Aug 272014

An Inappropriate Sense of Sarcasm

You know what’s annoying? Having hirelings that are supposed to heal you but instead insist on doing anything – anything! – other than healing you.

You know what’s even more annoying? Having a hireling that won’t even heal you but constantly stands in lava, or in a trap, complaining that they themselves need healing. While remaining smack in the middle of said lava, or trap.

A special form of annoying: my Gamer Girl’s hirelings are seemingly always more willing to heal me, than they are to heal her. “Come on you stupid hireling, heal me!” I will hear, meanwhile noting that I just got a lovely Heal from someone. Many times it has been faster for me to throw a cure on her myself than it is for her hireling to eventually get around to it.


Hirelings are actually rather clever in that they were implemented well after the game had launched, an afterthought, designed to fill in specific roles.

And they work, after a fashion, allowing people to play solo who prefer that style, and making it easier to run with groups that aren’t thoroughly filled. Some of the hirelings are better than others (Panther > Owlbear), and some roles are better filled by a hireling than others (hireling arcane caster = always a bad idea) but nonetheless, hirelings have a purpose and they fill it.

Not bad for a late addition that was patched in to solve unexpected social gameplay issue. Overall, hirelings have been a success. More or less.

A barbarian and her healer. What could go wrong?
As a barbarian, Knicker is particularly reliant on her healer

But my favorite of all, the single most annoying hireling incident in the history of annoying hireling incidents occurs while Erytheia is “helping” my Gamer Girl and I get through the Haunted Halls.

Some quests are harder on the hirelings than others, and the Haunted Halls of Eveningstar may well be the hardest. Especially the electrified statues. They appear to be irresistible. MUST HIT THAT STATUE. Over and over. Ignoring the fact that doing so causes damage, MUST HIT THAT STATUE.

I choose to bring Erytheia with us on this version of the quest and she is, of course, convinced that her best option is to find the nearest electrified statue and beat on it. In fairness, all of the minions and hirelings feel that way; my steel dog, my Gamer Girl’s wolf, the owlbear, all the minions. MUST HIT THAT STATUE.

But the dogs and bears aren’t supposed to heal us, Erytheia is. Nonetheless, ignoring button clicks (and of course, shouted instructions) she continues beating the statue. Until it explodes and kills us all.

The opposite of healing us. She killed us.

A raise cake or two later and we are again functioning, and the enemy is defeated. Time to raise Erytheia too. But it is not enough that we have to invest raise cakes to win. It is not enough that we have to use our resources to heal Erytheia. It is not enough. We also get lip. From Erytheia.

“Let’s try to avoid that next time” she says, and I can only picture the curled lip and sneering eyes.

Yes, let’s. Let’s try to avoid you running over to the electrified statue and beating on it till you kill us all. Let’s try to avoid that.

Or not.

My Gamer Girl has taken to summoning her healer hireling and then leaving them in the first room. Not a healer at all, more of a party-wipe insurance policy. Maybe that’s the answer. At least for the Haunted Halls. Not a healer at all. Just a raise waiting to happen, cheaper than a raise cake. Hmmm.

I think she’s on to something.

🙂 😀 🙂

  14 Responses to “All of the Attitude, None of the Skills”

Comments (14)
  1. I was soloing haunted halls on my favored soul and I brought the rogue hireling with me to possibly find hidden doors for me. Not only could he not find the doors, he also twice got himself killed and ended up by the shrine closer to the entrance. After the second death I just left him there as I didn’t want to go back and get him.

  2. Hopefully the expanded hireling interface in U23 will help to avoid stuff like this.

  3. Last night I decided that my level 22 Barbarian should have a Silver Longbow in his inventory for TR’s, so I jumped into elite The Church and the Cult. That makes it a level 11 quest, but being a Barb, I always take a healer, in this case it was Wyoh, a level 20 Cleric. She was dead before I was a quarter of the way through. How does that happen?!?!?!

  4. I must say that I get the strong feeling that ever since U22 the hireling AI is even more stupid than before. I have far more issues with targeting, hirelings doing something completely different than I tell them (attacking ONLY when they should “defend”, not healing much at all, etc) and got even more insistent on bathing in lava and diving into traps. More often than not ignoring my instructions to use a rest shrine is only a small one on top, off course with their witty remarks about how they are doing it already going off all the time!

    • Lets hope the hireling (and summons, pretty please devs!) AI update they are getting in with U23 helps a bit, although I reserve judgement until I see it in action.

      – one bit I forgot, It seems that arcanes have different spells than actually displayed on their hotbars lately, I used one to get her to repair me and support with walls of fire. Off course I got only grease and some ice spells spammed on our group!

      • Agreed. When they choose which spells to use on their own, it is rarely what we have the option of using from the hotbar.

  5. As everyone says, every update the hirelings are dumber than the last, I’m not always sure that that is true, but certainly every update elicits a lot of what I seem to assume are voice activated commands from my talky mouth parts:

    “Hey, get over here”, “Heal me, not that!”, “Must we stand in that trap?”, “What do you mean you didn’t get my ‘stand your ground’ command via my ‘special ESP when I forget to check I really did select the correct stance button’ powers!?!”

    What will be amazing with the new U23 “interface”, would be the ability to tweak their quick bar like with the druid/artificer companions/homunculi. I know some hirelings can cast various restorations not listed on their bar, but not when you want them to, when they think the circumstance requires it … and apparently their are some very exact guidelines on those circumstances 😛

    • *[their guidelines are very exact], or [there are some very exact guidelines] … Sometimes I’m not sure what I’m typing out of the 50 things in my head, apparently [they’re] all fighting for equal rights; rebellious brain thoughts!

  6. PSST!!! Check out the new (and improved?) settable hireling AI options on Lamannia (“”). Now you can tell your heal-bot to not attack anything WITHOUT putting them in “passive” mode.

    Coming “SOON™” to a live server near you.


  7. In my last life as a cleric, I found arcane caster hirelings actually quite useful (relatively speaking). I could keep us both alive while I hit things in a clerical sort of way, and the hireling added a chunk of DPS. As long as I stayed ahead it kinda worked.

  8. P.S Geoff, really love your blog. Never commented before because always assumed commenting would require some kind of complex account sign up thing. Just call me Ludd.

  9. Hireling AI: long on artificial, short on intelligence.

    Imma leave it at that so I don’t hijack your blog, because I’ve had a hireling rant post sitting in my drafts for aaaaages! 😀

  10. There was this one time, many times this one time has happened, when I choose you wizard hireling! The stupid buttface casts grease right under me followed by a stupid fire spell. Not friendly at lower levels. Oh no. Not friendly at all. Makes a mad mizzaroo. Oh yes. Very mad indeed.

What do you think?

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