View Full Version : to many hirelings

2009-11-16, 10:25 PM
So whats everyone think? I already got an idea on DMPC from another thread here, but where do you draw the line on hirelings?

I have a dread pirate in my game, who likes to take loot when nobody's looking. Often. He has used this wealth to hire 4 mercenary captains (ftr3) 16 mercenaries (ftr1) 12 mounted mercenaries (ftr2 with heavy war horse) four mages (wiz5) and four minotaurs to guard the mages.

this is a 8th level party with a wizard, rogue, dread pirate, monk, cleric, and bard. The opposition? clockwork horrors. 40 electrum (CR4) 8 gold (CR5)

So i told him the mercenaries on foot are going to hold back untill the horsemen fall or run, but the NPC turns (even all at once) are taking way to long. I think we did about a turn an hour tonight.

What's everyone elses call on this, am i being unfair? To give an idea, the party wizard can drop a third of them with a fireball, the cleric and bard are casting summon spells, and i've got lots of hp to track. Is there a better way to do this?

2009-11-16, 10:29 PM
lol. Remind your player that this is DnD and not Warhammer 40K.

In short, you're not being unfair-- the player sounds like he's abusing the hireling rules.

2009-11-16, 10:51 PM
Depends on group. Just make them pay up front for hirelings, the hirelings leave on the deadline, and make sure they put the money in secured safety deposit boxes before they head out.

Also, as this guy loses hirelings, make mercenaries cost more. No one's going to work for that guy that gets people killed for a few pennies.

And if the player can't keep track of cost inflation or duration of work, negotiable only in the towns, then they walk off.

2009-11-16, 11:20 PM
First off, you actually have a coupla issues.

#1, Wealth isn't being terribly equal between players. Regardless of what you do with the hirelings, consider making it more difficult for one player to screw over the other party members.

#2, if those guys have any levels at all(looking at the wizards here), the cost of maintaining them quickly escalates, especially if you have any significant downtime in the campaign. After all, it's not as if you can fire an army willy nilly, and rehire it the day you need them to fight. Make sure he's paying for travel time, down time, etc.

#3, Aoes or traps should thin them out pretty rapidly unless he takes care to protect them. And yes, if he develops a reputation for killing off his employees, it'll be much harder/more expensive for him to hire more.

#4, make sure the brunt of managing the NPCs falls on him. His toys, he needs to do the math and the bookwork. Sure, check up on him, just like you would any other elaborate scheme on the part of players, but make sure he pays em the appropriate amount, in advance for the expected duration of any mission. Also, consider that at a certain point, minions may in fact flee if they're being used as cannon fodder.

The Tygre
2009-11-16, 11:21 PM
Start investing in mass combat rules. I recommend 'Cry Havoc' or Green Ronin's Advanced Player's Handbook, myself.

2009-11-17, 03:43 AM
From what you say it seems that this is an out-of-character problem: it takes too long to manage that player's henchmen and that affects how the players (DM included) enjoy the game. In my experience the golden rule isthat if you have a problem out of character, solve it out of character.

I am surprised that the other players (not characters) are not complaining. To them it should be obvious that the dread pirate character has more money than their own and money in these systems is as important as XP. Unfortunately money is not fluff: it has a big impact on how a character performs through the magic items.

Most of the hints I read so far are cool tools, but before you use them I suggest you to know what is your intended purpose. I would also suggest not to be punitive with the dread pirate player as he probably did not want to ruin the game for the others but maybe just be a bit more competitive than is healthy when you have a character that the other party members cannot beat at his game (unless they openly state no trust in him and start to restrain him at night, have somebody look over his shoulder constantly, cast preventive spells etc. And most parties do not like having to do this).

Discuss the problem with everyone. The option "everybody is fine with it" is not on the table because you are not fine with it. Remember that you are a player too. Find a reasonable compromise and then use any number of the ideas presented to justify whatever you agreed on for the "in game" world.
Solutions can include getting rid of some or all of the henchmen (whatever way it happens) or changing the way they are managed. For instance the fighters always all charge in or have some other pre-made tactic that can be changed only with what commands the guy can shout in 6 seconds, thus reventing him looking for the optimal move for all his minis. They can be DM-managed and the DM will be not as creative. You could have some kind of mass combat rules, but I do not know of one that would respect the other characters present as unique though.

Just my 2cp

2009-11-17, 10:19 AM
lol. Remind your player that this is DnD and not Warhammer 40K.

You came into D&D after the advent of 3E, dincha? :smallamused:

Once upon a time a 9th level PC was expected to have an ablative army at his beck-and-call.

2009-11-17, 10:37 AM
Don't forget that the hirelings are people too, and ordinary people at that. They want to get paid, don't want to be exerted, and really don't want to die.
Unless, ofcourse, they get paid more.

2009-11-17, 10:54 AM
Introduce teamsters and work unions...

2009-11-17, 10:58 AM
Six 8th-level adventurers are a CR 13 encounter. 52 assorted NPC hirelings and mounts are about a CR 12 encounter. Thus, the dread pirate controls about 50% of the party's resources, and the other five PCs control about 10% each. His contribution is as large as the other five combined.

It is unlikely that this is healthy for your game.

Also, wealth distribution in the party is wacked. Fixing that would be a good thing. I have known DMs who require players to distribute wealth OOC by mutual agreement; who stole what within the game is irrelevant. You might give that a try.

If you're concerned about turns taking too long, reduce the hireling headcount. For example, instead of 52 1st-5th level hirelings, he could have six 8th-level characters (same CR). Call them "The Linear Guild". Obvious irony: the dread pirate is hiring a second adventuring party to be at his beck and call, and essentially handing over much of the loot to them. For real simplicity, let him hire a single 12th-level character (again, same CR).

Or, turn them into color. Stop rolling dice for them or tracking their pay; use them as mere backdrop. Speak cinematically about how the mercs are battling the only-mildly-disturbing rusty iron clockwork spiders while the players combat the electrum horrors. The player gets his i-am-epic hard-on and you get shorter turns and better party balance.

Foryn Gilnith
2009-11-17, 11:35 AM
Using Hirelings is fine. Using the prices given in some of the books, which are obscenely low for people with a decent amount of levels, is less so.

2009-11-17, 12:50 PM
My question is, how did any of the mercenaries survive the first couple rounds? What sort of equipment do the mounted and ground forces have? Assuming a breastplate and heavy shield, you get an AC of 17 (no Dex bonus, they're peon hirelings with a standard array, any stats with a bonus would go into Str and Con).

First round I got 15 hits on the horsemen, taking thier total HP down an average of 40%. Second round, the Golds open up with thier Lightning bolts in addition to the Electrums attacking, frying another 50-60% of thier total hp. That's either alot of dead horsemen or a failed morale check.

The lvl 1 footmen would fare no better in subsequent rounds.

Blasting the enemy with the hired casters would also be problematic, since they all have SR of 17 or greater, more than half the time thier spells will fail (unless they had some pretty fortunate feat selection, which I'd never allow a player to pick hireling feats...).

From the basic setup you provided, this should have been lambs to the slaughter. All the lowbie fighters would be dead, and probably some of the captains and casters.

After suffering such catastrophic losses, I doubt anyone remaining would be willing to contiune under that character's employ. You do not bring lvl1-2 dummies to fight things that can slaughter them wholesale, while not reasonably being able to contribute to defeating the enemy. AC 20 should be pretty hard for a lvl 2 NPC to hit.

2009-11-17, 12:54 PM
Yeah...anything level one should be pretty much dead in a fight of that CR...hell, with that sort of opposition, I imagine the majority of them would be mangled beyond belief.

He'd be far better off hiring minions of a level closer to his own. Having your own personal healbot cleric and buffbot wizard is incredibly useful. A swarm of level 1 fighters...not nearly so much.

2009-11-17, 03:46 PM
On the issue of stealing party loot, I would tell him OOC to quit it.

IC, have the other PCs find out if he keeps doing it. They'll get him in line.

Regarding the mercs, there are really 3 ways to go with this.

1 - No more mercs. It's messing up your game, he needs to stop it. Probably the easiest solution for you, least fun for the player.

2 - Mercs are off-screen only. Sit the player down and explain to him that D&D is a game about small parties of extraordinary people, not about army units. It actually developed specifically as an alternative to large-scale tactical games. Tell him he can hire mercenaries if he wants, but he has to come up with a reason why they are never around. He can send them off to reconnoiter, or perform far-away missions, or guard the town while the PCs go behind enemy lines as special forces. Whatever, but tell him his mercenary companies have to fade into the background and out of the main story. When he does send them off on a mission, resolve it with a few die rolls based on their level, their numbers and how committed they are.

This is the most fun solution for everyone, but does require more work and setup both from you and the player.

3 - Mercs have a time limit on their turn and it's up to him to get all their actions in. The mercs all act on one initiative. When their turn comes up, you hit the stop watch (or chess timer, or whatever) for 5 minutes. In that time he has to declare every action, move every piece, make every die roll, etc. If he needs to look something up it needs to be done before the timer winds down. If something is rules-illegal and you have to correct it, that timer is still counting down. When it hits 5 minutes his mercs are done, period. Any who didn't act yet simply miss their turn - maybe he didn't pay them enough for them to fight hard.

This might seem like the best solution because it lets the player keep all his mercs and takes all the work off your plate, but in reality it's going to be very stressful for him. Unless he really loves logistics and planning he's going to have a hard time getting all his actions in and it will be a hassle for him. This might lead him to downsize some mercs, but still, there will be some sessions he wont enjoy before he makes that call.

I recommend #2.

2009-11-17, 03:55 PM
Kill his hirelings in the middle of the night and have them instantly raise as undead, then let him know that you're not running a solo game and to lay off on the hirelings or go play an RTS.

My rule as a player is to never have more than (three- (Number of PCs over 4)) other things to run outside of summons. And if I'm not ready by the time my turn comes around, those that I haven't readied for get skipped, or I'll let someone else run some of them (including things I summon).

2009-11-17, 04:12 PM
Seems like a great moment for my monster group templates!


Have him organize his mercenaries into mobs or units. He may even declare himself the leader!

2009-11-17, 04:47 PM
first off, thanks, some of the above ideas will be used.
Second, i was running them all at once, casters and horsemen only, walking units holding back away from the horses.
Third, now that you mention it, i do beleive after seeing the horsemen fall this quick (we only got four turns in and half the horsemen are dead) the walking units will cut and run, they've already been paid.

These were cookie cutter units with all the same feats and gear, same spell lists, and predetermined actions. I blame the party, he openly called dibs on a bag of gems, nobody even counted what was there.

2009-11-17, 07:03 PM
Third, now that you mention it, i do beleive after seeing the horsemen fall this quick (we only got four turns in and half the horsemen are dead) the walking units will cut and run, they've already been paid.

bingo, there's your answer.

give the hirelings a "Moral" stat (modified by the pirates charisma), if any hirelings are killed, adjust the moral stat and let the pirate roll against it.

if he makes the check, remaining hirelings stick around.

if he fails, they flee, never to be seen again.

and don't let him do this sort of asstardery again.