Continuing our new series of reviews for adventures and supplements across D&D, we have a title that we highly recommend to enhance your one-on-one play—The Essentials: Sidekicks Expanded!*
This supplement sets out to add more options, variety, and flexibility to the new sidekick mechanics in 5e, and it thoroughly accomplishes all of those goals.
One of my favorite parts of The Essentials: Sidekicks Expanded is the time Lane takes at the beginning to set up the purpose of sidekicks and how they both add something new to your D&D table and maintain the game’s collaborative spirit. The how-to’s of running a sidekick were minimal in the Essentials Kit, and I appreciate the clarity this piece adds to those possibilities. In short, the sidekick enhances your PC, but the PC remains the hero.
Lane goes on to break down the basic mechanics around the sidekicks’ abilities, which I think would be incredibly helpful for someone who (like me!) tends to play a select type of class and may not be as familiar with all the various weapons and abilities of classes that don’t resonate with them in the same way. These instructional parts of the supplement balance brevity and clarity.
But on to the sidekicks! We have nine new sidekick types in this supplement, which is a great addition to the three from the Essentials Kit and fills many needed gaps. I also like that these are more specific as they will be better positioned to add a lot of value to a PC’s mechanics and abilities.
The supplement also includes spells for the casters among the sidekick options so you have a nice variety without facing an overwhelming number of choices, which is really important for ease and efficiency during combat situations.
From these options, I could see a PC and a DMPC each having a sidekick, and then you have a full party!
Each of the new sidekick types have been fleshed out with a well-developed character so they can be easily inserted into your game. I am especially captivated by Kira, the half-elf duelist, but I’m sure you’ll have your new favorite character and adventure hook. Each of these characters has a stat block for 1st, 3rd, and 5th level so they are ready to go whenever your heroes call on them!
After this, there’s an appendix with tables for levels 7-12, which I find an extra nice touch, especially if you find a sidekick your hero wants to continue working with.
Beyond all of these wonderful aspects, the art and layout for The Essentials: Sidekicks Expanded are wonderful, particularly for the ready-made sidekicks. Each one is evocative of not only a singular character but also the mechanics of that particular sidekick-class.
As a final note, not all players will like using a stat block rather than a character sheet, and Lane’s seen to that as well with the additional Sidekicks Sheets title. For myself, I prefer to navigate the same type of stats all at once, so when I’m running my PC and her three party members in combat, I use character sheets for them. DMs, your players may appreciate this option too!
Our two newest adventures, The Proving Glade and In the Heart of the Forest have joined with The Essentials: Sidekicks Expanded and several other titles in a special sidekicks-focused bundle on DMsGuild!
Read our review of the Essentials Kit or, if you’re trying to decide between the Essentials Kit and Starter Set, or possibly considering both, check out our post comparing these introductory 5e titles!
If you’d like to read more of our reviews, you can find our thoughts on Ulraunt’s Guide to the Planes: The Shadowfell here. Stay tuned for 21 Freaky Forest Encounters, Uncaged Anthology Volumes 1 and 2, Curse of Strahd, Waterdeep: Dragon Heist, Monsters of the Old World, and more!
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