This last running on Saturday, it was necessary to put together an account of who exactly is the henchman of whom, and who is running in who's campaign (we have three ongoing campaigns, one run by my daughter and two run by me). And here's what it looks like:
This looks like I have more people running in my world than I actually do. Three of the characters who do not have henchman 'trees' - Dael, Echorian and Theo - are being run by the same person, one in each different campaign. He started late, and hasn't brought any of his characters up to the level where they could have henchmen. The two players who control Falcon and Lorell don't have enough characters to run in three campaigns, so they play Feela and Daniel, respectively, in my daughter's campaign.
The four main characters on the top have been running in my world the longest, and as such have the largest trees. The mage Garalzapan has the largest tree, because the Druid needs to be 11th to get a third henchman, and both the monk and the ranger go up levels more slowly. However, the druid Pikel chose a thief as his first henchman, while Garalzapan took a paladin as her first ... because of that, Pikel's henchmen have a greater total in levels (24) than Garalzapan's (20).
What isn't shown here are the 16 followers of the ranger Fayln, who aren't fanatical but still present a formidable group, that make up the ranger's full complement ... since the ranger has hit 8th, and therefore name level.
As the reader can see, the four big trees at the top are set to expand very quickly, as various henchmen his fifth and seventh level. Virtually every really big treasure gained in the campaign sprouts new henchmen ... whom the players then roll ... all over the place. The huge battle we fought last year ended in almost every player getting one new character; which pushed for me to run a second campaign, in order to keep the party from playing a massive battle force every time they took on an enemy.
For me, it makes sense that people would come out of the woodwork to 'join' a party that just wiped out 350 goblins, hobgoblins, ogres and drow elves. And its fun for the party to have new people to play, to decide to put some characters on the back burner for a running or two (or more), while pushing to get the lower leveled henchmen up.
The danger is that a tree could become seriously broken ... something that hasn't happened yet, mostly because henchmen who have been lost were of lower level. The rule is, however, that you can't continue to run henchmen that are not 'your' henchmen. Let me explain what I mean.
If I may expand Pikel's tree, thusly:
Ivan has, on four different occasions, come within 1 hit point and within 1 round of death. He is both the unluckiest and luckiest character running in the campaign. His nickname, "Ivan the Pincushion," comes from an odd quirk of the dice. If I have NPC's firing missiles at the party, and I roll to see who the missile will be directed against, Ivan always presents as a target. This is declining, as often I can't add Ivan to the possible targets because he's hiding in shadows. But if he fails to hide, you bet the die will say the crossbow bolt is bound for him.
Now let's say Ivan dies, and that he either can't be resurrected because they can't find the body, or he fails the resurrection survival roll. According to the rules, Pikel is entitled to roll up a new henchman to replace Ivan. But ... and this is a very large 'but' ... Pikel is not entitled to go on running Lyrial, Lovi or Urlgen. They don't die, but they revert to ordinary NPCs ... people who know Pikel and who might have a certain fondness for him. But while Lyrial and Lovi were fanatical towards Ivan, and Urlgen is fanatical towards Lyrial, to them Pikel is just Ivan's boss. They might hang around, get on the payroll, or they might wish Pikel well and go on their way.
Moreover, Lovi is not bound to Lyrial, nor Lyrial to Lovi. They were bound together by Ivan. And now that Ivan is gone, it's unlikely that Lovi will feel any necessary kinship with Lyrial, apart from the fact that they knew each other.
In exactly the same way, if the player who controls Pikel decides to retire the druid indefinitely, Zephan and Ivan can't be run together. The player must choose one or the other and move forward. Granted, Zephan would probably go on running in my daughter's campaign, and Ivan in mine - but they would never run together again, unless Pikel came out of retirement.
As such, all the players in my world are always considering what would happen in so-and-so died. If a major character or one of the major henchmen dies, it's a great loss for the player. It's a harsh rule, but them's the breaks. The rule encourages the players to cultivate their henchmen with some respect, and not treat them casually - at least, not after those henchmen have reached fifth level.
I just wanted to throw out some general observations today, to get the tree up on the system (for the benefit of the players, really, who will no doubt tell me that I have some of the levels wrong) and throw out some of the rules about controlling so many henchmen as they accumulate. I don't expect there's much room here for comment. I may write another post later today, just to give people something to talk about.