The Strategic Review Ranger (Vol 1, Num 2) had a completely custom writeup regarding hirelings and followers, comprised of two main parts:
- Until 8th level, the Ranger cannot hire hirelings, or own more than he or she can carry, nor can more than two Rangers work together. In return, for every 3 points of experience gained, they gain a 4th point.
Depending on how you parse the class, that limitation is also what granted them the ability to track, and the bonus to surprise. The damage bonus to the "Giant Class" (kobolds -> giants) could also be included here.
- At 8th level, a Ranger can begin hiring normally. In addition, they gain 2d12 followers, chosen from the below table. These followers cannot be replaced.
We all know the class is Aragorn - from the enforced "poverty" for the first 8 levels to the inclusion of the use of "all devices which deal with Clairvoyance, Clairaudience, ESP, Telepathy, Telekenesis, and Teleportation, including scrolls", which doesn't outright say "a Palantir" but should. One can even look at the follower table above and see how a lucky set of rolls can produce the Fellowship of the Ring. The Hobbits come in pairs!
However, let's look at that table again - think of your own game, and how you'd modify it to fit your own design, if you had to. Look up at the table, look back to me - this class is now Robin Hood.
So, let's fit the concept from above into the ACKS 9th-level Stronghold concept. We've got a class here who's concept is a lone defender of Law and civilization, in the borderlands and the wilderness, standing against the encroaching Chaos.
He'll be a bit of a legend, especially amongst the settlers whose lives he's defending the most - the ones that have struck out on their own, away from the cities - the farmers and ranchers and what-have-you. Put as much Wild West in there as you're comfortable with.
Eventually, he'll settle down, somewhere on the border or near it. His renown would have won him the camaraderie of a number of stalwart friends. Eventually, maybe, he'd notice that some of that Chaos resides on the wrong side of the border, in the form of wicked men, who clothe themselves in a thin veneer of civilization to conceal their true selves.
It is time to act - but open war is not the choice. Subterfuge and the inherent will of all Lawful Peoples to embrace their own freedoms will win this day. Chaos rests on a tremulous pedestal, and needs only a nudge.
This doesn't have to only happen to a Ranger-Wilderness-type though - a regular Fighter or Cleric, gone to some crusade, comes back to his home in a sprawling Lankhmar-style city, to find things changed, and not for the better - but his blood brothers from that far-off war have come back with him. There's an excellent concept for a Bard buried in here somewhere.
So, let's try this:
Stronghold Type: Fellowship
This ignores the original source concept of denying hirelings until name level. I presume to make no mechanical judgement on the value of hirelings in any gamemaster's campaign, nor would its inclusion cleave true to the concepts that ACKS brings to the table.
At 9th level, a Fellowship gathers around the adventurer, drawn by tales told around campfires and tavern tables of his experiences and exploits. A total of 2d12 followers join the character, as detailed by a class or campaign specific table, an example of which is given below. These followers serve at no cost to the character, and are completely loyal (+4 to Morale). Fellowship members lost in combat cannot be replaced (but by magic, if possible)
The character may establish a hideout in an area appropriate for the class. This hideout serves as home and a base of operations for the adventurer. From here, the class may execute hijinks, as detailed in the ACKS Core Rulebook. The character may hire ruffians of a type necessary as per the usual rules for hideouts to perform these hijinks, if he himself or none of his followers are capable.
The adventurer may establish or claim a regular stronghold as per the normal rules, but, depending on circumstance, may have elected to adopt a secret identity for purposes of whom the public at large believes is the leader of the fellowship.
Note, while any class could be modified to use the Fellowship stronghold type, the table the class rolls on ought to tell a story about where the character has been, and what deeds were done. There's 9 levels of time in which to develop the table - if the character spent a few levels on the other side of the map, include options from there. Make an extraordinary result some named NPC the character had met - even if they met and the NPC was left in defeat by the character. An old hireling that left on good terms, perhaps. The following table shows an example for a warrior-type that's been far from home for some time, and may have won the respect of a few old enemies.
From the default "Hideout" stronghold type I changed the following:
- Reduced follower cost from 'normal' to 'none' - a positive change.
- Changed follower morale from 'regular' to 'loyal', as clerics - a positive change
- Reduced follower numbers to a non-replaceable 2d12 - a negative change
- Changed follower type to a random table that may not include followers capable of running hijinks - a negative change
- Changed hideout placement to be based on the class concept - a neutral change