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My player's Beastmaster ranger has a panther companion that he would like to turn into a riding mount. Is there a way to permanently enlarge the panther to horse-size?

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Unfortunately, this is quite difficult

For lower level characters, there are unfortunately no permanent ways to achieve this. The easiest way would be to make a small ranger, who could ride a medium size beast, but that ship has likely sailed for you. And permanent alteration effects like this are generally pretty rare.

At high levels, True Polymorph possibly allows you to permanently transform your companion into a large beast, and I think as the features that make it a companion are class features of your ranger, not statistics of the companion, they still would be your companion. There is however no giant panther in the rules. You could choose another large beast that has a shape that can be ridden.

Alternatively, you can try a Wish spell to permanently increase the size of the panther, which requires your DM to go along, as it is no standard use.

This last one might be your best option: as the rules have no direct support for this (which helps to make the ranger different from the paladin in this regard), you could work with the DM to allow this as home-brew. It could be a power-up, so be prepared to give up something else instead, if that is the case and they are OK with it.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I am not sure how much of a power up it is, they can gain the same mobility from buying a horse, and they would lose the ability to have the companion melee attack while they attack from range. It's basically just saving them the hassle of owning a horse I think. \$\endgroup\$
    – SeriousBri
    Nov 9, 2022 at 9:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SeriousBri Maybe you’re right - do you think they’d not be able to continue allowing them to attack, if using them as a free-willed mount? \$\endgroup\$ Nov 9, 2022 at 11:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ I think they could, but that puts the ranger into melee too, whereas with a horse they have options. With mounting the pet they basically just lose that option. I think it probably comes out as a wash generally, for a specific melee ranger there may be an issue, but I am not sure we have that info. \$\endgroup\$
    – SeriousBri
    Nov 9, 2022 at 11:34
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True Polymorph

With the ninth-level spell True Polymorph, you could permanently turn the panther companion into a moorbounder from Explorer's Guide to Wildemount, which is a reasonable approximation of a panther and is a Large creature usable as a mount (and is canonically used as such by some cultures in Wildemount).

There are very, very few rules-as-written options for permanent transformations, so this is likely as good as it gets.

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There isn't a permanent solution at lower levels, but...

A potion of growth is an uncommon magic item (cost 101-500 gold pieces.) It lasts 1d4 hours. You can feed this potion to your animal companion.

A potion of diminution is rare (501-5000 gold pieces) and instead shrinks the drinker by a size category for 1d4 hours. This option is more expensive but works if you have to pass through narrow access points that would prevent a large creature from entering with a rider- you drink it yourself and become small, now able to ride the panther.

Neither of these effects require concentration in potion form, making the tactic viable for multiple combat encounters per use of potion.

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