The next section of Perilous Journeys, submitted for feedback.

The next section of Perilous Journeys, submitted for feedback.

The next section of Perilous Journeys, submitted for feedback. This is mostly a slightly edited version of Jeremy Strandberg’s follower rules, which most of you have probably seen already.

Originally shared by Jason Lutes

Next section of Perilous Journeys: rules for followers, written by Jeremy Strandberg. Tacked on the end of this pdf for reference are the NPC generation tables, which will be included in the “Ask the Fates” portion of the book (seen in previous preview).

As usual, all art is placeholder, and feedback is welcome!

30 thoughts on “The next section of Perilous Journeys, submitted for feedback.”

  1. The “Stealthy” tag needs a proper heading.

    What is the quality of a recruited hireling? In the corebook, it depends on Steading size. Some kind of similar point budget would be good. 

    Rolling+CHA plus all of those extra bonuses seems like it would be too easy to get to 10+, especially if the character with the highest CHA can always be the one making the roll. Likewise, if you have your pick of people but only some of them have undesirable strings attached, you can just pass them up with no harm done. 

  2. Thanks for the comments, Peter.

    The Quality of a recruited follower is determined when you create them –see “Competence and background” under “Creating followers.” I think I should make that more clear somehow, probably by stating it as part of the Quality definition on page 1, and restating it under “Competence and background.”

    Jeremy had roll +nothing to recruit in his original version, but it seems like such an obvious opportunity to use CHA that I decided to put it in there. I’ll revisit the problem.

    Perhaps I could restate some the GM choices under Recruit as:

    * There are fewer than you wanted

    * At least one of the most desirable candidates is unreasonably costly

    * At least one of the most desirable candidates possesses an infuriating instinct

    * At least one is rolled at random

    I guess one part of the problem is my idea that you may want to recruit multiple followers, and that isn’t addressed in the original hireling rules.

    I would love to hear how people handle recruiting multiple hirelings and whether or not my concern in that front is unfounded.

  3. Well, how do you decide the hireling’s Quality? If it’s just what the players ask for, what stops them from always asking for the highest Quality available?

    I guess I’m not quite sure how this is intended to improve upon the RAW. It doesn’t seem to add all that much new.

  4. I wrote up the Follower rules for Stonetop because I didn’t like:

    a) how hirelings are treated as expendable resources

    b) the list of available skills or how they worked

    c) the fact that hireling fates are left up to the GM’s interpretation of fiction

    d) the weird mechanical disconnect between NPCs-as-hirelings and NPCs-as-monsters

    The Stonetop setting is much more specific and localized than vanilla DW. Followers aren’t just be some schmuck you hire; they might very well be your cousin, or your friend among the Hillfolk.  I wrote the Follower rules to breathe more life into the NPCs and to relieve the GM from the burden of dictating their fates (hence giving them HP and a move to resolve their actions).

    I didn’t write up a general Recruit move for Stonetop. There are only a few communities and they’re relatively small. I intend to write up something specific for recruiting from each one. It’ll probably just be a table for each steading with “likely/available hirelings,” with recruiting mostly left to fictional positioning.

    Thinking about how the standard Recruit move works… it’s not great. It gives you an idea of who answers your call, but doesn’t take into account what the PCs are looking for.  Or the Prosperity or other tags of the steading. But Peter Johansen, I think you’re right… this Recruit move isn’t much better.

    Hmm.  I’ve got some ideas about using the Ritual move as a framework.

  5. That sounds interesting. Both the Stonetop project and the framework. 

    Let’s try this just to get started: What are the most important factors to successful recruitment? 

    – Steading size/prosperity/population?

    – The party’s reputation?

    – The offered reward?

    – Making it known what you’re setting out to do?

    Which of these make it more likely that you’ll get who your looking for, and which will increase the quality of who answers the call?

  6. “You get your pick of applicants. Ask the GM who they are” doesn’t leave the GM with much guidance on how to create or present the options.  My first instinct is that it would grind the play to a halt to spend time randomly generating a bunch of NPCs for the players to pick from whenever they want to recruit — and anyway, it’s really hard to know how any employee is going to work out until you really get to see them under fire.  So I think followers should be created pretty sketchy, and get filled in during play when it becomes relevant (if they live long enough).

    The rough structure of the move should be something like: PC says what kind of follower they want, then roll+CHA.  Success level determines how close you can get and how good the quality is, maybe modified by size of steading and the character’s local reputation.  Probably there should be some mechanism to force compromise if the player gets too greedy specifying too much about what they want in a follower — or else maybe you can only require one thing (“we need a tracker”, not “we need a tracker with herb-wisdom who is motivated by hatred of Lord Bob”).

    Oh — and taking Peter Johansen’s point, if the Bard rolls for recruiting and uses her CHA bonus, then maybe the follower is specifically loyal to the Bard.  If the Thief starts trying to order them around, they do things grudgingly or not at all.  To get a follower who has loyalty to the party as a whole, maybe you have to roll+nothing.  (The only times my players have wanted to have followers, they liked having dudes who followed them specifically.  It’s heroic.)

  7. Maybe there should be a different move for “assemble an expedition”?  If you’re hiring 8 guards and 20 porters, there’s no way all those dudes are going to be recognizable or distinguishable, and it would be a stupid amount of rolling to recruit them individually.  I can try at the table to figure out a way to make the mob interesting, but I would look to a supplement like this for ideas and/or framework to get me started.

  8. Peter Johansen: 

    Steading size would increase both, due to population density.

    Party’s reputation would increase Quality, just because experienced followers would be more likely to sign on to a reputable party.

    Reward would increase Quality, because better applicants would want more.

    Stated goal would increase… neither?

    colin roald, I agree that stopping play in its tracks is a serious potential problem, and I love the idea of filling them in during play.

    Great points about rolling +CHA vs. rolling +nothing. I love the idea of individual followers versus group followers. The challenge becomes streamlining this move as much as possible.

    I had an “assemble an expedition” move but was trying to restrain myself from adding more moves. Ideally I would like to answer the quantity and quality questions with one move, maybe break it up somehow. Perhaps a distinction could be made between Henchmen (individuals) and Lackeys (groups), or something similar.

    Lots to think about. Keep the ideas coming! 

  9. On the one hand, my players have never tried to create an expedition in play, so it might not be important. On the other hand, if there was an awesome framework for it, maybe they would.


    Many thoughts on this, but it’s getting too late.

    The big question for recruiting is (to me): “How does the GM pick their competence & background?”  The tables in Ask the Fates work ok, but are too random.  Instead, what if we did something like:


    Roll 1d4 if recruiting in a village, 1d8 in a town or keep, and 1d10 in a city.  Add…

     +1 if the steading has a Market

     +1 if the steading is Booming

     +1 for each of the steading’s tags that apply to the skills the PCs are looking for (e.g. looking for muscle in a lawless steading).

    Then use the table as-is.  This will generally match the available competence to the steading.


    Same idea, but +1 for Wealthy and +2 for Rich.  Roll again if you get the highest result on the die.  Drop the 12 result (just have 11+).

    Instinct & Cost… could be random (use tables as-is)? Or just evolve in play. 

    Then, Recruit can basically be 10+ you get to pick between a couple, 7-9 you get what the GM rolls up, and 6-, what the GM rolls up and they’re treacherous/unreliable/costly and there are consequences to leaving them behind.

  11. Another thought… assuming a homogenous group (e.g. we hire a group of diggers), there’s no reason you can’t use the follower rules to represent the group as a whole, with the same tags, Quality, cost, instinct, etc.

    Maybe prompt the GM to identify 1 or more “notables” (ala AW Dark Ages), like “the toughest,” “the most popular,” “the most reliable” (have a 1d12 list?).

  12. Last thoughts… Andrea Parducci, yeah, it should be possible to have a follower with +3 Quality, but only if they’re a specialist and exceptional.  You’re hiring the best in their field.

    If you’re hiring them (e.g. for pay), their cost should be ridiculous.  And maybe they don’t show up randomly when  you recruit. You want to hire them, you need 1) learn about them (spout lore?) and 2) go convince them to work for you.

  13. Jeremy Strandberg, was thinking along the same lines, re: Group as a single follower. Throwing this in the mix:


    When you put out the word in a steading that you’re looking for help, make a list of who you’d like to hire. The maximum number of entries starts at 2, and is increased by…

    …+0 if you are in a Village

    …+1 if you are in a Town

    …+2 if you are in a Keep

    …+3 if you are in a City

    …+1 if you’re reputable in these parts

    …+1 if your stated compensation is better than expected

    Each entry on your list must be one of the following:

    A group of ____ (porters, guards, musicians, pitchfork wielders, etc.)

    A skilled ____ (scout, guide, tracker, fighter, burglar, sage, etc.)

    Then, roll +nothing…

    On a 10+, cross 1 entry off your list; on a 7-9 the GM crosses 1 entry off, and you cross off another.

    The remaining entries are available for hire. The GM will choose or roll their specifics (Quality, Loyalty, Instinct, Cost, tags, etc.) as needed, to be discovered through play. Which might involve you grilling them, right now.

    A group is a follower like any other, but with the Group tag.

    Group: A gang of lackeys who work just like a regular follower (using a single Quality, Loyalty, Instinct, etc.), but with all the advantages and disadvantages of being a group. A Group’s HP represents the entire gang, and when it rolls damage, it rolls a number of dice equal to its HP and uses the best roll.

  14. Seems a bit complicated. If you have a list of two, on a 7-9 both choices get crossed off. If you’re looking to just hire one person, is the other choice just a throwaway?

  15. My thinking was that if you’re in a village, yes, a 7-9 nets you no applicants unless you have a good rep or are offering a good reward (relative to the village).

    In the revised pdf I say that you have to fill out the list, and can repeat entries. And yes, that adds undesirable mechanical busywork if you just want fewer people than your list limit. Does this basic approach (make a list, cross off entries) just seem too fiddly? Open to suggestions for improvement.  

  16. Jason Lutes, I’m not sure I understand the list.  If you’re in a city and you want to hire a burglar, do you write down “skilled burglar” five times and take the best one who shows up?  That seems maybe kind of busy.  But if you just write one skilled burglar, you’re out of luck even if you roll a 10.

  17. Yeah, it doesn’t work yet–this is just a first stab at the idea of using a list. Ideally you should be able to make a list of who you need, and have the result of a single roll winnow the list down to who actually shows up. Just need to find the smoothest and clearest way to make that happen.

  18. Throwing this out there:

    When you go looking to hire help, tell the GM who you’re looking for. Phrase it as one of the following:

     • A group of _ (guards, laborers, minstrels, etc.)

     • A skilled _ (sage, warrior, guide, etc.)

    Based on the steading and who you’re looking for, the GM will describe the best candidate(s), choosing 0 to 3 of the following:

     • They’re less qualified than you’d like

     • They’re asking an exorbitant amount

     • The want something in addition to /instead of money

     • They’ve got an infuriating instinct

     • You need to convince/get permission from __ first

     • There are only a few of them, less than you’d hoped for (groups only)

     • There’s no one available here like that, but there’s _ available instead.

     • They’re not here; you’ll have to wait or go to __ to find them.

    The GM can combine their choices with “and” or maybe a merciful “or.”

  19. Nice. So, you ask for each one at a time, instead of stating your needs for an entire crew up front? Just clarifying.

    I feel like for this particular move I want a roll to take some of the decision-making weight off the GM, and add to the sense of discovery when you go looking for followers. When I encounter a long list of choices in a move, it slows me down a bit. My counter-proposal reflects my desire for a roll, a compressed list of choices, and colin’s idea of discovering Instincts, etc. through play:



    When you go looking to hire help, tell the GM who you’re looking for. Phrase it as one of the following:


    * A group of ____ (porters, guards, minstrels, etc.)

    * A skilled ____ (guide, sage, burglar, etc.)

    If the GM says you can’t find that around here, try something else. Otherwise, roll +nothing, taking +1 if you have a good reputation in these parts:

    10+ They’re yours for the hiring.

    7-9 GM chooses 1 from the list below.

    6- No one shows.

    * They demand greater compensation, in coin or some other form

    * No one here fits the bill, but you hear of someone in the greater area who does

    * They have a need that must be met first (permission from a superior, favor, etc.) 

    * You can tell at a glance they are less than ideal (ask the GM how)

    The GM will choose or roll their specifics (Quality, Loyalty, Instinct, Cost, tags, etc.) as needed, to be discovered through play. Which might involve you grilling them, right now.


    Here’s the other list-based move I came up with last night:



    When you are in a steading and put out word that you’re looking for help, make a list of positions you’d like to fill. The number of entries on your list is limited by the size of the steading: 3 for a Village, 4 for a Town, 5 for a Keep, and 7 for a City. Each entry on the list must be something the steading could reasonably provide, stated in one of the following ways:


    * A group of ____ (porters, guards, minstrels, etc.)

    * A skilled ____ (guide, sage, burglar, etc.)

    Then, roll +nothing, taking +1 if you have a good reputation among these folk:

    10+ Choose 1 from the list below.

    7-9 Both choices on the list below apply.

    6- No one shows.

    * GM crosses one entry off your list

    * 1D4 applicants are clearly less than ideal. Ask the GM who, and in what way they are obviously lacking

    The applicants remaining are available for hire. The GM will choose or roll their specifics (Quality, Loyalty, Instinct, Cost, tags, etc.) as needed, to be discovered through play. Which might involve you grilling them, right now.

  20. By the way, I used the revised follower creation rules that I posted earlier to create some followers in last night’s session, and they worked great. I feel like Jeremy’s approach really gives followers a more tangible presence without too much overhead, and the random generation part gave me quick hooks to use when playing them. Because they felt more grounded to me I was able to play them better, and everyone at the table became more quickly attached to/annoyed with them as a result. If anyone else gets a chance to try out the follower creation rules, I would love to hear suggestions for tweaks.

    Last night’s session has also led me to make some improvements to the travel and exploration moves, but our collaborative map-making felt clunky, so I threw out that draft and am starting again from scratch.

  21. I’m not sure I understand the intention behind the list-making.  Is it because you want the players to have some feeling of being able to choose among applicants?  Or is it because you expect them to be looking for more than one follower, and you want to limit how many can be available at one time?  

    The former case could be fun, but seems like it requires work to be put into creating candidate options who are different and interesting enough for the choice between them to be meaningful.  I’m unsure if that’s really worthwhile use of time, though, in the archetypal DW game.

    The latter case could be meaningful if the players really are looking for a whole bunch of followers, but it becomes clunky if they’re only looking for one — and I assume that’s the most common case.   The unusual case is hiring a whole bunch of different people for a major expedition (guards, porters, guides, cooks, healers, astrologers, you name it), but in that case, it’s probably a central event in the game plot and rolling a few times (once per group) doesn’t seem like a bad thing.

    Certainly there should be some consequence to trying to hire in a bigger or smaller town, but I think it might be okay to allow the DM to apply that implicitly either when allowing the move to be made at all (“god no, you can’t hire a hundred porters in Crapditch Hollow, you’ve got to go to Caravanburg first to find anything like that kind of number”), or when choosing options on 7–9 or 6- results.

  22. When you hear an incisive truth, take +1 forward.

    Thanks, colin, those are great considerations. I think I was briefly enamored of the list idea but I am letting it go and am strongly leaning toward letting the GM make the call on limiting options according to steading size, etc.  

  23. Jason Lutes Answering your question about my last post: yes, I’m thinking you’d ask for each one at a time.  In practice, a player might ask for 2+ groups/individuals at once, but the GM would resolve each request seperately. 

    If you think about it, the size/prosperity of the steading doesn’t influence how many people you can ask for it. It just determines whether any given request is likely to be there.

    Regarding your Group tag: i wouldn’t pool their HP or anything.  Mostly, it’d just effect the scale/zoom level you resolve their actions at.

  24. Oops, I’d missed these tables when I said I’d read through all the tables: there’s an overlap on instinct between “give in to temptation” and “act impulsively” (5-6 and 6-7). Now this is the last one* 😛

Comments are closed.