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The most frequently employed NPC is the hireling. A hireling is a person who works for money. Most hirelings have fairly ordinary skills, while others are masters of a craft or art, and a few are experts of specialized adventuring skills. Typical hirelings include the following:

Hirelings are always employed for a stated term of service or for the performance of a specific task. Thus, a mercenary contracts to serve for one season. A thief can be hired to steal a named item. A sage works to answer a single question. A blacksmith may indenture himself for a term of years. A sailor works for a single voyage. Quite often these contracts can be renewed without difficulty, but the only thing that binds a hireling to the player character is regular pay and good treatment. Hirelings do not serve a PC out of any great loyalty.

Thus there are some things hirelings will not do. Most hirelings do not foolishly risk their lives. There are soldiers willing to take their chances on the field of battle, but even these courageous (or foolish) few do not willingly undertake the greater hazards of adventuring. They man castle walls, guard caravans, collect taxes, and charge the massed foe well enough, but they often refuse to accompany a PC on an adventure. Even a hireling who regularly undertakes dangerous missions (a thief or an assassin, for example) normally refuses to join player character parties. These hirelings are loners. They contract to do a job and get it done in their own way, without interference from anyone else.

Hirelings are no more loyal than human nature allows. For the most part, if paid and treated well, with opportunities to realize their ambitions, working for a charismatic leader, hirelings can be relied on to do their jobs faithfully. But poor pay, injustice, discrimination, threats, abuse, and humiliation at the hands of their masters make them somewhat less than reliable. A smart leader sees to the comfort and morale of his men before his own concerns. With less savory characters—those hired to perform dark deeds—the player character takes even greater chances, especially given the questionable morals of such characters.

Whatever their personalities, hirelings generally need to make morale checks (explained in the DMG) whenever they are faced with a particularly dangerous situation or are offered a bribe or other temptation.

Finding hirelings is not difficult. People need jobs. It is simply a matter of advertising. Under normal circumstances, applicants respond to ads. Only when trying to employ vast numbers or hire those with unusual specialties (such as spies) does the process become complicated. Just what needs to be done in this situation depends entirely upon the DM's campaign. Your character may have to skulk through the unsavory bars of the waterfront, rely on questionable go-betweens, or pay a visit to the thieves' guild (if there is one). Just employing one of these characters can be a small adventure in itself.

Employment costs of hirelings vary from a few gold pieces a month to thousands of gold pieces for an especially dangerous task. The skill and experience of a hireling has a great effect on his salary. A learned sage researching some obscure piece of lore can charge hefty sums. Costs can also be affected by the conditions of the campaign—the setting, the recent events of the world, and the reputations of the player characters (if any). Most hirelings sign on for what they think is fair. While few will turn down more money, most will drive the best bargain they can. Your DM has more information about employment costs, since he may need to alter these to fit his campaign.

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