THE SWIFTSWORD MERCENARIES
mercenaries guild of Santharia located
near Vezash. Founded by Martin Swiftsword, whose name the guild is now bearing.
The guild is said
to be an elite force capable of handling most any situation.
The organisation of the guild is rather strict. One of their principles is
General Life. The mercenaries pretty much have free reign of their lives. Most mercenaries spend much of their time at the Toroc, their headquarters, but they are allowed to leave at will, for vacation or what not, with the exception of the Eagle Watch, who must secure permission and the Squatters who may not leave at all.
The courtyard is generally a hub of activity, mercenaries and applicants coming and going, people calling out to each other, the sounds of weapons from the training arenas filling the air, accountants rushing to carry books of figures here and there, papers rustling furiously, Immune gracefully gliding to their destinations silence hanging on them like a cloud.
The Bar Room
You'll usually find a lot of mercenaries in the guild bar room, playing games, drinking or perhaps planning their next job. You will also find mercenaries in the gate rooms, watching the incoming applicants and returning members.
The Back Alleys
In the back alleys between barracks you'll find members dealing in the black market ot trying to con arriving nobles, but you won't find this very often as the Eagle Watch makes regular patrols. You might also stumble upon a few of the men's attempts to break into the ladies barracks, or vice versa.
In the barracks you'll find the few members who like their solitude, writing letters or in their journals. You may find some just lying on their bunks contemplating life, or sleeping.
The refectory is by far the busiest area. Filled day and night by mercenaries looking for a quick bite or a feast. The noise in here is deafening with everyone trying to have a conversation at once, but the food is good.
The library is another place where many mercenaries spend their time, usually planning for their next jobs. It usually is very quiet as most mercenaries are quite nervous being so near the Immune, the only sounds being pages turning and low whispers as people discuss the texts.
Th Administration Building
In the administration building you will find many accountants rushing to and fro, and Immune walking slowly down the halls. There are not many mercenaries here. Those that are here usually have some tasks to do and will not have time to talk. There is not much noise here and the air is filled with sense of duty as people go about their jobs.
Membership to the guild is by sponsorship only. Typically a mercenary will
notice a talented individual in the field and may decide to offer sponsorship.
Sponsorship is not offered casually though. While a new member is still at the
"Recruit" level, the mercenary who offered sponsorship is responsible for all of
the recruit's actions until the time that the recruit graduates to the next
rank. This responsibility extends to everything. Should the recruit be punished,
the sponsor is punished in exactly the same way. The sponsor is punished to show
that although the recruit committed the act, the sponsor invited him/her into
the guild, therefore it is the sponsors fault that the guild's image may be
tarnished. Some infractions merit death as punishment. These extremes are to
ensure that sponsorship is not offered to anyone who will lower the standards of
the guild. Although this is not necessary many mercenaries stay with the recruit
until he/she graduates, to make sure the rules are followed. In rare cases the
recruit does not see his sponsor again until he/she graduates. Not many have
graduated this way though. The time the recruit and sponsor spend together is
often called "The Partnership".
Once a recruit has graduated, the sponsor responsible for bringing him/her into the guild is also eligible for promotion. Each recruit graduated is added to the sponsors tally sheet, maintained by the accountants. Once he/she gets enough tally marks, they are promoted. The number of tally marks needed increases for each rank. Recruiting in the high ranks is rare though. Having reached this level, most mercenaries prefer not to risk their lives on a bad judgment. Therefore, a large part of a low ranking mercenaries life is searching for and helping to graduate recruits.
The things a mercenary will look for before offering sponsorship are varied. It depends on the person but there are a few standards. Some skill with a weapon, preferable two or more is the first. This skill need not be exceptional, but the sponsor must believe that it can be trained to such a level. Second, this person must have a reputation of honor and reliability. The mercenaries must be able to trust that he/she will complete a contract to the best of their ability and will not try to cheat the guild of it's cuts and membership dues. Third, this person needs to have a certain charisma. Their persona must be such that customers will want to come back.
To be accepted as a recruit, the sponsor and recruit must travel to the guild. The sponsor will then put forth an application explaining why he/she thinks this person will make a good mercenary. The application will be reviewed by the Triumverate, sometimes for weeks or months. The guild's image must be upheld, so the selection process is rigorous. If the sponsor is not a high rank in the guild, or is not a trusted personality, the recruit may be tested. This is done by various methods, usually by starting a barfight or by ambush in the woods. It is never more than one on one, and is not to the death, at least not on the testers side. Testers have been known to die because the Triumverate underestimated the recruit. If the recruit passes the test, or the Triumverate deems it unnecessary then he/she is accepted into the guild as a recruit.
Once the recruit has been accepted, he/she is provided with leather armor, a cloak adorned with the guild coat of arms and a steel or Adlemir wood weapon of there choice. Once the recruit makes some money, they are free to equip themselves however they want.
Initiation. The initiation rites of the guild are tough and are meant to weed out anyone who may be having second thoughts. There are three "Rites Of Initiation":
The first is to complete five different missions and get positive testimonies from their employer or sponsor. The missions must test the recruits skills. Any fluff missions such as guarding a caravan until the next town, will be disregarded unless perhaps it is ambushed along the way, or the recruit has to find a new route because the main one is flooded.
"Slip and be Hit" Test
The second rite is commonly called the "Slip and be Hit" test. The recruit and a mercenary are put into an arena and sealed in. Around the top of the arena are stationed archers. For ten minutes the recruit and the mercenary must fight. They use wooden swords and shields. While they are fighting, the archers fire arrows down into the arena. The test derives its name from the fact that if the recruit does not pay attention to his/her surroundings, they may just end up in the path of an arrow. The archers do not aim to kill or maim but some will try to nick the recruit. This rite is to test the recruit's awareness or their surroundings and their ability to concentrate on more than one stressing situation at the same time. If the recruit survives then they have passed the second rite.
The third rite is is where most recruits fail. Making use of mages specially trained in enchantment magic the recruit is made to live a specific encounter. This encounter is only known to the mages and those who have experienced it, but is thought to be an encounter from the guilds past. Speaking of it is strictly forbidden. Recruits must go in completely ignorant. If it is suspected that the recruit has some fore-knowledge he may be expelled. There is no set way to pass this test. It is first and foremost a test of character. It is up to the mage to decide if the recruit passes or fails. For this reason the mages are not members of the guild and are picked and trained for their neutrality. While the recruit is enchanted he/she tells everything they do without inhibition. When deciding if the recruit passed or failed, the mage looks specifically to see if the he/she acted with honor, intelligence, cunning and reliability.
If the recruit passes the
final test, he/she is now full-fledged member of the
guild, just like that. No ceremonies or rituals are performed for the new
member. As a member they now have access to the bigger paying contracts and are
now assumed politically neutral. New members usually start at the lowest rank,
but should they do very well in the final rite they may get honorary promotions,
but never above the Axe rank.
If at any time the recruit fails any of the rites, they are then expelled from the guild. He/She is given money and rations, and is allowed to keep the equipment given to him at his/her recruitment.
Guild Organization. Within a two months after being accepted into the guild a recruit must choose a branch within the guild. During those months the recruit may apply for a branch by going to the branch leader and announcing his/her wish to join. The recruit then serves for a one week trial period, where he/she and the branch leader decide if they are suited for the branch. If the recruit wishes to leave after the week they may, if they wish to stay then it is at the discretion of the branch leader.
Each branch has its own barracks in which jobs are posted and members sleep. Once accepted by a branch he/she may not enter other branches' barracks with the exception of the Freelances. In control of each branch is a branch leader. Branch Leaders are chosen by the Triumverate and serve for life. In order to be chosen they must be the best at what they do. You can discern between the following branches:
Current Branch Leader: Master Retriever David
These members do what their name suggests. They retrieve stolen objects, as well as go on treasure hunting expeditions. Recruits who wish to join this branch should have good stealth and tracking skills.
Branch Leader: Head Inquisitor Gildeth
These are the information getters. They do things like getting information from a secure holding, a person etc. They also do constant polls of people far and wide checking on the guilds reputation. Members of this branch should be charismatic, have good stealth and lockpicking skills, they must also be logical, in order to find where a person may have hidden information. Good acting is also looked for. When questioning people, Inquisitors tend to team up, one is the violent, bloodthirsty one, the other kind, and sympathetic. They team up with the Eagle Watch when needed.
Current Branch Leader: Master Tracker Deeter
They find lost or hiding people. If the Retrievers have no available personnel, Trackers will sometimes take the job. Good tracking skills are a must.
Current Branch Leader: The Freelances run a democratic branch, members are voted in.
The members of this branch can do a little of everything. They are the forces called to fill out other branches when needed. Mostly acting as fighters they most often substitute for Inquisitors, Bouncers and the Eagle Watch. Skill in a wide variety of things is looked for.
Current Branch Leader: Captain Faromeer
The security forces of the guild. They are named after the eagle shaped hilt on Martin Swiftsword's sword. They man the wall and gates for the most part. They rarely leave the Toroc, mostly going out when a rogue mercenary is reported. They also investigate crimes in Vezash, and within the guild, frequently teaming up with the Inquisitors. Loyalty, quick thinking, fighting skill and intelligence are looked for.
Current Branch Leader: Guard Master Haldon
Members of this branch are hired to guard Caravans, people, vaults, towns etc. They are also sent out by the guild to patrol Vezash, acting as a crime deterrent. Brawn and fighting skill are looked for. Members must be smart enough to remember who to let in, and who to turn away.
Branch Leader: None, no one stays in this branch long enough to need a leader
The Squatters branch consists of those mercenaries that are being punished, but have not been kicked out. They are a reserve force and unless called upon, may not take any jobs, which means they may not make any money. Members in this branch may not leave the Toroc, and may not communicate to anyone outside the guild.
Guild Ranks. Ranks within the guild are based upon the body and the halberd. The halberd was chosen to symbolize the long reach of the guild, and the mercenaries. The body was chosen because it controls the halberd. Each rank supports the one above and most of the the names show that. Others represent the danger factor of the individual in relation to the ranks above. Most names also have a symbolic value. Starting with the lowest the ranks are:
The sheathe shields the weapon. Members of this rank are not very dangerous.
The blunt half of the halberd. Members of this rank are dangerous but are not very effective and the range of things they can handle are small.
The sharp half of halberd. Members of this rank are more effective in the small range of things they can handle.
The whole weapon, blunt and sharp. Most effective of the lower ranks. They can handle a wide range of situations. Most members are of this rank, or Hand.
Holds the weapon. Members of this rank exert more control then those below, and are more effective.
Controls the hand, and the weapon and extends the weapons range. Members of this rank can handle most situations proficiently.
Controls the arm, hand and weapon. Most effective normal member. Can handle most situations excellently. Only rank that can challenge the Will.
Controls a persons conviction. There is only one Will. Member of the Triumverate.
Controls the body. There is only one Soul. Member of the Triumverate.
Controls everything. There is only a single one. Leader of the Triumverate.
Trainers of the Triumverate. They cannot be challenged. Teaches the Soul and One.
Ranks are expressed in the first person, so a person of the sheathe rank would
say "I am the Sheathe". It is common for the higher ranking members to add the
their rank to their name (for example "Barg the Wielder").
Each rank has authority on the one below except for in the Triumverate. The Soul and Will are equal in power, with The One controlling them both. If mercenaries of more than one rank are assigned to a job the higher ranking member is in charge by default, and gets a bigger cut of the pay. Higher ranking members can also order lower ranking mercenaries to accompany them on a contract, but must pay them from their own cut of the pay. Should a mercenary need to hire another mercenary, he/she can only hire from the lower ranks. So the higher rank you are the wider and better selection you have.
The Triumverate. The Triumverate is the ruling council of the Swiftsword guild. It consists of three members: The Soul, the Will and the One. Once a mercenary reaches one of these ranks their old names are forgotten. Even in death, they are remembered as the former Will, Soul or One. The Will is the only position that can be taken by a member that is not already in the Triumverate, or that has not been appointed. The Immune rank was created to teach the new Soul what they need to know. The new One is also taught by the immune but not as extensively as the Soul. The Will is not taught because his/her duties use skills that are expected in a recruit.
The one duty all members of the Triumverate share is to review recruit applications. The members may also, in their free time, teach members of the guild. This is considered an honor and many times the Soul and the One train the one they would like to occupy the position of the Will. But each member also has individual duties. The Soul is head of the accounting department. He/she makes sure that the accountants do not cheat the books, and helps to correct any mistakes that may occur. The amount of accountants hired by the guild could constitute a guild of itself, so the One helps with the responsibilities. The Will's responsibility is as the face of the guild. He/she handles all hiring requests for mercenaries. The One works to check the power of the Soul and Will. He/She makes sure the Soul him/herself does not cheat the books, as well as helping with the accounting, and that the Will does not agree to send mercenaries into a situation they will not come out of.
The Soul and the One have responsibilities that must be taught. For this reason the One and the Soul serve for life and may not be challenged. When they grow too frail to perform their duties they appoint another member they want to take their place and that member is taught by the Immune.
To become a member of the Triumverate a mercenary must challenge the Will. Every member of the guild has the skills necessary to fulfill the duties of this office, and by allowing members to win the post it makes them train harder. The better a mercenary is, the less likely it is that someone will also put up a challenge at the same time. The Will can only be challenged on one of the three challenge days in the year: The first day of the year, the middle day of the year and at the end of the year. Challenges may be made every two years on any challenge day.
A week before any one of the challenge days arrive, a challenge may be put forth. If more than one challenger comes forth then they are all gathered in an arena and there occurs a free-for all battle. Wooden weapons or used. If anyone gets knocked out they are disqualified. The last person standing has won the right to challenge. On the challenge day the Will and the challenger fight to the death, the winner taking the post.
Members of the Triumverate are not allowed to take contracts, and may not leave the guild compound. There is a rumor circulating among the mercenaries of a secret passage that the Triumverate uses to get out and roam the town of Vezash.
The Immune. The origins of the Immune date back to the founding of the guild. Starting as a small group of teachers, their responsibilities spread from only teaching the Soul and One to include writing and maintaining the guild histories as well as a library to hold them. Over time the Immune have practically become a sub-guild within the mercenary guild. They are very secretive. This nature is most blatantly displayed by the form concealing, face shrouding black robes that members of this rank wear everywhere. No one, who is not an Immune, knows the identity of any of the members. It is a long standing joke among mercenaries that the Immune are so secretive not even they know who each other are.
How members are selected to become an Immune is unknown, but it is suspected that they are chosen from the nearby town of Vezash. They are often seen wondering around the town, their black robes instantly silencing the streets. Their anonymity and black dress have given rise to the belief that members of the Immune are taken not chosen. Because of this, disappearances are usually attributed to the Immune, giving rise to the popular explanation for missing things "The Immune took it/him/her", and the common curse "May the Immune take you!"
As far as anyone knows, Immune serve for life.
Race Acceptance. Humans, elves, dwarves and Brownies are accepted into the guild. Dark elves, ogres, goblins and orcs are not. It is felt that letting one of these races in will negatively affect the guild's reputation. Should a member try to sponsor one of the forbidden races he/she is immediately expelled.
Although Brownies and dwarves are accepted, no records exists of one of them becoming a member. The majority of mercenaries are human. Townsfolk, cityfolk, barbarians you name it, they come from all walks of life. The number of elven members is proportionally lower than humans. In many cases the elves will only join on the condition that they will only be hired out for contracts on things like tracking, item retrieval, and bodyguard duties. It has also been noted that the elves who do join are not what would be called productive members of their societies. Many have been exiled or left for their own personal reasons.
Hiring Procedure. To hire a mercenary an application must be taken to the Toroc, or given to a mercenary who will take it to the Triumverate. The application is put in a drop box, which is checked by the Will daily. If the request is delivered personally the person is given lodging in Vezash, and politely told that they must wait until they are summoned to return to the Toroc. The Will and One go over each request deciding if it is asking too much, if the risk is acceptable and which branch can best handle the task(s) involved. If the request is deemed unreasonable, a mercenary is sent to the applicant politely telling him/her that their request has been refused, why, and what must be changed before the guild will accept the application. If the request is accepted a notice is placed on the "Jobs" board in the respective branches barracks, and the person who requested the service is given or sent a commission card. The notice explains the job, the price that will be paid upon completion, the number of mercenaries who will be hired, any time limits there may be, and the owner of the commission card. Jobs with time limits must be chosen over others. Jobs are first-come-first-serve. On a job needing only one member, he/she must remove the notice and bring it to the accountants who will mark in the Jobs book his/her name, the date the application was accepted and the name of the commission cards owner. If the job needs more than one member, then each member signs their name on the notice until the required number is met. Then all the signers take the notice to the accountants who put the required info in the Jobs book. The card owner is then told that someone has accepted the job and is asked to pay the price he/she specified on their application. The mercenary may not start on the job until the price has been paid. The money is kept in the guild vault until the job is completed where it is given to the mercenary(ies) or if the job is not completed it is returned to the commission card owner, who is free to re-apply his job offer.
Guild Rules. The following guild rules have to be obeyed:
The following sentences represent the guild's credo:
In the beginning the Swiftsword Mercenaries were a
human rebel group led by
During the minor skirmish between two warring orc tribes a town located in the valley between them named Dralgoth was destroyed. Only about 1/4 of the population survived. The survivors were only simple farmers and did not have much experience with dealing with orcs. They sent messengers to each tribe of orcs seeking compensation. The messengers did not return. Having failed in their attempt to get compensation, the ones capable of fighting decided on revenge.
The ones not hardy enough to fight, or unwilling scattered across Sarvonia in search of new homes. Those who remained trained their skills, because they all knew that they were no match for either side in the war as they were. But they were just simple farmers no more skilled in weapons than in war. They continued on, their lust for revenge blinding them to the inevitable fate that awaited them.
Martin Swiftsword, wandering in search of something he would not tell anyone about, found this group of farmers training diligently in their ruined valley. Right away he knew that whatever they were training to fight, they would not make it with those skills. Unable to make himself leave them to their fate, he offered his services. For fifteen years he whipped the villagers into a fighting force he could be proud of. His sword became a symbol of his power and skill. Crafted from some indestructible metal, the blade was said to have gleamed in the sunlight and sucked in the night. Its shape was unusual, being large and rectangular with the end chopped off at a slant. The blade was set in a golden hilt in the shape of an eagle, its wings sweeping forward to form the hand guard. Over the years of training the men he grew more and more attached to them. They eventually convinced him to lead them against their foes.
Emerging from the isolation imposed by the valley they set out to find the tribes who had ruined their lives to discover that they had moved on seeking more fertile raiding grounds.
This little bit of news completely knocked the wind from their sails. The past fifteen years they had spent most of their time learning to fight, with farming on the side so that they could feed themselves. They could not just forget what had happened to their village or the skills they had learned. The once famers and now fighters decided that they would work to prevent what had happened to their village from happening anywhere else. Gathering food and supplies they headed out.
Led by Martin they roamed the far and wide, a moving fighting group, free from any governmental body, occasionally stopping to train and grow more food. Tales began to spread that they were gearing up for a war. In each place that they passed through this rumor began, each kingdom thinking that its neighbor was preparing for conflict against them.
Eventually the tales began to precede Martin's force. In each kingdom they approached they were met with military forces. Eventually they were branded rebels, and their life became a running battle. Most kingdoms chased them to the edge of their borders and then let them go, glad to let them wreak havoc on their neighbors.
When they reached the Caltharian Kingdom this all changed. They found themselves hounded, despite their efforts they could not lose their pursuers.
Tired of running, the rebels decided to fight their way out. They set a trap in the hills on the coast of the Ancythrian Sea, near Elsreth, prepared to surround their pursuers. One rebel named Halgeth who fancied himself a poet, wrote of the battle afterwards.
The battle won, Martin was buried with his sword on the other side of the border, and they left the enemy behind. Without a leader the rebels began to lose heart. A woman named Seleya Tigral became the figurehead of the group. Their numbers reduced to a couple hundred, they knew that they would not survive another encounter. Moving south they began looking for a place to settle.
As they traveled they came across towns being subjected to orc and barbarian attacks. Following the ideals of Martin they stopped to help. Each time they stopped to help, their reputation grew. People began to make offerings when they arrived, hoping they would stay awhile. Eventually people sought them out, to join them or ask for their services. Their numbers began to grow and more and more people wished them to help.
For years the rebels turned heroes moved from town to town, eventually having to turn potential recruits away, living off the offerings of food and money. Eventually they collected enough money to build themselves a headquarters called the Toroc, in memory of Martin. The rebels became a part of the area and a steady stream of people came asking for help in their village. Remembering the mercenaries of the past Seleya began to work out a system with the help of Halgeth. Reforms within the rebel army began immediately and members were sent to all nearby villages to announce their new status. Thus the Swiftsword Mercenaries were born, the name also in memory of Martin. Seleya was the first One. She combed through the members of her army and found the first Soul and Will. Halgeth was the founder of the Immune with the One's consent. He picked others like him, more scholar than soldier and they began to write the history of the guild.
Potential members flooded towards the Toroc. Unable to handle the flood the sponsor system was set up and a general clean-up of the members occurred. Eventually the number of mercenaries was trimmed down to 5000.
Many who were kicked out had traveled far to get there, leaving their old lives behind them. The town of Vezash was founded nearby, many hoping that perhaps they could rejoin later. Families were sent for and with the protection the guilds proximity offered, Vezash thrived.
Aware how quickly opinions could turn against them the guild began to work on its image, making sure its members never did anything that would make the people fear or hate them, making them into rebels once again.
The guild offers its services to the world. It is an elite force capable of handling most any situation.
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