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4E 4e companion characters to round out party in a single player game


My 13 yo son has expressed some interest in playing some more 4e. However in our current ODD game I play the other members of his party. No way in H E double L would I want to run 3 full 4e PCs along with doing monster and all my other DM duties.

I recently read about the companion characters in DMG2. I am unfam with specifics, but I understand they are built more like monsters with just a handful of powers. Would these suffice as easier to run party members?( assuming i took into account reduced party power when designing encounters)

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First Post
Yes, but it would remain somewhat laborious. I am in favor of companion characters, but in this situation, I would consider just using one companion character (a sidekick), and making encounters less heavy. Maybe if your son's PC could be an assassin (sell it to him as a ninja), you could give him a pet eagle (or something) and a few potions.


Thanks for the advice. No go on the new PC, he has a great affection for his greataxe wielding fighter, I have convered that dude from PFBB to OD&D to a 3.x hack to the 4e starter box, for him :)


Eternal Optimist
I ran a number of epic level sessions with 2 PCs and 2 companion NPCs. It worked really, really well. (Another tip for speeding it up: calculate average damage and use that for the NPCs). 1 PC and 3 companions might be too much; I'd go with 1+2, just because it allows a little more margin for error.

Scaling of encounters works really well in 4E, so you should be fine.


Yes. Companions are simple to handle compared to similar-level PCs and cover a role adequately without overshadowing the PC(s). One option is to have each player handle both his character, and a Companion, as the DM still has to deal with the monsters, and the DM running creatures on both sides of a battle can be a tad dull for both DM & player.

Another option is to simply run a solo or small game, and not cover all the roles. Once you scale encounters down for a very small group, the lack of role coverage isn't too troublesome. Though, certain roles work better than others. Defenders and leaders, in particular, lose effectiveness in solo games, as marks become meaningless and ally-affecting powers have no targets. Strikers don't have that issue, and controllers can actually be slightly more effective without other characters 'getting in their way all the time,' letting them cut loose with indescriminate AEs and zones, for instance.


Staff member
I'd probably aim for some kind of hybrid controller/leader, striker/controller or stiker/leader who can give him ranged fire support and/or AoEs that prevent him being overwhelmed plus possibly a bit of healing on the side.

I have found that my Dwarven Starlock (MC Psion) is ridiculously tough- second in HP only to the party's Dwarven fighter- and thus does not suck up party healing resources too much.


First Post
My son is 7. We've run one lvl 1 adventure from the Chaos Scar series together with him as the only player. We are going to run another one start from today as school holidays have just begun. We play a pseudo 4e game with pseudo 4e characters. He runs a team of 4 heroes that go like this:

Main Guy: Lokon, lvl 1 Half Orc Berserker
Str 18 CON 14 DEX 18 INT 10 WIS 12 CHA 8
AC 19 F/R/W 16/15/11
HPs 29 Surge value 7 10 surges per day
(Pretty standard 4e so far right except for 3 extra points in his ability scores)
Defender Aura: Vengeance if shift or attack ally: sword Attack +1d8 dmg; +2 AC while active
Dark Night Sword: +8 vs AC; 1d12+7 dmg
Stalk and Strike: Shift 2 squares and make sword attack; FURY: +1d6 dmg
Push and Strike: Sword Attack; Hit: Push 1 and shift into place; FURY +1d8 dmg
Encounter Powers:
Savage Cut: Sword atk +1d12 +1d8 dmg -> ENTER FURY!
Furious Assault: +1d12 dmg
Tiger Armour: Atk enemy when they hit you
Harper's Luck: Add +1d6 to atk roll
Second Wind: Heal a surge (I let all of his characters do this as a minor though we don't really talk about minor actions yet, they are just things characters can do as well as attacking)
Daily Powers:
Life Ending Strike: Sword Atk +3d12 dmg Miss: 1/2 dmg Special: can use on a charge -> ENTER FURY
Darkness: Surround yourself in darkness
Skills: Athletics +8, Endurance +13, Intimidate +8
1 healing potion
Dark Night Sword +1
Tiger Armour +1
Bag of Wasps

That is basically what is written on his character sheet. So you can see he runs pretty much a straight up Berserker. He's 7 and he runs it fine. I do my own magic items which are far 'looser'. Actually everything is looser. The berserker is a quasi essentials PC, and it's pretty easy to essentialise powers by making them just alterations of the MBA.

Then he has his 3 companion characters:

Flameman lvl 1 gnome rogue
STR 16 CON 12 DEX 18 INT 10 WIS 8
AC 16 F/R/W 13/16/13
HP 24 surge value 6 8 surges per day
Ruby Dagger: +9 vs AC; 1d4+2d6 dmg
Encounter Powers:
Heal (2x per encounter). Heal surge +1d6 hps
Ruby Fire Sword (2x per encounter): Dagger attack +3d4 dmg and ongoing 5 fire dmg (save ends)
Second Wind
Stealth +11
Thievery +9
Acrobatics +9

You can see how I'm really simplifying now. The rogue doesn't need to get CAdv to deal sneak damage, it just always deals it. He also doubles as the healer. No mention of minor actions, its just something the character can do as well as his other actions. No definition of what 'Hide' or 'Invisibility' does. We just play it as it best fits our story and always to his advantage. His Magic dagger just gave him an extra use of his encounter power (which is far stronger than normal etc etc)

Pain lvl 1 Wolf
STR 16 CON 14 DEX 20 INT 8 WIS 12 CHA 10
AC 18 F/R/W 15/15/11 HP 26 surge 6 (8 per day)
Lightning Bite: +8 vs AC; 2d8+6 dmg
Encounter powers:
Super Lightning Bite: Bite + 3d8 dmg and ongoing 5 lighting dmg
Howl: +7 vs Will; Hit: Run Away!
Smell: +8
Skills: Athletics +10

Very loose here again. A dmg machine that is absolutely simple to run, but can change the course of a battle single handedly with its howl! Its smell power also borders on the super natural. So you can see I am making big allowances for my son's age. The scooby doo howl that makes all the bad guys turn tail and flee (of course provoking many OAtks) goes down a treat.

Rainy lvl 1 Pixie Sorceress (originally meant to be run by my wife but she flaked out and my son took over happily; more turns for him!)
STR 8 CON 14 DEX 18 INT 10 WIS 12 CHA 18
AC 16 F/R/W 12/14/16
HP 26 Surge 6 (8 per day)
Move: Fly 6 (max height 1) Walk 4
Resist 5 Thunder and Lightning
At will power:
Lightning Strike: Range 10; 1 creature; +5 vs REF; 1d8+9 lightning dmg and another enemy within 10 takes 4 lightning dmg
Encounter Powers:
Explosive Pyre: As per normal power (his was going to be my wife's PC so not simplified)
Storm Soul: Interrupt atk: gain +4 defense; lose resistences
Pixie Dust: Make 1 Ally fly 6 squares
Shrink: make an object become your size while on your body
Staff of the Earth: Earth Quake: +6 vs REF; Enemies fall over
Skills: Arcana +5; Bluff +9, Stealth +6 Nature +8 Diplomacy +9
Second Wind
Dazzling Ray: As per normal power
Staff of the Earth+1 (Resist All dmg 1)
2 Healing Potions

So this Character is nearly a straight storm sorcerer. And my son runs it fine as well. I have to help him with the fiddly bits eg explosive Pyre but other than that its more dice rolling and zapping monsters.

So if my 7 year old can handle running this party then I'm sure your 13 yr old will be able to handle running a more done by the book version of 1 pc and 3 companion characters. I'd just recommend keeping things pretty loose as well in so far as bending the rules go. Just use 4e as a solid mechanical base and then make a game that works for you on top of them, disregarding rules that get in the way or are too fiddly, simplifying them/making them cooler etc in your son's favour. I think this is especially true for magic items.
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First Post
The absolute key part of running companion characters is to make them as simple as possible. I like MerricB's suggestion of using average damage; I wish I had done that.

When choosing abilities, make sure to choose very simple abilities with few riders. The more complex an ability is, the more difficult it will be to use. In fact, as far as complexity goes I would definitely stick to the PHB1 classes. For controllers, I would avoid anything that requires sustain effects. Wizard works well because they're generally simple and are more controller/striker. For leaders, I would avoid a lot of the secondary riders. Cleric's work well as heal-bots, Warlords allow your son more chances to shine. Defenders should be more tank-like; basically play them like meat-shields. Strikers will help end battles faster.

If you've a mind, simple magical items can also be used. I know it's not by the book, but it also doesn't make sense to me that companions don't use them. Certainly potions and such can help (especially if your son goes down). Items with properties work as well, since you don't really need to think about them.

Personally, with one player I would only use one companion and scale encounters. Make sure to avoid a lot of disabling status effects. Story-wise, I'd run it as a sort of Gilgamesh/Enkidu dynamic (especially since your son is a berserker), with a bit of Don Quixote/Sancho thrown in for humor.


The DMG2 Companion Character rules are good, but I give them Action Points so they feel more PC-like and are closer to equivalent power.

I'd say give him 2 simple Companion Characters that he can run alongside his main PC.


Staff member
Personally, with one player I would only use one companion and scale encounters. Make sure to avoid a lot of disabling status effects. Story-wise, I'd run it as a sort of Gilgamesh/Enkidu dynamic (especially since your son is a berserker), with a bit of Don Quixote/Sancho thrown in for humor.

So...a Bard, then, someone to sing tales 'o' greatness? (or shame?)


I'd just recommend keeping things pretty loose as well in so far as bending the rules go. Just use 4e as a solid mechanical base and then make a game that works for you on top of them, disregarding rules that get in the way or are too fiddly, simplifying them/making them cooler etc in your son's favour. I think this is especially true for magic items.

Absolutely. I myself am not a BTB, love me some rules type of DM. Total opposite. I only skim the surface of rules whatever version of the game we play. My 3.x games were more like C&C in complexity. I would be doing the same thing with 4E. One of the big things is that after experiencing several months of Theater of the Mind style combat in OD&D (the way I have preferred to play/DM since I started with the LBBs in 77), he has absolutely NO, ZERO, ZILCH NADA desire to go back to minis/counters and a grid like we used for PFBB. I tried a 4E game with him a couple months back, and he loved the power cards and different attack options (thus why he mentioned it again recently), but the session crashed and burned. As soon as I pulled out a map, he started rolling his eyes, lol. 30 minutes into the first fight: the "dragon grave dig site" encounter in KOTS (using updated math/monsters, as well as 1/2 hit points for the non-minions) and combat still ongoing, and he was done. Me too. Our long OD&D combats may go 15 minutes. Most are between 5-10.

If I decide to go this route, I would be using Essentials (HOTFL), as I can use the Slayer build therein and pick powers that are not terribly dependent on pushing/pulling/sliding/ and other things that necessitate the grid (or at least necessitate it for my aged brain!). I can reskin some powers to cause conditions that are not involved with nitty gritty movement, etc., but use descriptive terminology. Instead of getting crazy with bursts and blast radii, I can just say " affects 2 closest opponents", or "the Bugbear's mace blow to your breastplate knocks you down to the ground , you will have to get up next round, you won't be able to attack and move" etc. That kind of thing. I can do the same with Monster attacks. The essentials rogue (thief) is where I would have the most difficulty, as many of his powers are move heavy. But if by using the Companion character rules, I could whittle him down to a classic Thief with just some sneaky backstabs , shortbow attacks (current NPC halfling Thief is Blodgett, ;) ) and be the trapmonkey, which is what he excels at in our OD&D game, I am good. Same with a Mage with a handful of fun spells ( in and out of combat) and a stern Cleric of Tyr with some healing, flashy "Tyr's Justice" types of powers and decent melee skills, and I would be very happy.

I am rambling, sorry folks.

Lots of good advice from everyone, thanks, I am taking it all in, and any other suggestions are much appreciated.


So I picked up a 1mo sub to DDI to take use of the tools, and rebuilt all the 4th level OD&D characters as their 4e alter egos using essentials. I chose powers that were not reliant or minimally reliant on the grid/movement in every case that I could. The Rogue ws definitely the toughest, I had to modify several of his tricks to better fit TotM play. For these I went with the fluff first and modelled a simple mechanic on it.

I then whittled down the (np)characters to 2 of each AWED.

I then got into the monster builder and modified some monsters that are in one of the big encounters in the haunted mansion his party is on it's way to. Some level 5 minion Skeleton Soldiers, and a Wight that I gave a ranged recharge power (chill the soul..think force choke, but necrotic). I then ran several mock combats. I think I may nix the minions and go for fewer more powerful skeletons, or add some more minions. I also have to beef up another encounter with a giant spider in the stable, and a stirge nest in the overgrown courtyard.

At any rate the mock battles were pretty intense,lots of hits, and lots of getting hit for the party. Nice mix of different things for everyone to do. Things moved fairly quickly, avg. 20 min, and part of that reason was because I have forgotten alot having not run 4e in a couple or three years, and was unsure how the newer essentials powers worked. I suspect after a couple sessions it will groove better.

Hopefully this weekend we will be able to get in a session to see how things go.


Personally, with one player I would only use one companion and scale encounters. Make sure to avoid a lot of disabling status effects. Story-wise, I'd run it as a sort of Gilgamesh/Enkidu dynamic (especially since your son is a berserker), with a bit of Don Quixote/Sancho thrown in for humor.

I'm suddenly very inspired for a Solo campaign that's a Xena\ Gabrielle type companionship. with the Xena character being the companion, and the Gabrielle being the PC.


Update: session went very well. The party managed to enter the manor house without running into the giant spider or stirge lair. They did get busted up on a crumbling staircase, avoided damage in a pair of haunted fireplaces, but then went smack dab into the ground floor main encounter, a customized wight and skeleton soldier minions. The battle was pretty furious, lots of damage dished out and taken, some good use of terrain (despite the lack of grid), and it was about 15 to 20 min or so I think?We were both so into it, I did not remember to time it, and my son never started to watch the clock either.

I kept the session short today, but the after session "survey" went well. He enjoyed his new 4e capabilities and did not feel it was much more complicated. He really liked the new cleric and magic user spells (powers) too. Another session or two and the kinks of learning how to do things slightly different should be worked out. For my part it was a bit tougher to run the 4e companions and monsters, but it was not offputting. I felt I was just as, if not more descriptive, and it did not turn into a wargame like 4e proper can if you let it. It was not all that different than how the session would go under od&d/s&w. The encounter was a bit more lengthy than OD&D but we also were more invested in what was going on because everyone was hitting and taking hits.

So far so good. I picked up most of the Essentials products over the holidays as I wanted to own them anyway, which worked out great, as for now we will be continuing along with 4e.