Being Mercenary

Last updated: 170301…201015

The DMG discusses the different hirelings available to the PCs. But once PCs start hiring soldiers, things start to get complicated! Hired troops require sergeants, lieutenants, captains, and an entire support staff.

  • Level 0 troop costs: Archer 5gp/month, Crossbowman 4gp/month, Footman(L/M/H): 2/3/10, Horseman L/M/H: 10/15/20
  • Every 10 level-0 troops require a sergeant (level 0), with a pay rate of 10x that of the troops commanded.
  • Troops require a lieutenant (level 2/3) , who can command as many squads of 10 as the lieutenant has levels, at 100 gp/level/month.
  • A captain (level 4+) can command as many scores (20) of troops as they have levels, also at 100 gp/month.

The DMG also defines a required support staff. Each of the roles includes whatever apprentices are required, as well as miscellaneous costs, such as clothing and food. That’s handy, because it means we don’t have to calculate the costs to feed the troops!

  • *For every 40 troops, a blacksmith is required (30 gp / month)
    • +1 blacksmith for each additional 160 troops, or fraction thereof)
  • *For every 40 troops, an armorer is required (100 gp/month)
  • *For every 80 troops, a weapon smith is required (100 gp/month)

There are some other roles that are clearly missing from the DMG:

  • *For every 40 troops, a leatherworker is required (1.5 gp/month)
  • *For every 40 troops, a tailor is required (1.5 gp/month) (see armorer)
  • *For every 40 troops, a woodworker is required (2 gp/month) (see armorer)
  • For every 40 troops, three cooks are required (scaled across the three meals) (15 gp/month)
  • For every 40 troops, a teamster is required (5 gp/month)

*While the costs still apply, will not travel on assignments less than one month.

Additional base costs a mercenary troop  have to be considered as part of their maintenance:

  • The armorer requires a workshop (310 gp-400 gp)
  • The blacksmith requires a forge, hammer, and anvil.

So let’s build a mercenary company of 40 men: 10 archers, 10 cavalry, and 20 light foot. Consider that the officers aren’t included in the leadership numbers.

  • 10 archers (5 gpe) + sergeant (50 gp) + archer lieutenant level 2 (200 gp) = 300 gp/month
  • 10 light footmen (2 gpe) + sergeant (20 gp) + footmen lieutenant level 2 (200 gp) = 240 gp/month
  • 10 light footmen (2 gpe) + sergeant (20 gp) (using other footmen lieutenant level 2) = 40 gp/month
  • 10 light cavalry (10 gpe) + sergeant (100 gp) + cavalry lieutenant level 2 (200 gp) = 400 gp/month
  • captain level 4 (400 gp) = 400 gp
    1380 gp/month for the troops


  • Blacksmith 30 gp/month
  • Armorer 100 gp/month
  • Weapon smith 100 gp/month
  • Associated standard hirelings: 28 gp/month
  • 10% maintenance on armorer and blacksmith: 35 gp/month
    293 gp/month for the support staff

Operating expenses for this troop of 40 men is a mere 1673 gp/month! Even without counting the included assistants and apprentices, our troop of 40 men works out to an actual 58.

When on the road, they need to add a teamster for each of the specialized hirelings (to carry their stuff around), and another for the collection of standard hirelings, which would add an additional 20 gp/month.

Scaling up becomes fairly simple in units of 10. Each two units of 10 add a lieutenant for 200 gp/month. For each additional 160 men (80-200 troops) add an additional blacksmith for 30 gp/month. For each additional 80-160 men (or fraction thereof), you have to hire another captain capable of leading them; an 8th level captain would be able to lead 160 troops for 800 gp/month. If you put them all in a castle, you need a steward/castellan; the castellan can command 40 men/level, but costs 200 gp/level.

You can substitute other troops in from the example above:

  • 10 crossbowmen (4 gpe) + sergeant (40 gp) + crossbow lieutenant level 2 (200 gp) = 280 gp/month, or -20 gp over archers
  • 10 heavy footmen (10 gpe) + sergeant (100 gp) + heavy footmen lieutenant level 2 (200 gp) = 400 gp/month, or +160 gp over light footmen
  • 10 medium footmen (3 gpe) + sergeant (30 gp) + medium footmen lieutenant level 2 (200 gp)= 260 gp/month, or +20 gp over light footmen
  • 10 medium cavalry (15 gpe) + sergeant (150 gp) + cavalry lieutenant level 2 (200 gp) = 500 gp/month, or +100 gp over light cavalry
  • 10 heavy cavalry (20 gpe) + sergeant (200 gp) + cavalry lieutenant level 2 (200 gp) = 600 gp/month, or +200 gp over light cavalry

Every second squad is -200 gp/month, as they don’t need a lieutenant.

You also have to take into account the “hiring bonus” of needing to buy the soldiers arms and armor.

Note: Hazardous duty pay at a daily rate is 1 month for 1 day (basically x30). For my campaign, all rates double when applied to hazardous duty (applicable to support staff only when on the road for more than 30 days).


Author: Rick

A DM for *mumble* years, I've been playing AD&D since junior high. I've currently got two separate campaigns running, both in Mystara. I've been told when they handed out hobbies, I stood in the short lines. I actively cycle tour, kayak, play board games, read, develop home automation software, play Stars!, volunteer with the International and National American Red Cross, and work on a never-ending stream of home repairs. In my wake I've left paintball, medieval full-contact combat (SCA), computer gaming, Heroclix, and kite construction.

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