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In our last session my players stormed the lair of a priestess praying to her dark entity, who had summoned three shadow mastiffs for her protection.

The Blood Huntress decided she really wants to have one of the "good boys" as a pet. (Which in general is totally fine for me). After disintegrating the priestess, killing one dog and banishing the other, they managed to knock out the third after it mauled the healer of the group (thinking he had killed its former master; he had not).

The Blood Huntress now healed it after it was unconscious and hit in the face with a fireball (sorcerer forgot it was also in the radius).

What do I do?
I know I am the DM and can do however I see fit and change things, but I would generally like to stay true to the lore and the creatures + their natures.
They are neutral evil doggos from the Shadowfell: being the only one left of its pack would they become a companion to the group that slew its former master?

The Blood Huntress already has a moorbounder as a mount, and the group has acquired quite a zoo regarding animal companions (Winter Wolf Puppy and Brass Dragon Wyrmling rescued from a group of poachers), so it isn't unusual for them to want it.
It wouldn't be game-breaking, given that they are Level 15 and it is a CR 2 creature.

I am not sure if it would be solved by a simple Animal Handling Check, given that they were enemies just mere seconds ago.
She did smack it over the head with a glaive, after all.

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    \$\begingroup\$ What exactly are you asking here? Because the answer to in-game-related "can X" is pretty much always going to be "yes, you are the DM, you can do everything". Are you asking how to do it while preserving verisimilitude and keeping the dog acting somewhat realistically given its nature, whether it's a good idea for gameplay, how to do it mechanically or something else? \$\endgroup\$
    – AnnaAG
    Jun 13, 2023 at 15:15
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    \$\begingroup\$ It seems like her Order might make a difference to the answer - Profane Soul with Archfey patron, for example, might have much more to offer a shadowfell native pet. You wonder whether the neutral evil mastiff will take to its would-be mistress, but what is her personal reason for being 'forever bound to darkness'? \$\endgroup\$
    – Kirt
    Jun 13, 2023 at 17:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ AnnaAG: Yes, by posting the question I hoped to get an insight into how this could be achieved (since I don't like to simply say 'No' to a player's request without checking all my options). Given that they are neutral evil monstrosities and not a stray cat it is obviously way more difficult. I wanted to know how this could be achieved while staying true to their nature and lore. \$\endgroup\$
    – Ella
    Jun 14, 2023 at 12:04
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Kirt: She is an Order of the Mutant Blood Hunter. Her interest in the creature is solely based on the player's love for animals based on her reaction upon seing the token. Though it is a great input from you regarding her giving a piece of herself to darkness by wanting to bind herself to that creature of shadows. Thank you! :D \$\endgroup\$
    – Ella
    Jun 14, 2023 at 12:08

1 Answer 1

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This is likely going to be a lot of work

Just not killing a creature is not sufficient to create a friendly relationship with it. It's a safe bet that the monster's intial attitude after fighting the PCs and being beaten down by them is hostile.

The DMG has rules on trying to influence the attitude of another creature (p. 244), however, this is only for a social context and requires conversation. The Shadow Mastiff, even though it has an Intelligence 5 (as much as an Ogre and beyond normal animals)1 speaks no languages. So that will not work.

Except for the Sidekick rules from Tasha's that are limited to CR 1/2 or lower creatures, there are no special rules on pets, and this is all up to you to rule on. The Shadow Mastiff is a monstrosity (like the Winter Wolf they already have), not an animal. While Animal Handling is probably the closest skill fit here, it specifically talks about animals. You state you are OK with allowing this in principle.

To me it appears trying to domesticate this evil, relatively smart monstrosity would be a longer, patience-trying project. Those monstrosities that provide an option to domesticate or train them, like the rules for raising a Griffon, make it clear that

such training is time consuming, expensive (mostly for the ample food the creature requires), and dangerous.

To gain the Shadow Mastiff's trust probably would require ongoing efforts to feed it, and has the added complication that you would need to keep it captive, if you did not want it to just run off.

That maybe can be fun, too -- keep it from running off, shelter it from area damage and heal it up, stop it from munching on children in town, making intimidiation and persuation attempts ... until some banishment effect sends it off to the Shadowfell, never to be seen again.


1Stats are from Mordenkainen presents: Monsters of the Multiverse, the official source on the Shadow Mastiff's stats and lore.

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    \$\begingroup\$ "challenge rating in its stat block must be 1/2 or lower." -> meaning a shadow mastiff with CR2 cannot become a sidekick, therefore the entire first half of the answer is kinda irrelevant \$\endgroup\$
    – AnnaAG
    Jun 13, 2023 at 14:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ @AnnaAG You are right, fixed. \$\endgroup\$ Jun 13, 2023 at 14:52
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    \$\begingroup\$ I think it is am important point that shadow mastiffs are not beasts. The usual animal behaviours of food, loyalty, pack, domestication and so on do not apply to them. They are monstrous, following warped and twisted rules of nature. \$\endgroup\$ Jun 13, 2023 at 23:42
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    \$\begingroup\$ @DanteTheSmith The stats you cite are not the official, WotC published stats, they are from an independent third, party, Troll Lord Games, in 2017, when WotC had not yet published this monster. \$\endgroup\$ Jun 14, 2023 at 11:03
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    \$\begingroup\$ @GroodytheHobgoblin oh, I see. I use it often in my games since it is easily searchable, thank you for correcting me. Well there goes my answer, it is classified as monstrosity, not a fiend. So all I wrote makes no sense. \$\endgroup\$
    – CodeSmith
    Jun 14, 2023 at 11:07

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