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I recently started a new campaign (D&D 4e) with my son. In order to make it a little easier on him, I allowed him to have a companion character (per the DMG2). Being a ten-year-old, he wanted a dragon. As a companion. At level one. sigh

So, I wrote down the stat-block for a fire beetle and told him it was a baby dragon. The dragonling can fly a foot or two off the ground, but he's afraid of heights, and too small to carry anyone. That seems to have satisfied him.

Oh, and he wanted a blue dragon, so it does a "Spark Spray" (lightning damage) rather than a fire spray.

During play, the question came up -- do companions get Action Points? PCs get action points. Some monsters get action points. Companions are somewhere in the middle, and they do get a full share of the XP.

I'm leaning towards giving the baby dragon an Action Point. This is mostly because I'm going easy on the kid, in order to keep him interested.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I do feel that you are going the right direction in weighing each rule and being open to 'bend' it - especially for a young player that you hope to hold the interest of. Just also keep in mind that enforcing some rules has the benefit of teaching the value of having rules to your son, so that can also be beneficial. Maybe you can enforce the rules on 'the bad guys' a few times to his benefit to help him appreciate it. \$\endgroup\$ – Avestron Sep 29 '14 at 12:33
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    \$\begingroup\$ Yeah, @Purple Monkey's answer is technically correct. However, I plan to bend the rules and give the dragon an action point -- and call it DM's prerogative. \$\endgroup\$ – Homr Zodyssey Sep 29 '14 at 12:51
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DMG2 page 28;

Standard Monsters Only: Avoid elite and solo monsters because they make overpowered companion characters. Conversely, minions are too weak to help out the party.

MM page 6;

Action Points: Elite and solo monsters have action points they can use to take extra actions, just as PCs do. If a monster has action points, it is noted here.

Basically all you're doing is tweaking an existing monster a little bit, and since it doesn't explicitly say to add an action point, if the creature's stat block doesn't have one, the companion doesn't get one.

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I run a 1-player-1-GM game with my girlfriend on the side of our regular campaigns, and I use companions to fill out the party (the player may swap them out and customize them a bit, similar to how games like Dragon Age and Mass Effect work).

In that case, each companion is a 'party member' and I let them use normal healing mechanics and milestones. I feel like it's a nice middle ground between having the player handling full character sheets and not restricting them in a way that a normal party wouldn't be. In that case, the companions do get action points, because they are filling gaps in the party and the difficulty is skewed due to the lack of options for companions.

Inversely, in my main campaign, several characters have companions that aid in combat but mostly do out-of-combat fluff (a bubbly centaur Flameskull named Dord is a group favorite). In that case, the companion do not get action points, because they aren't filling a party role and those players already have plenty of options.

I would bend the rules a bit and give the Baby Dragon an action point, especially since the younger players are much less likely to abuse the extra actions and interrupt the balance of combat. Plus, you say he may need the dragon to help with difficulty issues, and an extra action per encounter (basically) encourages creative play, which is always good!

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