My campaign is rebooting in 2 days. One of the players emailed today and said he'd like his character to start off as a forest bandit kind of ranger and he's conceptualizing Robin Hood. So naturally he wants a band of Merry Men.
We're only 1st level. How many hirelings should I allow? I know costs and all that but how many could he possibly attract at first level? Should I allow them to be combatants or just grant bonuses to the PC's combat skills? And as he levels, how should I advance the hirelings?
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Honestly, I don't think I'd allow that at first level. There's simply no way he'd have a band of merry men following him at this point. If anything (and assuming it works into your campaign), I might make him PART of a merry band. Have them be a group of NPCs of various levels that he could perhaps eventually take leadership of, but that in the meantime could be a source of plot points. Perhaps they don't like him spending time with the other PCs (or if it works, you could have all the PCs be part of the band), perhaps they demand he commits certain crimes to prove his loyalty, etc. etc.
Basically this is springing from my player's desire to 1) be Robin Hood and 2) have "meat shields" with him in combat but not to be a Necromancer, Enchanter or Summoner.
I don't know that at 1st level I'd say NO hirelings, but they'd definitely be restricted.
As for him starting as part of the band of merry men, I have to respectfully decline. It doesn't quite work w/the setup I planned. For that matter neither does the player being Robin Hood.