I am starting a Pathfinder game. It will be my first time DM'ing, though I have played 3.x and Pathfinder for a few years. The party will consist of my girlfriend, my best friend, and his girlfriend. My gf has played a handful of 3.5 sessions, and neither of the others has ever played a pen-and-paper game.
I am worried, because in the past I have played with small parties, and it is very limiting in terms of the things that can be done and the enemies that can be faced. In some reading on SE I heard gestalt characters or each player playing multiple characters mentioned, but these are new players, and Pathfinder, and I don't want to overwhelm them. My solution to this is to make an NPC that will be part of the party, but mostly controlled by either me, or them as a group.
I have read extensively on SE on how GMPCs ruin the fun for many parties, and I want to avoid that. I have considered making the NPC a representation of my girlfriend's corgi. In the game, he'll be a Worgi (Combination of Worg and Corgi). I'll make him unable to speak, though he'll understand a few languages. Out of combat, he'll follow the party like a member though not contribute much apart from an occasion skill check, and in combat I'll have him do whatever they tell him to do / whatever would come natural to a loyal dog.
My question is, is this the best way to mitigate some of the issue with small parties?
- Three characters get overwhelmed easily.
- Helps mitigate some of the "action economy" issues.
- They cannot have all the skills necessary for a well-rounded party.
- They can be easily / accidentally TPK'd by area spells or effects.
- There is less chance that they all fail a roll for Perception or the like.
Unlike a normal GMPC:
- The party cannot ask him for help or advice.
- It will be easier for me to keep DM knowledge separate from character knowledge.
- The party will not treat the Worgi like they would an NPC representing me.
Any idea and contributions would be helpful.