Who controls secondary characters?


Rules Questions


My question is in regard to animal companions/familiars/cohorts/mounts/constructs and other NPC types that might follow a specific character due to a special ability. Does the DM control their actions or does the player? Also, does the player create and level the secondary character or is that the DM's task as well?


It's the DM's job to control everything but your character. If he wants to allow you to handle it during combat to lighten his load, then that's his decision.


In my group the player usually controls his familliar or animal companion.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Mounts/companions/cohorts/familiars/summons/whateverelse are a responsibility of the player. The DM has far too much job to run around doing PC stuff.


Most GM's I know (including myself) generally let you control your closely-held followers (e.g. familiars, companions, mounts and henchmen). Most GMs I know also won't allow the leadership feat, but will allow you to obtain cohorts and followers in-game. In general, we'll let you run them as long as you keep a roughly consistent idiom with them and don't abuse them beyond the cultural expectations. How you treat them will influence their loyalty to you.

Dark Archive

class features are a players responsibility.

gms dont get to pick fighters feats, or wizards spells, why should they control an animal companion/summon/familiar of a player

Scarab Sages

In my experience, rolling them up goes to the players, and the RPing can be a team sport, depending.

If the player has a good handle on the character, then they run with it. During the game, if the player is describing what the familiar is doing, how they are reacting, etc. Then that adds to the game.

If, however, it’s “I have Soandso” (the cohort) “watch the horses,” then the GM can have the cohort react in-character. This, by the way, is the most common thing I’ve seen personally, where cohorts/followers/familiars/companions/etc. are totally loyal, and their actions (especially with regards to combat) are controlled by the PC, but their reactions and personalities in an RP sense are independent and come from the GM.

It’s more of where the dynamic “feels right” to the group than a “should/should not” scenario, IMO.


I like to have control of my animal companions nothing was more fun than having the dm say that when I attacked the enemy that my wolf that I raised since it was born and trained it to fight along side me. Because the dm decided that animals would never attack armed combatants never mind that he was trained for combat and everything.

Dark Archive

I generally consider them to be NPC's that the DM allows to direct in most situations. (Whether I am the DM, or somebody else is DM'ing me and my animal companion.)

I definitely expect the DM to step in at times when the companion is being told to do something blatantly suicidal, or when the companion is outside of the direct control of the PC. (Another room, dimension, PC is incapacitated, etc).

Generally though, I would view at companion as a fiercely loyal friend who operates in sync with the PC under most circumstances. If the companion has 3+ intelligence, and something close to PC level wisdom, I would have no problem with it using whatever tactics the player comes up with.


Gorbacz wrote:
Mounts/companions/cohorts/familiars/summons/whateverelse are a responsibility of the player. The DM has far too much job to run around doing PC stuff.

+1

As a DM Running four or five NPCs in a social encounter is bad enough without worrying about what number six is doing. The other DMs in my group all allow us to run whatever cohorts/mounts/etc that we may aquire, which can be quite alot (a wizard, a druid, a cavalier, and someone with leadership just for grins).


Dirty Rat wrote:
It's the DM's job to control everything but your character. If he wants to allow you to handle it during combat to lighten his load, then that's his decision.

+1

DM, can always lessen there load by letting you control your pets and secondary characters.

BUT

The DM is within his rights, to take control of these character at any time, if he feels you are not playing these character in there own best interests. If he feels you are putting there interests last, in favor of the interest of your main character.

PS = DM is also able to take over your main character, if you seam unable to role-play out the main character when out of his mind or control. Examples are = Undead, Lycantropy, under the effects of a Dominated spell, etc.


As a DM, I let players manage their pets within the rules, meaning:


  • Familiars, hirelings, and intelligent companions (like a paladin's mount) can understand a spoken language and follow orders, but said orders have to be given (emphatically in the case of a familiar) or they'll do whatever they want (and be managed by me - if I have other fishes to fry, they might flee). I might tell the player that a given action is seen as dangerous by the pet and require the player to make a Diplomacy check with the appropriate bonuses.
    A Ride check for an intelligent mount can replace the Diplomacy check to transmit the orders non-verbally.

  • Animal Companions and trained animals (a bought guard dog, for instance) have a set of tricks (Attack, Stay, etc.) and the player rolls Handle Animal checks with the appropriate bonuses (our local druid doesn't even fail her check on a roll of 1 so it's guaranteed that her tiger does the trick). Don't forget that Handle Animal isn't generally a free action.
    Complex strategies (repositioning to flank, using aid another, doing non-lethal damage) are generally unavailable. When asked to attack, the pet will generally charge the first enemy it sees but they can be pointed at a particular enemy if starting near their owner.

  • Non-intelligent mounts are managed through the Ride skill. They can also know tricks, but unattended non-war-trained mounts will generally flee from combat if able. War-trained ones can do the tricks they know (Come, Stay, etc.) through a Handle Animal check, as usual.

  • My players aren't of the appropriate level to get the Leadership feat and acquire cohorts and followers yet, so that's out for now. When/if they'll do, I'll treat followers as hirelings (see above). Cohorts will be full-fledged characters that the players will be able to manage almost completely (from time to time, I might make them disagree with the PC).

    Side note: cohort creation will be done by me, possibly with guidelines from the player. This can be roleplayed as:
    PC> "I put an ad to attract cohorts and followers, stating that I want a strong combatant or a magician able to make items"
    DM> "Three people answered your ad, here are their résumés"
    Or:
    DM> "You freed the slaves, and some of them want to join you. One of them is a wily rogue, another is a charismatic priest."
    PC> "I ask the priest to join us in our quest to defeat the BBEG. We'll take the rogue as a hireling for the time being."
    Or:
    DM> "You have worked with the (insert job type here) guild for some time, with one of them in particular, and he's willing to join you."
    PC> "Perhaps. I have also worked with the female acolytes of the temple, and I'd rather have one of them as a cohort." *winks*


$0.02


As a DM and player I prefer the following method.

In combat I prefer for players to control "pets" (Familiars/animal companions/summoned monsters, etc...)

Out of combat the DM roleplays the "pets" but they will generally follow instructions and aid as appropriate to their status/nature. Generally a familiar will always work in the best interests of its master and show initiative to assist him or her. Same with an animal companion.


The rules remain silent on this, and for good reason.

The GM and players have to decide that for themselves. It depends on who wants to take on the control, responsibility and associated workload.

I prefer to do it this way:

In combat, the player who "owns" the extra generally gets to control the critter and decide on the actions it takes - but if they go way out of line, I as the GM will step in and overrule their actions. Example: A cowardly (or otherwise not totally loyal) character taking an arrow that was meant for his "owner". I'm saying arrow just because bullets aren't that common on PF battlefields. This applies to all sorts of self-sacrifice to save someone else.

Outside of combat, I also let the player decide on the companion's general activities (like "While I prepare my spells, my cohort will prepare breakfast for the party"), but will take over when the companion takes part in conversations. Again, I will step in when the player wants to force the companion to do unreasonable, uncharacteristic, or otherwise demeaning stuff. (Stuff like "My cohort offers herself as sex slave to the orc for a couple of hours if he lets us through!" is usually right out)


It looks like the majority prefer to let the Player run the secondaries with the DM jumping in at certain situations.

Dark Archive

Remember that these things are not necessarily the same across the board. This is how I *as a DM* see it:

Eidolons: Eidolons are a special case in terms of player control, since they are equally an aspect of the PC and of that 'universal outsider'. More so than any other secondary character, the PC has complete and total control over their Eidolon (exactly as though it were their PC). The reasons for this are twofold; firstly, the Summoner depends so much on the Eidolon that it would be more fair to treat the actual Summoner as the 'pet' part of the class. Considering how easy it already is to disable an Eidolon and severely nerf the Summoner, "Charizard ignores you" is never acceptable. In terms of fluff, the Eidolon is immortal and tied to the Summoner- as long as the Summoner is alive, the Eidolon can't die. In this case, having your Eidolon do something blatantly suicidal to protect you is absolutely ok. He'll be better tomorrow.

Summon Monster X: The summoned monsters are outsiders from other planes, compelled by magic to aid the caster. Since the magic compels them, they should obey absolutely, as long as the action fits their (your) alignment. Since Summoned Monsters instantly return to their home plane at 0 HP, suicidal actions are generally ok.

Summon Nature's Ally X: Unlike Summoned Monsters, Nature's Allies are from the material plane, and so do not get to safely reform if terminally injured. Thus, sending your summoned bear to go find the landmines is an Evil act.

Animal Companions: Generally, you use the various 'tricks' your companion knows or Wild Empathy to get it to do what you want. It stands to figure that your companion wouldn't automatically perceive constructs or incorporeal creatures as 'threats', but you can always just command it to attack. In general, the DM should never keep your animal companion from serving in a COMBAT role because "it's just an animal".

Other things like Familiars and followers generally ought to be convinced or else pre-appraised of the situation. A Follower who wasn't expecting a Dragon to show up may very well run if you can't convince them otherwise.


Eidolon, Familiars, Animal Companions, Class granted Mounts, etc. (i.e. class abilities that aren't spells) are directly under the player's control, with the DM perhaps occasionally chiming in to use the critter as a plot device.. or if the rules specify they must follow some code of conduct, the DM can/should alter the beast as needed to make sure it follows it. (bear of the druid may not want to spend a month in a city, for example);

Summoning Spells:
If the PC can speak its language- or some language that it speaks- then they can control it up to the limits of the spell.

Cohorts via leadership:
Leadership is an odd feat. I believe that the Dm and Player should collaborate on the construction and personality of the creature but that due to its power- the DM is the definite ultimate authority on it. This is not a 'class feature' but rather an optional being with his/her own mind and goals. That they are currently following you around like a love sick puppy doesn't mean they lose those goals. "I want a wizard cohort with all the item creation feats to stay at home and be a magical item factory for me" shouldn't happen if the DM is on the job. And its his job to be on the job.

Others: Most other things are in the DM domain but may or may not be put in the player's control to make life easier for the DM. They are still the DM's pet, whatever length of time they allow someone else to control them.

-S


Gorbacz wrote:
Mounts/companions/cohorts/familiars/summons/whateverelse are a responsibility of the player. The DM has far too much job to run around doing PC stuff.

+1

The Exchange

In my game the mechanical stuff..stats, feats classes plus dice rolls for combat spells, tactical movement are the owning player's responsibility. As DM I handle the role playing side of the intelligent cohorts, animals pets etc as npcs, I also police "stupid" decisions that players might make with their charges.


Nerfherder wrote:
In my game the mechanical stuff..stats, feats classes plus dice rolls for combat spells, tactical movement are the owning player's responsibility. As DM I handle the role playing side of the intelligent cohorts, animals pets etc as npcs, I also police "stupid" decisions that players might make with their charges.

Pretty much how I do it too.

I've already got a heap of stuff to do, don't need the extra hassle of messing around with your summoned monsters etc.


In my games a player has all but complete control over the actions of anything that is the direct result of their character's abilities. They get to build and stat out their animal companions, familars and cohorts, controlling them in combat and roleplaying,and decide what kind of followers their character attracts. If a player got it by class ability or feat selection, it's their to do with as they please.

However I did say all but complete control, which means that I might be pushed to deny an action if it's totally out of character for the companion. I never take them over for non-magical reasons, I just say that it makes no sense.

Sometimes I will roleplay them. If they make a knowledge check, need to say something the player won't know, or when the group is talking amongst them-selves and it's get confusing to have one person speak for two.

Mounts I don't care. Do whatever you want with them, it's your gold.

Hireling I do control in the rare cases that it comes up. I honest can't remember a player ever recuiting a hireling.

Dark Archive

Ninten wrote:

Remember that these things are not necessarily the same across the board. This is how I *as a DM* see it:

Eidolons: Eidolons are a special case in terms of player control, since they are equally an aspect of the PC and of that 'universal outsider'. More so than any other secondary character, the PC has complete and total control over their Eidolon (exactly as though it were their PC). The reasons for this are twofold; firstly, the Summoner depends so much on the Eidolon that it would be more fair to treat the actual Summoner as the 'pet' part of the class. Considering how easy it already is to disable an Eidolon and severely nerf the Summoner, "Charizard ignores you" is never acceptable. In terms of fluff, the Eidolon is immortal and tied to the Summoner- as long as the Summoner is alive, the Eidolon can't die. In this case, having your Eidolon do something blatantly suicidal to protect you is absolutely ok. He'll be better tomorrow.

Summon Monster X: The summoned monsters are outsiders from other planes, compelled by magic to aid the caster. Since the magic compels them, they should obey absolutely, as long as the action fits their (your) alignment. Since Summoned Monsters instantly return to their home plane at 0 HP, suicidal actions are generally ok.

Summon Nature's Ally X: Unlike Summoned Monsters, Nature's Allies are from the material plane, and so do not get to safely reform if terminally injured. Thus, sending your summoned bear to go find the landmines is an Evil act.

Animal Companions: Generally, you use the various 'tricks' your companion knows or Wild Empathy to get it to do what you want. It stands to figure that your companion wouldn't automatically perceive constructs or incorporeal creatures as 'threats', but you can always just command it to attack. In general, the DM should never keep your animal companion from serving in a COMBAT role because "it's just an animal".

Other things like Familiars and followers generally ought to be convinced or else pre-appraised of the situation. A...

Your distinction between Summon Monster and Summon Natures Ally have no basis in the rules.

PRD wrote:

Conjuration - Each conjuration spell belongs to one of five subschools. Conjurations transport creatures from another plane of existence to your plane (calling); create objects or effects on the spot (creation); heal (healing); bring manifestations of objects, creatures, or forms of energy to you (summoning); or transport creatures or objects over great distances (teleportation). Creatures you conjure usually—but not always—obey your commands.

Summoning: A summoning spell instantly brings a creature or object to a place you designate. When the spell ends or is dispelled, a summoned creature is instantly sent back to where it came from, but a summoned object is not sent back unless the spell description specifically indicates this. A summoned creature also goes away if it is killed or if its hit points drop to 0 or lower, but it is not really dead. It takes 24 hours for the creature to reform, during which time it can't be summoned again.

Thus no summoned being is actually subject to real death. They are all simply manifestations of creatures, which if "killed" will reform after 24 hours.

Similarly, your description of the intimate bond between summoner and eidolon has no basis in the actual rules. They are not granted a telepathic connection. There is a rounds-per-day (equal to summoner level) sensory link that the summoner can activate as a standard action, beyond that, they both speak the same languages. Thus an eidolon outside of the summoners control (in a different room, for example) would be acting on volition, not that of the summoner. In this instance, it is a perfectly reasonable expectation that the DM might step in to act as its controller.

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