Thursday, January 16, 2014

Henchmen Week, Day Why-Not-Five: Loyalty, Not Just For Dogs Anymore

Alright folks, we're getting to the end of Henchmen "Week" here in Kickassistan and we've got one last hurdle to get over before you can take your shiny new henchman into the dungeon: we've got to talk about his Loyalty.

System Doesn't Matter

This is system, not giving one fuck
whether you think it matters or not. 
Okay, system does matter. Here's the thing, though: when I talk about Loyalty as a statistic, I'm referring to it as a bonus of some sort to something appropriate for the system in question. Maybe you're playing 1e and your morale system is based off of 3d6. That's fine. Maybe it's BX or BECMI and you're rolling 2d6 for the same thing. That's great, too. Oh, but let's say you're playing ACKS and you're still rolling 2d6 but you want to get over 7 rather than under a morale score, adding a morale modifier. Still good. In DCC, you're rolling a Will save. Yep, we're kosher. Whenever I talk about a Loyalty bonus, it will usually apply to morale or whatever mechanic replaces morale in whatever system it is that you're playing. Sometimes, the bonuses are applied positively (adding a "plus one" or "plus whatever") and sometimes, a bonus is applied negatively (like a shield in descending AC systems; this is how BX and BECMI do it). Whatever it is, remember that a bonus is in favor of the player characters in this regard and a penalty is applied to his disfavor, whatever that might be.

Determine Loyalty

Roll 2d6, add some stuff. Like Charisma modifier.

  • 2 or less: Intensely disloyal. Will desert or betray when given the opportunity. -10 
  • 3-6: Disloyal. -2
  • 7-9: Grudging loyalty. No bonus.
  • 10-13: Loyal. +1
  • Natural 12 or 14+: Fanatical loyalty. +5
If the system provides a loyalty modifier for any reason, add that to the final loyalty score after the loyalty score has been rolled on this chart. 

Fanatic? Perhaps. Awesome? Totally.
Disloyal henchmen do as little as possible to draw their wage, exposing themselves to danger as infrequently as possible. They'd rather be left at base camp, skimming extra rations from the party's stores or trying to figure out how much treasure the party won't miss. A grudgingly loyal henchman does largely what he's being asked, but any actions that might be deemed dangerous could require a loyalty check (see below); he's getting paid to hench and he'll do his job, but he's no fanatic and isn't interested in dying for a lost cause. A loyal henchman, on the other hand, will do most things that they're asked, but still there are circumstances that will test even loyal henchmen's resolve. The fanatic, however, drank the Kool-Aid and will do pretty much whatever the PC asks him to. Here, with the fanatic, even the most extreme cases of personal endangerment are met with stoicism if not zeal and even enthusiasm. Yep, it can get creepy. 

Can Your Ass Cash That Loyalty Check?

Guess what? You're going to roll 2d6 again! Roll 2d6+Loyalty.
  • 2 or less: Treason! Betrayal! Running away in fear! Any of those, or just plain refusal (with the appropriate one of those three at the earliest opportunity).
  • 3-6: Nope. No way. Not going to happen. Your henchman just won't do that, whatever it was. 
  • 7-9: Yeah, he'll do that, but it's gonna cost you. Pick something that your henchman wants in return for doing whatever it is before your DM makes up something terrible. 
  • 10+: Yes, sir, right away, sir!
Loyalty checks aren't so much for every single thing that you might order your henchmen to do, but rather for those moments when you as the DM really aren't sure whether a particular henchman would do a thing or not. Did the PC just make a dangerous request? Check for loyalty. Go out on the ice to see if it's strong enough to support the party? Check for loyalty. Stay in camp and make dinner for when everyone gets back? No, probably not (unless the PCs have a bunch of treasure lying around camp).