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Companion System

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Ever wanted to have NPCs travel with your party, only to be discouraged by the extra time they add to combat? Or perhaps you want to have that one important NPC adventure with the players, but you want to avoid the infamous DMPC. Or maybe your players just woke up in a jail cell with 10 other NPCs that are all interesting, but keeping them all around is just too much to keep track of.

Fear not! The Companion System is here to solve all of your problems. With this simple system, you can easily track companion NPCs in an abstract way that keeps them relevant and interesting, but allows the PCs to remain front and center.

Originally designed to help deal with all of the NPCs in Out of the Abyss, the Companion System is an easy set of new rules that can be added to any adventure, even an ongoing one. It also includes optional rules for handling mounts, familiars, and ranger beasts as companions.

I did not include my Out of the Abyss companion cards in this document, opting instead for spoiler-free generic companions with art I’m allowed to use, but if you want them, see the comments below.

Looking for even more companion goodness? Check out the new Companion System Companion!

Companion System Companion

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Reviews (4)
Discussions (9)
Customer avatar
Heather M May 10, 2018 3:31 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Can this be used for 3.5 or pathfinder?
Customer avatar
Christopher R May 12, 2018 2:54 am UTC
CREATOR
It's not directly compatible, and most of the example companions make use of 5e-specific rules, but the system at large could be converted relatively easily.
Customer avatar
Heather M May 12, 2018 3:44 pm UTC
PURCHASER
That works. Thanks!
Customer avatar
Duane B April 25, 2018 1:33 am UTC
PURCHASER
How viable is this system for filling out a missing role in a party? Say, a healer or an armored doorstop? I've got a group of three inexperienced players getting ready to learn the ropes, and I'm wanting to avoid either DM NPCing the game or having a new player run two characters.
Customer avatar
Christopher R April 26, 2018 4:12 am UTC
CREATOR
It works very well for filling in a missing party role without taking the spotlight off the players. Companions can have the ability to soak damage, heal, cast spells, add damage to attacks, improve skills, and all kind of other things. The Companion System Companion has some more options that let a companion feel more like an extra character, but the base system is perfectly fine for simple solutions.
Customer avatar
Duane B April 26, 2018 1:57 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Excellent. Sold!
Customer avatar
Taylre G March 13, 2018 4:40 am UTC
PURCHASER
Would it be possible or a good idea to give companions to enemy NPCs?
Customer avatar
Christopher R March 13, 2018 7:17 pm UTC
CREATOR
I've never tested it, but it should work mechanically. I would worry that the players might be frustrated by being unable to attack enemy companions directly, but that will likely depend on your playgroup. I would definitely have them become full monsters once their assignee is dropped, unless they get assigned to another monster right away.
Customer avatar
David M May 08, 2017 3:03 am UTC
PURCHASER
Notice you had a link to OotA NPCS...any for Hoard of Dragon Queen or Rise of Tiamat?
Customer avatar
Christopher R May 08, 2017 6:59 am UTC
CREATOR
Unfortunately I played in that series, and didn't run it, so I never made cards for it.
Customer avatar
Samuel S March 26, 2017 2:01 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Any chance you could provide the specific NPCs from OotA? I see at least one included in the sample NPCs, but was hoping for more. Or maybe I'm not connecting the dots on the rest?
Customer avatar
Christopher R March 27, 2017 8:32 am UTC
CREATOR
Here are the cards I used (plus notes): https://docs.google.com/document/d/1Kb6Ik20E6JagJdW_MzhauNM5ffjPr8iDeUWLFNEKe5g/edit?usp=sharing

They aren't in the main rules because the art is copyrighted.
Customer avatar
Samuel S April 01, 2017 7:47 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Thanks! That's great.
Customer avatar
Romain G February 15, 2017 2:31 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Very nice job. I'm gonna use it for a french campaign ("invincible"). In order to leveled correctly my NPCs, I agree with David for more sets of ready NPCs.
Thanks again for your job
Customer avatar
Christopher R March 13, 2018 7:19 pm UTC
CREATOR
I just put up the Companion System Companion, which has 36 more example companions. =)

http://www.dmsguild.com/product/236860/Companion-System-Companion
Customer avatar
David M February 10, 2017 5:39 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Very nice, you should create more sets of ready NPCs
Customer avatar
Christopher R February 11, 2017 4:03 am UTC
CREATOR
I'd be into doing that if there's enough interest.
Customer avatar
Christopher R March 13, 2018 7:19 pm UTC
CREATOR
It has been done. http://www.dmsguild.com/product/236860/Companion-System-Companion
Customer avatar
October 07, 2016 7:48 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Can we get a printable version without the background? That'd be great.
Customer avatar
Christopher R October 07, 2016 7:53 pm UTC
CREATOR
Sure thing. It should be up there now.
Customer avatar
Emil V September 03, 2016 3:57 am UTC
Has anyone tried this?
Customer avatar
matt L September 04, 2016 7:08 am UTC
Yes, highly recommended. For the first session of Out of the Abyss that I DM'd, I was playing as all the NPCs for the encounters, while my players only played as their characters. I felt like they spent too much time watching me play than actually participating. I found this and implemented it for session two, and my players love it. Not only do they become more involved, it results in them becoming more invested in the NPCs that have joined the party, and build more meaningful relationships with them. The loyalty bonuses are almost like giving them each a magic item, and we all know how players love those. Enjoy
Customer avatar
Kirk L September 10, 2016 8:42 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Agreed. Our DM also starting using this for Out of the Abyss and we love it. I started using it in my own game that I'm running and it's has been very handy for adding interesting characters into the game without taking too much attention away from the main characters.
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File Last Updated:
March 12, 2018
This title was added to our catalog on August 31, 2016.