Player Character Obligations

Whenever a player character takes on a hireling, follower, or henchman, he has committed himself to certain obligations and customs that surround such agreements. Some of these are obvious, having been worked out between the player character and the NPC in advance. Usually the wage and term of service are settled upon before any agreement is reached. For hirelings and followers, this is a set amount of money each day, week, or month, or a fee for a specific task. Henchmen commonly receive a portion (half a normal share) of all treasure and magic found on adventures. A player character is normally expected to contribute a little more from his own funds, however.

Other obligations of the player character are varied. Some must always be considered, while others almost never come into effect. A player character is expected to provide meals and boarding (unless the NPC has a home nearby). This is the most common obligation and applies to NPCs of all walks of life. For those engaged in more dangerous pursuits, however, additional concessions must be granted. Since horses are expensive, player characters should be ready to cover the cost of mounts lost in combat or on campaign. It is unreasonable to expect a mercenary to buy a new mount from his meager savings. Likewise, other items of war craft--weapons and armor--must be replaced by the player character. All soldiers are expected to provide their own equipment when they are first employed, but the player character must replace all losses. Certainly all player characters are expected to pay the cost of special transport--securing passage on ships and arranging wagons for baggage. Of the grimmer duties, player characters are expected to pay for a decent (though hardly lavish) interment.

One of the more unusual obligations of a player character is to ransom his men. This is especially true of men lost during a campaign. The greater number of soldiers lost in a battle are not slain but captured. Common practice of the medieval period was to officially ransom these prisoners for well-established prices. A common yeoman footman might ransom for 2 gp, a minor priest for 80 gp, a knight's squire for 200 gp, and a king's man for 500 gp. These are paid for by the lord of the prisoner. A player character (as a lord and master) is expected to do the same. Of course, the player character can pass much of this cost on to his own subjects and the relatives of the prisoner. Thus men might languish for long periods in the hands of the enemy before their ransom was raised. Furthermore, should a player character ransom a hireling, follower, or henchman, he has every reason to expect loyal service from that man in the future. After all, he has demonstrated his willingness to save that NPC from hardship and death.

In a fantasy world, a player character is also expected to bear the cost of magical spells cast to the benefit of his men. He may arrange to have his men blessed before battle or healed after it. He shouldn't grumble about the expense, because the spells also make good tactical sense. The bless spell increases the success of his army in the field. Magical cures get his army back on its feet quicker. All these things can make him very successful while also making him popular with his hired men.

Finally, the player character is expected to make an effort to raise or restore slain henchmen. This is not a normal expectation of hirelings or followers (although it can happen in extreme cases). The effort should be honest and true. A player character shouldn't fool himself into thinking no one will notice if he doesn't do his utmost. The player character who returns from an adventure minus his henchman is automatically under a cloud of suspicion, despite his most vehement protests. A player character must take great care to maintain his reputation as a good and upright employer.

(See also
NPCs in the Monstrous Manual)

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