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Hired Hands are AI-controlled friendly characters that follow the player who freed them around the level, attacking enemies and collecting treasure for the player. They are found in Hired Hand Shops for sale or Coffins throughout the caves, but can also be found in the basement of Shops or behind prison cells in a "There is an air of oppression here..." Level Feeling.

They have largely the same abilities as a player character, with a key difference being that a hired hand's whip can deal damage to Spelunkers. Any spelunker that is found in a coffin in singleplayer will act as a hired hand for as long as they live.

The Eggplant Child has identical AI to that of a Hired Hand.

Functionality

Hired Hands have a multitude of uses. They may be used as bodyguards who will defeat enemies for the player, but also as useful helpers, as they may carry items and pets for them, and are the only way a solo player can use to carry more than one item through a level exit.

Hired Hands instantly teleport to the next level if the player goes through a level exit, provided that they are still alive.

Hired Hands can also be sacrificed to a Kali Altar, rewarding 6 favor alive, and 3 favor when dead.

The name of a Hired Hand can only be seen while they are being sold at a Shop, and have one name for each letter of the alphabet: Atlas, Barca, Clovis, Dunder, Eirik, Fink, Grom, Ham, Ivan, Javi, Kevin, Lurch, Manfred, Nurdle, Onyx, Pork, Quincy, Raster, Steve, Thundar, Ug, Voxel, Wolf, Xorn, Yor, and Zorgoth.

When a Hired Hand dies, there is a chance of them leaving a Ghist behind, visible only if a player is cursed.

AI

Hired Hand AI can be controlled to a degree, and understanding their AI may massively improve the relationship between one and their Hired Hands.

Trust

The more levels the player clears with a Hired Hand, the more trust they will put in them. A more trusting Hired Hand will sleep for longer (see Sleeping), allow players to hold them for longer, and will need to be whipped more to anger on the player.

Cloning a Hired Hand with the Clone Gun will generate a clone with the same level of trust that the original Hired Hand had. This can be used to create a a maximum of four fully trusting Hired Hands.

Hired Hands with a lower trust level will always try to follow Hired Hands with a higher trust level than them instead of the player.

As the Eggplant Child has identical AI to that of a Hired Hand with maximum trust, it is possible for a player to anger the Eggplant Child by whipping them 99 times.

A hired hand purchased from Tun will start with maximum trust.

Hired Hand Trust
Levels cleared with them Whips until angered Time allowed to hold Time running around before sleeping Time Sleeping
0 (Fresh out of the coffin) 3 Whips ~3 seconds ~5 seconds ~5 seconds
1 6 Whips ~6 seconds ~5 seconds ~15 seconds
2 9 Whips ~12 seconds ~2.5 seconds ~38 seconds
3 99 Whips ~120 seconds 0 seconds ~120 seconds

Sleeping

Hired Hands have two modes; "stay-put" mode, and "normal" mode:

  • Picking up a Hired Hand and putting them down on the ground will cause them to run back and forth before going to sleep, staying put. Hired Hands will sleep for a certain amount of time before waking up and switching back to normal mode.
    • Hired Hands will wake up to attack nearby enemies. Once the threat is removed, they will resume their sleep.
  • Picking up a Hired Hand and either throwing them, whipping them, or waiting until they jump out of the player's hands will cause their AI to switch to normal mode.
  • In Olmec's Lair, all Hired Hands generally attempt to sleep indefinitely by the level entrance, so not to disturb the player during the boss battle.
  • If the player enters a shop, a Hired Hand will try to wait outside.

General

  • Hired Hands will always follow the player whenever possible.
    • If the player has multiple Hired Hands, they will try to stay together in a group, following the Hired Hand with the most trust. This is prioritized over following the player as well as sleeping, and the only Hired Hand that will follow the player directly is the one with the most trust.
  • Hired Hands will try not to jump from the player's hands until they reach a secure location.
  • Hired Hands are smart enough to travel through Sunken City by destroying Regenerating Blocks in their way. They will try not do this near a player so not to accidently whip them.
  • Hired hands will be assigned an "owner" when purchased or rescued. Owning a hired hand will make them follow the player through levels and allow them to be carried.
    • In multiplayer, Spelunkers will not be able to pick up Hired Hands that are owned by other players.
    • Naturally spawning Hired Hands - such as ones generating in the basements of shops - will have no owner by default, only acquiring one when a player comes within a certain radius of them.
    • If the player has angered the Shopkeeper's Association, Hired Hands from Hired Hand shops will be considered the Shopkeeper's property, following them until a player comes close. When the Hired Hand changes ownership, it may result in them attacking the wary Shopkeeper.
  • There is a short window where Hired Hands do not move from the exit at the start of the level, giving the player a window to put them in "stay-put" mode.

Items/Treasure

  • Hired Hands will pick up nearby items. If a fragile item such as an Eggplant or Pot is picked up, it is only possible to safely retrieve the item from the Hired Hand without breaking it by putting the hired hand down against a corner.
  • It is possible to make a Hired Hand sleep while carrying an item. This can be done by picking them up, grabbing a ledge, then holding down and using the action button to drop them. This makes it substantially easier to transport items through levels.
  • When picking up items, Hired Hands will prefer picking up cheaper items (e.g. a Rock over a Shotgun). They will throw certain items and may use held weapons, with some regard to the spelunker's position.
    • Hired Hands will never ledge flip nor will they teeter on ledges; as such, they will not drop items without being attacked by an outside force or from willfully throwing them at enemies.
    • Whipping a Hired Hand will cause them to put down the item they were holding in favor of a new one nearby. This may sometimes cause a Hired Hand to pick up an item from a shop, angering the vendor after they walk out with the item in their hands.
  • Hired Hands will always pick up treasure, adding to the player's inventory. For this reason, it is strongly discouraged to have a Hired Hand around during no-gold runs.
  • Throwing a Hired Hand at a Scarab will collect it for the player instead of killing it.
  • Hired Hands will drop the Metal and Wooden Shield if they believe they are about to crush the player.

Hazards

Enemies

  • Hired Hands will always try to stomp on enemies whenever possible.
    • This can lead to one attempting to stomp an Octopy and taking damage. This does not apply to Mantraps.
  • If a player is too close to a Hired Hand while they want to whip something, they will generally avoid using their Whip and instead try to avoid the enemy in order to not accidentally hit the player.
    • Hired Hands will always want to whip Mantraps instead of jumping on them. When the Mantrap is below them or in a small gap that is only one or two tiles wide, their attack can be of varying degrees of success.
  • Untamed and dangerous Mounts (i.e. Rock Dogs and Axolotls) will be targeted by Hired Hands, unless the player is in the process of taming them.
  • Hired Hands will try to avoid fighting large, powerful enemies like Great Humphead, or ones that are stomp or whip immune, such as Pangxie or Mummies.
  • When multiple Hired Hands are actively hunting enemies, they will each go for different targets, with no more than one Hired Hand attacking an enemy.

Other Threats

  • Hired Hands know the difference between a Skeleton and a normal Skull, attacking Skeletons on sight.
  • Hired Hands will actively try to avoid any projectiles such as shotgun bullets or arrows, even when fired by the player. This includes bombs about to explode.
  • Traps will be avoided by a Hired Hand whenever possible.
    • If the player is at a lower elevation than their Hired Hands, they may leap into Spikes or Lava trying to follow the player down due to a quirk in their AI pathing.
  • Bear Traps are disarmed by Hired Hands when possible.
  • Hired Hands can be targeted by The Ghost, and she may spawn initially targeting Hired Hands instead of the player if one is closer a side of a level than them.

Angering

  • Hired Hands will rebel if they are whipped enough by the player, and will repeatedly whip the player until they are dead.
    • Throwing items at a Hired Hand will never anger them, allowing a player to easily kill them and/or farm blood for the Kapala by throwing objects at them without fear of retaliation.
    • Hired Hands will make a grunt whenever whipped. This grunt will have a gradually lower pitch with each whip until they finally anger with a much angrier grunt.
    • Friendly Hired Hands will attempt to fight angry Hired Hands for the player. They will even wake up from "stay-put" mode to search for them.
    • Although friendly Hired Hands will follow the player through sub-area doors and level transitions, an angry Hired Hand will not.
  • If a Hired Hand's corpse is resurrected by a Necromancer, the newly revived Hired Hand will instantly begin attacking the player, now owned by the Necromancer.

Strategy

  • When wanting to carry Hired Hands around, it is recommended to put them down and pick them up whenever it is safe to if they are not at full trust. This will reset the hold timer and lessens the chance of the Hired Hand jumping out of the player's hands into danger.
  • With full trust, the player may simply give them an item and have them sleep with the item in their hands at the beginning of the level by putting them down while hanging to a ledge. As long as the level is exited within 2 minutes, the Hired Hand will not wake up and get himself killed or lose the item he was given.
  • If the player finds or creates a 3 tile tall pit and has the mobility to get out of it without using rope, they may trap Hired Hands within and give them an item. This is a risk free way of getting Hired Hands to help the player carry items to the next level, as they will simply do nothing but sit in the hole holding whatever item was in their hands.
  • It is generally recommended against letting a Hired Hand take an Eggplant, as it will be difficult to safely retrieve it from them (must pick them up and set them down against a wall), and they may throw it in order to attack nearby enemies.

Trivia

  • In a Developer AMA, Gameplay and AI programmer Javier "eglomer" Moya commented on the AI of the Hired Hands, saying the following:
    • "It is pretty hard to work with these bold-cute minions because when you fix something, something else breaks elsewhere. Also, the game is very dynamic and, even if they try to no harm the players, sometimes is inevitable. For example, Here's a gif of a test I've done to ensure they won't kill you, but, you know, accidents still happen... :) But overall, I really like to work on them. Also, we have a testing mode where the HH AI is set to the main character and it tries to beat random levels by reaching the exit door, and it is very fun to see how they 'play' the game."

Version History

Disclaimer: All content from Version 1.25 and onwards are currently unavailable on PS4.
In Europe, Africa, Middle East & Oceania, all content after Version 1.20.4d are also unavailable on PS4. This is due to multiple reasons, although content will be available in the future.

1.22.6 (Switch)

  • Prevented HHs from attacking mummies
  • Prevented hired hands from picking up turkeys delivered to Yang
  • Fixed hired hands jumping into the lava on trying to reach a very far target
  • Fixed memory overrun when there were too many hired hands

1.21.0c (W64)

  • Made hired hands more collaborative, preventing them from going for the same target at the same time
  • Fixed hired hands' pick up priorities
  • Added a short time margin to prevent hired hands from moving as soon as the level starts
  • Prevented hired hands from attacking targets that are being held
  • Fixed hired hands remaining motionless on losing the path to the player
  • Prevented hired hands from staying motionless on thorny vines
  • Prevented hired hands from trying to pick up entities placed on thorny vines
  • Hired hands will now drop the shield on being whipped
  • Hired hands will now drop the shield if they are about to crush a player
  • Prevented hired hands from fleeing from passive ghists
  • Improved (Hired Hand's) detection and handling of falling damage (including falling on lava and some other dangerous places)
  • Improved hired hands' upward whip attacks
  • Prevented hired hands from changing their looking direction while attacking
  • Improved hired hands' attack to try to prevent them from touching the target during the attack
  • Prevented hired hands from shooting robots and body armored olmites
  • Improved hired hands' totem/lion trap handling
  • Improved hired hands' mosquitoes handling
  • Hired hands in lost state will now pick items up as well
  • Fixed hired hands not crossing a door while the player is already crossing it
  • Hired hands will now try to stomp monsters that can throw or shoot
  • Moved hired hands' safe point in Olmec to the entrance
  • Hired hands can now pick items up while resting in Olmec's lair
  • Improved hired hands' conveyor belt handling
  • Hired hands will now try to stomp mummy cats
  • Hired hands will now stay away from floating orbs
  • Cancelled hired hand's attack to a dangerous mount if it starts being tamed
  • Hired hands will now stomp frozen players
  • Hired hands will now grab and throw paste bombs attached to their bodies
  • Hired hands will now look for rebel hired hands while in stay put mode

1.20.4a (W64)

  • Prevented hired hands from shooting or throwing from the shop's outside to an inside monster
  • Prevented hired hands from throwing the Qilin to attack monsters
  • Hired hands will now ignore treasures when they are on stay-put mode
  • Prevented hired hands from attacking dangerous mounts while they are being tamed
  • Prevented hired hands from tide pool prison from detecting the player outside their cells
  • Hired hands will now protect players from rebel hired hands
  • Improved behavior of hired hands in Olmec's level (now try to sleep in the top right portion of the level, by the backlayer exit)
  • Prevented hired hands from trying to pick up entities on a platform with a ladder
  • Fixed hired hands being unable to dismount under certain circumstances

1.20.3a (W64)

  • Hired hands won't jump from the player's arms until reaching a secure position
  • Fixed some cases where the AI was jumping directly to danger (thorny vines, lava, spikes...)
  • Hired hands will now pickup tamed mounts
  • Hired hands will now fight untamed dangerous mounts
  • Prevented hired hands from using weapons or shields inside shops
  • Improved how hired hands handle plasma cannon to prevent some catastrophes
  • Fixed hired hand jump over some stuck dangerous monsters
  • Prevented hired hands from trying to pick up a riding monster
  • Prevented hired hands from using an exit door
  • Waiting hired hands now follow players as soon as they leave a shop
  • Hired hands can now be picked up while in shops
  • Fixed hired hands' state while underwater
  • Hired hands won't fight giant fish (Great Humphead) anymore
  • Improved whip usage for the AI, giving more margin on attacking monsters to prevent getting hurt
  • Prevented AI from trying to go through breakable floors from just above
  • Fixed AI's spear trap handling
  • The AI will now take into account some dangerous entities (like acid bubbles)
  • The AI will now check falling damage while wandering as well
Spelunky 2 People
Playable Characters See Spelunkers (2) for all playable characters.
Follower Characters Hired HandEggplant Child
People Terra "Mama" TunnelShopkeeperTunYangMadame TuskTusk's BodyguardWaddlerCaveman ShopkeeperGhist ShopkeeperVan HorsingThe Three Sisters (Parsley, Parsnip, Parmesan)SparrowBegEggplant King
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