This morning I finished a draft of the “Apprentice” class feature. I’ve assigned it to the Sorcerer class. I hope someone appreciates that joke.

Throughout the class archetypes, there are beast companions, spirit familiars, astral summons, undead minions — and maybe a henchman. I’m not completely sure about the henchman yet, we’ll see. The point is, players get followers.

And part of the reason for that, is making sure the rules for keeping and controlling followers are ubiquitous — if one PC has a familiar, another might have a beast. Another might raise the dead.

This doesn’t include any NPC hirelings the players might bring along, but if they decide they want a few, it should be easy to run them.

Part of it ensures the rules are everywhere so everyone can understand them. If players can get used to managing two characters — still technically one, since these companions are all just extensions of a single character — then they might feel better in the GM chair controlling a bunch of monsters.

It also helps cement the idea that a single character or monster might be an amalgam of several characters or component parts. It reinforces the “minion” concept, of four creatures counting as a single creature for game balance.

I’m also hoping to codify certain character concepts through contrasting class features — a familiar is like an animal, but is technically more “spirit” than living creature. Minions are numerous and expendable. A beast companion is hardy.

These factors are balanced against things like area-effect attacks — bursts and blasts — making it possible to damage or destroy several creatures at once, consequently making those powers both more effective and desirable.

But if what you really want is damage output, then you’ll almost always want a single-target attack from a striker. Speaking of strikers — I made an inadvertent design decision that I decided to codify in that “strikers work alone.”

Sure, you can dual-class a striker to get a familiar or a companion or whatever — but that isn’t what they’re all about. A striker hits a single target For Massive Damage. They each have a specialty but they have this one thing in common.

All I can think about now is the fun I’m going to have creating the dual-class paragon paths legends. Want to combine a beast companion and a bunch of minions? How about a familiar and an apprentice? Combinatorial Explosion!