Not every being that your players meet in the lands of Sburb will be an adversary or a passive non-participant. Some may be friendly and skilled in combat, or at least neutral and potentially convinced to assist through mutual interests, debts of gratitude, or simple mercenary desires. You can use such characters to help display themes of cause-and-effect within the game (for example, the simple War-weary Villein who eventually rises to lead an insurrection against the Black King), to put the player’s actions in the context of a larger conflict between greater forces (a First Guardian who chooses to help in order to steer the course of events and set the preconditions for the arrival of the mighty Lord English), or simply to add an interesting new social dynamic to the game (introducing fellow Players of SBURB from another session who arrive to assist your players for reasons of their own).
Just like Sprites and Server Cursors, Companion Characters can serve a very useful purpose not only to advance the story but also to give control of to players who aren’t currently in the spotlight and therefore keep them engaged. While it may be tempting to use one of these characters as a personal stand-in or permanent addition to the player’s group that allows you to add an influencing “voice” to their decision-making, be wary of over-doing it. When overused, a companion character can diminish the sense of choice for your players and make them feel like a sideshow to the ‘real’ story. If your whole party of Players is gathered together and the Companion Character’s assistance is no longer required, you may find it best for them to discover important errands or decide to pursue personal goals rather then linger about.
When designing combat encounters, treat a Companion Character as the equivalent of another normal Player for the purposes of experience and difficulty.
Creating a Companion character:
1.) Assign the companion character a level. You should almost always set this to be equal to the level of the players or within one above or below the party level. A particularly over-powered or weak Companion might also make a decent plot device, but preferably for only a short period of time.
2.) Choose their combat role. The role you choose determines not only the basic statistics of the character but also influences what powers they may choose. There are 4 roles to choose from: Controller (influences battlefield conditions and limits enemy options), Defender (draws attacks to themselves and away from other characters), Striker (attempts to isolate and finish off individual enemies), and Leader (gives bonuses to allies).
3.) Determine hit points. If the companion character is a Leader or a Striker, it will have hit points equal to 18 + (5 x level). If they are a Controller, it will be equal to 15 + (4 x level). If a Defender, their hit points will be equal to 20 + (6 x level).
4.) Calculate defenses. A Companion Character will have an Armor Class equal to 15 + level. If they are a Defender, add 2 points to their armor. If a Controller, subtract 2 points. Their other three defenses will always, regardless of role, operate off a baseline of 13 + level. At your discretion, you may increase one non-Armor defense by 2 points and reduce another by 2 points to compensate.
5.) Select at least 2 and up to 3 powers for the character from the list after this section. At least one power should be an At-Will, otherwise the Companion may run out of things to do very quickly!
6.) Pick 2 trained skills that are appropriate for the Companion. Ideally, at least one of these skills will be one that the Players are already trained in. The companion will have a Skill check modifier of 6 + level for those skills, and 1 + level for all others. If necessary, you can give the Companion one or two additional trained skills to fill out key gaps in the party’s abilities, but don’t overdue it.
7.) If appropriate, modify the Companion’s statistics using a Companion Template from the list following this section. Only choose one template. If two or more might apply, rather then combining them try to determine which template’s mechanical traits would best represent the character.