View Full Version : D&D 5e/Next Companion System for 5e - Handling Player Allies in Combat With No Clutter

2018-06-14, 05:13 PM
For a long time I've struggled with my players have temporary companions, allies in combat. They take up space on the battlemat, and a lot of time in Initiative, getting a full suite of actions and movement.

For the current story arc of my campaign the players have the opportunity to gain a lot of companions, mostly because it's a bit of an endurance fest and they need the help. My table has atendency to run slow combats anyway, so this seemed like a nightmare. Instead, I developed an alternate system for handling companions and it's worked really well so far, so I thought I'd share it with you guys.

Basically, each Companion can be "attached" to a PC. Companions have no actions or movement, and don't have a "space" on the battlemap. Essentially, they're mechanically treated as equipment, and are always considered to be "with" the player they're attached to. Companions have a set amount of HP, and a smaller number in parentheses, which is how much they regain during a Short Rest. Whenever a player would take damage, they can use their reaction to Redirect the damage to their companion. For each die of damage, the companion loses 1 HP. So if, for example, a player is hit with a Greatsword for 10 (2d6+3) damage, they can use their reaction to cause their Companion to take 2 damage instead. Similarly, if you want to heal a companion, they recover 1 HP per die of healing. If something for some reason would cause damage or healing without dice, such as a Life Cleric's Channel Divinity, I use an average of 5 per die. Companions also incur Disadvantage on Stealth checks made by the PC they're attached to, to represent another character sneaking alongside them.

Most companions have some sort of 'active' effect they can do, most commonly Helping Hand or Hail of Arrows. These 'active' effects enhance a player's attack, and can be used once per turn, regardless of how many attacks that character can make.

Most of the companions I have presented here are soldiers in the military, and have varying power levels based on their rank. This also means that most of them tend to be more martial than magic or really innovative, but I think you can do a lot with this system outside of just "you do more damage because your ally hits when you hit." You can also add some character elements to the Companions, such as penalties if they're scared of something, or maybe they're greedy and demand some payment.

Because I used this for my home campaign, I didn't bother to cite the images or anything for these, but they can all be found by googling the character's core concept like "brass dragonborn", "female gnome wizard", or "halfling rogue".

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1BqAVYYJ_iCEPxvOQq-6qkVBl3KSvIXJH/view?usp=sharing Google Doc

https://www.gmbinder.com/share/-LEstU7mHItEg2SGeeJC GM Binder