Unearthed Arcana: Sidekicks
  • Unearthed Arcana: Sidekicks


    Unearthed Arcana is back with an article from WotC's Jeremy Crawford and Ben Petrisor called Sidekicks! "If you’ve ever wanted an animal, a town guard, or another creature to join you on your adventures, this month’s Unearthed Arcana is for you. It gives you a straightforward way to turn a creature into your sidekick and have that companion level up with you."

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    1. Morrus's Avatar
      Morrus -
      Unearthed Arcana is back with an article from WotC's Jeremy Crawford and Ben Petrisor called Sidekicks! "If you’ve ever wanted an animal, a town guard, or another creature to join you on your adventures, this month’s Unearthed Arcana is for you. It gives you a straightforward way to turn a creature into your sidekick and have that companion level up with you."[PRBREAK][/PRBREAK]

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    1. MarkB's Avatar
      MarkB -
      Our current GM may have a fit if we introduce any sidekicks, as we have an especially large group for the next campaign. On the other hand, the majority of campaigns I've played in or DM'd have, at some point, seen a player or the party as a whole 'adopting' some creature or person, so I could definitely see myself getting some use out of these rules.

      It occurs to me that they might also be a handy way of creating simplified NPCs, for when you want something a little more substantial than the Monster Manual stat block, but don't need to go through an entire class and subclass progression. You could also use them to beef up any monster or NPC if it doesn't quite measure up to the CR you're looking for.
    1. MechaTarrasque's Avatar
      MechaTarrasque -
      I was wondering if they were going to do a UA this month.....

      Cue "Biscuit the mastiff"+ Sidekick means the beast master is a total failure and the cause of climate change, bad dice rolls, and a few other things I haven't thought of......

      [The real worry will be when people figure out that variant familiars aren't class features, so there is no reason the familiar can't be a sidekick too....]
    1. castlewise's Avatar
      castlewise -
      I really like this. Its useful for creating cut down but functional characters that can scale. Having a tool which lets you build PC level creatures without having to make a bunch of choices is nice. I wish I had it when we played Curse of Straud so I could have let Ismark be useful the whole campaign. I play in a small group so this is also a good way to up the power level of the group without making the players juggle multiple fully featured characters.

      I would never, ever, ever let a PC just decide to add a sidekick because they wanted one. Familiar sidekicks? *shudder*

      Edit: Having thought about it for an additional 30 seconds, if I had a small group that was struggling, a sidekick familar actually sounds like an OK idea. Also, you can have a sidekick turn traitor in a way that you could never do with someones PC. That level 10 spellcaster imp familiar is a really nice ally to have until it turns out its been taking orders from a pit field this whole time.
    1. Pauln6's Avatar
      Pauln6 -
      I like it conceptually but I don't really like the notion of sidekick casters being able to cast such high level spells. I'd probably replace spell progression with a half caster, possibly adding in an arcarnum feature to give them limited access to a higher level spell slot.

      In my campaign I allow pets and sidekicks to gain extra hit dice based on the PC's proficiency bonus which generally only means they can take one extra hit.
    1. Kobold Avenger's Avatar
      Kobold Avenger -
      It's sort of reminiscent of 3e's NPC classes of Warrior, Expert and Adept as well as the Leadership feat that gave you a companion in addition to a bunch of low level followers. And they seem to be as powerful as PHB classes at first glance.

      And I'm guessing that your Goblin Squire uses the Goblin statblock from the Monster Manual, and not the Goblin PC race stats.
    1. mrpopstar's Avatar
      mrpopstar -
      OMG I wish character classes were this simple. Subclasses as a variant rule/modular option!

    1. Saelorn's Avatar
      Saelorn -
      Maybe I'm missing something, but I don't see how these classes are simplified in any way. The degree to which the Warrior looks like the Champion is very high.

      I was expecting these to be more in line with 3E-style simplified NPC classes, but these are just giving class levels to a monster.
    1. Charlaquin's Avatar
      Charlaquin -
      These could also totally work as simplified PC classes.
    1. Charlaquin's Avatar
      Charlaquin -
      Quote Originally Posted by Saelorn View Post
      Maybe I'm missing something, but I don't see how these classes are simplified in any way. The degree to which the Warrior looks like the Champion is very high.

      I was expecting these to be more in line with 3E-style simplified NPC classes, but these are just giving class levels to a monster.
      Pretty much just the lack of subclasses. In general, they seem to have fewer decisions to make when they gain levels than standard PC classes. Their gameplay isn't really any less complex, but generally you don't have to (and in fact, can't) think too much about a build. Even more so than other 5e classes, you just write down what you get at the new level, with little to no room to differentiate one example of the class from another.

      I do think that my feedback for this playtest would be that they could stand to be even more streamlined though. I'd get rid of any resource management at all apart from spells for the spellcaster, and I'd replace the Expert's second Expertise feature with something else, so that all of the decision-making happens at 1st level.
    1. Gradine's Avatar
      Gradine -
      Yeah, I feel like I'd dial back the Spellcaster a bit (and maybe even the Warrior's extra attacks), otherwise I think these are a great addition
    1. Hussar's Avatar
      Hussar -
      Hrm..... Very cool.
    1. Pauln6's Avatar
      Pauln6 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Charlaquin View Post
      Pretty much just the lack of subclasses. In general, they seem to have fewer decisions to make when they gain levels than standard PC classes. Their gameplay isn't really any less complex, but generally you don't have to (and in fact, can't) think too much about a build. Even more so than other 5e classes, you just write down what you get at the new level, with little to no room to differentiate one example of the class from another.I do think that my feedback for this playtest would be that they could stand to be even more streamlined though. I'd get rid of any resource management at all apart from spells for the spellcaster, and I'd replace the Expert's second Expertise feature with something else, so that all of the decision-making happens at 1st level.
      I would not say that a sidekick needs a class feature or stat boost every level. Just gaining hit points is cool for a sidekick. They're there either for role play, to fill a missing niche, or simply to add firepower to small groups. They need enough staying power to be relevant but being weaker even at the same level should be a feature, not a bug.
    1. Kobold Stew's Avatar
      Kobold Stew -
      A few thoughts:

      1. There has to be a clear statement about using animal companions/familiars as sidekicks. I'm fine if it's allowed, as long as there is an "only one sidekick per PC" rule (and of course DM's permission). Not to allow familiars makes them objectively worse than the sidekick, which shouldn't be.

      2. I want to think about the implications of this of a mount. A Mastiff or Horse as a sidekick is a substantial change for a cavalier or Paladin.

      3. There should be a statement to the effect of, "The first time you level up with a sidekick, the sidekick advances to your level" (or your level minus x, or whatever). Gaining a level 1 sidekick at level 10 is less effective (mechanically, and in terms of the narrative survivability) than gaining one at level 3. But you should be able to get a pet and be equally effective at upper levels as getting one early in your career.

      4. What are the costs of having a sidekick? There should be something. Is it another character with whom to split experience points (assuming points are used; if they aren't there are other issues)? I could see having a sidekick counting as .5 of another character -- but it does mean that PCs without a sidekick could be "dragged down" by a party with pets. It's not immediately clear what an acceptable solution would be.

      5. My favorite part of the article is that the Expert or Spellcaster class needs to have a language. All of a sudden, the fact that Blink Dogs and Giant Eagles have a language of their own has meaning! I love this (emergent complexity, as a latent detail gains purpose), and I look forward to my friendly Blink Dog spellcaster barking my PC back to health.
    1. bedir than's Avatar
      bedir than -
      I wish rather than 20 levels we just had four tiers of sidekick
    1. Krachek's Avatar
      Krachek -
      I think the main usage will be for game with 2 or 3 players.
      Adding a sidekick can make a better party. More reliable than twisting pc or encounter table.
    1. jmucchiello's Avatar
      jmucchiello -
      Forget sidekicks, this is a great way to simplify creating enemy monsters with class levels!!!

      As for the sidekicks, there should be feats to go with this. The PC takes the feat and they both benefit. Kinda like teamwork feats.
    1. Nellisir's Avatar
      Nellisir -
      This definitely looks like playtest material. I've always liked the concept of henchmen, and this goes a long way to make it work. Definitely creates a lot of corner cases (familiars, animal companions, mounts) and could use streamlining. Also, having a warlock or sorcerer sidekick cast spells just like a wizard seems...weird.

      A great option to round out small parties though.
    1. Saelorn's Avatar
      Saelorn -
      Quote Originally Posted by jmucchiello View Post
      Forget sidekicks, this is a great way to simplify creating enemy monsters with class levels!!!
      It's not nearly as easy as it could be, though. If the goal was to make it easy to create these characters, then the rules fall short, because they still gain new features that you have to look up at every level. They could have vastly cut back on that, and maybe give them one class feature per tier.
    1. dave2008's Avatar
      dave2008 -
      Quote Originally Posted by bedir than View Post
      I wish rather than 20 levels we just had four tiers of sidekick
      That sounds like a good way to streamline this - one for each tier of play in the DMG
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