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I’ve just started to play D&D with a few of my friends and we're unsure if a beast master having a pteranodon as their beast companion would be unbalanced.

I’m playing as a flying character (an Aarakocra) and think it wouldn't be a good idea to have a landbound beast companion (like a panther) as this might not synergise well. So instead, I looked further into flying characters and found out about pteranodons and I think it would work very well. Their abilities don't seem particularly overpowered, however I’m not even fully sure of the benefits of having a Medium-sized beast. I’d really like the advice of experienced players as I really need advice my friends are unable to give me.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to RPG.SE! Take the tour if you haven't already, and check out the help center for more guidance. Good Luck and Happy Gaming! \$\endgroup\$ – Someone_Evil Apr 13 at 13:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ And when talking about acceptable i mean will it have a negative impact on the people around me due to it being too powerful. \$\endgroup\$ – Adam Apr 13 at 13:25
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    \$\begingroup\$ So you already believe it's too powerful? What kind of answer are you looking for? \$\endgroup\$ – Jason_c_o Apr 13 at 17:18
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    \$\begingroup\$ Perhaps present a few options to the GM and let them decide. I would definitely find a way to give you a companion who has decent stats and can fly, whether that's a dinosaur, or making up appropriate stats for a bird not listed (a juvenile giant eagle?) based either on pteranodon, or the land-based possible companions. \$\endgroup\$ – Jack V. Apr 15 at 11:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ I really would be interested in the idea of the juvenile giant eagles, but would that mean that over time it would grow larger? Or would it forever stay juvenile? Thanks for the advice though. \$\endgroup\$ – Adam Apr 15 at 19:52
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A Ranger Beast Master could choose a Pteranodon as an animal companion

The PHB states:

At 3rd level, you gain a beast companion that accompanies you on your adventures and is trained to fight alongside you. Choose a beast that is no larger than Medium and that has a challenge rating of 1/4 or lower.

Pteranodon's are medium sized beasts of challenge rating 1/4 so, by the rules they are a legal choice for a beast companion.

When you asked if this was 'acceptable', if you meant something other than 'is it allowed by the rules' I suggest you are best discussing that with your DM. Maybe there are no dinosaurs in their gameworld? If that's the case there is another option for a beast companion with a fly speed - a Blood Hawk. As a small beast it's base damage roll is less impressive than a Pteranodon's but, depending on your playstyle, Pack Tactics and Keen Sight could prove very useful.

In your situation, it's unlikely to have a bad effect on game balance

Will it be fun for the rest of the party? I can't say for definite - you know your group better than I do.

However, the most common balance complaint (or the most exploitable feature) about allowing a Pteranodon as a beast companion is that small races can use them as a flying mount. If your DM and your party are both already happy with you playing an Aarakocra, and thus having a flying speed of your own, having a flying beast companion is less likely to be an issue. When it flies, your Pteranodon won't be doing anything your character can't already do without it.

Flyby is a pretty powerful ability that increases your pteranodon's survivability considerably - however, a well timed Pounce from a Panther can swing an encounter, and a Wolf, with Pack Tactics, should be attacking with advantage most of the time. With that in mind I don't think Flyby is a gamebreaking.

More generally, Ranger Beast Master's are widely considered to be one the more underpowered class archetypes. So, even if choosing a Pteranodon as your beast companion boosts your power level a little bit, relative to the rest of the party, that's probably not a bad thing.

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