JP On Gaming

Saturday, May 28, 2022

[New for Gencon] Replacement Characters

This year, I have really gone overboard with new ideas and material to bring to the game table. In addition to a full slate of events (who are selling out nicely, see all the FOE events and slots there are fewer and fewer availability every day), one of the things I am going to add this year are sidekicks.

As I wrote the specials, I was stuck in a position where characters might die or be left for dead. Which in turn might leave someone with nothing to do. I really hate that and "just pretend you didn't die" really takes away from the events that are happening. I wanted to have a way where death could be real, but that would allow the player to keep experiencing the adventure. Nothing worse than showing up for a paid event, die soon after and be done, especially when there are multiple possible replacements within shouting distance. In a home game, the player might get a short-term NPC to complete the scene or current event before either leaving or fading into the background. How many times did "Jimmy the Guard" suddenly became a recurring character or contact of the party after being played as a sub?

Since many of the specials take place in or near urban locations where there are many people about, the idea of "replacement characters" made sense. So having them handy required making them! I created first two for Olympia: an hoplite and a psiloi (archer) as both made a lot of sense from the people available nearby. Which then led to the idea of creating some for Akhamet - a guard and an acolyte.

I commission fellow Canadian John F Ridley (Inspector97) for the art and thus these guys immediately began taking shape. (As I write this, he is working on them).

But JP, why would I want to play a sidekick? You ask. Simply, the sidekicks are going to be available only during special events (every evenings and the Sunday morning finale), or by player choice. They are built using the rules found in Tasha's Cauldron of Everything. When I first looked at them, I was not impressed. But after using them for Witches of Pikemaster, I found them to be surprisingly fun and interesting. Not as powerful as regular characters, but decent enough to be useful while not overwhelming the table.

So how do I go from a sidekick to "Jimmy the Guard"? This one was a little more complicated however, inspiration struck during a conversation with a fellow DM. When someone plays a sidekick and should the sidekick survives the adventure, that sidekick will become an NPC to be written in future adventures. So if "Megakles the Hoplite" survives the adventure, he will be written in future adventures and supplements. Perhaps he becomes an officer, a respected citizen, or an adventurer of his own.

More Gencon news to come...

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