Alternative Uses For Henchman Slots?

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Jard
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Alternative Uses For Henchman Slots?

the players from my last campaign and I have been discussing about starting up a new campaign.  While talking, we went over some things that maybe we could do differently.  One of the players mentioned he wasn't enthused with managing henchmen and preferred a more powerful, durable player character.

After I picked myself up from the ground sobbing at this abject betrayal, I started trying to think about what to do about this.  Now, it's possible this may simply be the foreshadowing to it turning out they don't actually want to play ACKs, but let's assume they do for a minute: henchmen are a pretty big power component of charisma.  What alternatives could I make for a player that isn't interested in managing multiple characters in battle?

Without thinking too hard about balance, I thought up three possible ways characters could use their henchmen "slots" in ways that still provide a benefit but cut down on paperwork.

1) non-combat henchmen: personal blacksmiths who keep your armor and weapons in perfect, customized shape. scouts and mappers who make sure you're quicker to react. personal hedge witches who give you a few tinctures before each expedition that only you can use to heal/recover HP.  You still have to give them a share of XP. these are not mere services being rendered, they are part of the expedition, they're your HQ keeping the logistics in order.  Not sure how leveling up would work.

2) personal relationships with gods or their saints. you do more than just pray. your god is looking out for you, speaking in your ear, helping you fulfill their will.  Perhaps one or more of their saints are interceding on your behalf as well.  Anything from cleric spells randomly being cast on you to things like divine vigor (gain X temporary HP at the start of an adventuring day, to a maximum of Y). Obviously, a henchman's share worth of tribute must regularly be spent.

3) pacts with otherworldly powers.  The core rulebook mentions that maintaining a spell repotoire is like keeping up with a friend. Why not go a step further? What if regularly keeping up with the 7th-dimensional being who makes mage armor possible gives you one bonus casting of that spell per day? of course this is most comperable to having an actual mage henchman who can actually be targeted and killed, so it shouldn't be as beneficial, for sure.  Other than that, you can assume that regular gifts and materials to perform communions totalling a henchman's share of treasure would need to be expended in order to justify such regular boons from an arcane patron.

So what do you all think? does this idea have legs? What kinds of balancing concerns should I keep an eye out for? Am I delusional and should just start picking a different D&D system now?

Jard
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Alright, on the off chance I'm not crazy for pursuing this, I decided to try and scaffold out a description of this idea.  You'll have to pardon the verbiage, I was trying very much to A) emulate the tone of the ACKs rulebooks and B) make sure I didn't miss anything.  I tried to lay out the idea in more detail, as well as leave notes for what I had envisioned for parts I haven't had time to type up.

Right now my initial inkling is that the personal blacksmith is probably too weak, but I was concerned about how safe they would be.  Another concern is that it's a bit too combat focused, but this was the easiest way to turn the benefits of a full henchmen into something that woudl require less paperwork. I'm also wondering if there may be more types of non combat henches than needed.

Anyway, your thoughts on this linked document are appreciated

Dave
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Disclaimer:  I never read linked documents.  But take a look at how Dungeon World handles hirelings.  #1 above is coming very close to that, except DW hirelings actually are characters on adventures with you.  But you don't bother with separate rolls, they provide bonuses to your rolls instead of always taking unique actions.  You might import that section wholesale, or even take a look at running DW.

More:

4)  Contacts.  A local captain of the guard, a smuggler, a healer... commit a henchman slot and they like you or owe you, and are willing to do you favors beyond the normal limits of pay and courtesy.

5)  Rank.  Want to be a knight, a princess, an officer of a guild?  Henchman slot and it's done.  Doesn't buy you a domain, that still has to be earned in play, but you get the social benefits of the rank (and may be well positioned to play for a domain when the time comes).

6)  Resources.  A single ship, a trading caravan, a tower, a small mercenary company or something similar is at your command.  Real ownership resides with your clan, overlord or shareholders, so you can't sell it, but you're the guy in local command for as long as you don't screw it up.

Jard
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Ah someone caught me! Yes, I am definitely stealing ideas from Dungeon World.

I like your suggestions.  I think the biggest challenge is coming up with something that justifies a henchman slot.  The balancing gets even more complicated if there aren't shares of loot/XP involved.  That being said, I feel like Knight could be a series of simple benefits. regular invitations to galas. the chance to get an audience with the king. someone is always providing you a horse. etc.

jedavis
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> After I picked myself up from the ground sobbing at this abject betrayal, I started trying to think about what to do about this. Now, it's possible this may simply be the foreshadowing to it turning out they don't actually want to play ACKs...

Mm, sounds like my group. "But if we go into the wilderness, we might die (or worse, have to develop new tactics)! Can we just skip from dungeoneering to raking in domain income and XP from the comfort and safety of a castle?"

Jard
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I'm trying to be very open minded as we discuss likes and dislikes.  Most of them are 3.x players at heart, or even videogamers, so the thought of permanent character death has them very squeemish.  

 

We're currently discussing possibly tweaking the range of badness on the Mortal Wounds table so that slightly more entries aren't gruesomely crippling (where's the fun in that?).  We were going to tamper with the tampering with mortality table too, but once we actually talked through what it would take and what it would be like to roll on it (and the possibility of Resurrection if a high enough level cleric was available)

 

But back to the subject at hand: I didn't have a chance to work on my document last night, but I'm trying to find out if this path intrigues my players at all.  The player who regularly plays mages seemed interested at the possibility of an arcane pact granting additional spells.  In my mind, these pacts would be themed (a bargain with Imix grants you a handful of fire-oriented spells) and attempt to emulate the benefits of having a spellcaster henchmen while tamping down the power to acknowledge the lack of having to protect a frail and squishy spellcaster.

At present I have no idea if the personal blacksmith is balanced.  It seems somewhat weak, but even with my caveat about morale checks when hiring multiples, I imagine one fighter becoming a juggernaut by hiring one blacksmith to enhance the weapon, one to sharpen the weapon, and one to enhance the armor.  We'll see.  If there's not sufficient interest I might scrap the whole idea.  After all, not hiring henchmen is its own reward of getting more loot and XP.

SpamIam
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If it's worth anything, I'm a fan of the idea, and so are my players (please don't scrap it!) I especially like the idea of resources as henchmen slots. Maybe for mercenaries, you get 1 unit for a slot, with the scale being whatever you qualify as a lieutenant in D@W for. E.g, 5th level character gets a company, 3rd gets a platoon, 1st gets a squad (as per antiquated squad leader http://crowbarandbrick.blogspot.com/2014/08/antiquated-squad-leader.html).
Alex
The Autarch
Joined: 2011-06-30 18:10

I think there's something interesting to be gained from giving up henchmen slots. Here is a thought:

  • All ability scores are supposed to equivalent in value.
  • INT gives you bonus general proficiencies
  • CHA gives you bonus henchmen slots
  • Therefore henchmen slots are approximately equal to general proficiencies

One could therefore give each adventurer one or more additional general proficiencies by giving up henchmen slots, and/or conclude that the value of a henchman slot is about equal to a general proficiency.

Jard
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@SpamIam: thanks for the kind words.  When I have more time I'll try to flesh this out more.

@Alex: that's way easier! although it seems a bit underpowered compared to what I came up with.  Then again, I was supposing XP and gold shares, so I guess having the ability to exchange a henchman share and gold in exchange for some degree of power is probably about where a general proficiency would fall.

I suppose a single general proficiency could also easily be traded out for abilities at higher levels, or even some of the special abilities defined in the player's companion.

Tywyll
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I really like the idea, especially the fluff of having precast magic and/or divine blessing.

As much as I love you Alex, I'm going to have to strongly disagree here. Charisma, like Strength, is far more valuable than even Class proficiencies. They are direct power multipliers...you get a team of fighters and you have bonus HP, extra attacks, etc. You get some spell casters in there and you have a a whole plethera of spells that you don't have access to, as well as actions to cast them.

I think the idea of trading slots for some sort of power boost isn't unreasonable. However, I do think the problems of low Cha bonus for hiring and retaining should be kept (like you have to roll to maintain these alligeinces each level or something and to start them in the first place). 

 

Tywyll
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@Jard-I read your linked document.

It's awesome! Please continue it! I love the idea and would love to see the hedge witch and divine relationship worked out. Please, please, please!!! 

I just love the idea of a dedicated team at home who make your character super awesome.

Things I think that could be considered:

A benefit providing extra HP (like having another body there to absorb hits), something that provides extra attacks, something with preset spells like cures and buffs that can be used on you. Basically filling out the funtions that another classed person would provide if they were there.

 

Jard
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thanks for the kind words! I am currently scrambling to get a world built for my campaign, but once I have some breathing room I'll try to come back to this.

 

edit: and the things you're describing definitely felt like things that would be going into the hedge witch and divine boons.  I envisioned the hedge witch as packing you a small lunch of healing potions that only work with your biology, while the divine boons giving things like temporary HP or just-in-time healing.

 

Tywyll
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Awesome! Maybe I'll try my hand at something along these lines to help. :)

Jard
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Any feedback or suggestions are absolutely appreciated. especially the blacksmith, for whom i have no idea if it is balanced.

koewn
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Quartermaster: Acts as a virtual market. Party determines how many stone of crap they're toting with them and method of transport (mule carts, wagons, 100 dudes with backpacks), spends the average trade good price for that amount of stone. Consult the quartermaster to see if you have some piece of equipment; result of a roll based on some sizing and spreading of the Market Class tables. Higher levels gets access to disposable magic items, perhaps (at a higher average price for stone, perhaps track seperately). Reduce the load in stone until you refresh at a real market or run out. Results indicating a weight in stone above the remaining stone count as not having it.

Kindof a riff on the Class 6 market that follows armies around.

 

 

Jard
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Quartermaster: Acts as a virtual market. Party determines how many stone of crap they're toting with them and method of transport (mule carts, wagons, 100 dudes with backpacks), spends the average trade good price for that amount of stone. Consult the quartermaster to see if you have some piece of equipment; result of a roll based on some sizing and spreading of the Market Class tables. Higher levels gets access to disposable magic items, perhaps (at a higher average price for stone, perhaps track seperately). Reduce the load in stone until you refresh at a real market or run out. Results indicating a weight in stone above the remaining stone count as not having it.

Kindof a riff on the Class 6 market that follows armies around.


-koewn

I dig it.  I've been wanting to find a way to import Dungeon World's quantum adventurer's packs* for a while now, this might be a way to do it.

 

*You get an adventurer's kit with 5 "charges".  The first time you need something like a 10' pole or pitons, you reach in and that's what you packed. you mark off a charge and now you have a 10' pole until you lose it use up the charges and buy a new pack.

Tywyll
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I think for Divine, a level 1 blessing, could be +1 or +2 HP per level of the Divine Connection.

A level 2 might be something like: 'Saving Grace', automatically have a Cure Light wounds cast on you when you fall below half your HP once a day. This can count as Spells used on the Mortal Wound table if you go from 1/2 to 0. 

At level 4 you should get a Bless Effect on you once a day by praying for a round before or outside of combat that last an hour.

Etc....

Loswaith
Joined: 2017-05-12 02:19

Bit of a necro since the last post. (apoligies, but I had a few ideas to flesh this out more)

I like the concept of this kind of thing however I think the blacksmith is just way to powerful (by 9+ levels the blacksmith can essentially give +3 bonus to attack, damage and AC or the maximum bonus).

That siad i have a few idea that could make this work quite well.

I'll call them retainers.  This is mostly to have a different title so they dont get confused with henchman, mercenaries or specialists (the other types of hirelings).  They are essentially personal specialists to aid the character as required granting them various boons in reliation to their speciality.

Availibility: as any other hireling
Recruitment: as any other hireling, but retainers can be found at levels higher than 4th, but as population density allows.
Non-Adventurer: retainers dont go on adventures with the characters
Pay: As Henchman however with a minimum monthly pay equal to a specialist of the same role (Eg. an Armourer expects 75g per month minimum).
Morale: Now the morale concept and rules offered by jard are quite sound;
- Starting Morale as any other Henchman
- Morale test on hiring another retainer of the same speciality (causes a crisis)
- Each retainer counts as having a henchman for henchman limits (eg two henchman and one retainer count as three henchman)
- Retainers are treated the same in every other manner as henchman
Experience: Retainers gain one fifth (20%) of a share of XP from adventures, as they dont put themselves in direct harm (but are usually regailed with the adventurers exploits in detail or from their own work).
Bonuses: Retainers expect a bonus as their employer gains wealth; while hencman tend to expect 15% of an employers income, a retainer expects only a 5% bonus (from the employers income) if their boons are provided (whether used or not).
Services: retainers provide the services to thier employer in the form of boons (see below).  A retainer provides one boon at level 1, 2 boons at level 6 and 3 boons at level 12.

Retainer/Specialist Levels:
Many retainers dont have classes in performing their roles like Henchman do, they however use a seperate Specialist class for gaining XP for being a retainer (note this can be used to build specalists with levels, that have been retainers previously), unless they have an adventuring class like a henchman.

On gaining levels as a retainer as opposed to some other adventuring class, the zero level character doesnt lose any of their starting proficiences, these are kept, however they can never take the adventuring profiency.  Specialits progress in experience, attack throws and saving throws as a thief. They gain 1d4 hp per level untill 9th level and gain +2 hp per level from levels 10 to 14.
- Specialists are proficient in any tools, weapons and armour specific to their speciality and have all proficencies (accept Adventuring) as part of their class list.
- Specialists gain an additional proficency at levels 3, 5, 7, 9, 11 and 13 (typically these are used to complement or become more proficient in their speciality) and gain general proficencies at levels 5, 9 and 13 (which they tend to spend on anything).
- At level 7 a specialist increases their effectivness as that specific specalist by 50% (their value to a project or income they can make for their employer)
- At 13th level a specialist increases their effectiveness by 100%.
 

Boons: Retainers while they dont go on adventures offer their employers boons.  Boons vary from retainer to retainer, and usualy are specific to thier speciality. Some example boons are given below.  Boons typically last's just the one adventure, or up to one month (at judges discression).

Custom/Fitted Armour: Custom armour is designed and modified to fit the character (unable to be used by anyone else), this can grant either a +1 bonus to armour class (able to recieve this boon up to 3 times), or reduce the effective weight of the armour by one stone (can be taken only once). This takes a skilled armour 2 days of fitting (per boon) and one week per boon to initially modify the armour or one month per boon to create a new set of armour.  While it takes 2 days of work and 2d4 hours of fitting to maintain each boon after each adventure (to make sure its fix any damage to the armour)

Balanced Weapon: A weapon itself is balanced specifically for the owner (unable to be used by others), granting them a +1 bonus to hit (can recieve this boon up to 3 times).  This takes a skilled weaponsmith 2 days of the characters time (per boon) over a week per boon to modify a weapon or one month per boon to create a new weapon.  While it takes 2 days of work (per boon) and 2d4 hours of the characters time (per boon) to maintain the boon.

Enhanced Damage: A weapon is sharpened, weighted or otherwise modified for greater damage in the hands of the character (unable to be used by others), granting them a +1 bonus to Damage (can recieve this boon up to 3 times).  This takes a skilled weaponsmith 2 days of the characters time (per boon) over a week per boon to modify a weapon or one month per boon to create a new weapon.  While it takes 2 days of work (per boon) and 2d4 hours of the characters time (per boon) to maintain the boon.

Create Consumable: Once per month (per boon) the specialist can create a healing tincture (as a heaing potion) for the character to take on their adventure.  Alternativly the specialist can create a single use consumable (per boon) on behalf of the character, even if they cant do so themselves.  The creation time is dependant on the consumable created and the character must fund the items creation value.  This is typically done by alchemist or spell casting retainers.

Training: A retainer is able to train the character in one of their own proficencies or class abilities (once per boon).  This training initially takes one week (per boon) to learn a general proficency or one month (per boon) for a class proficency (or ability) for the character to learn it initially and two days of training to maintain.  The proficency can then be used by the character as if they had known it themselves.  Any retainer can train a character in a proficency they know even if it isnt a class proficency for the character themselves.

Quatermaster/Merchant: The retainer can source or sell gear the character is wanting to buy or sell rather than the character doing the task themselves. The time taken by the quatermaster is equal to the time the character would have taken themselves.  Each boon spent increases the effective size of the market by one step for the quatermasters effort (eg, 2 boons would make a rank IV market considered rank II to source/sell things).

Assistant: The retainer takes over many of the day to day tasks dealing with your retainers and specialists on your behalf.  For each boon the assistant will look after an additional retainer even if it is above the number of henchman you could normally have.  Should your assistant ever resign, any retainers that are assigned to the assistant are lost.  (EG. Leora has a charisma of 11, thus can only have the base 4 henchman, however she gets a 6th level assistant and uses both the assistant's boons to hire two additional retainers letting her have 3 henchman, the assistant and two additional retainers, for a total of 6 effective henchman.  However if the assistant should resign from Leora's service leora would also lose the retainers the Assistant looks after for her).

Information: The retainer takes its time out doing whatever they do to gather some point of information be it scouting out dungeons in the regoin, spying on opposing armies or lords, or even doing some research on the characters behalf.  Each month (or the research time in the case of magic) gives the character one lot of pertinent information per boon from the retainer for that month.  Depending on the information desired various specalists each have their own field they give information for (a scout wound gather regional information like dungeon location, a mage would undergo research, while a spy would gather secrets).

Blessings or Pacts:  The character makes deals with retainers and their governing patrons (or directly with a patron) for various boons within the patrons field of influence.  These can vary widely from one off spells to bonuses for certain tasks (jugde's discresion).  Some patrons may even ask for favours from the character for providing the boons instead of taking monetary payment.

Spells:  Spell casting retainers can cast spells on behalf of the the character that they know.  Rarely are these offensive in nature as the retainer doesnt go on adventures with the character.  Each week a one spell can be cast per boon.  Higher level spells can often use up multiple boons for the retainer to cast them (typically speaking level 1-2 spells cost one boon, level 3-4 cost two boons and level 5-6 or rituals cost three boons).  If the retainer has a very good relationship with the character they may cast multiple spells per boon or higher level spells for fewer boons (Judge's discresion).

 

Feel free to either add boons or feedback. 

Jard
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I like your take on the idea!