Gold & Glory

by Tim Beach


When the call to war goes out, many people answer. Some are patriots fighting for a cause; others are professional soldiers lured by the sound of gold pieces. Whether they are motivated by avarice or altruism, all these people have a price of some kind.

Sword for hire. Sellsword. Man at arms. Myrmidon. Legionnaire. Soldier of fortune. Hiresword. Mercenary. All these terms - and several unprintable terms as well - identify those men and women who hire themselves out to fight other peoples' battles. Gold & Glory describes these professionals and the groups in which they operate.

The information provided applies chiefly to the FORGOTTEN REALMS(r) Campaign Setting, primarily the continent of Faerûn, but the basic information could be used with most campaigns for the AD&D(r) game.

Chapter 1 of Gold & Glory describes mercenary companies in general terms: their history, how they are formed, methods of operation, and so forth.

Later chapters detail many of the better known standing mercenary companies in the Realms.

Chapter 7 offers descriptions of several Non-Player Characters (NPCs) who recruit mercenaries for specific tasks. A number of special groups are mentioned in Chapters 8 and 9, which tell how adventuring companies and other groups sometimes interact with mercenary companies.

The final few pages of the book offer an index of mercenary companies and where in the Realms they might be found, as well as statistics that can be used in BATTLESYSTEM(tm) scenarios.

How to Use This Information

There are several ways for a Dungeon Master (DM) to use mercenary companies in the campaign. DMs should feel free to use any of the ones presented here, to make up new ones, or to allow player characters (PCs) to start a company.

The DM could use the provided mercenary companies as enemies or allies for the player characters. The PCs might join a company for a time-many of the companies herein recruit "local talent" when they have a job in a given area. Some recruit through advertisement, others by coercion.

If the PCs choose to join a mercenary company, they must follow the orders of their superiors; this gives a DM a great mechanism for setting up adventures. A wise DM will be careful not to force too much on the player characters, however.

PCs should probably be treated as a squad of elite troubleshooters. The DM can offer two or three missions for them to choose from, but might sometimes insist that the PCs are the only ones who can handle a specific task.

The PCs may at some time wish to form their own band as well. They could recruit soldiers and lead them into large conflicts. If their fame grows, kingdoms might try to hire the PCs to lead armies of invasion or defense.

Mercenary companies might also be used to inspire small adventures or epic quests. Perhaps a friend to the PCs has been forced to join a mercenary group; maybe a group has been infiltrated by a spy whom the PCs must capture; the possibilities are almost endless.

There are also a few ideas "hidden" in the following text, such as hooks to space adventures, the growth of lizard man power in the south, and so forth.

Chapter 1: Mercenaries in the Realms

Some professional soldiers are loners, choosing when and where they fight, adhering to individual codes of honor, and following whatever clarion draws them to battle. They might be motivated by bloodlust, desire for adventure, or a cause. Many of these lone mercenaries can be found throughout the Realms.

Some mercenaries band together, forming regular companies and operating along military or paramilitary lines. It is these mercenary companies that are the subject of Gold & Glory.

There are two basic types of mercenary corps: standing and recruited. Members of standing companies are always together, often have no other occupations, will do things that won't keep them from leaving on short notice, and are professional adventurers on the side.

In the case of recruited companies, an employer will hire an individual or group to go and quickly build an army.

Some companies are part standing and part recruited, such as standing companies that recruit locals wherever they go. Other companies are recruited, but always from the same group of veterans, sometimes with a few new faces. These latter groups are essentially standing companies without permanent headquarters.

Within the two basic types of companies, there are a number of variations. Some specialize by race, social class, type of weapon, or type of job; others try to have members with a variety of abilities. Some of the more versatile mercenary companies have wizards, thieves, rangers, and priests, in addition to fighters.

General History

Mercenaries have existed for a very long time, from the first time someone asked "What do I get if I fight this war for you?" Military leaders have always had to offer some kind of pay, with land, gold, glory, prestige, or power. True mercenaries travel to any place where there is armed conflict, often caring little on whose side they fight. Others have principles or standards, and will fight only on the "correct" side.

Mercenary forces have changed the outcome of many battles. Over the course of the last century or so, mercenary groups have become more formal, choosing colorful names and advertising their locations. Like many other institutions, they have become a normal aspect of life in the Realms.

Mercenary Companies

Chapters later on in this book offer specific details on several mercenary companies. It may be useful, however, to cover some general principles that apply to all or most mercenary groups.


Most mercenary groups are formed by the actions of a single, charismatic leader, though a group of leaders is also likely. These people gather veterans of battles, train likely prospects, and organize the company. Some corps are formed by or from adventuring groups.

Recruited companies operate a little differently, as they are formed anew each time one is needed. The employers contact a recruiter or recruiting group, offering a fee for an army. Word is spread for interested parties to meet at a certain place, at which time the recruiter reviews the applicants and decides who may join the corps.

Leadership and Organization

Most mercenary corps operate along military lines, with leaders and their assistants taking military titles. Other companies work more informally, with the leader being essentially a dictator, perhaps with a few counselors or assistants. Some companies are democracies in which members elect their officers, and still others are run like a business.

Strategies and Operations

All companies choose which jobs they will accept based on individual codes and desires. Most are hired for a specific task and left to their own devices to fulfill their assignment. Most companies are responsible for their own transportation to and from the job.

Retiring a Company

A mercenary company stops being a mercenary company when certain events occur. Obviously, the death of all members would eliminate a group. Other corps might break up because of age, while some might achieve the legitimacy of a permanent job. Several examples of "retired" companies are offered in Chapter 6.

Other Sources

Several other products in the FORGOTTEN REALMS(r) Campaign line offer information on mercenary companies. An index of sources appears on the last page of this book.

Map of Mercenary Activities in the Realms

The Entries

Most of the following descriptions of mercenary companies are done in a standard format, using these headers.

Type A standing company is one that is together at all times. A recruited company is built by recruiters when the call goes out for an army. Standing/recruits indicates a standing company that recruits locals as well. A company with recruited veterans is one with consistent and loyal members, but without a permanent headquarters, so the company must be called together whenever there is a job. A fixed company has a permanent headquarters. A company that is roaming has either no particular headquarters, or has several.
BaseThis indicates the place (or region) that the company calls home.
Current Sphere(s) of OperationThis lists where the group is currently active.
LeaderThis lists the group's leader.
GovernmentThis indicates how the corps operates internally.
Number of MembersIf a range is given, the lowest number is the number of people who always serve; the highest number is the core, plus semi-regulars who might be called in for specific jobs. This number does not include any people who might be recruited locally.
General AlignmentThis indicates the basic morals and ethics of the group; individuals may vary.

Larger entries have these headings as well: History describes the group's formation, composition, and past activities; Strategy and Tactics tells how the company chooses and completes jobs; Personality details the group's motivations, code of honor, and friends and enemies; and Logistics describes the group's equipment, requirements, and price.

Organizations of Faerûn
Lands of Faerûn