By Robert J. Schwalb
Hirelings and henchmen have been part of the Dungeons & Dragons game since the beginning. In older editions, henchmen gave adventuring parties a bit of extra muscle, took the brunt of enemy attacks, and gave the heroes the extra help they needed to achieve their objectives and survive their challenges. Thus far, 4th Edition has nibbled on the henchmen concept by offering different avenues for characters to acquire companions. Certain classes, such as the beastmaster ranger and the sentinel druid, have pets. Dungeon Master’s Guide 2 provides extensive rules for creating companion characters, either from scratch or by adapting an existing creature to fill this role. While these options are sufficient for most groups, there’s something missing—an element of leadership that harkens back to the classic experiences of the game. This article provides an expansion to the existing options that cover hirelings and henchmen and puts in your hands the ability to gather and hire the nonplayer characters you need.
The young man who carries your torch lights the way down the dungeon corridor. The valet cleans and mends your clothes, ensuring that all the final preparations are made before you meet the king. The mercenary guard watches over the camp at night, letting you get your rest before you continue your hunt for the troll that made off with the merchant’s daughter. These characters are all hirelings: men and women in your employ whose efforts make your travels and missions easier.
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About the Author
Robert J. Schwalb is an award-winning game designer who has contributed design to or developed nearly two hundred roleplaying game titles for the Dungeons & Dragons game, Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, A Song of Ice and Fire Roleplaying Game, Star Wars Roleplaying Game, and the d20 System. Some of his more recent work for Wizards of the Coast can be found in D&D Gamma World: Famine in Far-Go, Dark Sun Campaign Setting, and Monster Manual 3. Also, he’s a regular contributor to both Dragon and Dungeon online. For more information about the author, be sure to check out his website at www.robertjschwalb.com.