[RPG] Would the Ranger be overpowered if their Animal Companion kept attacking once ordered


For an Animal Companion to attack, the Ranger has to use his action to command it.

I am looking to see some math on just why this restriction is in place. Is the ranger way over-powered if the animal companion can keep attacking once ordered, or if gets to attack as an interact with object or verbal command from the ranger?

I'd like to see calculations for the following 3 scenarios:

  • act as rules as written
  • continue an action once given (1st attack takes a ranger action to activate)
  • act as an interact with object by the ranger

How does the above compare with an identical ranger with colossus slayer?

I am hoping to understand why the designers limited it so much.

Best Answer

In a word: Yes.

While it may be fairly well-accepted (though debatable) that a Beast Master Ranger is weaker than a Hunter Ranger, allowing the beast to attack freely swings things wildly in the other direction.

For the purposes of demonstration, I'll be using a basic Longbow Ranger, taking the Archery fighting style, starting with 16 dexterity, and taking +2 dex at level 4 and 8 to reach 20 dexterity. I'll be ignoring feats and other ranger builds to keep things simple, but they wouldn't really change the end result much anyways.

I'm using Damage per Round (DpR) as my measuring stick, taking into account chance to hit and chance to crit, using an average enemy AC at each level to get as practical a number as I can.

Basic Longbow Ranger

  • Level 3: 5.5 DpR
  • Level 5: 13.1 DpR
  • Level 11: 16.6 DpR
  • Level 20: 15.7 DpR

Wolf Animal Companion:

  • Level 3: 5.2 DpR
  • Level 5: 6.8 DpR
  • Level 11: 16.1 DpR
  • Level 20: 17.0 DpR

Longbow Ranger with Colossus Slayer:

  • Level 3: 9.6 DpR
  • Level 5: 18.4 DpR
  • Level 11: 21.0 DpR
  • Level 20: 20.0 DpR

Longbow Ranger plus Companion:

  • Level 3: 10.7 DpR
  • Level 5: 20.9 DpR
  • Level 11: 32.7 DpR
  • Level 20: 32.7 DpR

As you can see, while things start out OK at low levels, with the Ranger+Beast combo coming out only a bit ahead of the Colossus Slayer, this quickly changes once the Beast gets it's second attack. At this point, the ranger is now competing toe-to-toe with the better Fighter builds for damage potential.

Requiring the Beastmaster to use an action for the initial beast attack helps balance this out a bit, but ultimately it's still very powerful, and probably not wise to allow. As an interaction, it's just straight-up overpowered.