I offered them a candidate, a fighting man named “Huckabear” (I’m not always great with on-the-spot names).
The PCs wanted to get a sense of how strong Huckabear was, even though strength has no mechanical effect in OD&D besides a lousy XP bonus, so I rolled up his strength. 18. The PCs hired him then and there.
Really, the most important stat for a hireling is hit points, so I rolled them up: 1d6+1 for a level 1 fighter. I rolled a 6 on the die. Then I rolled his Constitution: 17. He had 8 HP, the unlikely maximum for a level 1 OD&D character.
All these rolls were in the open, by the way, and the players were freaking out. This musclebound, Conan-like fighter was a far better character than any of them. I’m usually careful not to run an NPC ally who outshines the characters, and I was seeing one form before my eyes, one d6 roll at a time.
Later, the PCs met an enchanted princess. They wanted to make a good impression, so they asked me: was Huckabear as charming as he was strong? I rolled up his Charisma – out in the open again. Three sixes. Another 18. They sent him in to talk with the princess. Negotiations went well. Huckabear even rolled well on his reaction rolls.
Huckabear was looking like he might be the only character I ever rolled up that could honestly qualify for the first-edition Paladin class. Too bad the Paladin hadn’t been invented yet.
Just for curiosity, we rolled up the rest of Huckabear’s stats. These weren’t as memorable, but were still statistically unlikely enough to be met with incredulity and mirth. He got a 17 intelligence (far smarter than the party wizards), 15 wisdom, and, the real letdown, only a 13 dexterity (still enough to get the +1 to missile attacks). We joked that Huckabear never had his sword out because his hands were constantly full with a lantern, ten-foot pole, sextant (“how can Huckabear even see the sky in the dungeon?” “Oh, Huckabear can do it”) – astrolabe, lute, and the score to the new opera he was working on.
Halfway through the dungeon, one of the PCs was killed by an ochre jelly, and took over Huckabear as a PC (and who wouldn’t want to?) In his first combat, he spent the first round putting down his ten-foot-pole, opera, etc. and lighting a torch. In the second round, he attacked the ochre jelly. Rolled a natural 20. Rolled a 6 on the d6 damage roll. It wasn’t my dice that made Huckabear great. It was Huckabear.