Questions About Running A Mercenary Company

I’m currently updating an old campaign premise/setting to various new systems - it’s been through iterations with GURPS, D&D, Mythras among others, and I was recommended Burning Wheel for it. I’ve only run an unfortunately short-lived campaign in BW before, but I love the system, even though I feel I don’t quite know how to properly run certain aspects of it still.

The premise is that the players are members of a mercenary company in the vein of The Black Company by Glen Cook. My primary question concerns how Affiliations and Resources would play into this. Should they all buy an Affiliation with the group as required spending of Resource points doing character burning? How should I handle Resources in-game based on the fact that they are often on the move and that their equipment would likely be provided by the mercenary company? How should I handle Resources if and when they become commanders and leaders of the company themselves?

A lot of questions, I realize, but Resources, Circles and Affiliations remain one of the aspects of the game I still try to master.

Thanks in advance!

If each player is to be part of the company, then I think it’s fair of you to require at least a 1D affiliation with the group during burning.

Maybeeeee one character plays the newb that wants to join but isn’t an official member yet. In that case, I’d let her pass without the affiliation. She can earn it in play. But the majority should have it… oh… unless they’re all wanna be’s and the company gave them a test mission before allowing them to join? That’s entirely on your players and not in your brief, though. So I’m just gonna stand by the original statement! :slight_smile:

Resources should be handled normally. How wide-ranging is their missions going to take them? If it’s really far, I think that there are rules covering usage of Resources in foreign countries.

The company paying for their gear sounds… generous. Not even kings paid for their knight’s gear! But if the company really is that generous, maybe just the initial outfitting? Later repairs and acquiring good should be the players’ responsibility.

Their maintenance cycle reflects their responsibility to pay dues to the company. That’s going to be good conflict should they fail…

Becoming leaders just means that their lifestyle maintenance obstacle increases more and more! They can squeeze extra Cash Dice from the members by collecting dues. They can create Funds to finance their operation and individuals. It’s all pretty straightforward.

When we did a Town Guards game the gm gave us some standard equipment like armour and a cudgel and said we didn’t have to buy it.

Their common circle (perhaps “soldier”) could be enough for the young recruit trying to earn his or her way into the “company” but if it were me, I would want my character to take full advantage of the “gangs and crews” option to be able to call up others for special circumstances. As far as portable resources are concerned, 1-2 dice are usually considered to be portable while higher amounts tend to be tied to a physical location or source.
I would suggest a npc “C.O.” that at least one of the pc’s have a relationship with to follow the chain of command and also suggest that each pc has at least one belief about the company or the current mission.

The Freelancer LP in Outcast would be the appropriate path and setting for circling up other mercs.

That sounds like so much fun!

If someone wants to play a farm-kid just recruited into the company, I’d be fine with them not having an affiliation just yet.

I’d go with them having the equipment that make sense of a mercenary company but still, players spend their characters’ resources in burning for equipment or else start the game heading to the quartermaster with stern questions about what happened to their gear.

I’d figure out the cycle for resources, maybe monthly or even weekly, putting real pressure on them to haggle well for their pay and get new gigs. Feeding a mercenary company is brutally expensive.

Thanks for the responses! I’ve been looking into the rules for Funds and still trying to the hang of Resources and Maintenance Cycles. I have a few questions about the mechanics still - not quite used to abstract resource systems.

How should one in more practical and concrete terms go about Lifestyle Maintenance? I like the idea of it being a monthly cycle when it comes to a mercenary company, to really drive home the desperation, and from what I see, it would take a lot of effort for the characters to meet certain Obstacles. If the players are merely grunts etc., should they each make a Lifestyle Maintenance roll? And if they leaders of the company themselves, should they make a collective role at around Ob 4 or 5 for the whole company, or still each make their own?

Each player makes their own Lifestyle Maintenance test. They cannot roll a single group test. However, they can Help each other, granting each other an Advantage die. This is useful but dangerous. One failed test and everyone that was in on the test could end up bankrupt! Dangerous though it is, it’s the fastest way to advance Resources.

Making it a monthly cycle seems brutal! But if that’s your setting, you’re right. Every test ends up being a path to gaining some extra cash dice for the Maintenance test. Frequent tests mean that their Resources stat will go up quickly, mind you.

When it comes to maintaining the company itself, only one person can lead the test. This should be the person in charge, like a Mercenary Captain, or maybe the Quartermaster. She may have help, again, but the same person should test every time. But this is why she’ll collect dues prior to the roll, as a means to earn Cash Dice. But by the time she’s Captain, she should also have a nice Fund to support her Resource test.