Sunday, February 12, 2012

Hirelings - Early Edition D&D (Part 1)

Gygax wants you to use Hirelings & Followers!  Period.

I made a post yesterday about the fact that my players aren't raving fans of using hired muscle in their adventures.  I made a statement that "Many pages are devoted to this topic in the old school rulebooks.  So it MUST have been an important part of the game to Gygax, et al."

I deemed this topic worthy of further scolarly study.  So without further ado, I'm embarking upon a comparison of how several old school editions of D&D handle Henchmen, Hirelings & Followers.  This will be a three-part study.  This first post is about OD&D.

OD&D (1974):
The topic is first introduced in the Charisma section of Men & Magic.  It states that CHA "affects how many hirelings of unusual nature a character can attract."  It also states that CHA affects maximum number of hirelings and the loyalty of any hirelings or followers.  The range of CHA modifiers is anywhere from -2 all the way up to +4 (CHA 18). 

Folks, this is significant!  OD&D basically never gives bonuses higher than +1 for any ability scores, yet you can get all the way up to +4 on your CHA bonus.  Dump stat, my ASS!  :)

Hell Yes - Gygax meant for Charisma to mean something.

Under the section on NPC's, Gygax goes on to make the following statement:  "However, it is likely that players will be desirous of acquiring a regular entourage of various character types, monsters, and an army of some kind."  Pretty heady stuff!

The NPC section then goes on to explain about advertising costs, where to find hirelings, etc.  It states that it will take at least 100 GP to lure a man into service, much more for a dwarf, and the lure of magic items to attract a mage. 

Monsters can be "lured into service" if they are of the same basic alignment as the character (using a 2d6 reaction check modified by PC Charisma).  Even if the monster is lured into service, the PC still must make it a generous treasure offer to keep its loyalty.  Men & Magic also states that monsters can be captured or subdued and thus cajoled into service (although they still must be rewarded with treasure to keep them happy).

Each hireling (including monsters) that the PC employs is given a secret Loyalty roll (3-18).  The PC will never know this score, but it will have a strong influence on the morale of the hireling.  It can be increased with fair and generous treatment from the PC or decreased with poor treatment.

In short, followers and hirelings appear to have been a major part of the OD&D game, with many tangible bonuses arising from a high Charisma score.  GEG actually anticipated that characters would strive to build armies of monsters and followers!  I need to figure out how to get this back into my game.

Next post: Holmes analysis of hirelings & followers.


  1. A very interesting post. I'm gearing up for a S&W WB campaign, and I've noticed the same thing. Not surprisingly, there too, the only attribute with any substantial modifier connected to it is charisma.

  2. Why do I have visions of a D&D reality show titled "Dungeon Entourage?" :)

    Hirelings are fun. I love to give players roleplaying opportunities to gain men-at-arms and the like. I was influenced to do that early on with the 2 men-at-arms in the hobgoblin torture chamber in B2. the notes say that, if rescued, they will pledge loyal service to a worthy NPC for 1 year.

  3. Bard - welcome to the blog. :) One of these days, I'll try to get my players to play a S&W campaign. We generally play AD&D or B/X. Maybe I'll sweeten the pot by using a few of the optional rules in S&W that make PCs a little tougher.

    Anthony - I love it. :) And I never noticed that portion of B2. I'll have to go back and take another look.

  4. F.24. Torture Chamber/Playroom/Food Storage, p. 17-18. Prisoners #3 and 6.

    Aldo, in the Bugbear Slave Pens(H.40 & 41, p. 19-20), there are 3 kobolds, 1 goblin, 4 orcs, and 1 bugbear who will fight with the party against the bugbears. There are 2 more humans who will serve as the 2 mentioned above. there is also a berserker who will join the party. The DM has the option to to repalce 2 kobolds and 1 orc with 2 elves and a dwarf, both of whom could join the party.

    So, the best intro module has plenty of opportunities to gain a little entourage. :)

  5. I've never had hirelings myself as a player. As a DM, several of my players had sidekicks. It helped when there were nights we had essentially "solo" adventure.

    One of the most memorable was my friend Keith. He had a gnome named Spilbody, who had a cousin named Earl. They were more of a comic pair than anything else. One memorable adventure ended when the two gnomes, hopelessly deep in a goblin lair, dressed in goblin garb, shaved their beards and put pigment from an underground fungus on their faces to pass as goblins and escape. They were the laughing stock of gnome-dome afterwards, being the only adult gnomes in the entire world with embarrassingly short beards.

  6. Let's just say that I'm looking forward to your description of the AD&D(1979) notes on henchmen and hirelings.

    Anyway, the note there about PCs wanting to get an army is right in line with my thinking about the game being intended to transform into a wargames campaign. Remember that these people were originally clubs dedicated to pushing tiny metal soldiers around a sand table (or the like), and it was only later that the fantasy elements were incorporated, then the innovation of having each player control just one little metal guy (followed quickly by EGG's removal of the metal people in favor of just pretending). They thought about gaming in terms of armies.