I have seen various claims that the Ranger's Beast Master Archetype is underpowered, compared to other ranger archetypes and/or classes.

I have searched for some factual analysis that would support or refute this, but I have not found any.

What is the evidence, if any, that the Ranger Beast Master archetype is comparatively underpowered?


2 Answers 2


The beast scales decently in damage, but has poor survivability. The beast also prevents you from using some combat features, like Two-Weapon Fighting.

Looking at the 3rd level – when you get the beast – If you pick a Wolf, you will have a companion with +6 and advantage to hit, dealing 2d4 + 5 damage (10 on average), the only resource spent is an action by the Ranger; considering a DEX 17 Ranger. Most classes have to give up multiple resources to achieve this consistency of damage output at lower levels. It does OK between levels 5 and 11, maybe a bit behind other classes, but when the beast gets the second attack, they become a serious threat to many enemies.

The first problem of the beast, with the current wording of the Ranger's Companion feature, is that it prevents you from using your bonus action for Two-Weapon Fighting or the bonus attack of the Crossbow Expert feat; you are not using the Attack action when commanding the beast, so these features can't proc. You can rule otherwise, but by RAW they can't be used. Weighing up in that, there's no Sage Advice or rules clarification by the game designers showing otherwise.

The second problem is that the beast gets a mere +4 HP when leveling up. Combine that with no saving throws proficiencies and an average AC, your main source of damage will hardly survive anything – it has to stay close to the enemies to hit and it will hardly make the save from AoE effects like Fireball. If you lose your beast in combat, which is very likely to happen when fighting smart enemies, you will basically lose your entire subclass for the rest of combat. If you are deeply inside a dungeon, your chances of finding a new beast is close to zero, and even if you do find one, you will have to spend 8 hours in-game to bound to it. It's tough being a Beast Master.

You can contour this kind of situation with barding, magic items and buffs from spells, but usually that is a hard price to pay to keep your subclass working without taking many risks.

Comparison to other classes and Ranger subclasses

  • The Beast Master is the only Ranger subclass that can "lose" all its subclass features. If the pet dies, the player will only have its class/race/feats features available to use. It is probably the only subclass among all classes than can be in this situation.
  • The Beast Master features are antisynergetic with features/spells of its base class, like the Two-Weapon Fighting style and the Hunter's Mark spell.
  • No other subclass (be Ranger or other classes) is dependent on a feature like the Beast Master of its companion. You can shutdown the majority of spellcasters with an antimagic field, but they can still walk out of it and most of them have class features that are independent of spellcasting.
  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ you are not using the Attack action, your beast does, this hurts a lot of things, like two-weapon fighting or Crossbow Expert \$\endgroup\$
    – András
    Commented Feb 12, 2019 at 7:17
  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ It's worth keeping in mind that it gets a minor amount of survivability from the 2018 PHB errata, which changes the 3rd-level feature to have the companion take the Dodge action if not given a command... But that's not much, assuming you want the animal to do anything else. \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Commented Feb 12, 2019 at 7:27
  • 7
    \$\begingroup\$ @V2Blast that's not much because not giving any commands practically equals losing entire subclass just as well as having beast killed already. \$\endgroup\$
    – Mołot
    Commented Feb 12, 2019 at 9:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ Not directly related to the question, but to your suggestion on improvement at the end of your answer, it might be interesting to refer to the Revised Ranger UA \$\endgroup\$
    – SpaceCoon
    Commented Feb 12, 2019 at 10:52
  • 10
    \$\begingroup\$ @SpaceCoon The Revised Ranger has been discarded. It is no more official than any other homebrew of the Ranger out there. That's why there's no suggestion to it, it can be misleading. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kuerten
    Commented Feb 12, 2019 at 10:58

For me the main problem is the interaction between spells and the beast, it is really cool to have shared spells at the capstone but will be great to be able to use spells like zephir strike in your best companion and not you, as it was previously stated the lack of synergy between some spells like hunter´s mark is not optimal.

One common idea in which I disagree is the fact that most rangers cannot mount their companions but I like it more in this way, to be honest with the ritual caster feat and the great amount of utility spells the ranger learns you are quite the explorer.

For me most of the problems are inherited by the ranger itself, like the hide in plain sight feature at level 10 that does not allow you to camuflage even your beast making it rather useless in this subclass.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Hello, Dyre. Please read the tour and the help center to get a feel for how SE sites are different from discussion forums. Then, if you would, see if you can revise your answer a bit to fit those guidelines. Welcome! \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 30, 2020 at 2:08

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