The Quintessential Henchman

Generally, the tradition of a strong literary villain employs at least one loyal, dangerous, and distinctive henchman. Typically, the henchman utilizes some type of unique weapon or an unusual and particularly lethal skill. As with primary villains, many henchmen are easily physically recognizable.


THE QUINTESSENTIAL HENCHMAN TYPES

The Advance Agent
The Agent Provocateur
The Assassin
The Avenger
The Corrupted Hero
The Determined Soldier
The Friend with a Dark Secret
The Inquisitor
The Lovable Rogue
The Mad Scientist
The Menacing Advisor
The Misguided Moralist
The Mistress with a Heart of Gold
The Obsequious Advisor

The Advance Agent
This henchman type desires to covertly set the stage, open the door, and prepare the way as part of a larger scheme to suddenly, perhaps violently, seize power or control. He is the vanguard of some sort of invasion. Typically, he's a double agent performing reconnaissance and gathering information. Alternately, he's attempting to open a portal to a dimension of trapped demons or an evil god.

Generally, he works in the field, but secretly manipulates people and events behind the scene. As a henchman, he serves a greater master, organization, or some greater evil force that he desires to summon. Typically, his efforts are only partly successful. This henchman type functions best for action, espionage, horror, and mystery adventures.

The Agent Provocateur
This henchman type is a clever spy who infiltrates an organization. He desires to covertly bring about its destruction by taking actions which will bring the organization into direct opposition of other groups or forces, all while pretending to be a good member of the organization. Generally, he works in the field, but secretly manipulates people and events behind the scene. This typically leads to armed conflict, chaos, and the downfall of that organization.

His true identity is usually a closely guarded secret. Hero should encounter the villain's cover identity, but should not suspect he's responsible for all the trouble, until the hero adds up clues. He utilizes intelligence and subterfuge more than combat ability. As a henchman, he serves a greater master or organization. This henchman type functions best for action, espionage, mystery, revenge, and romance adventures. Females in this role tend to be highly effective.

The Assassin
This henchman type desires to be paid for doing what he does best. He's the master villain's favorite killer. He may be highly proficient or bumbling and incompetent. Typically, he's clever, methodical, patient, and strategic. 

He works mostly in the field and from the shadows. As a matter of standard operating procedure, he'll first execute witnesses who might prove harmful to his master. Then he'll focus on terminating the hero and his allies. He usually meets his doom before the adventure's climax, but he may take the hero or the hero's allies down with him. 

He can seldom be converted to the hero's cause. He has no respect for life and loves killing too much. Although, he's a bit of a mercenary and might switch sides, if the price is right or he’s offered officially sanctioned and long term employment utilizing his skills for the good guys. Often, he'll escape to safety, if his employer is killed. This henchman type functions best for action, espionage, mystery,  revenge, and romance adventures. Females in this role are an interesting an unexpected twist.

The Avenger
This henchman type desires revenge, vengeance, or justice and strives to avenge some perceived wrong. He lashes out at the world as punishment for whatever has happened to him or out of envy for what others possess and which he lacks. Typically, he'll desire to personally duel with hero or place the hero in a deathtrap and personally witness their destruction.

As a henchman, he serves a greater master or organization. Although he's not in charge of all this villainy, the hero is definitely his enemy. Why does he hate the hero? Perhaps, he's a recurring villain. Perhaps, he once lost a battle with or a loved one to the hero. 

He works mostly in the field, bedeviling the hero as he seeks out the master villain. He can be slain earlier in the adventure or battle the hero in the adventure's climax. He can seldom be converted to the hero's cause. This henchman type functions best for action, espionage, horror, mystery, revenge, and romance adventures. Females in this role tend to be highly effective.

The Corrupted Hero
This henchman type was once a hero or a champion of good, but was seduced by the dark side. Because of his own weakness, a threat, or some curse, he's become a degenerate reprobate or the master villain's pawn. Generally, he works in the field to openly influence people and events.

Usually, the hero encounters him once or twice, long before reaching the adventure's climax, and engages in an inconclusive battle with him. Typically, he duels with the hero, who recognizes him, then escapes only to return and settle the score later in the adventure.

He may be committed to evil and can not be enticed to side with the hero. He may be ambivalent and could be swayed back to the side of good. Perhaps, he desires redemption. 

If so, then he'll have a choice to make at the story's climax. If he chooses to assist the hero, then he's likely to be killed by the master villain or the master villain's other henchmen for such betrayal. This henchman type functions best for action, espionage, mystery, revenge, and romance adventures. Females in this role are an interesting an unexpected twist.

The Determined Soldier
This henchman type is a proficient combatant and possesses superior planning abilities. He's a trustworthy, experienced, competent, and persistent officer. He's a professionally trained and battle hardened soldier. He serves the master villain with military precision and efficiency.

As leader of the master villain's strategic, infiltration, reconnaissance, demolition, armed assault, and security operations, he first encounters the hero in the field. Typically, he's not encountered directly until the middle or latter part of the adventure. Until then, the hero encounters only his subordinate forces.

It's very difficult to convert him to the hero's cause. Often, he lacks any conscience worth mentioning. This henchman type functions best for action, espionage, horror, mystery, and revenge adventures. Females in this role are an interesting an unexpected twist.

The Friend with a Dark Secret
This henchman type was a childhood friend of the hero. Early in the adventure, he encounters and pals around with the hero. He does strange and mysterious things. Perhaps, he sneaks off to send messages, behaves strangely around certain characters, is scared to death of his own shadow, and attempts to avoid explaining such odd behavior.

At some point, however, the hero uncovers his friend's dark secret. He's really working for the master villain. He may not wish to be helping the master villain. Perhaps, his family is being held hostage. Perhaps, he's terrified by the master villain or too weak-willed to refuse. Perhaps, he owes a substantial amount of money to or accepted a devil's pact from the master villain and is now working of his debt. Perhaps, he's succumbed to the dark side and genuinely is evil now. If so, he'll certainly attempt everything in his power to tempt, seduce, and turn the hero.

Often, he can be converted to the hero's cause. After all, he is an old friend. Although, that decision is usually fatal, as the master villain doesn't take kindly to treachery. This henchman type functions best for action, espionage, horror, mystery, revenge, and romance adventures. Females in this role tend to be highly effective.

The Inquisitor
This henchman type interrogates and typically tortures anyone captured by the master villain. He also ventures out into the field and works on anyone who possesses information the master villain wishes to acquire. He enjoys inflicting pain and suffering.

He can not be converted to the hero's way of thinking. He enjoys his job far too much. Typically, he's a cunning combatant and is usually skilled with weapons. This henchman type functions best for action, espionage, horror, mystery, and revenge adventures.

The Lovable Rogue
This villain type desires amusement. He revels in song, wine, women, gambling, and adventure. He isn't really evil. He's just a little chaotic and mischievous. Generally, he works in the field to openly influence people and events.

Typically, he'll not be directly responsible for whatever manner of devilry the hero encounters. However, he may be in competition with him for the treasure. Often, the hero will need to team up with the rogue into order to obtain the treasure. Almost certainly, he'll attempt to abscond with the treasure and at the most inopportune times.

As a henchman, he has no minions of his own. However, he's very independent and not always working in his employer's best interests. He often makes fun of the master villain's pretensions and may suffer that villain's wrath because of it.

It's possible to convert him to the hero's cause, if he's offered enough money, action, adventure, a pardon for past crimes. Additionally, if the hero or one of his allies is an attractive member of the opposite sex and appeals to him, he may be tempted to defect. Regardless, he'll certainly abandon his employer during the adventure's climax and escape to safety. This henchman type functions best for action, comedy, espionage, mystery, revenge, and romance adventures. Females in this role are an interesting an unexpected twist. 

The Mad Scientist 
This henchman type desires to advance knowledge and understanding acquired though experimentation. He revels in research, experimental results, and scientific exploration. He's obsessed with bringing something innovative and new into the universe and will let nothing get in his way. He rarely leaves the confines of his laboratory. He mobilizes assassins, mercenaries, thugs, minions, creatures, and vermin in an attempt to protect or continue his precious work.

Typically, he's a genius, highly intelligent, methodical, patient, strategic, logical yet irrational, emotional yet unsympathetic, rather eccentric, and slightly insane. As a henchman, he may possess benevolent intentions and is the master villain's unwitting pawn. Then again, he may be delighted to serve the master villain, so long as the experimental research project continues. This henchman type functions best for action, comedy, espionage, horror, mystery,  revenge, and romance adventures. Females in this role are an interesting an unexpected twist.

The Menacing Advisor
This henchman type desires power. He revels in dominance, power, control, and forcing his will upon others through covert manipulation. He's intelligent, logical, rational, methodical, patient, strategic, unemotional, unsympathetic, insidious, and menacing. He's the ultimate puppet master, always pulling strings behind the scene.

Independently, he does not wield power directly. Regardless, he uses his position and cunning to unduly influence others who do wield great power. Generally, he places little value on the lives of others. He's not adverse to killing and usually possesses competent or proficient combat skill. He's an effective, valuable, and loyal advisor to the master villain. 

He'll not be converted to the hero's way of thinking. He enjoys what he does, perhaps a little too much. This henchman type functions best for action, espionage, horror, mystery,  revenge, and romance adventures. Females in this role are an interesting an unexpected twist.

The Misguided Moralist
This henchman type is convinced he can improve the world for the better, only by helping the master villain achieve some master plan. He tends to be encountered throughout the adventure, usually escaping from the hero, taunting and ridiculing the hero for embracing a naive ideology. Fortunately, he's no more effective as a villain than he is as an intellectual. 

It's very difficult to convert him to the hero's side. He's too wrapped up in his own cause. It may be accomplished, however, if the hero can demonstrate the master villain has, perhaps, lied to him or plans to betray the cause. He is particularly well-suited as a henchman for the zealot master villain type. This henchman type functions best for action, espionage, horror, mystery,  revenge, and romance adventures. Females in this role are an interesting an unexpected twist.

The Mistress with a Heart of Gold
This henchman type is the master villain's lover, mistress, concubine, sister, or daughter. Although, she genuinely prefers the hero. She's bound by honor or coercion to serve the master villain. Nevertheless, she provides assistance to the hero whenever possible. 

Generally, she accompanies the master villain. Occasionally, she undertakes missions on her own. That's typically how she first encounters the hero and develops an attraction to him.

It's relatively easy converting her to the hero's cause. However, she often suffers the master villain's wrath for such betrayal. The tragic result of her betrayal is to be tortured or killed by the master villain, unless she's rescued by the hero. This henchman type functions best for action, espionage, horror, mystery, revenge, and romance adventures.

The Obsequious Advisor
This henchman type is cunning, methodical, strategic, logical yet irrational, emotional yet unsympathetic, impatient, slightly insane, and menacing. He's an oily, deceitful, sleazy, untrustworthy, self-serving, sadomasochistic, cowardly sycophant. Generally, he places little value on the lives of others. Typically, he's an incompetent combatant. Although, he's an effective and valuable advisor to the master villain.

He can not be converted to any heroic cause. However, he can be convinced to abandon or betray the master villain in order to save his own hide. This is best accomplished after the hero infiltrates the master villain's fortress. Without some muscled minion to protect him, he simply couldn't muster enough courage to directly confront or oppose the hero.

Regardless, he'll certainly abandon the master villain during the adventure's climax and escape to safety. This henchman type functions best for action, comedy, espionage, horror, mystery, revenge, and romance adventures. Females in this role are an interesting an unexpected twist.

Simple Versus Complex
These basic henchman types are rather simple and predictable. However, each provides a solid foundation for characterization. Typically, complex and interesting henchmen frequently combine aspects and elements of multiple character types.


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