Dungeons. Dragons. Graph paper. Funny dice.

Do you employ hirelings?

When I first started reading about old-school gaming, what struck me was how little my adolescent Basic and 1e games resembled the Old-School Style. Much of the difference, I’m starting to suspect, was that we ignored rules that sounded “boring” without trying them. We didn’t use encumbrance, for example, or keep track of light sources. In retrospection, resource management was a huge element of the game—an element we ignored perhaps to our detriment. So, I’ve been picking through my memory and reading old rulebooks, making a list of mechanics I’ve never actually played. One of those is the use of hirelings. In Men & Magic, it says:

Charisma is a combination of appearance, personality, and so forth. Its primary function is to determine how many hirelings of unusual nature a character can attract. This is not to say that he cannot hire men-at-arms and employ mercenaries, but the charisma function will affect loyalty of even these men. Players will, in all probability, seek to hire Fighting-Men, Magic-Users, and/or Clerics in order to strengthen their roles in the campaign. A player-character can employ only as many as indicated by his charisma score.

If the primary function of charisma is to determine the number and loyalty of hirelings, and charisma itself was important enough to make it one of the six attributes, then hirelings must be an important part of the game, right? On the other hand, M&M later speaks of “acquiring a regular entourage of various character types, monsters, and an army of some form.” That makes me question whether hirelings were in fact a vestigial hold-over from Chainmail, and little-used in actual D&D play. I’d love to hear anecdotal evidence one way or the other. Did you use hirelings in your games back in the day? Do you use them now?

1 comment:

Scott July 31, 2010 at 2:44 PM

I don’t remember using them much when we first started playing, but as we got into the game more and were playing at every opportunity, they became pretty common as a way for solo PCs to take on bigger challenges (e.g., published modules) on those occasions when it was just one of us spending the night over at someone’s house etc.

I allow and make provision for their use now but don’t encourage it or discourage it. Purely a player decision as far as I’m concerned.

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