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My group's ranger picked up the Unearthed Arcana for the Ranger class but I have felt it to be weak and have since investigated the document.

Your animal companion has abilities and game statistics determined in part by your level. Your companion uses your proficiency bonus rather than its own. In addition to the areas where it normally uses its proficiency bonus, an animal companion also adds its proficiency bonus to its AC and to its damage rolls.

Our ranger picked a Wolf at level 3, and is currently level 6.

The Wolf's normal stats in the PHB say:

AC 13

Prof. Bonus +2

HP 11 (2d8+2)

Bite: Melee weapon attack, +4 to hit, 5ft reach, one target. Hit 7(2d4+2) piercing damage.

If the ranger is level 6 and has a +3 prof bonus, the new stats should look like this in my opinion.

AC 16 (+3)

HP 29 (5d8+2)

Bite: Melee weapon attack, +5 (changing the +2 to a +3 yields +5) to hit, 5ft reach, one target. Hit 10(2d4+5) piercing damage.

Does this look right?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Questions can't have bonus questions, because it prevents site search from finding them and it interferes with the voting system. If you have two questions, please post them as two questions. Thanks! (I've removed the bonus question from this post. If you want to view the removed text in order to copy it for another question post, you can always access it from the edit history.) \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Jan 28 '17 at 15:27
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Yes

Your companion uses your proficiency bonus rather than its own.

It is important to note that it says, without condition, that the companion uses the Ranger's proficiency bonus. This means that, from this point on, it's proficiency bonus is the Ranger's proficiency bonus. Think of it as erasing the value on the creature sheet, replacing it with the Ranger's value, and then recalculating everything from there.

Upon looking at the UA document again, this is further supported as such:

Keeping Track of Proficiency

When you gain your animal companion at 3rd level, its proficiency bonus matches yours at +2. As you gain levels and increase your proficiency bonus, remember that your companion’s proficiency bonus improves as well, and is applied to the following areas: Armor Class, skills, saving throws, attack bonus, and damage rolls.

While the wolf has a listed proficiency bonus of +2, nowhere is it stated that this bonus is already included in the damage of the wolf's attack. We may infer that this damage is from the wolf's DEX mod, as is supported by the fact that the base to hit is +4, which would be +2 from proficiency and +2 from DEX, matching expectations for standard application of proficiency bonuses. The wolf's damage should be increased by a flat 3 points, making the roll 2d4+5, the same as you have stated. Furthermore, applying +3 to the base 13 also matches your stated 16 AC, and replacing the +2 with proficiency with +3 also results in a +5 to hit when added to the DEX mod. It is not explicitly stated that the bite is a DEX-based attack, but this is the only value that makes sense from the creature stats. Your math looks right.

Bonus Answer: No, the damage dice of the wolf's bite attack do not scale. It is important to consider that the wolf companion is not intended to be as powerful as an extra PC, but is instead part of the power of the Ranger to whom it belongs. Applying proficiency bonus to a damage source is a benefit other classes do not have, and this comes from an attack that does not require the use of any of the Ranger's actions. Also, consider that this attack has the potential to knock a target prone, leaving it more vulnerable to melee attacks until it has the opportunity to stand. Such a tactical advantage is certainly not weak.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Please note that the "bonus question" was removed to improve site function. You may (or may not) want to edit to reflect that--your "bonus answer" reads as a bit of a non sequitur as it stands. \$\endgroup\$ – nitsua60 Aug 31 '17 at 13:58
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You are partially correct.

Just as you and the Companions Bond feature states

Your companion uses your proficiency bonus rather than its own. In addition to the areas where it normally uses its proficiency bonus, an animal companion also adds its proficiency bonus to its AC and to its damage rolls.

Therefore for its AC and damage roll adding the wolf's initial +2 proficiency bonus and the Ranger's +3 proficiency bonus at level 3.

But the plus to attack is not affected there as it states that it

adds its proficiency bonus to its AC and to its damage rolls

Therefore not affecting the wolf's plus to attack. This means the wolf's plus to attack will be the Ranger's proficiency score being +3.

The answer to bonus question: Most likely the damage would not scale as it is not stated directly in the PDF document. Suppose WOTC only meant for these companions to be a slight amount of extra damage like a + weapon. However, as you said, as a class feature it is quite underpowered.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Yet we know from the rules that + to hit is equal to your Ability Modifier + your Proficiency Bonus. In this case the Wolf would use the Ranger's Prof. Bonus. \$\endgroup\$ – DM Patman Jan 28 '17 at 3:03
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    \$\begingroup\$ It's not right to say that the plus to attack is not affected. It clearly is: you replace the wolf's proficiency with the ranger's. That's an effect. \$\endgroup\$ – Clearly Toughpick Jan 28 '17 at 9:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ Please note that the "bonus question" was removed to improve site function. You may (or may not) want to edit to reflect that--your "bonus answer" reads as a bit of a non sequitur as it stands. \$\endgroup\$ – nitsua60 Aug 31 '17 at 13:58

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