|I'm pretty sure those guys with the chest aren't coming back...|
Apologies to Peter Paul, and Mary, but seriously, nobody takes hirelings on adventures anymore. In fact, the current D&D ruleset doesn't even have rules for hirelings (not Sure about D&D Next, but I'm hoping). Back in "Tymes of Yore"TM, hirelings were an essential part of a dungeon crawl. No self respecting adventurer was going to carry their own damned torch! Also, somebody had to haul that huge chest of copper pieces back to town, and it sure wasn't going to be the magic user. Heck, Grenadier Miniatures even put put a boxed set of hirelings, with torch bearers, chest carriers, potion testers (that one always seemed a bit cruel to me), mercenaries and other assorted utility folks. Honestly, where do you even get a potion drinker? Was he the guy in the village who would eat anything for a silver piece?
|Potion Drinker? Where did he go to school for that???|
A couple of mercenaries were always useful when fighting hordes of goblins, kobolds and other denizens of the depths. Also, all of these NPCs presented opportunities for roleplaying in a dungeon environment. Let's imagine for a moment that a band of intrepid adventurers has stumbled upon a mysterious shrine deep in the bowels of the earth. Everything seems safe, but how can they be sure. The thief could check it out, but he's almost second level. Enter the hireling...
Grimgoth the Mighty: We should send the torch bearer in to check for traps!
Mudfoot the Torchbearer: Like Hell we should!
Mizron the Mage: That does seem a bit cruel. Shall we vote?
Grimgoth the Mighty: Aye, we shall vote! Send the torchbearer!
Mizron the Mage: Aye! Indeed, the torchbearer should go.
Lightfingers the Thief: Better him than me!
Mudfoot the Torchbearer: (looking around) Crap!
Hey, I'm old. I like old stuff. :-)
I'm quite sure that of those who even remember the prevalence of hirelings and henchman in the early days of RPGs, quite a number of them don't really miss them. I've heard comments from people to the effect of "hirelings don't make for a heroic story", or "Conan didn't hire a torchbearer." While I can see these points, I would argue that especially at low levels, the PCs are not mighty heroes of literature, they are adventurers, adventurers on a journey often into the uncharted depths of the earth. To me, hirelings and henchmen accentuate the sense of an expedition. I think back to the days of watching the old Tarzan movies, where the explorers surrounded themselves with no end of bearers, guides and other assorted local-help, not to mention hiring Tarzan to save them when things got really tough.
|Reaper Miniatures does make a few hireling miniatures|
What does everyone else think about hirelings and henchmen?