All you ever wanted to know about Animal Companions
(or at least i am trying)
What can you do with an animal companion?
To answer this simple question we just have to look at the command move
When you work with your animal companion on something it’s trained in…
…and you attack the same target, add its ferocity to your damage
…and you track, add its cunning to your roll
…and you take damage, add its armor to your armor
…and you discern realities, add its cunning to your roll
…and you parley, add its cunning to your roll
…and someone interferes with you, add its instinct to their roll
so all they do is to give you little mechanical bonuses to your moves right?
The first thing you need to think about is that your AC is an actual animal that is actually there. It has needs and instincts and thinks it can do. If you have a bear companion you have a bear! It can knock down things, it can roar loudly, it
can will scare peasants away, It is a freaking bear.
Your animal companion is a living, breathing animal that can do everything its species can do (plus the thing it is trained in).
This gives you a lot of opportunities for fictional positioning that other classes simply don’t get.
I don’t think you want your animal companion to work like this in the game:
But what does command actually do?
Okay, let’s talk about command shall we?
The first part of the move is the trigger:
When you work with your animal companion on something it’s trained in
There are multiple parts to this.
#1 You have to work together with your animal companion. It is not a static boost but something you need to explain in the fiction. When you and your wolf attack the same Owlbear (wolf-pack tactics yeah!) you get the bonus damage. It represents the wolf attacking and damaging the Owlbear. If you search for something your AC needs to do it together with you.
This can actually limit what you can do too. Your AC might be busy right now or simply not willing to do it. It might not even be able to help you in the task. If you have a rat companion – how does it attack the owlbear in a meaningful way? (I would like for people to post examples here)
#2 It needs to be trained in the thing you are doing
To repeat, every AC is able to attack humanoids. Then you get extra trainings equal to the cunning of the AC. The trainings are:
Hunt, search, scout, guard, fight monsters, perform, labor, travel
So what training do you need for what bonus?
That depends really. If you want to damage the before mentioned owlbear (i hate owlbears today) your AC needs to be trained to fight monsters or at least hunt. If you want it to help in defending yourself from the magical terrorbeast then fight monster or guarding might both qualify you for that.
If you want the Bonus to Discern Realities then it is probably scout or search training, depending on what exactly and how you are doing it.
In short, don’t think you can actually reliably get all the benefits of the control move. You probably won’t at level 1.