Train Soldier-at-Arms (sage ability)
Train Soldier-at-Arms is an amateur-status sage ability, in the study of Instruction, that enables non-levelled "hardened" commoners, or "comrades" into soldiers capable of using heavy armour and superior weapons, such as swords, axes, maces, polearms, bows and crossbows.
Such training is made more freely available in times of war to comrades, but otherwise it's quite rare — particularly because weapons and armour must be made available at the trainer's expense. There's simply no way for a peasant to afford such things, nor the space needed for practice and manoeuvres.
The physical conditioning that's needed, as well as discipline and combat skills, calls for a rigorous commitment lasting 4 months. Each stage, should the character survive the training, provides additional skills and benefits, even if no further effort is made after each stage. In each case, one instructor with this sage ability is limited to managing no more than the same 8 students over the entire training period.
1st Stage: Rigorous Training
This asks for intense conditioning to improve the character's strength, constitution and dexterity. Running and sprinting, weightlifting, jumping and climbing, wrestling and unarmed combat are all part of the training. A total of 250 hours training is pressed into the space of 1 month. Weapons training does take place, but hasn't the time to give an effect over this period.
- When a strength or a constitution check succeeds, the character gains 1 ability point in that stat (to a maximum of 18). This is the only chance the character has to gain either.
- If both the intelligence and wisdom check both fail, than the character has become injured, as indicated by a malady check.
- So long as at least two checks succeed, the character's THAC0 improves from 21 to 20.
- If three checks fail, there is a 50% chance the character will quit.
- If all four checks fail, the character must be dismissed from further training; he or she is unsuited to the tasks of war.
If multiple instructors are training soldiers at the same time, 8-person "maniples" (squads) are reordered after the first month, filling in where those have dropped out and using less instructors (the remainder can start new recruits in the 1st stage).
2nd Stage: Steady Training
Over the next two months, a focus is placed on weapon mastery, familiarity with armour, formations, maneuvers and how to coordinate within their maniple. Drill and discipline are constant. Students learn to take care of their weapons, participate in mock skirmishes and may even be thrust into a real battle if a shortage of trained recruits occurs. When the two months are completed, the character makes ability checks against their strength, intelligence, wisdom and dexterity.
- The non-proficiency penalty for all weapons drops to -4.
- The character is capable of wearing and fighting in any armour.
- If any check succeeds, the character's THAC0 is set at 20.
- If the strength check is made, the character adds 2-3 hit points to their natural total.
- If two checks fail, there is a 25% chance the character will quit.
- If three checks fail, there is 75% chance the character will quit.
- If all four checks fail, the character must be dismissed from further training.
Regardless of the checks made, all characters at this level of training will suffer some form of malady, so a roll is made on that table.
3rd Stage: Practice Training
The fourth month is spent entirely with drills designed to improve reflexes and coordination, and with improving existing skills. Efforts are made to combat the soldier's fear of battle with tales about the satisfaction of victory, enlivening of religious fervor and a sense of duty towards one's ruling monarch, one's officers and of course to one's fellow soldiers. Competitions, such as jousting, along with fighting for one's honour, are encouraged between students.
Only three ability checks are made, against strength, wisdom and constitution.
- Former near-proficiencies in weapons are improved to full proficiencies.
- Negative hit points are improved so that they won't die unless they're reduced to below -5 hit points.
- If the strength and constitution checks are both made, then the non-proficiency penalty for all weapons drops to -3.
- If the strength check is made, the character adds 1 h.p. to their natural total.
- If the wisdom check is made, the character gains 1d4-1 points in any study that the instructor is able to teach (instructor's choice).
- If all three checks fail, the character has improved their weapon use and negative hit points, but has performed a crime that causes the instructor to dismiss him or her as not worthy of being a soldier: murder, egregious theft, sacrilege or the like. Usually the individual has fled by the time the crime is discovered. Such persons often seek a future as an assassin.
Those training to be soldiers are expected to live within the confines of the grounds, military or otherwise, with limited permission to leave. Healthy meals are provided, along with a sheltered wooden building, beds and bedding, places for relaxation and also solitude.