How do you deal with PETS?


I mean, sure. That’s why I would want a pet in game, and what players in my games have used them for. In that sense they become loot more than another character and I don’t see a problem with that.

I think the trick is that if the pet is basically an NPC, you have to threaten it as the DM so that they care about it more. Then they start thinking about how to use it more effectively and not just be a slow exploding bomb as you say.

Ultimately this whole discussion comes down to the table agreeing on weather or not they like pets. I think they are fun (with clear rules) but if the rest of the table didn’t want them I would be fine with it. Whatever the table thinks is going to be the most fun is what matters.


As you said, it is your game.

I find this hard to say without being condescending so please don’t take it that way. I have played D&D since 1981, i am a father and school teacher…

…If you are the one in authority (the DM) and you let the “group” do what they want just because they think it be will fun, they will ultimately ruin everything. The kind of players that like “pets” are the kind of players who pout when you have to take their “toy” away. Don’t go down that road.

I’m just saying. It ultimately is only my opinion. I’m just trying to help.

BTW, There are whole Youtube video discussions about stuff that ruin aspects the game, example- darkvision.


Definitely not condescending at all! Experience is important and I can see the points you are making. I am 38 but have only been playing D&D since 5e came out, so our views are naturally going to be different do to that level of experience with the hobby.

However, my counterpoint is this: Nothing is going to ruin my game because I just don’t care that much, and also my players (who are just my friends) don’t care that much. We just look forward to getting together and rolling dice. I would rather let them try something and see how it goes than start the campaign with a hard no. We can always change it later, worst comes to worst.

Now, if I was running a game for randos, I would consider setting more limits. But for me that would mainly be to cut down on prep and help focus the game so that we can all feel each other out.

Anyway, like I said it all comes down to the table IMO. Playing a casual game with friends? Do what you want or at least have a discussion together. Running for randos? Probably set hard limits as the DM so that you have more control to start.


The fact that your group are good friends may the factor that allows it to work.

Sorry i went into “Teacher Mode” (force of habit). I started a D&D club at the high school i teach at years ago with lots of first timers. I reflexively discourage things i think will complicate things. Simple is fast and more fun. Complex things frustrate new players and possibly turn them off to gaming. (i had a previous club member actually tell me just that and i took it to heart).

This is why i love ICRPG so much. I will turn the local youth into “Lumpy Heads” yet.


We had a discussion on this awhile back that might be useful.


As an example of when a “pet” worked, we had a character recently in our Ronin game of ICRPG who could summon a dire bear as a milestone ability. He could only summon the bear once per location (so, about 3 times a session) with a successful Cha roll, and the bear lasted only 1d4 rounds. While the bear was out, it had two hearts, attacked on that player’s turn (with a separate attack), and did ultimate damage.

I will say, the whole table loved when that thing showed up because it usually meant we were outnumbered and needed another combatant. It usually never lasted long enough to hog the spotlight, and it having a separate attack for the time it was on the board did not slow the game down considerably.

Just another way to make a “pet” work.


i guess i could tolerate it if it was “summoned” successfully on a Room TN (being that players action for that round, successful or not) and only around for 1d4 rounds only.

Also, because i’m mean, if you roll a Nat 1 on the summon, it attacks the spellcaster for 1d4 rounds or until it is dead.


@KaneDriscol I love every word of this statement! What a fantastically beautiful addition and thought.


That makes total sense! It’s all about the group.

I do agree; Maximize simplicity and fun now especially for newbies. If veterans want to get a bit more complicated they are already invested in the hobby so probably won’t struggle with the same issues.


Credit goes to you, my friend! Still one of my most referred to resources when stuff like this is brought up. This reminds me that I forgot to include an example Companion from your article:

Billy, the Ire Goat. NPC. +1 Climb, +5 CARRY. ACTION: Headbutt, NEAR. 1 HEART Damage to Target.
(Tags: Scar, Valiant, Obstinate, Territorial, Sherpa, Abandoned)

I just love the little bonus, a simple action, and a whole lot of character that can be gleaned when running these Grizzly Companions.


Been a few days since i checked this post and wow, interesting takes. I definitely feel Alex with pets can become a “gimmick” in games, which is what i’m trying to avoid. I think the 1d4 turns before you can use it again is a great way to mitigate pet use from hogging the spotlight, In Some scenes, if you roll a 4, the combat will be over before they get their next turn.

also i dont allow players to “tame” pets or “convince” companions to follow them.

As far as Summoned creatures go, (which is another topic entirely imo) how i run it is that; they last 1d4 and they’re gone, while theyre summoned you use your turn to command them, creatures summoned from beyond the veil do not have conscious thought, and creatures brought from the fey need to be controlled, otherwise they would attack you too, so while the summoned creatures are in play, wizards cannot cast other spells, they can only move and must command their creatures, dropping the spell to cast another leads them to use the rest of their turns to attack YOU, their SUMMONER, as most creatures do not willingly return.

There are also ways to mitigate pets following you, A dog cannot swing across a chasm on a rope. A Bear cannot fit in a narrow hallway. A Bird cannot talk to you (unless its a parrot, and even then it cannot communicate that there are enemies about) Each has a use and a purpose, but they are a tool in your belt, not a crutch. All can be used in unique and variety of ways to help the party. I am a huge pet-lover in real life, I have owned frogs to dogs to cats to rats to birds to lizards to fish, and most pets need a TON of training, so its something i require to be made at the start of your character not something that can be gained from milestones at a great sacrifice to their initial pool of resources to draw from.

Dogs are used for tracking, bears are extra combatants, horses are mounts, birds are messengers (as in you put a message on them and they take it to another person or place, this can be extremely clutch when splitting the party, but thats another subject for another day)

But yes, other important notes, pets dont get their own turn, if you forget to use your pet on your turn, its on you, i’m not going back out of order for your pet to act.

My take away is drawing heavily from Kane’s initial comment from Grizzily

Pets give a Minor Bonus, (sacrifice of loot/stats etc at character creation)
Pets can only act every 1d4 rounds. OR the player must sacrifice their turn to utilize the pet.
Pets are minions, and usually have 1 HP, a dog that is slashed by a sword is probably on a dying timer now for example. A bird that gets backhanded by an orc is almost certainly dead or unable to fly for quite a long time.
and most importantly; Pets can be killed just like PC’s.
Pets should be used realistically, to “speak or communicate” with your pet would need a successful spell roll or interpretation roll and these should be VERY, basic commands or knowledge gained. A dog might bark if there’s an intruder, just like irl. But it won’t know how many or the extent of the enemy’s capabilities.


To handle pets, or even timmy the squire, or lots of stuff actually, i use what i call a “Risk Dice”. I saw this mechanic in many RPG, and it works really simply.

So lets say Timmy the squire has a d6 Risk dice. Anytime, any player can say, Timmy helps me and give me my loaded crossbow for example. I check the d6. On a 1 or 2 it is reduced to a lesser dice (1D4 here). Or a player can say, Timmy drops a flower pot from the balcony and help me avoid the attack. (i give a +2 to armor, or maybe the result of the risk dice itself)…
If ever the Risk Dice is a D4 and must be reduced, then Timmy meets a grim fate…
Sometimes i can ask for the risk dice to be thrown twice or more. If the player tells me “There’s only one point to finish the ogre commander, can’t Timmy use our fencing lessons at last and stab him in the back?” Well, its really risky for Timmy… So two rolls on the Risk Dice might be a good option.
And i can also use Timmy as a leverage for good action. For timers for example. “Oh no! One of the dark orc has spotted Timmy and is chasing him!” Etc…


wow. Timmy the “meat shield”. This is exactly the scenario i most hate with the “companions/pet/familiar” idea.

Make a bad decision, it ok, i’ll sacrifice timmy, Heck, I never really liked timmy anyway. His jokes weren’t good, he had bad body odor, ate with his mouth open, always seemed to have to take a dump at the worst time. yeah… good riddance. NEXT.


It depends your crew of players. Mine are protective and like to invest in relationship with PNJ. They hate loosing one as a meat shield as you say… What might work with a GM and some players might be a total failure at another game table.


Sorry I’m kinda late to this thread lol, here’s how I did it for my current Index Card World itteration (my ICRPG dungeon world-style hack):

It doesn’t tampers with the action economy, mostly because I’m not using turns (no turns in dungeon world, the game follows the natural flow of conversation), so it should work good with what @Sterling_Bronze wanted ha.

Now, about all that jazz about pets being bad… I can’t imagine what kind of horror stories those opinions come from :fearful: In my experience, pets are always nice and players reaaaaaally make an effort to take care of them. Not long ago, I had a wizard who went into a grand adventure of revenge because someone stole his owl familiar called Professor xD.

Me: “But, you can always summon a NEW familiar, right?”
Wizard: “NO WAY! Professor is MY familiar and best buddy. There might be a lot like him, but he’s mine. :sob:

I’m starting to sound like a scratched record, but I think most “problems” GMs have with their house-rules/rulings can be easily solved with a little bit of focus on the fictional side of the game rather than in the “balance” (or whatever that is xD)



My group is now 7 PC and everyone wants a pet, and i’m not about to add that much action economy to battles.

As other’s have suggested, pets/companions are treated as loot. They don’t have HP and they don’t have a turn. If the PC is down, they are down, if the PC is up, they are up. When the PC moves, they move with them.

Pet falcon?
1 equipped slot, treated exactly like a bow, Roll CHR to command it to attack a FAR target for WEAPON EFFORT.

Pet Bear?
2 equipped slots, Treat exactly like a sword and armor, Gives you +2 Armor and can use your action to roll CHR to command to deal WEAPON effort to a CLOSE target.

Squire/Body Guard?
2 Equipped Slots, treat exactly like a sword and armor, gives you +2 Armor and can use your action to roll CHR to deal WEAPON effort to a CLOSE target.

You can reskin ANY piece of loot into an npc pet/companion like this.