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Urchins are given

a pet mouse.

But what do pets do for you?

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    \$\begingroup\$ When you have a moment, please review our How do I ask a good question? article. One of the things we like to see from questions is that some research has been done before hand - tell us what you’ve read and what work you’ve done to figure this out for yourself, and why that didn’t solve your problem. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 7, 2023 at 11:15

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My pet mouse was called "Whiskers" (I know) and as a druid it was very fun to role-play. I sometimes wildshaped into a mouse myself and entertained the locals in a tavern.

Though the main thing is flavour, Whiskers did prove handy at times. I chose Circle of the Shepherd (XGE, p.23) and at 2nd level you get Speech of the Woods - which I think is one of the best animal communication features in 5e. It not only allows you make yourself understood to beasts, you can also "decipher their noises and motions".

As I mentioned, we were popular in taverns because we could agree to do things while I was a mouse, too. We had a little act.

He also was handy in going into places and having a peek, e.g. under doors or though a small hole. I saved me scouting by using up one of my Wildshape uses per rest. This was only helpful in the lower tier of gameplay, but it was fun.

Keeping Whiskers alive was a whole different matter! But, it was fun and a challenge. I managed and I am glad to say that Whiskers only died once, when my PC died for good. Oh, dragons!

Others in the party were also fond of Whiskers, too. RIP

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    \$\begingroup\$ Just a point on the mouse going in to have a peek under doors - you can't see through his eyes and using speak with animals will only get you as much of a description as the mind of a mouse might pick out. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 7, 2023 at 13:50
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    \$\begingroup\$ I think this is a really great answer, wish I could give it more than one upvote. I had a character with an accidental pet which gave us several minor roleplaying threads which were really excellent, which I remember quite fondly, 3 years later. I've known other characters with pets, and it was fine, but every now and then, one really works. I considered writing my own answer, but realized you covered it all. \$\endgroup\$
    – Jack
    Commented Feb 22 at 12:58
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They provide flavor...err...companionship

A pet is just a pet. They provide background flavor for the character and, in fiction, provide companionship like a pet in the real world. It is roughly as useful as "a token to remember your parents by" and serves a roughly analogous function.

This, of course, is distinct from class features that provide familiars or animal companions. There are generally detailed rules around those.

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    \$\begingroup\$ they create sadness when they inevitably die \$\endgroup\$
    – Tiger Guy
    Commented Apr 7, 2023 at 1:57
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    \$\begingroup\$ Or delicious meals \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Commented Apr 7, 2023 at 2:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Mary Thanks for catching the typo. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 7, 2023 at 15:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ You're welcome! \$\endgroup\$
    – Mary
    Commented Apr 7, 2023 at 16:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ Really? Least helpful and most inhumane comment! \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 18, 2023 at 23:32
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Nothing in particular

Most of the officially published backgrounds include one or two small items of no particular use that have significance to the character. The acolyte's prayer book, the entertainer's "favor from an admirer", the sailor's lucky charm, and so on -- they have no mechanical effect, they're just flavor text to help inspire the player about what their background means to them. None of them actually 'do' anything, unless and until the DM decides they can, so in a sense the pet mouse is precisely as useful as a pet mouse normally is.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Yes, but they actually seem purposeful, unlike the mouse. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 8, 2023 at 0:23
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    \$\begingroup\$ I'm not sure what you mean by that. A prayerbook has no mechanical benefits. A lucky charm doesn't actually provide you with any sort of luck or other benefit. "I have a rabbit's foot in my pocket" and "I have a pet mouse in my pocket" are pretty much functionally identical. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 8, 2023 at 21:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ Prayer book is useful(may provide higher Religion score when a character is looking at it), and can be used for ceremonies. Lucky charm may be used as a sailor superstition, where, if you don't have one, you are cursed(also known as a jinx). The favor from an admirer is a token of gratitude from an admirerer. The mouse... random. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 9, 2023 at 0:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ Are you saying you don't understand why an urchin in particular would have a small animal for a pet? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 9, 2023 at 13:14
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    \$\begingroup\$ An orphan/urchin with a little pet companion is a pretty common trope, though I admit I can't think of any particular mouse examples at the moment. It's more commonly a small dog (such as Li'l Orphan Annie or Artful Dodger, after Sikes is dead) or an alley cat, but rats aren't uncommon. A child who has lost their family can latch onto a small animal as a psychological support, and from a literary perspective it helps give the author ways to show character when there's no people around. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 10, 2023 at 18:59

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