You didn’t write down “Human Resources” on your character sheet. You wrote “Ranger.” But now you’re getting up there in levels, and that old wolf just isn’t doing the trick anymore. For the low, low cost of a feat, you could upgrade to tyrannosaur or mastodon or magic sparkle griffon, and you know your combat effectiveness would jump through the roof. It’s obviously the right call. And so you sit there staring at your character sheet, telling yourself that it’s for the good for the company, and wondering how to break the news to poor Moon Moon.

This is all made worse, of course, by the ongoing debate about what happens to an animal companion when separated from its master. Does it get to keep all of its cool feats and tricks, or does it revert to a normal creature of its type? Depending on how you interpret the rules, you’re not just robbing that old companion of a job, but also his ability to survive. After all, without feats and bonus hit dice, a wolf is just a Challenge Rating 1 mook with a lousy trip attack. What are his chances of surviving in the wild after you cut him loose?

You’ll often see GMs solve this problem by claiming that some ritual or other can power up the old companion. Laurel’s fighter once quested for a magical spring that could turn her horse into a dragon horse. A shaman in my own game is researching ways to transform his kestrel into an imp. But I’ve got to wonder how the companion feels about all this. All those self help columns say that you shouldn’t change yourself just to stay with someone. If I were an animal companion, I like to think I’d have a little self-respect and get out of that bad relationship clean.

How about the rest of you guys? Have you ever had to fire your old companion or familiar? How’d they take it?