Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Of Fancies and Their Pants

PCs With Rank

Not all PCs begin or end life as rootless murder junkies.

Inherited rank

PCs born to rank and privilege are not unknown, but explaining why rich people would be roaming the wide world killing monsters for cash takes some doing. Any rationale will do, but the player must have one--it's part of character generation, go do it. Scions of noble houses who take up adventuring tend to be outcasts. At least until they level up a bit.

The benefits of an upper-class background are many but squishy--and they depend a great deal on which nobility the PC comes from and his or her proximity to it at any given moment. 

In game mechanical terms, at character creation the PC may declare him or herself a member of the nobility: you lose one point of constitution (and one also hit point if this does not change your total hit points already) in exchange for the right to call in a single favor from single wealthy relative some time during first level.

In addition, you get to call in a single favor during each subsequent level--one during second level, one during third, etc. Favors may not be "banked" for later levels--unused favors are lost. The relatives should be otherwise treated as ordinary NPCs and do not have superhuman abilities nor will they respond to unreasonable requests. GM's discretion.

If you need a list of eccentric aristocrats you should probably go buy this.

Responsibilities and command

No matter what layer of society a PC hails from, s/he may acquire true military or administrative responsibilities during a game through ordinary adventuring and deal-making.

The following rules of thumb may be handy for any GM with PCs in control of large numbers of people:

Any force or group of workers must be maintained at the usual local rate--usually about 1gp per person per day plus (for combatants) a share of any treasure.

A PC may adventure and level up as usual, but if s/he brings along a significant number of troops, s/he must divide the xp with them.

When PCs assign tasks to followers that they might conceivably fail at, decide the difficulty of the task as if it were an armor class--the PC's "to hit" roll is on a d20 and is modified by:

-the PC's charisma
-how well the followers have been paid (+1 per gp over 1 per day, for instance)
-any recent successes or misfortunes
-the suitability of the kind of troops to the task.
…if the success of the task is difficult to gauge immediately ("Build a bridge strong enough to hold the entire Red cavalry as it passes"), the GM may wish to keep the target number (and thus the result) secret until the success of the task is truly tested (like when the horses are actually on the bridge).


Overlords are characters that lead soldiers on the field of battle or who otherwise administer vast operations. "Overlord" is not exactly a character class and does not refer to any specific title of nobility (an overlord PC may be a baron, countess or a general and a woman who leads a legion of cave amazons in battle is still, in these terms, an overlord), but rather a status that can be granted to PCs of any class. It signifies that the character has gained the trust of either a significant number of people or of a high-ranking NPC that is able to grant the PC control over a fiefdom, troops in the field, etc. and will continue to attract new followers automatically.

The requirements for a PC to achieve formal overlord status are as follows:

The PC has, by magic, skullduggery, cleverness, bribery or otherwise, acquired more than fifty armed followers in the course of the campaign and lead them all in battle on at least one occasion (not necessarily all at once).


The PC has reached at least 7th level, has managed to find a high-level NPC as patron, and regularly gives an even share of any xp and treasure gained during his or her adventures to that patron. (A typical "starting number" of followers granted by a patron in this way is 5d20).

The principal benefit of overlord status is that the PC ordinarily receives new followers of the most plentiful local kind each time s/he levels up--the number is equal to d100% of the number of existing followers. Other troops may be recruited as usual--by finding them and offering them something.

In addition, if the PC was granted the status by an NPC, the followers are paid for so long as the PC pays xp/gold tribute to their patron and the NPC remains among the living.

1 comment:

Digital Orc said...

A short while ago you made reference to Barry Lyndon. Now you're posting Scott's homage to Kubrick through The Duelists (one of my personal favorites). I love the inspiration here!