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Someone in my group wants to roleplay a sort of Brandon Stark/Hodor or Master Blaster situation.

How could we accomplish this?

I thought maybe a beastmaster ranger with a humanoid "beast companion" could work, but that rules out any other classes.

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I think the key question is: are you planning for each "half" of this combo to take separate actions? (As in, Hodor does X, and then Brandon does Y).

If no, then I'd be inclined to handwave it as fluff. (This human is actually two halflings in a trenchcoat). Mechanically, you're A Character, and the weirdness is flavor. The only caveat I'd have is that if the two are separated, one goes to NPC-status (or just is handwaved away, like most mounts). You're one player, you get one character.

If yes (either because you want each of them "doing" something, or you want the flexibility if they're separated), then you're a lot more restricted. 4E is not kind to familiars and companions (probably because they got abused a bit in 3/3.5). So, other options:

Will your GM let you flat-out play two characters? Some will (esp. if they like the character concept), and that gives you two mechanically usable players, no problems required. (Alternatively, you could try and talk another player into taking half of the "combo")

Mounts and pets are an option with skinning, but I think what might describe your situation better is just a plain hireling (or follower at a high enough level). Play the little guy, hire a big guy to carry you around.

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    \$\begingroup\$ +1 for "flat-out play two characters". The main issue with that option is making sure you don't hog more "screen time" than the other players. Giving the two characters complementary abilities, so that, in most situations, only one of them has anything significant to do, helps a lot there. The rest pretty much comes down to self-control and awareness of the issue. \$\endgroup\$ – Ilmari Karonen May 8 '15 at 22:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ @IlmariKaronen I've done that before, playing two characters (in my case it was so we could play a premade adventure that needed more PCs than we had players). You have to pay much more attention during combat encounters, to avoid slowing them down. The easiest way is to take both of their turns concurrently - you do Hordor's move, then Brandon's move, then Hordor's attack, then Brandon's attack, or some other order. And no spellcasting or complicated abilities - tracking persistent AoEs and the Paladin challenge ability simultaneously is mentally very difficult and sloes things down. \$\endgroup\$ – AJMansfield May 10 '15 at 13:45
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I'm unfamiliar with master blaster, but for a Bran/Hodor analogue, I actually think that the refluffed companion is a better fit for Bran than for Hodor, leaving Hodor as the actually mechanically viable real-classed individual. There's no reason you can't fluff the weakling companion as the brains behind the duo.

In addition to the beastmaster ranger, this can be accomplished with the sentinel druid -- but I tend to be wary of both of those build choices, as they're dramatically inferior to other options within their roles. Additionally, animal-companion Bran with one of those classes would constantly be in harms way.

Fey-beast tamer and Animal Master themes both come with better (or at least, less expensive in terms of opportunity cost) animal companions, and even a familiar could work for these purposes. All three of those options are fairly easy to tack on to a wide array of class builds.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Are there any limits to the size of the animal companion for a beastmaster ranger in 4e? Imagine a beastmaster ranger with King Kong as an animal companion... \$\endgroup\$ – RobertF May 8 '15 at 18:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ Master Blaster was a character combo similar to Bran/Hodor from the film Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. \$\endgroup\$ – RobertF May 8 '15 at 18:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ @RobertF all valid 4e ranger companion archetypes are either small or medium when you pick them at first level. Vadalis Griffons (only obtainable through the associated paragon path) are the only large companion I am aware of. I am unaware of any way to increase the size of your companion, but I would be unsurprised if there were a few obscure ways to do so. Still, other than defining how many squares one occupies, size has very little to do with mechanics in 4e, so can be readily treated as fluff with DM permission. \$\endgroup\$ – webbcode May 11 '15 at 19:55
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There are a few options here, some of them will work out of the box, many of them will require some tweaking.

Class specific options:

  • Beast Master Ranger: This is, as you pointed out, a nice, fairly neat one. If you want the kind of Bran/Hodor relationship, it works well, play a halfling and you can mount your medium sized companion.

  • Shaman: This is slightly more complicated as I don't think you could ride a spirit companion, but it's pretty much the premiere class for doing the kind of thing you are trying to do. It's a class with a continuously on pet and enough optimization potential to be really good. It works really well in a Bran/Hodor situation because your Shaman can sit back and let the companion do the dirty work.

Non-Class specific:

  • Fey Beast Tamer: If you want to do this with any class, you can use FBT and get a medium sized pet, again, if you want to refluff it as human and play a halfling you can use the companion as a mount (though you likely use a lot of functionality).

  • Intelligent mount: This is a much, much later option, but when much better mounts become viable (late paragon), and with sufficient DM buy in, you could likely refluff an existing mount into being a medium humanoid (again, you being a halfling or something), and use it similarly to the way you are thinking.

Overall, if I was to try to create a character with this kind of relationship, I'd be reaching for the Shaman, or possibly a hybrid shaman (they get their companion in their hybrid form).

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