This is a conintuation of my other question: How do I run a single player 4e essentials game for a Drow Hunter?

Which class would be a better supporting NPC for a Drow Hunter PC.

  1. A half-elf (half -drow?) Spring Druid Sentinel
  2. A half-elf (half - drow?) Paladin Cavalier

  3. Something else?

Here are the criteria:

  1. The character must be a suitable reason for the Drow Hunter to have left the Drow society. I.e. love interest/ charity case/ etc.

  2. The charachter needs to be able to keep the Drow Hunter alive, and play a secondary role to the Drow's desires. (for example, one thing I was thinking with the sentinel, is that the beast companion would share instructions from the Drow Hunter because of friendship etc.)

  3. Must be in the DnD essentials books. (Sorry i forgot to mention this before)

  • \$\begingroup\$ Hop on chat, mate if you want to chat about my answer. \$\endgroup\$ – Brian Ballsun-Stanton Jun 17 '11 at 11:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm really hoping someone can suggest if option 1 or option 2 is better. \$\endgroup\$ – GMNoob Jun 17 '11 at 15:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ As I said I don't know a lot about those classes. My gut goes with the Cavalier as it fulfills a role the Hunter is missing (defender). A druid is a controller/striker and would be overlapping the responsibilities the Hunter already has covered. Also, check these links for some great info on druids and cavaliers. \$\endgroup\$ – dpatchery Jun 17 '11 at 16:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ The Sentinel is actually a leader in essentials. Lots of healing abilities in the Spring build. \$\endgroup\$ – GMNoob Jun 17 '11 at 16:30

Addressing purely the (list ordered in quality of companion):

  • A Spring Druid Sentinel - no punishment, but with tending strike can allow the hunter to pretend to tank.
  • Dwarven Knight - very sticky, no healing, will hog the spotlight by virtue of stickiness.
  • Vampire
  • A Paladin Cavalier - minor punishment, no way to slow or otherwise force monsters to attack. No healing.

Components of the answer, we begin by statting up the characters with options purely from the essentials line enabled in old character builder. I'll also be disregarding recent DDI materiel, even though it can be classed as "essentials" in many respects.

First, a reference hunter at level 1:

Before that, a bit of twitching at the remarkably.. small... list of feats... and weapons... and... wow...


Right, now a drow hunter.

====== Created Using Wizards of the Coast D&D Character Builder ======
level 1
Drow, Hunter
Archery Style: Bow Hunter
Ranger Wilderness Knacks: Ambush Expertise
Ranger Wilderness Knacks: Mountain Guide

Str 8, Con 11, Dex 20, Int 10, Wis 16, Cha 10.

Str 8, Con 11, Dex 18, Int 10, Wis 14, Cha 10.

AC: 17 Fort: 11 Reflex: 16 Will: 13
HP: 23 Surges: 6 Surge Value: 5

Dungeoneering +8, Acrobatics +10, Heal +8, Perception +8, Stealth +12

Arcana, Bluff, Diplomacy, Endurance, History, Insight +3, Intimidate +2, Nature +3, Religion, Streetwise, Thievery +5, Athletics -1

Level 1: Weapon Focus (Bow)

Lolthtouched: Cloud of Darkness
Hunter aspect of the wild 1: Aspect of the Pouncing Lynx
Hunter aspect of the wild 1: Aspect of the Dancing Serpent

Longbow, Leather Armor, Adventurer's Kit, Longsword
====== Copy to Clipboard and Press the Import Button on the Summary Tab ======

Giving us a (not counting bonuses) RBA DPR of: +9//1d10+6 or 14.55. And she can therefore drop an equal level monster in 2.2 rounds, qualifying her for the "striker" position. (Don't expect this ratio to last, but enjoy it this level. It just gets more painful from here.) This build, however, is extraordinarily glassy.

We would therefore want something that can command the monsters attention or block them. And we want something able to endure their attentions.

First, sample instance of the requested cavalier:

====== Created Using Wizards of the Coast D&D Character Builder ======
level 1
Half-Elf, Cavalier
Half elf Power Selection: Knack For Success

Str 18, Con 13, Dex 10, Int 8, Wis 10, Cha 16.

Str 18, Con 11, Dex 10, Int 8, Wis 10, Cha 14.

AC: 20 Fort: 15 Reflex: 13 Will: 14
HP: 33 Surges: 12 Surge Value: 8

Endurance +2, History +4, Athletics +5, Diplomacy +10

Acrobatics -4, Arcana -1, Bluff +3, Dungeoneering, Heal, Insight +2, Intimidate +3, Nature, Perception, Religion -1, Stealth -4, Streetwise +3, Thievery -4

Level 1: Toughness


Plate Armor, Heavy Shield, Longsword
====== Copy to Clipboard and Press the Import Button on the Summary Tab ======

First we look to his defender capabilities: how many rounds can he endure being wailed upon? Average damage per round: 9 * 1-(20-6-1)/20 = 3.150.

Rounds standing: 33 / 3.150 = 10.7

This is just right for a defender. The absolutely critical problem is from his defender aura. There is no incentive for an enemy to remain within the aura and no way for the half-elf to compel enemies to stay, as an enemy who shifts out of the aura sustains 6 whole damage, but can then charge the archer. While it's certainly feasible to have enemies who behave suboptimally, that's outside the scope of this answer.

Sample half-elf sentinel:

====== Created Using Wizards of the Coast D&D Character Builder ======
level 1
Half-Elf, Sentinel
Druid Wilderness Knacks: Herb Lore
Druid Wilderness Knacks: Mountain Guide
Half elf Power Selection: Knack For Success
Beast Companion Type: Wolf Companion

Str 8, Con 18, Dex 13, Int 10, Wis 18, Cha 11.

Str 8, Con 16, Dex 13, Int 10, Wis 16, Cha 11.

AC: 18 Fort: 16 Reflex: 12 Will: 14
HP: 35 Surges: 11 Surge Value: 8

Nature +9, Perception +9, History +5, Arcana +5

Acrobatics, Bluff, Diplomacy +2, Dungeoneering +4, Endurance +3, Heal +6, Insight +6, Intimidate, Religion, Stealth, Streetwise, Thievery, Athletics -2

Level 1: Toughness

Level 1 Sentinel At-Will Power: Tending Strike
Level 1 Sentinel Daily Power: Vexing Overgrowth

Hide Armor, Light Shield, Scimitar
====== Copy to Clipboard and Press the Import Button on the Summary Tab ======

Sentinel has AC 18, 35 HP Wolf companion has AC 16, 17 HP

Assuming the sentinel is tanking, He can tank for 8 rounds and his wolf for 3, not counting healing which will improve those values. His power, Tending Strike, is critical, as it gives the wolf an extra 4 THP per round, significantly improving its tanking power to a theoretical 17 rounds. The difficulty of this strategy is the complete lack of punishment and the active disincentives that both characters have for staying near to them. Of the two, this is a mildly more effective companion simply due to tending strike allowing the hunter to tank for herself.

The dwarven knight:

====== Created Using Wizards of the Coast D&D Character Builder ======
level 1
Dwarf, Knight
Knight Feature: Shield Finesse

Str 16, Con 18, Dex 10, Int 8, Wis 13, Cha 11.

Str 16, Con 16, Dex 10, Int 8, Wis 13, Cha 11.

AC: 20 Fort: 16 Reflex: 12 Will: 11
HP: 38 Surges: 13 Surge Value: 9

Intimidate +5, Endurance +9, Athletics +6

Acrobatics -2, Arcana -1, Bluff, Diplomacy, Dungeoneering +3, Heal +1, History -1, Insight +1, Nature +1, Perception +1, Religion -1, Stealth -2, Streetwise, Thievery -2

Level 1: Toughness

Knight at-will 1: Battle Guardian
Knight utility 1: Defend the Line
Knight utility 1: Hammer Hands

Warhammer, Plate Armor, Heavy Shield
====== Copy to Clipboard and Press the Import Button on the Summary Tab ======

Has 38 HP, AC 20, and slow at will. The slow can trigger on battle guardian, which allows him to penalize enemies shifting away. He can tank for 12 rounds, and can second wind as a minor. It is absolutely the best defender to pair with a hunter. Besides a lack of healing, the significant downside to this choice is that a defender of this calibre has the tendency to hog the spotlight: battle must centre around him, and if he's doing his job, no-one's paying attention to the hunter.

The warpriest has mainly the same considerations at the sentinel, being better able to tank, but without what amounts to a walking healing potion. The sun domain provides better tanking capabilities than the sentinel, because it provides scaling resist all, and with sentinel and sun domain, they'd be able to create an effectively invulnerable character.

The vampire has the advantage of lots of forced movement and little need (or ability) for external healing and would make an interesting, if counterintuitive partner.

The thief has remarkable capabilities to hinder enemies with thug's trick and unbalancing trick. It probably would make a better partner than a ranged character for a 2 player game.

In conclusion, you listed two of the top three character possibilities for a secondary character. There is nothing intrinsically bad about a choice of sentinel, though it will not perform a defender's duties like a knight will. By having the hunter focus more on slowing enemies, however, the sentinel can pretend as if he is a defender and try to keep the hunter secure. Be advised that the hunter will not have the spotlight on her simply because any melee character becomes the centre of the battle by virtue of his tactics.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks. Any reason you didn't pick "cunning fox" for the Hunter? It allows all damage to be divided by 2. \$\endgroup\$ – GMNoob Jun 18 '11 at 18:03
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ * You take only half damage from attacks made against you during your turn. Fantastic for manuvering, but not very useful for someone who really needs to pump damage \$\endgroup\$ – Brian Ballsun-Stanton Jun 19 '11 at 0:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ Anyways, after this analysis, I strongly, strongly recommend going with my other solution. A number of minion hirelings that can get back up after battle and an NPC will make your life a lot easier. \$\endgroup\$ – Brian Ballsun-Stanton Jun 19 '11 at 0:55

(After question edit) TL;DR: Stat up a monster, see bolded heading below.

Pure-essentials is a lot more difficult.

We begin our analysis from the mechanical side: A hunter should provide sufficient firepower to qualify as a striker and should normally be optimized towards this consideration. In a two-player game, the most effective optimization will be to reduce monster hit-points such that the hunter is a four-round striker based in whatever configuration she chooses.

Therefore, we will consider to fulfill the requirements of striker and controller. To be fair, a drow with drow feats will do remarkable amounts of damage with hand crossbows, so it's valid to draw these conclusions.

This leaves us with defender and leader. A human cavalier, completely blind to the truth, a Don Quixote with his Dulcinea works really well thematically. So long as, y'know, his crossbow armed dominatrix of a Dulcinea just doesn't slaughter him outright. As a spirit of sacrifice, he can even (kinda-sorta) pretend to be a leader until you read the fine print: Spirit of sacrifice burns the character's second wind.

Therefore, we must reduce the character's need for healing, and the best way to do that is with the Vampire multiclass that recently appeared in dragon (it's essentials, it counts...) By making a vampire that denies he's a vampire... (it's not just a river in Egypt for this guy) there are some compelling reasons why he'd be in the underdark lost and alone.

This is an absolutely terrible idea. I recommend it because it'll probably be fun while he lasts.

From a long-term standpoint you're probably looking at a hybrid (blech, but hey, they're out for essentials characters so it's valid). The real flaw here is that you can't multiclass effectively while within a pure-essentials character simply because the feats are in other books. Assuming that you go with leader inna box and just have some... wild and crazy way to make healing potions without spending 50 gold a pop, you need some sort of self-sustaining defender. Again, I'd recommend longtooth-shifter, but invalid due to essentials...

A warpriest works as an off-defender, with a con secondary. Especially if he takes:

Soldier of Virtue [Multiclass Paladin]

Prerequisite: Strength 13, Charisma 13

Benefit: You gain training in one skill from the cavalier paladin’s class skills list. You gain proficiency with holy symbols.

You gain the defender aura power. You can use righ- teous radiance as an encounter power.

Gives you the ability to pretend to be a defender.

Thinking about it, your best bet is to stat up a monster.

Statting up a monster NPC

Inspired by the splug NPC from the solitare adventure Dark Awakening, your best bet here is to use an NPC and a bunch of hirelings. Hirelings are NPC minions that make absolutely fantastic ablative meat-shields, especially if they go unconscious on the first hit and can be patched up after the battle. Find a minion you like, re-skin it to something friendly, and there you are.

In the same way, a controller, leader monster is a fantastic compliment to a main-character PC and a bunch of minions. This way, she doesn't have to leave drow society if she doesn't want to, and her bodyguards and advisor can be furnished from her house. You can use any monster that looks suitable leading to a simpler play session for you, the GM, and far simpler tracking of statistics, I believe that this is the best choice if needing an NPC to support a drow hunter.

My favourite NPC leader is Pung and his powers can be well translated into a drow taskmaster leading his mistress' slaves.

Considering non-essentials options:

Mechanically speaking, your best bet is the Shaman or Warlord. Both of them grant basic attacks to the hunter, allowing her to take centre stage as well as effectively amplifying the damage. Also, a leader is a fantastic support character in general because of the healing he can grant. The shaman's spirit companion can serve as a tank (especially if you house-rule the spirit companion's damage threshold to account for new monster-damage).

Requirements-wise, your best bet is with a Watcher Shaman. The shaman would fit the mentor archetype. By teaching the drow any number of wise-old-mentor things (depending on which mentor figure you want to go with) a willing partnership can be formed. Furthermore, it could be the bond between the watcher spirit and the hunter that grants the hunter extra attacks.

Thematically, it's hard to pass up "Visualization of the cosmic all" as a motive for a MENTOR. (I've been reading the lensman series, recently.) Visualization of the cosmic all is best summed up as "I know the plot." but is technically the predicted movements of... everything. Very wise-old-mentory. The shaman could be well versed in stealth, for example, and have arranged accidents to alienate the drow from her society, such that he/she may redeem her, or have been living in the underdark when her arrow popped his spirit companion.

By using the sage/hero archetype, you can follow Campbell's prescriptions for the hero's journey, you can tap all of the archetypal resources already developed for that relationship in order to give you an outline for your plot.

The race could be elf with the dusk elf feats, exiled from the elven homelands because $Plot. Elf has dex/wis and some fairly stupid feat support, making him an excellent companion to the drow hunter.


I am still fairly new to essentials so I don't know what would be ideal, but I'll share my experiences with the Knight I play with my wife's Hunter.

I built a heavy-con hammer based Knight multiclassed into warden.

What you can do

  • Defender Aura: Basically super-effective fly paper for bad guys. Any adjacent enemy can't attack anyone other than me, or even shift, without taking some punishment.

  • Auto-slow: With the Defend the Line stance, every time I hit something it's slowed.

  • Throw it on the GROUND!: World Serpent Grasp feat lets me knock prone any slowed or immobilized target I hit. Between my auto-slow, clever shot (Hunter bread & butter that slows), and disruptive shot (Hunter's 3x-per-encounter shot that immobilizes) that means anything I smack is usually on it's backside. Note the synergy with my Hunter's Grounding Shot feat (+2 damage and ignore penalty for attacking prone targets at range). We also both took Vicious Advantage (Combat Advantage against slowed/immobilized enemies) since you don't have anyone to flank with.

  • Shield Block: Encounter power to reduce damage an adjacent ally takes by 1d10 + con? Absolutely awesome!

  • Taunts: Between Come and Get It and Glowering Threat I can strongly discourage enemies from attacking anyone other than me. Also helps gather the bad guys into one big 3x3 square for maximal use of Rapid Shot.

  • Piss off brutes & solos: Hello Hammer Hands stance. Every time I hit, push the critter 2 squares. With proper use of Disruptive shot to immobilize the target, Big Bad Melee Guy stands there twiddling his thumbs. Charge and push again. Repeat until you gain experience.

Why it's good to play as the GM

  • It's easy: No dailies (at least so far, we're only level 8) to keep track of. Only a few encounter powers. Besides tactical positioning, all you're going to need to do is make a MBA every round. Stances and Power Strike all do stuff once you hit, so they don't need too much planning ahead.
  • It's a low-INT, low-CHA class: Playing a dumb fighter makes it easy to let your wife be the leader of the group. She'll tell you what to do, make tactical decisions, and handle most of the conversation with NPC's.


Here's a build just using essentials content. All you lose from above is the prone synergy (no grounding shot), and one of your taunts (Come and Get it).

====== Created Using Wizards of the Coast D&D Character Builder ======
Dwarf, Knight
Knight Option: Shield Finesse
Knight Weapon Specialization Option: Staggering Hammer

STR 20, CON 20, DEX 12, INT 8, WIS 12, CHA 10

STR 16, CON 16, DEX 12, INT 8, WIS 12, CHA 10

AC: 27 Fort: 24 Ref: 20 Will: 18
HP: 77 Surges: 14 Surge Value: 19

Athletics +12, Endurance +16, Intimidate +9

Acrobatics +3, Arcana +3, Bluff +4, Diplomacy +4, Dungeoneering +7, Heal +5, History +3, Insight +5, Nature +5, Perception +5, Religion +3, Stealth +3, Streetwise +4, Thievery +3

Basic Attack: Melee Basic Attack
Basic Attack: Ranged Basic Attack
Dwarf Racial Power: Dwarven Resilience
Fighter Attack: Battle Guardian
Multiple Class Utility: Defender Aura
Fighter Utility: Hammer Hands
Fighter Utility: Defend the Line
Multiple Class Attack: Power Strike
Fighter Utility: Cleaving Assault
Fighter Utility 2: Glowering Threat
Fighter Utility 6: Ignore Weakness
Fighter Utility 8: Shield Block

Shield Finesse
Level 1: World Serpent's Grasp
Level 2: Bludgeon Expertise
Level 4: Improved Defenses
Level 6: Weapon Focus (Hammer)
Level 8: Disciple of Stone

Adventurer's Kit
Heavy Shield x1
Dwarven Plate Armor +2 x1
Defensive Warhammer +2 x1
Amulet of Health +2 x1
====== End ======
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ N.B. He said essentials only. A knight with MC warden and crippling crush is brutal and quite fun to play (having just statted one myself). Would you recommend this over a monsterized version? \$\endgroup\$ – Brian Ballsun-Stanton Jun 17 '11 at 12:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ Oh, true. I used the essentials baseline but went hog-wild with the character builder from there. @GMNoob - If you have kids, tell them (or your wife) you want a DDI subscription for Father's Day! \$\endgroup\$ – dpatchery Jun 17 '11 at 12:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ Heh thanks. DDI subscription is out of the question :(.. I was wondering where you were getting all those extra feats from. Is there a way to make that knight work with eseential only feats? \$\endgroup\$ – GMNoob Jun 17 '11 at 15:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ @GMNoob Not exactly sure which books essentials uses. Do you have the plain old Player's Handbook? \$\endgroup\$ – dpatchery Jun 17 '11 at 15:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ Nope. Rules Compendium, Essentials DM guide, Heroes of Adjective Noun :) Just those 4 books. Oh and Monster Vault \$\endgroup\$ – GMNoob Jun 17 '11 at 15:52

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