[RPG] How to improve the survivability of the Beast Master’s animal companion


I am brand spanking new to D&D. I have picked a Beast Master Ranger as my first class and I'm having serious issues with the survivability of the animal companion.

I picked a Panther as my pet. I see a lot of lists with the original pets you can choose from, but I can't seem to find a list of pet upgrades (stronger pets at higher levels). My Panther is pretty good right now while I'm only Level 4, but she took ONE hit and almost died twice. (Her AC=14 & HP=16) So I have to be very careful with her. This seems like a really big issue that is only going to get worse at higher levels.

What are the best ways for me to improve my companion's survivability going forward?

I'm open to any options including strategies, spells, class features, etc. that will help my animal companion survive more in battle.

Magic Items are an option, but they are not at all common in our world, so I'd prefer answers not to include them.

I'm playing with a Cleric, Druid, Warlock, Rogue, Wizard, Barbarian, & Bard. We are all Level 4. Our Cleric has "Bless", but I don't see any spells on their list that increase defenses. We don't have any tools at the moment.

Best Answer

Switch to the Unearthed Arcana Revised Ranger

The ranger, particularly the Beast Master ranger, is a notoriously weak class. Effort have been made to improve it in errata, but they haven't gone far enough. You have already encountered just one of the issues with it. The Unearthed Arcana playtest material has a revised ranger class that significantly improves the utility of the ranger companion if you choose the Beast Conclave.

Note: this is only playtest material and not officially allowed; you will need your DM's approval to play it, and it cannot be used in organised play.

The revised Beast Conclave animal companion has several advantages over the Player's Handbook version that increase both its survivability and its usefulness in combat:

  • It is proficient in all saves
  • It gains an additional hit die for each level you gain after 3rd
  • When you get an ASI, so does your companion
  • At 7th level, it gets advantage on saving throws provided it can see you
  • At 15th level, it gains an ability equivalent to Uncanny Dodge, where it can use its reaction to half incoming damage.

Most significantly on top of being a much stronger and more useful companion, should your companion die you can revive it in a new body with 8 hours work and 25gp worth of rare herbs.

There are a lot of changes in this version of the ranger and it isn't perfect. You give up your extra attack to increase the damage of your companion but if that's the playstyle you want isn't so bad.