Henchman Appreciation Week!Posted: November 18, 2011
Inspired by the tales of Heraphalmos from Planet Algol, this post on Swords & Dorkery, and the title of the blog, “Henchman Abuse,” I decided to see if I could start a blog meme by encouraging everyone to help celebrate next week (or, hell, this week; I don’t care) as “Henchman Appreciation Week.” Write about your favorite henchies, living and dead. Celebrate them in word and song!
Where would the dungeoneer be without the hench-people? (or hench-elves, hench-dwarves, hench-hobbits, etc) They find the traps (sometimes because of skill and training, other times, well, it’s not so pretty), carry our torches, ropes, rations, extra shields, ten foot poles and other necessary delving impedimentia, haul out treasure (and the bodies of the deceased), guard our mules, bash down doors and watch us while we sleep. They get eaten by trolls, skewered by spear traps, catch arrows that might have otherwise hit someone important and can at least be counted on to run slower than the slowest party member when a hungry owlbear is chasing you since they will be carrying that anvil looted from the goblin’s armory.
Let’s take a few moments to remember some of the humble spear carriers with poor armor classes, low life expectancy and modest XP rewards who, more often than not, end up feeding the maggots on the bottom of a pit somewhere. Since they seldom live long enough to collect their meager salaries, they are usually a better investment than that extra flask of holy water!
A few memorable henchmen from years gone by:
Skwortch: Goblin guide and bootblack. Originally pressed into service by “The Company of the Summoned Monkey,” Skwortch was never credited with bravery, intelligence or good hygiene, but after the adventurers had treated him decently he managed to overcome his own base nature and behave himself most of the time. He even prevented the party from being eaten by ghouls and helped negotiate safe passage through an underground goblin village. Unfortunately, a cursed mace made quite an impression on the diminutive goblin’s skull and his corpse was discarded without ceremony. His dreams of investing the gold given to him by the party into an ‘escort service’ scheme never came to fruit.
Jocko: Jocko was a half orc henchman who defied all expectations, and, despite seeming to have the bad luck to fall down numerous pits, get crushed by falling rocks, chopped by battle axes, etc., always seemed to have just one more hit point to spare. If memory serves, he started life as a captive freed by ‘The Furious Five.’ Given armor and weapons, he helped fight the way back to the surface, and, in gratitude, agreed to serve the party’s magic user as a body guard. After a few adventures, despite all odds, this unremarkable seeming half-orc survived. Last Iremember, he had been granted full membership in the group and was given a full member’s share of treasure.
Hop Sing: Tragic. One of the players rolled up a henchman and managed to get scores good enough to qualify for the monk class (which, in 1e, was quite unlikely). In the first fight of his first expedition, an insane bandit hit Hop Sing in the head with a club and killed him. As DM, I wasn’t that sad to see an NPC named after the Chinese cook on ‘Bonanza’ leave the game, but having Hop Sing get creamed by the first blow in the first fight of the first session in which he appeared gave his brief story a certain tragic resonance.