Finding the Right People

Once a character has secured permission, he can begin searching for the hirelings he needs. If he needs craftsmen with specific skills, it is best to work through the guild or local authorities. They can make the necessary arrangements for the player character. This also obviates the need to role-play a generally uninteresting situation. Of course, guilds generally charge a fee for their services.

If the character is seeking a large number of unskilled men or soldiers, he can hire a crier to spread the word. (Printing, being undiscovered or in an infant state, is generally not a practical solution.) Fortunately, criers are easily found and can be hired without complicated searching. Indeed, even young children can be paid for this purpose.

At the same time, the player character would be wise to do his own advertising by leaving word with innkeepers, stablers, and the owners of public houses. Gradually, the DM makes applicants arrive.

If the player character is searching for a fairly common sort of hireling--laborers, most commonly--the response is equal to approximately 10% of the population in the area (given normal circumstances).

If the position being filled is uncommon, the response will be about 5% of the population. Openings for soldiers might get one or two respondents in a village of 50. In a city of 5,000 it wouldn't be unusual to get 250 applicants, a respectable company.

If searching for a particular craft or specialist--a blacksmith or armorer, for instance--the average response is 1% of the population or less. Thus, in a village of 50, the character just isn't likely to find a smith in need of employment. In a slightly larger village, he might find the blacksmith's apprenticed son willing to go with him.

Unusual circumstances such as a plague, a famine, a despotic tyrant, or a depressed economy, can easily alter these percentages. In these cases, the DM decides what is most suitable for his campaign. Furthermore, the player character can increase the turnout by offering special inducements--higher pay, greater social status, or special rewards. These can increase the base percentage by 1% to 10% of the population.

The whole business becomes much more complicated when hiring exotic experts--sages, spies, assassins, and the like. Such talents are not found in every city. Sages live only where they can continue their studies and where men of learning are valued. Thus they tend to dwell in great cities and centers of culture, though they don't always seek fame and notoriety there. Making discreet enquiries among the learned and wealthy is an effective way to find sages. Other experts make a point not to advertise at all.

Characters who blurt out that they are seeking to hire a spy or an assassin are going to get more than just a raised eyebrow in reaction! Hiring these specialists should be an adventure in itself.

For example, Fiera the Elf has decided she needs the services of a spy to investigate the doings of her archrival. The player, Karen, tells the DM what she intends, setting the devious wheels of the DM's mind in motion. The DM plans out a rough adventure and, when he is ready, tells Karen that her character can begin the search.

Not knowing where to begin (after all, where does one hire a spy?), Fiera starts to frequent seamy and unpleasant bars, doing her best to conceal her true identity. She leaves a little coin with the hostelers and word of her needs. The DM is ready for this. He has prepared several encounters to make Fiera's search interesting. There are drunken, over-friendly mercenaries, little ferret-faced snitches, dark mysterious strangers, and venal constables to be dealt with.

Eventually, the DM has several NPCs contact Fiera, all interested in the job. Unknown to the player (or her character) the DM has decided that one applicant is really a spy sent by her rival to act as a double agent! Thus, from a not-so-simple hiring, one adventure has been played and the potential for more has been created.

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