Modern Fantasy: Mercenary Characters (an Example)

This is a follow up to a previous post. In order to better illustrate the post I am going to create a fantasy mercenary company on the fly. Dwarves popped into my mind, followed closely by Dwarf Fortress. I’ll start there.

Siege Warfare. The sort of thing our company specializes in…

The Wandering Hearth: A Mercenary Company

Two Hundred Years ago a great Dwarven Fortress came under attack and was nearly destroyed. In the aftermatch, the King’s eldest son had the gall to suggest that the traditional ways were failing and that that the people needed to find new ways to combat their enemies or perish. This breach of etiquette shocked many, and influential people began to question prince Ironheart’s fitness to rule. However, the prince had many friends among the younger dwarves. The King took a pragmatic approach: he decided to send Prince Ironheart forth to found a new colony. The expedition would either succeed and bring a new land under Dwarven rule, or it would fail and show that the Prince was indeed inept. It seemed like a wise decision at the time.

Prince Ironheart, however, was as ambitious as he was charismatic. He led his company to the very gates of Old Mithras, thought lost after the Dragon Balsmog attacked long ago. Unfortunately the Dragon was still in the old ruin, woke and set upon the dwarves. Ironheart fell, valiantly defending his people from the Dragon’s wrath. His wife, the Dwarf who became known as “Sapphire” in the nine kingdoms of men led her people back to the old lands, braving many dangers, only to find the gates closed to them.

Without a home to call their own, the band of Dwarves turned to mercenary work. Constant travel had already hardened the band, and the mercenary profession was considered honourable in their kingdom. Their knowledge of mining and stonework made allowed them to make a fortune as siege specialists in the constant border disputes between petty barons and rival dynasties in the nine kingdoms. They took the name The Wandering Hearth, signifying that they had no home but with the company. “Sappire” proved a better leader than her husband, leading the band through many successes and weathering a few disasters. Her Grandchildren lead the company now, formed up of Dwarves, Humans, and even a few orcs.

The Characters

“Ruby” Ironheart: Ruby is the current leader of The Wandering Hearth. She is relatively new to the position, but has won the respect of several of the captains with an astute series of postings in the Middle Kingdoms border wars. Ruby is even tempered, but cultivates the reputation of being tempestuous outside of her inner circle, a lie aided by her red hair and a nose that has been broken once too often. Ruby has long term plans, she wants to modernize the Hearth and then she wants to somehow acquire a castle to act as a base of operations for the band… even marriage to a human  is acceptable if it furthers her goals.

Pug Ironheart: Pug is named after his father’s favourite dog. Suits him just fine. His father was a great man, those rumours of him being not right in the head after a mishap with a powder keg are the product of jealous hearts, Pug resents Ruby’s position as leader of the company, but supports her because of his deep sense of family honour. Pug has fought in over fifty battles and has the scars to prove it. He is a vicious fighter, a superb sapper, and is popular with his men, but sadly for Pug he does not have a head for sums or long term strategy. He would do anything to get back to the old Kingdoms.

“Bolt”, Vashtuth: Vashtuth is a massive Orc. Some claim he is half-ogre or even half-giant, but in truth both his parents were orcs who were captured when fighting against the Wandering Hearth, and allowed to live and work for their freedom. Vashtuth grew up in the company and followed his parents example, The other free orcs in the company now follow his lead. Vashtuth is Ruby’s right hand man and whip. He is rightly feared for his skill with a Dwarven Arbalest, a monstrous crossbow that he can fire faster and better than anyone alive. Vashtuth resents and detests “uncivilized” orcs, to the point where it causes problems.

“Silver”: Silver is a stunning woman of noble bearing. Ruby’s mother found her in a fishing village and paid for fer to learn how to act like a Nine Kingdoms noblewoman. Silver pretends to be a former noble who has thrown her lot in with the Wandering Hearth. She helps attract the sort of client who is only comfortable with dealing with other “blue-bloods”. Silver is skimming as much money as she can from her clients, ostensibly so she can leave the company and retire, but really because she has come to love duplicity and playing games with other people’s trust. She does not steel from the company directly, but her schemes could get them into trouble.

“Bells” Tinira Vandere: Tinira is a winter elf witch. She is on the run from her people and the company provides ample shelter in a far-away land. Bells as she is called in the company is a skilled magic-user who uses weather magic to create and predict favourable fighting conditions for the company and her alchemical lore to furnish them with potions and poisons. Her honesty about her own limits makes her both invaluable and reliable.  She seems demure, but actually has a nasty streak a mile wide. She has poisoned several mercenaries that she dislikes, but has covered her tracks so far. (The same sort of thing got her in trouble back home.)

“Broom” Orvin Dulak: Broom got his nickname from his spectacular facial hair. He leads the Black Lancers, a century of heavy horse that serves in the Wandering Hearth. Broom is a real man’s man with a heroic demeanor. He is fearless and follows orders well. One of the best century leaders,”Broom is one of the few people who is well regarded by everyone in the company. However, he is deeply ashamed of his criminal past and tries to cover it up any way he can.

“Ham, Beans, and Shiv”: Two burly Dwarves and a surly human, Ham, Beans, and Shiv are veterans of the Wandering Hearths line infantry. They are doughty fighters but famous for their grumbling and their near mutinous laziness outside of combat. They enjoy chess, drinking, and avoiding work and have a cheerfully psychotic approach to the business of slaughter. They come alive during battle and despite their gruff exteriors have risked their lives for each other on numerous occasions. Currently Shiv is taking an interest in Silver, and is saving up money to buy her something nice…

Siege Warfare makes for interesting action scenes and I think we have a decent enough mix of characters and personalities to work into several short tales or a longer work.


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