Cawood Publishing returns with Hirelings and Henchmen, a new NPC supplement to use for your Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition games. After a successful Kickstarter campaign, I managed to acquire not only a digital copy of the release but also a physical softcover version. I have missed the opportunity from the Between Dungeons handbook and vowed to obtain physical copies whenever possible since. I’ve received and reviewed several of Cawood Publishing’s products in the past, from their World of Myrr campaign setting, their adventures in the Forgotten Realms, and even their epic-tier adventure: Hunting the Xanathar.
So let’s dive right into Hirelings & Henchmen.
You can undoubtedly grab your own copy of the PDF on DriveThruRPG with the link here.
Hirelings & Henchmen, Oh My!
One of the most task-intensive parts of preparing for a Dungeons & Dragons session involves creating NPCs, whether it includes stats, personality details, or even a rough backstory for them. Dungeon Masters spend a lot of time crafting these NPCs, sometimes they die or are never explored, sometimes players hate the useful NPCs and love the random ones they find that you had to create on the fly. Ultimately, NPCs are what fill every adventure and campaign, they are the faces that the players interact with the most, and often times will color the setting you’re playing in. Within the 117 page supplement, you have not just stat blocks for your hirelings and henchmen, but you also have personality traits and even backgrounds to give them flavor and a life of their own.
Let’s start with some of the hirelings that your party can hire during their games.
The book gives full stat blocks for a hireling of each of the playable class found in the Player’s Handbook, and different ones ranging from 1st level to 6th level. Additionally, each NPC permutation consists of backgrounds you would also see in the Player’s Handbook along with personality traits, ideals, bonds, and flaws. There are even descriptions of their base equipment. They are extremely useful for Dungeon Masters, as these sort of established NPCs can be integrated into your campaigns quickly, just add some backstory to flesh them some more and make them part your campaign setting.
Beyond this section, you have henchmen and NPCs which are structured very similarly to the hireling section, the caveat is that most of these characters are of evil alignment and apparently are meant to be complete jerks to the party. These henchmen make for great mid-boss encounters during an adventure, or even NPCs to toss in for a quick encounter or one-shot if necessary.
The Henchmen/Monster section is probably one of my favorite parts of this supplement. You have lots of monstrous adversaries such as Drow, Lycanthropes, Orges, and even Vampires (more on that later) but you are also given short descriptions of their appearances and backstories. Vampires are relatively common in the World of Myrr which might explain the plethora of Vampire and vampire spawn, who doesn’t love having vampiric villains in their games? There are plenty of opportunities for players to utilize these monstrous henchmen whether it be to a reoccurring NPC, a mid-boss for the players to pursue and possibly defeat before learning about a more significant sinister plot or even to just fill in the ranks of an evil organization. Imagine the players having to contend against multiple vampires at a time? That’s always harrowing and difficult, it should pose quite the epic combat scenario.
Shiny Art! Smoother layouts!
Something I’ve casually noticed from Cawood Publishing is the increased quality of not only their layout (which is fantastic and beautiful), but even the new artwork featuring webcomic artist Travis Hanson brings a new dimension to the finished product. But like in previous products, the content is easy to find, to navigate and aesthetically arranged to be easy to read. It’s definitely something I’m delighted to see, and I look forward to seeing more from Cawood Publishing in the foreseeable future.
I’ve been a fan of Cawood Publishing’s products and supplements for a while, they’re easy to read and just possess quality content. This is a great book for Dungeon Masters hoping to add some personality and flair to their NPCs and even create some memorable henchmen that thwart the party at every turn sometimes. These henchmen can be placed anywhere and used wherever you see fit, it’s a great tool when you really need a random NPC and didn’t have the chance to prep for one. Plus it’s really cool to see Rakshasa NPCs, which aren’t often utilized. You want some cunning fiendish villains that can change their shape? Great! Your players will hate you till the end of times for this brilliant betrayal. So do it.
You can grab your copy of Hirelings and Henchmen here.
You can also check out Cawood Publishing’s other adventures & supplements here.
Don’t forget to follow Cawood Publishing on Facebook and Twitter.
At the time of this article, Cawood Publishing released a new Kickstarter called Monsters of the Feyland, a new 5th Edition D&D supplement to fill your adventures in the land of the Fey with awesome monsters. Travis Hanson returns with amazing original cover art for the book, and for the first time, a hardcover bound copy can be acquired by backers.
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