I’ve decided that I’m going to allow players in my 4e games to hire NPCs as henchmen, men-at-arms, hirelings or whatever. Whether this will make combats too easy, annoy the other players or suchlike we’ll see, and we might adjust things as the game goes on.
One advantage of this is that if a player is missing, there’ll be a henchman (etc) to back you up.
Hiring an NPC will not cost you a feat or anything like that. It will cost you money, and they might not be entirely reliable. You do need to advertise for henchmen: hire criers, spend money in pubs, or the like. Contact me by PM if you wish to do so.
NPCs will gain XP at half the rate of a party member. If 4 PCs and one henchman defeat monsters worth 1000 XP, then each PC will gain 200 XP and the henchman gains 100 XP.
Henchmen also will want a share (typically a half-share) of the treasure, plus additional pay. Exactly what you offer them will determine whether they accept your offer or not. Paying them extra will make them more loyal…