I have done a series of posts featuring the NPC hirelings who have made it into sessions of my GURPS Dungeon Fantasy campaign. They are collected here.
Tne thing about GURPS is that it front-loads character design. You need to do a fair amount of work ahead of time, even with tools like templates to speed you along. Yet I am often called on to stat someone up right now without slowing my game down. "We find a torchbearer." "We need another shieldbearer." "We need missile-firing guys, no matter what the weapon." Or I suddenly need some bandits or something else, and want some uniqueness to them.
So how do I do that? Here is my plan of action, in order. This all assumes you have GURPS Dungeon Fantasy 15: Henchmen. If not, you can get close with any template based system or with DF On The Cheap.
WYSIWIG Equipment - What You See Is What You Get
We use miniatures for our games, even if only to visualize a character but more often to actually play out battles. So when called on to provide an NPC, I first select an appropriate miniature, Cardboard Hero, or counter. Whatever you see on that figure is what the character is equipped with.
We will make exceptions for "logical" stuff, like ammunition for missile weapons (often lacking on minis - they have a bow but no quiver quite often), a pouch or bag, a helmet (lots of helmet-less guys), or mismatched armor (we'll assume a match) or clothing. But for gross characteristics and weaponry, it's purely WYSIWIG. This is why Deadeye Slim has a knife as his melee weapon, why Lucky Pete had one hand, and
For PCs we'll forgive anything, really - Red Raggi's mini has an eyepatch and no shirt or helmet, yet Raggi has two eyes and wears a mail hauberk and helmet. Still the mini conveys a lot and we know what he's really got. For short-hire NPCs we just have no idea.
Eyeball the encumbrance, and if you're not sure, set it to the next level up and assume they've got some extra stuff. That'll cover them if they get handed loot to carry, like my players always do. "The sling guy can carry these twelve broadswords we just found." Or grab a loadout and check - it's what DF13 is for, doing all that work for you. Don't sweat it if they slightly over or under shoot their actual pool of money. It usually doesn't matter.
Pick a Template
The real upside to templates is they are pick-lists. So pick a pick-list from the evocative and descriptive names, and go from there. Missile troops are Archers, lightly armored types are Skirmishers or Killers, armored types are Brutes or Squires, low-rent versions of any are Guards. That's what they are there for.
Just the Basics to Start
Templates have some basic skills, and some discretionary ones. They also have discretionary points. The best thing I found is to quickly assign out the larger discretionary pool of points, pick a big defining disadvantage or two, and skip the skills until they come up in play. The group is climbing? Decide then if the NPC has it or not. Fall in the water? That's when you decide if they can swim or not. Etc.
You don't even need to look it up - decide yes or no, then assign the skill at Stat+0 and you're probably close. It doesn't really matter if you "break" the template by picking something wrong - customization is totally fine and makes the NPCs more interesting.
If they're non-human, assume that eats up their discretionary points from advantages and just forget them. It'll probably work out in the long run.
Two Quick Rolls
Roll Loyalty (per DF15 p. 30) and on the Random Hireling Trait Table (p. 31) and note the results. They'll matter. Feel free to just pick one off the table if it matches the mini. It's fun to pick or roll Secret Menace, and even funnier when the Secret Menace gets whacked with a critical hit on turn one of his first fight and dies.
Pick a Name
Anything will do, in most games. I grab random names out of the air or from games Vryce's player's son is playing on the old game machines our friend collects. Thats how we get gems like "Zed Shieldbearer" or "Grace the Slick" or "Gort of the Shining Force." If a counter I use has a name (say, from my old Cry Havoc sets), then it keeps that name.
It took me longer to write this than it'll take you to follow these steps.
That's really it. You can write down what they do and what gets tested in play and then fill in the template later. if you ever have to. Anything defined in play is true, regardless of templates, points, or anything else. Should have had Stealth-14 and you said 12? This guy sucks at Stealth or he learned from experience and now he's got a 14 for the next trip! Hurrah! Should have had a 12 and you said 14? Damn, he's good! And so on. It doesn't really matter. These guys are extras and walk-ons, not the stars. Consistency with actual play matters more than fidelity to what should have been if you had more time to get ready.
And that's how I get these guys.