Unearthed Arcana Unearthed Arcana: Sidekicks

Li Shenron

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."

All right, I had three weeks to think about this article, so here come my conclusions: USELESS.

The whole approach of defining sidekick classes is wrong. It is unneeded, unfair, and unreliable.

It's unneeded because these classes are TOO similar to the Fighter, Rogue and the general spellcaster classes chassis. Using the PHB classes instead of these 'variants' is actually better, because it gives a lot more options for sidekicks.

It's unfair because these classes have some new small abilities which are actually interesting, but the regular PCs cannot have them, only sidekicks can.

It's unreliable because these work in such a way that you add class levels on basic MM stats, so a sidekick of level X is actually better than a PC of level X, due to the starting HP/HD and proficiencies in the MM stats.

You might normally want to assume that a sidekick has a level lower than a real PC, but the article only says they level up at the same time, not what level the sidekick should have when you meet. So the article is lacking guidelines for starting sidekick level. It is also needlessly using CR as a limitation, when it is well known that CR is pointless to evaluate an ally of the PCs.

The merits of the article are (1) introducing a few interesting class features, and (2) using a fixed number of spells known to keep a spellcaster ally's complexity down (note that there is actually NO reduction in complexity in the other 2 sidekick classes).

So my conclusion is, to implement sidekicks it would be so much better to:

- create them as regular PCs using PHB classes (already familiar to all, and a lot more versatile)
- scrap the MM stats for anyone who is a playable race, use the actual race instead
- suggest a level limit e.g. sidekick level + monster HD (if not a playable race) < PC level
- introduce the new class features as alternate class features of PHB classes, so that PCs can also take them
- suggest the limit of spells known to sidekick spellcasters as an option

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