Pathfinder 2e has different rules available for various forms of “companions” between the Core Rulebook, and its various supplements. Between the loyal animal companions of Rangers and Druids, evil Clerics creating undead, or the powerful eidolons of Summoners, Paizo delivers a rule set for everyone. Even Inventors can craft mechanical companions and lead them into battle! With all of these options though, there is still a gap that has yet to be filled, and that’s follower companions…
Followers have been popularized in various video games over the years, and typically exist to fill gaps in the party. The most common example is when one role is not filled in a party. A party that consists of members dealing damage, with one support character or another dedicated to healing, might lack someone who is good at soaking up damage and keeping the enemies away from the other, squishier party members. A follower can be implemented to fill in the missing “Tank” role. While still giving the player the option to play any roll, an additional role is employed as a follower.
Unlike animal companions, constructs, undead, and eidolons, followers are typically intelligent creatures capable of the same levels of strategy and reasoning that the player characters are. This means they are usually not bestial creatures, but are often of similar ancestries of the player characters- humans, elves, dwarves, etc. The other thing that usually separates followers from other kinds of companions in mediums like video games is that their equipment can be changed over time, just like a player character’s can. To learn more about follower equipment, see the stat blocks that are presented later in this article. This is a modular expansion and how to implement the general framework of Follower Companion rules in Pathfinder 2e
Follower Stat Blocks
When implementing Follower Companions, it is tempting to create another full character using a normal player character sheet and make them the same level as the other members of the party, but then the balancing issues arrive. Moreover, it is also cumbersome to manage multiple character sheets as the party gains levels.
Having trouble choosing between the multitude of stat blocks and companion rules in all the different books released by Paizo? It turns out there is a synergy between all of the printed stat blocks that can easily be used for Follower Companions. These can be found in the Non-Player Character stat blocks. Follower Companions are NPCs after all, so they should be treated as such. NPC stat blocks are just stripped down and streamlined versions of PC stat blocks. This ranges from having a few skills or abilities at minimum and nothing else too complicated to run. This guide presents an easier to manage and more compact presentation.
Now that a character sheet has been chosen, it is time to fill it out. To date, Paizo doesn’t present any clear rules for how to make an even playing field for the existing types of companions in the various rulebooks. There are some rules around building monsters, presented in the Gamemastery Guide, though, and the three Bestiaries have monster families and monster templates for building custom made creatures. When compared, monster stat blocks are the same as NPC stat blocks in terms of rules written. Finding equilibrium between the levels of the monster creatures and NPC characters must be carefully considered.
Since the Gamemastery Guide does a really good job of presenting the rules for creating monsters that we will be repurposing for our follower companions, you can look at them there. For those of you without a physical copy of the GMG, you can of course find these rules on The Archives of Nethys as well. When following these rules, there are a couple things to keep in mind however.
The first task to complete is how to decide what level to make a follower. Followers should be the same level as the average level of the party that they will be accompanying. Whenever the player characters gain a level, so should any follower companions. When a Follower Companion gains a level, be sure to adjust their ability scores, skills, saving throws, hp, etc. to be appropriate for their new level.
Keep in mind that since follower companions are almost always humanoid, their INT modifier shouldn’t go any lower than -3, as per the Creature Building rules of the Gamemastery Guide.
Follower Companions will be able to equip various weapons just as PCs do. In order to not complicate the weapon rules, weapon damage is not derived from the creature building rules like the other stats, but instead is determined by the equipped weapon(s). Unarmed attack damage is calculated just as it would be for player characters.
One of the last things to consider balancing is when to give followers new abilities and what these abilities should be. One way to approach this would be to pick a class for the follower and then give them class feats for every level that a PC of that class would get. In my opinion though, this isn’t the best way to handle this. Remember that one of the goals of the simplified character sheet for companions is to make them easier to manage and less cumbersome to use. As such, follower companions, like the other kinds of companions, use the creature abilities from the various Bestiary books, or you can create your own or use feats from player character classes. Exactly how many abilities you give a follower companion is up to you, but a good rule of thumb to use is to have a follower companion start with one or two abilities at level 1, and then gain another one or two abilities roughly every five levels.
Let’s take a look at an example follower.
Skills Acrobatics +9, Ruin Lore +7, Stealth +10, Survival +9, Thievery +10
Str +1, Dex +4, Con +1, Int +1, Wis +2, Cha +3
Items hand crossbow (10 bolts), kukri, kukri, leather armor, thieves tools
AC 18; Fort +6, Ref +12, Will +9
Speed 25 feet
Melee kukri +10 (agile, finesse, sneak attack, trip), Damage 1d6+1 piercing
Ranged hand crossbow +10 (range 60 feet, reload 1), Damage 1d6 piercing
Hazard Spotter Sara automatically attempts a secret Perception check to notice when they are within 10 feet of a hazard.
Sneak Attack Sara deals an extra 1d6 precision damage to flat-footed creatures.
When followers enter combat it is integral to maintain the delicate balance of the Pathfinder 2e system. Giving followers their own turn in initiative might seem straightforward but will ultimately bog down combat with a extra turns to manage. There is a natural reasoning for other companions not do this. To maintain continuity with the other types of PC companions and to keep the game’s math in check, use this new Specialty Basic Action called Issue Orders.
You issue an order to a follower companion. The follower companion gains one action during your turn. This action can be used to perform any Basic Action or one-action ability the follower companion has.
Anyone can use this action that is in good standing with the Follower Companion, and it does not require a feat or any particular skill proficiencies to do so.
While anyone can Issue Orders to a Follower Companion, some player characters might be particularly adept at doing so. The Leadership and Improved Leadership feats (Diplomacy) enhance the Issue Orders action to become even more powerful.
LeadershipFEAT 1Prerequisites trained in Diplomacy
Follower Companions gain 2 actions during your turn if you use the Issue Orders action to command them; this is in place of the usual effects of Issue Orders.
Improved LeadershipFEAT 2Prerequisites expert in Diplomacy, Leadership
When you Issue Orders to a follower companion, you may spend 2 actions instead of 1 in order to give the follower companion 3 actions.
Since followers are usually humanoid, they need to be outfitted with gear. Follower Companions can wear armor and wield weapons to protect themselves as normal. If you look at the example stat block above, you’ll notice there is one discrepancy from typical monster stat blocks. There are weapon and armor proficiencies. This is done to limit the gear that a particular Follower Companion can use, both thematically and for balance. These same considerations are normally used when creating monsters however, monsters’ equipment does not increase over time. Monster stat blocks only have Weak and Elite options that do not translate well to an NPC stat block.
Normally, a Follower Companion’s armor doesn’t directly affect their Armor Class. Instead, the table in the Gamemastery Guide that is used to determine an NPC’s Armor Class assumes they are using a reasonable piece of gear for their level. If a Follower Companion is equipped with a particularly sturdy piece of armor, you might consider using the column from the table that is one step higher to reflect that. Of course, any traits or special effects of the equipped armor should be applied to the Follower Companion, regardless of what you set their AC to.
For Follower Companions whose equipment will change drastically over the course of the campaign, it might be beneficial for the Follower Companion to have their own pool of currency and vie for a share of the rewards. Followers use the same equipment that player characters do, and can benefit from magic items and use Gifts or other abilities granted by Relics and Artifacts, just like player characters can.