Animal companions can add an exciting and loyal aspect to your D&D gameplay. They can be powerful allies in combat, assist in exploration, and serve as a beloved companion to your character. This guide will cover the rules, design tips, and class features for animal companions in D&D 5e.

Companion Rules

In Combat:

  • Your companion acts on their own initiative unless they are being used as a mount, in which case they act on their rider’s initiative.
  • If a party member falls unconscious, your companion will prioritize defending them.

Control and Roleplaying:

  • Players generally control their companion in combat. However, outside of combat, it’s up to the DM and player to determine who’s best suited to be responsible for roleplaying the companion.


  • Your companion doesn’t understand any language, but it will follow simple commands and can perform simple tasks.
  • You must make a Wisdom (Animal Handling) check to have your companion complete more complex tasks.

Barding Armor:

  • Barding armor is described in the Equipment section of the Player’s Handbook.
  • Barding for medium and small creatures costs twice as much as normal armor and weighs the same amount.

Magic Items:

  • Magical armor can be converted into barding armor, but it requires the work of an experienced blacksmith.
  • There are other ways to magically enhance your companion’s attacks, such as wraps, gauntlets, claw extenders, etc.

Designing Your Own Companions:

Ability Scores:

  • Your companion should have ability scores comparable to other companions.


  • Each companion generally has 2-3 unique abilities, depending on how strong the ability is, in addition to 2 skill proficiencies.

Avoid Active Abilities:

  • Stick primarily to passive abilities that increase stats. Abilities that need to be tracked bog down combat and increase your companion’s complexity.

Companion Class:

Level Proficiency Bonus Features
1 +2 Animal Companion
2 +2 Natural Talent
3 +2 Companion Tactics
4 +2 Ability Score Increase
5 +2 Extra Attack
6 +3 True Ally
7 +3 Companion Tactics
8 +3 Ability Score Increase
9 +4 Primal Agility
10 +4 Natural Talent
11 +4 Improved Attacks
12 +4 Ability Score Increase
13 +5 Companion Tactics
14 +5 Ability Score Increase
15 +5 Defensive Tactics
16 +5 Ability Score Increase
17 +6 Companion Tactics
18 +6 Unwavering Loyalty
19 +6 Ability Score Increase
20 +6 Offensive Tactics

Companion Features:

Hit Points:

  • Hit Dice: 1d10 per Companion level
  • Hit Points at 1st Level: 10 + Constitution Modifier
  • Hit Points at Higher Levels: 1d10 + Constitution Modifier


  • Armor: All barding armor
  • Weapons: Natural Weapons
  • Tools: None
  • Saving Throws: Strength, Dexterity, and Constitution
  • Skills: None

Animal Companion:

  • When an animal companion reaches tame for the first time, they receive their first class level.
  • They earn XP or milestones the same as a PC and level up at the same rate.
  • If a companion leaves the party, they will likely stop gaining levels in their absence.

Natural Talent:

  • At 2nd level, your companion gains an additional Natural Talent at 10th level.
  • They cannot choose the same Natural Talent more than once.
  • Natural Armor: Your Companion gains +1 AC.
  • Tough: Your Companion gains an additional 1 HP for each level it has.
  • Precise: Your Companion’s attacks have +2 to hit.
  • Ferocious: Your Companion’s attacks have +2 to damage rolls.

Companion Tactics:

  • At 3rd level, your companion can choose one of the following tactics.
  • They learn an additional tactic at 7th, 13th, and 17th level.
  • Protective: When a creature your companion can see attacks a target other than them within 5 feet, they can use their reaction to impose disadvantage on the attack roll.
  • Multiattack: Your companion can make one additional attack as a bonus action when taking the attack action. They do not add their ability score modifier to the damage for this attack.
  • Swift: Your companion can Dash as a bonus action.
  • Agile: Your companion can Disengage as a bonus action.
  • Sneaky: Your Companion can Hide as a bonus action.
  • Helpful: Your companion can take the Help action as a bonus action.
  • Fast: Your Companion’s movement speed increases by 10 feet. You can take this Tactic more than once.
  • Charging: When your companion moves 20 ft before attacking a target, they have advantage on their next attack roll.
  • Territorial: Other creatures provoke an opportunity attack from your companion when they enter your companion’s reach.
  • Punishing: If your companion is the target of a melee attack while Dodging, they can make an attack against that creature as a reaction.

Ability Score Increase:

  • At 4th level and again at 8th, 12th, 14th, 16th, and 19th level, you can increase one ability score of your choice by 2 or two ability scores of your choice by 1.
  • You can’t increase an ability score above 20 using this feature.

Extra Attack:

  • Starting at 5th level, your companion can attack twice when taking the Attack action.

True Ally:

  • If you fall unconscious, your companion can stabilize you.
  • At 6th level, your companion can stabilize creatures, making a DC 10 Survival check. How your companion specifically stabilizes a creature is up to the DM.

Offensive Tactics:

  • At 11th level, your companion can choose one of the following options to improve their attacks.
  • Quick: Your companion can attack 3 times when taking the attack action. At 20th level, your companion can attack 4 times when taking the attack action.
  • Brutal: Your companion’s attacks deal an extra 1d6 damage and deal a critical hit on an attack roll of 19 and 20. At 20th level, this damage is increased to 2d6.

Defensive Tactics:

  • At 15th level, your companion can choose one of the following defensive features.
  • Relentless: Your companion can keep fighting despite grievous wounds. If they drop to 0 Hit Points and don’t die outright, they can make a DC 10 Constitution saving throw. If they succeed, they drop to 1 hit point instead. Each time they use this feature after the first, the DC increases by 5. When they finish a short or long rest, the DC resets to 10.
  • Evasion: When your companion is subjected to an effect that allows them to make a Dexterity saving throw to take only half damage, they instead take no damage if they succeed on the saving throw, and only half damage if they fail.
  • Uncanny Dodge: When an attacker that your companion can see hits them with an Attack, they can use their reaction to halve the attack’s damage against them.
  • Enduring: Your companion gains +1 AC. Additionally, they gain +1 HP per companion level.

Unwavering Loyalty:

  • Beginning at 18th level, you have mastered your bond with your companion.
  • As long as they can see you, your companion has advantage on saving throws against fear and being charmed.

Overall, this guide provides rules and guidelines for animal companions in D&D 5e. It suggests treating companions as follows or NPC party members in terms of combat and roleplaying. It also provides rules for barding armor, magic items, and designing your own unique animal companion.

The guide introduces the Companion class, which provides features such as Hit Points, Proficiencies, Natural Talents, Companion Tactics, Ability Score Increases, Extra Attack, True Ally, Offensive Tactics, Defensive Tactics, and Unwavering Loyalty.

By following this guide, players can have a more enjoyable and balanced experience with their animal companions in D&D 5e.