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I'm in the process of converting my PHB Ranger to a UA Ranger. In doing so I'm looking with particular interest at the differences this has on the Animal Companion.

The new features that have caught my eye, and hence spawned this question, are these two which relate to bonding with your Animal Companion and bringing it back after death:

Rules on the initial bond (emphasis mine)

With 8 hours of work and the expenditure of 50 gp worth of rare herbs and fine food, you call forth an animal from the wilderness to serve as your faithful companion. You normally select you companion from among the following animals: an ape, a black bear, a boar, a giant badger, a giant weasel, a mule, a panther, or a wolf. However, your DM might pick one of these animals for you, based on the surrounding terrain and on what types of creatures would logically be present in the area.

Rules on bonding again after its death (emphasis mine)

If your animal companion is ever slain, the magical bond you share allows you to return it to life. With 8 hours of work and the expenditure of 25 gp worth of rare herbs and fine food, you call forth your companion’s spirit and use your magic to create a new body for it. You can return an animal companion to life in this manner even if you do not possess any part of its body.

It seems to me that the rules are encouraging me to shelve the loving and faithful bond I have with my companion once our time together has come to an end and, assuming the creature is still alive, instead of setting it free to return to the wild, I should slaughter it (probably in a style not to dissimilar to the dog in I Am Legend).

The benefits of slaying the animal instead of letting it live are considerable:

  • Unlike the initial bond there is no need for an animal of the given type to be in the area should I want to bond with one, I can just create it out of herbs and spices.
  • I get it for half price.
  • I get the exact same animal (in a new body) as opposed to a different animal of the same type. (No advantage here rules wise, but could be meaningful RP wise.)
  • I can create a 'pokedex' of animal companions, allowing me to draw any out at will. So even if I stumble upon a location that contains animals that I don't want as companions at the time, I should bond with one regardless, immediately slaughter it to add to my library for future use, and then repeat with any others in the area, bringing back my original companion once I'm done (who I also slaughtered).

I'm surprised that the rules are arranged in such a way as to make this an attractive option, my reading of the Ranger Companion is that it is intended to be a loving, or at least mutually respectful, relationship.

Other than alignment issues, am I missing anything that makes this a less appealing idea? Are there any rules I've overlooked or perhaps follow up from Wizards of the Coast or others?

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    \$\begingroup\$ bonus points if you skin the previous bodies of your friend and wear them as clothes, then look at your newly embodied friend and say “disappoint me and I’ll add you to my wardrobe again”. \$\endgroup\$ – Gael L Jul 8 at 22:23
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    \$\begingroup\$ Have you considered NOT murdering your loving companion? \$\endgroup\$ – GreySage Jul 8 at 22:34
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    \$\begingroup\$ Is that you, Joseph Curwen? \$\endgroup\$ – Robert Columbia Jul 8 at 22:45
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    \$\begingroup\$ @GaelL, personally I like the idea of leaving a Reef Shark in the bed of every tavern I visit before leaving, particularly the remote, far-from-sea ones! A closet full would be even better if I can convince housekeeping not to come in for a day or 2. (Need to convince my DM a 1/2 challenge rating is ok though). However I see the appeal of spawning a Panther while wearing a Panther skin cloak, on a Panther fur sofa, next to a Panther fur rug, while eating Panther. Man, I really need to review my alignment... \$\endgroup\$ – RyanfaeScotland Jul 8 at 22:54
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    \$\begingroup\$ @GreySage, To date I haven't murdered him, but now that I'm thinking of swapping him out it only makes sense to weigh up my options! \$\endgroup\$ – RyanfaeScotland Jul 8 at 22:55
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I would say the idea of a 'Pokédex-like' mechanic is wrong. You cannot actually accumulate more than one (or two) companion type(s). But there's this part of the rule which leads to confusion in my opinion:

If you use this ability to return a former animal companion to life while you have a current animal companion, your current companion leaves you and is replaced by the restored companion.

So you can get an animal companion and have it die in a fight, then you do another 8-hour ritual to get a new one - but if you are unsatisfied with the result, you are able to recall your previous one (for another ritual at half cost) to get back your previous companion.

I believe that is intended to mean you can have two "options" for animal companions: the current one and the previous one. I do not believe it is meant for us to play as if we can "stack" all previous options and chose amongst all companions you ever had.

At least, that is how I would rule "an animal companion leaving you" in my own game. I'm thinking that with this phrasing, all GMs will have to decide how they want to manage that class feature ...

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    \$\begingroup\$ Hmmm, but then why would it say a former animal companion and not your former animal companion or the former animal companion? I'm not going to rules lawyer any answers too much but this difference seems fairly clear cut to me. In case anyone wants to know a bit more about the difference in word choice: dictionary.com/e/definite-vs-indefinite-articles \$\endgroup\$ – RyanfaeScotland Jul 8 at 22:36
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    \$\begingroup\$ It would be very clear if they had used the word "your" instead of "a" for this sentence since I do agree with you. But it would also be clearer if they had used "one of your previous animal companions" ... it is like they chose vague phrasing intentionally, it could easily be clearer and leave no room for interpretation. But it wouldn't be the first time they use a word which leaves the rule open to interpretation, like I believe is the case now. Hopefully, it will be worded differently/made clearer when it is released since I'm sure this is something that also came up in playtesting. \$\endgroup\$ – Catar4 Jul 8 at 22:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ Indeed, I'm looking forward to played with the revised rules myself as well as seeing what they finally come out with. Thanks for the additional thoughts. \$\endgroup\$ – RyanfaeScotland Jul 8 at 23:18
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    \$\begingroup\$ Catar4, @RyanfaeScotland sadly, it's unlikely this class will ever be released if I'm remembering/reading this correctly: rpg.stackexchange.com/a/140848/28591 \$\endgroup\$ – Rubiksmoose Jul 9 at 0:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ Good to know, thx @Rubiksmoose \$\endgroup\$ – Catar4 Jul 9 at 4:52

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