Thursday, January 11, 2018

Henchmen and Hounds

One feature of old school type gaming that I enjoy is henchmen. While admittedly they're more mouths to feed, both literally and metaphorically with treasure and XP, having a couple extra hands down in the dungeons can be a really good thing. Especially since there are a LOT of mouths to feed down there and it might be the difference between whether you or your hired help get volunteered for that job.

The best ones develop their own personalities and become just as much a fixture of the campaign as the player characters. (I still fondly remember Melchior (with his missing fingers and his justified pathological fear of wolves) Strang the Unlucky, or good ol' Frog from when I played in Paul's ongoing campaign back in the day.)

Meta game wise, they're a great source of backup characters if your primary character fails their save vs. the big Trapper Keeper in the sky and you don't want to wait to get back into the action until the party extricates themselves and treks all the way back to the tavern to find a new sucker adventuring companion. This is why I always recommend henchies get a full cut of the in-game loot, even if they're only drawing 1/2 exp. It makes an easier transition than the party just deciding all of a sudden the former flunky suddenly gets a pay raise.

So I decided to have some hireling figs on tap with my dungeon kit, just to have 'em.They can also do duty as town guards or bandits if need be. I dunno why I decided to make them kinda like starter Pokémon (water, fire, and leaf types) but the rock/paper/scissors aspect of that may come into play somehow. Who knows?

These guys come in 3 packs so they're a good way to fill out your roster on the cheap. You can also get 'em with spears, bows, and x-bows if you wanna get fancy. I didn't, so sword guys are good enough for me. 

I've also got a faithful porter, for those non-combatant, stuff carrying jobs where you might not want to bring a pack mule or pony down into the depths. Reaper's got a pretty decent peasant with pitchfork and torch. With a little modification to the fork, like maybe turning it into a spear or quarterstaff, they could make a good torch bearer.

Good ol' Yothrick the Downtrodden.

Now another form of dungeon helper I've seen before is someone often has the bright idea of bringing dogs into the scary, monster and trap infested underground. I'm a bit more ambivalent about this. Just like henchmans, dogs are really under the control of the DM, but are a bit more unpredictable since they're animals and unless you've got a druid with the right spells along it might be hard to get 'em to understand or do what you want. 

It pays to remember that they're just dogs, not remote control robots who can bite monsters. They'll spook at really unnatural things like undead or aberrations. They bark, which at the right time could be a vital warning of danger but at the wrong time would be like having your own pet shrieker following you around. Plus if you bring 'em along just to set off traps you probably ought to scratch "Lawful" or "Good" even "Human" off your character sheet if it somehow got on there.

Still, I figured it'd be worth picking up a couple of doggos for either extra help on a delving crew, or even better as K-9 units for any town guard entanglements the party might find themselves in. It's always worth remembering, if the DM allows you to have it, then they get to use it too.
Big puppers. These guys are pony sized in 35mm scale. In fantasy world dog curbs you.

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