the awakened creature chooses whether to remain friendly to you, based on how you treated it while it was Charmed.

The key difference you should consider is this: the Guard Drake is NOT Awakened, which means it is not Charmed. Since it is not Charmed, during the 30 Day period, you should have your player roll Animal Handling every time the Guard Drakes would have reason to suspect the party was not actually their ally. These events could be anything from treating the Guard Drakes poorly, doing something the Drakes would vehemently oppose, and so forth. After 30 days, if they can keep the Guard Drakes believing they are allies, I'd say your party earned the new allies. Treat them as you would an animal companion under the authority of your Rogue. If they want to try and specialize for better control, all power to them, but as things are, there is no reason why the Guard Drakes can't walk off or even become hostile if the ruse isn't well-maintained.

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