Henchmen magic items?

So I’m rolling up henchmen for the party to hire, and I started to wonder if levelled henchmen have the usual 5% chance per level to have a magic item appropriate to their class that most NPCs do. Currently I’m leaning towards no, since then they become a pretty nice magic item mine for the PCs, and it could be explained as “potential hired henchmen are down-on-their-luck, failed adventurers who either never found magic items, or who had them stolen.” Thoughts from the assembled?

“Henchmen, mercenaries, and specialists will have equipment appropriate to their profession, class, or level.” p. 49.

Given that the 5% chance per level results in a lower chance of having a magic item than a PC of the same level does, I’d call it fair to let them have something.

Perhaps… It is a bit bothersome, though, when you go to roll a 2nd-level thief’s gear and she gets a ring of 4 wishes and a flying carpet, especially when there are only two rings (protection +1 and plant control) and one minor misc magic item (eyes of the eagle) in the entire party at the moment…

Official rule aside, my thoughts are that it really should be based in part, on how you perceive your campaign. If magic is commonplace, then perhaps there is a chance they have one or more.

As a default however, I personally think it’s wiser to not allow henchmen the chance to possess magic items. In most campaigns, I’ve experienced, the players come across loads of magic items, with more than enough for PCs to spread the wealth around. No need to give the PCs “free” magic items if a henchman kicks the bucket!

I think I would feel free to edit the magic items if I was getting those sorts of results. Or use them as a plot hook.

High-level henchmen do have a % chance to have magic items, yes. 

From the point of view of mimesis of the game world (its self-consistency), a 4th level NPC fighter encountered and recruited in town ought to have the same likelihood of having magical items as a 4th level NPC fighter encountered and recruited in the wilderness.

However, let me caveat the above with a brief side point on the notion of "listening to the dice". James Mal and a few other pundits have waxed eloquently about the virtues of letting the dice stand, and building the campaign around their results. I am not a believer in "the dice are always right" when it comes to the mimetics of the world. That includes stocking your NPCs with equipment. Just because you rolled a "ring of 3 wishes" for a 1st level thief doesn't mean you have to listen to the dice.

The dice can be useful as guidelines and inspirations, but how you, as Judge, choose to stock the world in which the PCs will live must always trump them. So, for instance, if you decide that the *reason* the NPC is loitering in town is because he doesn't have any magical gear, then that's sufficient justification for him not to have any magical gear. 




I tend to be on the “reroll once or twice, and then the dice stand” side of things; in this case, I think I’m going with “the ring hasn’t been identified yet (good luck with that, since you have no wizards over 2nd level), and the broom of flying replacing the carpet was stolen from a powerful witch, who is now after said thief and her employers.”

a 2nd level thief who suddenly came into 3 wishes and a magic carpet sounds a lot like Aladdin. maybe lean on that story for ideas on how to flesh out that henchman’s personality.

Sigh. Another rule I’ve been doing wrong. Not sure why I thought the rule for henches was “clothes on their back and nothing else.”

I could be wrong on this, but I think it depends on how you meet them. I believe people you attempt to hire in a city are that way, however there is a chance to meet NPC parties out in the wilderness/dungeons who may be open to being hired. For them, it wouldn’t make sense to assume they have no gear.

Yes, look for inspiration, but if it doesn’t strike, throw it away or roll again.
Me, I’d spend a distracted while trying to figure out what the thief could have wished for with a putative already-spent wish that led them to the players.

You could always treat the results of these rolls as not "has these items in their possession" but rather "knows where they could be found". My PCs would be eager to hire a henchman whose former master had a ring of three wishes...