Befriending a beast in the wilderness has its advantages; Animal Friendship allows the character to accomplish this through enchantment.
Animal Friendship 5e
A beast with an intelligence score of 4 or lower must make a Wisdom Saving throw when targeted by Animal Friendship. The caster convinces the targeted beast they mean no harm and charm the target on a failed save. The spell lasts for 24 hours. Animal Friendship is available to the Bard, Druid, and Ranger. The Nature Cleric also has access to the spell.
Animal Friendship is a 1st level Enchantment spell that will automatically fail on a beast with an Intelligence score of 4 or higher. If the caster or their companions harm the beast the spell will end. Casting the spell at higher levels allows the caster to target additional beasts (1 per level above first).
How Animal Friendship Works
Animal Friendship creates a charm effect on the targeted beast if they fail the Wisdom saving throw. The caster charms the target for 24 hours. Charm is not mind control but has the following effect(s):
- A charmed creature can’t attack the charmer or target the charmer with harmful abilities or magical Effects.
- The charmer has advantage on any ability check to interact socially with the creature.
A successful cast of the spell does not allow for “mind control” over the target. It allows the caster to have advantage on rolls that would typically be made. For example, the caster still needs to make an Animal Handling check to get the wild horse to accept a rider. The spell grants advantage on the skill check if the animal fails the saving throw.
Consider this: the caster rides the Animal Friendship affected mount into combat. The caster then makes additional checks to control the mount. The caster makes these checks at advantage. It does not guarantee the mount will not flee or aid the caster in any way that it may harm itself.
Aa another example, the caster has successfully charmed a wolf using Animal Friendship. The wolf maybe persuaded to aid the caster in tracking an enemy with an Animal Handling check (made at advantage). When they find the enemy, the wolf may attack on behalf of the caster, defend itself and not flee, or flee entirely depending on the Animal Handling check result and Difficulty Class (DC) set by the Dungeon Master (DM).
The spell will end if the caster or any of their companions harm the beast. This is not exclusive to intentional damage. Collateral damage from an area of effect spell will still cause the spell to end. The beast has an intelligence of 3 or less so it cannot determine intention only result. A charmed creature will not take any action that would be obviously harmful to itself.
Uses for Animal Friendship
There are a variety of hypothetical scenarios in which Animal Friendship would be beneficial. For example, the party needs to get past guard dogs. Animal Friendship would improve the chances of convincing the dogs not to alert their owners or attack. The party could use the spell to avoid hostile beasts encountered on the road during travel. There might even be an opportunity to convince the beast to help the party track something or stand guard at camp overnight. Each scenario is slightly different, and the DC is up to the DMs discretion, but make for creative and interesting problem solving.
Animal Friendship can be as useful as a player wants it to be. The restrictions on targeting a beast only keeps the spell balanced. While the duration of the spell prevents the caster from using multiple spell slots and creating a permanent companion. It is important to remember that a beast affected by the spell still maintains some free will and has a sense of self preservation.