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Hired Hands: Expanded Rules for Hirelings

Dungeon delving is a dangerous task, and it’s all the more dangerous without adequate lighting or when burdened by a full backpack. When adventurers need someone to watch their horse or bear a torch, they employ the services of hirelings.

Payment

Regular payment is required to retain the services of a hireling, and unpaid hirelings quickly seek employment elsewhere. Skilled hirelings command higher prices, with seasoned hirelings typically demanding twice the rate of inexperienced hirelings, while expert hirelings ask five times the base rate.

Hirelings expect payment at regular intervals, such as each week or preassigned task. Most hirelings are willing to defer a few payments for larger lump sum when necessary—such as after selling treasure or returning to civilization. Unpaid and mistreated hirelings leave with whatever they can carry, taking goods as “payment owed.” Employers aren’t expected to pay for food or lodging, but additional costs must be covered: if a journey takes longer than foretold, it’s the employer’s responsibility to provide rations.

Types of Hireling

Eschewing combat, hirelings defend themselves only if attacked. They stand well away from fighting, preferably outside the dungeon, or—when they must accompany the party—in an adjoining chamber. Hirelings have little interest in putting their lives at risk, but adventuring is a dangerous occupation and sometimes they attract a monster’s attention, wander into a trap, or must avoid some manner of hazard. All hirelings use the following statistics, modified according to speciality. Inexperienced hirelings are little more than commoners foolish enough to follow adventurers into a dungeon. Seasoned hirelings have either prior employment with adventurers or other experience that prepared them for adventuring. Expert hirelings are consummate professionals, rare individuals who have had their share of adventures but are comfortable in their role as assistant.

Finding Hirelings

It’s seldom difficult for adventurers to find people willing to follow them for gold. Even lesser-known adventures are often trailed by youths clamoring to polish armor or deliver messages when they arrive in a new town. Acquiring skilled hirelings is more of a challenge, requiring adventurers to seek out job postings or inquire at taverns or stores. Experienced hirelings know to advertise their services, posting bills at inns or on job boards. Larger settlements often have laborer’s guilds who can match workers with adventurers. Experienced hirelings insist on a contract that establishes the terms of service: expected duties, pay, and length of service. During negotiations, hirelings are explicit with their responsibilities, preferring not to perform other duties (excluding those arising from extraordinary or unforeseen circumstances). A hireling contracted to manage mounts will balk if asked to set-up camp every night, but will assist if everyone in the company takes a turn. Hirelings regularly asked to perform additional tasks charge a premium for their services, especially if it involves personal risk. This surcharge begins at 50% their daily fee, increasing sharply with danger.

Example Hirelings

Hireling, Inexperienced

Medium humanoid (any), unaligned

Armor Class 11 (leather armor)
Hit Points 5 (1d8 + 1)
Speed 30 ft.

STR DEX CON INT WIS CHA
11 (+0) 11 (+0) 12 (+1) 8 (–1) 8 (–1) 10 (+0)

Senses passive Perception 9
Languages Common
Challenge 0 (10 XP)

SPECIAL TRAITS

  • Defensive. When the hireling takes the Dodge action, they gain a +2 bonus to Armor Class.

ACTIONS

  • Club. Melee Weapon Attack: +2 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 2 (1d4) bludgeoning damage.

Hireling, Seasoned

Medium humanoid (any), unaligned

Armor Class 12 (leather armor)
Hit Points 22 (5d8 + 5)
Speed 30 ft.

STR DEX CON INT WIS CHA
11 (+0) 12 (+1) 12 (+1) 9 (–1) 10 (+0) 10 (+0)

Saving Throws Dexterity +3

Senses passive Perception 10
Languages Common
Challenge ¼ (50 XP)

SPECIAL TRAITS

  • Defensive. When the hireling takes the Dodge action, they gain a +2 bonus to Armor Class.
  • Hardy (1/long rest). While dying, in place of a death saving throw the hireling can choose to become stable.

ACTIONS

  • Club. Melee Weapon Attack: +2 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 2 (1d4) bludgeoning damage.

Hireling, Expert

Medium humanoid (any race), unaligned

Armor Class 12 (leather armor)
Hit Points 65 (10d8 + 20)
Speed 30 ft.

STR DEX CON INT WIS CHA
11 (+0) 13 (+1) 14 (+2) 10 (+0) 12 (+1) 10 (+0)

Saving Throws Dexterity +3, Wisdom +3

Senses passive Perception 11
Languages Common
Challenge 1 (200 XP)

SPECIAL TRAITS

  • Defensive. When the hireling takes the Dodge action, they gain a +2 bonus to Armor Class.
  • Hardy (1/long rest). While dying, in place of a death saving throw the hireling can choose to become stable.
  • Inspired Evasion. If the hireling is subjected to an effect that deals damage and allows it to make a Dexterity saving throw, the hireling instead takes no damage if it succeeds on the saving throw, and only half damage if it fails.

ACTIONS

  • Club. Melee Weapon Attack: +2 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 2 (1d4) bludgeoning damage.
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