Unearthed Arcana Unearthed Arcana: Sidekicks

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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.

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.

Could be a more generic supplement in the works, too: if this was intended for a setting book, it could be just about anything...


Elder Thing
This UA mostly illustrates to me just how much I dislike the subclass system. I thought I just really didn't like the wizard, but the way the Spellcaster is laid out here really brings it home.

I think that if the game just had 20 classes (or however many), it would bug me less. But I find the subclass system limits possibilities more than it expands them, and I like the "less is more" approach to these "sidekick" classes.

As an NPC building tool, I think they're great. As actual henchpeople? Not so much. But I really want to see where this one goes.

Obviously, sidekicks are the means for the warlord class to do its thing (can't control the other players, but you can control your flunkies), so I am going to say this is part of the Nethir Vale sourcebook. I kid. I kid. [On the other hand redefining the warlord as the martial summoning class might fit 5e more.....].


Mass combat & sidekicks equals...Birthright? Or Olde School Greyhawk? (Mordenkainen & his forty apprentices....)

Speculation is fun.


I'll take a Giant Eagle Spellcaster(Cleric) sidekick please and thank you lol

I'll take an Eberron halfling moon driud that wildshapes into a deinonychus who has a deinonychus sidekick that she can ride (while also a deinonychus—because, yo dawg).


I agree completely that this are more specific and can draw the focus away from the heroes. I really do like the flexibility of telling a story regardless of my party composition, or to allow me to introduce important characters that don't weirdly sit on the sidelines when facing important monsters. But they should have the following abilities:

Beef (Warrior): A sack of hit points that distract monsters and do a steady but low damage output. Finishing moves and damage spikes are all handled by the heroes, but allows the heroes to take on higher level encounters than they would on their own. Big boon for a party full of squishy heroes that players love.

Enabler (Expert): Can have expertise in a skill that the group lacks to keep the story moving (a pirate captain in a party where no one has water vehicles), and can dish out some advantage for the heroes to accomplish some important things, gives the help action to make the heroes do what they do even better. But never solves the lock the group's thief can't handle.

McGuffin (Spellcaster): I can think of only one reason to employ a complicated class like spellcaster to make them a plot point. While Warriors and Experts make good plot point characters I also use them to fill holes, like a critical skill or some survivability. I only include spellcasters as travel buddies for one major reason. The priestess who can cleanse the temple, the wizard who knows the sequence of runes that opens the portal to the Abyss, the Druid who asks the heroes accompany him to a harvest festival where the story eventually starts. I'd give them a Warlock spell progression to keep them lean on options and tracking and cantrip focused, and give them ritual casting to allow them to meet other needs. If they cast wish, it's only because there is a wish scroll at the end of the dungeon and no one in the party can handle scrolls.

I'd rather focus on the stories DM tells, and keeping PC's at the center than just trying to make sure equivalent groups are out there.

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.

Adding one feature to the sidekick every time you level isn't exactly difficult... What these rules make "easy" is to upgrade your sidekick to an appropriate power level, without having to recalculate CR to see if it's too strong or weak.

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