Do animal companions ever rebel?


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion


Like, if an evil druid or ranger is really abusive might the fight back? Or do they have no choice but to obey? Also this makes me think of another quandry: if a good-aligned party kills an evil druid/ranger but their companion survives what should they do (as it probably won't survive on it's own)? I'm thinking they could "adopt" it with some successful handle animal checks, although I would have it's stats revert to a normal animal of it's kind.


It probably depends on the personality of the animal companion and possibly the type of animal. Animal companions are exactly that, animals. It may not understand it's masters behavior but it sees the character essentially as it's lifemate even if that view isn't shared by the evil druid/ranger.

As for what the party should do if the evil druid/ranger is killed? Again it probably depends on the personality of the animal. It might seek "revenge" against the party or it may just do whatever a normal animal of its type would do. How easily it could "survive" I think again depends heavily on the type of animal in question and how different the current environment is from what it's used to. Also, what was the animal companion trained to do? They aren't exactly housepets, they are highly trained animals that have probably been taught to attack on command. Depending on what tricks they've been taught survival may not be an issue at all.

I don't recall seeing a statement that an animal companion loses any of its abilities when its master dies. So, I think this would purely be a DM call.

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All indications are that an animal companion will tolerate any sort of abuse / follow any order short of suicide while bonded. Now, if the bond is broken (e.g. animal released because you want to choose another companion) then they'd generally react like any other abused animal of their type.

Ex animal companions generally revert to normal members of their species and would try to return to their natural habitat and behavior.


Under Animal Companion you'll find guidelines for their behavior.

Nonsentient Companions wrote:
a nonsentient companion (one with animal-level intelligence) is loyal to you in the way a well-trained dog is—the creature is conditioned to obey your commands, but its behavior is limited by its intelligence and it can’t make altruistic moral decisions—such as nobly sacrificing itself to save another. Animal companions, cavalier mounts, and purchased creatures (such as common horses and guard dogs) fall into this category. In general they’re GM-controlled companions. You can direct them using the Handle Animal skill, but their specific behavior is up to the GM.

If a player causes actual harm to their animal companion, I think that is sufficient grounds to have the animal companion shift its reactions once in the negative direction. That would usually go from Friendly to Neutral. Continuing to be antagonistic without attempting to repair their relations would eventually result in the animal companion turning hostile. Generally I'd have the companion leave rather than fight.

But generally an animal companion is a very smart and exceptionally loyal trained animal. You're suppose to be making Handle Animal checks to get them to do anything you want them to, or to keep them from acting the way they want to.


Yqatuba wrote:
Like, if an evil druid or ranger is really abusive might the fight back? Or do they have no choice but to obey? Also this makes me think of another quandry: if a good-aligned party kills an evil druid/ranger but their companion survives what should they do (as it probably won't survive on it's own)? I'm thinking they could "adopt" it with some successful handle animal checks, although I would have it's stats revert to a normal animal of it's kind.

IMO a druid who abuses their animal companion is not venerating nature. While I'm not a big fan of "you're fallen!" I would not tolerate that kind of behavior as a GM, even in an evil campaign.

It's different with rangers, especially if they're a non-magical ranger. The companion is an NPC, so IMO they should not tolerate that. If a character had Leadership and mistreated their minions, they should suffer penalties to Diplomacy at the very least. (I imagine many evil characters with Leadership use Intimidation on their minions, and have "alternative" ways of securing loyalty.)

This is my opinion. It's not really RAW. I don't believe it violates RAW, either, since companions are NPCs that are technically under the GM's control.


Even regular animals regularly obey and stay with abusive owners. I wouldn't say an animal companion would never abandon its master, but it'd be a pretty extraordinary thing. You'd almost have to be trying to drive them off.


Melkiador wrote:
Even regular animals regularly obey and stay with abusive owners. I wouldn't say an animal companion would never abandon its master, but it'd be a pretty extraordinary thing. You'd almost have to be trying to drive them off.

While this is true, the big conceit is that technically the GM is assumed to have control of the animal companion and in my experience this is never the case. I certainly never have, I don't have the bandwidth to run yet another NPC.

I'm pretty sure there's instances of evil NPCs mistreating their animal companions in written Paizo products, animal abuse is a pretty easy go to for EVUL. Thinking of a certain ogrekin family, but haven't read the AP in ages.

Basically I'm agreeing, but I'd warn that animal abuse can be a big problem for certain people and to make sure everyone at the table is okay with allowing it as a theme.

My 2 cp.


Kimera757 wrote:
IMO a druid who abuses their animal companion is not venerating nature. While I'm not a big fan of "you're fallen!" I would not tolerate that kind of behavior as a GM, even in an evil campaign.

This sidesteps the issue though. What if the druid is allowing one of their animal companions to regularly feed another animal companion in a way that mirrors what happens naturally in the wild?

While they are venerating nature, one of the animal companions is definitely getting the short end of the stick.

If the bond with an animal companion is lost because the master has violated an ethos that's a different scenario as the animal companion might be driven to leave in that situation even if it's master has treated it relatively well up until that point. Take for example a fallen paladin's bonded mount. It could easily feel compelled to refuse to let the paladin ride it even if what the paladin did had no direct negative impact on the mount.

Kimera757 wrote:

It's different with rangers, especially if they're a non-magical ranger. The companion is an NPC, so IMO they should not tolerate that. If a character had Leadership and mistreated their minions, they should suffer penalties to Diplomacy at the very least. (I imagine many evil characters with Leadership use Intimidation on their minions, and have "alternative" ways of securing loyalty.)

This is my opinion. It's not really RAW. I don't believe it violates RAW, either, since companions are NPCs that are technically under the GM's control.

I have to say the concept of an evil ranger still feels weird to me. Since in earlier editions rangers had the alignment requirement of being good.

I think the thing to keep in mind is that all animal companions have a link to their masters (they literally have an ability called link). This link makes it so that their masters can more easily manipulate them. It's an extraordinary ability that is never traded by any archetype, so its present at all times. This means that in order for the animal companion to leave and/or attack it's master, the circumstances have to be worse than what it would take for a well trained animal to do the same.


Kimera757 wrote:


IMO a druid who abuses their animal companion is not venerating nature. While I'm not a big fan of "you're fallen!" I would not tolerate that kind of behavior as a GM, even in an evil campaign.

I could easily see an evil druid seeing their companion as just their belonging they can treat any way they want. Especially since I usually imagine evil druids/rangers as Social Darwinist types.


Animal companions are tougher, stronger, and more capable than ordinary animals of their species, so I wouldn't think an animal companion would have the slightest trouble surviving without a former master.

As for abuse, I wouldn't expect an animal companion to put up with that. They're "loyal companions," but that presupposes the master is worthy of their loyalty. As a GM, I would have no problem with having an animal companion leave an abusive master, although I would have a talk with the player long before then.

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