Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Reasons to Hire Adventurers 2: Heroes of the People

I was thinking more about why hiring adventurers is usually a bit silly for domain rules, and it occurred to me that maybe rulers aren't the ones that should be doing the hiring.  Maybe peasants are the ones most likely to seek extraordinary aid.  The Seven Samurai / Magnificent Seven formula works for a reason, after all.  And while they may not have a whole lot of cash at any given time, if you win their loyalty you might be able to take over a domain from the bottom up, or get some of them to migrate when you found a borderlands domain of your own.
  • Incompetent ruler - The local domain ruler is too fat, drunk, old, maimed, or insane to sit a horse, never mind kill these damn ankhegs eatin' our crops.  His henchmen aren't much better.  He may be 9th level, but that doesn't mean he's effective.
  • Absent ruler - Domain ruler has been away in France on campaign for the last three years.  The Scots have figured it out and started raiding across the border.  He left a steward, but in classic Sheriff of Nottingham tradition, said steward is mostly interested in amassing power and wealth at the peasants' expense.  The ruler may instead be an infant or child, again with a greedy regent (child rulers with grasping regents may find themselves meeting unfortunate accidents).
  • Cruel ruler / cruel garrison - The peasants could ask their domain ruler for help, and would get it, but the ruler's garrison would then eat all of their winter stores, lie with their daughters, and kill anyone who complained.  Adventurers may or may not be better in the daughters and killing departments, but they'll probably leave at least some winter stores.
  • Monsters garrison is unequipped to deal with
    • Contagious monsters
      • Ghouls
      • Spectres
      • Shadows
      • Werewolves
    • Charming monsters
      • Vampires
      • Demon boars
      • Cult with mind-control runes
    • Monsters that get stronger when they eat people
      • Barghests?
      • Devourers
    • Untouchable monsters
      • Gargoyles
      • Werewolves
      • Incorporeal undead
      • Dragons with fear aura and/or immunity to nonmagic weapons 
    • Sneaky monsters, that you might not even realize are there
      • Vampires
      • Werewolves
      • Cultists
      • Incorporeal undead 
    • Man, I'm seeing a lot of repeated entries on this list...
  • Corrupt ruler - Peasants believe a charming monster is at work, but when they brought their suspicions to the ruler, no investigation came of it.  They conclude that corruption extends to the highest echelons, and outside help is needed.  Might just be a case of "the peasant who cried werewolf," though - "Last season you thought the cathedral's gargoyles were animate, then you thought my aunt was a witch, and now you're afraid of your own shadows?  I think you're just trying to get out of paying your taxes..."
What's particularly nice about this is that these postulate either an ineffective domain ruler, or an evil domain ruler.  It basically boils down to either lack of ability on the ruler's part, of lack of trust on the peasants' part.  In either case, adventurers will tend to feel few qualms about overthrowing such a ruler, and can probably get the popular support to make it happen (thus adding a third option for "ways to get a domain", alongside "swear fealty" and "mercenary army").

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