Henchmen and henchwomen:
(henceforth I'm only using henchman or Hench as unisex terms.)
Many parties have them. They are the lucky towns folks that the bard coerces, the fighter intimidates, the cleric guilt's, and the wizard geases into carrying all of the groups stuff.
In Adventures with a high level of resource management, a good henchmen just loaded with food and torches can mean the difference between getting home or starving to death in the dark while a bunch of albino blullywogs look on hungrily from the darkness.
Characters ask allot form their henchmen.
Imagine the pitch, party leader to perspective henchman:
"You carry all this stuff into a dangerous place filled with monsters, test uneven ground, and open risky looking doors. If any of us live, we will give you enough gold to feed your family for a year. You know gold right? It's that stuff you have only dreamed about that can buy a crap ton of dried fish and pickled cabbage for the winter. Yeah we have a wagon load. You in?"
So if a henchman is strong enough to carry all the stuff Biff Hardloins the fighter does not want to, and brave enough to go into the "Lost Caves of Arghhhhh-burble" then why the hell are they not adventurers in their own right?
Some GM's might say it's because they don't have that spark that makes a hero a hero. Sure. I also think that there might be some other limiting factors. Farmers farm, crafts people make things, merchants sell things, these henchmen, they don't do any of that. These folks stepping up as henchmen just might not be cut out for the adventuring life or life in general.*
- Perpetually late:This hireling is simply never on time. The problem is the hireling already has the stuff the party designated he or she to carry. When never the party sets off for an adventure roll 1d6.on a 1 the Hireling is on time ready to go. On a 2, 3, 4 the hireling is a number of minutes late equal to the roll X 10. On a 6 the hireling never shows up at all. If the party chooses to wait for the late henchmen the GM is encouraged to roll an appropriate random encounter or event once per 10 minutes.
- Drunkard:This hench has a love for the bottle. When the party gathers to set off roll 1d6. On a 1 there is not issue on a 2 to 3 the PC's can smell alcohol on the henchman. The henchman suffers a -2 on all rolls or your games equivalent.** On a 4 to 5 the henchman shows up drunk rolls a -4 on every thing for the rest of the day. on a 6 the henchman is completely pissed and belligerent to the point he is of no use to the party.
- Wanted: (dead or half dead)Your new Hench is on the lamb and is hoping he or she can get away from the local authority by delving deeper with some adventurer types. Any time this henchman is in a city or settlement with the party roll 1d6. On a roll of 1 the henchman is recognized by a guard or constable, and the party is confronted. It is obvious that henchman will be arrested, his stuff (the parties stuff actually) taken, and then he will be executed for his crime. How the party handles this is up to them. What did he do? he is accused of (1.Murder so foul 2.horse thief 3.grave robber 4. treason against Whomever 5.poaching 6.laying with fey folk or being a witch. (alternate could be theft if number 6 does not fit your game.) )Is the henchman guilty? who knows.
- Lazy:If the a arty member asks the henchman to do something there is a 3 in 6 chance he or she just wont. Sure they will say "yes sir," or "right way miss," but in fact they will just wonder away and goof off. Eventuality the henchman will return with a question about the task and if the character answered the question there is another 3 in 6 chance that the henchman will simply wonder off again.
- Thief:This henchman is a thief of the same level ** as the lowest level party member. This thief makes his living posing as a henchman for higher then robbing the party when the best opportunity presents it's self. If he is caught in the act he will beg and lie to not be killed ("Ohh please Master, My family is so hungry, my children they starve, and the gem you found it called to me it was just... too... tempting..." soobbing ensues.) and then flee as soon as possible. If he does manage to get his hand s on some loot he will disappear at the worst possible time for the party or slip away in the night.Another thief in the party might be able to spot this grafter by observing that he or she never sets off traps, and has a knack for staying out of danger.
- Easily distracted.This henchman simply can't stay on task, he or she is not lazy they just have no ability to concentrate. Ask her to gather wood for cam, next thing you know she's grooming the horses, ask her to groom and feed the horses, next thing your know she is hunting mushrooms, ask her to weapon black the swords, and next thing "SQUIRREL!"
- Blabber mouth:A thousand stories, thousands of opinions, never shuts up."You know that's a good way to wind a rope, but not the best! I once knew this gnome bard who could wrap and unwrap a length of rope with the flick of her writs, and I'll tell you that was the best way ! Have you ever seen the Mogmore canyon? Well Let me tell you...... " Good luck sneaking around, this guy does not have an indoor voice.This one can be allot of work for the gm , but it's worth it.
- Enthusiastic:This henchman wants to be an adventurer and thinks that's what he's here for. He totally misunderstood the relationship between himself and the rest of the group. In fact he thinks he's part of the party. He refers to his pay as, "his cut." And he orders any other henchman around as if he were paying them.
- Adrenaline junkie:You hired this local girl to carry health potions, food, and thirty oil flasks. She seemed nice, honest and fit. You gave her the promise of gold, a back pack, a leather jerkin as armor, and best of all a sword to protect herself, "if she has to." Now she want's to KILL ALL THE THINGS! No one doubts her bravery, but she runs head long into everything and attacks with vigor. Treat her like a level 0 fighter, if she lives she will be at least level 1 by the end of the adventure and might even prove to be useful sometime down the line.Right now she's really only good at attracting random encounters back to the the party.(Increase the chance of random encounters while traveling because she is actively seeking them out.)
- Clumsy:While he or she means well this Henchman is just an uncoordinated butter fingers.Any time a party member asks this henchman for anything there is a 2 in 6 chance that the henchman drops it. Further more this henchman fumbles any roll on a five or less if using a D20 based system, adjust things to around 20% chance for other systems.
- Clingy:This henchman falls madly in love with a random party member. This is pure role play, the characters just have to deal with this new party dynamic however they see fit. Having a party member wake up in camp with their head awash h in rose pedals, and one of the henchman sitting about five feet away lovingly watching them sleep should get a reaction.
- Rotten Apple:This henchman took the job but is just not happy with it. So the henchman has taken to bitching about the pay, the conditions, the danger, and especially the leadership. He never does it in front or in ear shot of the party members that would be risking a paycheck. In fact he is often nice as pie to his employers.
The net effect of this is that any other henchmen with the party will suffer a -1 cumulative penalty to their morale for each week this person is around. If you are not using any kind of moral rules it is enough to say the other henchmen are more likely to run away, revolt, refuse to do something, or just plain quit. Worse it will only get worse as long as the rotten apple is around.
- Slow poke:He seemed fit at the time but now that he is loaded down with nine swords, a half dozen dented helmets, a weird petrified hand we found, and sixteen potions of "I kinda feel better," he is slow as molasses!. This henchman adds 1d6 hours and appropriate rolls on random encounter charts to any overland trip while the party is waiting for him to catch up.
- Nature Boy:This wants to be a ranger, a herbalist, or just wants to get high. He finds and eats mushrooms. He offers rolled up herbs to the party members during times of stress. He will add things found in the forest to what ever the party is cooking, some times without telling them. On occasion he will complain that being a henchman is the only way he can make money outside of the clipping season. He ends allot of his sentences with, "trust me", muffled laughter, or vacant stares.I suggest using the charts and info from Narcosa to create effects when needed.
- Dis-Connected:This henchman is running away form the comfortable life of their rich merchant family.No more silk cushions, flouncy underpants, and purple robes for them, oh no! The soiled life of adventure is what they want! However their powerful family disagrees with this strange desire for freedom and are worried. They will be searching.Whenever the party is in town there is a 1 in 8 chance the henchman will be recognized by someone who knows the situation. Once that happens there will be Thugs hired to track down the party then kidnap the henchman, shuttling him back to his / her family. Trouble is the henchman is probably carrying some of the parties stuff.
- Coward:This henchman will flee at the first sign of combat and return a few rounds after the noise stops.If the combat was with some supernatural foe there is a 1 in 8 chance the henchman just keeps running and never comes back at all.If any one is wounded or bloodies there is a 3 in 6 chance that this henchman faints straight away.
- What the what?This Henchman is an intelligent parasite which has recently killed and occupied the person you thought the party actuality hired as a Henchman.As time goes on the Henchman will act less and less normal.Roll 1d8 for an odd thing once a day.1. A strong rotting smell2. never eats or talks3. Jerky motions4. hair / tooth loss5. Will stop moving for 30 seconds at a time and just stare.....6.One day when the party wakes up the Henchman's neck is obviously and grotesquely broken, though he shows no sign of awareness to this fact.7. Ends random sentences with "help me." then deny s it.8. If injured it's blood sizzles and smokes when it hits the ground.If confronted or attacked the Henchman's parasite erupts violently ala "The Thing," and tries to kill everyone. If never confronted the Henchamn will serve admirably until you all get back to town then the above happens.
- Man if I had only known:This hench is just a jerk, always a comeback, nothing nice to say, sarcastic and abrasive. The party will either love him or kill him in the woods somewhere.
- Smells like a dirty yak:Even by mid-evil fantasy setting standards this henchman needs some lessons on personal hygiene. Smelly, and unkempt, dirty in the extreme. Any reaction checks the party makes as a group suffer a penalty just because this henchman is around."Excuse me, I think you have a piece of chicken skin in your beard?"
- This is the best henchman ever!
In fact he or she is a professional henchman, bearer, and hireling. On time, hard working, and knows what the party will need before they even ask. Quick with a torch, great cook, and setting up camp has never been easier.In fact while this henchman is working the party gets a bonuses Up to the GM) to all recovery rolls, and rests.The only problem is they will only work for your party for 5 days, because they are already booked with another party next week. The henchman will be quite clear, upfront and professional about it.If the adventure is not done after 5 days the henchman will ask for their pay. If paid they simply leave. If not paid they leave and the party will forever have a hard time hiring quality henchmen, as the insulted henchman will bad mouth the group whenever possible.(* Funny thing in my AAIE game the characters are all incompetent to start with and the pool of hirelings is where players draw from to replace their dead characters.)(** This is system agnostic, adjust it to what ever suits your game. The term level might not mean anything in your game, but if someone is reading obscure little RPG blogs like this one chances are they have done those kind of system adjustments a thousand times already)Well thank you for reading.If you use it let me know how it turns out.hand your comments and questions to the gibbering Henchman below.