What is the evidence, if any, that the Ranger Beast Master archetype is comparatively underpowered?

I have seen various claims that the Ranger’s Beast Master Archetype is underpowered, compared to other ranger archetypes and/or classes.

I have searched for some factual analysis that would support or refute this, but I have not found any.

What is the evidence, if any, that the Ranger Beast Master archetype is comparatively underpowered?

Would the Ranger be overpowered if their Animal Companion kept attacking once ordered?

For an Animal Companion to attack, the Ranger has to use his action to command it.

I am looking to see some math on just why this restriction is in place. Is the ranger way over-powered if the animal companion can keep attacking once ordered, or if gets to attack as an interact with object or verbal command from the ranger?

I’d like to see calculations for the following 3 scenarios:

  • act as rules as written
  • continue an action once given (1st attack takes a ranger action to activate)
  • act as an interact with object by the ranger

How does the above compare with an identical ranger with colossus slayer?

I am hoping to understand why the designers limited it so much.

Can a Beastmaster Ranger have its beast chase down and attack enemies?

Somewhat two questions in one and looking for RAW as I play in Adventurer’s League:

Say you are outside —

  1. Can a Beastmaster Ranger command their pet to chase down enemies? Like having a Mastiff chase down a thief?

  2. Can a Beastmaster Ranger in turn command that animal to attack repeatedly?

Say the Mastiff catches up to the thief after a 450 ft chase. You’re no longer in line of sight or close enough. Can the Mastiff attack the thief? Can the Mastiff continue to attack the thief?

Should my UA Beast Conclave ranger slaughter her Animal Companions when she is done with them?

I’m in the process of converting my PHB Ranger to a UA Ranger. In doing so I’m looking with particular interest at the differences this has on the Animal Companion.

The new features that have caught my eye, and hence spawned this question, are these two which relate to bonding with your Animal Companion and bringing it back after death:

Rules on the initial bond (emphasis mine)

With 8 hours of work and the expenditure of 50 gp worth of rare herbs and fine food, you call forth an animal from the wilderness to serve as your faithful companion. You normally select you companion from among the following animals: an ape, a black bear, a boar, a giant badger, a giant weasel, a mule, a panther, or a wolf. However, your DM might pick one of these animals for you, based on the surrounding terrain and on what types of creatures would logically be present in the area.

Rules on bonding again after its death (emphasis mine)

If your animal companion is ever slain, the magical bond you share allows you to return it to life. With 8 hours of work and the expenditure of 25 gp worth of rare herbs and fine food, you call forth your companion’s spirit and use your magic to create a new body for it. You can return an animal companion to life in this manner even if you do not possess any part of its body.

It seems to me that the rules are encouraging me to shelve the loving and faithful bond I have with my companion once our time together has come to an end and, assuming the creature is still alive, instead of setting it free to return to the wild, I should slaughter it (probably in a style not to dissimilar to the dog in I Am Legend).

The benefits of slaying the animal instead of letting it live are considerable:

  • Unlike the initial bond there is no need for an animal of the given type to be in the area should I want to bond with one, I can just create it out of herbs and spices.
  • I get it for half price.
  • I get the exact same animal (in a new body) as opposed to a different animal of the same type. (No advantage here rules wise, but could be meaningful RP wise.)
  • I can create a ‘pokedex’ of animal companions, allowing me to draw any out at will. So even if I stumble upon a location that contains animals that I don’t want as companions at the time, I should bond with one regardless, immediately slaughter it to add to my library for future use, and then repeat with any others in the area, bringing back my original companion once I’m done (who I also slaughtered).

I’m surprised that the rules are arranged in such a way as to make this an attractive option, my reading of the Ranger Companion is that it is intended to be a loving, or at least mutually respectful, relationship.

Other than alignment issues, am I missing anything that makes this a less appealing idea? Are there any rules I’ve overlooked or perhaps follow up from Wizards of the Coast or others?

Ranger beast companion AC: is the new number the new base AC?

As per the Ranger Companion feature, you can add your proficiency bonus to your companion’s AC.

I would like to know how to interpret this in terms of AC calculation.

Could I interpret as though my pet is getting a bonus to its base AC (Example: A PC wearing a shield). Or is this new number the new base AC?

In terms of formulas, let’s take the Wolf:

AC = 13 (natural armor)

AC with Ranger Companion at level 3 = 15 (13[base] + 2[Prof])

The second interpretation would be that the wolf’s new base AC simply 15.

The way the feature is worded makes me believe it’s the former. The reason I ask this is to understand how this would interact with spells like Barkskin.

Barkskin states that your AC cannot be less than 16, meaning that if you choose to use Barkskin as the way you calculate your AC, it is now 16. You can choose to wear a shield on top of Barkskin, and receive the bonus as normal, meaning, it’d be 18 AC total.

Now let’s go back to the Wolf. If the former interpretation is true, and I apply Barkskin to my wolf, that’d mean his base AC can now be 16 instead of 13, and in addition to this he receives a bonus to his armor class equal to my Proficiency bonus. Assuming level 3 ranger, that’d mean my wolf’s armor class is now 18.

Otherwise, if the latter is true, then his AC is 16 while under barkskin but he does not receive the bonus because the latter interpretation states that the bonus is simply part of his base AC calculation instead of an additional amount of AC he gets because of the feature.

Thanks in advance! Let me know if I need to clarify anything.

Should I be able to use the Gloom Stalker, Ranger, Dread Ambusher Class feature when attacking before initiative has been rolled to add a d8 damage?

There was a case in a in a session of my Homebrewy D&D 5e game that I played recently where I was playing a Gloom Stalker Ranger lvl 4 and was hidden from an enemy that was unaware of an incoming attack. In the spirit of the ambusher that is the Gloom Stalker my DM allowed me to role the extra d8, normally granted to me by Dread Ambusher feature on the bonus attack that I would get on the first turn of initiative order, for the damage that I dealt to the creature; similarly to a rogues sneak attack.

Should a Gloom Stalker Ranger always get a additional d8 when attacking an unaware creature outside of initiative order?

Ranger with Practice Caster Feat

A PHB Ranger has access to spells starting at level 4 with caster level of 1/2. So for a level 4 Ranger we have a caster level of 2.

Lets say this Ranger takes the feat Practiced Caster at level 6. Practiced Caster gives 4 caster levels to the Ranger up to his own hit dice.

Am I right in assuming that this lvl 6 Ranger is also a caster of level 6 and that grants him the spells per day of a level 12 Ranger?

Would it be unbalanced to allow a ranger to take multiple archetypes as if multiclassing?

I’m DM-ing a game in which one of the players wants to take two ranger archetypes as if multiclassing as a ranger/ranger.

The two archetypes would be treated as if they were separate classes and they would take new levels in one archetype or the other. So for example, at character level 7 they would have everything a level 7 ranger has regardless of archetype and, say they were hunter 4/beast master 3, they would have the features of a level 4 hunter and a level 3 beast master.

Would it break the game to allow them to do this?