Gold & Glory

by Tim Beach

Chapter 6: Retired Companies

There are three basic reasons for retiring a mercenary company: death, legitimacy, and age. The first is common enough, and many mercenary corps have had short lifespans.

Legitimacy is attained by relatively few groups. For it, the company must have a desire to settle down, and someone must be willing to give them a permanent position of some kind.

Retirement because of age is very rare among mercenary groups. Most prefer to go out with a blaze of glory.

The Companies

Details of retired companies are offered in a very abbreviated format. References for one, the Midnight Men, appears on the map and in the index.

The Company of the Wolf

The last two decades saw the rise and fall of the Company of the Wolf, which bears no relation to the later adventuring band of the same name.

Led by Baron Wulfgar the Gray, the Company operated from the Inner Sea to the Sword Coast, guarding merchants, fighting humanoids, and occasionally choosing a side in one political conflict or another.

The Company's last action was what most would call a fool's quest-an assault on Zhentil Keep. The company's wizards and thieves managed to place someone inside the keep, but they were uncovered before capitalizing on that advantage. Orcs and other humanoids employed by the Zhentarim swarmed the Company of the Wolf, eradicating them completely.

The Gray Doom

In its early career, the Gray Doom operated in several skirmishes along the Sword Coast. They gained a reputation for speed and skill.

Later, the Gray Doom was one of the companies that fought on the side of good in the battles against Yrkhetep detailed in I14, Swords of the Iron Legion. Under the leadership of Olway Lezard, they distinguished themselves in the Battle of Thurgabanteth in Chondath. In that fateful battle, they earned the eternal enmity of several of the evil groups in the area.

Two years after the battle, they were set upon by members of the Chill, some of whom were survivors of the Battle of Thurgabanteth. The skirmish quickly escalated into a large engagement, and the 50 infantry and 20 archers of the Gray Doom found themselves badly outnumbered. Though they fought valiantly (delaying the growth of the Chill for more than a year), the Gray Doom was wiped out to a man.

Clan Obarskyr

Clan Obarskyr acted as mercenaries nearly 12 centuries ago. Operating in the Heartlands, they eventually decided to settle in what would become Cormyr.

They formed the dynasty that has ruled Cormyr since then, but have been largely sublimated into the other noble houses they displaced.

Remembering its mercenary background has caused the Cormyrian royal family to be wary of mercenary activity. This is partly responsible for the Cormyrian policies regarding mercenaries: companies must buy an expensive charter or prove legitimate employment if they expect to be able to gather together and carry weapons.

The Iron Legion

The Iron Legion was the name chosen by those who joined together to invade Hades, the climactic battle of the war against the forces of Yrkhetep.

Despite the inexperience of its many raw recruits, the Iron Legion did quite well. Most of the troops were killed; those who survived still tell the tales of when they went to the lower planes.

Of the groups who traveled to Hades, only two, the Windriders and the Sisterhood of the Oaks, still operate as mercenaries. The Windriders are on the verge of retirement (due to age, unless they can find one last, glorious battle). The Sisterhood maintains its membership, constantly initiating new members whom they deem worthy.

The Iron Legion is an example of a corps that retired because they outlived their purpose.

The Midnight Men

The Midnight Men gained fame in operations from Waterdeep to Thay. They were thought to have disbanded for other pursuits as long as 20 years ago. Supposedly, they were still in existence as a shadowy brotherhood, rather than a battle force.

Recently, however, the symbols of the Midnight Men have been seen on undead creatures in the Stonelands. It seems that someone or something has been hunting down former members of the Midnight Men, making them (as well as other unlucky victims) into undead abominations, and marking them as Midnight Men. Whether this is intended as a pun, or as an insidious plot for revenge, is unknown.

The group now consists of more than 100 undead, ranging from skeletons and zombies to wights and vampires.

The Moonlight Men

The Moonlight Men were one of the most famous mercenary groups, though they were active for less than 10 years.

Though they operated throughout the Realms, the Moonlight Men spent much of their time guarding caravan travel in the North, especially around Sundabar, Silverymoon, and Everlund. Detractors intimate they were smugglers as well.

Their leader was Mintiper Moonsilver (called Mintiper Silverhand by some), a bard of some renown. Mintiper had been a member of several other bands before he formed the Moonlight Men and led them to fame.

The final and most famous battle of the Moonlight Men was their defense of Turnstone Pass against orcish hordes headed toward Everlund and Silverymoon. The 200-person company slew more than 4,000 orcs in the hours-long battle. However, only six Moonlight Men survived the battle.

The whereabouts of those six survivors are unknown. Mintiper wandered in the southern lands for a while, and others are thought to now serve with Silverymoon's militia.

Red Plumes of Hillsfar

The Red Plumes were a somewhat unscrupulous band that operated in the area around the Moonsea. They were put on permanent retainer a few years ago by Maalthiir, First Lord of Hillsfar. They now lead a force of more than 10,000 fighters, levels 1-8.

Hillsfar sent a unit of 600 Red Plumes, mostly cavalry, with the Army of the Alliance during the Horde Wars.

Since the coming of the Horde, the Red Plumes have gone back to their normal activities, protecting Hillsfar and extorting passersby.

The Shining Steel Mercenary Company

The Shining Steel Mercenary Company formed when a band of adventurers (also called the Shining Steel) was asked to recruit a corps large enough to defend Spandeliyon from the pirates of the Fallen Stars.

After the pirates were turned away, much of the company stayed together under the leadership of the adventurers, a mixed group of wizards, warriors, and bards. The group operated under democratic principles, accepting several jobs around the Sea of Fallen Stars.

They paid little attention to real problems, seeing most jobs as a lark, or a romantic and glorious adventure-at least until the coming of the Horde.

The leaders of the mercenary corps held a council to discuss politics, and decided the Horde presented too great a threat to ignore. They were hired with Sembian funds (one of many companies to serve in such a way).

Though they distinguished themselves in battle, the Shining Steel was almost completely wiped out. A few of the survivors have reformed the old Shining Steel adventuring company, which now operates on the Sword Coast.

The Skykillers

The Skykillers were a short-lived mercenary group, cavalry mounted on hippogriffs. Their leader, Sir Lehakin, was a mortal enemy of Bren Wingblade, company leader of the Windriders.

Lehakin's band joined the forces of Yrkhetep when the arcanaloth moved to take over Chondath (detailed in Swords of the Iron Legion). The Skykillers met the Windriders at the Battle of Five Crowns, and Lehakin's forces were destroyed.

Organizations of Faerûn
Lands of Faerûn