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Sun, 06/23/2013 - 7:12am | Ascent

The Hirelings footnote (p.22) reads:

* Minor NPC with a score equal to 40+10xRank.

I'm thinking Larry and BIll meant "4D+10xRank". Though even this seems a bit steep.

So what does this mean?

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It means 40 + 10 times the Rank. The use of the word "Rank" here is not technically appropriate, since minor NPCs don't have ranks. But it's used to determine the quality of archer, sailor, footman, horseman, etc. For example, if you wanted your character to hire 10 men-at-arms to serve as a guard for your manor, you might hire them as "rank 2 footmen." You'd then have to equip them for their work, so you might buy them studded leather armor and spears. These would be written as:

10 Manor Guards 60% (studded leather DR3, spear 2D+2 range 20)

and would cost 20gp per day (that is, 2gp apiece), plus the 250gp it cost to equip them. Costly.

Why would 40+10xRank be steep? Assuming that's their primary skill, that's just a stat of 40 and 20 for being primary. That actually seems kind of low to me now that I think about it.

I don't think it's too steep; it's a minor NPC and typically they are a bit on the low-score side ;-)

I just didn't understand it at all. And maybe I'm just thick, but I still have no idea what it's supposed to mean. It says "...score equal to..."

What score?If that's a skill score, at rank 2, that would be 100%. (50 x 2) And I have no idea how you came to the scores and equipment you listed or how they're related. It doesn't mention equipment.I assume they mean whatever the hireling's major skill is. Let's say I hire a blacksmith. If he's a rank 1 blacksmith - capable but nothing special - his blacksmithing skill is 40 + 1 x 10 = 50%.

A master blacksmith (level 6) would be 40+6x10 = 100%. Which sounds fine to me.

Or am I reading it wrong?

Then that would be 40+(6x10). Or the book would be "40+(10xRank)".

If you want to show it without parentheses, it would be "Rank x 10 + 40."

Here is how I suggest the text be written in future editions:

Thanks for the help.

I have to say that according to

order of operations, 40 + 6 x 10 is fine from a mathematical point of view. Try pressing it in on a calculator.It's a minor NPC. According to the minor NPC rules, the single score the hireling has refers to what he does. A guard 50%, for instance, has a 50% chance to succeed at whatever the GM believes is professionally appropriate for a guard to do, and half that chance for something outside of his professional realm of expertise. This is a standard part of the game mechanics: check out Minor NPCs, page 44.

Ascentwrote:What score?If that's a skill score, at rank 2, that would be 100%. (50 x 2) And I have no idea how you came to the scores and equipment you listed or how they're related. It doesn't mention equipment.Reviewing the examples on this page, I got it wrong. I don't recall ever doing my math that way, but I'm 22 years out of school. I'm clearly the one who needs to brush up.

I just researched why and discovered that my calculation method came from years of calculator use, particularly PC calculator use. It's actually the simplest method. But because of that, most multipliers independent of the equation must be put in brackets. The method of working out all multiplication in a problem before addition is a means of "shorthand", without having to use brackets. Though, in reality, it is not, in fact, faster, but slower as it forces you to work out stuff separately, rather than on the fly. Oh well. I'll leave that matter up to the "geniuses" who decide such matters for school textbooks.

However, considering this prevalence of people who may be just as I am, relied on computer calculators for so long that they forgot this "basic", perhaps it would be best if you all wrote it in the order of the math. So "40+(6x10)" or "Rank x 10 + 40" might be the best anyway. It shouldn't be any hair off anyone's back to write it that way. The rules of modern math still apply, and those used to calculator over-use don't have to make idiots of themselves in forums or at the table.

Which computer calculator did you use? You're usually a very bright guy Ascent, so I was wondering how this was stumping you. I certainly understand now. I had a scientific calculator so it did order of operations fine. Some simpler calculators mess it up because they don't allow for linear input.

I was just playing with my PC's calculator. I almost always use Excel nowadays for calculation, but change your calc from Standard to "Scientific" or "Programmer" and it will do it by line instead of by operation.

I think you are right, adding parenthesis might make that one more clear. I think the advantage of continuing to list it as 40+(10xRank) is that it still looks, at least superficially, the same way the other skills are built.

Yeah, I learned when I was looking it up that scientific calculators apply the rule, so that I have to switch to do that. But I'm a rebel, I've made a decision to do it the expedient way rather than the so-called "right" way. Because to me, speed is more important. If I forget the stupid rule again in the future, so be it. Others will still always be able to understand MY math, even if I don't remember how to do theirs. It's just like the fact that I do multiplication left to right rather than top down, the way the schools tried drilling it into me. Left to right is faster and takes less work. (A million autistics can't be wrong. Literally.)

I was a high school maths teacher for 20 years (I quit last year to do something else) so I applied order of operations automatically. But Ascent is correct: it should be written with the parentheses so as to make it obvious to even the non-mathematical among us what the authors mean by a particular calculation.

So 40 + Rank x 10

and 40 +(Rank x 10)

are equivalent mathematically, but the latter is a bit clearer if it has been a while since you've been in a maths class.

Agreed! Thanks Ascent for pointing this out.