The boon companion: a friend you enjoy spending time, and especially, drinking with. I love this concept. It was popular in the 19th century, tapered off in the 20th, and is regaining steam thanks to Dungeons and Dragons (specifically Pathfinder).
Though the DnD edition refers to an animal companion, I prefer their definition: "Your bond with your animal companion or familiar is unusually close," and its operational effects: "The abilities of your animal companion or familiar are calculated as though your class were 4 levels higher."
In plain English this means you're so tight with your friend, they act as if they were between eight and twenty-four times more proficient at their key contributions.
To put that in perspective, I asked a few important people how their close friends improve their lives.
Ivana Leko, Artful Haven - Emotional Boon Companion
My very close friend Dejana... can truly listen to me, understand me and give me objective advice... [to] help me come up with the best possible solution for my problems. Her patience for a sensitive and emotional friend like me (always having some kind of emotional turbulence) is a blessing.
To continue the DnD approach, Ivana's friend currently has Calm Emotions, a level two Enchantment spell that suppresses strong emotions. As Ivana's Boon Companion, when she's with Ivana, she can cast something four levels more powerful, for example, Mass Suggestion! That means Dejana can "suggest a course of activity (limited to a sentence or two) and magically influence up to twelve creatures of [her] choice that [she] can see within range and that can hear and understand [her]." Talk about political prowess. Oh and she can make people dance on a whim.
Ashutosh Jaiswal - Financial Boon Companion
He helped me come out of depression; helped me financially when I needed
funds for my disabled daughter's treatment and stood by me through my
thicks and thins. His pep talks over phone or over a beer evening were most encouraging. My business was down and out even before covid and he helped me raise funds as i needed a push. He even did his bit to pay off a part of my debts as I was continuously sinking every penny that I could see.
Ashutosh's friend has something like legendary cantrip mend. He's able to repair breaks in businesses and mental health. As a drinking buddy, he's also a true boon companion. As such, when together, he's capable of level four spells like Fabricate! He can "convert raw materials into products of the same material. For example, fabricate a wooden bridge from a clump of trees, a rope from a patch of hemp, and clothes from flax or wool." Producing value with no work?! Talk about a Marxist god, huh?
Tatiana Gavrilina, DDI Development - Medical Boon Companion
I have a close friend and she helps me to make diagnoses. Or rather, she is good at medicine, although by profession she is a teacher. However, she often deals with hospitals, her relatives are engaged in medicine, so she helps me with the choice of medicines or advises me if I suddenly have a rash on my hands, I am sick to my stomach or I got a headache.
Tatiana's friend is a born cleric. She's proficient in medicine and can use level one Healing Word to cure anyone within sight. Thanks to her boon companionship, she can also raise the fucking dead or reincarnate her dead friends. Yep, both level five spells. Good friendship is absolutely horrifying.
Simon Elkjaer, avXperten - Business Boon Companion
People say that when trying out something new, it’s best to have an experienced mentor that can guide you and give you advice. When I first started out, my mentors were my closest friends. They gave me practical business advice from critiquing my plans to suggesting activities that can help me achieve a work/life balance. It’s more than helpful to have friends that will not only comfort you but guide you.
Simon says his friends were strategic mentors. More friends means more power. Together, they employed sixth level spell Find the Path to help Simon determine the shortest route to his destination: business success. As a group of boon companions, they can cast god-tier spells: 9th level. Foresight, for example, gives Simon the ability "to see into the immediate future," through touch. Imagine the payoff to work/life balance when you can accurately predict the future every time you hug your best buds!
It's clear: the boon companion needs to re-enter our daily vocabulary. So next time you're in drinking with your buddies, encourage them to go above and beyond their usual contributions. Remind them it's thanks to your friendship that they're so capable. After all, Cooperation is king.