An emphasis and strength of the Adventurer Conqueror King system is the “end game” – higher level game play typically marked by the establishment of a “stronghold.” Interestingly, the Adventurer Conqueror King system provides a number of different approaches to building a stronghold, varying by class. Also, the custom classes construction system in the Player’s Companion implies a hierarchy among the human strongholds, basically Fortified Church > Castle > Sanctum and Dungeon > Hideout. (The dwarven, elven and gnomish strongholds may be between a Castle and a Sanctum.)
Something I want to explore in the campaigns I Judge is the possibility of mobility between these strongholds and their end game possibilities (as long as the character has the gold …). The rules in the Player’s Companion would establish a character’s highpoint in the hierarchy, but the character could choose to “downgrade” (and later upgrade) if that meets the character’s goals. Using an example from the Player’s Companion, an Explorer like Robin Hood might begin with a Hideout and later move up to a Castle when he recaptures his ancestral home. (The Hideout might be transferred to a henchman, or broken up and abandoned.) A necromancer might permanently “hide in plain sight” with a Hideout in a city and a network of thieves to bring him fresh bodies.
In light of the above, I wanted a stronghold possibility with as small a footprint as possible, below a Hideout in the hierarchy.
Master and Apprentice
In lieu of another type of stronghold, a character may build a safehouse. A safehouse is similar to a hideout, but even more secret. Building a safehouse does not require first securing a domain (although it is likely wise for the character to secure sole ownership of the safehouse). Similarly, in no way may a safehouse be used to hold a domain. A safehouse does not attract any followers at any time. However, the master of a safehouse may hire ruffians who may be deployed on hijinks. A master with sufficient gold may build more than one safehouse if he so desires. Note that a safehouse need not be an actual “house” or building. A safehouse might be a river barge or a carnival wagon amongst a travelling carnival. A higher level character’s safehouse might be a hut that walks on bird legs or a mysterious, vanishing tower.
Additionally, the master may select a single apprentice (irrespective of the number of safehouses constructed). This apprentice will be a level 5 henchman who makes himself known to the master. The apprentice does not count against the number of henchman the master may hire. Also, the apprentice will begin with a +2 on all future morale rolls, as if the apprentice had gained two levels while in the master’s service.
The apprentice will be of the same class as the master, and neither the master nor the apprentice may have henchmen of that class. The apprentice must be paid as any other henchmen.
Should the master upgrade any of his safehouses to another type of stronghold, the apprentice will leave unless the master can hire the apprentice as a normal henchman. The former apprentice now counts against the number of henchman the master may hire. Should the master not retain the apprentice under these circumstances, the Judge should roll on the Henchman Loyalty table with a -2 adjustment, to determine if the apprentice leaves with hostility.