For the longest time, back when I was a goblin cabin boy, I disliked hirelings. The first mate and the cook and the sea witch were all solid NPCs, but with six PCs on board they slowed combat to a crawl. One of our jolly crew of ruffians was a werewolf, and her “special connection to nature” made matters even worse. We wound up adopting monkeys and parrots and a trio of mastiffs thanks to her, and after a while our ship wound up looking more like Noah’s Ark than a sleek pirate vessel. However, it’s also thanks to her that I changed my mind about NPC hangers on.

You see, at the beginning of the campaign I was your typical annoying rogue. I’d stealth around below decks, learn secrets, and steal from everybody, fellow party members included. Fortunately for the health of the campaign, as well as my continued participation in it, Article III of the pirate code put an end to that:

III. If any Man shall steal any Thing in the Company, or game, to the Value of a Piece of Eight, he shall be marooned or shot.

As a relatively new player in a more experienced group, I found myself in need of a new shtick. That’s when our goodly fighter-from-the-future (dude was playing Ash) took me under his wing. He taught me about fighting evil for fun and profit, and also about comic books. Consequently, when we hit London my goblin decided it would be a good idea to dress up like Batman, dress his riding dog as Dog Wonder (thanks for the loan, werewolf PC!), and troll the streets of London fighting crime.

Weirdly enough, this goblin was also a social climber. It was his goal to marry a high born lady, so he went a courting in full Batman guise. One night he comes into m’lady’s chambers to find none other than King Fucking Henry the VIII unlacing her corset. Blackjack to the back of the head, you randy Tudor bastard! Dog Wonder howled, crossbows twanged, and we made our getaway leaping a fence Scarlet Pimpernel style.

I look back upon that fateful night as one of my finest gaming moments, and it never would have been possible without the animal NPC. My goblin stopped complaining quite so loudly about the cost of dog chow after that.

So eat it, Fighter! Pay for that blanket and be happy about it. You never know when one of those “expensive, useless hirelings” will help you to sap a British monarch.