Retainers are NPCs that are hired by characters to accompany them on an adventure. (NPCs hired for non-adventuring tasks are treated as hirelings, see Hirelings.)

Limit per PC: Each character is limited to a finite number of retainers, as indicated by the character’s Charisma score (see Ability Scores).

Duties: Retainers are not mindless slaves and, although they will usually share the party’s risks, they will not willingly act as battle fodder. If abused in any way, retainers will typically warn others of this and the PCs will soon find it difficult to hire other retainers.

Class and Level

Retainers can be of any class (including normal humans—effectively of level 0), but must be of equal or lower level to the hiring PC.


Potential retainers may be located by frequenting drinking establishments or by paying to post notices of help wanted. Applicants are recruited through negotiation, with the referee playing the roles of the NPCs a character attempts to hire. The PC should explain what the job entails and the wages paid.

Wages and Upkeep

The referee should determine the rate of pay desired by potential retainers, taking the following factors into account:

  • Skill level: More experienced retainers will want a higher rate of pay, whereas those employed for unskilled tasks will have lower demands.
  • Competition: Retainers may accept lower rates of pay if there are many applicants, but may demand higher rates if there is little competition for the job.

Standard Rate

Retainers will usually want a guaranteed fee (per day or per adventure) and a share of treasure recovered (at very least a half share). For example: a fee of 1gp per day plus a half share of treasure.


The hiring PC must also pay for the retainer’s daily upkeep (food and lodgings) and for any new adventuring gear, weapons, or mounts the retainer requires.

Shares of Treasure

Fractional shares of treasure are calculated by dividing the treasure by the total number of shares. For example, a party consisting of 5 PCs (who receive full shares) plus one retainer (who is paid a half share) discover 2,750gp of treasure. The total is divided by 5.5 (five full shares plus one half share): 500gp. Thus, each PC gains 500gp and the retainer gains 250gp.

Applicant Reactions

Once an offer is made, the referee determines the potential retainer’s reaction by rolling 2d6 on the table below, modified as follows:

  • Charisma: The roll is modified by the hiring character’s NPC reactions modifier due to CHA (see Ability Scores).
  • Generosity: The referee may apply a bonus or penalty, depending on the attractiveness of the deal (+1 or +2 for generous offers, –1 or –2 for poor offers).
  • Reputation: A penalty of –1 or –2 may be applied, if the hiring PC has a bad reputation.

Retainer Hiring Reactions

2d6 Result
2 or less Ill will
3–5 Offer refused
6–8 Roll again
9–11 Offer accepted
12 or more Offer accepted, +1 loyalty

Ill will: A –1 penalty applies to further hiring reaction rolls while recruiting in the same town or area.


Although retainers are played by the referee, they acquire experience in the same way PCs do, can advance in level, and are affected by all of the same class rules as PCs.

XP penalty: Because retainers follow instructions when on an adventure, thus not directly engaging in problem solving, XP they receive is penalised by –50%.

Normal humans: When a normal human (i.e. a retainer of level 0 with no character class) gains XP, they must choose an adventuring character class.


Retainers have a loyalty rating, determined by the hiring character’s CHA (see Ability Scores). This rating may be adjusted at the referee’s discretion:

  • Bonuses: A retainer’s loyalty may be increased if the PC has been particularly good to the retainer (e.g. has repeatedly given additional treasure).
  • Penalties: A retainer’s loyalty may be reduced if the PC has been cruel or contrary to their word.

Loyalty Checks

To make a loyalty check, the referee rolls 2d6 and, if the result is lower than or equal to the retainer’s loyalty rating, accounting for any adjustments, the roll has succeeded.

When to Check Loyalty

Loyalty checks are made in two circumstances:

  • Peril: Each time the retainer is exposed to a particularly perilous situation. If the roll fails, the retainer will likely flee.
  • After an adventure: If the roll fails, the retainer will not work for the PC again.