Followers and Hirelings

Henchmen and Hirelings are discussed frequently in gaming. They are also very fragile & easily killed (or worse) and can be a pain to both afford and administer. On the other hand they can really add a level of depth and experienced to a campaign that would otherwise be hard to achieve. Below is a forum post which really impressed me and illustrated what I consider to be “Henchmen done right”.

(Original forum post can be found at

Do any of you really use Henchmen and Followers for the characters much? If not, why not? If so, what are some of the more interesting outcomes or problems that resulted?

I DM my group. At 5th level they were in the mountains rescueing a band of dwarves whose mine was overtaken by a kobold tribe and band of troglodytes led by a drow. During the final battles the drow escaped with a few trogs, and when the PCs emerged they found their mounts and pack-animals slain as a winter storm was blowing in. They spent the winter with the dwarves until the passes opened again with the spring thaw.

Currently 13th level and now with land and estates, the Cleric (the only remaining member of that version of the party) is married to an archeology professor who accompanies the party and helps them research sites, gather rumors and lore before delving, solve riddles and so forth. She also has a 5th level “apprentice” Cleric of her faith, a pair of 1/1 Fighter-Ranger “Sentinels” who keep an eye on their camp as well as a trio of pages, two of them girls from an orphanage for which she has decided to sponsor a type of “work-study” program to help girls too old for the orphanage avoid life on the street (taking some as pages, but sponsoring others as apprentice chambermaids, scullery maids, servant-girls and so forth in addition to the occasional seamstress or other trade).

Her companions in the party include a Specialty Priest with his own 5th level assistant who during combat has been useful remaining invisible with curative wands in hand, as well as 2nd level Ranger and Rogue cohorts who help with his research, but also oversee getting him from site to site and then arrange lodgings in town, gathering rumors and information from locals and so forth.

There is the Fighter/Rogue who has a military commando background. After service in two recent wars he resigned from the army as a Sergeant Major and recruited a small group of similar mustered-out veteran commandos to join him, and so now has a 4/4 sergeant and four 2/2 corporals in his service to not only join in combat but are useful for stake-outs and tailing suspects in urban situations, investigations and so forth.

The Ranger who has been investigating the suspicious disappearance of an NPC and her ties to a coven of witches stumbled into a Rogue opposing the same coven, and took the 6th level spy under his wing due to his own deficit in Charisma skills.

So it is that our PCs have taken assistants, apprentices and cohorts who compliment their skills and occasionally counter-balance their weaknesses. They are quite attached to their cohorts, and are about to resurrect another NPC contact who was infiltrating a cult on their behalf, was discovered by the witches and turned into a wight that the party’s Cleric later inadvertantly destroyed when attempting to turn other nearby, more powerful undead.

Our Cleric has her (now) 3rd level Sentinels to help watch camp during the night so PCs can sleep as well as guard horses, mounts and gear when they are dungeoneering. There is no way the 13th level party takes them along. A few levels ago when they were 2nd level she took them mountain-climbing prior to raiding a hippogriff lair and they got jumped by harpy archers. The harpies ambushed them and fired at random targets from long range, killing one Sentinel with a single shot. That one’s body was teleported home afterwards and favors called in to raise her.

The sentinels, the sage husband, and moreover the pages are not meant for the dungeon and either remain in base-camp or even the nearest town. Still, Player-controlled NPCs see a lot of use, and the 4th-6th level cohorts get into the action in support positions and generally can take one Area Effect blast and still survive to escape. Mostly they focus on clearing minions, keeping flankers away from the PCs or causing a distraction or second-front. Often they are dedicated healers.

The PCs also like the Cleric’s husband being available to examine dungeons and answer sagely questions for them, giving them background, clues and so forth, pointing them in the direction of new rumors and adventures.

As to the Leadership feat, I immediately dropped it from the game as my very first 3.0 House Rule. Forget the book telling me what or how many contacts, assistant, cohorts and allies a PC can have. Aside from the fact that Charisma and good RP already cover this, the fact remains that regardless of their Charisma (or lack thereof) high-level NPCs and particularly famous ones will attract admirers, followers and apprentices, feat or not.

I know none of our group would do without their cohorts. Furthermore, most of the PCs have gotten married as well, whether for personal or political reasons, and some even have children, or heirs as the case may be, though only the Cleric brings her spouse along adventuring.

(Paizo forums)

Followers and Hirelings

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