Die-based followers

Note: there are two variants presented here – one for Wretches & Riches and one for a more standard d20-based system like Knave. 

W M Goodes

The Objective

One of the elements in Wretches & Riches which in particular strays from traditional D&D-based rules is how the party’s NPCs are handled. Since W&R makes it harder for PCs to carry around an armoury for the duration of an adventure, I especially wanted a system which which encouraged them to use followers to help bear the load. Such a system would need to make followers capable enough to be worth having, but not add too much extra information for players to manage so that combat in particular doesn’t get bogged down. If possible, I wanted to carry forward the challenge facing PCs – the more hurt you are, the less effective you become.

W M Goodes

I’m a tactile-inclined person, and even when GMing theatre of the mind gameplay I will usually have coins, tokens and dice on a sheet of paper to help me picture how everyone is positioned in a room. Often this doesn’t get shown to players – it’s behind my (physical or virtual) screen. Over time (especially when either Roll20 or my internet connection were dragging their heels) I started using these physical avatars to represent hit points. Most minion creatures would get a number of tokens or coins stacked on top of each other, to be removed as appropriate, and tougher beasts would get a gradually reducing d20 face.

Taking a leaf out of The Black Hack’s book of reducing a basic monster to a single HD figure from which you can extrapolate pretty much everything else you might need, I wanted to do the same with followers. At this point W&R had accrued die-based resources (though still with modifiers for attributes) so it wasn’t an enormous leap to abstract most of a follower to a solitary die. Now I have my tokens showing me with a quick glance what die needs to be rolled.

These rules use the following die chain:

Followers in Wretches & Riches 

All followers are represented by a die size, and some skilled followers may have a list of strengths.

Any time the follower needs to make a roll, use their die – including challenging tasks, combat and morale. If the roll would fall under one of the follower’s strengths, use the next die size up.

A follower is assumed to provide their own equipment relating to their strengths. For any other items, they may carry up to their max die size in slots.

If there’s cause for a follower to question a PC’s leadership, such as a disastrous fight or being asked to do something unusually dangerous, roll a morale check with their die. On a 1-3 they reject the PC’s authority. The referee should decide if this means a simple refusal, or even potentially the follower quitting and fleeing the whole adventure.

If a follower is wounded at all, reduce their die size one step. If a d4 follower is wounded, they have been killed.

If unsure, a follower usually costs their die size in coin per day.

Followers in Knave

All followers are represented by a die size, and some skilled followers may have a list of strengths.

Any time the follower needs to make a save – including challenging tasks, combat and morale – roll a d20 and their die together, and add the result. Their die size acts as their attribute modifier. If the save would fall under one of the follower’s strengths, use the next die size up.

Single roll combat variant: the follower’s die is also the damage they cause in combat. If an attack of theirs hits, for damage caused use whatever their die rolled when rolling to hit.

A follower is assumed to provide their own equipment relating to their strengths. For any other items, they may carry up to their max die size in slots.

If there’s cause for a follower to question a PC’s leadership, such as a disastrous fight or being asked to do something unusually dangerous, roll a morale save. On a failure they reject the PC’s authority. The referee should decide if this means a simple refusal, or even potentially the follower quitting and fleeing the whole adventure.

If a follower is wounded at all, reduce their die size one step. If a d4 follower is wounded, they have been killed.

If unsure, a follower usually costs their die size in coin per day.

Bookkeeping

Here is a blank follower ‘sheet’, and a filled out example:

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