The Anarchy of King Stephen
Characters are allowed one hireling per point of CHA (minimum 1; see below). These hirelings are not exactly cohorts, apprentices or sidekicks; they are manservants, butlers, squires, shield- and spear-carriers, draftsmen, pack mules and other secondary roles. In a pinch, they can heft a sword and even take a blow for their masters; again, see below.
In order to recruit a henchman, players must be in a location with a surplus of labor. Most settlements of village-size or larger have an ample supply of idle young men (because these are the Middle Ages, women are very, very rarely hirelings). Taking on a hireling is also a fairly expensive proposition, as most non-adventurers know that their chances of dying on an outing are pretty good.
Recruiting a Henchman
If a character is in a position to recruit a henchman, he may make an attempt at any time. Each attempt costs 1d6 x 100 shillings; this covers both the cost of the search and also the initial payment for the hireling. This cost is mandatory; if the character doesn’t have enough coin on hand to cover the roll, he loses all his remaining money and suffers a -1 penalty on the recruitment roll (see below) for each 100s or fraction thereof short he is.
Once the cost is covered, the character makes a Recruitment roll. This is a d6, modified by the character’s CHA. If the character is known in the community he is recruiting from to have lost his last hireling, either through death or through bad treatment, he suffers a -2 penalty to this roll. The following table is consulted to determine the hireling gained:
|4 or less||Hopeless loser: 1st-level “mook” commoner with attributes totaling -3 or lower|
|5||Likely Lad: 1st-level commoner. At the end of each session, roll a d6; on a 6, his commoner level becomes a base class (roll 1d6: 1-3 swordsman, 4-5 scoundrel, 6 sage)|
|6||Specialist: 1st-level expert. Roll 1d6: 1 cook/brewer, 2 teamster, 3 smith, 4 herbalist/hedge doctor, 5 scholar, 6 jack-of-all-trades|
|7||1d6 “mook” mercenaries: Welsh bowmen or Flemish longbowmen|
|8+||1st-level adventurer. Roll 1d10: 1-5 swordsman, 6-8 scoundrel, 9 sage, 10 non-human: roll 1d6: 1-3 dwarf, 4-5 halfling, 6 elf|
In general, the PC will need to supply any desired equipment, though the mercenaries and adventurers have a 1 in 3 chance (roll FATE: +) of having their own basic kit (one non-magical, non-masterwork weapon and non-magical, non-masterwork light armor, with a shield if applicable.)
Adventurers will expect half a share of the treasure, and earn half a share of XP. Upon gaining second level, they may no longer be henchmen (though they may become cohorts if the master character wishes). Mercenaries will expect bonuses for extraordinary services rendered (such as fighting horrible inhuman monsters).
All hirelings, no matter what their category, are paid quarterly. On each Quarter Day the master must roll a new 1d6 x 100 for each hireling they have, and pay that hireling that many shillings for their continued service. Alternatively, they may dismiss the hireling from service, either before or after making the roll. In either case, if the master refuses to pay, the hireling departs.
If the date of recruitment is too close to an upcoming Quarter Day for the master’s comfort, he may offer to hire the henchman on Cross-Quarter terms. This requires a successful Persuade check, with the henchman treated as Neutral. Failure means that the prospective hireling refuses and the player is out the money spent on recruitment. If the offer is accepted, the player may expect to hear some bellyaching from his henchman on Quarter Days, especially Christmas, as all of his friends are being paid and he isn’t.
Additionally, all hirelings expect to be treated with a modicum of respect and dignity. Players are generally free to run their hirelings as they see fit, but they remain NPCs — the DM handles all advancement and disposition of the hireling’s wealth. The DM is also free to override a player’s call if he feels the player is abusing the hireling, and a hireling that has been mistreated is likely to leave.
Finally, a hireling who is killed in the line of duty requires a payment of 1d6 x 100s for burial fees and a Mass to be said in their name.
The Redshirt Rule
Apart from being an extra warm body, henchmen provide a player with one valuable benefit. If a player is going to be Taken Out and has run out of Consequences, if he has a hireling that would be able to reach the character in a single move, he may instead elect to sacrifice that hireling to avoid taking the blow. This action always results in the hireling’s death, with commensurate penalties as listed above. Alternatively, another character may elect to sacrifice one of his own hirelings to save a comrade.
Note: Hirelings, while played by the PC, are still NPCs. This means they have simplified skill trees, and cannot take Consequences to avoid being Taken Out in a fight. They also do not gain the benefits provided by the Drama Deck, though they still suffer the penalties.
Co-opted and converted from (where else) Jeff’s Gameblog.