This is an idea I hit upon yesterday, when I was at the height of a really weird train of thought (how’s that for a mixed metaphor) — a character’s mode, to complement their role and their tactics. I was thinking about minions, once again, not to mention familiars, summons, henchmen, companions, and all that good stuff. How do you balance tactics against each other? How can it be fun and fair?

The concept draws from Fourth Edition’s idea that an animal companion and its master share actions. You might control two pieces on the field, but you don’t get more attacks than anyone else. In theory, it’s a fantastic idea. It balances the damage of a character like a ranger against other strikers. It puts an extra piece on the board, though.

Some characters are defined by their relationships, and it’s important to support these character types while still allowing them to be balanced against each other. Sometimes you have a lone drifter, a pair of adventurers, or a power trio. Sometimes a character has a faithful animal companion, a chatty familiar, or three stooges to follow them.

The basic idea is that while you “roll up” one character, you decide if they’re a single character, or back-to-back badasses. Maybe they have a companion or two, or they have a group of henchmen, but the point is that regardless of their “mode,” they have one set of actions. They count for a single character, tactically speaking.

From that point, you can pick and choose if the difference is a cosmetic one, or if you choose additional features that take advantage of their “mode.” It would be like choosing to equip a big hammer to take advantage of your character’s strength, or equipping a dagger because you like the idea of a concealable weapon.

Then, the game doesn’t penalize you for choosing tactics that don’t suit your “mode,” but instead rewards you for playing the type. Maybe the rewards don’t translate into a specific combat advantage, but instead affect other areas of gameplay, so there isn’t a correlation between appearance and advantage. Or maybe I’m just weird.