Hirelings and "Special Hirelings" - this is one of the hallmarks of my Back in the Day memories. As a player, my character wasn't anything without a proper support staff. How I shiver to think of all the lives lost through the years. It only took one stray arrow, or a goblin that breaks through the line, or a wandering anything to comes up from behind, and there goes another porter. And how many traps have claimed my torch bearers? From a metagaming perspective, I suppose that is just another facet of resource management. But does it have to be? What if the lowly commoner that faithfully servers at your side could be elevated to something "Special"?
So here is my offering in the first annual Swords & Wizardry Appreciation Day: The Special Hireling* class!
The Special Hireling
After a successful adventure as a common hireling (torch bearer, porter, or whatever) the character may choose to become a professional adventurer's follower. Without the skill or courage to strike out on their own these followers gain some perks but remain noncombatants and are only precariously viable. You never encounter a Special Hireling - they are cultivated through adventuring. If a Special Hireling ever leaves their service they loose all their levels and abilities through despair.
Prime Attribute: all attributes lower than 13 (+5% experience bonus)
Hit Dice: 1d4 (Gains 1 hp/level after 5th level)
Armor/Shield Permitted: Leather armor only, no shield
Weapons Permitted: Dagger, club, oil
Race: Human or Halfling
Special Hireling Class Abilities
Cannon Fodder: Special Hirelings save as a Fighter of the same level and gain +2 bonus on saving throws against traps.
Loyal: Special Hirelings are especially loyal to their employer and gain a +1 on all moral checks.
Noncombatant: Special Hirelings attack as a Magic-User of the same level.
Skilled: Special Hirelings gain experience as a Thief.
Focused: Special Hirelings are dedicated to their service and cannot multi-class.
Strong as a Mule: Treat the Special Hireling's strength as +1 per level (max 18) for the purpose of determining Carry Modifier and Base Movement Rate.
Firestarter (1st): At first level a Special Hireling is gifted at starting fires and may light a torch or lantern even without a flint and steel or tinderbox if given enough time (1 turn or less depending on the environment).
Torch Craft (2nd): At second level a Special Hireling becomes skilled at keeping a fire going. Any event or action that might extinguish a torch or lantern is allowed a saving throw to remain lit. Furthermore, they can cobble together a torch from dungeon debris and detritus (pending GM approval, takes 1 turn) that will burn for half as long as a normal torch.
Efficient Packers (3rd): At third level Special Hirelings become experts at packing and load balancing. They can increase the carrying capacity of containers by 10% without penalty. Furthermore, once per day there is a 10% chance that they can "unpack" any reasonable mundane item not listed as equipment on their inventory ("I knew you would need that, sir!").
Firemaster (4th): At fourth level a Special Hireling can extend the life of a torch to twice as long as normal, included those cobbled together with the fire keeper ability. Furthermore, a torch master can wield a torch as a club doing an additional 1d4 fire damage. The life of a lantern can be extended by 25%.
Master Hireling (5th): At fifth level a Special Hireling gains an additional +1 to moral checks and can Hear Sounds like a first level thief when on watch.
Check out the Blog Role and don’t forget the awesome Frog God 25% off S&W products sale today only at their store HERE - you must use the coupon SWApprDay**. The ever amazing SRD web site also has a S&W PDF sale too - use SWAD252013 at checkout.
* not to be confused with the reference to special hirelings meaning classed hirelings…
**The coupon excludes items less than $1, S&W Cards, Pre-Orders, and Subscriptions.