Companion-Specific Sidequest

A Side Quest where a Non-Player Companion of the Player Character acts as their Quest Giver, particularly in party-based Role-Playing Games. It is a way to introduce Character Arcs into the interactive Video Game medium and generally comes in two varieties:

  • Personal mission. Either a single big sidequest (on which the quest-giving companion is a Required Party Member) or a series of smaller assignments that the player may or may not have to complete in a specific order (akin to a Scavenger Hunt). Loyalty Mission is a specific instance of this subtype.
  • Gated interactions. Fragments of the character's personal arc, such as conversations or miniquests, may be locked away from the start and only gradually unlocked ("gated"note ) upon reaching certain Experience Levels, Relationship Values, or main plot events. Romance Sidequest is usually an instance of this.

In a hybrid version, the companion's personal mission may be gated and itself serve as a gate for further dialogue. In a downplayed variation, the "sidequest" may not be even marked as such in the quest log, but certain main plot events (that would have occurred regardless) tie in with a certain companion's story arc who may have unique dialogue to contribute if you bring them along.

In some cases, the companion may not be the Quest Giver themselves but merely points you towards the actual one. At other times, the companion doesn't have an entire personal sidequest but a unique personal scene in the middle of another major storyline. Such moments tend to be Permanently Missable if you don't bring the specific companion along for them.

Subtrope of Side Quest, supertrope to Loyalty Mission and Romance Sidequest. Please put examples of those two subtropes directly to their pages.

Examples:

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    Real-Time Strategy 
  • Most missions in StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty single-player are issued by a particular Hyperion crew member: Tychus was officially busted out by the Moebius Foundation to serve as contact between them and Raynor, Dr. Hanson is the leader of her fleet of refugees, and Tosh, the leader of the Spectres. While you only have to complete a portion of them to finish the campaign, each one provides additional characterization for the corresponding companion/quest giver, particularly the final missions in each arc, which generally contain major Story Branching.

    RPG — Eastern 
  • Chrono Trigger has one for all party members save Ayla and Crono, which ends up giving them better gear.
    • Marle's involves her crashing her father's trial and revealing the current chancellor is an impostor, a Call-Back to the very first arc of the game.
    • Lucca's has you defeat a Walking Wasteland monster in the past, after which Robo volunteers to take The Slow Path while he helps replant the forest. This allows her to go back in time to prevent her mother from being paralyzed for life.
    • Robo's has him defeat a genocidal AI in the far future.
    • Frog's has you put the spirit of his dead friend Cyrus to rest.
    • Magus' has you fight his former Dragon and put him away for good.
    • In the Updated Re-release, each of the Vortices has a boss fight against a mute clone of Crono, Lucca and Marle, with each respective character declaring they need to be present for that fight.
  • Child of Light has several, each of which is required to gain/keep the Quest Giver. If the relevant quest is skipped, the party member will leave the party (or simply will not join, in the case of the Golem).
    • The first one available is Finn's quest, which takes Aurora down into his village well in search of the water of Lethe that will cure all of his village members, who have been turned into crows.
    • With the Golem DLC, upon entering the Tree of Thorns, Aurora will come across the severed head of a golem. Amusingly, his quest explicitly involves finding all of his pieces, upon which he becomes a party member.
    • The next such quest is given inside Magna; Magna itself is a required dungeon, but on approaching the entrance to the Bolmus vault inside Magna, Robert will require that the vault puzzle be solved before he will continue with the party.
    • In the castle where Oengus joins the party, when Aurora approaches the door to the dungeon where the Kategida are imprisoned, Oengus will require that the dungeon be entered and the Kategida freed before he will continue with the party.
    • Gen is an interesting example; her quest will be given whether the player wants it or not, and the bulk of it will be completed whether the player wants to or not—it's completed by defeating a boss that's required for the plot—but the player must return to inform Gen of the end of the quest before it will actually be marked complete and she will join the party.
  • In Final Fantasy X, when the player approaches the Cavern of the Stolen Fayth in the Calm Lands, Lulu reveals that she was once the Guardian to a Summoner named Ginnem, who died here; just before the end of the Cavern, the party encounters the Unsent remains of Lady Ginnem, and Yuna performs the Sending, ultimately allowing Lulu to forgive herself for her previous failure.
  • In Mega Man Battle Network 5, Higsby (one of your recruited teammates) would have a favor to ask you first (specifically, taking an item that Numberman, Higsby's net companion, dropped while on the way to one of Higsby's customers) before he can lend you and your team the warehouse behind his store to be used as a substitute home base for your team.
  • Suikoden II: Even for the Loads and Loads of characters (108) you still need to take some characters to unlock others. Be prepared for Guide Dang It for some are false leads of thinking you need one character, but in reality you need another. A particular example is near the castle and getting the smith you need not only to bring a particular character, but also have him with a particular sword from his quest line; be prepared for even the detective guy they give you doesn't get to give you a clue on the blacksmith.
  • Suikoden Tierkreis: Some characters are acquired by a companion being in the party. Manaril in particular gets some, while Mubal is important to get Nuzat. At least you get hinted by Moana when she hands out the quests in several of them... in others you had better prepare to return to some spots with several combinations of characters. Several of the characters have a quest or two in the middle (namely Chrodechild and Fredegund have at least 2 quests each and require carrying them around in several towns), and some are just in travelling back and forth.
  • Xenogears: Even with the cut parts, there is a particular sidequest that requires you to carry Emeralda to a hidden dungeon. It is completely optional as the game was cut short. Still it gives Emeralda a Plot-Relevant Age-Up.
  • Final Fantasy Tactics A2: Some characters have side quests that appear in the Pub, just like all the other quests of the game.
    • Adelle gets her sidequests after a certain point in the plot.... but you have to wander around in each section of the map to get to them (Aldanna Range and then Zedlei Forest)
    • Frimelda Lotice has all her sidequests in the pub (even before you get her). It is worth doing all the quest chain to get this Lady of War and her quests chain with a Duel Boss. Just be warned that some of the fights in this chain are hard due to well "Guest"...
    • This is how you get and handle Montblanc and Margrace.
  • Atelier Annie: Some of the character specific quests only come when the adventurers you can get them to join you like you enough. At that point if they are in your party or not, they will end up invariably mooch your bed and someone else will mention the quest.
  • Luminous Arc: The whole series has this, but it can range between Permanently Missable Content and Guide Dang It! just for an idea on how it can get lost in games 1 and 2:
    • Luminous Arc 1: Several quests are between getting a character or two to like you and/or backtrack. Some in particular can be lost forever due to positions in the plot, namely Cecille's herb gathering quest which is hinted but can be lost due to the player needing to backtrack to the first maps of the game. Which can sound easy but with the fixed encounter points.
    • Nikolai's specific quest requires the player not only to backtrack to a particular map that is disconnected from the main path and talking to the NPCs for clues.
    • Luminous Arc 2: Even with the whole rotation of characters at points, some quests are quite obscure to find out and can pit the player against some other team mate... namely Kaph. The quest involves Dia, Luna and Sadie finding out that Kaph has heard and plans to publish how much they weight. This is no easy quest to complete as you only have those 3 characters to fight not only Kaph but also all the staff of the Bewitched magazine... and all of them outside the sugar dependency that they have (they are bribed with free ice cream) is that all the team is Too Kinky to Torture.
    • Backtracking is what is needed to unlock Pip's specific quest. To put a Broken Pedestal of his back onto making good cooking again.
  • Rune Factory as a series has this in spades to a degree, in part for Romance Sidequest (as this game is based on Harvest Moon series) and Loyalty Mission for the people you cannot marry.
  • Rune Factory 2: Several quests in the first generation that you do for Gordon (the big scary priest, the Hulkstor for some fans) are on things he doesn't do for some vows (he still threatens you to come to his temple). However these are for the player to get him materials to make the piece of jewelry if the player wants to marry his daughter.
    • Even if the Hospital Hottie has a couple of them, she won't marry you. This is waived as Natalie is the mother of Alice, the actual girl that you can marry. Not that she looks out of the age range and asks the player some of the tease questions that the girls ask.
  • Rune Factory 3: The mechanics of bulletin board and inbox, and owl make sure that the player ends up doing some of them. What makes it interesting is that if some villagers like you enough they can accompany you to the dungeons, which is a great help if you can get Gaius, Hazel or Shino to help.
    • In fact some of the quests are for character development for Monica, at the request of Shara.
    • One of Marjorie's specific quests is around bringing pancakes and ketchup.
    • Even if the player doesn't pursue Marian's route, there are some of the best laughs in the game including the fact that she could mess up with the PC's gender.
  • Dark Souls I doesn't have companions and side-quests per se, but major NPCs who can be summoned to assist you in multiple boss fights, such as Solaire of Astora and Lautrec of Carim, have a number of unique interactions and dialogues with the Chosen Undead throughout the game, which constitute their Character Arc. Siegmeyer of Catarina also gets a storyline like this despite not being summonable at any point.
  • Some potential party members in Rakenzarn Tales will only join if you clear a certain quest or help them out. Later, you can talk to them wherever they usually hang out and they'll sometimes give you new Guild Quests to undertake. This is especially important for Original Character members, who generally acquire their new weapons through these and provides some more backstory on them.

    RPG — MMO 
  • Star Wars: The Old Republic features unique companions for each character class, and each of those has an entire Sidequest Sidestory gated by story progress. For most companions, this is just a series of dialogues but for the respective first companion of each class, it is supplemented by a series of minor personal miniquests across the galaxy whereupon they are the Required Party Member. Certain companions (generally one of each gender for each class) also have a Romance Sidequest running in parallel, similarly gated.

    RPG — Western 
  • BioWare has a long history of companion-specific sidequests, going all the way to the original Baldur's Gate, where, for instance, Minsc joined your party on a condition that you help him rescue Dynaheir from a fortress full of gnolls and would leave after a while if you didn't keep that promise. This design paradigm reached its pinnacle in Mass Effect 2, which consisted almost exclusively of companion-specific missions.
  • In Divinity: Original Sin, predefined companions eventually present you with a personal request, such as Madora's vendetta against a certain orc, Bairdotr looking for her mentor, and Wolgraff regaining his voice. Jahan doesn't have a sidequest per se, but if he is with you in a particular late-game boss encounter, his dialogue reveals a lot about his past and lets you affect him in a major way.
  • Pillars of Eternity has a personal sidequest for each permanent predefined companion. Eder, Kana Rua, Sagani, Hiravias, and Pallegina present their sidequests (almost) immediately after being recruited but completing them requires visiting areas that only become accessible after certain plot events (except Kana Rua's quest, which instead takes you down the Brutal Bonus Level). Durance and Grieving Mother (both written by Chris Avellone), meanwhile, both have a set of dialogues gated mainly by their Character Level and plot stages. Aloth has a relatively small side quest pertaining to his Split Personality, but it's also gated behind certain main plot events.
  • Arcanum: Of Steamworks & Magick Obscura: Some NPC companions such as Virgil and Magnus are more involved in some plotlines than others and react accordingly if in the party at the time (Virgil believed the PC to be a prophecied hero and is less than thrilled to discover they've been worshipping the wrong guy all along, Magnus is a city-born dwarf and desperately tries to hide it via Have I Mentioned I Am a Dwarf Today? and turns out to be the descendant of a legendary lost dwarf clan).
  • In Diablo III: The Reaper of Souls, your three followers give you quests that put various issues from their pasts to rest, Kormac going to face the Templar Order, Lyndon going to find his brother, and Eirena finding out what happened to her sisters.
  • In Fallout: New Vegas, every companion has a sidequest specific to them often providing more then just further backstory for the companion concerned.
  • In Fallout 4, each character has unique conversations based on their Relationship Values where they talk about their backstories as well as how much they like you. MacCready, Curie and Nick have unlockable quests in which you help MacCready find a cure for his son, help Curie transfer her AI into a Synth and Nick deal with an old Pre-War nemesis. Paladin Danse's quest is part of the Brotherhood of Steel quest, in which he is revealed to be a Synth and you are given the choice of saving him or killing him.

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/CompanionSpecificSidequest