Sidekicks instead of Extra Attack?
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  1. #1
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    Sidekicks instead of Extra Attack?

    With the confirmation of Sidekicks coming to 5e in the Essentials Kit, Ive been thinking about how they might be used in campaigns with more than one PC. My first thought was that they would make pretty good skilled hirelings. But that also got me to thinking about AD&D, and how a lot of classes would attract lower-level followers as class features. I always thought that was a pretty cool idea, but with the more complex classes of the WotC editions, controlling multiple characters obviously gets to be a bit much. But maybe sidekicks with their more streamlined builds could work as a way to bring the concept into 5e. Of course, since having an additional character would effectively multiply a players action economy, I thought it might be best for Sidekicks to replace Extra Attacks if they were to become class features. And maybe replace cantrip scaling for casters? I dunno, just spitballing at this point, but interested to hear others weigh in on the concept.
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  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by Charlaquin View Post
    With the confirmation of Sidekicks coming to 5e in the Essentials Kit, Ive been thinking about how they might be used in campaigns with more than one PC. My first thought was that they would make pretty good skilled hirelings. But that also got me to thinking about AD&D, and how a lot of classes would attract lower-level followers as class features. I always thought that was a pretty cool idea, but with the more complex classes of the WotC editions, controlling multiple characters obviously gets to be a bit much. But maybe sidekicks with their more streamlined builds could work as a way to bring the concept into 5e. Of course, since having an additional character would effectively multiply a players action economy, I thought it might be best for Sidekicks to replace Extra Attacks if they were to become class features. And maybe replace cantrip scaling for casters? I dunno, just spitballing at this point, but interested to hear others weigh in on the concept.
    I like where your mind is going with the AD&D reference. I just poked around at my old 1e PHB and it indicates that Henchmen should earn 50% of the XP that the character does. In 5e terms, Id say that means that a Sidekick should count as half a PC when divvying up the XP for an adventuring day (similar to how XP is awarded to an NPC who gives substantial assistance to the party, DMG p260). For example, if 4 PCs with 2 Sidekicks earn a group total of 5,000 XP in a session, each PC should get credited with 1,000 XP. No need to track Sidekick XP, though - the Sidekicks can still level up when the PCs do.

    Of course, if the campaign is using Session- or Story-Based advancement then... something else happens... someone who actually runs their campaigns that way can comment on how that might work...
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    Quote Originally Posted by DM Dave1 View Post
    I like where your mind is going with the AD&D reference. I just poked around at my old 1e PHB and it indicates that Henchmen should earn 50% of the XP that the character does. In 5e terms, Id say that means that a Sidekick should count as half a PC when divvying up the XP for an adventuring day (similar to how XP is awarded to an NPC who gives substantial assistance to the party, DMG p260). For example, if 4 PCs with 2 Sidekicks earn a group total of 5,000 XP in a session, each PC should get credited with 1,000 XP. No need to track Sidekick XP, though - the Sidekicks can still level up when the PCs do.
    Oh, I like that!

    Quote Originally Posted by DM Dave1 View Post
    Of course, if the campaign is using Session- or Story-Based advancement then... something else happens... someone who actually runs their campaigns that way can comment on how that might work...
    I guess they could get a half share of the treasure? I dont know, but I use XP, so your suggestion works plenty well for me.

  4. #4
    Sidekick will be great to make a decent number of character in a party, for game with one or two players.
    to view them as a character option is pushing the concept off limits.
    in a game with 5+ players, a dm should not use sidekick.
    sidekick will be more a dm option than a player option.
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  5. #5
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    LOL We already award henchmen and NPCs in the party 1/2 share XP. I don't know why they need to relabel them "sidekicks" when they are simply henchmen or retainers, take your pick.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Charlaquin View Post
    Of course, since having an additional character would effectively multiply a players action economy, I thought it might be best for Sidekicks to replace Extra Attacks if they were to become class features. And maybe replace cantrip scaling for casters?
    What about characters who gain no extra attacks nor cantrips? Also, if all my cantrips don't scale, do I get my sidekick for free? The main problem here is that extra attacks and cantrips are not comparable with each other, and they are not comparable with sidekicks either.

    In 3e there was a core feat, although in the DMG, called "Leadership", which granted you a cohort (plus various followers) of a lower level. If a DM wanted to give sidekicks as a character option (not mandatory), my first idea would be to consider it cost a feat, because at least a feat has the same cost for everyone (even if two classes get 1-2 more feats than others, in practical terms it matters little). Still I couldn't say if a sidekick is worth less or more than a feat...

    I don't even know what is the final version of sidekicks in the upcoming book, but in general I think it would be best not to try and see as something that is part of the character: if you do that, immediately the game is seen unfair if some player get a sidekick for their PC and others do not. So then everyone will want a sidekick, and the DM has double the amount of characters in the game.

    The real point of sidekicks is explicitly to help a party with too few PCs (in the Essentials it seems it's even suggested only for "solo" games), without the complexity of a whole second PC for the player.

    Instead, I have simply allowed experienced players to play 2 PCs at the table, when the number of players is small. It's not a privilege for such player, it's a burden to manage two whole characters, each one takes a single share of treasure and XP. Sidekicks can help lessen the burden, especially if the sidekick is chosen to be a spellcaster in order to fill a gap in the party's capability.

    Since in both cases the motivation is to increase the party, there is no need to have the player pay a price by reducing the first PC's features.

    Make sidekicks a character option, and competitive players will look at it as an opportunity to be better than other players, if the "price" is right. Kind of a self-fulfilling prophecy. The problem is that it's very hard to set the price right. As I said, I would start with something that at least is shared among all classes: feats, proficiency bonus or even XP. Thinking of sidekicks in terms of action economy is interesting, but problematic once you consider that some sidekicks may be useful only in combat while others may be designed to be maximally useful outside of it.

  7. #7
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    Isn't this what players hate about the Beastmaster? That their beast takes over and replaces their PC's actions for the round? If people despise the Beastmaster that much, I don't see how they'd be okay with what would essentially be humanoid beasts.
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  8. #8
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    The "don't view as character option" ship has already sailed.

    Quote Originally Posted by dnd4vr View Post
    I don't know why they need to relabel them "sidekicks" when they are simply henchmen or retainers, take your pick.
    Precisely because WotC also intends for them to be used by players.

    Henchmen and Retainers suggest people in your employ, i.e. people you boss over. That is not what a neophyte player wants.

    The idea is to allow a newb to be Robin to the established player's Batman. Robin was never a henchman or retainer, he was a sidekick.

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    The most common issue I hear about extra bodies on the field, like summons or pet classes, is that that player's actions during an encounter take up more time. With this I see two cases:

    1. Some players have sidekicks and others don't , leading to those players taking more time and slowing down play for everyone else.

    2. Everyone has a sidekick. Meaning all actions take longer and there's a bigger gap between your actions. If you're going to be taking more time, wouldn't you rather be spending it on your PC?

    My other thought is that doesn't sidekicks, available outside your class features, really dilute classes that get pets? On one side you're giving up class features to get them, but for sidekicks people have full class features and an extra and viable body.

    I hope sidekicks are very simple to run to keep up the speed (no resource tracking outside HPs), and are enough weaker than pets that they don't make some of the classes into traps.
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    Quote Originally Posted by CapnZapp View Post
    The "don't view as character option" ship has already sailed.

    Precisely because WotC also intends for them to be used by players.

    Henchmen and Retainers suggest people in your employ, i.e. people you boss over. That is not what a neophyte player wants.

    The idea is to allow a newb to be Robin to the established player's Batman. Robin was never a henchman or retainer, he was a sidekick.
    To-Ma-To... Ta-Ma-To.

    For decades of gaming I have brought in newbies or guest and let them play NPCs and hirelings or retainers without any issue. Simply because someone is in your employ doesn't give you mind control over them. Recently in our game we had three Veterans as retainers. Each player played one, but they played the one "employed" by a different player's character. Worked out fine.

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