Quote Originally Posted by Beoric View Post
My rule of thumb is that each player can have one PC that can be as complicated as they want, and as many henchmen/hirelings/followers as they think they can handle, as long as the supporting NPCs are standard monsters, companion characters or martial e-classes. It doesn't get out of hand because (a) standard monsters run out of healing surges fast and don't last long, (b) PCs have to share experience with companion characters, and players are stingy with experience, and (c) PCs have to share experience and treasure with martial e-class characters (at least, if they want them to survive and to hit anything), and players can be really stingy with treasure.
From what I hear (I started playing with 3E and never played earlier editions), companions and hirelings were really common (almost expected) in early editions, but the need to pay them kept you from bringing too many. Noncombat hirelings generally got paid a flat amount based on what skills they provided and combat characters got either a share (for those who were roughly on par with a PC) or a half share (for those who are notably weaker).

When I've use temporary characters in the past, I've given them an encounter, a simplified version of a class ability (like a cleric's healing word but none of the other traits) and one or two at will powers (usually a regular at-will plus a basic weapon attack) and run them like a monster who is helping the PCs.

If you wanted long-term hirelings under the direction of a PC, you might try something where the PC and their hireling share actions, so the PC spends their action to allow the hireling to act. This would limit the benefit of having tons of hirelings (since only one of them would be able to do something at any one time), but still give extra options. If it's too limiting, you might try something where in some cases both of them get to do something (like both of them get to move at the same time, or one of them has to use a basic attack or they both have to use at-will abilities).