Sunday, February 19, 2017

Hireling availability in Stericksburg

The PCs are flush with cash at the moment, so the usual questions have come up about purchases, availability, and so on.

But also, about hirelings. The PCs really need a few niches filled, and no one seems in any hurry to fill them. They have two thieves, but each is run by an intermittently attending player. They have three scouts, but one is a retired PC put aside by a current player, one run by an intermittently attending player, and one run by a player on long-term hiatus. Their only cleric is an NPC set at 50% of the points of Hjalmarr.

Out of the three, the current one wanted is a good archer, probably to shoot down orcs.

The best shot at getting one is deliberate recruiting, aimed at getting a 125-point archer based on the Archer template. I know the PCs would like someone better - 187 or 250 - as a full partner, but that's not really an option. The only NPC higher than 125 base points they've delved with has been Raggi, and he was rescued from a dungeon prison. Others were 125 and gained some experience in play - Orcish Bob ("I'm not an orc"), Melchior the Malevolent, Gort (okay, he wasn't worth nearly 125). Rescue from a dungeon seems to have been the big thing - that's probably what it would take to find a high-value guy.

I'll be busting out Where Did You Find This Guy? (Dungeon Fantasy 15: Henchmen, p. 29) for this.

Finding an archer takes Leadership, although I'll give a default to other skills (Carousing makes sense, for example, as long as you don't mind a certain class of disadvantages being more common) and allowing complementary skill rolls for such skills instead of only Propaganda.

Stericksburg is large enough to rate a bonus for size, but canonically the hireling pool is small right now due to external wars. So it's a flat +0 for recruiting in the city.

Bribes, hired criers, purchased drinks, etc. will be as usual - $400 for +1, 10x per plus after that.

Bonuses for pay are possible, but since the standard is "Let's find this guy and then negotiate a cheap price" I'm assuming no bonus for promised (and delivered) higher pay. "You get a 1/2 share" is the same as promising standard pay, a full share would rate a bonus depending on how the NPC viewed it. I'd roll 1d-2 (-1 to +4) and use that. Yes, it's possible to get a -1, since you're promising $0 and that's often close to what the PCs have brought back, and potential recruits might be turned off by that.

Asking for Heroic Archer - which is possible on the Archer template, but rare - would rate a penalty of at least -2, probably -4 because of the points involved.

The bonuses I apply for dramatically overspending on upkeep would apply, too - after all, it's increased visibility thanks to eating out at better places, drinking better, staying at fancier dwellings, etc. etc.

And if the group chooses quantity over quality, they can get a fair number of 62-point types who can use a bow. It's easier simply because they ask for less pay, so you can ramp up their offered pay quite high without incurring a large overall cost.

Overall, that gives a reasonable shot at finding an NPC. One roll per downtime, with how we play, and a good excuse to burn money carousing and interviewing and otherwise trying to fill a hole in the group. They won't get a full-on scout, they can't without someone setting aside a PC and making one up, but they can potentially get a bow using support fighter. And that would be useful even with a PC Scout.


  1. How essential is Heroic Archer?

    I wonder about two 62.5pt Archers equipped with quality bows and arrows to compensate for moderate skill.

    1. One 125-point gu with Heroic Archer is vastly superior to two 62 point guys regardless of how much they maximize their Bow skill.

    2. So a 62-points guard focusing on archery has ST 13, Bow-14, maybe a longbow for 1d+3 im damage. He fires every other round and has a 50% chance of hitting a target at ten yards, or ~85% if he fires every third round and aim.

      A 125-point Archer with Heroic Archer starts at ST a13 and Bow-16. He probably has the Strongbow perk, and fires an aimed shot every round. Even accounting for the fast-shooting penalties, he's hitting at target at 10 yards 75% of the time. He's got more tactical flexibility because he Move and Attack with a bow.

      Peter is right, the 125-pt Heroic Archer much better than two Guards, especially since whatever bow and arrow upgrades you get for the guards you can get for the Archer for half the price.

      If I were the PCs, I'd strongly consider making an offer like 3/4s of a share plus a guaranteed fee per session ($200 or so?). They've got the cash right now, if they set aside $400 or so each, to stash enough to pay him for 10 unprofitable sessions.

      I mean, yeah, doing that sucks, but having a Heroic Archer is really useful.

    3. Beyond the straight-up math, it's also a dungeon of 10' corridors and tight spaces. You can't always leverage numbers - witness the orc attacks where it's three orc warriors vs. two PCs, one north of 300 points and the other nearly 500, simply because they can't get their 27 friends into the fray until they've dropped and created Bad Footing. A smaller number of better people is always preferable when space is tight. In a way, that denigrates the utility of Move and Attack because most fights don't have a lot of room for it. Heroic Archer makes up for it with the reduced penalties for quick-shooting that makes for a faster, more effective single shooter.

      It's worth noting that equipment-wise, two 62-point guys have twice as much value in goods as a 125-point guy - all three of them start with $1000, and it's unlikely PCs will offer them full upgrades of their gear thanks to the cost and other considerations. "I know you like that Weapon Bonded Longbow, but we bought you a Composite Bow to loan you for the duration of this delve instead that just happens to meet your rated strength."

      I will say that if my players want to do 3/4 of a share, yeah, I'll split the difference. Watching them split the loot 27 ways and then multiply it out by 3s and 4s to deal with 6 PCs and a 3/4 share NPC should be pretty funny.

      None of this assures them of a Heroic Archer. I've been very strong on the "PCs are the ones with the cool powers" line in this game. A -4 is a serious penalty on a Leadership roll in my games, and should reflect how rare special abilities are on the rest of the population. That's also why the roll for "250-point NPC" is "Go find a friend who wants to play on Sundays."

  2. Any chance of Deadeye Slim or Larry the Crossbowman making reappearances?

    1. Pretty sure Larry is NEVER coming back after Hasdrubel tried to kill him and only failed because he made a death check and Brother Ike was there to give him some serious healing, if I recall.

    2. The PCs poisoned the well with a number of NPCs. Norman the Axe, for example, lost his mail and the PCs pretty much said, those are the breaks. He's never coming back. Larry is another example of poor delver-hireling relations.

    3. Norman the Axe would be a useful guy to have around as well, as you can always use a guy who has some reasonable defenses who can stand in line, so antagonizing him is sad to


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