Spellcasters on permanent retainer

I might be missing this in the core book, but I can’t seem to find the cost of keeping spellcasters on a permanent retainer basis. The chart on p.54 gives the cost per spell cast, but I’m looking to figure out the cost of, say, a court magician, or wizard garrisoned with troops in a remote outpost. Does anyone know where to find this information?

There is no direct table about that but I guess the standard henchmen fees for the level of the mage would be a good start.

Yeah. Spellcasters are leveled NPCs, so first you’d have to attract a spellcaster hench and then you’d have to pay them as you would any other hench.

If you allowed non-hench casters to be kept on retainer, I’d probably make them cost twice as much as henches, because then they’re not getting any of the other perks (like hand-me-down items and sweet XP and loot-shares).

On the other hand, as non-henches, they’re also not required to take the same risks. I’d pay the man going into the murdercave more than the one who I pay to live in my castle.

Another possibility (although I have not done the math on this) would be to charge 33 times the cost of the highest-level spell they can cast as a monthly fee.

ACKS uses the 33x cost in a lot of places (for example, the cost of buying a slave is 33 times their monthly wage), and in this case, it maps reasonably to the expectation of casting their highest level spell once a day plus a few other spells here and there.

I had also mulled over just having it be like casting a spell every day, but I feel like on the whole that’s a huge overprice; most people won’t need a spell EVERY DAY, so if he’s capable of casting even a reasonably high-level spell then that adds up to like 30k+ a month, which seems a little obscene. That’s many times the price of a hench.

Also, it occurs to me that a hench probably makes a lot more sense for a court wizard; or a full time retainer. After all, shouldn’t your (evil) advisor be one of your trusted comrades?

It’s almost certainly overpriced compared to finding a wizard at the time you need the spell cast, but having people on retainer is always more expensive than just finding someone.

You pay for the convenience; no matter when or where you need that spell cast, the guy on retainer does it. Having to find someone to do it for you can be a significant delay, and even in the best case, requires you to be able to find them and convince them to cast it for you.

I would also expect it to be more expensive than a hench because a hench is there, at least in part, out of personal loyalty. (That’s why there’s a limit on henchmen based on your Charisma and not based on your bank account.) In addition to all the intangible benefits of hench-hood, a hench is someone who shares in XP and gets a share of profit you earn in addition to their monthly fee. A hireling on retainer gets neither of these.

Like I said, I haven’t done the math so I’m not sure if 33x is an appropriate number, but I would definitely expect having a spellcaster on retainer to be more expensive than either finding spells as you need them or having a henchman do it.

I think going 33x is waaay too much.
I also dont think he should be paid more then a normal henchmen. Als the bonuses (equipment, shares and so on) come from dangerous work.
As a retainer you pretty much just pay the guy to do nothing all day long and just cast a spell every now and then.

I would rather argue that the henchmen fees are too high for a pure mage retainer…

The cost is definitely high, but as others have pointed out in other threads, if a wizard has the capability to sell all of their spells at the prices listed at the end of chapter 3, it’s insane to do almost anything else. Even magical research quickly becomes a bad idea compared to selling your spells.

I have to suspect, however, that unless you’re giving your spells away for some other benefit (as divine casters do), there’s not a full market for a mage to sell all of their spells. The amount of spells they could reasonably sell in the market they’re in would likely dictate how much the retainer fee would cost. This is how the armoror works: it costs just slightly more to hire them than they would be able to make for themselves with a workshop and a full complement of journeymen+apprentices. In fact, I’d wager that once you came up with a rubrik to determine how much a mage of level X can make selling their spells in your market, the total monthly cost in proportion to the monthly cost of an armorer would indicate how available they are (ie: if it costs twice as much to keep a mage on retainer as an armorer, there’s half as many available each month.)

Personally, my baseline would be something like that character’s GP threshold per month (if they are expected to save all their spells for your use), or some percentage of that (if they are allowed to take on other clients, and only expected to save their best stuff for you).

After all, the GP threshold is supposed to represent what a character of that level can expect to earn in a month without taking on too much risk.

I think this sound pretty reasonable, with an expectation that the employer would also cover some, if not all, research and component costs.

Of course, there are a lot of different contracts setups; I can imagine a variety:

  1. As Mercenary: Wizard is expected to follow his boss on adventures through the wilderness, participate in fights against wandering monsters, provide post-battle assistance, and any pre-dungeon delving buffs. Wizard probably casts several spells per day, is exposed to some danger, and can’t actively pursue his own agenda. For this, 33x might approach reasonableness.

  2. As ‘Court Mage.’ Wizard is expected to live in the castle, provide services occasionally, but still has ready access to surrounding kingdom and can actively pursue own agenda when not serving the king, which is most of the time. Sort of a Merlin gig where they mostly forget about him and then occasionally come ask for a love potion or a curse to be broken or something. For this, I’d say something like hench base fee, plus the price of his highest level spell per month.

  3. ‘Magewright’ As above, but instead of being only occasionally called upon, he’s actively working on magical items or construction or SOMETHING at all times. No free time to pursue his own agenda would probably mean a higher fee.

I would only charge the henchman fee, being a non-combat henchman means no extra treasure but no extra risk, which effectively cancels out. Mercenary officers make the henchman fee, even commissioning magic items costs at minimum 7,000 GP/month (implying a 9th level wizard, which is the minimum for most items). A wizard might dream about making his GP threshold per month, but unless he’s doing exceptionally challenging or dangerous work, that’s unlikely to happen.

correct me if i’m wrong, but 1 would be covered by henching, and 3 is covered by commissioning magic items. Also, the way you phrase 2 almost makes it sound like a vassal minus owning land. You’re essentially “calling in a favor” every time you ask for a spell… I guess to be on the same level it would be several spells.

This was the basis for my theory. Henchmen serve, at least partially, out of some sense of loyalty (and also get a share of loot and XP for their trouble). Hireling Wizards, though, serve only for cash.