So in our last session, during a heated combat, the bad guys threw the artifact the PC's were after through an opening and planned to close the door to prevent the PC's from grabbing it.
The ranger, on her initiative, decided to send her wolf, using Fetch, to grab the artifact and bring it back to her, all in the same round. A debate ensued.
The description is:
Fetch (DC 15): The animal goes and gets something. If you do not point out a specific item, the animal fetches a random object.
The dry interpretation would be that yes, this is exactly what happens. The player argued that this is the point of the trick. I resisted because I felt a bit disappointed that my plan to make the fight more interesting was derailed so easily... by a simple Handle Animal trick. It felt too powerful to me. But by the end I had to concede to the player because I couldn't find any evidence to the contrary.
But I want to be clear about this, and about Handle Animal in general, going forward:
- With Fetch, can an animal companion run, grab an object, and come back (while sticking to the speed limitation, of course), all in the same turn?
- does the animal act on the ranger's initiative because the ranger gives the command?
- what then happens to the initiative of the animal companion? Does it get to act again in the same round? We cancelled its turn during the round once it was commanded to fetch. But this was just on instinct.
- when an animal grabs an object, is it a free action? (it's a move action for any other PC). That's how we played it, anyway.
Animal companions have their own initiative, but many GMs hand-wave this and have the companion act on the PC's initiative to simplify things.
Picking up an item is a move action that provokes an attack of opportunity as per the CRB.
The wording of the command is pretty ambiguous, but I think we all know what fetch means. I'd argue that the item is dropped at the PC's feet, personally (which would require a move action on the PC's part to pick up the item), but it's pretty open to interpretation.
My opinion on how it should've gone:
- PC commands the animal companion to fetch the item and rolls a handle animal check.
- If the handle animal check was successful, the animal companion moves towards the item on its initiative using a move, a double move, or a run depending on how far away the item is and the environment.
- Once the animal companion arrives at the item, it would have to spend a move action to pick it up.
- Once the animal companion has the item in its possession, it would return to the PC and drop the item in the PC's square
- The PC picks the item up as a move action that provokes.