One of the fun D&D innovations released in the last year were the official sidekick characters in the D&D Essentials Kit. In my gaming experience, all too often it’s been difficult to pull together 4 or 5 folks for a D&D game. Historically, playing D&D with just a DM and a single player was unwieldy, usually forcing the player to juggle managing two or more characters. Certainly can be done, but it does add a lot of thinking overhead to remember all the different abilities of each character.
Sidekicks remind me of 1st editions henchmen, hired non-player characters brought with adventurers to tackle difficult adventures. Henchmen were usually one-dimensions figures used by players to beef up their group, to help their main characters survive.
5E’s sidekicks present simplified characters whose abilities nicely fit into a single stat block. With a streamlined set of skills, these characters easily augment a small group of characters, making even the DM and single-player a viable option.
Earlier this year I released Terror Beneath the Frozen Gate, a tier-one adventure I wrote with Jeff Stevens and Karl Resch. We designed it to be an adventure that could take new players from level 1 to level 5. My intention was to provide a full set of pre-gens to make it a quick, ready-to-run adventure, but as often happens, there never seems to be enough time to do everything I’d hoped to do.
However, I thought it might be fun to add a set of side-kicks that a small group could use to help run this or any other adventure based in the Great Dale. So this week I released the Circle Initiate, the first of a series of Great Dale themed sidekick characters. Over the coming months, I intend to publish four or five more and finally bundle them into a single collection.
The Circle Initiate took inspiration from the Circle of Leth, a druid order that watches over the vast forests surrounding the Great Dale. These characters bring a host of nature-themed abilities to support player characters, including the ability to augment berries created by the goodberry spell to make them viable healing support as the group advances in level. Cover art for the Circle Initiate by the talented stock art artist Daniel Comerci.
If you have a chance, pick up a copy. I’ve also included it in my Great Dale Campaign bundle allowing you to get it along with my Great Dale Campaign Guide, and a few adventures including Terror Beneath the Frozen Gate.
Interested in finding some other articles on Sidekicks check out the following links:
- Down With DnD Episode #174 – Merwin and Sniezek looked at the sidekicks when they were still in development as an Unearthed Arcana consideration.
- DM David – a post back in 2017 by David Hartlage describing the benefits of augmenting an adventuring party with NPC support, which for me foreshadows the arrival of sidekicks nicesly.
- RPG Bot – an overview of sidekicks, how to use ’em and make your own.
- DnD Duet – a nice overview of using Sidekicks in your games