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?