The primary issue is that "training" sucks as a game design. Send someone off, pay a bunch of money, they come back a first level. It's the equivalent of going to the market and buying a first level character.
So I've been trying to think of some way to make training a part of the actual game, where actual stakes are at play. I think I have a wisp of an idea.
Here is an example of the ongoing experience the party is earning as of round 3 in my Juvenis game:
|If you're not familiar with my experience system,|
Take note of the follower, Bergthora. Her share of the bonus x.p. is only 1/8th share. I began that policy years ago, to undermine the amount of experience that followers were stealing from the party. If she were getting an equal share to everyone else, that would seriously undermine the party's gains in the long run. Besides, she isn't a leveled character. She's the equivalent to a man-at-arms in most games: zero-level, some combat training. (I don't use "zero-level" as a designation, but that isn't important right now).
But why 0.125? Why not 0.1 or 0.15? No reason. Henchmen get 0.5 of the bonus, to underscore that they are auxiliaries and not making their own decisions. A henchman's hench would get 0.25, while a henchman's henchman's hench would get 0.125. These were starting to appear in my game, when my big party would get their whole team together, so the followers got rated at the same rate as a third-tier henchman.
Technically, at least partly, they are persons in their own right, not fanatical followers of players. If a leveled character, they'd BE the same as a player, at least in theory. So how to justify 0.125?
Suppose that number is indicative of training. Suppose that a green follower is seen as relying very heavily on the commander, and therefore their own bonus experience is negligible ~ they're just following orders. But we could make it that as the greenhorn gained experience, their share of the bonus experience would increase.
We could, for example, start with a share of 0.1 ~ and then, as their experience went up in 100 x.p. increments, the share of the bonus x.p. would also rise, by 0.1. A follower with 100 x.p. would gain 0.2 shares of the bonus. 200 x.p. would equal 0.3 shares, 300 x.p. would equal 0.4 shares and 400 x.p. would equal 0.5 shares.
Now I have another idea brewing in the background and I am getting to it. Suppose we made a ceiling of 400 x.p. Bergthora in the example still wouldn't be considered a level at 400 x.p. but she would have to fight a lot to accumulate that much. She also wouldn't increase her combat skill in the least, but a 1st level fighter doesn't do that either until accumulating 2,000 experience. 400 is negligible.
Just suppose, however, that with Bergthora there was a fighter with instruction for a sage skill (I'm linking a rough page from the wiki but I'm only spitballing here anyway). That fighter, working with Bergthora, while fighting together in actual combat (not training), would be training Bergthora. The difference would be that the instructor would let her increase her ceiling from 400 x.p. to 1200 x.p. Now, each 100 x.p. would only raise her bonus by 0.05 . . . but with the instructor's help, shouting at her during battles, preparing her each day, discussing what went wrong with her swing in each encounter, Bergthora would start to gain weapon proficiencies, sage abilities and hit points, bringing her up to the level of a 1st level fighter.
Once she had gained 1,200 x.p. (remembering that she needs to do this in the presence of an instructor), she would BECOME a 1st level fighter, with all the skills having been gained.
The D&D equivalent of "boot camp," therefore, is to make Bergthora combat trained and able to swing a weapon. The non-level, zero-experience grunt. She gains 400 x.p. and she's experienced, but not trained. But if she fights continuously with a sergeant at her elbow, she builds up a field ranking that puts her in the level-track. Those who don't survive, or drop out, remain combat-trained; but it takes an instructor to get to first level.
That helps get rid of a lot of the experience I posited with this post. Most troops, even combat-experienced troops like Bergthora, top out a 400 x.p. and can't get more unless there is an instructor. And instructors are rare.
There's work left to be done here, but I think that is a genuine idea.