PCs as henchmen of a high level NPC?

Hey Autarchs,

Could PCs be enlisted by a high-level NPC as vassals to manage a domain? I’ve been thinking that the pressure of keeping a borderlands or newly settled wilderness domain secure, the 20% rent owed, and other demands (political and otherwise) could make a really interesting campaign.

Is this possible under the rules for domains? How would this even work?

henchman is perhaps the wrong word for this, but generally speaking, a pc can have a liege lord and must pay part of his income(?). he must also answer to a calls to arms (and provide and pay his troops for this), etc. p.130 details a vassals duty and i would apply these rules to an PC-vassal. so game-mechanics wise, a pc is not a henchman, but a vassal. If he was a henchan, he would only earn 1/2 XP share :wink:

Right. :slight_smile:

It’s not clear to me from the text whether a vassal can be less than name level. For example, say I’ve got a campaign with PCs that are anywhere from 1-6th level. Are these guys eligible to run the holdings of a high level NPC?

I’d say yes, personally, but the rules explicitly say it may be challenging for a low level PC to run their own domain (p134)

Things to consider:
Below Name Level (9th) a PC will not attract followers, so any guards, etc… will need to be hired as Mercenaries or Specialists and paid for - which could prove expensive.

Nor will a PC automatically gain any peasant families, but they can spend money to attract them. Again, expensive.

Unless the Vassal Domain/Realm has an existing Stronghold for the PC to use, they will have to build it themselves which may be prohibitively expensive for lower level PCs.

The size of the stronghold will also limit the peasant population of the domain.

It is generally assumed that a PC will be a vassal to a higher power at 9th level (P131), so it is perfectly reasonable to assume lower level PCs will be so as well…

P134 says swearing fealty to a higher level NPC lord is a good idea, as a lower level PC - so your L1-6 guys could be vassals, yes.

That’s what the rules say… For my own opinion,

Any PC is eligible to run the holdings of a higher level NPC. However, whether a PC has a stable enough income and is powerful enough to defend the holding may be limiting factors.
It puts a different slant onto the game in my mind. PCs are adventurers - that is, they go out and make stuff happen, make a name for themselves and get rich. Tying them to a domain makes the game feel ‘smaller’ to me, and more like Ars Magica than D&D.
It’s a neat idea, and definitely one worthy of exploration, but make sure the PCs have enough freedom to have adventures as well as tend to the Domain.

I’d be interested in reading your experiences if you go down this road.

I read that section too. The piece that I haven’t figured out is whether PCs have to finance their henchman vassals’ strongholds, or if henchmen are expected to pay for the defence of their own domains.

In my case, I’ve got a stronghold in a formerly civilized area, now wilderness. The deal put about by the ostensible ruler of the area is that if you clear the stronghold of the monsters inhabiting it, you get the stronghold and the territory to govern.

I’ll let you know how it works out. My understanding from the reading of the campaign section is that even high level PCs with strongholds are expected to adventure to keep morale up and earn XP over their monthly threshold. And in the scenario I have in mind, they’ll need to start clearing the domain before any peasants are going to start moving in. :slight_smile:

If the vassal is going to be an adventuring henchman, then the PC would have to finance (or conquer) the henchman vassal's stronghold for him, yes.

The Domains at War rules do provide for events in which an establish ruler with a stronghold may seek to become a vassal of a PC, though. Such a thing is not unheard of! 

Likewise, a low-level PC could readily end up in possession of a stronghold if he chooses to become the vassal of a higher level NPC. For example, Baron Granicus and his family are wiped out by orc raiders who occupy his manor. The PC adventurers clear out the manor house and avenge the Baron. The barony must be led, however. The local Count decides that no one is better suited to lead it than the heroes who avenged the Baron, and offers them his manor home and barony (a few dozen families). Keep in mind that most NPC barons are quite low level.