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Thread: The Brecht and Mercenaries
03-27-2008, 01:30 AM #1
The Brecht and Mercenaries
At 05:30 PM 3/26/2008, The Swordgaunt wrote:
>I must admit that Brechtur has always been a fringe-territory for
>me, to what extent do they rely on mercenaries? Both the Italians
>and the Hanseatic employed hired armies for most of their wet-work.
That`s an interesting question. First off, I suggest that the
monetary emphasis of the Brecht would mean that many (not all, of
course, but a notable amount) of the units that we might think of as
a "standing army" in other Cerilian cultures would be by comparison
"mercenaries" in the sense that their loyalty is based on a
fundamental employment mentality rather than subjugation to the
state. It`s a subtle distinction, perhaps, but where an Anuirean
soldier would think of himself as having a social duty to his liege,
a Brecht soldier might think more in terms of his professional
obligation to his employer. It`s arguable if one or the other makes
for better soldiers, but from the point of view of the socially
obligated soldier who serves out of more clearly defined terms of
duty and honor, the obligations of a soldier who works for pay would
seem mercenary. Of course, the Brecht do have their own versions of
knights and other soldiers who would serve out of social duty, not
just monetary obligation, but they are closer to the transition
between feudal and "professional" armies than are other Cerilian
races and from the POV of those other races that transition would be
comparable to swords for hire in their own lands.
The second issue has to do more with the nature of mercenaries in
relation to Cerilia`s cultures rather than the Brecht
themselves. Given the financial attitudes and wealth of the Brecht
such "foreign mercenaries" would certainly exist amongst Brecht
armies, but we must consider as much the nature of the other races as
the Brecht desire to hire them. What Cerilian races lend themselves
to forming mercenary companies? Some are obvious, but every culture
has the makings of mercenaries in them. What is most interesting to
me are those occasions when mercenaries have gone up against soldiers
from their country of origin, and that`s probably most likely in a
conflict between the Brecht and any other Cerilian race. With the
Brecht tendency to view things in economic terms such mercenaries
could easily be incorporated into the standard military with little
real distinction made between them and domestic units, and its easy
to see mercenaries adopting enough of Brecht culture to view
themselves as professionals in a way that compares to more modern
views of soldiery.
How much do the Brecht rely on foreign mercenaries? Well, that`s a
tough one to answer exactly because we don`t have a lot of
specifics. If I were to order the human Cerilian races who favor
mercenaries, though, the Brecht would be on the top followed by the
Khinasi, the Anuireans, the Rjurik and last the Vos. Dwarves would
probably be somewhere around the Khinasi and the Anuireans. Elves
and halflings would almost never use mercenaries. The former because
they have a cultural bias, and the latter because they avoid war to
begin with. It`s probably difficult to distinguish between regular
troops and mercenaries when it comes to orogs, goblins and
gnolls. Those assessments are somewhat debatable, of course. In
particular one might want to switch the Anuireans and the Khinasi.
So it depends on how much one views other human races employing
mercenaries. On the whole I would suggest that the Brecht would be
about twice as likely to employ "foreign mercenaries" as the
Anuireans, so amongst their armies we`d find about that proportion
more. A lot of that depends on the individual domain and the
regent`s relationship to local guilders who might control the purse
strings needed to really hire a lot of mercenaries, but as a rough
rule of thumb I think that works pretty well. So if 1 in 10 Anuirean
units is a mercenary the Brecht would have 2 mercenary units. Maybe
3 of those 10 would be "domestic mercenaries" if we want to look at
troops raised through standard mustering processes as mercenaries in
the sense that they are professional soldiers who work for pay. That
would make for half the Brecht military to be "mercenary" in some
sense or another.
As to whether that makes good sense given the game mechanics... well,
that`s another question.
03-27-2008, 01:48 AM #2
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- Aug 2006
Are we counting adventurers as mercinaries? Because it seems to me like roving bands of adventurers and do-gooders kind of fill that, "Shady, heavily armed help that we can't grow ourselves for whatever reason." that for rizzle mercinaries in that time period did.
It doesn't help that BR's hireing system is kind of clunky.
03-27-2008, 02:23 AM #3
Thank you for a good post, Gary.
Mercenaries have always been a part of warfare, and most European realms of a relevant period employed these without much distinction between domestic and foreign units. If we look at Renaissance Italy, the mercenary-institution was well established. Rulers counted their armies by Lances more often than not - a lance being a man-at-arms, a squire, a crossbow-man and a pikeman (according to some sources). These small units were commanded by the man-at-arms, and travelled Europe in search of work. There are also examples of whole companies being employed, sometimes by both sides of a war during a few years (during the Hundred Years War, for instance).
As for mercenaries in Birthright, I see them fitting neatly into the picture. Most of the human cultures have a vital martial culture, and in this era, being a soldier is just another occupation. Few rulers can afford to have a wartime army lounging in their realm if the war is over, collecting payment and creating mayhem. Many of these soldiers will find it hard to return to milking cows or mending shoes after a season or two campaigning.
Now for the cultural aspect of hiring a free lance. I reckon Anuirean nobles will look down on a hired sword, as their culture takes great pride in following ones Lord and Liege. Still, when the fog of war rolls over the land, any sword is a good sword. By this rationale, I find it plausible that there will be fair number of such free lances travelling the Anuirean lands, taking service where they can find it.
In Brechtur, however, I believe they will be treated by the respect their purse demands. A local Landsknecht would probably have no problems with sharing his fire with a Taelshore mercenary - both are soldiers, and more like colleagues than native and foreigner. As for the other cultures, I agree with Geeman on his breakdown.
One thing this opens up for is famous, or notorious, companies. Say, a Khinashi company of heavy infantry, known for their skill and valour. Such a company might cost plenty, but raise the overall quality of an entire army, if they can be persuaded to take the contract.
03-27-2008, 02:25 AM #4
At 06:48 PM 3/26/2008, ThatSeanGuy wrote:
>Are we counting adventurers as mercinaries? Because it seems to me
>like roving bands of adventurers and do-gooders kind of fill that,
>"Shady, heavily armed help that we can`t grow ourselves for whatever
>reason." that for rizzle mercinaries in that time period did.
Most traditional D&D adventurers probably would qualify more as
mercenaries than anything else.... Of course, in BR the PCs might
very well be regents or nobles, which wouldn`t make them mercenaries
in the sense that we usually mean that term, but if one were using
the setting at the adventure level with the PCs wandering from domain
to domain having adventures then they`d be the sort of people who,
like Indiana Jones, "give mercenaries a bad name."
03-27-2008, 02:26 AM #5
03-27-2008, 03:11 AM #6
I think that when a Brecht ruler of whatever kind needs a unit, he grants a patent to a person to raise a unit and that this person recruits people under his own banner. The unit is paid for by some agreed amount when the person accepts the patent, and then in addition, has a share of spoils, and special rights to certain kinds of spoils, so having a patent can be very lucrative.
However, I think there are standing forces in Brectur, there is after all a nobility there and towns always have their own forces as well. But beyond a core body of at-start forces, rulers issue patents and captains come along and supply troops for rulers.
An example of a typical captain might be Kalder van Lausrüf.
03-27-2008, 02:30 PM #7
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- Nov 2001
- Columbus, Ohio, United States
In a message dated 3/26/2008 11:12:35 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time,
I think that when a Brecht ruler of whatever kind needs a unit, he grants a
patent to a person to raise a unit and that this person recruits people under
his own banner. The unit is paid for by some agreed amount when the person
accepts the patent, and then in addition, has a share of spoils, and special
rights to certain kinds of spoils, so having a patent can be very lucrative.
However, I think there are standing forces in Brectur, there is after all a
nobility there and towns always have their own forces as well. But beyond a
core body of at-start forces, rulers issue patents and captains come along and
supply troops for rulers.
I have no argument with this idea.
I suspect there could be lots of Rjurik and Vos mercenaries, as well as
goblins, too. I note that those are among the least-developed economies, and
thus the most likely to have young men looking for jobs other than staying on
the farm. Such was part of the reasons for large numbers of Scottish and Irish
mercenaries in RL Renaissance era. I`ve read a fair bit of Polish history,
and for a while, it was an exotic sign of wealth for individual magnates to
have a bodyguard of Scots.
There could also be (long-)standing mercenary companies, which I what I
think the landsknechts and Swiss often were.
Last edited by Thelandrin; 05-08-2008 at 05:27 PM.
03-28-2008, 12:07 AM #8
The question of how the mercenary-institution blends in with the Brecht culture is quite interesting, especially if we work out of the assumption that the Brechtur is composed of merchant-states (akin to Renaissance Italy). If we also add the Hanseatic guild-structure, we get a very interesting mix. I will not let the theories in this post be hampered with game-systems, and to little extent by what we hold to be Canon. The way I see it, these threads are meant to expand on the material we have.
The military of Anuire, which I see as roughly equivalent to the armies of 15th - 16th Century Central and Western Europe, would be drawn from the urban and rural populations and the nobility. The former providing the massed pikes and archers, the latter the leadership and the cavalry. A realm should not keep a large army in the field for too long, less the cost (upkeep), and the loss of income (reduced taxes as the peasantry are occupie fighting rather than tilling the fields) does irreparable damage to the realm's economy. Most regents will be able to draw upon a relatively small contingent of proffesional soldiers, from household guards and garrisons. These units should not be seen as the backbone of an army, not as an army in it self. These troops should be sufficient to hold a province, repel a raid, or quell a revolt, not to stand against a full fledged invasion.
This opens for mercenaries in most conflicts. The regent who wishes to invade his neighbour would want to bolster his forces by having as many professional soldiers under his command as possible. Most likely, the regent will borrow gold and promise plunder to attract as many of these mercenaries as possible. A hired sword would be respected for his skill, but lack the connection to the land, and thus be seen as less of a gentleman than the local squire.
I see feudalism as an Anuirean concept. The Brecht, as an urban merchant-culture, will likely place less emphasis on the metaphysical tie to the land, and more so on the more practical need for skilled soldiers. A Brecht army will most likely be drawn from urban militia - citizens called into service for a short duration if the realm is threatened. The poorer classes would field swordsmen, pikes and archers, while the petty nobility and the merchants, who can afford a horse would muster units of cavalry. Given the proximity to the Gorgons Crown and the Vos, they will undoubtedly have a warrior-class who forms the vital units of heavy cavalry (be they knights proper or men-at-arms).
The guilds, powerful political forces in their own right, would in all likelyhood have militia of their own, although to a much lesser extent than the Law and the Land. Still, I am sure that the Guilds will have fielded armies of their own on more than one occasion. A likely scenario is when a regent and a guilder faces a conflict over taxation or trade-rights. From our own history, we can see that the Hanseatic League hired mercenaries to destroy the Norwegian king's fleet. We have incidents where Hanseatic thugs surrounded the house of a representative of the Crown, and subsequently burned the building and all in it to the ground.
Regardless of these political factors, a culture who focuses on craftsmanship and trade, would most likely regard soldiering as nothing but another occupation. One needed to sustain the civilization. The concept presented by kgauck, where a patent is given to an individual who then hires the army, is the ultimate product of a professionalized mercenary-institution, as I see it.
In Cerillia, mercenaries would probably be found both in, and from most cultures and [D&D] Classes. A half-elven Ranger, a Company of Dwarven Axemen, an Anuirean Battle-Mage, and the list goes on. These units, and individuals, could add great flavour to a military campaign, as well as tip the scales in a hard fought battle. As a concept for a campaign, the mercenary-band is ripe with opportunities for drama, inrigue and action.
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