Saturday, May 18, 2019

A/X: Call the Cousins

Kicking around fighter mercenary-summoning abilities in the presence of Money Up Front:
At 5th level (Sentinel), the Dwarven Vaultguard's exploits have become known in the mountainhome.  All dwarves who he personally leads gain +1 morale in battle.  Additionally, he may choose to call his cousins to fight by his side with promises of treasure and glory.  If he does so, he may choose a dwarven unit type and have a squad of them arrive and enter his service by the beginning of the next adventure.  However, he owes them the promised treasure, of a value equal to their cost if they were a mercenary unit.  Failure to pay the cousins at least a third of his personal share of the treasure towards this debt every adventure will force a loyalty roll.  Should a cousin perish, another will come to replace the fallen one once he has been given a proper burial and his arms and armor returned to the mountainhome.  Should no cousin in the vaultguard's service remain alive, he is absolved of his debt to them but may not summon another unit of cousins until he gains a level of experience.  Should a vaultguard ever kill one of the cousins, or in bad faith cause one to be killed, he will be branded a kinslayer.  A kinslayer's cousins desert immediately and no more may be summoned thereafter.  A vaultguard who has satisfied the treasure expectations of all cousins currently in his service may call an additional unit of cousins; this may be done multiple times.
Nice things about this: it feels very dwarf, it gives you seven dwarves (or thirteen if you pay off the first squad), it disincentivizes betraying them, and it totally works around market class restrictions for replenishing them, which is nice because availability of demihuman troops in human markets is pretty lousy (but replaces markets with the need to retrieve the bodies and possibly travel).

OK things: this is probably a smaller retinue than human fighters will get, but it's OK because dwarven troops are better.

Less nice things: it requires tracking the state of the debt (but it's a fraction of earnings so if you have a bad session you're not going to end up underwater, you just have to pay them based on what you earned).

Potential extension points: cousins level up to elite 2nd- or 3rd-level mercenaries when the Vaultguard hits certain levels.  A similar ability to call dwarven henchmen?  With a bonus if you have Dwarven Brewing, making it a useful proficiency?

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