Hirelings in 4E

Hireling go all the way back to the original D&D rule set. Essentially they let the party buy additional members to round out it’s abilities. They also served as a potential source of new characters as needed.

In 4E, a similar position is filled by companion characters (introduced in the Dungeon Master Guide 2). Companions act as supporting characters and help fill out any gaps in the parties abilities.

My themselves, these rules do an adequate job of handling hirelings. However, we can do some interesting things if we mix this with the rules for mounts. In this post I’ll look into some of these options

Note: These rules could potentially also be used for purchasable pets and literal animal companions for party members.

Building Hirelings

Build a hireling just like a companion character, then add the following modifier.

Follower: If left to their own devices, hirelings will use their actions on certain predetermined responses. This can vary between different types of hireling, but generally involves either fighting defensively or performing certain non-damaging attacks (bull rush, grab, ect..). Allies can command them to take other actions instead. It takes a minor action to make a hireling use their minor or move action, but it costs a standard action to make them use their standard action. Characters with this property do not increase the party count for purposes of setting up encounters or their rewards.

The “follower” modifier lets you bring any number of hirelings into the field without messing with the action economy. The DM may still want to limit how many bodies are brought into the encounter, but this makes having a couple extras along far less of an issue.

Hiring Hirelings

A quick glance at the pricing of mounts reveals an interesting correlation. Each mount seems to cost as much as a magic item of the same level. From there we can guess at some solid pricing guidelines for hired help.

One Task: Hiring a character for a single encounter or skill challenge should cost as much as a consumable of their level.

One Day: Hiring a character for an entire day should cost ~3 times what a consumable of their level costs.

On Adventure: Hiring a character for an extended job should usually cost 5 to 10 times the cost of a consumable of their level.

Extended Service: Hiring on a character indefinitely should cost as much as a magic item of their level (~20x consumable cost). This doesn’t neccessarily mean the character never asks for any more pay, just that any such maintenance costs aren’t worth tracking, much like the sale of salvaged materials.

Discount Hireling

If you want more expendable hirelings, let the players buy minion squads. Each squad gives you 4 members for the price of 1. However, each of those members is a minion. This makes them significantly more fragile than normal hirelings.

One advantage to squads is they’re used to being commanded as a unit. It only takes a minor action to make the entire squad use their move or minor actions. It also only takes a minor action to make individual squad members make an attack.

Members of a squad should come with identical stats and skills. This keeps the group from bundling a lot of skill training packages onto different squad members for cheap access to certain skills.

Feat Exchanges

Sometimes you may want to add a hireling more for a specific skill or non-combat ability (such as rituals). You should be able to get to many of these through NPC templates. However, there are the occasional outliers like languages. One way of handling this by swapping one of the character’s existing features, traits, or powers for a feat.

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Published in: on December 5, 2010 at 10:47 pm  Leave a Comment  
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