Full Disclosure: I was provided this material by the author in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not paid for this review.
Sometimes during the course of a game players will decide to become entrepreneurs and want to hire employees. Usually this results in nothing more than giving them a name of a local that they hire for a specific task. However there are occasions when they may want to hire people with a particular set of skills. Maybe they want to hire a ranger to take them into the dark evil woods so they don’t get lost, or a paladin to act as a security chief for their stronghold. When this happens it requires extra work on the part, you, of the Dungeon Master. You have to come up with names, stat sheets and probably a backstory for these new NPCs you had no intention of ever needing.
This is where Hirelings and Henchmen comes in. Written by Andrew Cawood and published by Cawood Publishing on DrivethruRPG, this supplement gives you those hired hands at the tip of your fingers. It’s a very simple no frills NPC resource, which when you need it for something unplanned is perfect. It covers a variety of choices for level 1 through 6.
There are 4 sections to this PDF download, Hirelings, Henchmen/NPCs, Henchmen/Monsters and an NPC table. The Hirelings and Henchmen/NPCs sections are set up very much the same way. You can search for a particular class and find several NPCs of varying races within. Need a human ranger for your players to hire? How about Evelyn who is lawful good, 2nd level. With the amount of choices available finding what you need is quick and easy.
The nice thing about these NPCs is they come with characteristics to help the DM play them, and of course they can be changed to suit any particular need for the story. For DMs who want or need to cut down on prep time this could be an essential document. Those looking for fluff or story hooks won’t find them here. It’s purely a mass of stat blocks, which is not a bad thing. It makes finding waht you need quick and easy.
The Henchmen/NPCs section is, for the most part identical to the Hirelings section. The only difference here are the alignments are, of course, geared towards evil. You get a variety of stats for various types of henchmen that your Big Bad may need to carry out their evil plans and act as road blocks for your low level players. Again they are divided by class giving you the option of using whatever serves your purpose.
In the Henchmen/Monsters section we are given a few different NPCs that don’t fall into the typical races. Drow, Lycanthropes, Ogres, Rakshasas, Vampires, and Vampire Spawns are the only options given here. They are basically more fleshed out versions of what you’d find in the Monster Manual. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing but a bit more variety in monster types would have been nice. However the purpose of this supplement isn’t about having monster stat blocks, there’s plenty of resources for that. One thing I particularly like is that each NPC has an equipment list, meaning no more having to think of what the PCs will find when they inevitably ransack the corpse.
My only real criticism of this supplement is that the races for all these Hirelings and Henchmen are from the Players Handbook. While inherently this isn’t a big deal for the hirelings it would be fun to have henchmen of other races like goblins, kobolds or orcs. This doesn’t really detract from the usefulness of the PDF and they can be substituted for with given races with a little tweaking.
Overall this could be a very useful addition to a DMs toolkit. It’s a quick way to add some characters when the players throw you a curve ball or you’re looking for a bit of inspiration. The $5.24 CAD price point will hardly break the bank for something that will save you time prepping for a game or having to come up with a character on the fly.
Have you used this supplement or others like it? Let me know in the comments.