Friday, November 4, 2016

ACKS Class: Shield-bearer

"I am sworn to carry your burdens..."

As I noted previously, we've made some dubious decisions about leveling L0 henchmen.  Sometimes fighter just doesn't make sense.  Ergo,

Prime requisite: Con
Requirements: None
Hit dice: d8
Maximum level: 14

Behind every hero there is typically someone who does the dirty, boring, and unheroic jobs.  Nodwick (incidentally, the old Nodwicks are a lot funnier having DM'd ACKS).  Lydia.  Kif Kroker.  Sancho Panza.  These are the shield-bearers.

Shield-bearers are adequate fighters.  They are trained in the use of a variety of common weapons, including axes, flails, hammers, spears, polearms, crossbows, and shortbows, but to use swords would be above their station.  They may wear chainmail or lighter armor.  They may fight with a weapon in both hands or with a shield, but not with two weapons.  They advance in attack throws and saves as thieves, by two points every four levels.

Shield-bearers are, however, skilled at load distribution.  At first level (porter), they raise their carrying capacity thresholds by two stone.  Their carrying capacity thresholds rise by another two stone at 5th and 9th level.

For whatever reason, permanent injuries never seem to stick to shield-bearers.  Some say that their suffering amuses the gods.  When rolling on the Restore Life and Limb / Tampering with Mortality table, shield-bearers may roll twice and choose whichever result they prefer.  They also reduce the number of days of bed rest that they require by 1 per level of experience.

Shield-bearers are, as a rule, resigned to their fate.  When making loyalty rolls, they may ignore one calamity per level of experience.  However, they may never become fanatically loyal; they know their employers too well for this.

At fifth level (Muletender), the shield-bearer becomes recognized as a leader of mules.  If placed in charge of up to one pack animal per level of experience, he can increase their carrying capacity by 10%.  If the pack animals are pulling a wagon, cart, or similar, its carrying capacity is increased as well.  On a ship, the shield-bearer can find a way to cram an extra 10 stone of cargo aboard per level of experience (multiple shield-bearers do not stack; use the highest level among them).  Additionally, shield-bearers may serve as quartermasters for military units of a scale for which they would qualify as a lieutenant in Domains at War.

By ninth level (majordomo), the shield-bearer has mastered the fine art of telling people that they are idiots while making it sound like a compliment (as Diplomacy).  Many shield-bearers learn this skill much earlier in their careers, in which case they should take a different general proficiency instead.  A shield-bearer of this level also has a good sense of the loyalty and intentions of his master's vassals, mercenary captains, and so forth, and can sense impending betrayals on 11+ on a d20.  I guess they should probably also be able to establish a network of informants and bureaucrats, once I figure out a tolerable hijinks replacement.

  1. Torchbearer, 0 XP
  2. Porter, 1500 XP
  3. Trapspringer, 3000 XP
  4. Potion-Tester, 6000 XP
  5. Muletender, 12000 XP
  6. Quartermaster, 24000 XP
  7. Adjutant, 50000 XP
  8. Steward, 100000 XP
  9. Majordomo, 200000 XP
  10. Seneschel, 300000 XP
  11. Councilor, 400000 XP
  12. Privy Councilor (hur hur), 500000 XP
  13. Viceroy, 600000 XP
  14. Grey Eminence, 700000 XP

Class proficiencies:
  1. Alchemy ("Yup, definitely poison.")
  2. Alertness ("I have a bad feeling about this.  Even worse than usual, mind.")
  3. Animal Husbandry ("It's easier to keep a mule alive than to carry its load.")
  4. Bargaining (shortly after Denial and before Resignation)
  5. Beast Friendship ("The mules and I, we're kindred spirits.  Ornery, heavily-laden, and often considered expendable.")
  6. Bribery ("Hello captain, I'm here to post bail...  again.") 
  7. Caving 
  8. Combat Reflexes
  9. Command
  10. Diplomacy ("An excellent idea, sir, but perhaps we should fall back instead.")
  11. Divine Blessing ("Buddha!  Zeus!  God!  One of you guys help me!  Satan, you owe me!")
  12. Dungeon Bashing ("Sometimes the treasure's easier to carry if you break it into little pieces first.")
  13. Eavesdropping ("It pays to be able to hear what the adventurers are whispering among themselves.")
  14. Endurance
  15. Fighting Style
  16. Illusion Resistance ("I've heard that one before, sir.") 
  17. Leadership 
  18. Loremastery ("Mm, sure looks like the Head of Vecna to me, sire.")
  19. Mapping ("Mapping's nice, safe work - the adventurers never want to do it, and they put you in the back of the phalanx away from the fighting, where you can escape if things go bad.  Great gig, not like spelunking, where they send you first into dark monster-filled holes.")
  20. Mountaineering 
  21. Navigation
  22. Precise Shooting
  23. Riding
  24. Running
  25. Skirmishing 
  26. Survival
  27. Theology ("You can never have too many holy symbols.")
  28. Wakefulness ("You'd have nightmares too, if you'd been inside the digestive tracts of as many monsters as I have.  You learn to live with 'em.")


  1. Lovely. What's it called when something does loop-de-loops around parody and comes back to "solidly constructed"? Pratchettian?

    "Shield-bearers are, as a rule, resigned to their fate. When making loyalty rolls, they may ignore one calamity per level of experience. However, they may never become fanatically loyal; they know their employers too well for this."

    That right there. Pratchettian. This is a guy following around Cohen the Barbarian, never quite figuring out why he can't stop doing so.

    I like the 2HD-1F-1T build here; it works. I kinda wonder if there's not a way to track how the L0 has suffered on their long road to 100XP and have "templates" to fit; perhaps even some that do things like "detect magic" as a power (kept getting hit by magic traps) or turn undead as half-a-cleric (kept getting mobbed by zombies), etc. etc.

    Furthermore: Hijinks. Bit off the cuff, but:

    Smuggling/Stealing transmutes directly into "supplies on the mule", gp-to-gp.

    Assassinating: no idea. Dealing with the impended betrayals perhaps, but that doesn't sound like fun.

    A 'Carousing' analogue, when successful, allows the Shieldbearer to have on hand the perfect mundane equipment required when required, up to the value of the carousing roll. ("Yes, I'd heard about these chasms, and have enough rope")

    A 'Spying/Treasure Hunting' analogue, when successful, allows the Shieldbearer to have on hand a number of consumable potions or scrolls applicable to the current disaster they've found themselves in ("Indeed, I'd mentioned the fact there was probably a medusa around - the fact the statue some rooms back was suspiciously reminiscent of ol Uncle Larry was slightly less coincidental than you thought. Unfortunately, it's the mage that's been stoned, so...not real sure what to do with this scroll I brought...") Ruinous to actually use, I suppose, but, entertaining from a genre-completeness sort of view. Although, given this requires a L9 henchman, maybe it's really not that bad of a deal, if one massages the hijink result values - there'd be a lot of money flying around at that level. And, if it's "use it or lose it", that may help. It'd be up to the Judge to enforce proper preparation rather than just relying on the sheildbearer - this'd be a bulwark against the randomness of the wandering monster rolls I suppose.

  2. I really quite like this. Thanks for developing and sharing.