Figuring out Minions / Animal Companions


Rules Discussion

Grand Lodge

I'm trying to figure out the action economy of having an animal companion, or just minions in general-

Rules written down for context:

Spoiler:

Minion trait wrote:
Minions are creatures that directly serve another creature. A creature with this trait can use only 2 actions per turn and can’t use reactions. Your minion acts on your turn in combat, once per turn, when you spend an action to issue it commands. For an animal companion, you Command an Animal; for a minion that’s a spell or magic item effect like a summoned minion you Sustain a Spell or Sustain an Activation; and if not otherwise specified, you issue a verbal command, which is a single action with the auditory and concentrate traits. If given no commands, by default minions use no actions except to defend themselves or to escape obvious harm. If left unattended for long enough, typically 1 minute, mindless minions usually don’t act, animals often indulge their creature comforts, and sapient minions act how they please.
Command an Animal wrote:

(1 action) You issue an order to an animal. Attempt a Nature check against the animal’s Will DC. The GM might adjust the DC if the animal has a good attitude toward you, you suggest a course of action it was predisposed toward, or you offer it a treat.

You automatically fail if the animal is hostile or unfriendly to you. If the animal is helpful to you, increase your degree of success by one step. You might be able to Command an Animal more easily with a feat like Ride (page 266).

Most animals know the Leap, Seek, Stand, Stride, and Strike basic actions. If an animal knows an activity, such as a horse’s Gallop, you can Command the Animal to perform the activity, but you must spend as many actions on Command an Animal as the activity’s number of actions. You can also spend multiple actions to Command the Animal to perform that number of basic actions on its next turn; for instance, you could spend 3 actions to Command an Animal to Stride three times or to Stride twice and then Strike.

Success The animal does as you command on its next turn.
Failure The animal is hesitant or resistant, and it does nothing.
Critical Failure The animal misbehaves or misunderstands, and it takes some other action determined by the GM.

Animal Companions wrote:
An animal companion is a loyal comrade who follows your orders without you needing to use Handle an Animal on it. Your animal companion has the minion trait, and it gains 2 actions during your turn if you use the Command an Animal action to command it; this is in place of the usual effects of Command an Animal. If your companion dies, you can spend a week of downtime to replace it at no cost. You can have only one animal companion at a time.

So my confusion is primarily whether or not you need to continuously command a minion to do an action each round, even if it's the same action. Let's say I'm a ranger with a bear and there's an enemy adjacent to my fuzzy friend. If I command to Strike, does the bear Strike twice because it has two actions or only once because I only spent one action to command? On my next turn must I command my bear to Strike again or is my bear smart enough to repeat my last command, assuming the enemy is still standing? What if the enemy isn't within reach of the bear? Do I need to spend two actions to tell the bear to Stride next to the enemy and then Strike? What if I don't command my bear to do anything, and the enemy Strikes him? Is the bear able to take its own actions to defend himself by Striking back or will it just stand there until the GM decides it will flee on its own or I command it to do something else?

Lastly, a slight nit-pick about the support action animal companions get- why can't they Strike after using Support? They're already limited to only two actions per round; why can't they support and Strike in the same round given that Support has no traits or anything and only takes one action? It really seems counter-intuitive when building a character with the intent of fighting side-by-side with their animal companion.

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

According to the minion trait, yes you need to use command animal every round for the minion (animal companion) to even get two actions.

If you are wondering about all the restrictions, it's mostly because of class feats. Your animal companion only becomes better when you spend the class feats as you level up. The basic animal companion doesn't do anything beyond what is listed.

For example, a Mature animal companion (Druid class feat 4) doesn't need the command animal companion and can take 1 action during the turn without you using command animal.

Grand Lodge

Eltacolibre wrote:

According to the minion trait, yes you need to use command animal every round for the minion (animal companion) to even get two actions.

If you are wondering about all the restrictions, it's mostly because of class feats. Your animal companion only becomes better when you spend the class feats as you level up. The basic animal companion doesn't do anything beyond what is listed.

For example, a Mature animal companion (Druid class feat 4) doesn't need the command animal companion and can take 1 action during the turn without you using command animal.

I've read through all those feats and somehow missed the fact that mature animal companion allows your companion to use one action. That's great, thank you for pointing that out!

Still wondering about whether or not the "If given no commands, by default minions use no actions except to defend themselves or to escape obvious harm." line in the Minion trait allows a companion to Strike an enemy who is Striking/threatening the companion though.

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
Syries wrote:
Eltacolibre wrote:

According to the minion trait, yes you need to use command animal every round for the minion (animal companion) to even get two actions.

If you are wondering about all the restrictions, it's mostly because of class feats. Your animal companion only becomes better when you spend the class feats as you level up. The basic animal companion doesn't do anything beyond what is listed.

For example, a Mature animal companion (Druid class feat 4) doesn't need the command animal companion and can take 1 action during the turn without you using command animal.

I've read through all those feats and somehow missed the fact that mature animal companion allows your companion to use one action. That's great, thank you for pointing that out!

Still wondering about whether or not the "If given no commands, by default minions use no actions except to defend themselves or to escape obvious harm." line in the Minion trait allows a companion to Strike an enemy who is Striking/threatening the companion though.

This part is not as clear and would depend on the GM really would be my answer rule wise. There are probably too many factors to take into account...an animal probably has a different reaction to fighting humans than monsters from the Cthulhu Mythos.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

I see a crucial problem here.

For example, if the PC with an animal companion wants to flee from the battle, they have to use one of their actions to Command the Animal to make two Strides, and thus, both would be only using two of their actions to Stride, whereas a character without an animal companion would be circa 33% faster each round, which doesn't seem very logical. The same goes for continuing to attack an obvious threat. Maybe attacking a demon does require the animal to be forced to it, but attacking e.g. another animal seems only natural if it's threatening the companion or the master.

I guess these rules are in place in order to give the action economy the central place it holds in PF2, and it's trying to reflect the fact that you have to concentrate in order to command an animal to do things. But sometimes it just doesn't seem logical.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

If a PC with an animal companion is trying to flee from battle and not telling their companion to keep fighting, then the PC just doesn't command the animal companion - it will follow the PC shortly thereafter because that falls under defending itself and escaping from obvious harm.

As for continuing to attack, that one is entirely about play balance. It would not be good play balance if having a minion enabled you to command it to attack and then have it make attacks round after round until that enemy was defeated. As is, a companion-using character is already taking 4 actions per turn to other characters' 3 actions per turn - the trade of being that the companion's actions are more limited as to what they can do, which would be untrue of letting the companion-using character use all 3 actions on their own, and then the minion also use 2 actions.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

I think in general, a minion that isn't commanded to attack will only attack if otherwise being prevented from fleeing, e.g. if they're back into a corner and surrounded by enemies they might attack. Though if they can climb away or anything like that I would force that first. In general, for balance reasons, I don't think an animal companion should be making attacks without the PC spending the action.

Horizon Hunters

I wish to note that you can expend one action to have your companion:
1. move up to enemy & strike once, or
2. move up to enemy & support

The animal companion continues to support your attack without being commanded to do so every round. That is, as long as the enemy doesn't move away from the animal. This is quite effective for an archer ranger.

Note: an animal companion that is attacking provides flank for other melee types. If supporting, it does not provide flank.


Flanking happens so long as the creature threatens. The animal companion shouldn't need to make an attack ever*, to be able to provide flanking.

*The only need to be physically capable of making an attack, e.g. not helpless, restrained, etc.

Grand Lodge

Anne Archer wrote:

The animal companion continues to support your attack without being commanded to do so every round. That is, as long as the enemy doesn't move away from the animal. This is quite effective for an archer ranger.

I don't think this is correct. The first paragraph of the Animal Companions & Familiars section (pg. 214) says that animal companions gain 2 actions when you expend one action to Command an Animal. Support is a single action activity and without the master/mistress expending the action to Command an Animal to begin with, the companion would not have the 2 actions to use at all.

If this is modified from another section of the book, I am not aware of it and encourage you to show me the error of my ways.

NiftyB


I agree. Getting the benefit of support likely requires the animal companion to expend one action per round.


Syries wrote:
So my confusion is primarily whether or not you need to continuously command a minion to do an action each round, even if it's the same action. Let's say I'm a ranger with a bear and there's an enemy adjacent to my fuzzy friend. If I command to Strike, does the bear Strike twice because it has two actions or only once because I only spent one action to command?

There's a difference between commanding "pets" and animal companions.

If you're a regular dude on a horse, for example, you need to spend one action for every action you want your horse to take (usually Stride). But an animal companion gets a little more juice: one action spent Commanding it gives it two actions. There's also a level 4 feat that lets you spend an extra action on Command and give your companion a third action.

Quote:
Lastly, a slight nit-pick about the support action animal companions get- why can't they Strike after using Support? They're already limited to only two actions per round; why can't they support and Strike in the same round given that Support has no traits or anything and only takes one action? It really seems counter-intuitive when building a character with the intent of fighting side-by-side with their animal companion.

Probably a game balance thing. Support makes each of your actions stronger, and to then have the companion be able to attack on top of that might be excessive.

Community / Forums / Pathfinder / Pathfinder Second Edition / Rules Discussion / Figuring out Minions / Animal Companions All Messageboards

Want to post a reply? Sign in.