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Author Topic: Making hirelings go into the dungeon  (Read 545 times)

robertliguori

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Re: Making hirelings go into the dungeon
« Reply #15 on: April 07, 2021, 02:32:20 PM »
This gets kind of dicey in 5e, because bounded accuracy means that you can do things the adventure does not expect you to do if you can bring in a few dozen low-level shortbow-wielding militia to volley-fire at specific targets.

But in general, the assumption I've worked with is that if you're getting hired to follow people around and perform a service, you need to negotiate exactly where and when you're not going, in advance, because labor disputes can be resolved with you suddenly being let go from the group and having to deal with the Wandering Monster tables by your lonesome as you try to make your way back to civilization.

Also, the thought occurs to me that being paid professonally as an adventurer's hireling is probably not a common or safe career path. So instead, perhaps you should set up explicitly short-term, fixed-cost, fixed-duty hirelings.  That is to say, if you're hired by a town to handle a nearby community of goblins that are raiding their outlying farms, then you can, at low cost, hire a bunch of hirelings to maintain your camp while you're campaigning against the goblin lair, and probably a fair number of more-valor-than-sense would-be adventurers who will gladly risk their 16 whole hp against the goblins to protect their towns and families.

As usual, the best answer is to dive into the specifics of the scenario, and make those specifics matter, because that makes things more interesting than generic morale roles.

S'mon

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Re: Making hirelings go into the dungeon
« Reply #16 on: April 07, 2021, 03:12:25 PM »
This gets kind of dicey in 5e, because bounded accuracy means that you can do things the adventure does not expect you to do if you can bring in a few dozen low-level shortbow-wielding militia to volley-fire at specific targets.

For me that's definitely a feature not a bug. Players love pulling off that kind of "We beat the adventure!" trick. Of course there'll be a price, in resources and in reduced XP (per 5e RAW, every allied NPC takes an equal XP share away from the PCs). But if the players think the alternative was losing they'll be happy to pay that price.

IMC though the level 3-4 PC groups haven't been taking their 11 hp guards into the dungeons at all; no one seems to think in terms of 'bring these guys and we could do a bit more damage to the orcs!' - they tend to worry much more about losing followers now than back in the '80s when I started playing D&D.
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Ghostmaker

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Re: Making hirelings go into the dungeon
« Reply #17 on: April 07, 2021, 03:56:55 PM »
So far, I'll be honest, I haven't had this problem (though I'm about to :D )

The one 'hireling' the group had (a hapless gnome who surrendered to them) got turned into charcoal when the wild mage sorceress accidentally fireballed herself. The ranger player keeps suggesting that we put her in a steel box with the label 'front towards enemy'.

They also managed to befriend a randomly conjured rhinoceros, but time will tell if they can actually train the thing. Good times.

Shasarak

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Re: Making hirelings go into the dungeon
« Reply #18 on: April 07, 2021, 04:47:24 PM »
Why would you have a hireling and not bring them into the dungeon?

How are they going to earn their GPs by sitting outside?

Actually thats exactly what some are supposed to do. Sit outside and guard the camp, or wait for the all clear and then come in and help haul stuff out.

D&D has had various types of hirelings from edition to edition.

Some are just to guard your stronghold. Or camp.
Some will come along into a dungeon. Others will flat out refuse as that is not their job.
And some are just NPC adventurers who are not hirelings.

BX and AD&D I think did the best job of defining who will and who will not go delving.
B had Retainers, these were a cut above men-at-arms and soldiers and could and would go along into the dungeon.
X added Specialists and Mercenaries. Neither of these go along into the dungeon.
And Keep on the Borderlands has quick rules for hiring men-at-arms at the tavern to go along.

You have a Mercenary that you can hire to not go into a Dungeon.

I'll take "Things that never happened" for 10 points.
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ScytheSong

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Re: Making hirelings go into the dungeon
« Reply #19 on: April 07, 2021, 05:02:19 PM »
Why would you have a hireling and not bring them into the dungeon?

How are they going to earn their GPs by sitting outside?

Actually thats exactly what some are supposed to do. Sit outside and guard the camp, or wait for the all clear and then come in and help haul stuff out.

D&D has had various types of hirelings from edition to edition.

Some are just to guard your stronghold. Or camp.
Some will come along into a dungeon. Others will flat out refuse as that is not their job.
And some are just NPC adventurers who are not hirelings.

BX and AD&D I think did the best job of defining who will and who will not go delving.
B had Retainers, these were a cut above men-at-arms and soldiers and could and would go along into the dungeon.
X added Specialists and Mercenaries. Neither of these go along into the dungeon.
And Keep on the Borderlands has quick rules for hiring men-at-arms at the tavern to go along.

You have a Mercenary that you can hire to not go into a Dungeon.

I'll take "Things that never happened" for 10 points.

Those mercenaries were specifically hired to guard the keep/stronghold/wizard's tower while your character and their friends were off adventuring. The specialists were for building your keep/stronghold/wizard's tower. My copies of B&X seem to have gone walkabout for the moment, but the rule is there (this is the 1979 version of Basic and Expert D&D, so if you're one of those kids who thinks 3rd ed D&D is old school, you could be confused).

Shasarak

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Re: Making hirelings go into the dungeon
« Reply #20 on: April 07, 2021, 05:07:00 PM »
Why would you have a hireling and not bring them into the dungeon?

How are they going to earn their GPs by sitting outside?

Actually thats exactly what some are supposed to do. Sit outside and guard the camp, or wait for the all clear and then come in and help haul stuff out.

D&D has had various types of hirelings from edition to edition.

Some are just to guard your stronghold. Or camp.
Some will come along into a dungeon. Others will flat out refuse as that is not their job.
And some are just NPC adventurers who are not hirelings.

BX and AD&D I think did the best job of defining who will and who will not go delving.
B had Retainers, these were a cut above men-at-arms and soldiers and could and would go along into the dungeon.
X added Specialists and Mercenaries. Neither of these go along into the dungeon.
And Keep on the Borderlands has quick rules for hiring men-at-arms at the tavern to go along.

You have a Mercenary that you can hire to not go into a Dungeon.

I'll take "Things that never happened" for 10 points.

Those mercenaries were specifically hired to guard the keep/stronghold/wizard's tower while your character and their friends were off adventuring. The specialists were for building your keep/stronghold/wizard's tower. My copies of B&X seem to have gone walkabout for the moment, but the rule is there (this is the 1979 version of Basic and Expert D&D, so if you're one of those kids who thinks 3rd ed D&D is old school, you could be confused).

Yeah, thats me, 3e is old school.  :o
There will be poor always,
pathetically struggling,
look at the good things you've got! -  Jesus

ScytheSong

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Re: Making hirelings go into the dungeon
« Reply #21 on: April 07, 2021, 05:15:37 PM »

Yeah, thats me, 3e is old school.  :o

Considering how much of the OSR is based on trying to get to older styles of gaming through the lens of 3rd's OGL, I never know. That's why the "if" is there. ;D

rickss

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Re: Making hirelings go into the dungeon
« Reply #22 on: April 07, 2021, 05:28:52 PM »
(for 1e) Except for the leaders of soldiers (sergeant, lieutenant, etc) and the sage, hirelings are generally Level 0. And they can't ever gain a level.

Henchmen are L1+, and can gain levels. But they as a general rule won't  hire on with the party unless they're low level:
Quote
DMG: As a general rule, only characters of 1st level of experience will be attracted to service with.a player character. (If the NPC has already gained a level or more of experience on his or her own, why would the aegis of a PC be sought?!) If the player character attempting to find an NPC henchman is over 6th level, there is a 10% chance that the character found will be 2nd level, and seeking service because of the renown of the PC; if the player character is over 11 th level, there is a 25% chance that NPC will be 3rd level, 25% chance for 2nd level, and 50% for 1st
level.

A henchman also has loyalty to a single PC, not the party: "A low-level non-player character whose loyalty is to one member of the party rather than the party itself."


The problem for us was sailors. As the party advanced in level, their sailors became brittle. But the players didn't want to just arbitrarily replace their sailors with soldiers.  An they can't technically hire henchmen for the crew due to CHA limits, so each player would have to have part of the crew reporting to them.

So we created henchlings, a blend of hireling and henchman. To make the paperwork simple, if the party pays them more, the sailors are treated as L1 (or L2, L3, etc).   You can see the details of that here: https://dnd.sinister.net/the-making-of-henchlings/

VisionStorm

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Re: Making hirelings go into the dungeon
« Reply #23 on: April 07, 2021, 06:00:04 PM »
Yeah, thats me, 3e is old school.  :o

And the greatest edition of D&D. 8)

Shasarak

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Re: Making hirelings go into the dungeon
« Reply #24 on: April 07, 2021, 06:17:43 PM »
Yeah, thats me, 3e is old school.  :o

And the greatest edition of D&D. 8)

I agree with that.  None of those crazy non-fighting "mercenaries" in 3e for sure.
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Marchand

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Re: Making hirelings go into the dungeon
« Reply #25 on: April 08, 2021, 04:12:56 AM »
This gets kind of dicey in 5e, because bounded accuracy means that you can do things the adventure does not expect you to do if you can bring in a few dozen low-level shortbow-wielding militia to volley-fire at specific targets.

For me that's definitely a feature not a bug. Players love pulling off that kind of "We beat the adventure!" trick. Of course there'll be a price, in resources and in reduced XP (per 5e RAW, every allied NPC takes an equal XP share away from the PCs). But if the players think the alternative was losing they'll be happy to pay that price.

I'm all for player creativity and not being limited by what's on the character sheet, but this seems to turn D&D into a wargame.

Or should I say, back into a wargame - there are crazy sizes of PC groups cited in OD&D if I remember right.

Still, taking a company or battalion in to storm a dungeon doesn't feel like the way I want to play regularly.
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S'mon

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Re: Making hirelings go into the dungeon
« Reply #26 on: April 08, 2021, 04:18:17 AM »
Still, taking a company or battalion in to storm a dungeon doesn't feel like the way I want to play regularly.

I'm in favour of flexibility - players & GMs should have the opportunity to approach the game in a wide variety of styles. I always felt 4e D&D was constraining in that you HAVE to play it in Big Damn Heroes mode, and it's incapable of handling resource management without serious modding. Whereas in 5e I can run 1e-style battles between small armies ok - and am currently doing so, a tribe of orcs (around 70 or so) & their pet barlgura demon is attacking a small dwarf hold defended by 8 PCs and around 24 allied NPCs.
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Omega

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Re: Making hirelings go into the dungeon
« Reply #27 on: April 08, 2021, 04:25:15 AM »

You have a Mercenary that you can hire to not go into a Dungeon.

I'll take "Things that never happened" for 10 points.

Yeah even way back this one puzzled me. Id have thought the mercs were the ones that go along and the men-at-arms were the ones that did not. So I usually just swap the terms.

SHARK

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Re: Making hirelings go into the dungeon
« Reply #28 on: April 08, 2021, 05:22:56 AM »
Still, taking a company or battalion in to storm a dungeon doesn't feel like the way I want to play regularly.

I'm in favour of flexibility - players & GMs should have the opportunity to approach the game in a wide variety of styles. I always felt 4e D&D was constraining in that you HAVE to play it in Big Damn Heroes mode, and it's incapable of handling resource management without serious modding. Whereas in 5e I can run 1e-style battles between small armies ok - and am currently doing so, a tribe of orcs (around 70 or so) & their pet barlgura demon is attacking a small dwarf hold defended by 8 PCs and around 24 allied NPCs.

Greetings!

Yep, I like this too, my friend! ;D

I have always used and encouraged players to gain henchmen, hirelings, and such, being long-inspired by how playing D&D began in the beginning.

Beyond that motivation, though, it's just great fun! I'm also reminded that having such a flexible approach generally accomplishes a few other meaningful dynamics;

(1) Having some Henchmen and Hirelings along with the group adds realism to game-play, in the kinds of battles and scope of their accomplishments actually become *more* believable, more grounded in real heroism, and less of a super hero dynamic of "We are four superheroes and can do anything"

(2) The inclusion of additional henchmen and hirelings obviously increases roleplaying, for everyone involved, whether it involves training, engaging in fighting, developing friendships, or even pursuing romantic relationships. Having more scope for roleplaying is usually fun for everyone, and also mitigates against the sometimes perceived dynamic of "Always Fighting and Killing Everything".

(3) IMMERSION: I have found that players get quite involved with the NPC's, and through the rivalries, romances, friendship, and other dramas going on with everyone, the Players become more immersed in the campaign world.

(4) EPIC HEROISM: Related to Increased Realism in Point (1) earlier, having henchmen and hirelings, and gradually retainers, bodyguards, specialists and troops, also interestingly increases the scope for epic heroism. The Players are more and more able to engage the fantastic world in increasingly heroic ways--like the Argonauts of ancient Greece, or a heroic band of Viking raiders on a Dragonship, and such like. They can participate in epic battles, attack enemy fortresses, engage meaningfully against a Dragon or an island fortress of evil giants, and so on. I suppose I find the scope and style is gradually and realistically heroic, and inspiring, as well as fun, while avoiding seemingly being ridiculous or entirely unbelievable, if that makes sense.

Semper Fidelis,

SHARK
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S'mon

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Re: Making hirelings go into the dungeon
« Reply #29 on: April 08, 2021, 05:31:03 AM »
Still, taking a company or battalion in to storm a dungeon doesn't feel like the way I want to play regularly.

I'm in favour of flexibility - players & GMs should have the opportunity to approach the game in a wide variety of styles. I always felt 4e D&D was constraining in that you HAVE to play it in Big Damn Heroes mode, and it's incapable of handling resource management without serious modding. Whereas in 5e I can run 1e-style battles between small armies ok - and am currently doing so, a tribe of orcs (around 70 or so) & their pet barlgura demon is attacking a small dwarf hold defended by 8 PCs and around 24 allied NPCs.

Greetings!

Yep, I like this too, my friend! ;D

I have always used and encouraged players to gain henchmen, hirelings, and such, being long-inspired by how playing D&D began in the beginning.

Beyond that motivation, though, it's just great fun! I'm also reminded that having such a flexible approach generally accomplishes a few other meaningful dynamics;

(1) Having some Henchmen and Hirelings along with the group adds realism to game-play, in the kinds of battles and scope of their accomplishments actually become *more* believable, more grounded in real heroism, and less of a super hero dynamic of "We are four superheroes and can do anything"

(2) The inclusion of additional henchmen and hirelings obviously increases roleplaying, for everyone involved, whether it involves training, engaging in fighting, developing friendships, or even pursuing romantic relationships. Having more scope for roleplaying is usually fun for everyone, and also mitigates against the sometimes perceived dynamic of "Always Fighting and Killing Everything".

(3) IMMERSION: I have found that players get quite involved with the NPC's, and through the rivalries, romances, friendship, and other dramas going on with everyone, the Players become more immersed in the campaign world.

(4) EPIC HEROISM: Related to Increased Realism in Point (1) earlier, having henchmen and hirelings, and gradually retainers, bodyguards, specialists and troops, also interestingly increases the scope for epic heroism. The Players are more and more able to engage the fantastic world in increasingly heroic ways--like the Argonauts of ancient Greece, or a heroic band of Viking raiders on a Dragonship, and such like. They can participate in epic battles, attack enemy fortresses, engage meaningfully against a Dragon or an island fortress of evil giants, and so on. I suppose I find the scope and style is gradually and realistically heroic, and inspiring, as well as fun, while avoiding seemingly being ridiculous or entirely unbelievable, if that makes sense.

Semper Fidelis,

SHARK

Hi SHARK! Yes, this matches my feelings and experience exactly. I designed my current 5e campaign (set in 1e era Forgetten Realms) very much to accommodate this play style, with classed N/PCs kept simple by not using the Feat & Multiclassing options, XP based advancement, and explicit rules for hirelings & retainers - eg I use a henchman limit of 4 + CHA bonus; currently the PCs are mostly around 4th level and all three active groups have their own manors/domains with a bunch of NPC followers, several henchmen per group, and a lot of interest in acquiring more. Two of the manors have squads of guards, while the ruler of the third thinks he 'can't afford it' despite having the most money of any of them. :) I have 16 active players across the three groups, with around 18-20 PCs depending on how it's counted. Pretty close to Gygax's recommended 20 players. :D

Re RP & romance, a few PCS have relationships with NPCs (I never almost never see PC-PC romance even though there are some married couples among my players - but I do have some very attractive NPCs) :D - and some of the NPCs form relationships with each other of course - I think this is definitely beneficial to making the world feel real.


Elia the Shadow Sorceress, an NPC henchperson IMC. None of the PCs seem too interested in flirting with her though - might be the whole 'I have a personal relationship with Death/Myrkul' thing she's got going.  ;D The pic is apparently Mina Harker as a vampire, I guess the sparkly no-fangs type.
« Last Edit: April 08, 2021, 05:57:21 AM by S'mon »
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