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My character's backstory is that he had to flee his city because he used a spell to save his best friend in the city watch. He is from a made-up city where spells and powerful magic were privileges that only nobility could have; it was illegal for commoners other than having simple magic items, like a broom that sweeps by itself.

My character had been studying in secret and is a level 3 fighter with Eldritch Knight archetype. Background: City Watch (from Sword Coast Adventurers Guide)

Note: this is actually a replacement character in case my main one dies or if I play a campaign that starts at level 3.

Is there a way to establish that his best friend ran away with my character and become a companion or something? Or, does that have to stay in my backstory?

While I realize that some responses will be "ask your DM" I'm looking for (1) if there is a way to do this and (2) if you have experience in making this work.

This is my third D&D character so I'm still new-ish to the game and I'm not entirely sure if this is feasible and/or practical.

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    \$\begingroup\$ To me, an excellent answer to this question would describe their own experiences either running or playing in a campaign where a PC had a companion alongside them. Say how it was handled, what to avoid or watch out for, and how it felt for the rest the players and the GM, especially how it impacted things like spotlighting the PC with the companion and how the companion was handled (did the player have a say or was it solely the GM, or a mix of both?) \$\endgroup\$ – Medix2 Mar 9 at 16:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ I do feel this question can be answered along those lines, and have not voted to close it \$\endgroup\$ – Medix2 Mar 9 at 16:11
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    \$\begingroup\$ The title asks a slightly different question than the question - "can" vs "is this a good idea". I think the better question is the one asked in the question and that @Medix2 identifies; I'd recommend looking at the title and rewording it along those lines. \$\endgroup\$ – ESCE Mar 9 at 16:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KorvinStarmast yes thank you. also, i currently have PHB and Xanathar, and will be getting Tasha's soon \$\endgroup\$ – PvParkour Mar 9 at 16:16
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    \$\begingroup\$ Is the goal to have a 2nd playable character?, have an NPC that helps the party with challenges? have an NPC that is there for theme and does not assist in overcoming experience granting obstacles? \$\endgroup\$ – GcL Mar 9 at 17:28
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Tasha's Cauldron of Everything has rules for sidekicks.

In the section on Sidekicks, we see:

This section provides a straightforward way to add a special NPC—called a sidekick—to the group of adventurers. These rules take a creature with a low challenge rating and give it levels in one of three simple classes: Expert, Spellcaster, or Warrior.

A sidekick can be incorporated into a group at the party’s inception, or a sidekick might join them during the campaign. For example, the characters might meet a villager, an animal, or another creature, forge a friendship, and invite the creature to join them on their adventures.

It goes on to give detailed rules for each sidekick class. Speak with your DM about implementing these features for the character, choosing an appropriate sidekick archetype for the backup character's class, converting it to a proper player-character when you retire your previous character.

Note, these are optional features and it is entirely up to the DM to implement them or not.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Wow that was fast. Thanks, I don't have Tasha's Cauldron yet, so I didn't know that was a thing. \$\endgroup\$ – PvParkour Mar 9 at 16:10
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    \$\begingroup\$ @PvParkour It was originally in the D&D essentials boxed starter adventure (the side kick feature) \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Mar 9 at 16:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KorvinStarmast ohhh, i dont have that either ok \$\endgroup\$ – PvParkour Mar 9 at 16:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ @PvParkour no need to go out and get it ... \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Mar 9 at 16:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KorvinStarmast yea it's fine, i dont think ill be one of those people who has all the books and makes unnecessarily complex characters :) also, you guys on RPG Stackexchange answer much faster than any of the other one's i'm on \$\endgroup\$ – PvParkour Mar 9 at 16:26
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Another option, if your DM doesn't use the sidekick option (I, as a DM, dislike it), is to choose the "Noble" background, which can come with up to 3 retainers, or a "squire". You can reskin that as your friend instead of your squire, and there you are.

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    \$\begingroup\$ This is a great question for an answer like this! Can you add some details about what you've let those retainers do for OP? \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Mar 10 at 0:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ That's very much in the DM's purview, and I don't really have anything to say about that. The Noble background is in the PHB, without much guidance about it, and every DM that has a player with that background will need to decide what that means in their world. I've been playing for 43 years. In previous editions, it was much easier to get minions, followers, charmed and enchanted creatures, and so on. \$\endgroup\$ – PhilB Mar 10 at 3:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ I and my players are very used to having those, and even in 5e, with the restrictions it has, my main campaign's party has managed to gather several animals, familiars, and minions. I do generally let those do more than the rules tend to suggest, because we are all comfortable with that. I can't tell another DM what limits they should put on such activity. \$\endgroup\$ – PhilB Mar 10 at 3:08

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