Thursday, March 24, 2016

Treating the Hirelings Right

So I've been harping on bad delver-hireling relations for a few posts.

How about good delver-hireling relations, codified into rules? Here are two more optional expansions to the Loyalty rules.

Note that Dungeon Fantasy 15: Henchmen already covers a fairly large swatch of good treatment. Successful delves, pay above scale, rescue, etc. Players who hire help would do well to read Loyalty, DF15 p. 30 and do those things. It takes consistent effort and good deeds to build up trust over time, but bad treatment tends to inflict permanent damage on the relationship rather quickly. Hirelings tend to think you are how you act on your worst day.

Gearing Up. Permanent purchases and gifts of new equipment to a hireling should be treated as pay increases equal to 1/2 the value of the gear. (That is, it's slightly better than the sale value of the gear, but people prefer cash bonuses to "Here is this shortsword I found, keep it.")

Trust. +1 to +3 temporary loyalty. Demonstrations of trust can cause temporary increases in Loyalty. These include trusting a hireling with a valuable and/or mission critical piece of equipment, loaning a powerful magical item, or putting your life in the hireling's hands. Assigning jobs that require trust may qualify in some cases. Such circumstances need to be exceptional - the GM should decide if the task is important enough and the hireling would recognize it as a matter of trust and not just palming the job off. At the end of the session, roll a Reaction Roll. On a Good or better reaction, the hireling's Loyalty increases by +1 permanently.

Trusting a hireling with an important job, handing them the Wand of Orcus to use for the session, and otherwise demonstrating that he is in a position of trust and respect may translate to better reactions in the long run. Of course, some NPCs aren't worthy of such trust, but then again, some PCs aren't, either . . .


  1. Although I normally play GURPS, I also play the mastermind rogue in a 5e game. We had a hireling, grandson of an adventurer, who got killed on our second mission. He had a ton of cool magic and a nice big pouch of gold from the parents. At first we thought "Woohoo, look at all this stuff!"

    And then it hit me. "Wait, we're playing D&D! We can Raise Dead!" So we did.

    Gave him his gear and gold back (minus expenses for the Raise Dead) and we're back in action.

    Now _there's_ a way to get a Loyalty boost.

    1. It's kind of harsh to make him pay full freight for the Raise Dead - for PCs, that kind of expense is usually shared among the party in my experience.

      Our 10th level party was fighting a dragon turtle and a high level cleric when our henchmen (3rd or 4th level half-ogre guard and 5th level paladin) went down for the third or fourth time. The bard's player asked my cleric was going to heal them again, and I said, "it's a lost cause. I'm just going to cast Raise Dead on them tomorrow."

      I'm not sure if that's worth loyalty drop or raise: its kind of callous to write them off like that, but I wasn't planning on charging them anything for the revival.

      Fortunately, the enemy fled at that point and the henchmen survived.

    2. DF15 specifically calls out Resurrection as at least a +5 under "Rescue."


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