Saturday, April 5, 2014

April Alphabet of Adventure: E

E is for Echoes of footsteps behind!

Friday, April 4, 2014

Doraleous & Associates Episode 1: Open for Business

I can't believe that I didn't come across this earlier.  Doraleous & Associates are a sort of adventuring contracting firm, but they aren't really that good.  They are more like the guys that you call when you've burned through most of your budget and still need something done.

Friday Free Map - Outdoors

This is a map I drew of the outdoor area near the spooky forest known as The Wyrmwald.  It's got a village, a couple of caves, a spider lair, and a mysterious tower.

April Alphabet of Adventure: D

D is for Daemons with eyes full of wrath!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

PDF Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG on sale for $5!!!!

The PDF of the Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG is on sale right now for $4.99 over at rpgnow.  If you don't already own a copy, seriously consider picking up a copy.  It is one of the best $5 you'll spend.

April Alphabet of Adventure: C

C is for Chasms that bisect the path!

Monday, March 31, 2014

The April Alphabet of Adventure Returns!

A few years ago, I did an April Alphabet of Adventure.  Think A is for apple, B is for Bird, except that each word had something to do with adventure.  I've decided to do it again this year, but this time I've also decided to illustrate each word.  Now keep in mind that I can't draw, so I'm sure that the pictures that I come up with will be bad, but hopefully they will also be amusing.  So, if you're interested, stop by each day to see what new wackiness I've come up with for that day. :-)

Miniatures Monday - Skeleton with Sword

A skeleton, summoned from the grave by necromatic powers, prepares its rusty weapons for battle!

Just one of a group of skeletons that I painted.  I think the rust spots on the sword came out fairly well.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Where Have all the Hirelings Gone? (and those pesky henchmen too!)

I'm pretty sure those guys with the chest aren't coming back...

Where have all the hirelings gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the hirelings gone?
Long time ago
Where have all the hirelings gone?
Monsters have eaten them every one
When will they ever learn?
When will they ever learn?

Apologies to Peter Paul, and Mary, but seriously, nobody takes hirelings on adventures anymore. In fact, the current D&D ruleset doesn't even have rules for hirelings (not Sure about D&D Next, but I'm hoping). Back in "Tymes of Yore"TM, hirelings were an essential part of a dungeon crawl.  No self respecting adventurer was going to carry their own damned torch! Also, somebody had to haul that huge chest of copper pieces back to town, and it sure wasn't going to be the magic user.  Heck, Grenadier Miniatures even put put a boxed set of hirelings, with torch bearers, chest carriers, potion testers (that one always seemed a bit cruel to me), mercenaries and other assorted utility folks.  Honestly, where do you even get a potion drinker?  Was he the guy in the village who would eat anything for a silver piece?

Potion Drinker?  Where did he go to school for that???

A couple of mercenaries were always useful when fighting hordes of goblins, kobolds and other denizens of the depths. Also, all of these NPCs presented opportunities for roleplaying in a dungeon environment.  Let's imagine for a moment that a band of intrepid adventurers has stumbled upon a mysterious shrine deep in the bowels of the earth.  Everything seems safe, but how can they be sure.  The thief could check it out, but he's almost second level.  Enter the hireling...

Grimgoth the Mighty: We should send the torch bearer in to check for traps!
Mudfoot the Torchbearer: Like Hell we should!
Mizron the Mage: That does seem a bit cruel.  Shall we vote?
Grimgoth the Mighty: Aye, we shall vote! Send the torchbearer!
Mizron the Mage: Aye!  Indeed, the torchbearer should go.
Lightfingers the Thief:  Better him than me!
Mudfoot the Torchbearer: (looking around) Crap!

Hey, I'm old.  I like old stuff. :-)

I'm quite sure that of those who even remember the prevalence of hirelings and henchman in the early days of RPGs, quite a number of them don't really miss them.  I've heard comments from people to the effect of "hirelings don't make for a heroic story", or "Conan didn't hire a torchbearer."  While I can see these points, I would argue that especially at low levels, the PCs are not mighty heroes of literature, they are adventurers, adventurers on a journey often into the uncharted depths of the earth.  To me, hirelings and henchmen accentuate the sense of an expedition.  I think back to the days of watching the old Tarzan movies, where the explorers surrounded themselves with no end of bearers, guides and other assorted local-help, not to mention hiring Tarzan to save them when things got really tough.

In games terms there is sometimes some confusion between hirelings and henchmen (sometimes called retainers).  This was in my opinion caused by the somewhat inconsistent terminology used in the early days, but for the most part, the confusion was cleared up by the first edition AD&D Players Handbook.

Hirelings are individuals such as Bearers, crossbowmen, men-at-arms, teamsters, etc.  They are employed by the PCs for a set fee.  They generally are employed for a set period of time and do not usually gain experience.  In the case of crossbowmen or men-at-arms, they will fight with the party as that's what they are payed to do, but the other non-combat hirelings will generally only fight when it is necessary for their own survival.  The PC's charisma, while affecting the loyalty and morale of Hirelings, does not restrict the number of hirelings a PC may have.

Reaper Miniatures does make a few hireling miniatures

Henchmen are a different story.  Henchmen are considered to be followers of the PC.  They travel with the PC for lodging, supports and a share of the adventuring spoils.  They also gain experience, albeit at a slower rate than the PCs, gaining only 50% of earned experience.  This is because they are not involved in the decision making process of and adventure and while controlled by the gamemaster, they generally follow the orders of the PCs, except of course in situations where the orders are not of an egregious nature.   Charisma is an important factor with henchmen, as it limits the number that a PC may have as well as affecting their loyalty.  Thus, when using hirelings and henchmen, charisma becomes a more important stat in the game and not the dump stat that it has become in later days.

Henchmen provide not only addition muscle and skills on an adventure, they can also provide a source of replacement characters.  Dungeons in the old days were deadly places, and having a henchmen along when your PC fails a save vs. poison can be a godsend.  this becomes even more important later in a campaign.  Imagine if you will, a party of 4th level character wandering deep beneath the earth, when disaster strikes.  Suppose that one of the PCs is slain, perhaps in a manner that precludes his or her being raised from the dead such as a pool of lava or acid (no body, no raise dead).  So, what is the player to do?  Go home?  Roll up a brand new first level character?  Well, if there was a henchman around, the day would be saved.   He would most likely be only second level and while that might not be ideal, that character would still be more survivable than a level 1.  

Of course hirelings and henchmen do require a bit more record keeping on the part of the GM, but I think that the benefits that they can bring to a game are numerous.  From rounding out a weak party to providing a source of easy and logical PC replacements it's hard to argue their potential value.  So, I say, "Bring on the hirelings and henchmen!"

What does everyone else think about hirelings and henchmen? 

The Lord of Plagues

Evil from the Warhammer 40K universe.  Typhus, the Herald of Nurgle spreads his plague across the galaxy!