I really like the idea of having level 0 guys as potential henchmen, and not just ordinary hirelings. I’m in the process of preparing a deck of henchmen on 4x6 index cards. I should say, several decks: 1 for level 1 characters, a much smaller one for level 2 characters, and a big one for level 0 characters.
The whole proficiency system really gives a lot of zing to the creation of level 0 guys. I’m just wondering what proportion people should expect of level 0 henchmen to be mercenary-types (i.e., those armed as mercenaries and with 4 hp, but willing to be henchmen), or general enterprising lackeys (who expect mainly to lift and carry stuff), or who are more like specialists (healers, trackers, blacksmiths) who want to be henchmen?
Right now, I’m thinking about half would be mercenaries, the other half mostly ambitious laborers, with a small sprinkling of healers, minstrels and hunters.
The ones in the henchmen deck obviously are different eggs than the ones available as proper mercenaries or specialists, but what really is the expectation? Are the level 0 henchmen all expected to be wide-eyed farm-boys or are they skilled folk who want to cash in on the adventure business? Or really, does it make so little difference to not bear thinking about?
I generate proficiencies and HP for L0 henchman candidates randomly, and then figure out what they are from there. The sort of weird mixes you get with random generation (Siege Engineering, Seduction, Language, and Theology… uh ok) tends to make my L0s the sort of people one might expect to take up adventuring - the weird ones.
I assume that 0-level henchmen come with nothing of their own and will fill whatever role they’re given.
While there definitely is a place for (ex-)mercenary henchmen, I like to see a little variety, in the group. The 4 general proficiencies really gives you quite a bit of latitude in differentiating characters. Generic mercenary types can start to blend together, becoming, “the spear guys in rank 2” or worse an “ablative layer of meat”. Throw in a useful and/or interesting proficiency and suddenly we have “the mage college dropout” (alchemy, collegiate wizardry, etc.), “the healer’s apprentice” (healing, theology, naturalism, alchemy, etc.), “the hunter” (survival, tracking, navigation, etc.), “the military scholar”(military strategy, siege engineering, leadership, manual of arms, etc.), “the farm-hand” (profession: farming, animal husbandry, etc.), “the (ex?) con-man” (disguise, mimicry, seduction, gambling), and much more. If the players don’t have a needed skill a henchman could fill the gap, becoming an invaluable resource.
Does anyone know how to sail a ship? Turns out henchman John was a fisherman by trade.
Anyone familiar this religious symbol? Lay-sister Marcus spend 5 years in a nunnery before her nervous breakdown.
Who can identify this potion? Bob was an alchemist’s apprentice before he was kicked out for selling mushrooms from the ingredient cupboard.
Many of the henchmen in my campaign started out as 0-level mercenaries, carousers, or normal men (and women), with most of them having been mercenaries. I give the mercs and carousers Adventuring and 1 other randomly-generated general proficiency, and the normal men 4 randomly-generated general proficiencies. I also randomly generate their age (d6: 1 Youth, 2-5 Adult, 6 Middle Aged) and give them each a randomly-generated physical and personality trait using a customized version of Telecanter’s Hireling Spur. They have all ended up with some kind of quirk to make them memorable as individuals.