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During the ceremony to gain an animal companion, is the animal summoned from a different plane, or is it required to be an animal that the druid has tamed ahead of time?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ @Discord I think that changes the question a bit; now it's asking whether you can tame an existing animal whereas the former seemed to ask whether it's possible to summon one at all or whether taming an existing animal was a requirement. \$\endgroup\$ – Erik Dec 8 '15 at 20:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ Related: rpg.stackexchange.com/questions/37488/… \$\endgroup\$ – Dan B Dec 8 '15 at 20:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Erik I noticed that while I was making the edit, but I couldn't come up with a wording that covered both angles. I'll revert it back to "Is an existing animal a requirement?" \$\endgroup\$ – Discord Dec 8 '15 at 20:46
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There's nothing in the Player's Handbook that talks about the origin of the animal companion, so I think we're in house-rule territory here. My recommendation is: the druid's class feature is that he has an animal companion, and we should try to interpret the rules in a way that doesn't make that weird.

So, for example, if the druid is in a very inhospitable location and needs to get a new animal companion, it's probably better to say "you summon your animal companion from a different plane" rather than "you can't get an animal companion because there aren't any animals here".

(If the DM feels that the druid character is too powerful, we can imagine the DM might deliberately say: "you can't get an animal companion right now because there aren't any nearby", just to get some respite from the animal companion dominating every battle. But interfering with the druid's class features like this is cruel, and should be avoided unless it's absolutely necessary.)

(This is a change from D&D 3.0, which explicitly said that you have to go find some animals and cast animal friendship to make them into your companions.)

If the druid has a specific animal which they want to make into their animal companion for roleplaying reasons, we may as well go along with that -- but please note, the druid's animal companion uses "the base statistics for a creature of the companion’s kind". So, even if the starting animal is unusual in some way, its statistics get overwritten with the base statistics when it becomes an animal companion.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Historical note: In early editions, animal companions were limited to actual animals you found and befriended, rather than a benefit that came automatically with class membership. As late as 3.5, it was still explicitly stated that they were animals a character encountered, rather than summoned. \$\endgroup\$ – GMJoe Dec 8 '15 at 23:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ ...where is this druid? Inside Mount Doom? Low planetary orbit? Because there should be something that can serve as an animal companion in any environment short of that... \$\endgroup\$ – Shalvenay Dec 8 '15 at 23:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ My first guess is the druid might be on a different plane. As one example, I think the Pathfinder adventure path Wrath of the Righteous has a stage where the players are traveling in the Abyss and don't have an easy way home. Any wildlife there would have the "fiendish" template, so it wouldn't be a valid animal companion. \$\endgroup\$ – Dan B Dec 8 '15 at 23:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ @DanB -- yeah, you can tell my brain still hasn't wrapped its head around the D&D cosmology...because Fiendish things indeed wouldn't work as animal companions, not that I'd want an abyssal warhound at my side either... \$\endgroup\$ – Shalvenay Dec 9 '15 at 0:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Shalvenay As long as it was a loyal abyssal warhound, I'd have no problem with it :) \$\endgroup\$ – Adeptus Dec 9 '15 at 0:46

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