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As you become more experienced, wealthier and more influential, you may want to recruit an entourage – Servants, assistants, business managers, a squire or even a cohort to come adventuring with you. In a campaign game, especially one played online, these are the guys who can give you more Role Playing opportunities, and who help you run your holdings and estates. Some you get with a ‘free’ feat that I give all PCs in my campaign games - other, more powerful, members of your entourage will cost you a trait or a feat (Just the same as always). There is a trait and a number of feats that can help you develop entourages, with PC classes, who can accompany you on adventures.
All the feats listed here are only available to Primary Player Characters. Entourage members, squires, torch-bearers and cohorts do not have their own entourage.
A ‘house rules’ bonus feat awarded to all PCs at L2 (in my campaign games) which allows the PC to build a basic entourage – they all have NPC classes and do not come adventuring. This replaces the ‘followers’ section of the Leadership feat. Use the following build rules, but You should check out the NPC Pages in my house rules, as I allow variant NPC archetypes.
- 10 point build
- 14 = max for any ability
- Full HP at first level
- 30gp starting money
- 1x trait
This is the same specification that I use for most Craftsmen, Minor Aristocrats, Minor Leaders, Guardsmen, Temple Priests etc. TBH, most NPCs, of this type, that I write are built as (Str:12, Con:12, Dex:12, Wis:12, Int:12, Cha:12) which works out close enough.
Potential: Levels 4, 5 and 6 are important to your most important Entourage Members. The Entourage build rules allow you to have a stat at 14 - advancing to level 4 lets you increase that to 15. At Level 5 an entourage may take a level of aristocrat, at L6 a Cousin or Ally, can take a prestige class (so long as they meet the criteria). Note, however, Entourages may never have more than two classes.
You can only have a limited number of NPCs in your entourage. Level / 2 PLUS your Charisma Bonus.
The majority of your Entourage will be Entourage-Assistants, they are restricted to NPC classes, may only be 1/2 your level (at most), max out at L5 and cannot go adventuring.
Be they students, retainers, new recruits to your order, or neophyte members of your faith, you have access to a small set of dedicated assistants and servants. Entourage-Assistants are a role-playing addition, who may be used in RP threads, and sometimes even get involved in local action. While they may well have the skills (especially if they are running businesses on your behalf) they are not there to create loads of special gear for you - However, they may be used to 'assist' in various crafting and item creation attempts by using Aid Another.
Entourage-Assistants are your loyal servants, employees and allies - they go about their business quietly, in the background making sure that your life and businesses run smoothly. You (the player) are their voice - you decide what they say (and pretty much) how they behave. You could have one Entourage-Assistant who is quiet, polite and unfailing does stuff in the background, but you might decide that another Entourage-Assistant talks back a lot, but still does the job. Or you could choose to have an Entourage-Assistant who always screws up, but you keep on anyway.
You can find an Entourage-Assistant for just about any non-combat role. If you want a live-in masseuse who provides benefits on the side, that's cool. If you want a Travelling Valet, Personal Assistant, Top Class Chef, Cushion Fluffer, Hair Dresser, House Priest, Minstrel, Business Manager etc - that is cool too. You could create an Entourage-Assistant who travels with you to look after the camp and horses - but that is the closest they will come to an adventuring role, and you need to make sure they have a suitable build. Don't take your cushion fluffer to look after your camp!
Entourage-Assistants are still NPCs and the DM has the absolute right to take over posting and decision-making for them at any time. However, this will only ever be when you have taken them into danger, abused them etc …. (or as part of a plot point)
Your most trusted and loyal Entourages can progress beyond L5, although they can never exceed 2/3 of your level. At higher levels, they progress very slowly, and may (if they meet the criteria) move beyond the normal NPC classes by taking a prestige class or a level of Aristocrat. You may only have a few Advanced-Entouragescannot have any until your PC reaches L6, and then you may only ever have 1/4 of your level as Entourage-Cousins or Entourage-Allies, they still count against your overall Entourage limit.
Advanced-Entourages are all about promoting existing entourages and relations ships. Except for a few special cases, where existing NPCs can become Entourage-Allies, all Advanced-Entourages are promoted from within the ranks of your existing entourage.
For most players, there is little 'crunch' advantage in promoting an entourage to either Cousin or Ally status. It doesn't give the Entourage any more Role Play opportunities, and progression (beyond L5) is so slow that it doesn't really add very much to the skills required for running settlements or strongholds. However, there can be 'Fluff' advantages for those PCs interested in building up their in-game background and personal history. At L6 an Advanced-Entourage may take a prestige class, if they have at least one ability at 15, and meet all the PRC criteria.
- A Divine-Adept (probably as an Ally) is a good way of showing strong religious leanings.
- A Charismatic-Adept might qualify for the Veiled Illusionist PRC, which would add flavour to a magical enterprise.
- A Warrior can achieve Knighthood (or take the Swordlord PRC) at L6, which (as a Cousin) adds a Military/Knightly/Duellist feel to a family, or (as an ally) can give more of a feudal flavour to a stronghold.
- A Warrior might take the Student of War PRC, to become a brilliant sword instructor.
- An Entourage-Cousin who takes the Noble Scion PRC adds to the 'Noble' feel of a family. However, you should note that 'Greater Leadership' dies not give any benefits, as NPCs do not have entourages of any type.
- A Dwarf (or other race) Ally is a good way of showing a strong relationship with that race.
When they reach Level 4, you may promote an Entourage-Assistant to an Entourage-Cousin. This is a legal process that means you adopt the Entourage, and they become part of your wider family. They have the best interests of the family at heart - but expect you to make sure that they are treated as part of the family as well. They will expect to be given a position of responsibility and to have decent housing - this might mean running an organization or helping to administer your stronghold. Furthermore, they expect to have decent housing . As a family member, they expect that their children will be treated well - educated, given class training and (at least) a small inheritance.
Any income generated from an Entourage-Cousin's holdings are yours to spend as you see fit, for the overall benefit of the family.
Some examples of Entourage Cousins are …
- Robert Samuels-Lodkova, Principal of the Lodkova Military Academy who also oversees the Lodkova Duelling Salon in Tusk.
- Gandred Ondari, Steward of Ringbridge, who is also responsible for a Holy House dedicated to Torag and the Ringbridge Smithy.
- Tib the Varisian, Bailiff of The Gates and Laird of Tibham.
These holdings are important because the XP gained from controlling the holdings are assigned to the Entourage-Cousin, this allows them to progress beyond Level 5. Progress is slow, but an Entourage-Cousin might (eventually) reach level 7 or 8 and become a minor aristocrat in their own right.
You do not need to be a member of a Noble House to recruit Entourage-Cousins, as this extended family might represent a Merchant House, or even just a wealthy family instead. However, it is a good way to start building a Noble Family, if that is what you want to do. If you die without a Spouse or Children - your Cousins will inherit a share of your estate.
Entourage-Allies are similar to Entourage-Cousins, although there are a few major differences. Entourage-Allies sign an Alliance contract with you, that ties their development to yours, but they have other allegiances that they need to honour. They do not become part of your family and they do not inherit from your estate, nor are you expected to house them, give them a business to run or appoint them to a post within your holdings - although you may if you choose to.
Instead, Entourage Allies develop their own holdings, are responsible for their own finances and expect income from the holdings to be spent on things that are important to them. Like Entourage-Cousins, they bring their savings of 1bp, but they generally borrow more money from an external source. You do not have to give them any BP, but you could choose to lend them a couple of BP to get them started, then claim it back later. They have their own agenda, and invest their money in ways that benefit you, their other sponsors and themselves. In game terms, it means you are expected to spend/invest their BP in a way they would approve of, and with DM oversight.
I know, to some folk, that sounds like a lot of hassle with little gain, but there are some advantages. The Entourage-Ally will have more BP to start with, as they take an interest free loan from their other sponsor (although you should note that this must be paid back at a sensible rate), because of this their holdings increase more quickly, and they will progress (beyond L5) faster. Entourage allies may also come from outside your existing Entourage although, in that case, they will (most likely) be an NPC who you know and have had a relationship with.
Some examples of Entourage-Allies are …
- Maril of Old Keep, a half-elven nature adept (NPC) who travelled as a scout with Zelona (and other party members). He now has a Holy Grove in a wilderness area that falls under the aegis of Zelona the March-Lord of Old Keep. It was in Zelona's interest to make Maril an interest free loan to help establish the Holy Grove.
- Lutz Stigmar, a Dwarven cleric of Torag who controls a number of religious buildings in Lord Aeris's estates. He has taken loans from the Church of Torag and the elders of Clan Stigmar and has responsibilities to both - however, he is also committed to working for the benefit of House Aeris and is Moderator of the Aeris Estates. Brother Lutz is a 'special case' as he was created as a potential PC, but the player dropped out before he got very far into the game. Lutz and Lord Marik have been working together ever since, and it was Brother Lutz who suggested the Allegiance.
- Hargrym Silverhammer is a long term associate of Domitus Aldori-Solanus and served as a member of the Sworldlord's entourage. Hargrym still oversees Dom's stonemason's business and many of his clan work there, but Hargrym 'owns' a jeweller's shop in the town of New Dawn, which he manages on behalf of his clan. That said, he fully intends to develop any further clan holdings in Lord Domitius's future holding. He took advantage of an interest free loan from his clan, to help establish a presence in these new lands.
You do not need to be a member of a Noble House to attract allies, although it is probably easier to manage benefits to the PC if they are an estate holder.
Before the PC can have Entourage-Cohort they MUST take the 'House Rules' Entourage-Cohort trait - probably as part of the Additional Traits feat. This trait is another 'promotion' route, and allows you to promote (up to) two of your Entourage-Assistants to Minor Cohorts as described in the Recruits feat. Rather than rely on gaining personal experience from responsibilities and role play they advance automatically, to remain four levels below their PC. They count against your Entourage limits, however they do not count against the combined Cousin/Ally limit - which means you can have more higher-level members in your entourage.
Entourage-Cohorts have PC classes, which gives them two big advantages - they can come adventuring with you, and they advance to higher levels than most other members of your entourage, and the extra skills can make them useful for running a stronghold. The newly promoted Entourage-Cohort must be four (or more) levels lower than the PC when they are promoted AND they must have at least one ability of 15 (only attainable at L4) - so this trait isn't really much use until a PC is Level 9. However, if an Entourage-Cohort is more than four levels below their PC, they may advance at one level per campaign round, until they catch up.
Entourage-Cohorts use the same build as they had before they were promoted, except that they gain an extra trait (To bring them up to two traits).
You should keep in mind that adventuring characters, especially those four levels below the general party level, are 'at risk'. It might be better to take a Bard, Cleric or Magus, who can help with party enhancements, heal or someone to operate in a support role, rather than a Meat Shield or a Rogue who needs to get close to the enemy before they can be effective.
Feat based entourages
The following four feats work in the same way as normal. Squire and Lantern Bearer automatically turn into Leadership at Level 7, while you have the option of turning Recruits into Leadership, if you choose. These NPCs count against your Entourage Limit.
Feat Based Entourages are all about bringing new NPCs (with PC classes) into the game. However, in exceptional circumstances, you may promote an Entourage-Assistant if it suits your RP needs and the DM agrees.
Feat Based Entourage members count as secondary characters, and use the following build.
- 15 point build
- Full HP at first level
- 1x campaign trait and 1x other trait
This is the same specification that I use for most NPCs with PC classes.
However, please note that the followers listed under the Leadership feat, which would normally be gained with Recruits as well, are now modelled by the staff that you get with businesses and the free Entourage feat. You do not gain any extra followers with either of these feats. However, if you take Recruits or Leadership, you may use your Leadership Score (for followers), instead of your level, when you calculate how many entourages you may have.
Note, however, that you may only ever take one other character (Squire, Lantern Bearer, Minor Cohort, Cohort) adventuring with you at any one time. While you might have Minor Cohorts from the Entourage-Cohort trait and a full-blown cohort from Leadership only one may accompany you at a time.
- Squire - Available at L3, allows Military PCs to recruit a squire to accompany them on adventures. This feat develops into Leadership, and the Squire becomes a Cohort when the PC reached L7.
- Torchbearer - Available at L5, allows any PC to get a Torch Bearer to accompany them on adventures. This feat develops into Leadership, and the Torch Bearer becomes a Cohort when the PC reached L7.
- Recruits - Available at L5, allows a PC to recruit a few Minor Cohorts. While they can come adventuring with you (one at a time) they are, perhaps, less useful than Squires, Torchbearers and Cohorts. This feat MAY develop into Leadership, when the PC reached L7 – in which case one Minor Cohort becomes a full Cohort. However, the PC may choose to retain all of their minor cohorts, rather than upgrading.
- Leadership - available at L7, allows a PC to recruit a single Cohort to follow them around during adventures. If the PC already has the Squire or Torchbearer feats, they ‘mature’ into leadership.
The Character Advancement page has a table that lists how much cash NPCs should have per level - although it is geared towards combat characters, which is inappropriate for most Entourage members, and it doesn’t account for all the stuff that they can get under the Standard of Living guidance.
Let’s assume say that all your entourage start off ‘housed’ at the 2*, Common Standard, right from first level 1. That means that they have a room of their own, wear artisan style clothing, and can afford clothes for everyday use – and a different set for ‘best’. They can secure any non-magical item worth 1 gp or less from their patron.
Once the Entourage is in a 3* development (although you have to build one and assign it to them) they have practically unlimited access to items that cost less that 5gp – so all the household things they need, minor weapons and armour, decent clothes, good meals etc. They only need to account for the more expensive items. Perhaps a courtier’s outfit and some jewellery – or perhaps some minor magic. And you can always pass on ‘hand-me-down’ items, or buy extra things for them out of your own purse. The same is true for NPCs with a 4* development assigned to them – except that they have access to better gear and equipment, for free.
Entourage members also have access to your business estate and can purchase items from your businesses at 75% of the price. If you have a building capable of making an item (including MW and magical) you (or they) can craft the item, and just pay the costs rather than price.
The following table is based on the Character Advancement page, linked earlier - BUT I assume, for Entourage-Assistants, that half of their gear comes from the freebies associated with their Standard of Living. Cousins and Allies get a bit more, while Cohorts get the full amount. There are no restrictions on how this disposable income may be spent.
All of that said, I expect that you will want to build up a Cohort’s gear as they will be coming into the same dangerous environments as you are. You can do this from your own purse or hand-me-downs - or you might even be able to talk the party into giving them a cut of the loot you gain. I think this will be particularly true of Minor Cohorts, who will be some level below you.