What happens if, instead of a monthly wage, we take the monthly wage and multiply it by 30, as an up-front hiring cost?
|Level||Up-front Cost (gp)|
Magic items and fiefs can be used to pay this cost, at an appropriate effective gold piece value (and indeed, for high-level henchmen, there may be no other way to hire them).
When a henchman levels and fails a loyalty roll, their hiring player can offer them a raise to the pay grade for their new level for a re-roll. On success, the player must pay the difference between the cost that was paid at hiring (or previous level-up re-roll) and the new level's up-front cost. This cannot be used to retry failed loyalty rolls due to calamities.
Eg: Varimir levels from 2nd to 3rd and fails his loyalty roll. Varimir was hired as a L0 man and previously demanded a raise when he leveled from 1st to 2nd. Varimir's hirer offers to pay him 1500gp to retain his services (3000gp, the price of a 3rd-level henchmen, minus 1500gp, the wages Varimir demanded on attaining second level).
Nice properties of this proposal: the primary aim is to not have to track campaign time on the game-calendar. Additionally, paying henchmen up front means that players are more likely to view them as long-term investments to be recouped rather than expendables. It may also limit henchman-spam somewhat, where some players hire many many henchmen.
Problems with this proposal: 360gp is too expensive for an L1 adventurer to hire a L0 man at the beginning of the first session. War dogs get even more attractive when henchman expenses are more immediate. There seems to be a gap between these wages and the cost of henchmen created generation of characters higher than 1st level (who cost 1GP per XP - about 33% more).
There's probably some really interesting math to be done in terms of balancing henchman expenses with mercenary expenses, and it's easier to do when they're both lump sums. An nth level fighter has x XP and 0.8*x total GP earned, which means we can estimate a PC's budget for henchmen and mercs at a given level.
The reasonable thing is probably to just pay henchmen for sessions played (but then it gets weird with henchmen who sit out - if I show up to a session and don't bring a hench on the adventure, I have to pay them, but if I don't show up to the session, I don't have to pay them). But if you only pay henchmen for adventures worked, then building big stables of henchmen is encouraged. Maybe that's fine? Maybe we need a table for "what sort of trouble did your henchman who didn't go on the adventure get up to while you were away?"
Additional (tangential) proposal: Henchmen receive a quarter share of both treasure and XP. Why? Three reasons: this makes the math simpler (1/6th shares are a pain in the butt to do in your head), 1/4 share of XP instead of 1/2 share means that slow-leveling classes with fast-leveling henchmen are less likely to be outleveled (and most of the time henchmen will converge to party level minus 2, which is still useful, and places them appropriately to be lieutenants at any mass battle scale where the PCs are qualified to be commanders), and 1/4 share of GP instead of 1/6th share helps make up for their reduced effective-monthly wages (which may now lag their level).