Sunday, June 19, 2016

ACKS - Simplified Mercenaries

Much like managing domains in general, hiring mercenaries in ACKS is a pain in the ass, with more detail than it needs.  Here are some simplifications!
  • No individual mercs.  They can be hired collectively in platoons, companies, or squads, as appropriate.
  • Costs for companies are expressed in increments of 250 gp, and roughly rounded.  Costs for squads and platoons are expressed in increments of 25gp.
  • Wages and supply and quartermasters and armorers and shit are all rolled into the total cost of operation.
  • Costs for variations of the loadouts of mercenaries within a single class (Heavy Infantry B vs C) are abstracted, and will tend towards the average or upper end of the available options.
  • Slingers and Medium Cavalry delenda est; their availability numbers are rolled into Bowmen and Light Cavalry, respectively.
  • Crossbowmen have also been rolled into Bowmen for availability, as they draw from the same pool of candidates.  Some cultures will have crossbowmen instead (available as Bowmen, but cost as Longbowmen).
  • Really I should get rid of Longbowmen and Cataphracts too, but they're kind of player-favorites.

Here are some tables that show either how many of a particular size group of mercs are available per month in a given market, or how long it takes to recruit a group of mercs of that size (ie - "2 per month" means you can recruit 2 platoons per month in this market; "2 months" means it will take 2 months to gather a single platoon).  This is a perfect job for a henchman who is too badly injured to continue adventuring ("Yeah, and you'll get full medical coverage!"  "...  Is that what full medical looks like?"  "Given that I've been dead twice and lost a total of five limbs and three eyes, I'm pretty happy with it."), or maybe even a henchman who isn't terribly maimed.

Note that while you can recruit multiple different types of mercenary concurrently (eg, a unit of heavy cavalry and a unit of heavy infantry), you can only be recruiting one unit of a given type of mercenary at a time (ie, time spent recruiting a company of heavy infantry cannot also be counted towards gathering a platoon of heavy infantry).

Platoon Availability I II III IV V VI
Light Infantry 6 per month 1 per month 2 months 4 months 9 months 20 months
Archers 8 per month 2 per month 1 per month 3 months 6 months 14 months
Heavy Infantry 3 per month 2 months 3 months 7 months 15 months 36 months
Longbowmen 1 per month 3 months 6 months 15 months 30 months 91 months
Light Cavalry 4 per month 1 per month 2 months 5 months 9 months 27 months
Horse Archers 2 per month 2 months 3 months 8 months 22 months 66 months
Heavy Cavalry 1 per month 3 months 5 months 20 months 30 months 100 months
Cataphract Cavalry 1 per month 4 months 6 months 31 months 38 months 150 months


Company Availability I II III IV V VI
Light Infantry 1 per month 3 months 5 months 16 months 35 months 80 months
Archers 2 per month 2 months 4 months 11 months 24 months 54 months
Heavy Infantry 2 months 5 months 9 months 27 months 60 months 142 months
Longbowmen 3 months 11 months 22 months 60 months 120 months 364 months
Light Cavalry 1 per month 3 months 6 months 18 months 36 months 108 months
Horse Archers 2 months 6 months 12 months 30 months 86 months 261 months
Heavy Cavalry 3 months 11 months 18 months 80 months 120 months 400 months
Cataphract Cavalry 4 months 14 months 24 months 122 months 150 months 600 months

Below is a table of availability of 6-man squads of infantry, or 3-man squads of cavalry.  At this scale it doesn't really make sense to use Domains at War (though I've tried) because of DaW's assumptions about what fraction of combatants can actually attack the enemy, but this seems like a reasonable minimum size group of mercenaries to attempt to collectively bargain with, and to manage morale for.  It also has the convenient property that a squad fits nicely into a 10' hex, and the even more convenient property that it is the same size as an average beastman gang (5 orcs plus champion).


Squad Availability I II III IV V VI
Light Infantry 33 per month 8 per month 4 per month 1 per month 2 months 4 months
Archers 44 per month 11 per month 5 per month 1 per month 2 months 3 months
Heavy Infantry 16 per month 4 per month 2 per month 2 months 3 months 8 months
Longbowmen 7 per month 1 per month 2 months 3 months 6 months 19 months
Light Cavalry 24 per month 7 per month 3 per month 1 per month 2 months 6 months
Horse Archers 10 per month 3 per month 1 per month 2 months 5 months 14 months
Heavy Cavalry 7 per month 1 per month 1 per month 4 months 6 months 20 months
Cataphract Cavalry 5 per month 1 per month 2 months 7 months 8 months 30 months

It's worth noting that rounding to months introduces a some inconsistencies, particularly in cases where you're rolling 5d10 individuals per month, which is almost-but-not-quite a platoon.  It might be worth switching to weeks instead of months for some of these (in which case 5d10 would be 5 weeks instead of 2 months).  Likewise, sometimes 1 per month is secretly 1.5 per month, which gets abstracted away unless you go hire a bigger unit instead.  Maybe I should be doing this whole thing with rational numbers instead of ceilinged/floored floats.

Anyway...  looking at those recruitment times, it's going to take forever to muster a force capable of storming the local count's castle, even if the PCs are willing to do a fair bit of the heavy lifting.  Those 25 mercenaries you get when you hit 9th won't help all that much either.  This further supports my belief that if you want to gather an army to take a civilized domain by force, you're better off going out in the woods and subjugating bandits, berserkers, nomads, and beastmen than sitting in town and waiting.  You were going to be out in the woods anyway, because that's where the treasure is.

Anyway.  Here is a simplified total cost of operation per month table:

Type Company kgp/mo Company Platoon Squad
Light Infantry 1 1000 250 50
Archers 1.5 1500 375 75
Heavy Infantry 1.75 1750 450 100
Longbowmen 2.5 2500 625 125
Light Cavalry 2.75 2750 700 150
Horse Archers 3.75 3750 950 200
Heavy Cavalry 4.75 4750 1200 250
Cataphract Cavalry 5.5 5500 1375 275

Hiring a unit of mercenaries is sort of like hiring a henchman.  When hiring mercs, you should do the "reaction to hiring offer" roll; each unit accepts or declines collectively, typically through a veteran NPC spokesman, who serves as the unit's face to the party for the duration of its employment.  Half of mercenary units are cautious and desire garrison duty somewhere safe and with a surfeit of whores, and half are aggressive, ambitious, and desirous of plunder.  These preferences can be used to improve one's hiring offer - a promise of garrison-only duty or a campaign with plunder within the year are sufficient to sweeten the pot on a roll of "Try Again".  Should you fail to carry through with your promises, a loyalty roll at -2 should be made immediately (not quite a catastrophe...).  Mercenaries are also well-known for their love of money up front, with a month's cost of operation yielding a +1 bonus to the hiring roll (or another try).  Mercenary units each track their loyalty / morale as a unit, and desert or betray their employers collectively.  Cautious mercenaries are more likely to desert than betray (desert instead of betray on a 2 on a loyalty roll, but still betray at 1 or lower), while aggressive mercenaries are more likely to betray their employers (betray on 3- instead of 2-).

1d12 Mercenary Company Names
  1. The Bloody Band
  2. Egil's Reavers (action starts here)
  3. The Black Company
  4. Wilhelm's Freikorps
  5. The Catalan Grand Company
  6. The Varangian Guard
  7. The Company of Death
  8. The Pecheneg Bows
  9. The Almogavars (Awaken, iron!)
  10. The Genoese Crossbows
  11. Buccleugh's Highlanders
  12. The Thuringian Pikes (the Thuringii did not have a substantial mercenary history, but Thuringian is fun to say)

Beastman mercenaries, if you can hire them, are always aggressive (except goblins and kobolds, who are wimps).

Type Company kgp/mo Company Platoon Squad
Goblin Light Infantry 0.75 750 200 50
Goblin Archers 0.75 750 200 50
Goblin Wolf Riders 4.75 4750 1200 250
Orcish Light Infantry 1 1000 250 50
Orcish Heavy Infantry 1.5 1500 375 75
Orcish Archers 1 1000 250 50
Orcish Boar Riders 6 6000 1500 300
Ogre Heavy Infantry 5.75 5750 1450 300

I guess I should rework Domains at War's hiring tables for domains of various sizes at some point, too.


  1. No love for the name "The Free Fists of Dehlia"?

  2. Now there's a name I haven't heard in a long time...

  3. the trick to fast recruitment is to divide the party, send the one with higest charisma to the class maket 1, and then send one recruiter to heach market 2 that you cand find, and the rest to markets 3 or lower. then gather the party a couple of months later.

  4. Virgo: That would probably work better for us if the worlds I ran were less crapsack, with large markets that were safe to travel to. On reflection, this may also be a cause of my party's unwillingness to mount up in the wilderness levels. On the other hand, it's also a bit of a timekeeping hassle; if it weren't for the (dangerous) travel, it seems like something I'd want to resolve away from the table. How to you run this process?