I know that thralls were in the game a lot longer than animal pets, but they serve the same purpose and should be balanced against each other.
Currently thralls seem better in all respects, not least because they can equip items and wield weapons.
Granted, at the moment i only have the most basic animals, but I only have basic fighter thralls in medium t1 armour and… the thrall has like 2k hp, and the animals have <500
For combat, it’s a complex issue. I believe that animals should have higher base-stats to compensate for not being able to wear armour. Give them way higher starting strength, agility and vitality. A lvl1 hyena should be capable of fighting and potentially killing a t1 lvl1 fighter thrall with an iron sword and light armour.
On the other hand, Bearers seem much more simple.
The weird issue of bearers having stupid amounts of HP seems to be an anti-frustration feature, to prevent players from losing huge amounts of items.
Ok, fine. I dig that.
Why don’t pack animals have the same amount of HP?
A low level Bearer has several thousand hp, a Gazelle has about 300.
Gazelle, horse, camel, donkey.
All of these things should be able to carry as much or more than a human slave with a large backpack.
Most of them should be significantly tougher too.
There’s also the issue of high-tier bearers being competitive with fighter thralls because of their crazy hp pools.
The obvious solution is just to disallow bearer fighting. Say the giant pack requires both hands to haul so they can’t equip weapons or attack at all. (maybe make the pack mandatory by making all of the bearer’s inventory-slots dependant on them wearing it?)
Bearers are now worthless in combat but still just as useful for hauling your crap around.
Likewise for animals. Lock all of their inventory-slots behind an item crafted at the saddlemaker’s bench. A Saddlebag? Or a cart that they pull?
While it’s equipped, the creature has +10 inventory slots but cannot attack.
Maybe make their huge hp boost dependant on the backpack/saddlebag too. Or, depending on how armour damage reduction is calculated, maybe you could have the bags function as a ludicrous amount of armour instead.
So the bearer/mule has the same amount of hp as a fighter of similar level, but 5000 armour.
I was going to say ‘make sure players can’t equip it’ to prevent abuse, but if the backpack also disables the ability to attack for players, it could be fair.
If you can’t get a bearer, get a decent fighter and get yourself a backpack. Carry it yourself and rely on the fighter for protection.
TLDR: Make pets comparable to thralls in terms of bearer hp, and combat.