City of the Giants
Hirelings: Hirelings work for a fixed gold cost and do not gain XP under any circumstances. Hirelings will fight in mass combat, but only a few can command units effectively. Hirelings do not get paid enough to take unusual risks or plunge into obvious danger, and asking them to do so will tax their loyalty.
The Red Shirt Rule: When Bad Stuff happens to a random character, a hireling is twice as likely to be selected as a PC or henchman.
Hiring and Pay: You can try and hire more hirelings and henchmen at your discretion. Be careful about that, though. If you don’t pay the help you’ve hired, they may suffer from bad morale, become disloyal, or outright desert.
Henchmen: At level 2, you can hire henchmen or promote individual hirelings to henchmen. Henchmen have PC levels, are extra-loyal to the PC that pays them, and can even gain xp and level up. The catch you have to pay them a LOT better. Any henchman can command a unit in mass combat. They are paid enough to accept much higher levels of risk than hirelings and depending on their loyalty, will accompany you pretty much anywhere you ask.
Level Limit: Your henchmen must all be lower level than you, and they can’t gain any xp that would raise them up to your level.
Loyalty: Henchmen get a big loyalty bonus and take orders well, but they are still NPCs and not a way to play multiple PCs at once. They are not player-controlled, and may still on occasion disobey orders.
Fair Share: Henchmen require a split of your character’s personal share of the loot and XP, with each of your henchmen getting at least half what your character does. If you fail to accommodate this, you end up with disloyal henchmen.
Stand-in PCs: If you die or get disabled, you can instantly declare one of your hirelings to be your new PC and keep playing. You can promote a henchman to a PC any time you like. Such promotions are permanent – once you promote a henchman to a PC he won’t let you treat him as a henchman any more.
First Session Survivors: After the first session when you strike out on your own, half of any surviving NPCs stationed at the tower will permanently join your group as hirelings under the party’s command.
Army Support: After the first session, your party will be split off to become an independent unit of the Iridian Army. The party is welcome to choose its own officers (or not – how you organize yourselves is your business, not mine) and will be given a modest war chest to fund operations until you can start living off your victories.
Independence: It is literally impossible for Headquarters to communicate with you fast enough to give you any kind of useful orders. Instead they will be turning you loose with a rough to-do list, the best intel they can give you (doubtlessly less good than you’d like), and free license to pursue goals at your own discretion in whatever way you think is best. You will need to muster your own resources, choose what goals to pursue, do your own recon, plan your own missions, and decide for yourselves what you can and can’t accomplish with the resources you have.
Liaison With HQ: Headquarters will want you to appoint a liaison character. They may not be able to just contact you whenever, but they can (with great expense and difficulty) contact a liaison every couple of weeks to relay you any new intelligence and potential objectives. The liaison character doesn’t have to be actively played to get these messages, but letting that character die will make support from HQ very hard to come by until you can replace them.
Mass combat: Some areas will feature literal armies of enemies and mass combat scenarios, using the 5e Battlesystem rules. An army of your own hirelings and henchmen will help.