The Case for Sidekicks

By: Brice Daury
Created on: August 23, 1998

Throughout the realm of comics you have seen them- young heroes who have aligned themselves with established heroes to help them in their war on crime. But why, why do these heroes, who are sometimes obsessed with the protection of all innocents, do it? Why do they put children in the line of fire, trusting in the kindness of fate to protect these child avengers from harm. The number of sidekicks who have died defending or fighting alongside their hero is by no means small either- off the top of the head, I can name the first Bucky, partner to Captain America, who took one heck of a solo flight on a missle loaded with explosives; the second Robin, Jason Todd, who was beat near to death by the Joker and then blown up for good measure; Erik Larson's character Mace, who was originally known as Young Tough and who had half his face burnt near off and was abandoned by his hero, SuperTough, and the list goes on, a litany of young people who for one reason or another, put their trust in their hero to train and protect them.

The young and excited sidekicks cannot be blamed for wanting to be heroes, they are full of the youthful belief that they are indestructible (unless of course they really are Indestructible!) and that the good guys always win, and therefore do not realize the danger they place themselves in. However, their hero mentor knows, and should know better- so what compels them to take on sidekicks? In some cases, the hero sees a kindred desire to uphold a value or belief (such as with Bucky's patriotism or Robin's need for revenge) that touches them and they decide to train the youngster to uphold that belief, while in many cases there are ties that go deeper than that- Rick Jones was the Hulk's friend and sidekick for one reason, pure and simple, he was responsible for the Hulk's creation and felt guilt for his actions, while there are others who just share powers similar to the hero and decide to join them or are recruited into the hero's war by proxy. Anyways, once it is decided the reason for the sidekick's participation in the hero's adventures, the next step is to determine if the sidekick is a NPC, a second character for that player, or the character of a different player altogether. I personally would be unlikely to let the player control both hero and sidekick, since the tendency to use sidekick as a human shield is apt to crop up, so that the player can Œprotect‚ their Œmore valuable‚ main character. I would personally suggest a second player play the sidekick, and if this cannot be done, make him a cooperative and helpful/useful NPC.

Finally, it's time to create the sidekick- there are a few guidelines:

  1. Generally speaking, the sidekick need not be the exact same orgin or power type as the character, but should have similar powers or abilities (ie. sidekick to fire wielding hero should have APS:Fire or CEF:Fire, while Utility-Belt Man should have simialr gadgets for Utility-Belt Boy), although it could be interesting for the powerless hero to train the superpowered youth in heroing and power-use. One power that I think might be appropriate for these heroes is the following:
    Dedicated Mimic: (Counts as Two minor powers).
    Range: By touch or within 200.
    Duration: Powers fade after 20 minutes outside of range.
    Description: This power allows the sidekick to mimc the power of only one person, the hero to which they are attuned. This means that if the hero dies or gives the sidekick the boot for any reason, they must find a new hero/mentor and then re-attune‚ their power, a process which requires spending a week or so within power range (200') of the hero before the power first manifest. Also, once a new hero is attuned, if the character goes back to an old hero, they must re-attune‚ to that hero, as if from scratch, but the process only takes three days to re-attune to old mentor. Once the character has spent sufficient time around the hero (reaches level five or six as a sidekick), they can roll d100 to determine if this power mutates into the full-blown superpowers that the hero possesses- 01-15%- mutation, 16-100%-No mutation, can reroll every two levels thereafter (each additional roll is at +5% to chance to gain the powers, cumulative).
  2. Unless the sidekick is superpowered and the mentor is not, the following attribute restrictions apply: The sidekick is usually young and not fully physically matured, so the sidekick's MA, PS, PE and SPD cannot be any greater than (Mentor's attribute score -5) and this can be done away with over time as the sidekick continues to train and mature physically.
  3. And finally Sidekick must have a costume that is similar in color and design to the hero they emulate (Robin is a freak exception to this rule), so that they are identifiable as being the mentor's partner. Also, any reputation or Horror Factor the hero has garnered will be applied to sidekick to lesser extent (reputations will be slightly weakened and HF will -4 for the sidekick), this can be a bad thing if the police don't like the hero or if the underworld is really out to get the hero, as they will see the sidekick as a ticket to the hero. Such is the danger and joy of being a junior hero.

TheCaseForSidekicks.php -- Revised: January 27, 2021.