Finding the Right People
Once a character has secured permission, he can begin searching for the
hirelings he needs. If he needs craftsmen with specific skills, it is best to work
through the guild or local authorities. They can make the necessary arrangements
for the player character. This also obviates the need to role-play a generally
uninteresting situation. Of course, guilds generally charge a fee for their
If the character is seeking a large number of unskilled men or soldiers, he
can hire a crier to spread the word. (Printing, being undiscovered or in an
infant state, is generally not a practical solution.) Fortunately, criers are easily
found and can be hired without complicated searching. Indeed, even young
children can be paid for this purpose.
At the same time, the player character would be wise to do his own advertising
by leaving word with innkeepers, stablers, and the owners of public houses.
Gradually, the DM makes applicants arrive.
If the player character is searching for a fairly common sort of
hireling—laborers, most commonly—the response is equal to approximately 10% of the
population in the area (given normal circumstances).
If the position being filled is uncommon, the response will be about 5% of the
population. Openings for soldiers might get one or two respondents in a
village of 50. In a city of 5,000 it wouldn't be unusual to get 250 applicants, a
If searching for a particular craft or specialist—a blacksmith or armorer, for
instance—the average response is 1% of the population or less. Thus, in a
village of 50, the character just isn't likely to find a smith in need of
employment. In a slightly larger village, he might find the blacksmith's apprenticed son
willing to go with him.
Unusual circumstances such as a plague, a famine, a despotic tyrant, or a
depressed economy, can easily alter these percentages. In these cases, the DM
decides what is most suitable for his campaign. Furthermore, the player character
can increase the turnout by offering special inducements—higher pay, greater
social status, or special rewards. These can increase the base percentage by 1% to
10% of the population.
The whole business becomes much more complicated when hiring exotic
experts—sages, spies, assassins, and the like. Such talents are not found in every city.
Sages live only where they can continue their studies and where men of learning
are valued. Thus they tend to dwell in great cities and centers of culture,
though they don't always seek fame and notoriety there. Making discreet enquiries
among the learned and wealthy is an effective way to find sages. Other experts
make a point not to advertise at all.
Characters who blurt out that they are seeking to hire a spy or an assassin
are going to get more than just a raised eyebrow in reaction! Hiring these
specialists should be an adventure in itself.
For example, Fiera the Elf has decided she needs the services of a spy to
investigate the doings of her archrival. The player, Karen, tells the DM what she
intends, setting the devious wheels of the DM's mind in motion. The DM plans out
a rough adventure and, when he is ready, tells Karen that her character can
begin the search.
Not knowing where to begin (after all, where does one hire a spy?), Fiera
starts to frequent seamy and unpleasant bars, doing her best to conceal her true
identity. She leaves a little coin with the hostelers and word of her needs. The
DM is ready for this. He has prepared several encounters to make Fiera's search
interesting. There are drunken, over-friendly mercenaries, little ferret-faced
snitches, dark mysterious strangers, and venal constables to be dealt with.
Eventually, the DM has several NPCs contact Fiera, all interested in the job.
Unknown to the player (or her character) the DM has decided that one applicant
is really a spy sent by her rival to act as a double agent! Thus, from a
not-so-simple hiring, one adventure has been played and the potential for more has
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