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Unearthed Arcana Unearthed Arcana: Sidekicks

New playtest material fro WoTC. https://media.wizards.com/2018/dnd/downloads/UA_Sidekicks.pdf I think this would be my DM's nightmare if implemented.


paladinn

Explorer
Looking at this a bit more.. These are Exactly the sort of generic classes I'd want to play. The warrior takes pretty much the fighter class and adds a bit from the subclasses. Same with the expert/ rogue. The spellcaster melds features from the sorcerer with the wizard chassis.

All that's really missing there is some means of turning/ affecting undead (for clerical casters) and possibly wildshape (for druidic casters). Maybe just make them into spells at the appropriate level?

You get all the essential features of each "main" class without the complexity of taking a subclass. Then just allow free multiclassing between them and Bob's your uncle!
 

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CapnZapp

Legend
My analysis: nah, still WAY too complicated. Like, crazily complicated - if I ever wanted something like that, why not simply use PHB classes (and online character generators)?

Any NPC ally's levelling should be limited to something like:
* for every level the ally gains, add one Hit Die, and use the average method of increasing maximum hit points (don't roll).
* when the party/friend gains a proficiency bonus increase, the ally does too. This means +1 to attack rolls, ability checks (skills), saving throws and spell save DCs.
* when the party/friend levels into a new tier (=reaches levels 5, 11, or 16), add one more damage die (or set of damage dice) to each of the ally's attacks. (1d6 becomes 2d6 or maybe 1d12. 2d4 becomes 4d4 or perhaps better 2d8)
* the following concerns allies with primary spellcasting abilities, not every monster that can cast a spell.
** allies with spellcasting abilities gain one extra slot of its highest level each time it levels.
** allies with spellcasting abilities gain access to the next higher level of spells every other time it levels.
** as for which spells it can select, the player can give suggestions, but the decision is up to the DM. Make sure the player understands how the majority of 5E NPCs happily use substandard spells no discerning PC would ever use, and that there will be no minmax spell selection.

I wouldn't mess about with ability score increases. In some cases it can be appropriate to give the ally a signature feat (such as giving Great-Weapon Master to the barbarian woman when you've helped her become Chieftain of her tribe), but any more than that, and the NPC isn't simple anymore.

Likewise with magic items. If the player wants to equip the ally with a Flame Tongue, you can't very well deny him or her that, and the NPC attacks needs to be updated accordingly. But I would discourage item use in general. 5E monsters generally don't use items; their stat blocks are supposed to be sufficient as is. A NPC with many items isn't simple anymore.

NPCs that aren't simple any more should be recreated as full characters, and not be allowed to reach the same level as any party member.

Using both NPC stats (with their bloated hp totals) AND items, feats, and player class abilities is abusing the rules, and should be avoided. EITHER simple NPCs or underleveled classed characters with items and abilities. Not both.
 

CapnZapp

Legend
Looking at this a bit more.. These are Exactly the sort of generic classes I'd want to play.
As a note:

I'm giving the document a low grade for its intended purpose. That is not a grade on alternative usages.

Tl; dr: I'm happy you found a use for the classes presented!
 

MarkB

Legend
I'd definitely go with a more Warlock-like approach for the Spellcaster. A good selection of cantrips so that they always have something useful to do, but a very limited repertoire of spells known and spell slots, refreshing on a short rest. A sidekick can far better afford to be a specialist than a PC can.

As it stands, I'm imagining what it would be like to have one player with both a wizard and a Spellcaster-levelled sidekick familiar. That's going to be a slow turn during combat.

On the note of sidekick familiars, I'd allow it, but the cost to re-summon the familiar after it dies increases exponentially with character level. Otherwise the party essentially has a disposable team-member who can be cheaply sacrificed and replaced for far less than the cost of a Revivify, let alone a Resurrection.
 

JPL

Adventurer
Are there stats out there for a sage? Because a sage sidekick would be a lot of fun. Maybe he's maxed out in Arcana and History, and follows around a low-Intelligence PC sorcerer or warlock who lacks those proficiencies . . . one knows everything about magic but can't do it, one can do it but doesn't understand it.
 

JPL

Adventurer
Are there stats out there for a sage? Because a sage sidekick would be a lot of fun. Maybe he's maxed out in Arcana and History, and follows around a low-Intelligence PC sorcerer or warlock who lacks those proficiencies . . . one knows everything about magic but can't do it, one can do it but doesn't understand it.

Further inspiration: that big kid from "How to Train Your Dragon," whose main skill set is "Memorized the Monster Manual."
 

You get all the essential features of each "main" class without the complexity of taking a subclass. Then just allow free multiclassing between them and Bob's your uncle!

I find the juxtaposition of these two sentences confusing. I don't understand how using a subclass is complexity. If you buy a bunch of third party stuff you might suffer analysis paralysis at the level when you must choose a subclass. But once chosen, using the subclass is not in any way complex.

OTOH, multiclassing is somehow not complex? Huh? It messes with ASIs and it might require you to combine your spell slots in weird ways. But somehow multiclassing is not complex?

But let's focus of subclasses being complex as I do not understand this concept.
 

vecna00

Speculation Specialist Wizard
I really like these as they are presented. They're mostly designed for smaller groups, but also work well for drop in/drop out NPCs. I can see this working for a special mount, beast companion, or familiar at a cost....maybe a special quest!

This would also work as a very tangible reward for exceptional role-playing for those using milestone XP.

I'm interested in what kind of book this might be planned for...

That was one of my first thoughts: "Where does this fit?"

It was mentioned there would be a campaign setting released next year, what setting does this work best in? The first one that comes to mind is Dark Sun. Between the half-elf's animal companion, all of the followers PCs could amass at later levels (if they decide to go that route these days), it could also be an alternative to the old Character Trees. It could also work for Birthright (wishful thinking) with ALL of the retainers. Spelljammer could also benefit from this. A PC is the captain of a ship and leaves his sidekick in charge when the party disembarks to do PC-type things.

It doesn't even have to be Spelljammer. With the last UA covering ship stuff, this could roll right into that. Or something else entirely. The PCs have their Castle of Greatness (TM and Patent Pending), they leave their sidekicks in charge while they run out to topple the big bad. The big bad launches a surprise attack on the castle and the PCs now take control of their sidekicks.
 

paladinn

Explorer
I find the juxtaposition of these two sentences confusing. I don't understand how using a subclass is complexity. If you buy a bunch of third party stuff you might suffer analysis paralysis at the level when you must choose a subclass. But once chosen, using the subclass is not in any way complex.

OTOH, multiclassing is somehow not complex? Huh? It messes with ASIs and it might require you to combine your spell slots in weird ways. But somehow multiclassing is not complex?

But let's focus of subclasses being complex as I do not understand this concept.

The class/subclass concept in 5e Requires one to take a subclass. Even if you just want to be "just a fighter", you have to go Champion. "Just a rogue" Requires one to go Thief. As designed, you can't be a generalist Wizard (I don't consider War Mage as a real generalist)

The classes here would more easily facilitate "generic" classes. And multiclassing, IMHO, would be easier without factoring in all the extraneous class features of the subclasses.
 

JPL

Adventurer
Are there stats out there for a sage? Because a sage sidekick would be a lot of fun. Maybe he's maxed out in Arcana and History, and follows around a low-Intelligence PC sorcerer or warlock who lacks those proficiencies . . . one knows everything about magic but can't do it, one can do it but doesn't understand it.

Sidekick Expert (Sage)
Bonus Proficiencies:
Intelligence saving throws
Skills (5) - Arcana, History, Investigation, Nature, Religion
Light Armor
Simple Weapons
Tools (2) - Cartographer’s tools, Calligrapher’s tools
Expertise - Double proficiency bonus on Arcana and History checks.
Helpful - Can take the Help action as bonus action

Feels like there's a good build out there for a generic henchman / hireling of all trades . . . start Animal Handling, maybe cook's tools or cartographer's tools, some basic "stay alive" stuff like Survival and Perception? Maybe build it off of guard or scout?
 

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