The next Dungeons & Dragons expansion will provide players with the ability to create an animal sidekick for their players. Later this year, Dungeons & Dragons will release Tasha's Cauldron of Everything, a major new rules expansion with new player and DM options to expand campaigns. One of the new rules systems in Tasha's Cauldron of Everything is an expanded version of the sidekick system first seen in the D&D Essentials Kit back in 2019. The system was originally designed to provide players with streamlined "sidekick" characters that can join a party and be controlled by either players or a DM. Sidekicks can be one of three classes - warrior, expert, and spellcaster - and can even be used to create a streamlined player character.
While discussing Tasha's Cauldron of Everything during a panel yesterday, D&D Lead Rules Designer noted that the sidekick rule doesn't limit players to creating humanoid sidekicks. One of the nine new sidekicks that appear in Tasha's Cauldron of Everything is actually a wolf, and Crawford noted that the wolf was a favorite of the design team.
These animal sidekicks will differ from the Beast Master Ranger animal companion or a wizard's companion in a few ways. For one - it's up to the DM whether or not a player can control them, and a DM can choose whether or not they'd obey a player's commands during battle. They also aren't easily replaceable like a ranger's beast companion or a familiar. If an animal sidekick dies, they would need a resurrection spell to stave off a permanent death. However, some fans have already pointed out that letting animals be sidekicks does water down the Beast Master ranger, an already controversial class a bit more. Luckily, the Beast Master Ranger will get some new options in Tasha's Cauldron of Everything that will make that subclass a little more versatile.
Tasha's Cauldron of Everything will be released in November. You can check out Crawford's full comments about the book in the video above.