2
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I know Fey Beast Tamer gives you one, and some classes like the Sentinel and the Beastmaster also get one, and I guess it's also possible to get a mount on top of that maybe?

What's the maximum number of animals a character can control? And are there any reasonably good builds that focus on having lots of pets?

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Okay, I got my books on hand now and I realized a couple of mistakes. Shoutout to the commenter on my answer for the help there. Pretty rookie mistake but that's what happens when your books aren't on hand. With that being said, I'm putting the grand total back to 6 (or 7 with loophole).

  • Sentinel/Beastmaster hybrid class: 2 animals

  • Multiclass to Artificer: Artificer gives you a bunch of abilities that will allow you to temporarily animate constructs, so kinda "animals a character can control." You could choose any arcane class, but artificer is best because it is a prerequisite for Familiar Bloodsmith. Also, there are artificer feats to upgrade your familiar.

  • Familiar Bloodsmith paragon path: 1 animal

  • Fey Beast Tamer background: 1 animal

  • Mount: 1 animal

  • Elemental Companion feat (prerequisite: Born of the Elements feat): 1 animal

  • Arcane Familiar feat: 1 animal. (This requires exploiting a sort of loophole your DM might allow: the prerequisite for Elemental Companion says you cannot have Arcane Familiar, but Arcane Familiar does not have a prerequisite restricting Elemental Companion. This is due to the publication dates, and the restriction surely would be there had they come out at the same time, but if you go by wording alone, and if your DM allows it, you could do this.)

And there you go, number wise!

I do know of some items, all from Dragon Magazine 377 to make your familiars a bit better too, each providing small buffs or some mobility/utility: Safe Retreat, Charm of Protection, Lucky Charm, Familiar's Cowl, and Homing Cowl.

The one build I have heard about based around pets is the Blade Dragoon build, but it only incorporates a few familiars.

While pets from the themes or classes are really useful in combat, familiars are based almost entirely on utility. As a result, you can't really make a solid build out of it, although it is cool for roleplaying.

Aside from full builds, you can take some familiar or companion feats to buff them up more, but again, companions and familiars are utility or scouting units.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Multiclass Bard does not give you Multiclass Versatility (otherwise everyone would do it). There is no Sha'ir multiclass feat, much less one that gives you the companion, and no Hybrid Sha'ir. "Elemental" isn't a power source, Sha'ir are Arcane like Wizards. I don't know of any Epic Destinies that give a companion creature. And I don't know what you're talking about with that last part regarding an elemental familiar. \$\endgroup\$ – Michaellogg Oct 25 '16 at 1:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks, didn't have my book on my at the time, don't know what I was thinking with some of that, went ahead and edited it. \$\endgroup\$ – Palywally Oct 25 '16 at 2:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ How many do we actually get out of Artificer? You bring it up, but you never say what it can do quantity-wise or even count it toward the total. I also think it's probably outside the criteria you asked for, unless they're actually animals, so it may be worth pushing toward the end as an addendum where you're talking about upgrading your familiar with feats. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Nov 24 '16 at 3:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ Artificers do not give any familiars, which is why I did not add towards the total. They do however have daily abilities to animate constructs for a battle. I have the Artificer here because of the Paragon Path. \$\endgroup\$ – Palywally Nov 28 '16 at 18:01
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    \$\begingroup\$ Just throwing this out there that I disagree with your Elemental Companion "loophole" being valid. Rule prerequisites aren't just a temporary, "this condition must be true for you to initially take this," but an ongoing, "this condition must always be met for you to benefit from this." The easiest example is that if you are, say, a fighter and MC ranger to take a specific paragon path, you can't retrain your MC ranger feat into a MC warden for some other benefit, while keeping your paragon path. It's often up to your DM to decide exactly what stops functioning, but something does. \$\endgroup\$ – webbcode Jan 3 '17 at 22:22

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