Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Improved Henchmen

A Little Too Dire

In response to this post, my players indicated that they are terrified of picking up some henchmen because "they are more trouble than they are worth."  Sadly, that may be true, so I feel the need to expand things a bit and revise the henchman process and make henchmen a little less terrible.

Even with that in mind, I stick by the fact that I think henchmen should be a bit on the weird and somewhat unreliable side.  It is basically like hiring a roommate from Craigslist - there are some gems out there but it is probably trouble.

Also, based on the way that my players want to use henchmen, I guess I'll need to generate some quick combat statistics which, in the end, is going to be most easily accomplished by rolling ability scores and letting everything add up.

So - henchman are still the dregs of society, but they are going to be a little less dire, a little more useful, and I'll add a few notes on suggested payments for henchmen in the Terrible Wilds of Eradu.

Availability, Class, & Type

The number of henchmen that are available in a particular location at the time of the hiring is based on where the party is and who is doing the recruiting.  First, the GM should determine the number of henchmen available - and keep it secret.  One player will make a recruiting skill check for their character (difficulty based on location).  Success indicates that a number of henchmen up to their rank (novice=1, average=2, advanced=3, etc) show up - roll a die per location.

Additional characters can make recruitment rolls, but the second difficulty is increased by 15, the third by 30, and so on.  For every $5 the players spend on criers and buying drinks and the like, they gain a bonus of +1d6p to their skill check.  If player's roll is more than 100 more than the GM's roll, one of the henchmen that arrive is definitely a Specialist.

For each henchman, roll for their Class.  Losers have no redeeming qualities.  A Man-At-Arms may actually be useful.  A Potential has the ability to earn EP once a character takes them on as a protege; they also have a 50% chance of having a second skill.  Specialists have a normal skill roll and a second skill roll (1d30) that will be of a high level.

Roll for what type each henchman is.  Humanoid covers orcs, goblins, kobold, hobgoblins, and the like.  Monstrous is anything weird and dangerous and probably evil.  Humanoids and Monstrous henchmen don't go down well in civilization.
 Settlement   Recruit   Applicants 

2d6 Class BogeySkill
2-5 Loser1d2+50
6 - 9 Man-at-Arms  1+0
 10-11   Potential1  +0*
12 Specialist   1d2 +0,1d30 

2d6 Type Elsewise
2 - 7 Human False Man
8 - 9 Halfling Elf
 10 - 11   Dwarf Humanoid 
12 Elsewise Monstrous 

Skill Sets for Henchman

http://i39.tinypic.com/28bz21e.jpgThe skills a henchman have are not necessarily explicitly listed, but rather should be assumed based on the skill set they have rolled up.  For example someone with "Beggar" would probably have some urban survival and maybe some sleight of hand; chances are they wouldn't know anything about arcane lore.   If a specific rating needs to be determined, assume they have a skill rating of 10+1d20p.

Roll 1d100 on the chart for skill sets.  It should be noted that skills 1-30 are of particular use to the dungeoneer (which is why specialists get that second 1d30 roll). 

If the GM wants to give a particular henchman a particular skill, there should be absolutely no hesitation.  However, the henchman should never be a safety net for the PCs.  No PC has History?  It is pretty unlikely that Horatio Wiggles, the party's new porter, has a doctorate in the Ancient Kings of Lybornia.  But, at the same time, don't hsesitate to give them things that are interesting and fun.

 1d100   Skill
1 Scroll Caddy
2 Torch Bearer
3 Alchemist
4 Pack Bearer
5 Armorer
6 Weapons Smith
7 Soldier
8 Bandit
9 Professional Henchman 
10 Miner
11 Beggar
12 Blacksmith
13 Navigator
14 Woodsman
15 Sailor
16 Cartographer 
17 Animal Handler
18 Chirurgeon
 1d100   Skill
19 Laborer
20 Cat Burglar
21 Circus Strongman
22 Cook
23 Gladiator
24 Falconer
25 Jeweler
26 Pick Pocket
27 Merchant
28 Gentleman
29 Gravedigger
30 Sentinel
31 Roll 1d30 twice
32 Household servant 
33 Former City Official
34 Latrine Jockey
35 Librarian
36 Merchant
 1d100   Skill
37 Messenger
38 Barkeep
39 Minstrel
40 Negotiator
41 Architect
42 Grocer
43 Actor
44 Shepherd
45 Fool
46 Pimp
47 Poacher
48 Press Gang
49 Ruffian
50 Captain
51 Baker
52 Headsman 
53 Whore
54 Wagon Wright
1d100 Skill
55 Tinker
56 Witch
57 Bard
58 Town crier
59 Town Guard
60 Tracker
61 Translator
62 Urchin
 63-72   Peasant
73+ Nothing of Note 

Ain't Noby Perfect

All henchman have at least 1 bogey - a quirk, flaw, belief, or behavior that makes them a bit less than desirable.  The bogey that a potentials or man-at-arms have are going to be less severe than those of losers.  The GM is going to have to mitigate this by either re-rolling really nasty results or just downplaying them.  Specialists may have multiple bogey rolls, but their special skills should still make them desirable.

 1d100  Bogey
1 Albino … probably wears a burlap shirt and has a bad dye job
2 An obnoxious boor
3 Is probably a witch in league with demons or worse
4 Absent minded - will quite often forget to do things if unsupervised (1-4/d6)
5 Angry at the world about most everything; prone to (1-3) argue (4-6) complain
6 Bad at Equipment upkeep
7 Branded. (1-2) Heretic (3) Petty Criminal (4) Major Criminal (5) Slave (6) unknown
8 Can’t count - roll 1d10-1 to see how high he CAN count
9 Clumsy; often drops things, especially when agitated. Catching is right out
10 Cock-eyed - just looks goofy
11 Coward; will often run away, 1 in 6 it is a permanent fleeing (with all your stuff)
12 Braggart - tends to talk big and (1-2) exaggerates (3-4) takes credit for stuff (5-6) makes the PCs sound like idiots
13 Is allergic to something unspecified but apparently everywhere all the time.
14 Just plain terrible at telling lies.
15 Busted Sense of Humor: (1-2) inappropriate (3-4) punny (5-6) just not actually funny
16 Dastardly agent of (1) the Mind Wizards (2-3) a group of adventurers (4-6) previously determined enemy of the PCs
17 Unlucky: 1 in 6 chance bad stuff happens to this guy (then again chance as normal)
18 Generally an idiot who isn't too quick on the uptake
19 Talking issues: (1) mute (2) chatterbox (3) mumbler (4) foul-mouthed (5) stutters (6) lisp
20 Death wish - will tend to volunteer for dangerous stuff, doesn't avoid combat
21 Delusions of (1-3) grandeur (4-6) some other weirdo belief
22 Filthy and stinky … which will probably attract monsters
23 Missing bits (1) Fingers (2) teeth (3) ear (4) eye (5) arm (6) leg
24 Chauvinist and apparently proud of it. Dealing with ladies is going to be a problem.
25 Chivalrous to the point it becomes a problem … a big problem
26 Cruel to the animals and any underlings; doesn't necessarily become obvious right away
27 A very devout fellow (1-2) good guy religion (3-4) something probably evil (5-6) indecipherable but he scourges himself a lot
28 The guy gets as drunk as possible as often as possible; 50% chance of being drunk when interviewed
29 This poor fellow is very easily confused and confounded by things
30 Gives up really easily
31 Super gross facial scar that makes him look weird and extra creepy
32 Falls asleep on watch … all the damn time
33 Mildly incompetent with everything (-1/5% to all checks)
34 Glutton … eats an extra ration at least once per day
35 Greedy bastard - tries to hide or steal treasure at every opportunity
36 Pretty gullible, which is hilarious until an enemy talks to him…
37 Hard of Hearing, 1 in 6 that he also talks really loudly
38 Has a Hero Worship problem with one of the PCs. Pretty awesome until the PC lets him down.
39 This fellow is especially seriously fugly to the point it is hard to look at him
40 Hobbled by a limp which slows down an otherwise unencumbered party
41 Hyper-active - gets bored easily, often moves off on his own (especially when carrying something important)
42 An insomniac … doesn't sleep and is always a bit "out of it"
43 Itchy … and covered in scratches; (1) a rash (2) imaginary bugs (3) I AIN'T SCRATCHIN' (4) real flea bites (5-6) from unwashed state
44 Paladin-in-training: super brave and heroic, but a moralistic wanker about adventuring things
45 A kleptomaniac - this henchman is going to "pick up" a lot of things
46 Knows much about (1-2) monster (3) dungeon (4) local (5) cosmic (6) arcane) lore … but everything is untrue or incorrect
47 Lecherous to the MAX.
48 The henchman is loud - he walks loud, talks loud, snores, and is just generally a Loudy McLouderson
49 A messy dude, making it take longer to find your things when he packs
50 A murderous fiend, will kill any captives the PCs take (often in the middle of the night)
51 Dude has a nervous tick … which is (1-2) kind of funny (3-4) uncomfortable (5-6) potentially deadly but rare
52 Absolutely no sense of direction; on 1-3 in 6 believes he has "absolute" direction
53 This hench is just plain oblivious (roll 2d12 for initiative and take the worst one)
54 This npc is always sickeningly deferential - suspiciously so
55 Obsessed with bathing and cleanliness
56 Openly Heretical and (1-3) is loud about it (4-6) only gets going when drunk
57 Overconfident - what more needs to be said?
58 Owes money to a (1) wizard (2) local criminal (3) a noble (4) a PC's cousin (5) a demon (6) the church
59 Paranoid and suspicious, but really wants to be a henchman because of the positives waves
60 Pestilent, poxy, and probably with numerous open sores; 1 in 6 chance of being contagious
61 Physically weak and scrawny. Weights 98 pounds.
62 Seriously pock-marked from a bout of something nasty (1-3) recently (4-6) long ago
63 A Racist toward (1-2) a specific race/tribe/settlement (3-6) everyone who isn't what he is
64 Has an ever-changing (color, location, intensity) rash. Is not contagious.
65 Rich brat who wants adventure but is still in the aristocratic mindset, has a tendency to complain order folks around
66 Sadsack - bad luck which is usually self inflicted, things never work out for this guy
67 Short Term Memory Loss - will probably forget what you just told him
68 (1-3) Sings off key (4-6) hums incoherently
69 Snaggle-toothed
70 Has a permanent sneer
71 A straight up sociopath
72 A strange body odor that is disconcerting
73 Very superstitious - roll 4 times on the superstitious table, add more as needed
74 Surly at the best of times, ornery the rest of the time
75 Tends to wander off
76 Think of self as (1-3) equal (4-6) superior to employers
77 Trick Knee
78 Has really terrible (1-2) long (3-4) short (5-6) mullet haircut
79 Worst. Beard. Ever.
80 Has the bug-eyes.
81 Addiction which is (1-4) Mild (5-6) Severe
82 Is colorblind - black and white style, not real-world style
83 Has a severe fear of heights
84 Suffers from (1-3) hacklust (4-6) hackfrenzy
85 Has a ridiculously low pain tolerance
86 Squanders all his loot, always broke
87 Tends to talk about party business when carousing
88 An impulsive nature will be his downfall in the dungeon
89 Curiosity killed the cat, and eventually will kill this henchman
90 Scared of the dark
91 Loves to set things on fire, always has flint & steel handy
92 Squeamish; gorey, undead, and freaky gross stuff cause a morale check
93 This guy looks and sounds like he is shady … because he is shady
94 Lazy eye … not sure where he is looking
95 Has some really crappy tattoos
96 His nose is smashed and malformed
97 Jinxy - increases chances for random encounters, penalty to all saving throws, things tend to break more often
98 Starts Trouble. Often sabotage negotiations by acting like a jackass
99 A lazy bum who will shirk his duties, especially when no one is watching
100 Nothing … which is terribly suspicious

Why Do It?

Being a henchman is tough, deadly, and often unrewarding.  Why do they do what they do?  Roll 1d100 and find out.

 d100   Motivation
1 A thief who’s doing this to pay off his "Guild Dues".
2 Nothing better to do and doesn't like Todd, his stupid neighbor.
3 A woman disguised as a man. Feels this is her only way to see the world as an adventurer.
4 His clan believes that to become an adult they must kill 10 foes in mortal combat. Is hooking up with the party fulfill his duties.
5 A fool who does not realize how over their head that are - will take some outrageous chances before figuring it out.
6 A man-at-arms looking for some extra pay between battles (+1 attack).
7 A False Man in disguise, but has forgotten his mission and is now stuck in this situation.
8 A wanna-be alchemist seeking new materials for their experiments.
9 An archer seeking to improve his skills against live opponents (comes with a short bow).
10 An inspirational speaker made him think he could be something with his life. This is what he choose to excel in.
11 Apathetic. Gives two rats asses about anything, except getting paid.
12 Being undead has given them few options; isn't rotting yet...
13 Believes fighting the dark forces/monsters is a religious calling.
14 Captain Mediocrity! Awesome at 1 thing, sucks at the rest, thinks adventuring is the way to go!
15 Comes from a family of henchmen and wants to make his daddy proud.
16 Could really use the work to help pay off the family debt.
17 Cursed by a witch and thinks joining this expedition will help remove said curse.
18 Desperately seeking a way out of the life they were born into.
19 Doesn't like adventurers and will screw up their plans every chance he gets.
20 Farmhand who’s bored of their old life. Has knowledge of which plants are good to eat.
21 Former prisoner. No one else will work with him.
22 Got drunk with the party this one time. Believed their tales of adventure to be true and thinks it is all fun and glory.
23 Get enough food (or gold) for family to survive winter/rainy season/drought
24 Feels the call of the dungeon and may eventually become hollow.
25 Hoping to escape some other terrible situation by disappearing with the party.
26 Has a lot of treasure that needs to be"found" by someone else; this guy will demand a share.
27 Greedy bastard. Why else would you do this?
28 Looking to get some added coin to improve his home.
29 Has a death wish. Will always be the first to volunteer for danger.
30 Has a great interest in underground ecology. Figures this is the best way to examine it.
31 Has a substance abuse problem this is how he supports it
32 Has no other ways to get ahead in life.
33 Have you ever wondered what happens on an adventure? Small time kid wants to know what goes on below.
34 Searching for his lost brother.
35 He wants to make coin to start an acting troupe.
36 He was snookered. Got drunk ended up there. Will fulfill his commitment.
37 Actually a leveled NPC looking for some adventurer group to take over and command.
38 His brother bet him that he could not last one delve, trying to prove that asshole wrong
39 His father was killed by a dragon/ogre/troll/etc, he’s seeking revenge.
40 His knight has died and seeks to work at the side of another fighter.
41 Homeless, will carry a torch for food.
42 Hungers to drink the blood of his fallen enemies.
43 I am doing this for the dowery price of my love.
44 I like hurting people.
45 I like hurting people. Getting paid is a bonus.
46 I want to make enough silver to open my own shop.
47 Affected by the hex of a mind wizard and not really sure what is happening
48 If you’d seen his wife you’d be signing up for death around any corner too.
49 Is a hunter looking for monster specimens.
50 Is a time traveling anthropologist studying adventuring culture.
51 Is an anti-monarch agitator, seeing this as a way to fund their terrorist activities.
52 Is running away from their family.
53 Just one last score/adventure/war then I can quit.  Addicted to Henching.
54 Just plain mean and likes to kill.
55 Looking for a way to end up in Valhalla.
56 Maybe I will find a cure for this curse/disease/malformity.
57 My brother drank in 32 different bars and inns by the time he was 24. I shall beat him.
58 My Duke told me to go forth and take a survey of all the known lands and that is what I shall do.
59 Need money to ransom family member.
60 Owns his own axe and wants to fight - won't be a torch bearer (he knows what happens to that lot).
61 One day I shall assassinate my master, and take their loot.
62 One of the PC’s will be a great leader and I will be his right hand!
63 Optimist. Everything is turning up roses. This party is paying me and what can go wrong from here?
64 Paranoid, they really are all after me aren’t they? Maybe this party will keep them at a distance.
65 Wants to prove that he is better than everyone says.  Enthusiastic but misguided.
66 Prove worthy of a bride/groom/honor.
67 Doing this to spite someone
68 Restore honor to the family name.
69 Wants to travel to strange, far off places, meet exotic creatures, and take their stuff!
70 Running from the tax collector.
71 Saving up for passage to another land.
72 Saw a vision. Is seeking to fulfill what they were told.
73 Needs a change of pace
74 Wants to get close to a party member in an intimate way.
75 Sycophant. Loves following orders.
76 Thinks this is bunk and plans on fleecing the party
77 The farming season is over and the field hand could use some coin.
78 The king unfairly stopped paying me for my services as a fighter. I deserve one last great pay day.
79 The PC once saved a family member. Will work for a discounted rate.
80 They are a cleric searching for the True Savior of Faith.
81 They once carried the torch of a great warrior, and ran when they were attacked by a troll. They talk brave but are scared in combat.
82 This one needs to prove his bravery to himself
83 Think they are the most famous fighter, one era before the PCs time. Believe they have all the abilities of this person.
84 Thought delving would be fun and not as dangerous as everyone says.
85 Trust fund dandy seeking adventure before going into a life as a midlevel Duke when their father dies.
86 Searching for a lost artifact ... possibly one the PCs don't even know about yet.
87 Using the party as a cover to build up illicit underground connections.
88 Village/home was burned to the ground and nothing else to do now.
89 Thinks he looks like a badass in adventuring gear
90 Infected by a Ktuth and hoping to find a cure before "the change".
91 Wants to get the party to favor them for political advantage down the road.
92 Wants to learn a trade from a party member.
93 Was kicked out of his parish for an undisclosed sin. Seeks penance by destroying monsters.
94 Was never loved by his family, and seeks the companionship and affirmation from the group.
95 Washed up henchman who thinks he still has it. Will always tell the party about what he did back in the old days.
96 Went carousing in the nearest city. Is now slowly paying back the damage they caused.
97 When he was young he saw a knight on horseback ride through town. Thinks this is his ticket to being that guy.
98 An escaped slave
99 Roll again, but add a piece of weirdness to the mix to make it dangerous for the party
100 Roll twice and intertwine the results

Stats & Whatnot?

Roll the 3d6 & 1d100 for each stat.  This will determine how much crap they can carry and what their base combat scores will be.  Roll 1d10 each for Guts, Karma, Sanity (like mental hit points), Hit Points (which are actual hit points), and Chaos.

Sanity gets eroded with exposure to the horrors of the world and underworld.  Chaos increases as the henchman is exposed to utter evil (dungeons, necromancers, PC cruelty).  Chaos checks happen from time to time to determine if the henchman allows the underworld to crawl inside and begin making them hollow.
 1d10   Guts   Karma   Sanity  Hit Points Chaos  
1 - 4Steady None  2d6 Con + 1d4   0
5 - 7Nervous1d63d6Con + 1d61d6
8 - 9Brave 2d6  3d6Con + 1d82d6
10 (1-3) Coward 
 (4-6) Fearless 
3d64d6Con + 2d63d6

Now Play It To The Hilt!

To make the henchman more than just a collection of words and numbers, play those buggers all the way.  Ham it up.  Make them funny, ridiculous, horrific, or otherwise memorable.  Let the PCs rename them Stink Eye Bill or Idiot John or whatever they like.  Each henchman will grow and change as time goes on - if the PCs have a hand in his development, so much the better.  Don't forget to hack and mangle them as well - critical hits aren't just for PCs.