The Player Takes Over
Once the DM decides that an NPC is a henchman, he should make two copies of
the NPC's character sheet, one for himself and one for the player. Not everything
need be revealed on the player's copy—the DM may choose to conceal alignment,
experience point totals, special magical items, or character background.
However, the player should have enough information to role-play the henchman
adequately. It is hard to run a character properly without such basic information as
Strength, Intelligence, race, or level. Ideally, the player should not have to
ask the DM, "Can my henchman do this?"
Naturally, the DM's character sheet should have complete information on the
henchman. Moreover, the DM should also include a short description of the
henchman in appearance, habits, peculiarities, personality, and background. The last
two are particularly important.
Establishing the personality of the henchman allows the DM to say, "No, your
henchman refuses to do that," with reason. The astute player will pick up on
this and begin playing the henchman appropriately.
A little background allows the DM to build adventures that grow out of the
henchman's past. An evil stranger may come hunting for him; his father may leave
him a mysterious inheritance; his wife (or husband) may arrive on the doorstep.
Even a little history is better than nothing.
A henchman should always be of lower level than the player character. This
keeps the henchman from stealing the spotlight. If the henchman is equal or
greater in level, he could become as, or more, important than the player character.
The player might neglect his own character, an undesirable result. Thus, if a
henchman should reach an equal level, he will depart the service of the player
character and set out on his own adventures. This doesn't mean he disappears
forever. He is still present in the campaign, can still show up periodically as a
DM-controlled NPC, and can still be considered a friend of the player character.
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