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Is it possible to fool an animal companion impersonating its owner? For example, if a druid is fighting with his party and its animal companion - let's say a wolf - would its opponent be able to get the wolf attack an ally of the druid imitating the druid's voice?

If it is possible, how can it be done? Is a skill check on Handle animal or Bluff a good way?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Is said wolf on the monster side or on the PC side? \$\endgroup\$ – Mołot Oct 17 '19 at 14:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ Whoops! Sorry, it's on the PC side. \$\endgroup\$ – Ntakwetet Oct 17 '19 at 14:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ Edit it into a question, please :) \$\endgroup\$ – Mołot Oct 17 '19 at 14:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ I think some of your question may be answered in answers to this question. \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Oct 17 '19 at 14:31
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Shouldn't

At least unless it was agreed upon on session 0 or was included into your "social contract" in a clear way.

Animal Companion is a class feature. Making it work against the character removes his agency over his own class features. This does not sound right, does it? Mind control spells are something that many tables ban outright, and most tables use sparingly. It is one thing if enemy prevents something from working (like counterspelling Fireball), it is totally another if he makes it work against the player (like making fireball turn around and hit the caster).

Couldn't (probably)

Handle Animal works on Animal Companion all right, as explored in more detail here. But it uses does not include fooling animal. This skill is limited to:

  • Handle an Animal - This task involves commanding an animal to perform a task or trick that it knows.
  • To push an animal means to get it to perform a task or trick that it doesn’t know but is physically capable of performing.
  • Teach an Animal a Trick
  • Train an Animal for a Purpose
  • Rear a Wild Animal

Nothing here about pretending to be an owner.

Bluff requires interaction. Faking master's voice can do the trick. Note, that:

Two circumstances can weigh against you: The bluff is hard to believe, or the action that the target is asked to take goes against its self-interest, nature, personality, orders, or the like.

Animal could get Sense Motive bonuses of +20 for too incredible to consider (wrong smell and clothes) +10 for putting it in danger, total +30 on top of its natural bonus. A bit too high to be reasonably considered.

Perfectly reasonable uses would be:

Feinting in Combat

You can also use Bluff to mislead an opponent in melee combat (so that it can’t dodge your next attack effectively). To feint, make a Bluff check opposed by your target’s Sense Motive check, but in this case, the target may add its base attack bonus to the roll along with any other applicable modifiers.

Creating a Diversion to Hide

You can use the Bluff skill to help you hide. A successful Bluff check gives you the momentary diversion you need to attempt a Hide check while people are aware of you. This usage does not provoke an attack of opportunity.

Disguise is the main skill for "I'm that man" type of play. Still, Animal companion would get Intimate +10 familiarity bonus to counter it.


How would I rule?

Successful Disguise check plus successful Handle Animal (push) check could work. "the animal performs the task or trick on its next action" part would give the Druid a chance to counter it before it happens, though. And said checks would be hard.

Successful Bluff could create confusion that would let you stab said animal more effectively, or hide yourself, but that would be the limit I would put, as this is both my understanding of the rules, and, in my experience, border of what my players would still find fun and interesting.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Note that the bard spell glibness gives an enormous +30 bonus on Bluff checks, overcoming the natural bonuses the animal companion gets in this situation. Other, more involved methods can get similarly-massive bonuses if needed. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Oct 17 '19 at 15:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan good point. At the same time, 3rd level slot seems worth it. Charm Animal is only 1st level! And indeed, stacking bonuses in 3.5 can get crazy. \$\endgroup\$ – Mołot Oct 17 '19 at 15:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ For animals you would need to duplicate the scent of the owner.... \$\endgroup\$ – nijineko Oct 18 '19 at 1:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ @nijineko for anything more than one short command, yes, I'd say so. To create short term diversion in a place where this scenr is present anyway, in the heat of battle — probably not needed. \$\endgroup\$ – Mołot Oct 18 '19 at 5:53
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Unlike paladins’ special mounts or mages’ familiars, druids’ animal companions do not have an “empathic link” special feature that allows them to feel their (true) master’s emotions in a continuous way—that would probably be a dead giveaway.1

However, the animal companion and druid do share a “link” of an unspecified nature, that allows the druid to more easily handle the companion. Mechanically, this is represented as a bonus on Handle Animal plus the ability to use Handle Animal more swiftly (lower action cost). Narratively, we aren’t given a lot of description, but if the companion is more resistant to the impersonator’s handling than they would normally be with their master, that would be a large clue. Animal companions retain animal intelligence, and we don’t know how obvious it is to the animal that something is off—but real-life animals tend to be pretty sensitive to that kind of thing as it is, and the druid has something special and more than that with their companion. And it’s not something that you can easily overcome—even if your Handle Animal bonus is greater than the druid’s, so you can’t tell that the +4 bonus is missing, the extra time it takes to handle a non-companion animal can’t be worked around. So the companion must know something.

If it were possible at all—and ultimately that’s going to be up to the DM, we aren’t given enough information on the link to say for sure—it would be very difficult and very easy for situations to make it outright impossible. The less the impersonator tries to handle the companion, the better—but that might not work out so well if the true master is in the habit of handling the companion pretty frequently (which most druids are, since they’re directing the companion in combat). Bluff and Disguise are crucial, but they may not be enough. For example, without real polymorph magic, you almost-certainly cannot replicate the druid’s smell—and many animals are going to rely more on that than they will on whatever you look like. Even for more visual animals, the way they see the world is different from ours, their eyes are physically and biologically different—the details they rely on for recognition may well be literally invisible to humans. If that’s the case, it would be impossible to produce a convincing disguise, because you can’t even sense the distinguishing features that would make it convincing.

In short, personally I’d be pretty dubious about this working. As a DM, I might allow you to try if you used extremely exacting polymorph magic, and it might work for a time, but I expect the animal companion to pick up on extremely small differences and react strongly to them.

  1. Unless the impersonator somehow has a way of continuously knowing the master’s emotional state at all times and is able to emulate behavior corresponding to it—even when that emotional state is completely out of sync with whatever is going on around the impersonator at the time. This doesn’t really seem plausible. Also if the familiar or mount knew the impersonator was within 1 mile, but could not feel their master’s empathic link because the true master wasn’t inside that radius, that would also give the game away.
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  • \$\begingroup\$ It looks like this answer is addressing a long-term version of fooling the animal (and persuasively). However, it looks like the question is pointed more at a one-round interference, which I don’t think you address. \$\endgroup\$ – fectin Oct 17 '19 at 15:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ @fectin Fair enough, will add more. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Oct 17 '19 at 16:18

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