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Using Henchmen Properly


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#1 Disgruntled Owl

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Posted 10 December 2012 - 04:59 AM

 

I have recently started getting the hang of using henchmen in my games, the PC's love being able to cleave through multiple enemies and they are necessary for presenting large groups of goblins for example.
 
However i find it very weird to have a group of goblins be really weak (the henchmen) and at the same time have goblins three times as powerful be in the same encouinter. I guess you can justify it somewhat by saying the tough ones are the lieutenants or just naturally stronger but then it doesnt make sense when they are ambushed by common street ruffians in an alleway and they arent henchmen, but i dont want to have to have thirty ruffians to subdue them.
 
How do you handle henchmen?
 
 
Also, when do you call a campaign quits due to character death? If you have had a storyline running for a while and you only have one original character left and then he dies.. do you continue on? If you have a group of six people and five die in one engagement then do you end the campaign or have five new characters join the one original?
 


#2 valvorik

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Posted 10 December 2012 - 05:28 AM

For henchmen, I always either have them alone (just a swarm of something) or with a regular one as "leader" or something else, particularly once PC rise.

Originally you faced a wargor and couple of gors and sweated, eventually you face a "hero template wargor" and 16 gors (4 gangs of 4) and sweat that heroic wargor but take down the gors - though due to their fortune dice etc. they are still not to be ignored.

I tend to keep running afer PC death, bring in a new PC.  Takes 3/4 fatality + to reboot.



#3 k7e9

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Posted 11 December 2012 - 07:05 AM

I seldom mix henchmen and regular creatures of the same "sort", for example goblin henchmen and goblins. But I could use henchmen goblins and some orcs, to make the orcs the more prominent fighters but add numbers through the henchmen. It's harder to keep track of which goblins are regular and which are henchmen if I were to mix. Henchmen are mostly made up by the weakest creatures in the encounter. In my mind it would not make sense to have henchmen orcs and normal goblins for example.

I generaly want the players to keep back up characters at the ready, and to have those back ups tied to the rest of the group somehow. It could be old friends, relatives or NPCs that has been part of the groups earlier adventures. If you look at the old enemy within campaign they offer the option of several NPCs as potential fututre player characters. That way the story can go on, even after several party members die. If the players are prepared, it's possible to continue.

Another way of doing it is to have the new group enlisted for the same adventure. "Hey, theres a chaos cult in the evil forest, a group of bold adventurers tried to stop it but they haven't returned for a week now. Would you care to investigate?" And then they can find their former characters mauled bodies somewhere and go on with the adventure. It could even be fun for the players to find 3/4 dead of their former characters dead and one of them mad and mutaded, chewing on his former friends leg. Get creative, often the players want to continue the story as they have invested a lot of time in it, and the GM might have prepared a lot of things for the adventure. So it's sad just to throw all that work out the window and start over.



#4 Ghazi

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Posted 27 December 2012 - 09:37 AM

Following a TPK, I have had someone be an unlikely, unretrievably scarred survivor who lives to pass on the quest to a new team.  A mixture of investigation and the info shared by this survivor help bridge gaps.  It can also be a good time to rotate players in and out of a campaign group.  I'm a big fan of fresh blood with new beginnings.



#5 Doc, the Weasel

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Posted 28 December 2012 - 09:47 AM

Disgruntled Owl said:

I have recently started getting the hang of using henchmen in my games, the PC's love being able to cleave through multiple enemies and they are necessary for presenting large groups of goblins for example.

 
However i find it very weird to have a group of goblins be really weak (the henchmen) and at the same time have goblins three times as powerful be in the same encouinter. I guess you can justify it somewhat by saying the tough ones are the lieutenants or just naturally stronger but then it doesnt make sense when they are ambushed by common street ruffians in an alleway and they arent henchmen, but i dont want to have to have thirty ruffians to subdue them.
 
How do you handle henchmen?
 
 
I actually stopped using Henchmen for a while, and scaled back how many enemies there were. It seems to work well. 
 
If I were to integrate them back in, I think you can mix henchmen and standard enemies of the same type if you make the distinction clear in your description of them. Maybe the henchmen goblins are jittery and absent-minded, while the normal versions are more focused and mallicious, and have better weapons and armor. Give the normal ones a piece of equipment that sets them apart, like they wear red scarves that show that they are tougher.  Maybe have the normal ones bark orders at the henchmen.
 

Disgruntled Owl said:

Also, when do you call a campaign quits due to character death? If you have had a storyline running for a while and you only have one original character left and then he dies.. do you continue on? If you have a group of six people and five die in one engagement then do you end the campaign or have five new characters join the one original?

 

 

I had 2 out of my 3 characters die once. I was running it based on where the characters wanted to go rather than me having some master plot-line, so it wasn't a biggie. We just followed the survivor as he left town (abandoning the story I had there) and met two new companions. 

This is something you need to consider when starting the game. If character death derails your story, then you need to either retool the story so that it doesn't or don't allow the characters to die. The latter isn't as silly as it sounds; the consequences of failure can be as bad or worse than dying.

 


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#6 Romus

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Posted 29 December 2012 - 10:49 AM

Was just watching Last of the Mohecans and was thinking of henchmen in the first ambush and last battle. Everyone but the main characters and main villain went down in one hit, maybe two (could be flavor text). It made me want to use henchemen a lot more often.   



#7 Emirikol

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Posted 30 December 2012 - 05:34 AM

Yea, I think players get satisfaction out of mowing through fields of bad guys and they are another tool to help a combat "seem" more complex.  True even for the player playing the scribe who hits people with his spiked-book of accounting plus these:

 Fortune Dice

 

I still recommend that we make complicated compbats because of environmental and tactical reasons as well.

 

jh



#8 Yepesnopes

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Posted 05 January 2013 - 09:53 PM

I am not sure if there is a proper and a wrong way to use Henchmen. In my opinion it depends on which flavour you want to give to your games.

I don't use them for example because they don't fit at all with my vision of the warhammer world. On the other hand, if you want Action movie like encounters, then hencmen are great.

Cheers,

Yepes


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