Henchfolk & Hirelings (PFRPG) PDF

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A Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Compatible PLAYER'S RESOURCE by Christian Alipounarian, Creighton Broadhurst and Andy Glenn.

Got a small adventuring party and need some trusted minions to round it out? Remember the good old days when you could have loads of henchmen? If so, Henchfolk & Hirelings is for you!

Based on the classic rules presented in the 1st edition of the world's most popular roleplaying game, Henchfolk & Hirelings provides an alternative system to Leadership for handling your character's most favoured companions. Henchfolk & Hirelings also presents 100 potential henchmen for your PCs, each benefiting from basic information (alignment, sex, race, class and ability scores) as well as notes detailing their background, personality, mannerisms and distinguishing features.

Alternatively, the GM can use the 100 NPCs within to depict fellow adventurers and other persons of note the PCs encounter on their adventures.

This product is a Dual Format PDF and as such includes two versions, one optimised for printing and use on a normal computer and one optimised for use on a mobile device such as an iPad. You can learn more about Raging Swan's Dual Format PDF initiative at ragingswan.com

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Very Organized For Busy GMs


Henchfolk & Hirelings: To sum up: I sure wish I had this 15 years ago, and I sure am glad I have it now.

I was a running an AD&D 2nd Ed game in the late 1990’s. The group was finally going to be travelling to a remote adventure location with difficult terrain and no towns. When confronted with a few logistical troubles, someone said “Hey, remember henchmen? Let’s hire some!” So, being old-school folks, they set about posting job offers and spreading the word. Having a few extra stat sheets handy was no problem, as the DM I was good to go. The players then spent the next 3 hours interviewing each and every candidate and I came up with so many personalities I lost track. But the players loved it and were sure they found the right folks for the job.

This book brings back good old henchmen and hireling rules from the earliest edition of the world’s oldest RPG and makes them work with Pathfinder. The author points out that the Leadership feat and rules are not always a viable option, especially when all you want is a guy to cover your flank in combat or detect traps down the passage. This is about boss/employee relations and coin exchanging hands, not some following of adoration because you’re some high-level hero.

For ease of use, there are multiple charts cross-referenced to allow you to locate the type of henchfolk you need in a hurry at the table, by race, alignment, class, etc. Then in just a couple of pages it goes over the basic rules; how to attract the number of folks you are looking for and the type of settlement you are in both play a factor. Payment options and interviewing them are all covered with ease as well as sound advice on ensuring they are the right choice for the type of game you are playing.

Now, in Pathfinder the rules under equipment list hirelings as paid 1 silver piece a day while this tome lists them as 100 gold a month, but for good reason. Pathfinder assumes these people are simple warrior mercs, or maids, stable hands, cooks, etc. You know, Nodwick, the guy to carry your torches and spears. It also states specially trained henchlings will be paid significantly more. That’s this book. CLASS level folk, not NPC classes.

But before I go too far into that you need to know there are no NPC stats in this book. There are instead 100 NPC’s that are given a cohesive appearance, background, personality and mannerisms. They’re given a name, an array of suggested ability scores, and an alignment and race and class. The meat of the book are these NPCs laid out so the GM can play them during interviews and give you an idea of how they’ll behave in combat as part of the group. These descriptions are tight and concise so a GM can read it in an instant and then get back to playing the game.

All classes and races from the Core Rulebook are represented. I did find it odd that they are all listed as ‘1st level’ when really you are creating or borrowing the stats from elsewhere to use them in game play they can be whatever level you need them at the time. In a way I missed not even having a chart like in the old modules also listing basic equipment and the like but really you need to customize these folks to the game, and there are already a thousand PC/NPC stats available on the Paizo SRD so this works great just as it is.

While not necessarily a must-have book, if you want to add henchfolk and hireling rules back into your game this is a super way to do it. I was provided a PDF of this book for review.

100 personalities for NPC henchmen


Henchfolk and Hirelings by Raging Swan Games

This product is 48 pages long. It starts with a cover, credits, ToC, and forward. (7 pages)

Tables (6 pages)
It starts off with tables of NPC's listing their name, alignment, race, gender, class and what page they can be found on. The tables are broke up by alignment, class, and race. So if you need a good NPC you look at the good alignment tables, if you need a gnome you look at the gnome table. The tables help a GM more quickly find the right NPC.

Hiring Henchfolk (4 pages)
The next section expands rules on how to go about hiring henchmen, dismissing them, how many you might find by the size of the local population, ways to find, and finally a random page of henchmen.

Henchmen (28 pages)
This section lists all the henchmen, they are broken up by race in sections. They list the race, class, gender, alignment, ability scores. Plus they have about a paragraph each of appearance, history, personality, and mannerism. To help a GM breath life into a NPC on the fly. They don't have full stat blocks. There is the following henchmen by race.
Dwarf – 8
Elf – 8
Gnome – 8
Halfling – 8
Half-Elf – 8
Half-Orc – 8
Human - 52

It ends with a OGL, ads, and back cover. (3 pages)

Closing thoughts. The art work is black and white and is ok. Editing and layout where pretty good. The tables where handy and it is extensively bookmarked. With it's plain text and black and white art it is very print friendly as well. Most of the NPC's are well done and would make for quick and easy NPC's with interesting personalities to use in a game. I personally find this a lot more handy than a collection of stat blocks. Others might be disappointed by the lack of full stat blocks. There is also a second ebook reader version as well. There is a few minor issues with the book, namely only the core classes are listed. Also some of the names are used more than one among the humans. I know it happens but with only 52 I think they could have come up with a name for each of them. So what's my rating? Well if you like or want NPC's with ready to use personalities that your players will likely enjoy then pick this book up. I am giving it a 4.5 star, mostly due to the lack of APG classes and more importantly the duplication of names in the humans. If you are looking for stat blocks you will find this less useful.

Trust me, I'm a Succubus.

An excellent resource for just about any GM with only minor blemishes


This pdf is 48 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page blank inside the front cover, 1 page introduction to the subject matter, 1 page editorial, 2 pages ToC, 1 page back cover, 1 page SRD and 1 page advertisement, leaving 39 pages for 100 new hirelings, so what is actually within this tome?

The pdf kicks off with a one-page discussion on why this book exists, namely a significant dissatisfaction with the leadership mechanics and its problems. I'm sure we all experienced the unfortunate problem of cohorts simply not living up to being essential parts of a given roleplaying group and dying too easily/being just another set of (bad) stats. This pdf seeks to remedy that by providing a whopping 100 henchfolk and hirelings for your perusal. For ease of navigation, we also get a two-page table of the henchfolk to be acquired by the PCs sorted by alignment, with details on their classes and the respective pages as well as a two-page list by class as well as another one that presents the henchfolk by race. The alignments of the henchfolk covered are LG, NG,CG, LN, N, CN and LE, offering no cohorts for the NE and CE alignments. While I can understand the reasoning for not adding them as well and making e.g. one of the CN or N guys and gals evil is not hard, I'd love to see a sequel devoted to insane and/or depraved cohorts for NPCs/ evil parties.

The first rules presented cover the acquisition of new hirelings & henchfolk depending on the size of the town in which the PCs recruit as well as a d100-table to randomly determine applicants. The rules are simple, concise and easily implemented. Even better, they can not only be used for PFRPG, but for almost any fantasy-based roleplaying game. This is not where the rules stop, though: From easily used (Diplomacy-based) job interview with the hireling to be, to quick and easy rules for the hireling's upkeep, careful consideration is given to balance the additional support they offer for a party with costs, ensuring that the PCs don't simply amass a small army.

On to the hirelings, then: They are presented by race, starting off with 8 dwarven NPCs. While no full stat-blocks are given for the respective NPCs, they do come with alignment-information, basic ability-scores and their base class. More importantly, though, they all get the Raging Swan NPC-treatment, i.e. short information on appearance, background, personality and mannerisms are given. Each and every NPC within this book gets this treatment.

My favorite dwarven hireling would be the clam, level-headed and kind, yet extremely unpleasant-smelling Torgal Helkrak, called "The Oyugh", whose Cha-score of 6 is explained via his lacking hygiene and conceals a kind, gentle heart. Among the 8 elven NPCs, my personal favorite would be the stark, raving mad Cydul Nailo, who is convinced that all that stands between him and the whisperings of the dread dragon in the sky is his trusted, dented helmet. If you can't come up with some cool ideas resulting from this delusion (or is it one?), I don't know what might spark your imagination.

Within the Gnomish ethnicity, none stood as much out as among the first two racial groups, though the almost pixie-like, hyperactive and kind cleric Ellywick Foler with her pet chipmunk makes for a cool little cohort who is ure to be endeared to the PCs if handled right. All the better when the DM wants to kill off a treasured associate to avoid TPKing the party...

Among the 8 halfling henchfolk, the hedonistic, yet friendly Garrett Greenbottle (a sorceror of the fey-bloodline) caught my interest as well as the rogue Osborn "Ossie" Tealeaf, the latter for reasons I can't disclose here, with players reading this.

The 8 half-elven hirelings presented herein make for interesting companions, with Ilonal, a femme fatale cleric of the god of love ranking as my favorite, but while none fall into the dread emo-Tanis-trope, none really had me excited either.
The most interesting ethnicity with regards to hirelings, at least for me, would be the half-orcs, as they are hard to portray as anything but the cardbox-cut out tropes in the few lines available for each individual. A very cool character is the shoddy make-up wearing, female cleric of the god of beauty and love who was reincarnated into a half-orc by a druid. Formerly, Gerbo Nackle was a dashing male gnome - cool idea and makes for a lot of cool developments. The intellectual diviner Farnsley Thaddeus Biddle is another prime example for good character writing. I do have a gripe here, though: There are two half-orcs named Feng, one who is just called "Feng" and "Feng the Fang" - It would have been easy to rename one of them, why go with the ambiguity?

The vast majority (52 if I haven't miscounted) of the new henchfolk belong to the race of humans. Unfortunately, once again the name-conventions are a bit lazy: We get 2 Digorys, two Alans, two Cajas, 2 Kenver and one Kenvern, 2 Kittos, 2 Petroks, 2 Rosens, 2 Sowenas - that a lot of duplicate names. While we all know the frequency of some names is higher than others, players often have a hard time enough to remember all the names (at least in my campaign that holds true!) that we don't necessarily need names that are all the same. Yes, most have at least a different surname, but unique names would have made for nice bonuses, especially given the fact that you can always take an existing name and apply it to an additional character. This minor problem of repeatedly-used names is, though, the only truly negative thing I can say about the wide plethora of characters found herein.

Conclusion in the product discussion.

Well Worth the Gold Pieces

According to the foreward, this supplement is an attempt to fix 3rd edition D&D's not-so-great Leadership feats and cohorts and replace them with rules that captures the spirit of first edition AD&D's henchmen rules. (I play GURPS 4e and Labyrinth Lord, so I am not in the target audience as far as the specific ruleset is concerned. However, I have experienced the same appreciation for henchmen at the gaming table, especially in situations where I only have a two or three players.)

Henchfolk are listed in a series of charts broken down by alignment, class, and race. A sidebar contains some concise notes about henchfolk, game balance, and their consequences for adventure design. There are a couple of pages with rules for attracting and hiring henchfolk. There is a d100 chart to allow the DM to randomly determine who answers the players' want ads. In my opinion, these concise rules for attracting and hiring henchfolk are very good. They make sense to me and can easily be translated into other systems (like GURPS) and they are far superior to the henchmen rules that I improvised on the fly while running a Labyrinth Lord campaign. The rules cover attracting henchfolk, interviewing them (ie, gaining a good reaction), and also the rates at which they gain experience.

The bulk of the product covers the 100 henchfolk in detail. Name, sex, race, class, and attribute scores are given... then appearance, background, personality, and mannerisms are sketched out with a few sentences each. (As my Labyrinth Lord game uses plain, unmodified 3d6 rolls for attributes, these numbers are a bit high for me... but that is easily corrected.) The information given is plenty to allow for an on-the-fly characterization in a role-playing session. Note that this is the sort of thing that is hurt by too much information-- what I really need is a good gloss and enough hooks to allow obvious things to improvise and riff on during play. That's exactly what is provided here. Players should be able to take these descriptions and run with them as they please-- there is little setting specific detail in them beyond what is typical in a generic AD&D type setting. For groups that aren't playing the henchmen rules for whatever reason, these henchfolk can be a great resource for populating the tavern when the PC's go back to town for supplies. The individual backgrounds and motivations of the henchfolk can provide a lot of ideas for DM's looking to add texture, drama, and a sense of setting to their games. (Note that Labyrinth Lord players will find these characters more useful if they are using the Advanced Companion-- the race/class combinations will often be a bit much for those that play an old school "Basic" D&D. GURPS players will immediately see obvious advantages, disadvantages, quirks, and skills to apply to these characters based on the descriptions.)

Now that I've described the overall contents, let me briefly list the things that were bothersome and/or not-so-great. At the front of the book, there is a note that states that the authors "won’t correct typos," but "will correct any game mechanic or balance issues that come to light." While I only saw a couple of typos in the product to begin with, this attitude strikes me as somewhat unprofessional. I'd prefer to see something that indicates that the authors stand by the quality of their product and will do what it takes to make it perfect. I find the Half-Elf and Half-Orc character background to be hard to swallow, but then... I don't play a lot of straight AD&D type games to begin with. (The implied world of these characters clashes greatly with how these "races" are presented in Tolkien's works, for example.) Finally... the illustrations do not appear to... illustrate... any of the henchmen in the book. It would have been nice to read an NPC and then see a drawing of him on the page. I could be wrong, but I think the drawings are of generic player characters and don't have much to do with the actual content. (This is evidently a cost cutting measure.)

One of the more useful aspects of this product is in the variety of henchmen. Some are "good servants" that will pretty much do their jobs without any fuss. Some have major problems that almost disqualify them from adventuring status. Some have ulterior motives that can come back to haunt the party. Some of them have higher goals that could influence the party in one way or another. Some of them have unusual situations in their background that could lead to complications. As a GM, it is really easy to get into a rut. If I'm improvising these sorts of details, I will often gloss over them completely (making all of the henchmen dull drones ready to do anything they're told) or fall into some other pattern that the players can pick up on. In either case, the players' suspension of disbelief is damaged. However, by seeding the henchmen list with some... uh... interesting folk... the players will learn quickly to pay attention during the interview stage. As henchmen come and go in the players' ranks, the PC's will experience a variety of perks and hassels in regard to the hired hands. Having these characteristics predetermined before the first want ad is posted means the GM can play the NPC's to the hilt without anyone feeling like he's arbitrarily slamming the PC's with complications or being capriciously nasty.

To sum up, this is a surprisingly useful supplement. It is cogent, well written, and has some nice illustrations. The writers are fulfilling a real need that is derived from actual gaming experience. I have seen lists of hirelings and NPC's elsewhere... but nothing with this degree of utility. This supplement is well worth the gold pieces.


Miscellaneous notes:

My rating is based on the overall utility of this supplement can provide in my GURPS Dungeon Fantasy and Labyrinth Lord campaigns. I am less concerned with any other factor besides what a product can do for me at the gaming table.

This product comes as two PDF's: a larger one optimized for printing and a smaller file optimized for ebook readers.

Full Disclosure: I was provided with a free copy of this supplement for review purposes.

My gaming blog is here: http://jeffro.wordpress.com/

My Labryinth Lord session reports are here: http://rpggeek.com/forum/637907/labyrinth-lord/sessions

Easy minions for every campaign


Henchfolk & Hirelings - Raging Swan Press

All in all, this is a great addition to any GM’s library. This document comes in at 48 pages.

The rules for henchfolk are extremely well-written and really helpful for those of us who never played first edition. I can see them being easily written into many types of games.

I’m currently running a Kingmaker game, and these rules/NPC’s will prove to be invaluable to the progress of the campaign.

There are 100 hirelings, each with ability scores provided, to make them full-statted NPCs will take some work, but not too much.

I’d highly recommend this product to any GM.

Sovereign Court Raging Swan Press

Is now available at Paizo! You can check out the contents - including lists of pre-generated NPCs - and download a free sample at Raging Swan's website. I hope you enjoy it!

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 8

Huh, this product isn't appearing under Raging Swan's "Pathfinder products" tab unlike the other Player's Resources products(Horn of Valhalla,Rods of Wonder, etc.)

Sovereign Court Raging Swan Press

John Benbo wrote:
Huh, this product isn't appearing under Raging Swan's "Pathfinder products" tab unlike the other Player's Resources products(Horn of Valhalla,Rods of Wonder, etc.)

Thanks, John, I'll be looking into this as I did recently reorganise Raging Swan's products a bit. I guess Henchfolk & Hirelings slipped through the gaps.

Sovereign Court Raging Swan Press

Henchfolk & Hirelings got its first review over at Game Knight Reviews. You can read their comments here. I'm delighted they liked it so much!

Grand Lodge

I added a review, great product. I love Raging Swan Press!!!

Sovereign Court Raging Swan Press

KigerWulf wrote:
I added a review, great product. I love Raging Swan Press!!!

Thanks very much for reviewing it for me! I'm dead chuffed you liked it so much! Funnily enough, the idea for Henchfolk & Hirelings came to me while I was preparing to run Kingmaker. Sadly, a disasterous run of saving throws meant I never got to use it in that campaign.


Editing and formatting are good, while I didn't notice any typos, double sentences or the like, I did notice some minor punctuation errors as well as a superfluous tab-blank in one of the tables, glitches that could have easily been caught by another pass at editing/formatting. Layout adheres to the classic, two-column Raging Swan standard and the b/w-artwork is nice, though (quite understandably) we don't get artworks for all the cohorts. The pdf is extensively bookmarked and we also get a second version optimized for use with e-readers. There being no statblocks per se, but only fluff with general attributes, usability of this pdf is not restricted to PFRPG, but could easily be adapted to just about any fantasy rpg. This being a crunch-light book, I'll rate it on the fluff and how the attributes of the respective characters are reflected in the flavor-text describing them. Interestingly enough, the amount of options of e.g. reasons for a low charisma are very high and, to be honest, none of the characters herein felt truly generic or like a walking trope. With the half-orc Krusk we even get a nice metagamey nod towards an iconic of yonder days of 3.X and, as you may have gathered from my favorites, some truly far-out individuals are among the hirelings. Rest assured, though, that more mundane people and even old and venerable characters can be found among the hirelings, offering for a nice and diverse set of individuals. I do have some points of criticism, though: Neither the APG, UM or UC are directly supported by these characters and while it is easy enough to make particular sorcerors or druids witches, it would have been nice nevertheless to at least have bracketed information à la "If you use the APG, substitute class XYZ for base-class ZYX" - in my opinion this would have enhanced the already very broad versatility of this book. Indeed, this book not offers a sufficient array of NPCs to serve as ideal backdrops for e.g. Kingmaker-campaigns or similar NPC-heavy campaigns, but could inspire whole campaign-arcs via the hooks for all the characters herein. Not all is perfect, though: The aforementioned name-issue is even more evident when e.g. considering Myghal, a monk hireling whose name is the exactly same as the one of a monkish villain from Villains I. An easily avoidable repetition. Another extremely minor gripe I have is the lack of one of the nice rhyming stances that feature prominently in almost all recent RSP publications. While none of my gripes per se are enough to detract a whole star, the accumulation of them makes it unfortunately impossible for me to rate this pdf the 5 stars its content would usually receive from me. While not enough to detract a star, this pdf still gets a final verdict of 4.5 stars, rounded down to 4 until at least the name issue or the glitches have been taken care of. Don't be fooled, though: There is scarcely such an easily usable pdf out there and the value you get for your money is astonishing, making this one of the most expedient files to have as a GM. If you're DMing for a fantasy setting, any one really, be sure to check this out. You won't regret it. I hope there will be sequels.

Reviewed here, on DTRPG and sent to GMS magazine. Will post about it on RPGaggression, too.

Great work,

Dark Archive

Nice review End.

Thanks, D_M!

Dark Archive


Sovereign Court Raging Swan Press

Dark_Mistress wrote:

Thanks very much! I'm delighted you enjoyed it so much.

Nice review, D_M!

Sovereign Court Publisher, Raging Swan Press

Thanks very much for the great review, DM Jeff. I'm jolly glad you enjoyed Henchfolk & Hirelings and I hope your players enjoy it as well!

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