Mercenary Company Rules

Hi guys - thought I’d share some homebaked rules for a mercenary company campaign we’ve been running. A lot of the basics were ripped from Reign then forged into a BW format. The intent was to keep things fairly abstract to ensure a maximum amount of flexibility. The rules aren’t perfect but if your group can handle some on-the-fly adjustments it should be fine. Our group definitely trends towards abstracting the “well I had not considered this” angle so it was pretty easy for us. I apologize if some of the rules I wrote down are little vague, we only needed to refine them. Feel free to ask questions, I’ll answer as best I can.

One thing that made our campaign so successful was never letting the Company become the story, but using it as a vehicle to deliver an interactive backstory that generates complications. One specific example was one of the players identifying a problem with their funds in which to pay soliders and an impending Soverignty test the generated three very entertaining sessions of cornering the free market on cheese (insert Circles, Intimidation, highway robbery, a wedding, and lots of fun).



A Company of Five Resources (Attributes) Defined

Each stat listed below functions much like Resources in Burning Wheel does. They are tested, and they get bigger. On failed rolls, however, the stats can be Taxed to reflect the loss/failure. When a stat is advanced, immediately recover all Tax for that stat to reflect a new scale to measure from.

Might – Company martial prowess. Number of soldiers, degree of training, leadership
Treasure – How much money a company has access to. Fiscal infrastructure.
Influence – Connections, political pull, info gathering, persuasion, blackmail, current events.
Territory – Infrastructure, equipment, goods, services, fortifications, supplies.
Sovereignty – Loyalty, morale, willingness, resistance to espionage, willpower.


What can a Company can do with its Attributes? Anything, really. Maneuvers are like Skills for a player…and very abstract by nature. Players should be dreaming of ways to make fun rolls based on an objective. Often the objective is the Maneuver they want the Company to make. The OB, time, results, all vary based on the investment. Players can Help or perform linked tests for a Maneuver at the GM’s discretion. If a player wants to do something that influences what hundreds of people are doing, use a Maneuver. Sabotage the market so the Company can make a Territory test to buy some equipment at a cheap price? Link some skill checks into it!

 Might – Field commands, Strategy, Surprise, Heroism, Great Speech, Outsmart Leadership, Killing stuff
 Treasure – Get a Loan, Theft, Sell, Haggle, With Interest, Economic Warfare, Bribery
 Influence – Shakedown, Ally, Negotiate, Spy, Gossip, Bluff, Impress, Threaten, Promise, Recruit
 Territory – Craft Stuff, Dig Ditches, Trade, Ration, Repair, Organize Camp, Fortify, Siege
 Sovereignty – March, Holiday, Justice, Counter-Infiltrate, A Great Hero Emerges, One of Us, Resist Siege

There are a few rules:
 Maneuvers are a matter of doing something on a scale that is bigger than the players. If PCs can somehow accomplish the same task, it is a skill check or series of skill checks.
 A failed Maneuver roll will most often result in 1:1 Tax to Failed Die.
 Checks made against another Company are always Resource vs. Resource, with the exception of Might. Might can only test Might during a Conflict.
 During a Conflict, Maneuvers made by Influence, Treasure, Sovereignty, and Territory can be tested vs. an enemy Resource to attack an enemy’s Assets. That Resource must be activated via a SpecOp.
 Conversely, the Enemy can (and will!) attack your Assets in the same fashion. A player does not have to use his daily action to activate a Resource in order to defend.
 Due to the scale of Maneuvers and when time-tracking is relevant, a Maneuver typically takes 1 day to complete, unless discussed in advance.


Assets are die mods to Maneuver rolls earned through in-game play. Player accomplishments through roleplaying can have a fun, tangible benefit to the Company. Think Cash Dice for Resources: fresh recruits, a dragon’s hoard, a dragon himself, a priest’s blessing, and so on.
 Asset values are 1D, 2D, etc. They reflect the abstracted Asset value vs. overall Company strength.
 Assets can be a Perm (global awesomeness), Standard (renewable after Conflict), or a Cash (one-off).
 Assets work like a FoRK or help die for the purposes of recording a test of a Resource.
 Advancing a Resource/Attribute negates all Assets tied to it. The Asset is considered to be rolled into the advanced stat. GM discretion if this sometime doesn’t make sense to do…


A Conflict is two (or more) armies going at it on the field of battle done in a series of days. A day is as follows:

1. Start the Day - Build the Might Pool aka “Name the Stakes.”
a. Start with current Might (it may be taxed), add in bonuses from SpecOps, circumstance, Assets. Total of bonuses cannot exceed the Base Might statistic.
b. Lobby for Circumstance Bonuses here. Since there is no hard-coded way to reward tactical brilliance, heavy Artha investments, or overall great role-playing, a Circumstance bonuse will catch-all. A good example here is fighting defensively. Its worth Circumstantial bonuses provided you’re not trying to Tax the enemy, only buy time for your spies to work their trickery.
c. Since Maneuvers/SpecOps & Assets benefiting Might are considered day-long battle events, there are no surprises unless specifically stated. Thus doing so, building the Stakes becomes a fun fencing match, and should play like two Field Commanders calling orders, counterstrikes, cavalry charges, etc

2. Make “Spec-Op” Maneuvers
a. Maneuvers can be used as targeted attacks on Assets or non-Might Resources. The enemy will often use a Maneuver to enhance their Might roll.
b. Defending against a Maneuver is done with a Resource. No test is logged, no Tax is incurred.
c. Must be activated by a SpecOp and test against a set OB or vs. test against an enemy Resource.
d. Maneuvers can use assets, links from PC SpecOps, circumstance bonuses to enhance the roll.
3. Finalize Die Pools
a. Remove any successfully targeted Assets.
b. Roll for Might-enhancing Maneuvers.
4. Roll Might pool in a versus test, loser is taxed by margin of failure.
5. End of Day – Determine Outcome
a. Interpret the roll as the Stakes would dictate. Who gets their way? Does either army no longer have the capacity to keep fighting? It is highly unrealistic that one party would fight to the last man. Good time for a duel of wits to determine terms of defeat.

Player Special Operations (SpecOps)

During a Conflict, a player can add 1D to a Maneuver once per day by making a Linked Test into it. In order to properly reflect scale, when a player initiates a SpecOp, they are considered to part of that Maneuver for the entire day of combat. SpecOps can target other Company stats to force them to defend in a Versus test or to add to the daily Might test. If used in a Versus test, the loser taxes their stat down by margin of failure.

Example: The Weiss Company goes on a mission to slit a few throats of leadership to lower morale. They are rolling Sovereignty vs. Sovereignty. Assets can also be a target.

Some Errata as it happens:

Splitting Forces
To split a force, take 1D off your existing might. You now have two armies with that value. Example: The Weiss Co. Might is 5 and Commander Fitzherbert decides to split to fight two armies at once. He takes his Might of 5, subtracts 1 and makes two forces of Strength 4.

Fighting Two Armies at once
Army A has the higher might value and is on point for the Conflict. Army B has the lesser value and is converted into Asset dice equal to their Might.

Tax Recovery Example:
An example: Your 50 soldiers represent a Might of 1. You lose a terrible battle and only a few remain, taxing down to 0. Through some clever Maneuvering and player input on a hard fought battle, the Company gets some help from the players to make a couple more Might rolls via Asset dice and test Might to a 2, representing a new influx of greenhorn recruits flocking to the banner…hundreds of them! The Might stat cap goes to 2 and all taxed dice are recovered, as the losses reflected in a Might stat of 1 are fairly inconsequential now, considering your Company’s newfound strength.

Very cool. Thanks for posting!