An aspect of the original D&D and AD&D game which is largely lacking in the 3.x and d20 offshoots is that of hirelings and henchmen. Once a standard part of the game, WotC tied it to a specific feat (Leadership) of questionable use. Largely overlooked by today’s MMORPG oriented players, the feat is actually so overpowered that those who have used it, often use it to excess causing DM to ban it outright. A pity in both directions, in my opinion.

The rules for henchmen can be found in both the OSRIC and AD&D Player’s Handbook (not to mention DMGs treatment of the subject in painful detail). Here are the basics:

Once a character reaches 2nd level, he or she may seek out henchmen. Henchmen, unlike common hirelings, become a player’s companions, friends, and supporters, acting in his interests even in his absence. Indeed, a very loyal henchman may sacrifice his or her very life in defense of a player character or charge unbidden into the thick of the fray to rescue him or her. Consequently, henchmen are highly sought after by experienced players, and the number a character may have is limited by the PC’s charisma score.

Henchmen are a great way to round out a party, and even provide a means for a players to stay in the game if their primary PC is off doing something else during a particular adventure during in-game time (e.g. constructing a magic weapon).

If you decide you want to recruit henchmen (and I highly recommend it), let your DM know and he’ll work with you on how to accomplish this. The basic rules for doing so are laid out in the OSRIC/AD&D rules, but your DM may have specific applications of and modifications to this mechanic.

In general, the larger a population, the better chance of finding a willing victim, I mean follower. Also the more diverse a population the high chance of recruiting a non-human npc to follow you faithfully. And speaking of faithful, the better one treats one’s henchmen, the more loyal they are.

One final note: It costs money to recruit and equip henchmen. Adventuring is dangerous work. It takes a sweet offer to convince people to risk their lives. Henchmen also come only with the clothes on their backs, so the player has to kit them out. (One of the reasons the prospective henchman is willing to sally forth in search of adventure is that they’ve fallen on hard times and are rather desperate.) Again, your DM will work with you on this outlining the costs for you.

Happy recruiting.

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Destiny of Kings Haronniin