Content of the article: "A case for the Essential’s Kit’s NPC Sidekicks"
We are currently playing Descent into Avernus with our DM, two PCs (Sword Bard and Abjuration Wizard) and two of the Essential's Kit Sidekicks (Defender Fighter and Expert) which lorewise are the rich Wizard's bodyguard. We started at Level 3, the sidekicks at level 1 (though they leveled up quickly to 3). It works great.
The two sidekicks together are about as strong as one PC, with each of us controlling one. Together with them and us starting at Level 3 we have enough survivability to avoid early and unfair deaths as well as complete party wipes (one member out of two going down dooms the party or results in constantly having to retreat (especially with us two squishies), this is completely different if you have two other characters to pull your unconscious body out of the fight or finish the last enemy).
With each of us playing 1 1/2 characters (the sidekick being quite different in playstyle for the wizard in particular) fights stay quick and we stay engaged. We find it easy to cooperate when it comes to battle tactics. The sidekicks starting at level 1 means we don't loose the sense of progression from the first two levels. And RP is quicker because it's mostly left to us players and the sidekicks are NPCs RP wise that just follow our orders unless they are completely suicidal or unreasonable. Once they hit level 7+ it's pretty easy for our DM to just continue the level up charts himself (HP progression stays the same, ASI's at ASI level ups are self explanatory. He just needs to pick a weaker class ability once or twice for the remaining levels up to level 10).
It's a great way to make two player parties work, more people need to try it. It creates a tight-knit group, creates a 3 player party balance wise even if you only have two and has a greater (and much fairer) safety net to avoid TPKs. And adding an NPC (or 2-3 weak ones like Skeletons) isn't an issue either. Only bad thing is the usual issue of usually having to skip a session if one person doesn't have time
TL;DR: Only got one, two or three players? Don't want to worry about not having enough PCs in the group, making balancing and the player's experience a (potential) nightmare and resulting in unfair (party) deaths? Your two players feel lonely? Use the sidekicks! They are awesome. Seriously.
- Dungeon masters of reddit, how many player characters do you typically go through in a campaign?
- Ways Around Being the Forever DM
- Party Forming Moments
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