Strongholds and Henchmen for 4e

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23 Responses

  1. Swordgleam says:

    I like this a lot, but it makes two assumptions about the setting/campaign that trouble me. One, that it is fairly civilized but with unclaimed areas that can be awarded by certain groups. Two, that each of the PCs has some kind of tie to the sort of organization that makes this kind of grant.

    Would you consider an article or two on how to award strongholds in games where either or both of those assumptions is untrue?

  2. deadorcs says:

    Dude, this is an excellent post! I need to log this one for permanent reference. Did you come up with the numbers yourself, or did you pull those from the D&D Rules Cyclopedia?

    Great stuff!
    .-= deadorcs´s last blog ..Bring Back The Talent: Perform Skill Specifics =-.

  3. drow says:

    if the campaign is such that permission cannot be granted, the possibility might be raised by others.

    the peasants of the town which the party has just saved might suggest that they stick around, and offer to trade assistance, fealty, or wealth for the security that comes with the presence of powerful adventurers.

    a clever NPC might suggest that the party seize control of the area, for the greater good of course, and offer his services as steward, to govern in their stead while they attend to more important adventuring.

    an organization with no specific ties to the party might still take notice of them, and grant them land for their own purposes.

  4. Elda King says:

    This is simply great… but I’d award the dominion at level 11, so it could be directly tied to the Paragon Path of the hero.
    This brings so many possibilities for cool campaigns that is even hard to use them all. And with no balance issues…

    For a campaign where no one would grant a dominion… well, all the easier to take. When followers start to pop up, they can simply build/occupy it.

    I don’t have access to the Rules Cyclopedia, but 3.0’s Stronghold Builders’ Handbook is nice enough.

  5. shyDM says:

    Great post! I’ve always loved the idea of the PCs getting to control some area or organization, and really putting their mark on the world.

  6. Thunderforge says:

    Interesting idea with the strongholds! How would this fit into Epic Tier for D&D 4e? Would they get a new stronghold at 20th level or get awarded their own “Stronghold City” or even “Stronghold Plane” somehow?

    Also, how would you keep the party together when they’ve got all these strongholds? If the Rogue wants to raid a rival hideout and Cleric wants to heal people at his church, then how are they going to be out in a dungeon defeating the BBEG?

  7. kaeosdad says:

    Solid! Bookmarked and saved for future use.
    .-= kaeosdad´s last blog ..[Fantasy Craft] How should I distribute XP? =-.

  8. Saragon says:

    @Thunderforge – I don’t think there’s necessarily a requirement that at the Epic tier, you get “the same thing, just bigger”. The extant stronghold might change in some manner to reflect the PC’s epic destiny, but that’s it. It’s about influence, not size.

    Also @Thunderforge – Strongholds tend to be self-sustaining, and often require adventuring for particularly important items you want in said stronghold anyway, so adventuring continues to be important. If you’re really worried about the party splitting up, though, don’t give them all individual strongholds. Give the party one big stronghold and they’ll work together to help hold an outpost, or maintain the manor of the lord whose treachery they just revealed, or rebuild a ruined area of a big city. (The last idea is one I really like – it keeps the ‘stronghold’ exclusive to them [no one else wants it], keeps them politically engaged, and gives ready access to new followers. Plus it makes the “cleric vs. thief” problem you described a lot easier.)
    .-= Saragon´s last blog ..More Thoughts on Mage, and Hints of Something Cool =-.

  9. Swordgleam says:

    I like Saragon’s idea of working stronghold acquisition into the campaign a lot better than it just being a result of being 10th level and having higher-ups like you. Though it does mean they might not get it at exactly the right level.

  10. I always felt it was a shame when they dropped the henchmen rules in 2nd (or was it 3rd?) edition. Likewise taking all the details about how much it cost to build a castle from the DMG.

    I never used these rules but I liked the sense of destiny it gave characters. The idea that as you progress, you don’t just gain hit points, but acquire importance. It gave flavour to the classes, especially the wacky ones like the monk where you had to kill your superior to reach higher levels.

    Chris

    P.s. love the new simple wordpress theme
    .-= Chris Tregenza´s last blog ..D&D 4e Review: The Desire =-.

  11. Greywulf says:

    Wow. So many comments, so little time. Thanks, all!

    @Swordgleam What drow said. I used the same implicit assumptions that were present in Classic D&D (there’s a wilderness out there somewhere, and there are organizations more powerful than the PCs who are able to issue titles), but if that’s not the case you’re more than free to wing it any way you choose. A Rogue, for example, could “inherit” an established Hideout from his mother, or a Cleric be commanded to re-establish a cult-infested city church. A part of the fun of being GM around 9th level was coming up with ways you could build a storyline into the campaign explaining how the Stronghold were gained.

    @deadorcs I confess – I made the numbers up, based on what felt right for 4e, with half an eye on the values from the Rules Cyclopedia and Labyrinth Lord.

    @Elda I’d forgotten about 3e’s Stronghold Builders’ Handbook. Thanks for reminding me!

    @shyDM Thanks!

    @Thunderforge In Classic D&D the PC’s Dominion grew as they gained levels until they were serious political players on the map – potential Empire builders in their own rights, if they choose. That’s great for players who want that style of play, but it also means the ones who don’t are able to delegate much of the responsibility and carry on adventuring. In game I played all sorts of crazy things happened – the Keep being planeshifted into the Abyss, a Church being burned to the ground but remaining on the Ethereal Plane, etc. Epic level is the chance to bring all kinds of crazy stuff to the table – it’s all good.

    The key thing is to site the PC’s Strongholds thematically close together. Perhaps the Rogue’s Hideout is underneath the fledgling town that’s grown up around the Fighter’s Keep (with the tacit approval of the Fighter) and they’re secretly working together to stop a powerful demon-worshipping cult with the aid of the Cleric’s Church. If you’ve got a long-term reason for them to work together, you’ve hit campaign gold.

    @kaeosdad Glad you like it.

    @Saragon Good ideas – I like the way you’re thinking :D

    @Chris Agreed. I think the game was much poorer when the Stronhold and Dominion rules were dropped. They add so much to the whole D&D experience.

    Again, I thank you all!

  12. random_bystander says:

    I like it as a general idea, and as a “translation” from Rules Cyclopedia. But I think I’d give the option to Wizards (and other non Martial classes), to have a Keep and be Nobles for a King. Same for the Rogue, for example. I don’t think they should be pidgeon-holed in their “role” for the aquisition of status/recognition.

    Or I don’t see why a Fighter who has always fought for his beliefs and for his God cannot start a Temple, and declare himslef High-priest of that temple. Especially since Ritual Casting is open to all, and that’s probably the form of “miracles” that the common people will see happen.

    Also, I don’t know if the Ranger shoud get a Sanctuary given by a Druidic Order (maybe you were thinking Seeker?). 4E Ranger is more a skirmisher than a “natury-warrior”.

    Heck, you could have Dungeoneering instead of Nature at character creation! :)

  13. Greywulf says:

    @random_bystander Absolutely! As with the original rules, it’s set of starting guidelines to get the imagination flowing, nothing more. I love the idea of characters who deviate from their class norms – if a Wizard wants to run a Thief’s Hideout, more power to him :D

    Coming up with a good concept for a Ranger’s Stronghold was a tricky one, I’ll admit. In the end I went with the more Aragorn style of Ranger – one who provides a safehouse for outcasts and the like: a Sanctuary. That’s implicitly tied to Nature (I picture a Ranger running some kind of outlaw camp in the forest), but could just as easily be a network of secure locations in a city with permission granted by the local lord or somesuch.

  14. random_bystander says:

    what we really need now, is Mass Combat Rules! :)

    Surely, it’s cool to play big battles as “background” while the Heroes fight the big-guns, and win the day.

    But I remember the great days when my Elf (race and class at the same time!) would spend millions of gold pieces to equip his armies, and IT MATTERED.

  15. Elda King says:

    @Swordgleam: if I it fits my campaign needs, I’d simply give them a stronghold at whatever level I want, from 1 to 30. The point is making “leveling up” mean more than “you kill more things”.

  16. Beedo says:

    Great ideas! I loved the dominion rules from BECMI, and recently gave most of my 10th level characters access to dominions much as you described.

    One wrinkle we’ve run into – money! In classic D&D, 9th level characters had gobs and gobs of GP sitting in the bank (since GP was your primary way of gathering XP). Not so in 4E, where money is tightly controlled and mainly used for magic items/rituals.

    We’ve used a concept of ‘dungeon gold’ vs ‘disney dollars’ (ie, fake money). Adventuring money is used as intended, but things the characters do in the campaign world give them money that *can’t* be used for equipment, but can be used for living expenses, upkeep, dominions, followers, etc. That way, the “Baron” can’t raid the dominion treasury when he wants to buff his magic sword; likewise, the Baron doesn’t have to spend his dungeon money on hiring a Seneschal, either.

    Would love to see a ‘resources’ or ‘wealth’ skill or check that could be used to measure a character’s mundane wealth, much like the resources skill some games have had.

  17. Saragon says:

    @Beedo – I’d love to see some more detail about this. I’d like to do something similar (and had originally thought about borrowing from Birthright) but your method seems to work well for a group that’s adventurers first and lordlings second, whereas Birthright’s the other way around.
    .-= Saragon´s last blog ..More Thoughts on Mage, and Hints of Something Cool =-.

  18. Beedo says:

    For now, I’m just using something from the old ‘Marvel Superheroes’ game where characters had a resource skill and had to make a skill check to buy things. The ranks went feeble, poor, typical, good, excellent, remarkable, incredible, amazing, monstrous (yes, campy).

    Adventurers might be poor or typical, becoming good when they’ve had success. The local Baron would be excellent or remarkable, the king might be incredible.

    For mundane expenses you just assign a level to it and the old MSH game had charts for rolling against. For example, the paragon guys might ‘buy’ horses to travel from Fallcrest to Harkenwold – buying horses might be a good difficulty feat – successful adventurers should be able to swing it; the party’s warlock (who runs a criminal enterprise in his down time) has excellent resources and easily lined up the horses. It’s just a way to abstract mundane expenses into ‘disney dollars’ and leave the economic model of 4E intact.

    Oh, and I agree – War Machine and Siege Machine need to be brought into 4E! Haven’t had the opportunity to analyze them yet, but would like to get there.

  19. Greywulf says:

    @random_bystander and the rest: Oddly enough I just happen to have a post in the works about using the Rules Cyclopedia War Machine rules with 4e D&D! Watch this space :D

  20. geek ken says:

    Great post and I agree, something completely missing from the current 4E rules. I expect the new DMG will have something on this, but I like what you have here.
    .-= geek ken´s last blog ..Out for a bit… =-.

  21. Greywulf says:

    @geek ken Thank you :D

  1. January 7, 2010

    […] on from my look at Strongholds and Henchmen for 4e, here’s how to use Classic D&D’s War Machine rules in Fourth Edition D&D. These […]

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    […] (and ladies) we have Strongholds and Henchmen. We have an army. Now, to war! Here are the Mass Combat rules from the Classic D&D Rules […]

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