Sunday, December 23, 2018

DF Felltower: Where are the hirelings at?

Recent play in Felltower hasn't featured many hirelings.

The last Ally featured was Brother Ike, who was chewed into a shower of gore and gobbets of flesh by a ravening eye. The last non-Ally NPC to delve was Raggi, who hasn't been actively sought after once it was clear that the dungeon's lethality has exceeded his ability to survive.

Some of this is the struggle of players to recognize what lower-point NPCs are good for.

But mostly, it's a feature of three things:

1) Too many PCs.

We're usually running at above 6 players per session. 8-9 isn't uncommon anymore. Because of that, the game just doesn't feature a lot of NPCs. The PCs don't seek them out, the offered potential loot is lower.

2) Too little GM time.

I don't have a lot of spare time. I don't sit around writing up NPCs. I specifically don't want to avail myself of the free time of my players to have them make up guys who just happen to be standing around town, waiting to get hired. The abuses in that are so obvious that spelling them out seems insulting to my audience and wasteful of the rest of my time.

But because of that, I don't have NPCs ready to go at the last minute. This means the players need to decide long in advance they want, say, a wizard or an archer or an acolyte. They usually want a loyal, cheap, highly effective healing priest. They'vew gotten 100% of them killed beyond Resurrection, though, so that's a tough call. Plus the group tends to maximize loot thresholds over fighting evil, which means the church isn't going to give them a bonus to the roll to encourage a priest to join them for certain eventual death.

3) Too dangerous.

For the same reason you haven't seen much of Raggi, you won't see much of 62-point hirelings and unknown point volunteers. It's very, very dangerous on the levels of Felltower the party is going to. Promised rewards haven't increased, but lethality has. In fact, actual rewards taken home by the NPCs has generally dropped. More of them have died, mostly permanently, and few of them have received anything like substantial rewards for the risk. Plus too many of the PCs have reputations for either attempting to murder the NPCs (the Barca family, for example) or short-shrifting NPCs who don't turn out to be decisively useful. A couple of PCs have positive modifiers thanks to Reputation, but net/net most of them have minuses.

So, much more risk of death for less reward than there was for less risk.

All in all, though, as much as I love hirelings, there isn't a lot of reason why they're going to show up. Unless the players and their PCs make a much more certain effort to attract them and retain them, it's likely to be a PC-only party for a while.


  1. My players seem to think NPCs are an entitlement.

    Last session they paid the one NPC something like $200, but pulled out a wopping $100,000 plus total. He has a significant penalty to his chance of ever coming back.

    1. "My players seem to think NPCs are an entitlement."

      I think that sums it up for most players, especially ones who rarely or never GM. NPCs are expected to work for nothing, or the minimum the rules insist on, take on more risk than their employers, surrender unconditionally if asked, and bargain from a position of weakness even if they aren't weaker. In general. A few favored ones might be treated a bit better.

      That might sound like just GM griping, but it's more than that - it's a reason why those same players tend to find NPCs untrustworthy, negotiations futile, and regard NPCs as hopeless cowards. Their behaviors essentially push towards those results.

    2. I'm I the only Player that tends to reward hirelings with extra money and praise?

      Granted I tend to also play Lazy Characters, so spending money so they don't have to do the work themselves is just good sense.

    3. This is a common *human* behavior towards perceived 'inferiors,' right? This might be another case were we hope the PCs behave like heroes but they just act like regular folks with heroic abilities instead.

  2. Why did they stop looking for the Meeposians? They seemed to really like them

    1. They don't always have the room or the need, mostly because of 1 and 3.

  3. I have smallish parties in my pbp game that always need filling out. That said, I also have a player who has driven off every other PC that travelled with him, and while he is somewhat generous to npcs, the ones available after the PC's trash talk him in the tavern have become progressively questionable...


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