(Note: this question comes by suggestion from my previous question)

I am starting to DM the Lost Mine of Phandelver campaign for my girlfriend. She wants to make a Wood elf ranger. She is quite inexperienced so I plan to make one DMPC to help her, but I am wondering what kind of character would be a good fit to complement her ranger?

Would you go for fighter, paladin, or some other? I have some experience as fighter and barbarian, so it would certainly help it, but I dont mind taking a different one. I heard rogue are nice too?

Additionally, I may let her know that she may hire some NPC if it is turning out to be too difficult with only 2.

I am aware that a ranger is probably not a great choice for fights in the mines, but I would like to keep her choice if possible.

What are your suggestions? Thanks in advance

Edit: What am I looking for: in asking this question, I am mostly focusing on finding a way for her ranger to not be too weak to survive versus monsters. I would like her to be the main damage dealer and decision maker, but if it is necessary to have someone suck up some damage and assisting her with healing, that would be me. Of course, other more stealthy characters may work too I guess? My concern is whether she will always be overwhelmed with enemies.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Are you looking to maximize the effectiveness of the duo in battle? Leaving a few "holes" might inspire creativity. \$\endgroup\$ – Szega Oct 4 '17 at 8:47
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    \$\begingroup\$ I am open to anything honestly, as long as I try to keep her as her chosen class. The additional character may not be so effective in battle and be more creative instead, as long as the spotlight is on her character. Basically, she will be the main character :) \$\endgroup\$ – Sos Oct 4 '17 at 8:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ I am still unsure of your criteria. What does the other character have to be able to do? \$\endgroup\$ – Szega Oct 4 '17 at 8:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ I am still not absolutely sure. Basically, I just want to make sure that she is able to survive encounters, which is why I was suggesting a fighter (i.e. some PC that may tank and be on front lines). But, if you think some other PC (e.g. rogue) would work, I can adapt myself to play it \$\endgroup\$ – Sos Oct 4 '17 at 8:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ I am sorry if I am not being as helpful as possible, it is my first time DMing \$\endgroup\$ – Sos Oct 4 '17 at 8:57

I'm going to challenge the frame: I argue you shouldn't make a DMPC to help her.

  1. Doing so doubles-down on the power-imbalance that already exists: not only is there the usual GM-player imbalance in setting/adventure knowledge, but you've got an advantage on system knowledge. Adding a DMPC into the mix capitalizes on both of those. Or doesn't, because you're spending a lot of time worrying about overshadowing her, so you hobble the DMPC. In either case, a DMPC is a thing fraught with risk and should only be employed if necessary.

  2. It's not necessary: the ranger's actually decently built for solo play. They've got decent HP and martial capabilities, can extricate themselves from a fight, some healing and utility magic, a good selection of survival skills. Pile on the wood elf traits and there's some nice synergy: speed and masks of the wild can (with a generous GM) get one away from trouble, starting with +3 in both DEX and WIS is excellent for skills and combat and spellcasting, darkvision and free perception proficiency....

    Okay, here's what it comes down to: all those things that make me mock rangers incessantly as a party member--they make the ranger shine solo. Hero points or bonus-action potions of healing might be necessary, as in any duet, but less so than with a solo wizard who goes down with one hit or a solo fighter who keeps wading into thickets of hostiles.

  3. It's not necessary: she can choose the character helping her. LMoP is full of NPCs who can help her. If she really gloms on to Sildar then she'll keep coming back to that well and you play Sildar as her companion. Or you stat up Garaele as a L2 cleric and have her come along to Conyberry. ("I'd like to hire you as a guide/traveling companion" rather than "I'd like to hire you to deliver this.") When I dueted this with my newly-playing son he, playing a fighter, sorta turned it into a buddy-flick with Sildar--this gave me an in-game voice to "instruct" him in how to effectively play a martial character. And he still "goes to visit Sildar" every once in a while.

    And don't forget: if she goes beastmaster (at L3), there's another helper built in!

  • \$\begingroup\$ I was going to recommend a cleric, due to undead turning and healing, and OK combat, but I find that your frame challenge is a better way to introduce someone into the game. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Oct 4 '17 at 13:26

I feel like a defensive Paladin build would be an excellent complement to the suggested ranger, especially if the spotlight should be on her. Make sure to pick options that support the ranger, either by having the paladin boosting his/her own survival or providing healing to both self and ranger.
Maybe even see if you can come up with a narrative justification for why the ranger should be making most of the decisions in the party.

The idea of having an additional NPC to help out is a good one, but make sure to present it as part of the narrative. So it's more "Do you want to accept the help of this Dwarven Fighter?" and less "You're not doing good enough, here have this Barbarian to meatshield for you"


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