Monday, January 7, 2013

Mercenaries Continued: Part 2

Alright, this meanders as well, but again, this is essentially a stream of consciousness campaign construction series of posts. Additionally, Jason has had some input as well so some of this is his idea or inspired by our discussions.

So where do we go now? I guess with the geography. I think what I'll do is have a somewhat mild climate to the area. Normal weather with normal seasons and that sort of thing with the fallen empire of the Shale being somewhat in southern chunk of the continent. I think I'll go with primarily mountain and forest terrain, maybe some swamps as well. No deserts or frozen wastelands though. I think what I'd also like to do is throw something like a frontier area beyond the fungus hell of the Shale. Kind of an untamed wilderness. So there is this push to get ancient psionic artifacts from the Shale ruins, but also a goal of reclaiming sections of it to expand into this frontier. The frontier will kind of be a wilder area full of monstrous humanoids and various beasts as well. Probably dragons too.

For the rest of the continent, I'm not really picturing nations and empires really. More along the lines of various city-states and the areas and outlying towns they control. So the conflicts using mercenaries are generally for control over resources or towns and territory, rather than straight up conquering the shit out of everyone else. But perhaps the point of a campaign might be someone bent on unity, for good or ill purposes. Who knows?

I'm envisioning these city-states and their populations as feeling very superior to the mercenaries. Lots of racism and arrogance. I'm picturing the cities as occupied by very elfy races. Long-lived races that are slow to breed and slower to change their ways of doing things and thinking. I'm picturing the mercenaries as primarily composed of races that are half breeds and short-lived with a big taboo on the noble races against becoming a mercenary and a strong racism among the mercenaries against noble races. I kind of see the noble races as the sort of cliche noble. They want power and to keep what they have and they see mercenaries as the brute force idiot weapon to achieve that. They also like dueling for honor, but since they are long-lived, slow to breed races, there is a law against nasty bloody death dealing duels in the streets. That sort of thing is considered wasteful and common. On the other side of things, the mercs consider the nobles and their honor scars and nearly bloodless duels to be arrogant poofs with no balls. Despite this mutual racism, the two factions need each other. Nobles have money, but lack manpower. The mercs have manpower, but no real worldly power except for the cash they make off of nobles and the squabbling between city-states. If mercs went and seized a city-state or waged war on a city-state, they'd immediately find themselves fighting a bunch of other bought and paid for mercenary companies. They'd find themselves cut off from the supplies and resources they need to keep their company in shape as well, as the city-states control most resource production. Can't feed troops without food or arm troops without iron to be forged. I'm also thinking sometimes bored noble youths finance companies as something exciting and illegal to do for shits and giggles, something they brag about to their friends that causes their father to scowl and their mother to faint.

For races, I don't really have any hard ideas at the moment. I'm thinking something like three or four noble races, an equal amount of mercenary races, the Shale, and a few half breeds. I'm thinking there would be a human analogue among the mercenary races. For some reason, I keep wanting to throw something like Warhammer 40k's kroot into the mix as well, and maybe some sort of fungus plant race from the ruins of the Shale empire as well. I think ultimately, I'll continue with the theme of just making new races or re-imagining old ones as something new. Orcunraytrel has really filled my fairly mild urge to put "regular" fantasy races into Hekinoe.

Another thing I am considering doing is giving the mercenary company itself a level. This level would be the average level of the entire company itself. It would constantly be in flux though, and I am not sure quite how to implement it. But I'm thinking that it determines how many mercenaries can be in the company and a few other things I don't quite have figured out yet. I'm thinking that there should be some sort of morale statistic to cover stuff like desertion, and a reputation statistic. I'm also thinking there should be mercenary company feats, but again, I'm not entirely sure what those should be beyond feats that offer a bonus to morale, how many mercs can be in your company, and reputation bonuses.

Jason and I were discussing technology and magic earlier today as well. I initially said the technology level was going to be standard faux-medieval, I am starting to have doubts about that though. I'm wondering if it might be worth it to add in early firearms and the Gunslinger class and use the Emerging Guns rule from Ultimate Combat, rather than Guns Everywhere, like in The Known World. I figure with the nobles having all this money and power and time, someone somewhere is bound to have financed a engineer and his plan to find a better way to kill people. Not sure on this yet. This place isn't going to be heavily industrialized like The Known World, but I do like guns in my fantasy. We'll see.

With magic, Jason suggested restricting it somewhat to noble races. That seems appropriate to me. I can imagine Wizards being a class restricted to the noble races, as it is learned and taught and whatnot. Intuitive spellcasters like Sorcerer, Bard, and Summoner can't really be controlled though. Magic gets learned because it is in their blood. With the Magus, I feel like that would be the Wizard of the mercenary races. Learn a few spells, but more importantly, learn some combat magic. I feel like it belongs more to mercenaries. With the Witch, I feel it would be out of place in civilized areas. They're the iconic back woods spellcaster that knows as much about manipulating nature as they do flinging spells, so I think they fit in more among the mercenary races. With the Alchemist, I could go either way. The fact that they make bombs leads me to believe that the mercenary companies would be Hell bent on getting a hold of their know how for themselves and would not allow the the nobles to keep them to themselves. But perhaps the nobles do have a monopoly on Alchemists and alchemy is highly restricted. That might make a good quest line, augmenting a company by recruiting a rogue Alchemist or something. Actually, that sounds good. Wizards and Alchemists are restricted to the nobles and their city-states with the Alchemists being responsible for guns and alchemy and mercenaries wanting as much alchemist's fire and explosives and guns as they can get their grubby, uncivilized hands on. I like the sound of that. I think the Wizards and Alchemists would have guilds as well, and sort of a contract that says they owe fealty to the city-states over everything else, and they find themselves hunted if they share their secrets. This makes Craft (Alchemy) something of a restricted skill as well and could get you in trouble if you're found to have extensive know how regarding it.

Alright, that's all for now. Jason and I have been bouncing ideas back and forth, so I definitely have a few more thoughts on some of this. So, expect a part three here shortly. 


  1. Maybe since I have an infactuation with Dark Sun. Maybe have some governing body or nefarious organization seek out children with magical aptitude and put them into special schools. This might help limit casters since they would be wards of this organization. PC's might be wards that have escaped or maybe are loyal to the organization and out helping their agenda.

    I also would agree that Alchemy is a learned and noble profession.

    What abobut monks? I think that would be a noble-esque class too. Or at least someone who enters a temple to fight a path ... either way not someone who winds up in a merc camp.

    Last Summoners? Again, this seems like something that you would have to be taught like a wizard.

    Food for thought.

    1. That's not a bad idea, Lance.

      Monks are a psionic class, and the Shale have a monopoly on those.

      Summoner is an intuitive caster, no learning necessary, so it would be just as hard to restrict to nobles as the Sorcerer or Bard.