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Author Topic: Dwarf Mercenaries  (Read 402 times)
The Captain of Crunch
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« on: March 29, 2017, 07:59:58 PM »

Hi everyone. I've been away for a while. I'm about to start a new game, something a little more roleplay focused than my more recent combative games. I'm also going to set it in my "Endless Horizons" setting to get back to working there.

The campaign idea sprung from a "tribal campaign" idea one of the players had. Basically, a campaign where all of the players come from the same group in some fashion, such as all the same race or all the same class/type of class. Restriction can often breed creativity.

We decided on the players being members of an all dwarf mercenary group. Their stomping grounds are the borderlands of a dwarf and a human kingdom. The dwarves don't like them because they aren't operating specifically for the dwarf's best interest. The humans don't like them because they're dwarves.

I plan to run the game fairly episodically, so it's easier to keep playing if someone doesn't show up for a game. I'm looking to take some inspiration from the "Berserk" manga/anime, but I'm looking for other ideas. The two nations aren't at war, yet, but a I want the threat of war to be a thread that runs through things so I can pull that thread eventually and put them right in the middle of it.

For the first session, I'm planning to have some group capture the PC's mercenary group's leader. Taking the leader out of the equation will put the onus of decision making and leadership on the PCs, so I don't have anyone telling them what to do. I can also then kill the leader to give the players an easy to hate rival group.

Do you have any other ideas for elements or themes for such a campaign?
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« Reply #1 on: March 30, 2017, 10:38:50 AM »

How big is this mercenary group? Are the PCs basically it, or are we talking a small dwarf army, like a "Dwarven Black Company" kinda thing?

I feel like a fairly detailed regional map - maybe a hex-crawl - could be useful in this sort of game.
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The Captain of Crunch
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« Reply #2 on: March 30, 2017, 05:55:44 PM »

The group will be larger then the PCs, but the PCs are the majority of the movers and shakers. I'll definitely be making a map for the area. I'd like the mercenary company to be a little big so they can do mass combat or at least send groups out on little missions.
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« Reply #3 on: March 30, 2017, 08:41:33 PM »

This is super cool, and also seems like it could be wonderfully low-prep. Pepper a landscape with enough enemy and neutral armies, "creeps," strategic landmarks, towns to take and hold, villages to plunder, etc and you don't need extensive plots or exhaustively detailed dungeons.
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The Captain of Crunch
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« Reply #4 on: March 30, 2017, 08:54:22 PM »

I figure it will be a lot of "preprep". I'll be making some NPC stats for humanoid enemies, and figuring out what goes on in the world without them. But they'll be able to drive what they want to do largely.
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« Reply #5 on: April 06, 2017, 02:55:42 PM »

Did we come back at around the same time again?

Sounds really interesting. Question - if the Dwarves don't much like this mercenary group, then who's hiring them?
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Sparkletwist

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« Reply #6 on: April 07, 2017, 10:36:12 PM »

Xathan

Did we come back at around the same time again?

Sounds really interesting. Question - if the Dwarves don't much like this mercenary group, then who's hiring them?

Maybe ... we are connected.

The Dwarven nationalists don't like them, because they're independent, but they're still a useful force (especially when you don't want your official military's fingerprints on something). There's also a fairly wide stretch of boarder lands between the human kingdom and the dwarf lands, areas that are ostensibly in either boarder but too far out and too unimportant to fortify. When the specter of war starts to grow, then either side will likely start fortifying.

My players have made their characters statistically. Some of them are still working on backstories. All are working on names.

One is a Hill Dwarf Warlock. Hill Dwarves in my setting are generally closer allies to humans, but they also fight over territory with them more because Hill Dwarves live on the surface. The dwarves in the region are Mountain Dwarves, btw. The Warlock grew up wanting to be a soldier, but she wasn't strong enough or exceptionally tough enough (for a dwarf) to stand out. She also wasn't smart enough to excel in business or a trade, and fell in as a general laborer; a miner. While working in a deep mine in Mountain Dwarf territory, she found ... something. She can't tell you what it was. But it offered her the power to be what she always wanted: a soldier. She now wields dark magic, and a silver pick gifted to her by ... something. She was kicked out when she was blamed for the mine's eventual collapse, made worse when they discovered her new powers. Now she works with the mercenaries, because they don't care.

The next is a Mountain Dwarf Barbarian. Generations ago, his family "fell down the mountain" and ended up settling in the wilds among human barbarians. A traveling merchant introduced him to dwarven ale, inspiring him to set out in search of his ancestral home. They wouldn't take him in. He was too reckless and too much of an outsider. He fell in with the mercenaries because they didn't care. He doesn't care for money, so he's paid in alcohol.

Next is a Mountain Dwarf Artificer (using the most recent Unearthed Arcana version). He was a demolitions expert for a mining company. I don't yet have his backstory.

Last is a Mountain Dwarf Cleric (of the Forge domain). He's the only one in the group who still has good relations with the traditional dwarves (because of his background as a very traditional priest). I'm curious as to what the player comes up with for why he's there. Maybe he's trying to keep the mercenaries on the right path.
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« Reply #7 on: April 11, 2017, 12:42:01 AM »

Xeviat

Xathan

Did we come back at around the same time again?

Sounds really interesting. Question - if the Dwarves don't much like this mercenary group, then who's hiring them?

Maybe ... we are connected.


I swear we are. Are you sure you're not me in disguise?

Quote

The Dwarven nationalists don't like them, because they're independent, but they're still a useful force (especially when you don't want your official military's fingerprints on something). There's also a fairly wide stretch of boarder lands between the human kingdom and the dwarf lands, areas that are ostensibly in either boarder but too far out and too unimportant to fortify. When the specter of war starts to grow, then either side will likely start fortifying.

Gotcha. So...it's actually fairly analogous to how most people view PMCs in the modern world?

Quote


My players have made their characters statistically. Some of them are still working on backstories. All are working on names.

One is a Hill Dwarf Warlock. Hill Dwarves in my setting are generally closer allies to humans, but they also fight over territory with them more because Hill Dwarves live on the surface. The dwarves in the region are Mountain Dwarves, btw. The Warlock grew up wanting to be a soldier, but she wasn't strong enough or exceptionally tough enough (for a dwarf) to stand out. She also wasn't smart enough to excel in business or a trade, and fell in as a general laborer; a miner. While working in a deep mine in Mountain Dwarf territory, she found ... something. She can't tell you what it was. But it offered her the power to be what she always wanted: a soldier. She now wields dark magic, and a silver pick gifted to her by ... something. She was kicked out when she was blamed for the mine's eventual collapse, made worse when they discovered her new powers. Now she works with the mercenaries, because they don't care.

I'm a bit confused on Hill dwarf human reltions. So they're more closely allied, but fight more? That must be complicated. That character sounds pretty awesome though.

Quote


The next is a Mountain Dwarf Barbarian. Generations ago, his family "fell down the mountain" and ended up settling in the wilds among human barbarians. A traveling merchant introduced him to dwarven ale, inspiring him to set out in search of his ancestral home. They wouldn't take him in. He was too reckless and too much of an outsider. He fell in with the mercenaries because they didn't care. He doesn't care for money, so he's paid in alcohol.

For some reason I'm picturing a reverse of Corporal Carrot here - raised by humans, but is still very dwarfy. And I love that his reason for trying to to the dwarves was ale.

Quote

Next is a Mountain Dwarf Artificer (using the most recent Unearthed Arcana version). He was a demolitions expert for a mining company. I don't yet have his backstory.

Last is a Mountain Dwarf Cleric (of the Forge domain). He's the only one in the group who still has good relations with the traditional dwarves (because of his background as a very traditional priest). I'm curious as to what the player comes up with for why he's there. Maybe he's trying to keep the mercenaries on the right path.

I'd be curious to hear what they end up going with!
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Sparkletwist

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The Captain of Crunch
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« Reply #8 on: April 12, 2017, 12:20:53 AM »

Xathan

I swear we are. Are you sure you're not me in disguise?

Why do you assume you're the original?

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Gotcha. So...it's actually fairly analogous to how most people view PMCs in the modern world?

Yup.

Quote

I'm a bit confused on Hill dwarf human reltions. So they're more closely allied, but fight more? That must be complicated. That character sounds pretty awesome though.

This region's dwarves are mountain dwarves. Hill dwarves are from a different area. There, the hill dwarves follow a version of the same religion as most humans do. Humans follow Chivalry, traditions passed down by the Five Knights who saved humans from enslavement to the giants. The swords of the Knights were passed down, and a dwarf once carried the sword of the Gold Knight (who represented Honor). Now, Hill Dwarves follow a sect of Chivalry that places Honor above Justice (Justice being the chief tenant of Chivalry to humans, as Justice was the original leader of the Knights). So, they're closely aligned. The character is a Hill Dwarf, but came to the area seeking a new life.

Quote

For some reason I'm picturing a reverse of Corporal Carrot here - raised by humans, but is still very dwarfy. And I love that his reason for trying to to the dwarves was ale.

I'm not familiar with "Corporal Carrot". Also, I'm pretty sure I'm going with Dwarven ale being obscenely potent, what with their general poison resistance (and my dwarves being descendants of badgers, with their general poison resistance). I imagine dwarves as not really liking beer until they started making it on their own, as human beer is just barley tea to them.
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The Captain of Crunch
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« Reply #9 on: April 12, 2017, 12:28:42 AM »

Okay, so I'm planning the first session. They recently finished a big job. They awaken to an ambush, and their commander is gone, along with their pay. Why's the commander gone? Did he leave to negotiate peace with the opposing group, only to be captured? Was he in on it? If the group was able to kidnap the commander, then why didn't they just slit the group's throat's in their sleep?

Who are their first enemies? A rival mercenary band? The people they just attacked? Or those who recently hired them?

And what are the source of the tensions between the humans and the dwarves? The humans in the area aren't the Republic. They're a kingdom who used to be part of the empire and kept up their Feudal traditions after the empire's fall. Do they have emperial desires? A desire to take over the dwarves? Or is it more mundane, more economical? The human's mines have dried up and dwarves are raising the prices of iron and gold from their mines; the mountain dwarves can always dig deeper.

I'm hoping for gray morality for this game. OH, maybe the humans are hiring the PCs to help secure a small forest which diviners have determined has large ore deposits. This will put them in conflict with the forest creatures there. It's an animistic world, so fey creatures like elves and goblins could be there, or maybe the more mundane feral people.

I'm just spitballing at this point, trying to get the creativity flowing.
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Endless Horizons: Action and adventure set in a grand world ripe for exploration.

Proud recipient of the Silver Tortoise Award for extra Krunchyness.

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