Heroic Explorations: Hirelings

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Heroic Explorations: Dungeon Keepers

Adventuring is big business, dealing routinely in sums otherwise the province of small nations and nationwide merchant companies. This can have an inflationary effect on communities as adventuring companies pass through, spending more in a fortnight than would otherwise be spent in a season.

Places where adventurers congregate develop specialized economies catering to the needs of adventurers with goods and services not generally required in common society.


One industry that has grown up in the periphery of adventurers is that of the hireling. These are individuals who lack the stomach, skills, or will to be adventurers themselves, but who are brave enough to accompany them on their excursions. Hirelings act as porters, wilderness guides, torch-bearers, cooks, servants, valets, and groomsmen, as required.

The work is dangerous and many hirelings do not return, but a commoner can earn as much from a single expedition than he or she could earn in a year at an honest trade. Even more are attracted by the reflected glory of their patrons, hoping one day to join them as partners, as equals.

These hopes are rarely realized, and many Hirelings end their careers as lost bones in the bottom of some fetid pit.

Types of Hirelings

  • Valet: An adventurer’s personal assistant. They care for any horses, clean their master’s (or mistress’s) clothing, polish their armor, clean their weapons, cook for them, and see to minor arrangements in town. The equivalent of a Lord’s gentleman’s gentleman, or a Lady’s personal maid.
  • Cook: Prepares meals for the entire camp of adventurers and their hirelings. Will handle food procurement from the budget allotted by their employer.
  • Jack: Handles logistical matters for Adventurers. Will hire other hirelings, manage them, arrange for lodging, plan routes, handle the treasury, manage camp, purchase equipment and provisions, find buyers for recovered treasure, and act as liaison with local business and authority. May accompany adventurers, or simply offer his services when they come to his town or city.
  • Link Boy/Torch Bearer: Hired to accompany adventurers into dark and lonesome places, carrying a torch or lantern to light the way. A derogatory term is “trap finder.”
  • Guard: Literally hired to guard the adventurer’s camp, expedition, or less physically inclined members of the party. Better as sentries than monster-killers.
  • Entertainer: A musician, poet, jester, or acrobat present to liven up otherwise dull moments and take Adventurer’s minds off of the grimness of their business.
  • Healer: Trained in nonmagical healing techniques to keep wounds clean and provide care after battles. May also be a barber.
  • Groom: Hired to feed and care for adventurers’ mounts. Will take care of them while their bosses are down in the dungeons.
  • Guides: Locals who know the area Adventurers are expected to be traveling in. May also hunt to provide fresh meat for the expedition. May be capable woodsmen, or may just know their way around.
  • Laborers: Take care of the heavy lifting. Will carry supplies and recovered treasure, dig holes, set up camp, any other nonhazardous and unskilled work required of them.
  • Armorer: Commissioned to make field repairs of adventurers armor and weaponry. May be a bit of a luxury.

Hirelings come in a range of competency for their skill-sets. Few will willingly accompany their masters down into a dungeon, and even fewer will be effective there. Except link-boys, of course. That’s basically their only job.

Generally speaking a Jack can be hired to assemble any other desired hirelings, and once they’ve done so, will cheerfully manage them as part of their other duties. Valets (and sometimes Jacks) may be long-term employees of adventurers, but the rest are typically commissioned for a single expedition.

Michael Coorlim

Michael Coorlim is a teller of strange stories for stranger people. He collects them, the oddballs. The mystics and fire-spinners, the sages and tricksters. He curates their tales, combines their elements and lets them rattle around inside his rock-tumbler skull until they gleam, then spills them loose onto the page for like-minded readers to enjoy.
Michael Coorlim

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Heroic Explorations: Dungeon Keepers

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