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Get a Life, Henchman!

By Peter Adkison
I like rolling up henchmen for player characters. Often I can’t resist giving them some interesting quirk that turns them into something more than a set of attributes or mere cannon fodder. What I’ve developed is a simple chart, against which I roll 1d100 for each NPC.

Roll 1d100
01-83. Nothing special.

84. The henchman is a spy or a plant from an enemy of the PCs.

85. A henchman with a shady past. This henchman has committed some crime (or has been wrongly accused of committing a crime) and is wanted by the law, probably in a different country. The henchman becomes nervous if the PC ever decides to go adventuring in that land.

86. The henchman is secretly in love with the PC and has signed on to put himself or herself in a position to develop a relationship.

87. The henchman falls in love with another henchman. There’s a chance the relationship blooms into marriage (perhaps leading to baby henchmen!), the relationship results in a brief romance followed by a nasty breakup, or the relationship never gets off the ground. In any case, it could create some interesting tension in the ranks.

88. A rivalry develops between this henchman and another henchman. There’s a 50% chance this is a healthy competition that eventually brings them closer together, but there’s also a 50% chance it turns very disruptive, possibly leading to foul play.

89. The henchman is extraordinarily ambitious. He or she works very hard to advance and prove his or her worth. Other henchmen could become jealous, particularly if the PC shows favoritism.

90. The henchman lies about his or her capabilities. The henchman is only half as proficient as he or she claims to be. The PC doesn’t know this, and the DM must play the henchman carefully not to let on. The henchman could be doing this to command higher pay or might simply be nervous about being accepted for employment.

91. The henchman isn’t the “original” but is actually a high-quality clone or simulacrum, unknown to the PC. The henchman might or might not know this, and the original character might or might not be alive or know of the henchman’s existence.

92. The henchman has a secret character class that the PC doesn’t know about. Perhaps the character is not simply a fighter but is really a fighter/thief.

93. The henchman is of a very different class than the PC. Whereas the standard is for fighters to attract fighters as henchmen, who’s to say there can’t be an exception?

94. Henchman is fanatically loyal. This henchman has a morale of 20, never consciously betrays the PC, and never fails to execute an order to the best of his or her ability.

95. The henchman has a curse. This is most interesting if the nature and source of the curse aren’t immediately obvious, and the PC must figure out why certain things happen. Ideas for a curse could be something as simple as causing water to turn stale, or the henchman could have something severe like lycanthropy.

96. The henchman has a disturbing personality quirk, like extreme arrogance, bigotry, abrasiveness, or overconfidence.

97. The henchman is very career oriented and tries to become “second in command” and hold other positions of key responsibility. He or she becomes unmotivated if not given a chance to lead key activities.

98. The henchman is a true adventurer and occasionally leads adventures independently!

99. The henchman is of a different race than the PC. There’s a 10% chance of a strange or unique race. There could be a great story behind this one.

00. DM’s choice. Come up with something really over the top, like bastard son of a deity. Or re-roll.


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