The Generic Villain on Heroes’ Animal Companions

The Generic Villain writes again!

I’ve already given you the word on choosing your own companion creature(s). Wouldn’t it be nice if the privilege were limited to us?

Unfortunately, the protagonists are at least as likely as we are to have picked up such companions, and those companions have disproportionate odds of throwing wrenches in our plans when we think we’ve won. So we need to know who they are and how to deal with them.

The one we’re likeliest to think of is the Loyal Mount, a blasted impressive-looking horse that blends the loyalty of a Designated Love Interest, the strength of at least three normal horses, and the stamina of—forget that, I’m not sure even gods have that kind of stamina. Note that normal anti-horse measures won’t work on these creatures; they’re automatons from the Powers of Light, not flesh and blood equines. They won’t shy when hit with slingstones, won’t tire, and you can’t distract even the stallions (and there are a LOT of those) with a mare in heat. Just kill them.

Some protagonists get bigger Loyal Mounts, usually carnivores. Gryphons, giant eagles… and dragons. Dear Dark Powers, the dragons. You don’t want to send minions against those directly; they tend to come out crunchy. However, unlike the horses, the dragons are living creatures. (Even Good doesn’t cheat THAT outrageously.) Most importantly, they eat. A lot. This is where peasants who consider you a tolerable evil come in; if you make a point of paying them for your food despite being Their Overlord, they will expect the people trying to liberate them to do the same. So the hero loses income, the dragon gets underfed, or the hero pushes the issue and makes an enemy of the populace. You might also be able to lull dragons into quiescence with large quantities of milk, but that’s a point of dragonlore not everyone agreed on when the multiverse was fashioned, so it might not work.

And don’t think the combat-ready creatures are all you have to deal with. The really dangerous ones are the shoulder-sized companions. They’re small, usually cute, very puntable, good at hiding and even better at bailing their owners out of sticky situations. You have to remember this, or it’ll come around and bite you, guaranteed. I should know. See, I’ve got a bit of a professional relationship going with the Gratuitous Enchantress on the other side of the mountains—nice girl. Good long-reaching plans. Finally got to the point where she gets dressed when we meet up. Anyway, so about a month ago, I get this letter from her by swallow, saying she’s successfully captured the protagonists du jour, plans are going perfectly, we should celebrate once she’s finished. A day later, I see smoke rising over the mountains, and that evening I get another swallow, bearing a note with a single sentence: “It really was a ferret in his pocket.”

Don’t follow that path. When you see a puntable shoulder-sized animal companion, or you have reason to believe one might be present, locate it and kill it. (Punting it afterwards is optional.)

With sufficient preparation, you can ensure that if the Laws of Drama are going to mess you up, it won’t be at the paws of an animal companion. Stay smart!

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