[Let's Read] The Rules Cyclopedia

Gemini476

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Also, math. Once you're past 8th level, you'll never catch up.

A 1st level fighter who joins a party with a 7th level fighter will only be 1 level behind, by the time the other fighter reaches 8th level.

But a 10th level fighter who joins a party with a 20th level fighter will always be 10 levels behind. When the new fighter reaches 20th level, the other fighter will be 30th level.
The rest of the party could shift the treasure distribution towards the lower-leveled character to help them even it out, but yeah that's probably true in most cases.
 

Spikey

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Next is Chapter 11: Nonplayer Characters (p132). There are at least four types of these: ‘retainers, mercenaries, specialists, etc.’ Retainers are described first.

A retainer, also called a hireling, is a ‘person’ hired by a player character to help them. They are never played by a player but always by the DM. Some DMs may not allow retainers in some campaigns. When players want to hire retainers, the DM may either simply note the passage of the necessary time and produce the retainers or have the players play through the following steps:
  1. The player characters search taverns and other meeting places to look for potential retainers.
  2. The DM decides how many applicants each post attracts, based on pay, terms and the player characters’ reputations as employers: most applicants will be ‘“normal men”’ while some will have levels in some class: no applicant will have more than half the player characters’ level unless the player characters are Level One, in which case they may be Level One. (Does that refer to the party’s minimum level? Average level? Maximum level? Or are the player characters considered separately for this purpose? Because this process is being described as one the party goes through.)
  3. Interviews with applicants are played through. The book suggests only playing through ‘the most interesting interviews’ (despite the fact that the players will obviously want to determine who the most capable potential retainers are, not the most colourful characters) and states that some interviews will be with the leaders of bands of potential retainers who have, er, banded together and the players will have to decide whether to hire the whole band or none of them.
  4. The player characters discuss the interviews if they wish and then formally offer retainer positions to any or all of the potential retainers they choose. The potential retainers’ reactions are rolled using the player characters’ charisma ability score modifiers and other modifiers at the DM’s discretion. The table rolled on is below.
  5. The players must provide equipment for all the retainers they have hired: armour and a weapon each at a minimum. This equipment becomes the retainers’ personal property.
  6. The DM makes up full character sheets for all the retainers hired and the players should make records of everything they know about the retainers’ abilities, personalities and so on.
The following paragraph recalls that numbers of retainers are limited by the player characters’ charisma ability score, as noted in Chapter One,* and says that normally, this limit is determined by the highest charisma score among the player characters but, with the DM’s agreement, each player may have their own number of retainers (which means that any number of player characters — more than one — with at least average charisma can have more retainers than any party using their single highest charisma score).

The table is as follows:
2d6 rollretainer reaction
2refuse, insulted (-1 to reaction rolls of other retainers in the area)
3-5refuse
6-8roll again
9-11accept
12accept, impressed (+1 to retainer’s morale)
(I can’t help thinking this must be a rewrite of some other reaction table somewhere, with a ‘neutral’ result for 6-8. That’s nearly half the possible rolls, by probability — 4/9 — resulting in ‘roll again’. By my calculations, you would get exactly the same probability of each actual result with a 1d20 table:
1d20 rollretainer reaction
1refuse, insulted (-1 to reaction rolls of other retainers in the area)
2-10refuse
11-19accept
20accept, impressed (+1 to retainer’s morale)
I just worked out how to do tables, by the way: can you tell?)

Retainers’ morale follows, which is optional. (Presumably the DM is expected to decide if and when retainers desert or whatever if the morale rules aren’t used, rather than have them act like stoic Spartans in combat.) Retainers’ normal morale score is a function of their employer’s charisma ability score — it’s three higher than the maximum number of retainers for that charisma score — and the DM should adjust it according to how the retainers are treated, rewarded and so on. Retainer morale should be checked after every adventure and, sometimes, during adventures. There follows a paragraph recalling that retainers are characters in their own right and should be played as such, responding to good and bad treatment in character. Retainers do not normally get a share of any treasure found, instead receiving a fixed salary: the book directs me to Chapter Sixteen for more but, looking ahead to p224, the book says there only that it’s up to the players. Player characters should make it clear to prospective retainers whether or not they will give them a share of any treasure; they will definitely ask about it at their interview. Retainers who do receive a share of treasure may be more loyal.

‘When the DM calculates experience points at the end of an adventure, the total amount of experience points earned by the group is divided among the number of characters. A retainer gets one share of experience just as any player character does.’ (Except, of the five sources of experience described in Chapter Ten, only two — party goal experience and monster experience — are earned by the group. I would be tempted to assume that the writer of that paragraph just wasn’t familiar with roleplaying experience and exceptional action experience — which retainers, being played by the DM, presumably can’t earn — but we’ve just had a discussion of retainers and treasure and yet there’s nothing said here to clarify that retainers get treasure experience from their salary and any shares of treasure they get, not from shares of treasure they don’t get. Perhaps the writer of this paragraph was only familiar with monster experience?)

Mercenaries are hired soldiers and will typically only do military stuff on the war machine scale rather than dungeon delving or whatever. Players should be careful of their mercenaries’ morale: high death rates, low pay and bad treatment will make the mercenaries desert or mutiny while winning battles, good treatment and ‘exciting but not extraordinarily dangerous service’ will improve their loyalty. Mercenaries are ‘often’ hired to guard a fortification: ‘[t]he following costs only cover normal upkeep (feeding and supplying that soldier with normal gear).’ (Is that supposed to mean that mercenaries’ lodgings are additional to the costs given? Training? Discipline? I thought the whole point of mercenaries was that you could get a contractor in to do your army instead of organising your own. Anyway.) Mercenaries have their own weapons and armour but you have to employ an armourer at 100gp a month (looking ahead, that’s one armourer for every fifty ‘fighters’ — ha! — plus any you want to actually make new arms and armour) and a smith at 25gp a month (looking ahead, smiths aren’t listed as specialists but they are in the list of servitors on p138 which explicitly says any servitors not listed as specialists only get paid 5gp a month). Mercenaries get double pay during wartime and their availability and starting morale are at the DM’s discretion.

There is a table on p133 listing mercenary types and (peacetime) rates of pay. I’ll try another table.
type of mercenaryhumandwarfelforcgoblin
archer (leather, short bow, sword)51032
archer, mounted** (light horse, short bow)1530
crossbow*** (chain, heavy crossbow)462
crossbow, mounted*** (mule, crossbow)15
foot, light (leather, shield, sword)241½
foot, heavy (chain, shield, sword)356
horse, light (leather, lance)1020
horse, medium (chain, lance)15
horse, heavy (plate, sword, lance)20
longbow (chain, longbow, sword)1020
normal human (peasant, spear)1
wolf rider (leather, spear, wolf)5
(Those parentheses are all over the place. I assume ‘leather, short bow sword’ specifies the archer’s armour and weapons, and ‘light horse, short bow’ specifies the mounted archer bowman’s mount and weapon. But does that mean all three types of horse ‘man’ don’t provide their own horses? And why on earth does it say ‘peasant’ in parentheses for the normal human? Do they come equipped with peasants? And if it’s because they are peasants, why isn’t the soldier wearing plate armour, wielding a sword and riding a horse called out as being wealthy and/or aristocratic?

And I’m not even going to touch the question of how, exactly, these costs interact with the war machine: an army made up half of mounted elf archers and half of light elf infantry might get +15 to its BFR and a sixty percent bonus on its BFR when calculating its BR but an army made up of light goblin infantry is thirty-four times larger for the same cost, yielding a +120 bonus to the adjusted BR. Suffice it to say the costs look interesting and in genre to me.)

More next time!

*One retainer for a charisma score of 3, two for 4 or 5, three for 6 to 8, four for 9 to 12, five for 13 to 15, six for 16 or 17 and seven for 18.
**The book actually lists ‘Bowman’, which seems unnecessarily exclusive both of gender and the elves, orcs and goblins the book says can be mounted archers.
***The book lists ‘Crossbowman’, so, you know....
 

MacBalance

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It's interesting how as of this book (and old-style D&D in general, from my memories) 'NPC' was a sort of grey area between the control of the player and DM, while it's become more of a catch-all for non-PCs in general. The cliche Kindly King that asks the PCs to save his daughter doesn't really fit in this definition of an NPC, nor does the Daughter waiting rescue, really.

I feel like an object diagram of older D&D would have high-level objects for PC (controlled by the Players), NPC (Shared Control), and Monsters (GM characters) with firmer liens between the categories than today...

Of course, this was a relatively easy box to think outside of...
 

Gemini476

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Morale is optional for Retainers because Morale as a rule is optional, obviously. Or it was in Basic where both of them were introduced, at least, alongside stuff like carrying capacity and ranged combat.

I don't know if it's later in the RC or got changed, but the Basic Procedures section says that the only times that a retainer's morale should be checked during an adventure is if:
  1. The employer orders the retainer to endanger himself (or herself) while the party is in less danger; or -
  2. The retainer is damaged, and down to 1/4 of the original hit points or less (damaged for 3/4 or more)


  1. By the way, if the reaction chart looks familiar it's because it's literally just the first step of the monster reaction chart.

    As for the weirdness in the experience rules, that's because the only ones in Basic were for monsters and treasure. (I don't think party goals were in yet? I'm not sure which booklet had all those other rules, to be honest.) Copy-pasting rears its ugly head yet again.

    Incidentally, the mercenaries predate the War Machine and Domains although they're coterminous with strongholds.

    I'd reckon that the "Horse, (Light/Medium/Heavy)" include horses, with the mule and light horse of the mounted (cross-)bowmen simply being pointed out since it isn't obvious what they're using, especially since the crossbowmen are on mules. (Wolf riders didn't have the wolf listed in the Expert set but got it listed in the RC, for whatever reason.)
    The question, then, is what type of horse they're using - a question that's harder to answer and not helped much by a "light horse" not being a thing. The only horses are Draft, Riding and War Horses, after all. Who knows what happened there - it was the same for Moldvay's Expert, so clearly it's an old issue!

    As for the peasants, I'm pretty sure that that's just because of the old-timey idea of peasant-with-a-spear infantry. Cheap but weak units. Chainmail had them, for instance. (I should probably check if that list of mercenaries is taken from OD&D, to be honest. It feels like it might.)
 

JoeNotCharles

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As for the weirdness in the experience rules, that's because the only ones in Basic were for monsters and treasure. (I don't think party goals were in yet? I'm not sure which booklet had all those other rules, to be honest.) Copy-pasting rears its ugly head yet again.
I think XP for things other than monsters and treasure was actually new in the RC (and inspired by AD&D 2E).
 

Spikey

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As for the peasants, I'm pretty sure that that's just because of the old-timey idea of peasant-with-a-spear infantry.
Yes, clearly. My question is why 'peasant' is listed under their arms and equipment when no other unit has general comments like that.

Specialists (p132) do not fight or go on adventures; a player character may hire as many specialists as they can afford. To recruit specialists, a player character should post notices and conduct interviews as for retainers: the number of applicants (p133) will vary with the type of specialist wanted, the employer’s reputation, money offered and so on and the DM may — at their discretion — make up guilds for various specialisms which would be the obvious places to find those specialists. There follows a list of specialist types, with monthly rates of pay, but the book says it isn’t exhaustive and more types may be added at the DM’s discretion. It’s presented as a table but I’m going to heroically resist the temptation to do the formatting and just incorporate the monthly pay as I go along, as the book also does. There is also a table listing general ‘Skills Acquired’ for each type of specialist (I can’t help thinking that should be ‘Skills Required’, especially since the entry for ‘spy’ says, ‘No specific skills are required’) but I’ll just note those as I go along as well.

Alchemist (1,000gp a month). Skill: Alchemy. Given a formula or sample, an alchemist may make a potion in half the usual time and for half the usual cost. Alternatively, an alchemist may research a potion like a magic-user (I’m assuming the rules for that are in Chapter Sixteen) but takes double the time and cost. (This seems like a small step away from the much-debated magic item shop: an alchemist can duplicate potions at half the cost of a magic-user making them. If, as Chapter Ten suggested in its discussion of selling magic items, the sale price of a potion would be twice the normal production cost, that means that anyone with samples of potions available could produce them for sale at a three hundred percent markup with an overhead of 1,000gp a month — and that’s assuming alchemists don’t sell potions themselves to earn money. I’m not sure how I feel about that.)

Animal Trainer (500gp a month). Skill: Animal Training. ‘Any PC can train a horse, mule or dog’, apparently. (Nothing is said about the animal training skill, the write up of which states you would need to take the skill twice to train horses, mules and dogs.) An animal trainer can, apparently, train anything: ‘any other animal or monster’. A single animal trainer may train up to six animals (or monsters) simultaneously. The first ‘“trick” or command’ takes a month of training, with each additional trick taking at least two weeks: times vary with the trick’s complexity, the animal’s intelligence and so on. Training ‘must be continuous or the animal becomes “untrainable”.’ (I can only imagine that means that once training has paused, say because the animal trainer’s employer wants to take the newly trained snakes out for a hunt or something, you can’t just give the animals back to the trainer to learn more and more tricks.)

Armourer (100gp a month). Skill: Craft (Smithing). Every fifty ‘fighters’ need one armourer to maintain their weapons and armour. Alternatively, one armourer may make one suit of armour, three shields or five weapons in a month. ‘For every three assistants (one of which must be a smith) the armorer may double this output, but a single armorer can only manage six assistants.’ (I’m surprised shields take longer to make than weapons. Then again, I suppose it’s difficult to come up with an average timescale for making weapons in general that covers everything from spears to swords.)

Engineer (750gp a month). Skill: Engineering. One engineer must be hired for every hundred thousand old pieces’ worth of construction costs for a castle or large structure. The book says dwarf engineers ‘usually’ specialise in tunnelling but there is no indication of whether that means they’re better at tunnelling, worse at everything else, or what.

Magic-User (3,000gp a month or more). Skill: n/a, magic-user class only. Essentially a short-term magist.

Sage (2,000gp a month). Skill: mulitple Knowledge and/or Science skills; high intelligence ability score also required. A rare advisor with obscure knowledge. (I can’t help thinking there’s more to this one. Maybe the DM’s section has some advise on how to use sages? I’ll have to wait and see.)

Seaman — Rower (2gp a month). Skill: Profession (Seamanship). A rower, er, rows a galley or longship and can fight, if the situation is desperate, as a ‘normal man’.

Seaman — Sailor (10gp a month). Skill: Profession (Seamanship). ‘Sailors are usually normal men’ who crew sailing vessels and can fight as light foot mercenaries (and it actually says, ‘light foot mercenaries’, nothing about ‘footmen’ or even ‘infantrymen’) when their vessel is under attack.

Seaman — Navigator (150gp a month). Skills: Navigation and Profession (Seamanship). A ship without a navigator will become lost on losing sight of land.

Seaman — Captain (250gp a month). Skills: Leadership and Profession (Seamanship). A captain is ‘needed for most ships’. (Looking back to the water vessel write ups in the equipment chapter, I see that galleys, longships and sailing ships are all explicitly said to require captains. Which makes me think: what are marines? They aren’t listed under mercenaries or seamen: are they just mercenaries hired to go on a boat? Sailors hired to fight rather than sail the boat?)

Spy (500 gp or more per mission). Skills: none required; most spies have one or more of Acting, Alertness, Disguise, Lip Reading, Stealth and/or thief class abilities. Hired to gather information about a certain group, a spy — usually a thief — may already be a member of the group. Other details are determined by the DM.

The chapter ends by saying that stronghold retainers — the characters attracted to serve Name level characters — and stronghold staff are explained in the next chapter. And that’s it. More next time!

Spoiler: Show

  1. A cleric may not deny access to their stronghold to clerics from their order (p16, second column). So a party could gain access to an otherwise-impregnable clerical stronghold either by impersonating clerics of the order or in the company of (a) genuine cleric(s) of the order. Perhaps the interior is just another dungeon to loot or perhaps they are on a mission from the order (because the stronghold-owning cleric is a renegade) or from enemies of the order.
  2. A paladin must assist anyone who asks for help, excluding evil and without delaying important missions too much (p18, first column). So a party could delay an enemy paladin with fake and/or engineered requests for help; but for how long and what would the paladin do if and when they realise? A party could also accompany a paladin to offer assistance on their behalf in order to avoid delay; but how to satisfy the paladin that the assistance is up to their standards while avoiding delay?
  3. An avenger may persuade monsters to become hirelings (p18, third column). So a party could encounter an avenger who is ridding grateful villages of monsters not by killing them but by recruiting them. Is the avenger helping or is the cure worse than the disease? If the party cannot face the avenger (and their monster hirelings!) can they find the next monster recruit and kill it? Or convince it not to be persuaded by the avenger somehow?
  4. An independent wizard may construct a dungeon and allow monsters to come and inhabit it (p20, second column). So a dungeon of the usual sort could be the property of a high-level magic-user who is using it for research and/or to keep in touch with certain monster types. A party could be sent into the dungeon by the owner to retrieve something or someone inadvertently lost or trapped inside. Perhaps the monsters infesting the dungeon have a totally different attitude to a party employed by the owner as opposed to opportunistic dungeon looting adventurers. Or maybe an abandoned wizard’s tower is said to contain information which would make the associated dungeon much easier to loot. Does it really or is it just as bad as the dungeon (only different)?
  5. A Name level elf stronghold gains the friendship of all normal woodland animals within five miles (p26, first column). So an adventure involving a Name level elf could be about ordinary woodland animals and their problems: an elf might ask a party to help squirrels gather nuts for a particularly harsh predicted winter, drive a hostile bear (or is it a bear?) away from the local bears who are scared of it, help the local stag get over his chronic shyness around does, or something. Seems like that could be a fun change of pace.
  6. A mystic must keep their oath on pain of losing levels (p29, second column). So, if a mystic were tricked or forced into swearing to do (or not do) something, they would be bound to keep their oath, especially if not Lawful. A party could manoeuvre a powerful mystic into swearing to do something they need done. More realistically, a mystic who has foolishly or inadvertantly sworn to do something (‘When I swore to find and return the gemstone, I did not realise the person I was swearing it to was not actually the rightful owner,’) could be an interesting opponent, especially if the situation means the party have to defeat the mystic but are reluctant to kill them.
  7. Clerics have spells which make use of corpses and skeletons (speak with the dead, p36, second column and animate dead, p36, third column). So it would be in clerics’ interest if they were allowed to keep dead bodies instead of disposing of them. A party could encounter a clerical stronghold which is stockpiling corpses — more than usual, even. Are the clerics up to no good or are they using the corpses for a good cause? Is their cause good enough to outweigh the families’ qualms, if any? Or a party could encounter a cleric who refuses to raise someone from the dead so that they can keep the corpse and speak with the dead to benefit from the dead character’s knowledge and wisdom. The party could even be sent to retrieve the corpse. What if the cleric animates it to prevent the character from being raised? And how will the party transport a corpse back to their patron?
  8. A magic-user or elf can make a back up copy of their spell book a lot faster and cheaper than they can reconstruct a lost spell book (p44, second column). So a back up spell book could be an item of treasure worth breaking into a high-level magic-user’s home to steal. In fact, a high-level magic-user could conceivably make a back up spell book, or mock one up, to use as bait to lure someone into a dungeon. How do non-magic-users tell the difference between a genuine spell book and a dummy? What if they can’t (until it’s too late)? Maybe the answer is to sell the ‘spell book’ on to someone else who can’t tell the difference.
  9. The spell Summon Object requires objects to be prepared with ‘a special powder’ that costs 1,000gp per object treated and has no effect other than making that spell usable with the object (p56, first column). So how can a magic-user tell the real powder from a fake? Perhaps they make their own powder and the cost is for difficult-to-fake ingredients but they might still be tempted to buy pre-made powder. A party could either acquire some dubious powder — as part of a treasure trove — or deliberately fake the powder to defraud a Level Fifteen or higher magic-user. A high level magic user with a grudge might be too powerful an opponent but what if they were Lawful and didn’t want to destroy the party, just teach them a lesson?
  10. Clone may be used to make simulacra of any monsters but their alignment always matches the caster’s and they always speak the caster’s languages (p56, second column). So a dungeon could be populated with monsters between fifty and ninety per cent of full strength and all of the same alignment and with a shared language or languages. They might all have the same alignment and language as (some of) the party and react well to them. Or they might just really get on well with each other. Either way, it would be a definite change of pace from a dungeon eco-system where monsters avoid or prey on each other.
  11. Create any monster allows a magic-user to create a monster with three or more asterisks after its hit dice number only if they have studied one, alive or dead, for at least an hour (p59, first column). So, a party could be tasked with escorting a high level magic-user to the home of such a monster to study it, either covertly or after gaining its permission. If it were a rare enough monster for many magic-users to wish to study it, it might even move to a more convenient location and charge a standard fee for an hour’s study: would the locals be content with that arrangement or would they demand the monster be destroyed? Could the party help negotiate a truce, like Francis of Assisi with the wolf of Gubbio?
  12. A surprise attack on a military camp requires that all guards, pickets and magical protections be neutralised without raising the alarm (p120, third column). So an adventure involving taking out the guards and sentries around a camp could be a nice change of pace: they’d need to be one-shotted in one way or another, either with magic, weapon mastery with blackjacks and bolas or unarmed combat — or massive hit point damage from sneak attacks. Traps might also feature, of course, but they’d be improvised affairs like the stuff the ewoks rig up in Return of the Jedi or Dutch makes in Predator.
  13. Special squads are used during sieges, especially for reconnaissance, sabotage and kidnap and assassination (p125, second column). So a party might be hired as a special squad: they might even be caught in a castle or city when a besieging army arrives or caught in the countryside by an army marching to lay siege to a castle and have very little choice. Unless they’re high enough level to be undetectable to the enemy army, reconnaissance is unlikely but they might be sent to sabotage something or kidnap or kill someone. How do they do it? Do they do it? Or do they make common cause with the army they’ve been sent against? If so, do the enemy officers believe them? Do they send them back to work as double agents?
  14. Spies are usually thieves and sometimes pre-existing members of the target group bribed to pass on information (p133, second column). So a player character thief might be approached to spy on the party, either because the party has some significance or because of a misunderstanding. Does the thief accept the job? What sort of information does the client want and can the thief obtain it? Or does the thief let the rest of the party know? Can they get money from the client without suffering disastrous consequences? How much money? And how can they encourage the client to pay more and keep paying longer?
 

Davies

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The skill system, as already stated, was new to the core rules, while these Specialists were introduced in the Expert set. What you're seeing is a clumsy grafting.
 

Sleeper

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[*]The DM decides how many applicants each post attracts, based on pay, terms and the player characters’ reputations as employers: most applicants will be ‘“normal men”’ while some will have levels in some class: no applicant will have more than half the player characters’ level unless the player characters are Level One, in which case they may be Level One. (Does that refer to the party’s minimum level? Average level? Maximum level? Or are the player characters considered separately for this purpose? Because this process is being described as one the party goes through.)

...

[*]The DM makes up full character sheets for all the retainers hired and the players should make records of everything they know about the retainers’ abilities, personalities and so on.[/list]
The following paragraph recalls that numbers of retainers are limited by the player characters’ charisma ability score, as noted in Chapter One,* and says that normally, this limit is determined by the highest charisma score among the player characters but, with the DM’s agreement, each player may have their own number of retainers (which means that any number of player characters — more than one — with at least average charisma can have more retainers than any party using their single highest charisma score).
Interesting.

Earlier editions are clear (I'm looking at both Moldvay's and Mentzer's Basics): A retainer is hired by an individual, and it's the individual's Charisma score that matters. Period.

Allston must have decided to make it a group thing, but only half-implemented it. The text clearly contradicts itself (1st sentence in the section: "A retainer is a person hired by a character to help on an adventure or series of adventures" (emphasis mine). That sentence is more or less copied from B/X (1st sentence in the retainers section in Moldvay's Basic: "A retainer (or hireling) is a person hired by a player character (PC) to aid that character on an adventure"). But while B/X (and BECMI) continue with the singular (a PC), the rest of the RC section uses the plural and makes it sound like a communal thing, mostly obviously in "use the highest Charisma score among the PCs to determine the total number of retainers" you mentioned (which is a concept new to the RC; there is no group limit in Moldvay, and Mentzer says check with the DM because retainers exist only to flesh out a party when there aren't enough PCs).

(I can’t help thinking this must be a rewrite of some other reaction table somewhere, with a ‘neutral’ result for 6-8. That’s nearly half the possible rolls, by probability — 4/9 — resulting in ‘roll again’.
Moldvay has the same table*, but clarifies in the text "consult the Retainer Reaction table to see if the offer is accepted, refused, or if more negotiation is necessary" (emphasis in the original). In other words, "roll again" means it's time for some more roleplaying, and you can try to play hardball or sweeten the pot before throwing the dice again.

* Essentially the same. Moldvay manages to convey the same information without two footnotes.

And that table's clearly based on the Monster Reactions table (the one below is from Moldvay, B24; compare with Allston's table on p. 93 in the RC):

Dice RollReaction
2Immediate attack
3-5Hostile, possible attack
6-8Uncertain, monster confused
9-11No attack, monster leaves or considers offers
12Enthusiastic friendship

Retainers do not normally get a share of any treasure found, instead receiving a fixed salary: the book directs me to Chapter Sixteen for more but, looking ahead to p224, the book says there only that it’s up to the players.
That's another change, but this one's on Mentzer not Allston.

(It's not a good change. The whole point of retainers -- or henchmen, in AD&D -- is that they're adventuring companion. Unlike sages, smiths, or even mercenaries, they'll go into the dungeon. So they don't get a fixed salary, like the rest. No, they share the risks, so they get a share of the reward. Usually a half-share compared to the PCs since they're not independent agents. But a share. And looking over the BECMI Basic Set, that's where it changed.)

Mercenaries have their own weapons and armour but you have to employ an armourer at 100gp a month (looking ahead, that’s one armourer for every fifty ‘fighters’ — ha! — plus any you want to actually make new arms and armour) and a smith at 25gp a month (looking ahead, smiths aren’t listed as specialists but they are in the list of servitors on p138 which explicitly says any servitors not listed as specialists only get paid 5gp a month). Mercenaries get double pay during wartime and their availability and starting morale are at the DM’s discretion.
Mentzer, again.

Smiths are listed as a specialist (25 gp/month) in the table in Cook/Marsh's Expert Rulebook, but didn't have a separate paragraph entry. That table vanished in BECMI, but the entries remained. So 1 specialist went missing.

Yes, clearly. My question is why 'peasant' is listed under their arms and equipment when no other unit has general comments like that.
It's just notes, not a programming language. So they just highlight what's not clear, based on the context. For instance, a "horseman" obviously has a horse, so it's not mentioned. But a mule isn't obvious from "mounted crossbowman", so it's mentioned. "[P]easant" just makes it clear this is a farmer, while the rest are professional soldiers.
 
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Spikey

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Earlier editions are clear (I'm looking at both Moldvay's and Mentzer's Basics): A retainer is hired by an individual, and it's the individual's Charisma score that matters. Period.

Allston must have decided to make it a group thing, but only half-implemented it.
Yes, although the Rules Cyclopedia talks about hiring retainers as a group activity, the mechanics of it imply it's an individual activity, all except for the idea that the party can only have as many henchmen as the highest individual charisma ability score would allow, regardless of the size of the party, which seems like an odd rule in itself.
 

Spikey

Mean Mm-Mm Servant of God
Validated User
By the way, if the reaction chart looks familiar it's because it's literally just the first step of the monster reaction chart.
And that table's clearly based on the Monster Reactions table (the one below is from Moldvay, B24; compare with Allston's table on p. 93 in the RC):

Dice RollReaction
2Immediate attack
3-5Hostile, possible attack
6-8Uncertain, monster confused
9-11No attack, monster leaves or considers offers
12Enthusiastic friendship
Yeah, the monster reaction table is slightly altered in the Rules Cyclopedia:
roll 2d6monster reaction
2-3attacks
4-6aggressive, roll again after one round at -4
7-9cautious, roll again after one round
10-11neutral, roll again after one round at +4
12friendly

It's just notes, not a programming language.
Yeah. I don’t mean to pick nits and I’m trying — however unsuccessfully — to avoid it. But, when a table says ‘peasant’ as part of a few words of notes, it may, for all I know, be a technical term explained later; it may also be intended to have mechanical impact: are peasant troops supposed to be less well-trained? Less experienced? These things are represented mechanically in the war machine, after all. It must be important or it wouldn’t be there instead of any indication of armour worn or secondary weapons used.

Anyway, on to Chapter 12: Strongholds and Dominions (p134). The chapter starts by saying that, although building ‘a home’ is simply a matter of finance, a character must reach Name level before they can build a stronghold: a fortification from which to rule an area of land. The book recalls that Name level is ‘9th level for most classes, 8th for halflings’. (This contradicts the halfling class write up, which does not mention Name level for halflings and says [p27], ‘Regardless of his experience level, a halfling may build a stronghold whenever he has the money and the interest. The stronghold will attract a whole community of other halflings if constructed in a place suited to their preferences.’ On the whole, I think I prefer the idea that only top-level halflings may have strongholds, although stretches of land being ruled by low-level halflings, vulnerable to conquest and magical subversion, does have its appeal.)

The book says that Name level means that a character has enough power, and perhaps good reputation and respect, for local authorities not to oppose them becoming ruler over an area. (This is totally bizarre. Firstly, it implies, as the magic-user class write up also does, that a Name level character is some sort of unstoppable force everyone thinks is better to appease than oppose, when at least some other rulers in the campaign will be more experienced characters of Name level and higher — unless the campaign premise is that the first characters to reach Name level are just now doing so. Secondly, alternatives to building a stronghold for Name level fighters and magic-users include serving a ruler, which implies that at least some rulers will have Name level servants who could presumably go toe to toe with a Name level character their rulers don’t want around, not to mention non-stronghold-bulding Name level clerics, who are explicitly described as helping their fellows of the same alignment and fighting their enemies — again, unless the premise is that Name level characters are vanishingly rare and yet society has rigid conventions and expectations for what they do. Anyway.)

There follows a discussion of stronghold establishment by class. A cleric may get up to half the cost of their stronghold paid by their order: if they have ever been punished by their order, ‘or by his Immortal patron, because of severe alignment changes,’ then no subsidy will be given. (Someone doesn’t seem to have been paying attention to which sort of D&D this is: ‘severe’ alignment changes? When there are only three alignments? And now clerics have Immortal patrons: does that include clerics who just serve their alignment generally? Does a neutral cleric have to abandon a neutral Immortal patron in order to change class to druid?) If the cleric has behaved in an exemplary way with regard to alignment and order, they will pay half. Most clerics will get something in between, according to the DM’s discretion.

A demihuman will get help from their ‘family’ to find a spot for their stronghold and may get up to half the cost paid as a loan by their ‘Clan’. If the new stronghold is bigger than the Clan’s existing stronghold, the Clan will adopt it as its new base, otherwise up to forty percent of the Clan will move to the new stronghold. The Clan may come to reinforce the new stronghold against enemies, or even call on other Clans to do the same. There follows the barest explanation of what a Clan is and how it’s organised: the ‘political leader’ of a Clan is the ‘Clanmaster’ while the ‘spiritual leader’ is ‘the Keeper of the Relic’. No-one has time to go on adventures and attain either of these roles, so they are not for player characters: the highest station a player character may attain in a demihuman clan is ‘Clanholder’, the owner of the Clan stronghold. (Is that all the Rules Cyclopedia ever says about demihuman organisation or is there more later on? And does ‘Keeper of the Relic’ mean each Clan has a ‘Relic’? I know there are super-powerful magic items in AD&D called relics: are these the same thing?) A player character Clanholder may seek human titles additionally, with the permission of their Clanmaster and Keeper of the Relic.

Druids don’t build strongholds or employ mercenaries ‘or civilian employees’. (Does that mean no retainers for a druid or just no stronghold retainers?) They do, however — apparently — rule over territory. Other local authorities pretend druids don’t exist while druids only demonstrate their authority to those who ‘abuse or wantonly destroy’ their forests. (So, thinking back to the siege machine rules for using ‘forest resources’ to build siege equipment: Is that an issue for druids? Do armies engaged in siege warfare have to be careful not to anger local druids when chopping down trees to build siege engines? Because ignoring a person who can destroy wooden structures nine times faster than fire and aim lightning at their enemies seems pretty stupid, especially if they might be persuaded to get angry at the army besieging one’s castle.) So, apparently, druid’s territory is completely unrelated to anyone else’s idea of whose territory is where.

When a fighter starts building a stronghold, the local ruler will usually just give them the land as a barony. (Honestly, this seems like a much better way of claiming land from rulers than going to war or laying siege. Just turn up and build a castle and they’ll give you a parcel of land and the highest title below actual royalty.) Here’s how it breaks down:
  • Before or while the stronghold is being built, the fighter is summoned to the ruler’s stronghold and imprisoned made a baron(ess).
  • The fighter gets a scroll, signed by the ruler, certifying their new title.
  • The fighter must support the ruler militarily; the ruler will support the fighter militarily if they ask.
Or the DM may have some sort of qualification necessary in their campaign before a fighter can build a stronghold: serving as a general, putting down revolts, being voted in by other nobles or whatever. (All right. This all makes perfect sense if the fighter — or whatever Name level character — is a friend or ally of the local ruler, although it’s still quite bizarre that characters are expected to choose their own territories: what if another baron has already been granted the land you want? Or is the assumption that you’re the first baron this crown ever created? But the book’s claim that Name level characters are powerful enough for questions of personality, history, politics and/or alignment never to prevent them from being accepted as nobles or the equivalent by rulers in general? It’s just strangely bone-headed. Speaking of which....)

A magic-user explicitly needs no approval from the local ruler — who may quite possibly be employing a magist, or temporarily hiring a magic-user, of at least equal power and experience, for only 3,000 gp a month — because they won’t dare to make an enemy of the magic-user. The local ruler will send soldiers to help the magic-user’s tower against attack unless the attack is by another magic-user. Because ‘rulers rarely, if ever, meddle in the affairs of wizards.’ (Except by employing them, of course. Sheesh.)

More next time!
 
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