The Book of Hirelings
An Unnecessary Dungeon World Supplement
Do you need help carrying away all that perfectly legally acquired booty? Have you saved someone and need to escort them home, but wish they were useful? Well, this is the unprofessionally made document for you!
First, this is the format:
When you ship a hireling over to your game exchange the title for a name, provide the hireling with Skill points, Health, a level of Loyalty to the party, an Instinct and a Cost for their continued work.
One thing to note here is Skills are separated from Moves, why? It just makes the hirelings slightly more powerful, as you can create a new Move for them and have it run off an existing Skill.
Remember: a hireling doesn’t have to come into play with all their Moves, you can add them over time if they live long enough.
Table of Contents
As an example for As you Wish, Master, say you need three sailors to rig the sails of a boat, if the Respectful Servant has 3-Serve, they can do it alone. How would that come into play? Well, what if you run out of crew?
Bonus points if the Courageous Torchbearer is a hunchback, deformed or a gravedigger by trade.
You might think Broth of All Seasons is over-powered but honestly most Dungeon World campaigns take place in Not-Europe and as a European I can say without a doubt you can feed five or so people at any time in the wilderness as long as you keep moving. I could go into a big history lesson of why we have agriculture if we could all just forage but you’re all smart people, you watch John Green’s Crash Courses World History, right?
I’m fond of this hireling, because it has in-mechanic effects that reflect the fact you’re ruining this impressionable noble’s life. Nice.
You save a princess or a little kid, thats classic adventure. Now what? With this they’re an asset, maybe even missed when you hand them back for the reward. There are a couple of Princess playbooks- I mean classes- (Roll+Weird when you forget you’re not playing Apocalypse World) if this idea interests you so much you want to play something like a Fair Heart.
The Minstrel’s final form. Less lute, more trumpet. This hireling is one of my favourites and became one of those minor characters that if it was in a show, everyone would want a spin-off, you know?
A kind of sibling to the Respectful Servant, but where that guy gets his hands dirty, this guy gets his underhandedness dirty.
A logical hireling choice, but every doctor needs is to help others, there can be no way in the fiction the Overworked Doctor goes on an adventure every day… Although, Watson did. Still, they’ve got to have a break from it now and again to do what they know they must do.
I can see a certain type of character, like a gnome, who wants to be in on the adventure even if their only skills involve knowing what something is worth. Otherwise they’re short stint hirelings that become critical steading members.
In another life he might lug guns, but there aren’t any, so they lug bags of gold and whatever other junk you find. The shining example of why you pay for help, the hireling other hirelings look up to with awe and want to be when they grow up. Not really.
The secret rule of all mounts is: When you give someone a mount give everyone else one too and make it that kind of campaign.
The core rules often talk of gaining an ally from Team Not-Your-Party, but what does that look like in play? It can look like this! If you want.
If you’ve been roleplaying since the 80’s, 1.) way to go for surviving a childhood with the constant threat of global nuclear annihilation and 2.) play this however you would have played a character back then and make references to things that don’t make sense in Dungeon World.
No Want, No Weight is exploitable. Fine and dandy. When you miss on whatever roll, terrible things happen to your precious. This chap is less of a hireling and more of a one-off character who’s passing through.
What a powerful one. I mean, it doesn’t have the most powerful moves as written, but the things left to the fiction can make this guy a campaign defining ally.
The guards are left for you to make. If you’re up against goblins they’ve got the same stats, likewise for orcs and up. Or maybe they have no stats. It is a mystery.
No, there isn’t a prize for getting the reference.
There is a prize for getting this one. That prize is having played the game.
Are you a bad enough dude to not be really creepy with this hireling? I’m talking to everyone at the table here. Even you. Especially you. There are just so many cool hookers with hearts of gold in fiction I felt I had to make one. You could even swap out some of their Moves as they progress from person of the night to the druid’s trainee or something nice like that.
It is Django of Django Unchained. I spoiled that one for you, sorry. The next one isn’t a reference to anything, it just came up during play.
Why they wanted one and why I gave them one is lost to the annals of history. What is known is that it is a walking platform of death for a ranger. Also, don’t let them put chainmail on it.
I really like the Regret system, it gives the party a purpose and gets rid of the guy when he becomes too strong.
The Bitter End can be dropped if you’re knee deep into a quest against Uwielga the Demon-God of Salt, but if you’re just fighting the monster of the week or some bastard human, let them have it.
That last sentence was a test of your lung capacity.
In play this guy was the players’ favourite. Bare in mind out of their home turf they’re significantly less useful.
A basic hireling, and one of the first I cooked up. She was a dwarf, and culturally not considered a drunk. Just very dwarf.
Don’t set a cap to the Drink skill, let the players ply them with enough booze fell a giant, thats great- Now the Drunken Brute could do a lot of damage, if they weren’t unconscious.
Where would you be without your mother? That is not a rhetorical question. Thought it over? Exactly.
If you feel like the party is low on players, this guy can fill in for any role.
Why don’t they take the brunt of the damage? Because a player always has more health than a hireling, and there are plenty of other ways for them to die.
So how useful is a dog? Most hirelings in this document are assumed to be a cut above the common man, in contrast the Shaggy Dog is based on what I think the lowliest of dogs could achieve.
I feel like every alchemist’s dream is to settle down someplace nice and turn it into a blasted toxic hellhole, so they won’t be off on too many adventures. Perhaps they come with the Cost: That one ingredient I need.
Please move on, this one isn’t that good.
The best hireling in in my game, or the best ever? You decide. Please note, I hinged an entire adventure on several pirate captains trying to steal the parrot from the party as it knew a magical phrase that would open an enchanted cave filled with decades of ill gotten loot by the wizard’s late uncle, who was basically a sorcerous Long John Silver.
Who cares about a dumb ghost no question mark.
This hireling comes with a plot built in to the mechanics, which means it’s pretty much unusable for most people, but I really liked it so here it is. If you use it, hack away “a great villain” into whatever enemy makes sense.
Another weird use of a skill here; you want to avoid bringing the great villain to you, but its the only way to drain Hex so the kid doesn’t turn evil or into a crow or whatever happens. Difficult choices abound!
I like the word cosmopolitan and that is how this hireling was born. No idea if it works though. Someone use it and tell me! I’m going to use it whenever I get the slightest chance.
You could drop Link skill and replace it with a character’s Cha, but why should anyone have more chance of controlling a dragon than anyone else? If you’re going for this go all out, wizard dragon rider, fighter dragon rider- Don’t reserve the most control for the bard!
Like any mount, I reckon everyone should get one if someone does, else the rest of the party are left jogging behind it.
I kind of want to make a Blacksmith class, but really this is all you need (and love, all you need is love, love, love; love is all you need).
Golems are Jewish. If you give the Tireless Golem a voice, think Oy, Vay!
Yeah, thats it. Want more? Make ‘em.