Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Gaining followers in Holmes D&D

In the early iterations of Dungeons & Dragons, characters gain followers of some type once they reach a certain level. The Holmes edition of the rules, of course, only takes characters to third level and doesn't mention obtaining followers at high level. Since I like to extrapolate from this version of the game, I want to discuss raising followers according to Holmes basic.

First, of course, in the section on creating characters, Holmes points out that the number of followers is limited by a character's charisma:
A character of charisma below 13 can not hire more than 5 followers, and their loyalty will be luke-warm at best -- that is, if the fighting gets hot there is a good probability they will run away. On the other had, someone with a charisma of 18 can win over a large number of followers (men or monsters) who will probably stand by him to the death.
Next, in the section on nonplayer characters, Holmes mentions letting characters hire "a band of mercenaries" to take part in (and share the loot from) an adventure. He also acknowledges that players may want "a regular entourage of various character types, monsters, or an army of some form." The author then goes on to discuss luring "monsters" (including higher-level men) into service via charisma or charm spell. He adds that surrender may result in service according to the results of the Hostile/Friendly Reaction Table and subdual means an opponent will serve without need of the reaction table.

But what about followers of characters past third level? The monster entries can help.

Take, for example, the bandit. One fourth-level fighting man for every 30 bandits; one fifth- or sixth-level for every 50. Over 200, a one-quarter chance of a tenth- or eleventh-level magic user and the same probability of an eighth-level cleric. If there are 300 bandits, there is a M-U and a 50% chance of a cleric.

And the dwarf: a second- to seventh-level leader for every 40 dwarves.

As well as the elf: one leader (fighter/magic-user, 2-4/2-7 level) for every 50 elves.

Back to bandits: Holmes doesn't explicitly define bandits as fighters, but he gives regular bandit troops shields and possibly chain mail. Since thieves can't use either of those protective devices, we can say bandits are fighters. Further support for this argument can be found in the description of the bandit camp in one of the modules included with the Holmes basic rules, B2 The Keep on the Borderlands. In that adventure, Gary Gygax lists the bandits as fighters or zero-level normal men.

So you've got scores of fighters hanging around with some higher-level type. Why? Charisma. Those upper-level folks must have pretty good charismas scores, and they're therefore able to amass large numbers of followers.

So based on the above, here's one way to go about determining followers when playing with the Blue Book rules:

In addition to hiring non-player characters through advertising, characters with a charisma score of 13 or more can attract followers as they gain levels, since stories of their adventures will draw others to their service. A character that gains such followers cannot add any more to the ranks until reaching the next level, and any followers lost cannot be replaced until the next level.
Beginning at fourth level, fighting men roll percentile dice each month to determine if they attract 30 first-level fighters into service. A roll of 10 or less succeeds, and the character may not roll again for troops until gaining a new level. At fifth level, a fighting man has the same chance of gaining 50 troops. At sixth level and above, the fighter can obtain up to another 50 soldiers (so a total of 130 troops at sixth level, 180 troops at seventh level, and so on).
Starting at tenth level, magic-users have a 5 percent chance per month of gaining 200 troops, increasing by another 100 troops for each level thereafter on a successful percentile roll.
Clerics have the same chance of attracting followers as magic-users, but can start rolling at eighth level.
At second level and higher, dwarves have a 5 percent chance per month of having 10 dwarves (as described in the Monster List) join their cause, increasing by 10 dwarves per level after that.
Likewise, elves who have reached both the second level of fighting ability and the second level of magic-use have a 5 percent chance to gain 10 elves (from the Monster List). This number increases by 5 elves each time the character gains a level as either a fighter or a magic-user.
Well, that's what I came up with as far as mass followers for the old basic game. It hasn't been playtested, as none of the characters in my short-lived Holmes campaign from last year ever made it past first level (and I didn't come up with it till just now). Also, I didn't include any followers for thieves, since I couldn't find anything in the blue book to draw upon for that class. Any suggestions?


Dwight Grosso said...

Interesting ideas! I think they certainly work, but i would probably use them for NPCs.However if you were running a game set during a war, these rules would make very good sense for building up amercenary company.

Bighara said...

While I tend to use Moldvay B/X, your point about bandits & brigands is a good one. On a tangent, their numbers can get INSANE:


Bobjester said...

B1 "In Search of the Unknown" module, which was at one time included with earlier Holmes Basic box sets had additional information about hirelings & henchmen, but I don't recall if it addresses your current concerns. The additional info helped referees flesh out individual henchmen.

Gonsalvo said...

In our long running original D&D campaign of 3-4 decades ago (!), each of the six major characters had some loyal henchmen that started at level 1 - almost all fighters, and usually only 1-2 per player. Still, it made a pretty big group if the whole crew descended into a dungeon!

When the Clerics in the party reached level 8 (Patriarch) and build a stronghold/temple, a rather large number of "the faithful" would flock to their banner, not necessarily combatants, including some sub clerics.

In another D&D campaigns, the local authorities strongly encouraged player clerics, as a way of replenishing the depleted population when they reached Patriarch!

HoldFast said...

Since thieves are usually the characters that have lots of non-combat skills to supplement the party. Then why not have a following of petty thieves that each have a single skill. Like one follower is a lock-picker, one follower is a hide-in-the-shadows scout, one follower is a poison specialist, etc. As thieves get higher in level, I always imagine them becoming more managerial by supervising groups of younger thieves and building up a mob-like organization.

The Architect said...

I've always thought of thieves as "professionals." That doesn't mean that fighting men can't kill you and steal your stuff. Maybe the makes them "robbers." When I think of the thief skill set, I think of Oceans Eleven. So maybe there could be a master thief who assembles a crew for a specific job. With each successful caper, others become interested in working with him and bring a specific skill set to the crew or syndicate. Muscle and magic can follow, as both tend to useful.