6 thoughts on “Do you ever “level up” your hirelings?”

  1. In practice, I’ve bumped up a hireling’s loyalty, but the main way I’ve shown them “leveling up” is through the description of their presence. I see the rules explicitly support “leveling up” their other stats though:

    “A hireling’s stats, especially their loyalty, may change during play as a reflection of events.”

  2. I would upgrade them to a “companion.” basically, give them a class and just have them act as an extra character, though they still don’t take the lead in the adventure (unless it’s something they are very knowledgeable about, like a demon hunter while you’re off to fight demons).

    Unlike Hirelings, Companions should be temporary allies rather then new party members. They fight along side you to achieve a certain goal that lines up with your current one, then when that is done they say “It’s not good bye, just see you later.”

    Example I had was an ex pirate captain the group fought who switched sides during one of the later battles. Once all the pirates were defeated, she went off to do her own thing. Then later I had her show up further down the line defending a village from some bandits.

  3. Patrick Schenk I would rather use very skilled hirelings as “companions”, because an NPC with as class could take away some of the PC’s spotlight, especially in cases such as the demon hunter you mentioned.

  4. Pedro Bastos Who cares if they take away from some of the spotlight? The warrior doesn’t cast any spells, the wizard isn’t going to be punching a dragon’s tooth out but they don’t take the spotlight away from each other, because each has their own thing they do. It’s ok to tell your players “This is a person who happens to know what they are doing.”

    The trick is to make them feel like their new ally just knows what’s going on better then them rather then “They are the chosen one, destined to stop the big evil.” You have all these characters in your worlds, from knight captains, kings, master thieves, dragon slayers, ect. It makes absolutely no sense that they just stand around all day with their thumbs up their asses when there is stuff out in the world to do.

    Having the players follow an NPC rather then leading is perfectly fine, as long as you keep what’s going on interesting, and they feel like they are an important cog in the machine that is the King’s army. There are just going to be people in the world that are better then them at certain things, and that’s ok, we can’t all be masters of everything, but we can certainly aspire to be masters of some things.

    RL example would be a ninja that my group encountered while they were infiltrating a temple. They accidentally got the ninja exposed, making him have to fight his way through, while they got off a little easier thanks to his distraction. After the dungeon the thief character started digging up all his contacts and such trying to find the ninja, because he wanted to learn all the awesome techniques he saw him use during his battle.

    And the whole party had more fun because of it, rather then me just saying “other dude got caught, and is overwhelmed and dies.”

  5. Patrick Schenk I still disagree, but you have a good point nonetheless (I even did something like that way back when I just played D&D).

    One last question though: do you control those NPCs, or do you allow the players to order them around in combat and other situations? You know, like in a computer RPG, where players can command their companions but can’t change what they’re going to say or do during dialogue.

  6. Pedro Bastos Unless they are knowingly in a position where they are leading “They are knowingly follow the knight’s orders on how to save the day.” I always have Companions following along, they’ll take actions on their own, but they conform to the party’s will so long as it doesn’t go against what they want.

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