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I've been looking over the recent changes to the Ranger's Beastmaster in Tasha's Cauldron of Everything, and I'm trying to figure out the best way for the beast to communicate with the ranger. The fact that the beast's intelligence is 8 causes a bit of confusion.

First of all, the only magical option available seems to be speak with animals (beast bond only works on beasts with intelligence lower than 8). That's OK as far as it goes, but it seems strange that after forming this special bond with a highly intelligent beast, the only way that the ranger can understand it is with one of the precious spell slots. Even then, it only lasts 10 minutes, and is heavily subject to DM interpretation.

Secondly, it seemed easier to justify lack of communication options when the beast's intelligence was lower. It made sense that the "dumb beast" simply didn't have the mental capacity to figure out how to communicate ideas to the ranger. However, in Tashs' it has an intelligence that in many cases is probably the same as the ranger. It just doesn't seem reasonable that between it and the ranger, they couldn't figure out something.

Is there another option I'm missing, RAW, RAI, or just widely adopted?

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It already understands you--teaching it ways to communicate with you wouldn't be hard

You don't need to do anything extra for the Ranger to be able to communicate perfectly with their beast. Look at the statblock for the beasts you can summon. Every single one of them has this line...

Languages understands the languages you speak

Now, it can't speak in response, but since it completely understands every language you speak, working out non-verbal ways for it to communicate with you wouldn't be difficult. Because it can perfectly understand you, you can easily instruct it on how to communicate.

A few examples I've seen players do with intelligent animals before.

  • Lift your right paw for yes, left paw for no (or "two stomps for yes, one for no"
  • Practice a series of physical signals (using ears, body position, tail, etc) that are about equivalent to military hand signals.
  • In the event of a companion with dextrous hands (like a monkey), teach them sign language (easily done with a Ranger in this case--if the Ranger knows sign language, their companion does too)
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