Hireling basics

EDIT : After making this post I was poking around on the web, looking at other DDO resources and found two with a lot of the same information provided here. They are :

There are two important things not explained in the tutorial given on Korthos Island. One is LFMs (a system that helps you form adventuring parties), and the other is hirelings.

Hirelings are NPCs (Non-Player Characters) that you can summon to your quest or wilderness area (but not to a raid), to help you and the rest of the party out. Depending on the hireling, they can fight, cast spells, heal and even open doors for you.

To use a hireling you need to buy a contract for one from a hireling vendor. With the introduction of a new currency called Astral Shards, it is now possible to purchase Gold Seal contracts from hireling vendors in addition to the the old way using Turbine Points in the DDO Store. (Astral Shards can be occasionally won from the Daily Dice, but are usually purchased from the DDO Store). There are several differences between normal and Gold Seal contracts. Primarily is the fact that a normal contract can only be invoked near the entrance to a quest or wilderness area, whereas a Gold Seal contract can be used anywhere. Also of note is that a normal contract will not allow you to summon a hireling that has a higher level than you. A Gold Seal contract will allow the hireling to be up to two more levels than you. Some hirelings are only available from a Gold seal contract, like level 1 to 20 rogues that can disable traps. You can also summon and control multiple Gold Seal hirelings, whereas you can only have one normal one.

Hireling contracts have a one hour timer associated with them. The first time you use the contract, this timer starts ticking. When you enter a public area, the timer pauses. But once you step back out of a public area, even into a raid area where you cannot use any hirelings, any contract in your inventory with a running timer will start ticking again, period. No exceptions. Summon a different hireling, someone else summons that hireling, whatever, it doesn’t matter, all contract timers that are ticking will do so when not in a public area. The only thing to do to prevent this is to put a ticking contract in the bank. Once a contract timer expires, the contract will disappear from your inventory. Fortunately, the hireling won’t abandon you mid-quest. Hirelings only leave you when you step back into a public area. If a quest entrance is in a wilderness area, the hireling will still be with you when you leave the quest.


When you want to summon a hireling to help you, you locate the contract for the hireling in your inventory and double click on it. After a bit of waiting, the hireling will appear. If the contract is not a Gold Seal contract, then this summoning must be done very near the entrance to a quest or wilderness area. Again, hirelings can not be summoned in raid areas (which are special 12 member party adventures). If a particular hireling has been summoned by another member of your party, you cannot summon the same hireling. Contracts may also be placed and invoked on shortcut bars.

The hireling functions as another party member, including taking up one of the six available slots for party members. If you can and want to cast a spell on a hireling, it can be targeted using the hotkey that is appropriate
(usually F2-F6, with F1 being reserved to target you). The hireling shares your targeting. Any command that you can give a hireling, such as cast a heal spell, will be performed on whatever you are targeting.

Hirelings can also be dismissed from the party. This is actually more like telling a hireling to recall out of the quest and into a public area so it will leave your party. Only the person who summoned the hireling can dismiss him or her. To do this, click the right mouse button on the hireling’s status in the party list (which shows each member’s name, Hit points, Spell Points and Ki). Once a hireling is dismissed, another party member can summon him or her if desired. Your contract however will start a five minute timer that will prevent you from re-summoning the hireling until the five minute timer expires, as well as keep the overall one hour timer running.


(Image is from DDO Wiki)

You can only give your hireling a limited set of 10 orders. While a hireling might have a full range of optional spells and actions it can perform, only a limited set is available to you, the boss. And even if you give a hireling an order, it might not obey it immediately. Be prepared to say what all DDO players eventually say, “Stupid hireling!”. It may do something that gets itself needlessly killed. How much the software controlling a hireling (often called its AI) is intentionally designed to make your life difficult at times, and how much is just the difficulty in trying to get the software to appear to “think” in a very complex game environment, is the subject of endless debate. Just be aware that hirelings are far from perfect and do exhibit some odd quirks. Depending on the situation, you may have to pay as much attention to your hireling as you do yourself.

When you summon a hireling, a new shortcut bar will appear. You can click on this to give your hireling its orders. You can also go into the Options menu under Key mappings and bind keys to the different slots of the hireling shortcut bar. The shortcut bar will have a small picture of the hireling attached to the left side to distinguish it from other bars. There are six basic orders you can give any hireling, and four special ones that are specific to each hireling and are listed in the description of its contract. Again, a hireling is not limited to these four special actions, but you cannot order it to take any other action other than these.

The first two orders are about a hireling’s movement. The first is a toggle, that orders the hireling to stay put or follow you around. Unless the hireling is in passive mode, how well it stays put or follows you will be up to its AI. The second button is the “Come to me” button. If you’ve told your hireling to stay put, this will toggle it into the “Follow me” mode. The second order will also help hirelings who have stopped to sniff the flowers or examine their kill, to move it along and join you. When there is a large distance between you and your hireling, or if a hireling has been trying to catch up for you for too long, it will just teleport to you. This can actually be use to keep a hireling out of trouble. By telling it to stay put and then moving away, and through say a dangerous trap area, you can then give it the second order, “Come to me” and have it teleport past dangerous areas. Be careful though. If you are not sufficiently far away, the hireling will first try to navigate its way to you before giving up and teleporting to you. It may run through the area you were hoping it would avoid.

The next three orders are your hirelings general orders. You can tell it to attack, defend or become passive and do nothing. Attack will make your hireling generally more aggressive, with some hirelings going out of their way to find something to kill. Defend will make your hireling generally less aggressive and worry only about things that are attacking it or you. Exactly what your hireling does will vary from hireling to hireling and situation to situation. Just because your hireling is in defensive mode, does not mean that it won’t attack anything. The only way to be sure that a hireling does nothing, is to put it in passive mode. This is also the only way to insure that your hireling will obey some other order. A hireling might disobey or at least delay executing another order if its in combat, unless it is in passive mode.

The sixth general order button will change depending on what you have targeted. Remember that what you target is what your hireling has targets. If you have an enemy targeted, the icon will change to a sword, allowing you to order the hireling to attack a specific target. If you target another player or an NPC, it will change to a shield icon. You can use it to order your hireling to follow and protect that player or NPC instead of you until you give it the “Come here” order. Most of the time, the sixth order will look like a set of gears.  Most things that you can interact with by a simple click on it with the mouse, a hireling can also interact with. You first have to target the door, valve, switch, etc. before giving the order. This is a common place where players say “Stupid hireling!” as the AI controlling the hireling may have it standing where it is blocked from interacting with the object which is targeted. You may have to move yourself and give the “Come here” order to reposition the hireling before trying again to get it to interact. This interact order is how you get hirelings to rest and recover spell points, or resurrect at an appropriate shrine.

Again the last four orders are special and specific to each hireling. Just remember that you must have the appropriate thing targeted before giving a special order to your hireling, as it targets what you target. There is a glitch in the game at the time I am writing this. Occasionally spells and actions that require no target will fail to function. For example the summon monster spell. Target the hireling and try again. This bug actually happens for players as well and the solution is self targeting.

NOTE : Targeting is by default “soft” through the auto-target feature. When giving a hireling an order, you will need to “hard” target something via key cycling or the mouse. Most players use the default of the right mouse button to target anything, the Backspace key for interactable target cycling, and the Tab key for hostile target cycling. Also every time you interact with something, you automatically target it. So by default, a left mouse click will target and interact with something. All of this is changeable via the Options menu under Key Mapping.


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