Question for people: Rangers have a selection of animal companions that is independent from the stats and trainings…

Question for people: Rangers have a selection of animal companions that is independent from the stats and trainings…

Question for people: Rangers have a selection of animal companions that is independent from the stats and trainings they can choose from their companions.  As GM, do I have any prerogative to put constraints on this?  I have a player who wants to have a rat that fights monsters.  In the druid shapeshifting rules, there is some discussion that certain forms have limitations, like a house cat can’t fight a big ole’ monster.  if my ranger takes a rat and the training to fight monsters, do I have to allow the ridiculous situation that a rat is helping him fight any monster?  Can I say with certain monsters it’s just not possible?  I’m thinking another way to go is that he has to give a narrative description of what his rat actually does to help him in the fight.  If he can’t plausibly describe how the rat helps fight the monster, then he doesn’t get the benefit.

37 thoughts on “Question for people: Rangers have a selection of animal companions that is independent from the stats and trainings…”

  1. So it’s also going to depend on the monster, on the monster’s anatomy.  It’s not going to be able to do much of anything against a skeleton.

  2. A rat might be able to get inside the skeleton’s skull and loosen it’s spine or something 😉

    I would say; put it to your player. Have them justify it. If they flounder or come up with something implausible then say, “okay the rat can’t help you this time”

    I think it’s always easier to turn things back on the players. It diversifies the fiction and helps players understand the benefits and limits of their own powers =)

  3. Jeff Johnston Exactly that!  Any other use of the rat as, say, some kind of NPC ally should be met with tragedy (or attempted tragedy).  But the rat could still play an important part of helping the player distract the monster so he can, say, find a weak spot.

  4. Isn’t narrative explanation technically required for everything? As they say in AW (and I’m assuming the same goes for DW) “To do it, you have to do it.”

  5. Possible explanations, some of which should require a custom move or more:

    It’s a giant rat

    The rat is a polymorphed/reincarnated adventurer

    It’s a wererat

    The rat and the ranger are connected somehow. Think as in Ladyhawk. Maybe they’re both wererats.

  6. But there’s more and less explanation required for things.  If a bear attacks something, that’s fairly straightforward.  I mean, it’s a bear, it’s a large, aggressive, predatory animal that everyone’s probably seen on video attacking.  So a ranger using a bear to do what a bear naturally does, that’s going to take a little less explanation.

  7. Maybe what I’m saying is that the more unusual the action or the less it jives with the natural order of things, it’s going to take a little more convincing me as a GM to go along with it.

  8. OT but just too funny: I recently had an absolute RPG and fantasy newbie (“I watched first part of LoR but didn’t like”) in my round. He chose the Ranger and decided for an owl as his companion. With burly and fightmonsters. Everybody including himself was clueless what that could mean. And then one of us jumped up: “you just reinvented the owlbear!”

    After some googling the player’s face turned into one big smile: “yes, my owlbear lets nobody coming too close to me.”

  9. This question and the response is a testament to how “cinematic” and distant from its Chainmail/wargaming roots D&D has come. Of course a rat can’t fight. In a battle with actual swords and fighting it wouldn’t be very distracting either.

  10. Since we are not talking about D&D but Dungeon World I don’t see the problem ^^

    I would also like to challenge you to a sword duel. You fight with a rat in your trousers.

  11. Good responses here.  I think it’s also worth keeping in mind that the companion doesn’t act on its own, so much as it coordinates with The Ranger; the companion is a modifier to the player character’s action.

    The rats teeth and claws don’t have to inflict damage.  The rat could instead open the enemy up to greater HP damage by The Ranger.

    When coupled with the fact that HP damage is an abstraction (a 1 HP messy attack can rip out an eye and a 10 HP normal attack may just mark damage), it could be that the rat’s harrying attacks are causing distress; or perhaps you decide the creature is afraid of rats; or it swings for the rat and opens a vulnerable spot to attack.

    Whichever way you adjudicate that, the player ought to keep in mind: If the enemy lands a hit, the rat is a valid target – a rat is squishy.   

    I’m a fan of the characters, but if they’re pushing companions into dangerous combat, i’m going to accentuate the “dangerous.”

  12. Don’t overlook the rodent as a disease vector! You may not inflict much damage on your foe, but they may be slowed or leak fluids with which you may track them, in a weakened state, to their lair!

  13. You have to be a fan of the characters.

    If someone is being an asshole at the table and is wielding their narrative power as a club to ruin someone else fun stop the game and talk to each other about his goal in it.

    Creating a shared narrative means that everyone should be invested in the aesthetic.

    Don’t react by wielding the game as a club on your own. 

  14. I feel like I could have been cleaer in my previous answer.

    “Be a fan of the characters” means that the GM has to make an effort to look “positively” at their stunts. Whenever they do something active, stupidly brave, whenever the player tries to be awesome, a GM should not look at it with an “they are trying to ruin the game” eye, but with an “this is awsome” eye. They have to try and look at it trying to find the “awesome” angle.

    They do so because you have a lot of power over the setting and the other stuff, and they are asking implicitly the other players to accept it, and be awesome into those constraints, to accept them being awesome.

    It means letting go the “fear” of the players, letting go the constant control it usually is associated with the GM role, and channel those energies in a cooperative effort.

    They accept you because you accept them and you get to be awesome together.

    It’s called “playing the game”.

    But even in a sharing enviroment a douchebag is a douchebag. Maybe more so.

    Someone that abuses this sharing and trust enviroment to deliberately push another player buttons, to deliberately break the shared investment, to push their own priorities over the priorities of everyone else as a matter of fact is not playing the game, doesn’t want to play the game, and that problem can’t be solved through the game.

    Stop the game and talk to him. Ask him what he would like from the game, why he wants to play it, what he likes about the other player contributions, and why he is trying to push buttons.

    If he is there to play social wrestling instead of sharing a game, don’t play with him.

  15. If the player says they’re doing something that seems unlikely to you, just ask them how. If they can justify it, great! If not, tell them they’ll have to come up with another solution. So if he describes the rat climbing and biting, he gets the bonus. But if he can’t explain why he doesn’t just crush the rat when he tries to ride it, then he can’t do it. Fiction first and all.

  16. Ezio Melega captured it brilliantly.

    The players come together at the table with the purpose of engaging the game and having fun.  Someone who is there to troll the game is disruptive.  It falls on the players, not the system or the fiction to address those issues.

    I come from 20+ years of playing under a (mistaken) expectation for the GM to be the authority at the table, the one responsible to organize, to keep the game moving, to adjudicate EVERYTHING at the table.  When i was the GM, it felt like a burden.  When i was a player, i expected the GM to carry that burden themselves.

    I’ve come to embrace the idea that RPGs can and should be a collective effort; we all buy in, we all work together, we all have fun, we each bear responsibility to the collaboration.  GM is just another player with, depending on the system, different rules to play by.

  17. Andrew Fish slow clap. That’s exactly it.

    This would probably be outside the range of this conversation, but if you still haven’t heard of gm-less RPGs, please, contact me in private ^^

  18. I described a stinking pile of mold and this guy’s reaction was poking it.  He was shocked, SHOCKED, when I told him how badly he reacted to that.  (With the proper rolls.)  It was black mold and I clearly described it as looking just horrific, and he insisted on disturbing it.

  19. His choice.

    Ask yourself why he did it and try to find the cool thing in it.

    If you can’t find it, ask his character : “Why did you do that?”.

    His answer will still be in the purview of the game. Ask question, build on answers. You could find something interesting.

    That’s still playing the game.

    Maybe he is naive, or a thrill seeker, or destructively needing for attention or just a plain idiot.

    Maybe the player wants to play it like this.

    It’s good. Accept the answer, build on it.

    That’s game.

    If he don’t really answer, if he goes to the tunes of “Who knows”, “Why not?”, “It doesn’t matter” or “Mind your own business” he has stopped playing the game, stopped making his character interesting and contribution to the table.

    Stop the game, step aside and ask him why is he playing. 

  20. Kasper Brohus Allerslev tended to say: 

    “When someone wants to do a “really dumb thing” ask them what they actually want to accomplish with that. Often people want to get to a rather sensical thing but don’t know how. You can work that out. 

    Please correct me if I remember that wrong Kasper. 

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