Some animals attract predators. A rat follower could attract a giant snake, or a boar follower might lure a hungry dragon. The ranger and his companions could be ambushed along with the followers.
Certain followers may be sought by hunters and collectors. A weasel follower with lustrous ivory fur might prove irresistible to unprincipled sportsmen. A renegade wizard could target the party to get her hands on the feathers of a black owl follower, which she needs for a spell component. Rustlers might assault a party just to steal a ranger's horse follower.
The presence of unusual followers may make NPCs less likely to deal with the party. A traveler may hesitate to share information when a growling bear lurks in the background. A giant eagle fluttering overhead could discourage a merchant from trading with the PCs. The DM may modify an NPC's reaction by as much as
4 when disconcerting, threatening, or obnoxious animal followers are present.
Some animals have habits which can make life uncomfortable, if not downright miserable, for the ranger and his companions. A ilthy hyena follower might smell so bad that it makes the PCs' eyes burn. A parrot follower may insist on keeping the party up all night with its incessant chatter. A curious squirrel follower could pick the pocket of a slumbering wizard, steal a crucial spell component, then bury it in the forest.
Rangers can train their animal followers to perform a remarkable variety of tricks and tasks. Because of the ranger's unique rapport with his animal followers, he can teach them more efficiently than other characters are able to train normal animals. And because of the followers' eagerness to please, they learn their tricks and tasks more quickly.
Two methods are provided for representing this special relationship with animal followers. The Standard method is the simplest and most straightforward, but treats all animals more or less the same. The Alternative method requires extra bookkeeping, but is a bit more realistic, as it takes into account the learning capacities of different species. Both methods are similar to and compatible with the animal training pro iciency (the animal training proficiency itself isn't used to train followers). Whichever method you prefer, it's best to stick with it throughout the entire campaign.
Before examining the training methods, let's clarify what is meant by tricks and tasks. These de initions apply to the animal training pro iciency as well as the training methods described below.
is a specific action performed in response to a specific stimulus, such as a
command, a sound, or a gesture. The action involves only a single step and requires no independent decision-making. In every instance, the animal performs the action exactly
as taught, without improvisation of any kind. The stimulus must be unambiguous and precise ("stay"); any variance in the stimulus ("Don't move") is likely to be misinterpreted, resulting in a failure to perform the trick as intended.
is general sequence of actions performed in response to a stimulus. The action
may involve multiple steps and require some independent decision-making. Completion of the task may require a certain amount of improvisation. The stimulus may be non- specific (for instance, if taught the task of tracking, the follower is able to track a variety