Monday, January 28, 2013

Mercenaries Continued: Part 5

Man, now that I've got five posts about mercenaries in the bag I find myself kind of running out of steam. I mean there is plenty I could write, but like I said last time, I feel like if I get into specifics I might as well start writing myself another campaign book or something and that feels like it would be cheating on the Orcunraytrel campaign. I think I can meander about nobles this post though, so we'll go with nobles today.

So we have these noble races, we call them nobles because they primarily live in and rule the city-states and have the majority of the money and control the majority of property available in this continent. I see them set up in clans and families. With like a half dozen or so families ruling each city through a council of some kind. In some city-states this might vary with one family having essentially made a monarchy of themselves in some city-states. In the cities I see them as pretty much absolute power. They have all the jobs that out of work folks want to get hired for, they run the banks and the loan offices, they run everything and anyone who wants a job needs to go through them essentially. If you pay taxes, you pay it to them, law enforcement serves at their pleasure and better keep its nose out of what they do and so on and so forth. They're nobles that happily abuse their power as the cliche' villainous noble of fiction is what I am saying.

So we have all these nobles that utilize mercenaries to enact their will and fight for stuff they want. My next thought is, what do they fight for? We've already established that the Shale empire is a pile of ruins containing highly valued psionic artifacts and stuff that schools and universities and very rich private collectors pay them to dig around for. I envision this continent as having conventional banditry and brigandry (?), so mercenaries would obviously be hired to protect against that sort of thing. Now one of the main facets of this campaign is that the nobles use mercenaries to hack each other apart because they have long lives and low populations and don't want to weaken their houses by having dozens of them dying in battle when they can have a few hundred mercenaries do so for them.

Now I am thinking each city-state is sort of surrounded by a handful of towns that handle farming or lumbering or that sort of thing. These people owe fealty to the nobles of the city-state and are taxed by them and tithe what they produce to the city-state, perhaps the city-state even owns the town and the citizens just rent the space they occupy or something crazy like that. I'm imaging that a big brunt of mercenary work stems from the archaeological digs, but another big chunk comes from seasonal rearrangements of borders. City-state X decides they need a town right on the edge of their area of control and decides to take it. The other city-state is notified (or perhaps not) and the mercenaries head to somewhere away from the town they want (so as not to destroy that which the nobles desire) and beat the piss out of each other. How the battles play out would partly be determined by the mercenary captains and the nobles themselves. I imagine mercenaries having something of a camaraderie like you see with some of the Northmen in Joe Abercrombie's books. I also imagine they want money, but not to die for the shithead nobles. So with this in mind, I imagine mercenary captains meeting on the eve of battle or communicating in some way beforehand and setting the boundaries for issues regarding surrender and looting enemy companies and that sort of thing. Some captains might be a wee bit more bloodthirsty and eschew that sort of friendly behavior in the hopes of straight up hatemurdering potential competition.

I'm also thinking that non-noble races can purchase rank for themselves, should they want some manner of power within a city-state's walls. This would require a pile of coin, and a noble of a certain rank to vouch for them in some way. I think there would also be a certain cap to the rank a non-noble could buy themselves, and they would be more limited in scope to that of born nobles. Obviously, those that purchase their nobility would be much maligned in noble society. Of course, allowing this sort of thing forces me to actually come up with all the legal rights and such that a particular rank of noble has, and I'm not sure anyone would be interested in this sort of thing, but creating these sorts of things does kind of offer a means of actually showing that nobles do possess tangible power and aren't just folks with lots of money and such. 

I guess I didn't have quite so much for you today, a little bit shorter than my usual mercenary post length. As I said, I'm kind of running out of steam. I think this will be the last mercenary related post for a while. So I guess that is all for now. 


  1. I'd think rank would basically be little more than social standing. People in higher ranks would be listened to first and their opinions would be "worth" more than those of a lesser title. And maybe only those of a certain level may vote or participate in government positions of importance.

    The guidelines could be pretty easy. You start at one rank under what your parents were when you were born and when you come of age you assume that rank, or assume it if you're named their heir. This would only apply to the Nobility though and it wouldn't let any noble blooded individual be considered a commoner, although those who pay their way in might.

  2. Maybe it's just me, but I like the caste structure Joe Abercrombie used for his northmen ... having the Carls, Named men, and I forget what they called the regular conscripts.

    Also for the Carls and Named Men ... those positions are earned.

    Food for thought.