Introduction

MCDM Productions’ Beastheart and Monstrous Companions introduces Monstrous Companions, a system for bringing a monster into the party as a pet. The system is a bit more complex than using the official Sidekick rules, but that additional complexity brings some fun mechanics which can make it very satisfying to play with a companion in the party.

Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything gave us a satisfying solution for the Beast Master Ranger, and the Drakewarden Ranger gave us a way to get a pet dragon. The sidekick rules gave us a way to bring many low-CR creatures into the party in a generic fashion, but only works for creatures of CR up to 1/2, which severely limits your options. Monstrous Companions offers a system for making monsters work in the party.

As of writing this article, we’ve only seen 15 companion options, but that’s already an impressively diverse roster. The existing options fit a broad range of personal tastes and tactical options, and MCDM has done a good job of making each creature function in a way that’s thematically and mechanically unique.

While I wouldn’t bring this rules into every game, I like the advice offered in the document of comparing the companion to a powerful magic item. If one of your players doesn’t have enough buttons to push in combat (maybe they’re playing a very simple build like a champion fighter), a Monstrous Companion can be both a wonderful storytelling device and a great mechanical addition to a character. Unfortunately, the optimization aspect may make it difficult for every character to be a good caretaker, but if you really want to go this route you could give your player proficiency in Animal Handling somehow.

Table of Contents

Disclaimer

RPGBOT uses the color coding scheme which has become common among Pathfinder build handbooks, which is simple to understand and easy to read at a glance.

  • Red: Bad, useless options, or options which are extremely situational. Nearly never useful.
  • Orange: OK options, or useful options that only apply in rare circumstances. Useful sometimes.
  • Green: Good options. Useful often.
  • Blue: Fantastic options, often essential to the function of your character. Useful very frequently.

I will not include 3rd-party content, including content from DMs Guild, even if it is my own, because I can’t assume that your game will allow 3rd-party content or homebrew. I also won’t cover Unearthed Arcana content because it’s not finalized, and I can’t guarantee that it will be available to you in your games.

The advice offered below is based on the current State of the Character Optimization Meta as of when the article was last updated. Keep in mind that the state of the meta periodically changes as new source materials are released and this article will be updating accordingly as time allows.

RPGBOT is unofficial Fan Content permitted under the Fan Content Policy. Not approved/endorsed by Wizards. Portions of the materials used are property of Wizards of the Coast. ©Wizards of the Coast LLC.

Understanding the Mechanics

If you’re familiar with the Beast Companion Options presented as an Optional Rule for the Ranger in Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything, many parts of the Monstrous Companion will feel familiar. Much like the Beast Companion, the Monstrous Companion’s stats are modified by the Caregiver’s level and Proficiency Bonus, and commanding them works the same way.

The Caregiver

Each Monstrous Companion will have exactly one caregiver. The caregiver is responsible for commanding the companion and for preventing it from going on a rampage. While anyone in the party can fill this role, a few criteria can help the party select who makes the best caregiver.

  • Animal Handing. Wisdom (Animal Handling) checks are used to prevent rampages, so a high bonus is essential.
  • Bonus Actions. Commanding the companion requires a Bonus Action unless you just want to let it rampage, so characters who lean on their Bonus Action heavily are a poor choice for caregiver.
  • High Level. The companion’s stats are dependent on the caretaker’s level and Proficiency Bonus, so in parties with varying level it’s help for the highest-level character to be the caretaker.

The criteria mean that a cleric, a druid, or a ranger are often good candidates for caregiver depending on their build and their combat tactics. And of course, the Beastheart is built around Monstrous Companions, so they’re an obvious choice.

Commanding the Companion

Commanding the Monstrous Companion takes a Bonus Action. If the companion doesn’t receive commands, it will act on its own. Unlike official pet mechanics (more recent summoning spells, Beast Companions, etc.), the Monstrous Companion is not limited to the Dodge action. The Monstrous Companion can Dash, Dodge, or Disengage on its own, it can take its Bonus Action on its own. There’s also the possibility of a Rampage.

Because companions takes their turn during the Caretaker’s turn, the Caretaker can intersperse their own actions with their companion’s. For example, the Caretaker might move, command their companion as a Bonus Action (which causes their companion to then take their turn), move a bit more, spend their own Action to do something, then move some more.

Ferocity and Rampage

Ferocity is the Monstrous Companion’s in-combat resource pool. It accumulates when the Caretaker and the Companion’s shared turn starts, and is spent when the companion takes a Ferocity Action, when a Beastheart uses a Primal Exploit, when it completes a Rampage, or when combat ends. Managing the pool of ferocity is a crucial part of playing a caregiver.

Generally you want your companion’s Ferocity as high as possible, but 10 or higher gets into dangerous territory because it can trigger a rampage. The higher your Animal Handling bonus is, the safer you are at 10 Ferocity or more. Fortunately, if your companion is surrounded by enemies who are causing its Ferocity to add up, a rampage will typically result in it attacking an adjacent enemy, so other than losing Ferocity the danger is minimal unless you have allies fighting adjacent to the companion or riding it. The damage bonus from their lost Ferocity also makes this attack a little bit more impactful than usual, so a rampage isn’t a total loss.

In order to collect Ferocity as quickly as possible, it’s helpful to position your companion adjacent to multiple foes. Ferocity Actions cost 2, 5, or 8 Ferocity, so if you can keep an enemy in melee with your companion, that will mean that you can almost always use a Ferocity Action rather than resorting to the companion’s Signature Attack (the minimum Ferocity gained is 1d4+1 with one adjacent enemy). You start combat with your companion at 0 Ferocity, so their first turn will almost certainly be spent moving into melee and maybe making a Signature Attack if they don’t need to Dash.

At the end of combat your companion heals an amount equal to their current Ferocity, so if you were amassing Ferocity and didn’t use it, don’t feel bad about it. Your companion needs to not be dying, but if they’re stabilized (grab a Healer’s Kit) and have some Ferocity, they’ll stand up at the end of combat with a few hit points. That feels a little silly, but that’s 5e for you. It’s no sillier than using Healing Word every round so your fighter can be repeatedly beaten unconscious without consequence.

Cleverly, MCDM has included a sidebar on the “Bag of Rats” abuse case. They don’t want players using that to abuse the Ferocity rules, and encourage DMs to tell players that it simply doesn’t work. This is good DM advice, and I’m happy that MCDM was smart enough to encourage a social fix to the abuse case rather than imposing some convoluted mechanical solution to prevent me from waving rats over my pet basilisk to intentionally make them mad in combat.

Ferocity Actions

Each companion has three Ferocity Actions which consume Ferocity in order to do something cooler than their Signature Attack. These are all performed as an Action, so your companion can only do one per turn.

The first Ferocity Action is immediately available and costs 2 Ferocity. It’s basically your companion’s Signature Attack, but spicy. It’ll apply the caretaker’s Proficiency Bonus as additional damage (meaning that you’ll add PB to damage twice for that attack), plus it will have a secondary effect like repositioning the target.

The second Ferocity Action unlocks when the caretaker reaches level 3 and costs 5 Ferocity. These Ferocity Actions are more unique to the companion than their first Ferocity Action, and they’re much more impactful.

The third Ferocity Action unlocks when the caretaker reaches level 5 and costs 8 Ferocity. The high cost makes these actions difficult to use early in a fight, but if you can raise Ferocity to 8 or more within one fight, the effects are excellent.

Barding

The sidebar on page 6 describes the rules used for barding for Monstrous Companions. Normally your companion adds the caregiver’s Proficiency Bonus to their AC, but barding replaces that bonus. A character’s Proficiency Bonus will be at most +6 (+7 if you have an Ioun Stone of Master, but that’s a Legendary item), so for some companions you should consider armor just as you would for a player character.

Many companions will have a high base AC, such as the Basilisk Companion, which has an impressive 15+PB AC. For those companions, armor isn’t especially helpful.

Riding Your Companion

5e’s Mounted Combat rules are one of my favorite punching bags (See my Practical Guide to Mounted Combat and RPGBOT.Podcast Episode 2), and I think MCDM managed to find a workable solution.

First, and perhaps most important, companions and caretakers take their turns at the same time. No more worrying about timing and readying actions just to make a mount work in melee. Even better, your companion can move and take the Dash, Dodge, and Disengage actions without you spending a Bonus Action to command it! That means that you can use your companion for hit-and-run melee attacks without cutting into your action economy.

If you use your Bonus Action, you can even have your companion attack. This is especially effective for companions like the bulette which can forcibly move enemies and for the deinonychus which can prevent the target from taking Reactions. Just keep in mind that hit-and-run tactics will typically leave your companion out of melee with enemies (that’s the whole point of hit-and-run tactics) so they won’t be accumulating ferocity as quickly. They still get 1d4 per turn, but if you want more you’ll need to stick around in melee.

Monstrous Companion Options

The Mystic Connection feature is exclusive to the Beastheart, and they recieve the feature at level 9. Other caretakers cannot benefit from this feature and shouldn’t consider it when picking a companion.

Basilisk

With 15+PB AC and good hit points, the basilisk is a sturdy melee threat. Its attacks aren’t especially dangerous, and their Ferocity Actions rely on poison and Constitution saves, both of which face challenges dues to the prevalence of poison resistance/immunity and due to Constitution saves being consistently high, which doesn’t help in the face of monstrous companions’ meager 10+PB save DC. Even the Basilisk’s Heavy Glare Reaction targets a Constitution save.

The Basilisk is notably proficient in Athletics, shoving enemies prone is an option. It won’t keep up with a character for Athletics, but honestly it doesn’t need to if you just need it to occasionally knock someone over.

Altogether, the basilisk is a good option for parties that need an additional front-line character, but many of its features won’t be reliable for anyone except a Beastheart who can raise its save DCs with Master Caregiver.

Heavy Glare: This can help frail allies escape melee and keep melee enemies from moving into reach, provided that the Constitution saves aren’t a problem.

Mystic Connection: Absolutely amazing. Use this, jump in front of your party, and draw attacks.

Ferocity Actions

  • Poison Spittle: A bit of extra damage to the main target and some damage to a secondary target. Poison resistance is common, unfortunately, and the positioning can be difficult since the secondary target needs to be within 5 feet of the primary target.
  • Poison Gaze: I like that this targets 3 creatures, because it means that something might actually fail the Con save against your companion’s low save DC. Even so, it face issues with poison resistance/immunity being common on top of Monstrous Companion’s typically poor save DC and Constitution saves being high on average.
  • Lesser Petrifying Gaze: For the cost, this is disappointingly unreliable. Constitution saves tend to be high and your companions save DCs are low, so enemies passing this save should be the expectation. I understand why the designers didn’t want to give players a save-or-suck option that could be recharged by standing still, but I don’t think this is worth the Ferocity unless you’re a beastheart and raise the save DC.

Blood Hawk

A great striker, but very frail. Fewer hit points than most companions, and it’s riding entirely on Dexterity for AC. If you DM allows it, grab it the heaviest medium armor you can get. Putting a hawk into half plate feels absolutely ridiculous, but 17 AC will exceed its unarmored AC for a long time. Flight is a powerful advantage for the Blood Hawk, but remember that Ferocity only recharges while within 5 feet of an enemy, so your companion will need to spend time in melee rather than relying entirely on hit-and-run attacks.

The Blood Hawk’s Reaction allows it to take a hit in place of its caretaker. This is thematically excellent, and the caretaker will almost certainly be more effective than the companion, so having the hawk take damage to prevent the caretaker from dropping to 0 is a good tactical decision.

While it’s only proficient in one skill, the Blood Hawk’s proficiency in Perception and Keen Sight make it excellent at locating enemies. Coupled with flight, it’s easy to have your hawk fly above the party to watch for danger.

The Blood Hawk is an easy fit into almost any party since additional damage output is always welcome. The hawk is frail and locked into melee, especially if you want to charge Ferocity, so you need to be careful about not letting your companion draw too many attacks.

Swoop In: Having your companion tank a hit for you is a risky move for most caretakers, so use it cautiously. For the Beastheart, it takes one minute to bring your companion back to life, so if they “die” it’s really not a big deal as long as you and your party can get through the rest of the fight in one piece.

Mystic Connection: An hour of flight will get you through several encounters and over or around many obstacles. It’s not quite enough for long-distance travel, but for basically anything else this is fantastic.

Ferocity Actions

  • Distracting Attack: Great if your party has big single attacks to follow this with. If you have a rogue in the party or if someone has high-damage attack spells like Inflict Wounds, this is an easy way to grant Advantage in a hurry.
  • Swooping Attack: Situational. Most enemies don’t hold items. Against the ones who do, disarming them of a weapon, spellcasting focus, or potentially a shield can seriously hinder them.
  • Storm of Talons: Good damage and potentially blind the target. Against big melee foes (which frequently have poor Dexterity saves) this is an excellent option. Keep in mind that your hawk is left within reach of the target, so unless they’re blinded the hawk moving away will provoke opportunity attacks.

Bulette

Good AC, tremorsense, a burrow speed, and you can ride it while it burrows. The Bulette’s attack options are good, but mostly rely on moving creatures or knocking them prone.

This is a great addition for a melee-heavy party, and despite its 30-foot speed the Bulette is a great mount option. Just remember that you don’t gain any special ability to breath underground.

Plated Protection: The ability to ride your bulette while it burrows is an amazing tactical advantage. Just remember that you can probably neither breath nor see while underground.

Mystic Connection: Most creatures can’t do anything to you while you’re underground, so a burrow speed is a fantastic way to get in or out of a place undetected, to hide from dangerous enemies, or generally just to travel without being bothered. This is somewhat redundant since you can just ride your bulette, but if someone else is riding them or if it’s not safe for you to ride them at the moment, this is a great substitute. Keep in mind that you don’t have any additional ability to see or breath while burrowing, so you’ll need to pop your head out of the ground periodically like giant gopher to take a breath, look around, and shout commands to your companion. Conveniently, 5e’s rules allow you to stay buried between rounds, move above ground to act, then dart back underground before your turn ends, making you hard to target and infuriating your DM beyond belief.

Ferocity Actions

  • Violent Attack: Repositioning enemies isn’t always necessary, but it’s a useful tactical option at a low cost. You can reposition enemies to break grapples or to move them away from your companion so that it can avoid opportunity attacks.
  • Burrowing Trip: Unless you have allies who can capitalize on the targets being prone, this isn’t helpful. Caretakers share turns with their companion so at least the caretaker can rush in to make a melee attack, but otherwise it comes down to where your melee allies landed in the initiative order.
  • Deadly Leap: A 30-foot leap on top of the bulette’s movement should get it into melee. If you can target multiple enemies with this, you’ll put the bulette in a good position to recharge its Ferocity. The damage is decent, especially if you can hit more than one target, but it’s not going to win any fights on its own, so be sure to follow this with attacks by the rest of the party.

Deinonychus

A striker, plain and simple. The Deinonychus’s AC is poor, and putting it in medium or heavy armor will make Clever Girl unreliable. Breastplate will raise its AC to 16, but that’ll be matched by its unarmored AC once you hit level 5, so there’s a narrow window where you can buy your dinosaur slightly better armor.

The Deinonychus makes a good mount for a small rider. With 40-foot move speed it’ll outrun most things (not horses). Overwhelming Attack makes it easy to break melee, Clever Girl is a great way to ambush targets, and Keep Them Down holds foes prone so that you can beat on them with Advantage from the comfort of the saddle.

Part of the Pack: Technically situational, but undeniable effective. Normally, removing those conditions requires a spell cast as an Action. You don’t need to spend actions to command your Monstrous Companion to use their Bonus Action, so you can even use this while stunned.

Mystic Connection: Neat, but it doesn’t work often enough that you can make this a staple part of your tactics. More likely you’ll use this when you’re injured and need to get out of harm’s way, or when stealth is unusually helpful for some reason.

Ferocity Actions

  • Overwhelming Attack: Not always important, but this does allow your whole party to move away from the target safely, which can get frail allies out of melee or allow your party to rush back-line enemies more easily.
  • Clever Girl: The intent here is to hide, move, then attack with Advantage, or to attack, knock the target prone, then run away and hide. Either option is good, and knocking the target prone without a further check or save is excellent. However, it encourages hit-and-run attacks which can make it difficult to accumulate Ferocity.
  • Keep Them Down: An excellent way to eliminate single targets, including big melee brutes that are often good at avoiding grapples. The damage is excellent compared to other 5th-level Ferocity Actions, and it leaves the target extremely vulnerable to other melee attacks. The text “A creature knocked prone by this feature can’t stand up until they are no longer grappled.” is unnecessary since that’s already true. You can’t expend movement with a speed of 0, so you can’t stand.

Dragon Wyrmling

Good AC. Flight, but not very fast. A ranged attack and a breath weapon, but little tactical application beyond damage. The companion gets a damage immunity and grants resistance to the caretaker. The wyrmling is a decent all around companion that will fit into any party, but it doesn’t excel in any specific capacity.

Since it’s medium and can fly, the wyrmling makes a suitable mount for small creatures. Just keep in mind that if you keep it out of melee it won’t recharge Ferocity very quickly. If you’re okay with that, you and your dragon can fight at range safely using Spit Breath and whatever ranged weapon you want to wave about.

If you’re familiar with dragons in Dungeons and Dragons, the fact that the wyrmling only has 5 Intelligence is a little bit odd. Dragon wyrmlings are typically at least human-level intelligent and already speak draconic (except for white dragons, who are barely smarter than most animals), so this wyrmling is apparently so freshly hatched that it’s less intelligent than a typical wyrmling. Just ignore it. You want a dragon in your party? You’ll need to make some compromises.

Shared Resistance: Persistent damage resistance is always nice. Getting the resistance constantly may be enough to justify picking fire or poison as youre companion’s damage type.

Mystic Connection: 1d10 is a decent damage boost, and curiously this feature doesn’t require you to be the one to use the weapon, just that you’re the one holding it when you use this. Borrow your party’s Fighter’s weapon, set it on fire (or acid or whatever) and hand it back. The 10-minute duration will get you through a fight or two with enough wiggle room that you can activate this ahead of time and go looking for trouble.

Ferocity Actions

  • Spit Breath: A little extra damage and it works at range. Unfortunately you can’t use it in melee without suffering Disadvantage, so your companion will need to pull itself out of melee to make this effective. Fortunately, the 1d4 Ferocity generated each turn without being in melee with generate 2.5 Ferocity on average, so you can use this nearly every turn and keep your dragon at a safe distance.
  • Frightful Presence: Really good crowd control. Frightening targets, even for just one or two rounds, can give your party a huge advantage.
  • Breath Weapon: Go for a cone AOE. Using a line is hard enough, and using it from above is basically a single-target attack. The damage isn’t great, so you want to hit multiple targets if you’re going to spend this much Ferocity.

Earth Elemental

A good front-line tank, but it’s ineffective against fast foes and ranged attackers. Between Darkvision, Tremorsense, and Earth Walk, it can go and function anywhere on the ground, and in a game that frequently moves underground the Earth Elemental will be very effective.

The Earth Elemental has a lot of overlap with the Bulette. They share Tremorsense and an ability which knock foes prone, but the Earth Elemental is less useful as a mount (if you can ride it at all), and trades that capability for better crowd control. The Earth Elemental excels are keeping enemies from moving freely while also making it easy of their caretaker to get around, especially with Toss Me.

The Earth Elemental has Earth Glide, allowing it to move through stone. That’s a fantastically powerful capability, but your companion has 5 intelligence and can only understand enough language to obey simple commands, so it can be difficult to make Earth Glide consistently useful. Usually the best you can do is command it to move through obstacles to push buttons or attack single foes or other simple tasks like that.

Toss Me: Sadly this only works on the Caretaker. You can use this to get over small obstacles that you can’t jump over, and in combat it can get you some extra move speed, but the distance isn’t huge so it’s rarely going to impress you. It is fun, though.

Mystic Connection: Walk through the walls of castles, dungeons, and caves. This is an amazing way to infiltrate or escape somewhere that might otherwise be impenetrable without spells like Passwall or Disintegrate or teleportation of some kind. All those times that other caretakers wish that their elemental companion was smart enough to follow complex instructions, you can turn this on and say “Look at me. I’m the earth elemental now.”

Ferocity Actions

  • Stretch Attack: A great way for your companion to pull foes into melee with it so that it can rapidly gain Ferocity. If enemies don’t move away, follow with Earthshaker to knock them prone, then have your party beat on them in melee.
  • Earthshaker: Not as easy to apply as the Bulette’s Burrowing Trip or Deadly Leap since it doesn’t give the Earth Elemental extra movement, but if you can march your companion into a crowd it’s still effective. Just be sure that the rest of your party capitalizes on the targets being prone before they get back up.
  • Transmute Ground: Many enemies have poor Strength saves, and those same enemies generally are no proficient in Athletics, so once those enemies are under this effect they’re going to be stuck there for a long time.

Gelatinous Cube

Terrible AC and it can’t wear armor, but at least it has decently high hit points. The cube is also hard to notice if it hasn’t moved or attacked, so if you can set the cube in the middle of a room before combat starts, it can accumulate Ferocity until it’s ready to Engulf things.

The cube’s blindsight makes it effective at locating invisible enemies, and if it can Engulf them the cube can frequently handle those threats on its own. The Restrained condition negates the Disadvantage to hit invisible creatures, so the Caretaker can move into the cubes space and attack unimpeded.

The Gelatinous Cube is complex, and has a sort of high-risk high-reward play style. Slime Showed works against crowds while Engulf works against single foes, but both leave the Gelatinous Cube vulnerable despite the conditions applied to the Cube’s targets. Expect to spend a lot of time protecting and healing your Gelatinous Cube

Mystic Connection: Well this is profoundly weird, but you somehow made friends with an ooze, so I guess wierd is the order of the day. Tiny objects might include things like weapons, keys, potions, or contraband. That’s a fun utility, but you’ll need to be creative to make it matter. The easier part is the acid damage countermeasure.

Ferocity Actions

  • Burning Acid: Most creatures can’t heal in combat, so the primary function here is reach, which is only situationally important. In most cases you can just walk closer.
  • Slime Shower: March your slime into a crowd and spam this every turn. If you can, assist your slime by shoving enemies prone. With 0 speed, they can’t stand up, and they’ll have Disadvantage on attacks so they’ll struggle to hit your slime. The damage is minor and the DC isn’t great, so unfortunately enemies will pass the save frequently, but against crowds of relatively week foes this is decent crowd control.
  • Engulf: Brutally effective. The damage isn’t amazing and the DC isn’t especially high, but once a creature is engulfed it’s in serious trouble. Escaping takes an action and a Strength check (not a save), and even strength-based creatures will frequently have poor odds of succeeding on that check, and they take damage automatically with no save every round while the Gelatinous Cube can still fight other things (though retreating to safely digest its meal is often a good choice). Engulfed creatures can attack the Gelatinous Cube, but since they’re Restrained they do so at Disadvantage. Even so, the Gelatinous Cube’s horrid AC may be a problem. The Caretaker can attack engulfed creatures safely, so capitalize on Engulf by moving into the Cube’s space and attacking whatever it engulfs.

Giant Spider

Low AC and low hit points, so you want to get this thing armor if you can. It’s build for Stealth, so a breastplate will raise its AC to 16, which will help until your Proficiency Bonus increases to +3 at level 5. With Darkvision and Stealth proficiency, this thing is built to sneak around in the dark and ambush people. Of course, you might abandon that idea and stick it in full plate since it has enough Strength that doing so won’t slow it down.

The Giant Spider’s tactics are pretty simple: ambush one weak target. Hold them down with Destabilizing Attack, which will offset the Giant Spider’s poor AC. Once that target is down, Web another target, then move to them and repeat, ideally eliminating them before they can escape the web. If the spider gets mobbed, use Bite Frenzy and either run away or press the attack depending on how things are going.

It also serves as a weirdly effective mount. Since spiders can walk on ceilings, you can ride it on ceilings. Throw full plate on it, take the Mounted Combatant feat, or get Fighting Style (Protection), and you can improve your spider’s durability. The spider’s tactics don’t really change if you’re riding it, so grab a lance and some javelins and expect to throw weapons on turns when the spider is too far away from anything to get into melee.

Sticky Stuff: Effectively Spider Climb once per long rest. It’s better than a climb speed, and if you prefer to fight with ranged weapons it’s a great way to stay on the ceiling, safely out of reach. It can’t compete with flight, but it’s close.

Mystic Connection: Good on any character, but not as impactful for a martial character as it is for a spellcaster. Use this to get your companion into melee quickly so that you can start accumulating Ferocity.

Ferocity Actions

  • Destabilizing Attack: The spider’s go-to option for unrestrained targets, imposing Disadvantage on the target’s next attack can compensate for the Spider’s poor durability, but creatures with multiple attacks and crowds remain a problem.
  • Web: Good range, and many enemies (spellcasters, Strength-based brutes, etc.) have poor Dexterity saves, so you can easily restrain them at a safe distance and either leave them for later or rush over to take advantage of their compromised position. Escaping takes an action and a Strength check (not a save), and even strength-based creatures will frequently have poor odds of succeeding on that check despite the relatively low save DC. Since this works at range, it’s also a great way to counter flying enemies.
  • Bite Frenzy: The Giant Spider’s only option for handling crowds. Poisoned is an excellent status condition, but it’s also a common resistance/immunity. The Caretaker needs to know when it’s time to go all out with Bite Frenzy and when it’s time to Disengage, climb to safety, and use that Ferocity for Web to keep enemies from grouping up on the spider.

Giant Toad

Unimpressive AC, and not a lot of Dexterity, so putting your frog in full plate is a good idea. Weirdly, this also makes it harder for swallowed enemies to escape. I don’t know, maybe your frog swallows some its full plate.

The Frog is good at eliminating single targets. Move it into melee, then use Fast Food to grab an enemy and reposition it to somewhere dangerous. It doesn’t handle crowds at all, but it’s also great at escaping crowds. It’s large and strong enough that it could serve as a mount, and between Standing Leap and Fast Food it’s almost as mobile as a flying mount.

Psychedelic skin: Neat, but at once per day it’s not super impactful, especially if you’re not a Beastheart so the DC poor. Poison resistance/immunity is also common. Weirdly, as-written you can use it with a bow. It makes sense from a game balance perspective, but just try not to think about it too much.

Mystic Connection: Some additional movement options. The swim speed won’t matter in most campaigns, but it is nice the few times that you need to fight in water. The standing jump option is neat if you’re worried about difficult terrain, but otherwise not especially important.

Ferocity Actions

  • Stretch Attack: Helpful for breaking grapples, but otherwise not especially impactful.
  • Fast Food: Repositioning enemies this way break grapples, pull enemies into dangerous positions like ongoing spell effects, or just bring them closer your party for a group beat down. This doesn’t allow a check or a save or anything, which in some ways make it better than similar effects like Vortex Warp. This notably also prevents opportunity attacks, so it’s a great way to avoid your frog being swarmed.
  • Swallow: Similar in many ways to the Gelatinous Cube’s Engulf, but the target is also blinded. Being blinded prevents casting many spells and using many features which only target creatures that the user can see. However, it’s still fairly easy for swallowed creatures to escape simply by damaging the frog. Unless you buff your frog’s AC, anything with multiattack is going to easily escape just by forcing multiple rolls.

Giant Weasel

Good speed, several skill proficiencies, keen hearing and smell, treasure sense and Darkvision. The Giant Weasel’s AC isn’t great and it’s not strong enough for heavy armor if you still want that 40 ft. speed, but it’s still a great mount and a decent combat threat.

Treasure Sense: I don’t understand why the Giant Weasel gets this. The range is tiny, so this is only useful if you have enough time to walk in a carefully-planned circuit to case an area.

Mystic Connection: This likely does more damage than anything you could do with a weapon (ignoring Primal Strike), and since it’s a Bonus Action to use the bite you can still use your Action to Attack nornally.

Ferocity Actions

  • Overwhelming Attack: Not always important, but this does allow your whole party to move away from the target safely, which can get frail allies out of melee or allow your party to rush back-line enemies more easily.
  • Clamp Down: Amazing for eliminating single targets. Even if the creature is good at grappling, it either needs to spend an Action to escape, kill the weasel, or break the grapple by some other method. If you and your allies can attack the target before it can do that, Restrained gives you Advantage to hit it.
  • Bite Frenzy: The Giant Weasel’s only option for handling crowds. Knocking foes prone will give them Disadvantage on opportunity attacks if you decide to retreat after making this attack, but using Disengage is still safer. It’s more likely that you’ll use this while the Caretaker is riding the Giant Weasel, then follow it with melee attacks by the Caretaker.

Hell Hound

Average hit points and AC, but also fire resistance and Darkvision. With unimpressive Dexterity and no Stealth proficiency, the Hell Hound definitely wants full plate. With an impressive 50 ft. move speed and Brutal Charge to get through reach safely, the Hell Hound makes an effective mount for small riders.

Consult Hell: This is just Augury with barking instead of throwing bones. Augury is one of my favorite divination spells, but it’s not because it’s effective. This is fun, but it’s not very good.

Mystic Connection: Useful when you’re being swarmed, but many enemies will quickly decide that attacking you to trigger the damage is a poor choice unless they have fire resistance/immunity, which is frustratingly commong.

Ferocity Actions

  • Lava Spittle: A bit of extra damage to the main target and some damage to a secondary target. Fire resistance is common, unfortunately, and the positioning can be difficult since the secondary target needs to be within 5 feet of the primary target.
  • Brutal Charge: Not always important, but it prevents your hound from being swarmed, and if you’re riding it you’ll be able to ride past enemies without issue.
  • Fire Breath: The AOE isn’t very big and the damage isn’t amazing, but if you can catch two or three target it’s still decent damage.

Mimic

The Mimic is great offensively, but has little utility. It has Darkvision and can mimic mundane objects, but other than lay around unnoticed it’s basically just a combat pet. But hey, maybe that’s what you want, in which case the mimic will do fine. The Mimic’s AC isn’t impressive, and tragically it doesn’t do well in armor, so you’re stuck with that problem.

Wearable Companion: Advantage on Dexterity (Stealth) checks is a significant advantage, but you want to end this effect as soon as you get into combat or you and your companion are going to take a bunch of damage that would otherwise only affect one of you at a time.

Mystic Connection: Other than hiding an object that someone else wants or sneaking an object into a place where it shouldn’t go, I can’t think of common ways to use this. The usage is situational at best, and the wording is restrictive to prevent abuse, which unfortunately also makes this extremely limited in utility. You could disguise one coin as a different variety of coin, but you can’t disguise the original item as something more valuable so you can’t turn copper into platinum. You might be able to change one weapon into a similar weapon, and maybe you could turn a pot into a helmet or vice versa.

Ferocity Actions

  • Distracting Attack: Great if your party has big single attacks to follow this with. If you have a rogue in the party or if someone has high-damage attack spells like Inflict Wounds, this is an easy way to grant Advantage in a hurry.
  • Adhesive Pseudopods: Good, but dangerous. Grappling multiple enemies will keep them from moving away from the Mimic, but it doesn’t protect the Mimic from retaliation. If your companion successfully keeps several enemies grappled, consider having it Dodge while it keeps them in place.
  • I’m You: Great against powerful single foes. If you can, try to get your companion Advantage before making this attack so that you improve the odds of success. If the attack is successful, the target is massively vulnerable for the following round.

Owlbear

A good all-around companion, the Owlbear has two saves, two skills, Darkvision, Keen Sight and Smell, and and interesting mix of tactical options in its Ferocity Actions. With 13+PB AC and no need for stealth, it’s a good idea to put the Owlbear in Full Plate.

Give a Hoot: A nice, scaling pool of temporary hit points that’s useful in any situation. The hit points don’t have a listed duration, so they last until you take a long rest. They won’t stack with Mystic Connection (temporary hit points don’t stack), but once you’ve gone through the temporary hit points from the Owlbear’s Mystic Connection (or if you’re not a Beastheart) this is still a great pool of temporary hp.

Mystic Connection: Excellent, especially in large parties or parties that like to summon creatures. The temporary hit points don’t have a listed duration, so you can use this long before you go into a fight and walk around all day with them.

Ferocity Actions

  • Violent Attack: Repositioning enemies isn’t always necessary, but it’s a useful tactical option at a low cost. You can reposition enemies to break grapples or to move them away from your companion so that it can avoid opportunity attacks.
  • Owlie Oop: Similar to the Bulette’s Deadly Leap, but shorter range and you can’t land on creatures. It’ll be difficult to hit more than two creatures simply because finding a 10-foot square in the middle of multiple enemies is difficult. Knocking foes prone won’t keep them prone, so usually you want the Caretaker to capitalize on this by following up with melee attacks.
  • Bear Hug: A great way to eliminate single targets. The damage is good, and making the target Restrained until they break the grapple makes them vulnerable to attacks from the rest of your party.

Sporeling

The Sporeling has two immunities, which is surprising for a Monstrous Companion. They sacrifice AC to get them, so consider full plate for your sporeling. People may rightly ask “hey, why is that completely mundane mushroom covered in armor”, but that’s their problem. It’s your right to armor foliage, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

Invigorating Spores: A nice defensive buff that will last the duration of a fight, and since it’s a Bonus Action it’s easy to bring into play. If you’re facing enemy spellcasters or enemies which rely on saving throws like dragons, Invigorating Spores is good protection.

Mystic Connection: The effect is good, but once per Short Rest isn’t going to have a huge tactical impact. Your best bet is to use this on powerful martial enemies, especially if they have multiattack, and I recommend using this as soon as it will be impactful so that you don’t miss your chance to make this matter.

Ferocity Actions

  • Destabilizing Attack: The Sporeling’s go-to option, imposing Disadvantage on the target’s next attack can compensate for the Sporeling’s poor durability, but creatures with multiple attacks and crowds remain a problem. If you’re facing crowds, use Spore Burst or Disengage and relocate.
  • Spore Burst: Poisoned is a great debuff, but Monstrous Companions have low saved DC’s, poison resistance/immunity is common, Constitution saves tend to be high, and the 5-foot range puts the Sporeling in a dangerous position if you want to hit multiple targets. You should rarely rush to use this, but against crowds of weak enemies or if your party is being swarmed, it can be a helpful reprieve.
  • Hallucinogenic Spores: With 10-foot range you can hit a decent number of enemies, and this doesn’t face issues with poison immunity which Spore Burst does. If you’re facing a packed crowd of enemies, make them spend their reactions to hit each other, then have the Sporeling move to safety since your enemies have already spent their Reaction.

Worg

Purpose-built as a mount, the Word’s impressive 50-foot speed and Move as One make it easy to jump on and off of it in combat and move to engage high-priority enemies. However, it has just 13+PB AC despite not getting a damage immunity (maybe Move as One was considered comparable, which makes sense), so get your worg into full plate as soon as possible. Move as One already makes Opportunity Attacks less of a problem as do both Brutal Charge and Overwhelming Attack, so if you want extra protection for your worg, consider Fighting Style (Interception) to mitigate the damage dealt by attacks which make it through Disadvantage.

The Word has an Intelligence of 7, making it the smartest of the published Monstrous Companions. It still doesn’t understand language fully, but it’s almost as smart as the dumbest person in your party.

Unlike most Monstrous Companions, the Worg doesn’t get an additional action. A lot of their power budget is tied up in Move as One, so if you’re not riding your worg you’re really missing out on what makes the Worg special.

Move as One: If your mount is going to move out of a creatures’ reach, you should really use Brutal Charge or Overwhelming Attack to try to prevent Opportunity Attacks altogether. If that’s not an option, have your worg Disengage.

Mystic Connection: More move speed is nice, but only occasionally impactful.

Ferocity Actions

  • Overwhelming Attack: Not always important, but this does allow your whole party to move away from the target safely, which can get frail allies out of melee or allow your party to rush back-line enemies more easily. Move as One and Brutal Charge make this less important if you just want to ride past an enemy, so reserve this for when you actually need to move the target or when you just need the extra PB damage.
  • Brutal Charge: Not always important, but it prevents your companion from being swarmed when you’re not ready to use Bite Frenzy and you’re not willing to risk Opportunity Attacks even with Move as One.
  • Bite Frenzy: The Worg’s only option for handling crowds. Knocking foes from will give them Disadvantage on opportunity attacks if you decide to retreat after making this attack, but using Disengage is still safer. It’s more likely that you’ll use this while the Caretaker is riding the Giant Weasel, then follow it with melee attacks by the Caretaker.