Gold & Glory

by Tim Beach

Chapter 3: Nonhuman Companies

Though not yet "standard" in the Realms, nonhuman companies in general are becoming more common as more races become curious about the world around them.

In contrast, elven and dwarven mercenaries have existed for centuries, but are becoming less common as the population of those races dwindles. Most elves and dwarves would rather not be paid for ending their lives early.

Most nonhuman companies are made up of ogres or goblinoids. Some groups form spontaneously when an entire tribe decides to hire itself out as a mercenary corps; these groups are usually led by their chieftains or shamans. They might be motivated by greed, or lack of food and other necessities may drive them to seek employment.

Other nonhuman mercenary corps are founded by powerful human wizards or monstrous leaders, inspired by greed, a need for revenge, or some similar motivation. These leaders usually dominate the company completely, holding its members almost as slaves.

Nonhuman mercenary companies can serve as wonderful antagonists in campaign situations.

The Companies

Most of the entries in this section appear in a somewhat abbreviated format.

The map shows where many of the groups operate, while the index lists the groups by region and also lists the other sources where information might be found.

The Blue Sigil

TypeStanding, fixed
BaseMog's Keep near Longsaddle
Current Sphere(s) of OperationThe North
LeaderMog the Fist
Number of Members450
General AlignmentNeutral evil

History: The Blue Sigil ogres became a mercenary company about 15 years ago, when imminent starvation drove their leader, Thorog, to find a way to support his tribe. Thorog's tribe had been raided several times by adventurers, some with unique symbols, some paid by nearby towns to kill ogres.

Thorog, a rather smart ogre, reasoned that if other people could get paid to kill ogres, ogres could get paid to kill other people. He created the company's sigil and required all members to wear it for unity. The symbol, a blue circle crossed by a crescent moon and a lightning strike, is also displayed on armor and the back of helmets (so the ogres know not to stab other members in the back).

The savage Blue Sigil had problems getting hired at first, but they have gained a reputation for living up to their agreements. They charge 500 gp per week and enjoy looting.

Thorog and the leaders who followed him (Mog is the eighth) have used some of the company's funds to purchase special arms and armor for the ogres and ogresses of the Blue Sigil. The group keeps these in good condition.

Thorog and his successors have accepted lone ogres into their group if they undergo an initiation, and the corps maintains a fairly large population.

The Blue Sigil is enemy to the Bloodaxes and the Chill.

The Chill

TypeStanding, fixed
BaseChill Tower in the Lurkwood
Current Sphere(s) of OperationThe North
LeaderArdenor Crush
GovernmentMilitary hierarchy
Number of Members650
General AlignmentLawful evil

History: Though he appears to be a normal hobgoblin, Ardenor Crush is a reincarnated evil warrior and should be treated as a 10th-level fighter. After he found himself in a hobgoblin body, Ardenor formed a band to exact revenge on those who had slain him.

He found his friend Grangor (the 13th-level wizard who reincarnated him) and gathered most of the goblinoid troops who survived the Second Battle of Urml (see I14, Swords of the Iron Legion). With these allies, he hunted and killed the group of adventurers who thought they had ended his evil ways.

Ardenor led his band into the North, gathering a large, well-trained force with five units: the Frost Riders, 100 hobgoblins armed with battle axes and mounted on heavy warhorses; the Winter Wolves, 100 goblins armed with spears and mounted on winter wolves; the Cold Steel, 150 orcish swordsmen; the Frigid Fists, 50 ogrish shock troops; and the Icicles, 200 kobold archers specializing in ambushes. The group is well-equipped and very dangerous. They charge 500 gp per week.

Ardenor has several magical items, including gauntlets of ogre power and an amulet that allows him to summon a nightmare for up to eight hours each day. Grangor does not accompany the corps on missions, but instead usually remains in Chill Tower to defend it. Each unit is headed by a lieutenant of the same type, but with maximum hit points.

The company's symbol, worn on the upper arm, is the brand of a fist around which is the tattoo of a white nimbus.

The Chill has a number of enemies, including the Bloodaxes and the Blue Sigil ogres. Though on poor terms with most of the orcish tribes in the region, they are sometimes hired by them.

Clan Hammerhand

TypeStanding, fixed
BaseRavens Bluff
Current Sphere(s) of OperationThe Bloodstone Lands, the Vast
LeaderGarren Hammerhand
Number of Members200
General AlignmentLawful good

History: Clan Hammerhand is a long-lived dwarven clan that was established in Earthfast and in Ravens Bluff when it was still Sarbreen.

After the Horde Wars - in which several Hammerhands participated - the entire clan determined to resettle in Earthfast, which would involve removing a number of the goblinoids there. To support the clan and gain battle experience, several Hammerhands hire themselves out as mercenaries.

The mercenaries maintain offices in Ravens Bluff, Tantras, and Telflamm. To distinguish themselves, they wear beads (ranging from simple stone to jeweled gold) in their beards and hair.

All of Clan Hammerhand's mercenaries are infantry, wielding a variety of weapons; hammers are the most popular by far, but there are a number of battle axes and footman's picks as well. They are excellent at underground maneuvers and quite good at sieges. They charge 5 gp per member per week or portion thereof.

The Claw

TypeStanding, fixed
BaseThe Trollmoors in the North
Current Sphere(s) of OperationThe North, the Underdark
LeaderKillithor the Alhoon
Number of Members100
General AlignmentLawful evil

History: The Claw is a company of trolls. The members of the Claw wear no symbols, and are directed in battlefield action by hidden masters, presumed by most to be the wizards who are contacted when somebody wishes to hire the mercenary company.

The real leader of the Claw is Killithor the Alhoon, an "illithilich". Alhoon are undead, psionic mind flayers who can cast spells as 9th-level wizards. Killithor has a council of four normal mind flayers under his control. These in turn communicate with the four human wizards who direct commerce for the Claw, demanding a flat fee of 1,000 gp for any job lasting up to one month.

The Alhoon and his officers are very secretive and seldom seen. They participate in Claw battles, but never risk their secrecy. Killithor has never been known to participate in a battle directly, and has been seen only by his illithid council.

The Claw was formed to spread destruction and may eventually act as a body of shock troops for some nefarious plan of Killithor's.

The trolls of the Claw have no choice on the jobs they take. Their tactics are very basic, though mental commands from the leaders direct them. With their regenerative ability and attacks, the trolls are very effective troops.

The Red Thunder Mercenary Corps

TypeStanding, roaming
BaseThe Hordelands
Current Sphere(s) of OperationThe Hordelands
LeaderGlory Black-hoof
GovernmentMilitary hierarchy
Number of Members150
General AlignmentNeutral

History: The Red Thunder was formed primarily by centaurs from the Chondalwood after they participated in the Battle of Five Crowns in the war against the arcanaloth Yrkhetep (see I14, Swords of the Iron Legion).

Glory Black-hoof was a minor officer in the centaur forces; meeting and fighting aside members of other races piqued her curiosity, as well as that of other centaurs. After the wars, she and about 30 other centaurs formed a small mercenary company .

The Red Thunder saw action in the Shaar, along the Vilhon Reach, and in the Bloodstone Lands. More centaurs were recruited into the band, which moved its operation into the Hordelands after the Horde Wars. There, they came in contact with the nomadic centaurs of the steppes (see the Horde boxed set), a tribe of which joined the Red Thunder. Though the nomads were not used to female leadership, they have learned that Glory is a masterful tactician.

The company consists of three units of 50 archers each; one unit also carries nets and long swords, another sabres, and the third lances. The company prefers to attack with bows, and will retreat to lead opponents into ambush.

The Red Thunder Corps works primarily as caravan guards, for which they charge a reasonable fee of 150 gp per week.

Servants of the Royal Egg

TypeStanding/recruits, roaming
Current Sphere(s) of OperationChult, Tethyr
LeaderSladdis (Ghassis)
GovernmentMilitary hierarchy
Number of Members200-500
General AlignmentNeutral

History: These spear-wielding lizardmen are unusual among mercenary corps because they are slaves. This group is "rented out" to whomever offers the lizard king Ghassis sufficient gold. The group's normal cost is 10 sp per member per week, to which Ghassis adds up to 1 gp per slave per week for hazardous jobs (those in which he expects 25% or greater casualties). As long as the gold is right, Ghassis has no qualms about sending the company on even the most dangerous missions, but expects payment in advance.

Ghassis is a shrewd, well-traveled individual. It is rumored he has connections to spelljamming lizard men who supply him with large numbers of strong and intelligent slaves.

Wise employers provide strong leadership and explicit instructions for the corps because the Servants show little initiative. Their field leader Sladdis is intelligent, but is trained to follow orders rather than give them.

The Servants will follow simple, direct tactical orders with single-minded determination. These mercenaries are known for their intense sense of group identity, and few of these implacable reptiles have the imagination to truly fear much of anything. If an employer is interested in hiring a mercenary company for a dangerous, thankless, yet straightforward task, the Servants of the Royal Egg should be considered.

The Shard

TypeStanding, roaming
BaseThe Orsraun Mountains
Current Sphere(s) of OperationUnknown
LeaderLonda Ironhead
Number of Members? (less than 50)
General AlignmentNeutral evil

History: The Shards may exist only in memory now. Two seasons ago, a party of adventurers stumbled upon a scene of carnage, noting three red dragon corpses and a large number of charred ogre bodies with the distinctive obsidian-edged weapons that marked members of the Shard. Eagerly searching for treasure, the adventurers found only scorched ground and a few stray coins, leading them to believe that at least some of the ogres had escaped.

The Shieldbreakers

TypeStanding, fixed
BaseShieldbreaker Citadel south of the Deepwash
Current Sphere(s) of OperationTethyr (?)
LeaderKoranan Splitoak
GovernmentMilitary hierarchy
Number of Members320
General AlignmentLawful evil

History: The Shieldbreakers are ogres named for their action upon refusing to support their chief's slaughter of a human village. They still refuse to use shields in battle, but instead wield two-handed weapons, especially bardiches.

Led by the veteran mercenary Koranan Splitoak, the Shieldbreakers accept any job save one calling for the murder of unarmed foes (which they consider dishonorable). This corps is one of the most respected in the Realms.

They ask 50 gp per day of action.

Silent Rain

TypeStanding, fixed
Current Sphere(s) of OperationThe North, the Stonelands
GovernmentMilitary hierarchy
Number of Members100 (?)
General AlignmentChaotic good

History: Little is known of this mysterious group of elven archers, for few have survived their "deadly rain" of arrows. Of those few, none have seen even one of the infamous mercenaries. The company is recognized by their arrows, which use red-striped black fletching and uniquely shaped heads.

Consisting solely of elves, the Silent Rain is one of the most exclusive of mercenary corps. Caring little for gold and fame (they ask only 100 gp per week), Silent Rain will agree only to jobs that either promote elven causes or involve destroying humanoids.

Prospective employers must leave written word (in elvish) near Evereska, and the Silent Rain will send a representative if interested. Little is known of their leader, but she is supposedly as deadly and as beautiful as her namesake.

The Teeth

BaseThe Stonelands
Current Sphere(s) of OperationThe Stonelands, the Goblin Marches
LeaderJadron the Fang
Number of Members100-200
General AlignmentChaotic evil

History: These ogres are led by one of the cruelest mercenary captains known, Jadron the Fang. Jadron is utterly ruthless and is as much feared and respected by his own warriors as by his enemies. Over the course of his short and bloody career, Jadron has made many enemies and no friends. Nightshade, leader of the Silent Rain, is particularly vehement in her hatred of Jadron and the Teeth.

To join the Teeth, an ogre must go through a rigorous initiation, including filing all teeth to sharp points. The only way to leave the Teeth is by dying.

The Teeth are loosely organized into units of 19 warriors and a sergeant who reports directly to Jadron. These units can be employed separately or combined to form a larger force. The Teeth favor quick, decisive combat and favor striking from several directions at once to confuse and frighten their foes. The Teeth are especially fond of biting their opponents, leaving distinctive marks on their victims.

This company hires itself out for any job for 2 gp per warrior per week.

Organizations of Faerûn
Lands of Faerûn