Boon Companion with Packmaster


Rules Questions


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In our game we have a player who has a hunter with the packmaster Archetype and is planning on taking about 5 animal companions and then take Boon companion for each of them.

Currently we are at 2nd level and he has a turtle and a falcon both of which he has taken boon companion for. So he has 2, 2nd level companions. At this level it isn't that big of a deal but I see problems arising in the future...

He has stated that he plans of taking a new companion each level up to 5th level. Being a human he will have 4 feats, all of which he is planning on taking Boon Companion for. This will give him 4, 5th level companions and a 1st level companion. That's 21 levels of animal companions at level 5!

If we look forward to 20th level, assuming he is going to split levels equally for each of the 5 companions, that makes 5, 8th level companions. Sure, 8th level companions at 20th level are giong to be under powered individually, but when stacking aid bonuses and teamwork feats this could potentially get ridiculous fast. He would effectively have the animal companion level of a 40th level druid. (5 companions * 8 levels each = 40 levels)

When asked he has stated that by higher levels this will loose effectiveness as they wont keep up with attack bonus and damage bonus of higher level characters so it is not broken and clearly as the rules were intended...

Packmaster Archetype:

Pack Bond (Ex)

A packmaster can have more than one animal companion, but she must divide her effective druid level between her companions to determine the abilities of each one. For example, a 4th-level packmaster can have one 4th-level animal companion, two 2nd-level companions, one 3rd-level companion and one 1st-level companion, or four 1st-level companions.

When a packmaster gains a level, she must decide how to allocate the increase among her animal companions, including whether or not to add a new 1st-level companion. Once a hunter level is allocated to a particular companion, it cannot be redistributed while that companion is in the packmaster's service. She must release the companion or wait until the companion dies to allocate its levels to another companion, which she can then do the next time she refreshes her spell slots for the day. The share spells animal companion ability applies to only one animal companion at a time—the packmaster cannot use it to cast a spell that affects only a single target and have the spell affect all of her animal companions.

A packmaster's precise companion, woodland stride, and teamwork feats apply to only one of her animal companions at a time. (For example, a packmaster can apply precise companion to one companion, woodland stride to another, and a given teamwork feat to a third, but cannot apply any of those to two animal companions at once.) As a swift action, she can change which companion gains any or all of these benefits.

This ability replaces animal companion.

Boon Companion:
Your bond with your animal companion or familiar is unusually close.

Prerequisites: Animal companion or familiar class feature.

Benefit: The abilities of your animal companion or familiar are calculated as though your class were 4 levels higher, to a maximum effective druid level equal to your character level. If you have more than one animal companion or familiar, choose one to receive this benefit. If you lose or dismiss an animal companion or familiar that has received this benefit, you may apply this feat to the replacement creature.

Special: You may select this feat more than once. The effects do not stack. Each time you take the feat, it applies to a different animal companion or familiar.

The feat seems to state that each animal companion can be boosted up to the players effective druid level and that you can take this feat for each companion. By RAW this seems to be completely legal and stack with the archetype...right?

My questions are:
Is this legal?
Is this broken?
Is this as intended?

I would greatly appreciate an official ruling or maybe an errata or FAQ. Thank you,


well i don't think he can take boon companion 2 times at level 2
he wouldn't be ale to take boon companion a second time at level one , cause he can only have 1 companion, and he doesn't get an other feat until level 3 .

it would be pretty powerful until lv 5 then get worse and worse, one solo companion drops off in effectiveness at level 10 so multiple lower level ones would be even worse .

i would be more concerned with how much time each of his rounds would take.


Kefler wrote:

well i don't think he can take boon companion 2 times at level 2

he wouldn't be ale to take boon companion a second time at level one , cause he can only have 1 companion, and he doesn't get an other feat until level 3 .

I mentioned that as well. The player in question is our typical GM though and I am the GM of this game, I am much newer to the game than he is and he insisted that you can take the feat before you get your second animal companion and then apply it when you get your second one.

Kefler wrote:

it would be pretty powerful until lv 5 then get worse and worse, one solo companion drops off in effectiveness at level 10 so multiple lower level ones would be even worse .

i would be more concerned with how much time each of his rounds would take.

The turn length was a concern as well. I am not so sure the effectiveness would drop off as sharply as that. When you stack teamwork feats and aid bonuses, I think things can change quickly.


An AoE or 2 can ruin his day.

It all looks legit. If you meet the pre-requisites of a feat you can take that feat, and having an available companion is not strictly a pre-req. I don't like it, and would be tempted to house-rule it to require an available companion when you first take it.

You have legitimate concerns about turn length and the player dominating too much game time - talk to him about how he will manage his time. If it is unmanageable you are entitled to ask him to chose a less disruptive character. It is much better to air concerns early and try to work to a solution than it is to unilaterally forbid it.

Read up on the handle animal rules and tricks. Make sure all the animal abilities are spelled out including tricks. If an animal doesn't know a trick then it is a move action to 'push' the animal. Let him know he will need to make those handle animal checks. He may find directing animals a little more work than he really wants.


1. This appears to be legal. It's a little odd that you're applying the feat to an animal companion you don't have yet, but it only requires that you have the feature, not the animal companion you're applying it to.
2. This is a one-trick pony that peaks at level 5 and slides downhill, hard, from there. And even at level 5 you need to compare it to 1d4+1 Celestial Eagles or 1d3 Small Elementals enough times per day that his "always on" companions don't really have an advantage.
3. Intended by who? Intended how? If you mean that animal companions are great at lower levels and gradually lose power as the world gets a lot more magical around them, yes, it appears to be intentional.


Ok, so it seems that the consensus is that it is legal. Fair enough.

I know at this point his companions have been powerful as hell and because of his turtle tanking for the party they have been steamrolling everything. It isn't that I want my party to die, just want to challenge them. (The pistolero gunslinger doesn't help either). As I am a new GM I have mostly been using the standard encounters in the AP (Jade Regent), I guess I am going to have to do some adjustments to challenge them. It is reassuring though that his over-powered character isn't going to last long enough to break the game.

Bob Bob Bob wrote:
3. Intended by who? Intended how? If you mean that animal companions are great at lower levels and gradually lose power as the world gets a lot more magical around them, yes, it appears to be intentional.

I meant, was boon companion intended to be allowed to be used on multiple companions like this to get many more companion levels then your character level?

I thank you guys for your input.


if he used spirits gift on one or 2 animals companions it would be way worse than simply getting more animal companions.and evolved animal companion
imagine that tank turtle with DR/5 and reach


Kefler wrote:

if he used spirits gift on one or 2 animals companions it would be way worse than simply getting more animal companions.and evolved animal companion

imagine that tank turtle with DR/5 and reach

Wow. I have not seen that feat before. You're right, that would be nasty!


I did this with the Huntmaster Cavalier, it worked pretty well. I did it with Birds, but Dogs are probably the stronger long term option. I used the birds to drop alchemist fire and acid from over head. then they all fell into flanking and I activated my Tactician ability to grant them all Precise Strike. I mopped up 8 goblins before the other PC could land a hit.

You can have multiple companions at lvl 1, check the text.

"The huntmaster can have more than one animal companion, but he must divide up his effective druid level between his companions to determine the abilities of each companion. Each time a huntmaster’s effective druid level increases, he must decide how to allocate the increase among his animal companions (including the option of adding a new 1st-level companion)."

So when you take Boon Companion, you can choose to have 4 more companions.

The viablility of this decreases quickly. Equipping your PC and a companion is expensive enough, without tossing in extra companions. 2 companions is workable. Boon companion for both, there is a human feat that also boosts AC level for a select list of creatures and an Orc feat that does something similar.


Nardoz Zardoz wrote:

I did this with the Huntmaster Cavalier, it worked pretty well. I did it with Birds, but Dogs are probably the stronger long term option. I used the birds to drop alchemist fire and acid from over head. then they all fell into flanking and I activated my Tactician ability to grant them all Precise Strike. I mopped up 8 goblins before the other PC could land a hit.

You can have multiple companions at lvl 1, check the text.

"The huntmaster can have more than one animal companion, but he must divide up his effective druid level between his companions to determine the abilities of each companion. Each time a huntmaster’s effective druid level increases, he must decide how to allocate the increase among his animal companions (including the option of adding a new 1st-level companion)."

So when you take Boon Companion, you can choose to have 4 more companions.

The viablility of this decreases quickly. Equipping your PC and a companion is expensive enough, without tossing in extra companions. 2 companions is workable. Boon companion for both, there is a human feat that also boosts AC level for a select list of creatures and an Orc feat that does something similar.

there is also the hum racial alternative ability that allows you to add +2 to any one of you Anc's ability scores


Now lets look at the wording of the feat.

Boon Companion wrote:
Benefit: The abilities of your animal companion or familiar are calculated as though your class were 4 levels higher, to a maximum effective druid level equal to your character level. If you have more than one animal companion or familiar, choose one to receive this benefit. If you lose or dismiss an animal companion or familiar that has received this benefit, you may apply this feat to the replacement creature.

It's calculated as though the class where 4 levels higher up to your character level. Without multiclassing this feat has no effect at all because it can't raise the class level at all.

The class level is raised then split between companions.


NikolaiJuno wrote:
Now lets look at the wording of the feat.
Boon Companion wrote:
Benefit: The abilities of your animal companion or familiar are calculated as though your class were 4 levels higher, to a maximum effective druid level equal to your character level. If you have more than one animal companion or familiar, choose one to receive this benefit. If you lose or dismiss an animal companion or familiar that has received this benefit, you may apply this feat to the replacement creature.

It's calculated as though the class where 4 levels higher up to your character level. Without multiclassing this feat has no effect at all because it can't raise the class level at all.

The class level is raised then split between companions.

See, this is the way I originally was thinking that this should work, but is so ambiguously worded that it could mean this or it could mean that each of them are to a maximum of your character level.

This is why my original post asked for an official ruling.


If he actually multi-classed with other classes and used there ACs separately it would work, but not when splitting the level with a packmaster.


Things to note:
Each Boon Companion only applies to a single AnC. (so no, you don't get 5 AnCs at 1st level)
Boon companion caps out at your character level.
Boon Companion doesn't stack, but can be taken more than once, but must be applied to a different companion.

The only way it can work is divide your actual effective druid levels among your AnC's, then add Boon Companion to each AnC that you have Boon for.

If you try adding Boon Companion to your level first you will not be able to gain the benefits of the 2nd Boon Companion feat (except with very unusual builds and at higher levels). For example. you'd have to be a 2nd level druid/8th level fighter to gain the full benefit of 2 Boon Companion feats, and even then the AnC's are only acting at 5th druid level each. It's a lot messier.


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dragonhunterq wrote:


If you try adding Boon Companion to your level first you will not be able to gain the benefits of the 2nd Boon Companion feat (except with very unusual builds and at higher levels). For example. you'd have to be a 2nd level druid/8th level fighter to gain the full benefit of 2 Boon Companion feats, and even then the AnC's are only acting at 5th druid level each. It's a lot messier.

The animal companions can't go beyond level 2 with your example of multi-classing, and to gain the effects of 2 boon companion feats you need 2 companions of levels lower than your character's effective druid level. The feat raises a character's effective druid level for determining an animal companion's level. The AnC's level caps at your MAX effective druid level. as a Druid 2/ Fighter 8, all the AnCs cap at level 2.

With a class that allows multiple AnCs with effective druid level, Boon Companion shines. With wanting 4 levels in some random class for whatever reason, Boon Companion makes that less harmful. It really doesn't do anything crazy unless the character completely focuses on animal companions and dedicates most of his feats to the AnCs he attains.

I've statted it out and done it with a Packmaster Hunter Archtype and love it, but my Hunter is SEVERELY limited in that he has no other beneficial feats, no major combat prowess by himself, and the DR of enemies will be the bane of his existence at higher levels for a plethora of reasons.

In my opinion there are 3 really good ways to go about the feat, but I'm not going to explain that unless it's requested.

As for the Boon Companion feat, it DOESN'T increase your effective druid level beyond your character's ACTUAL druid level, but the feat does allow for multiple AnCs to have a level no greater than your ACTUAL druid level (such as a Packmaster Archtype having 3 AnCs at level 5, his 5 ACTUAL druid levels are split 1 - 1 - 3 among the AnCs. He took Boon Companion as a feat at 1st and 3rd level, so his animal companions EFFECTIVE levels are [or can be] 5 - 5 - 3. They CAN NOT BE 7 - 5 - 1 or another form that makes any companion higher than his ACTUAL druid level. As for having more animal companions, he can have a maximum number of AnCs equal to his ACTUAL druid level).

Any of that not make sense? I can clarify, although it's difficult via message boards and text without over explaining like I already have.


It seems a bit cheesy to do it the way he is, but he is kinda right. The only point I would disagree on is taking it twice at level one... I wouldn't allow it, because feats can't be saved for later, and the wording of this feat doesn't seem to allow for an exception... but really up to you, the DM.

If he knows what he is doing, he won't slow down gameplay.

I have actually DONE this build myself, and it is INCREDIBLY effective for a while, but it really does taper off. Once it does, it goes bad pretty fast.

Regardless of the rules, if you aren't okay it, just discuss it with him. It can be a LOT of fun to play, as long as it doesn't steal the show from the rest of the table...

I would say, if he is using it to set up flanking and helping other party members, and not taking up a lot of extra time, let it slide. There are way worse rules abuses out there.

BTW folks, if you are gonna take the Spirits Gift feat, choose the one that grants fast heal 1 :D


DeadJesterKelsier wrote:

In our game we have a player who has a hunter with the packmaster Archetype and is planning on taking about 5 animal companions and then take Boon companion for each of them.

Currently we are at 2nd level and he has a turtle and a falcon both of which he has taken boon companion for. So he has 2, 2nd level companions. At this level it isn't that big of a deal but I see problems arising in the future...

He has stated that he plans of taking a new companion each level up to 5th level. Being a human he will have 4 feats, all of which he is planning on taking Boon Companion for. This will give him 4, 5th level companions and a 1st level companion. That's 21 levels of animal companions at level 5!

If we look forward to 20th level, assuming he is going to split levels equally for each of the 5 companions, that makes 5, 8th level companions. Sure, 8th level companions at 20th level are giong to be under powered individually, but when stacking aid bonuses and teamwork feats this could potentially get ridiculous fast. He would effectively have the animal companion level of a 40th level druid. (5 companions * 8 levels each = 40 levels)

When asked he has stated that by higher levels this will loose effectiveness as they wont keep up with attack bonus and damage bonus of higher level characters so it is not broken and clearly as the rules were intended...

** spoiler omitted **...

I hate to mention this but the Boon companion feat says it levels them up "Up to 4th level" If you have 4 effective druid levels. as a 2nd level hunter he'd have 2 2nd level animal companions. yes he can make them all level 5 at 5th level in other words, its an automatic level up for animal companions or familiars. btw Boon Companion is a General Feat. not a combat feat. A Hunter gains Team work Feats. But the Second level feat is not a general feat but pretty much decides how he will fight. Precise shot or Outflank are his ONLY 2 choices at second level.


Eli McMeowski wrote:
dragonhunterq wrote:


If you try adding Boon Companion to your level first you will not be able to gain the benefits of the 2nd Boon Companion feat (except with very unusual builds and at higher levels). For example. you'd have to be a 2nd level druid/8th level fighter to gain the full benefit of 2 Boon Companion feats, and even then the AnC's are only acting at 5th druid level each. It's a lot messier.

The animal companions can't go beyond level 2 with your example of multi-classing, and to gain the effects of 2 boon companion feats you need 2 companions of levels lower than your character's effective druid level. The feat raises a character's effective druid level for determining an animal companion's level. The AnC's level caps at your MAX effective druid level. as a Druid 2/ Fighter 8, all the AnCs cap at level 2.

With a class that allows multiple AnCs with effective druid level, Boon Companion shines. With wanting 4 levels in some random class for whatever reason, Boon Companion makes that less harmful. It really doesn't do anything crazy unless the character completely focuses on animal companions and dedicates most of his feats to the AnCs he attains.

I've statted it out and done it with a Packmaster Hunter Archtype and love it, but my Hunter is SEVERELY limited in that he has no other beneficial feats, no major combat prowess by himself, and the DR of enemies will be the bane of his existence at higher levels for a plethora of reasons.

In my opinion there are 3 really good ways to go about the feat, but I'm not going to explain that unless it's requested.

As for the Boon Companion feat, it DOESN'T increase your effective druid level beyond your character's ACTUAL druid level, but the feat does allow for multiple AnCs to have a level no greater than your ACTUAL druid level (such as a Packmaster Archtype having 3 AnCs at level 5, his 5 ACTUAL druid levels are split 1 - 1 - 3 among the AnCs. He took Boon Companion as a feat at 1st and 3rd level, so his animal companions...

I'd actually like that explanation. I am currently running a Catfolk Hunter Packmaster Archetype and have decided to use Boon Companion on my second Animal companion. My first is a small cat and I am currently deciding on my second. not sure what I'll make it rn though. also My character is Level 5

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Are you allowing retraining? If so, then he may retrain those extra Boon Companion feats and drop down to one or two companions later so that the character remains viable at higher levels.

In which case, what you've got is an over-powered character at low levels shifting towards a regular character later on.


It's allowed.
I wouldn't say broken but definitely powerful at early levels. It loses steam fast, even more so with additional animals
Due to the wording of the feat "If you have more than one animal companion or familiar, choose one to receive this benefit." and "Special: You may select this feat more than once. The effects do not stack. Each time you take the feat, it applies to a different animal companion or familiar." it seems like it is intended to function in this way, although originally designed for multiclass characters.

There is a lot of confusion related to the "Effective Druid Level" part. A 6th level Packmaster has an EDL of 6, regardless of how many companions he/she has. So the thought process is that this feat cannot effectively apply to any companion(in this example) because that would make the EDL(for all combined animals) higher than the character's level, which is not permitted by the wording of the feat.

However... the feat says the abilities of the animal are calculated as though your level was 4 higher. So for that animal, you "calculate it's abilities" as though you are a level 10 Packmaster. The Packmaster's EDL to distribute is still 6, but the feat specifically allows you to advance it by 4 levels as long as the "maximum effective druid level" does not exceed your actual level.
This is to prevent a character with one animal from having an animal companion calculated at levels beyond the actual character's level.


The Tyrant and I have had this discussion before. Suffice it to say I disagree. Boon Companion is of no benefit to single-class characters whose EDL equals character level, even if they have multiple pets.


DeadJesterKelsier wrote:

As I am a new GM I have mostly been using the standard encounters in the AP (Jade Regent), I guess I am going to have to do some adjustments to challenge them. It is reassuring though that his over-powered character isn't going to last long enough to break the game.

If you are running JR, I'd be pretty strict with the caravan rules on provisions and roles (if you are using them). Animal companions consume food, too, and a caravan can only have so many scouts working for it. If the player wants his animals to be feeding themselves off the land, then technically they are using their animal in the "scout" role (as a guard, because I don't see them being capable of gathering provisions for others). A caravan is only allowed three scouts, total.

Given the distances being traveled, they are going to have to figure out how to carry enough food to feed the animals. Even that first round trip to Brinewall has a long stretch where there is no place to resupply,

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