What is the mercenary life like in Anvil?

Hi everyone,

I hope you are all doing well, : )

After many years of bad luck, I finally find myself ready to take the plunge into LARP/Empire.
I’m excited to get stuck in and be part of the community but I have some questions.

First of all, joining the League’s Free Companies is very appealing to me. But what is it like being a mercenary in Anvil? If you are a mercenary, what has your experience been like so far? And are there any other useful insights that people can share?

Also, I love the idea of eventually leading a weird and wacky mercenary unit of my own (think old school Warhammer Fantasy, Dogs of War). Is it common for a Free company to be bizarre or exotic? Or do they generally retain a lot of their League heritage?

I’m eager to learn more and appreciate any help that you can offer, many thanks,
Joe : )

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Welcome along GremlinJoe, to the hobby, the game and these forums :slight_smile:

There are several mercenary companies, utilising the magic item: (Mercenary banner), which means that that unit can join battles which their nation is not present at. This means they get hired by other nations to fight alongside them (one contingent, is, for example, hired by Navarr as bodyguards for their healers).

On the field, mercenaries may well be hired out as ones and twos (bodyguards again, or even for skirmishing), but I’m not realy familiar with the mercenary game, such as it is.

A Free Company can be pretty idiosyncratic, but bear in mind that as a group/banner/band, you will all have to be the same nation. Its not an adventuring party, you can’t include [3 Navarri scouts 2 Dawnish Knights and an Urizeni Battlemage] in a League Company…

Due to the Egregore magics, citizens of a nation drift (slowly or quickly) towards the baseline for that nation. Whatever nation they all hailed from, a company of League mercenaries will quickly resemble Leaguers. If they didn’t have League heritage to start with, they’ll have it pretty soon.

I’m afraid that this isn’t an area I’m too familiar with, but I suspect that other players will be along to give you their 2 rings worth :slight_smile:


Thank you Geoffrey, this is so useful and very much appreciated! : )

The picture you paint of them is very appealing. I had considered being a bodyguard but wasn’t sure if it’d work. Now I think it might be the right thing for me. Ill do a bit more research though to be sure.

And knowing about the mercenary banners and costume etiquette is the sort of insight I needed.

You have been a star, ill make sure you get mates rates when I start up my bodyguarding business. ; )

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(I apologise for my tone, I can’t… not behave like Artemisia on this subject)

OOC the mercenary game can be quite tricky. Players interested in the combat aspect of the game have arrived on the field with the desire to go fighting. This means that they are keen to muck in and join battles or skirmishes, it’s a large part of why they paid for a ticket and showed up. The presence of such a large pool of keen fighters means a Free Company asking for payment to fight will struggle unless they are as talented, charming, and damn well impressive as The Sea Wolves, or their slightly less impressive fellow Free Companies. Doubtless the other nations also have mercenary groups but really, who would even notice?

The trick to making the mercenary game work is to present an option that the large pool of willing combatants doesn’t have. This might be a unique weapons/armour load out, willingness to competently manage the less popular parts of the fight, a reputation for reliability in a pinch, or (in the case of The Sea Wolves) all of this whilst looking gorgeous and being generally entertaining.

The basics you will need is a group you can swear a banner oath to (lets you take the field with any nation so long as the banner is present), and someone willing to do an extraordinary amount of legwork, propaganda, deal-making, and organising. Establishing a mutually beneficial deal with an employer, herding a bunch of excitable Bravos/players into an equipped fighting unit for a deadline, successfully performing your agreed duties, and collecting pay, is no small feat on a busy field.

If you want to learn how to do it well you can talk to any of The Sea Wolves. If you want to learn how to do it ‘good enough’ then you can talk to the other League mercenary groups. If you want to embarrass yourself then you could ask around in one of the other nations who aren’t famed for their mercenary companies.

(I am SO sorry to my fellow players!)


To follow up from Artemisia on the “less popular parts of the fight” part, these are likely the bits where getting stuck in and having a good scrap are the least likely. Harrying flanks, counter-charging, the centre of the vanguard and all those other parts of the fight where GLORY and DRAMA and ROLEPLAY are most likely to occur are the parts of the fight the normal player dreams of. You don’t pay money for things that you can get for free, and if a general says “I need 12 people for an almost guaranteed suicide charge to rescue one other person”, you know that 24 people will volunteer.

Hanging around by the healer block making sure they don’t get minced by a group of enemies that spawned in the rear, or keeping an eye on an objective that has already been secured are unpopular and highly necessary. The highest paying jobs a merc can do are ones that the fewest people want to do.


Welcome to the game. And I (and the group I play with The Holburg Haudagen) are a League free company. To the point we have fought with the marchers more than we have the league. Have you seen this on the Wiki https://www.profounddecisions.co.uk/empire-wiki/Free_company ? (We are the happy fellows advancing in the bottom)

There are a few ways to play a Merc/free company but it all boils down to how far you want to RP. It may mean if you want paying you say no to doing a skirmish. With this in mind look at what you want to get from being in anvil that doesnt involve combat. Anvil (the In character field where you will spend 75% of your time) Is very safe. No wandering monsters or random gate attacks. But cut purses in the dark do exist if are rare. I would look at being a Merc And xxx, be that trader, mage, politics (we have an actual name for this in the League. The Signeur. The one who makes contracts. This could happily spill over into Anvil Politics)
As said above Merc’s are hard to make work in empire with the ready available score of eager bodies, but it’s an opportunity to play like your better than anyone else. “Well, you get what you pay for” ect. If you would like to come and have a drink in our camp with fellow Mercs and chew the fat your very welcome. and feel free to message me/reply here wth more specific questions.


The short version: Have a banner of at least 6-7 on the field, be willing to do the boring work on the battlefield, and build a reputation for being good at your job.

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Thank you @Artemisia , @Cheezewizz2000, @Mr_Haystacks and @Kai_G , all this info Is gold to me right now. And l’ll definitely be paying the Sea Wolves and the Holburg Haudagen a visit when I finally arrive in Anvil.

@Cheezewizz2000 I’m not sure if this will change when I get there, but being involved in the less popular parts of a fight doesn’t bother me at all. I’ve been fencing on and off since I was a kid, dabbled in Hema for a year and even had a few full contact bouts in full plate. I’m more excited to just witness the spectacle of it all really. And If it pays for a couple of beers afterward then that sounds pretty good to me. I appreciate your honesty though, I can imagine that it doesn’t suit a lot of new players.

And @Artemisia, all your points about finding the right group makes a whole lot of sense. I’d like to think that I could run a band a mercenaries or work as a bodyguard but it obviously takes a lot of experience, contacts and organisation to make it work long term. Also standing around odd parts of the battlefield sounds far more tolerable if you are in a group. I realise I’d been saying about being a bodyguard earlier but the more I learn the more I’m leaning towards joining a group. Or at least joining a group until I’m ready to strike it out on my own.

@Mr_Haystacks, im glad you brought up the idea of a Signeur. I really want to get stuck into other aspects of Empire and that sounds like a great way to do that. Also the thought of being able to RP more off of the battlefield really appeals to me. Now I just have to figure out what I want to do off the battlefield… thank you though, I’ll definitely come by the camp when I get to Anvil. : )
( I did see your picture in the free company section. I was actually using it as a reference photo to plan my outfit funnily enough. )

@Kai_G I might leave making my own group until I’ve been part of another group for at least a couple of seasons. You are right though, sounds like the fundamentals of starting a Free Company.

Thank you everyone for your advice, feedback and insights. I’ve been part of so many other hobbies that have had a culture of gatekeeping, but you have all been so friendly and helpful, which is so refreshing. It makes me a whole lot more excited to get stuck in. : )


The other option is to make the merecenary bit of your character’s story happen in down time. Take a military unit as your resource, decide they are guerilla war specialists, or raiders or really skilled trackers and skirmishers.
Spend your uptime at events following the military game to see where you should send your skilled unit but otherwise get involved in trading or magic or something else, and leave the mercenary option for tall tales around the fire.


Artemisia is sadly the exemplar of a successful mercenary captain so i can recommend her advice :wink:

Having done a few stints as a grunt mercenary it is exceedingly true you get paid to do extremely boring jobs by poor employers, the best ones will at least let you in on their schemes, or explain what they are diploming (or whatever) between guard stints.

Downtime mercenary work is also fairly lucrative and much less boring as CharlieP mentions :slight_smile:

If coming in solo id probably look to start with the latter and possibly join a free company in play myself, let someone else do the paperwork :wink:

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Hey @CharlieP and @Noserenda, you are definitely right. Taking it as a downtime resource seems like a good plan. After some of the insights from last night, I think I might aim for a healthy mix or mercenary work and trading during the event. (Might sell accessories for people to put on their gear, faux lucky rabbits feet, painted besegews, feathers for caps and other charms and trinkets.)

And after everything that’s been said, it seems like the best first step will be to join a pre existing group and see how it goes.

Thank you for the advice though, I’m feeling so much more confident compared to yesterday before making this post. : )

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I think a good question is “Why do I want to play a mercenary?” As that determines what skills might maximise your fun.

Do you want to be an expert paid to do a thing? Skirmish Logistics Person or Miitary Intelligence is an under-served role. If you have a good set of notes or memory for wiki stuff, you can make a name for yourself advising on the sort of opposition you’re up against. Or knowing who to go to to get a pile of venom if you need to kill vallorn husks, etc. A big killer on skirmishes is “people who are under-prepared and under-informed”. If you rock up with the capacity to brief people and acquire them the supplies they need (for a reasonable commission) you could probably do quite well.


Thanks @Jim that’s a solid peice of advice. Although I’m not sure if I could pull off a military intelligence role just yet. (I still have a whole lot of learning to do first.)

The procurement idea sounds interesting though. As I said in the previous post, I’m thinking of selling trinkets and charms on the side.
Is it possible to give these items in game effects? Maybe something to prevent curses or something like that?
If not then I wouldn’t mind selling venom and medical supplies. At least it would be useful to my unit of I’m not able to sell it.

Not to contradict what everyone has said above but there is something to be said to just saying fuck it, getting a few mates together, starting up a mercenary company IC and learning as you go :slight_smile: .

None of the established player mercenary groups started by joining someone else’s mercenary company and learning from them, as either they started at the start of the system or they just decided they knew better than everyone else and that “the fools, they’d show them all!” :slight_smile:

I think one lesson I’d take from the Sea Wolves is that Branding is super important, they have a strong look and group personality and they never stop telling people that they’re the best :laughing: .

The option where you and some friends take the Military Unit resource and do you mercenary work in downtime is quite common. You can look at coming to Anvil for a few days each season as being your holidays :slight_smile: There’s a bunch of game in getting the most payment for what your military units will be doing, there’s normally a bunch of things in the Winds of Fortune saying who is calling for military units and what they’re offering and at the event the Military Council will decide where the Imperial Guerdon is going. That’s a set pot of money split between all military units who support a specific Army or Armies. Normally that is decided on the last day of the event at Military Council, so popping along to listen in can be a good idea. There’s a lot more stuff you can get involved in to help steer or create these options but that’s a whole other thread :slight_smile:.

Oh yes your options for “crafting” include potion making (the Apothecary skill + an extra recipe) which is intensely useful for anyone going to fight and also making magic items (the Artisan skill). You can usually spend about half you initial points on these and the rest on useful combat skills.


Just to add onto what Mark said about your in-game effects crafting options, you can also hallow items if one (or more) of your group is a priest.


Thanks @Mark_Wilkin and @Triska, I think I’m finally seeing what my character will be. : )

Artisans and preists sound very interesting, but I can really see the physic and apocathery skills being super useful to a mercenary. (And fun from the rp perspective.)
Being some sort of combat medic will be the path I go with and it also seems to tie in well with a lot of the other suggestions too. (@Mr_Haystacks, I saw you were a mercenary surgeon so I may be asking a few questions in the near future. )

Still unsure as to whether I should join a group or make my own but I’m very happy with everything I’ve learned so far. Getting ready to knuckle down and turn this concept into a character that will be walking around Anvil.

Thank you everyone, the help from this forum has been truely amazing. I’ll be sketching him out and browsing the online larp shops tonight for sure. : )


I made my first character with the idea of a proper down and dirty physik in the MASH style. Kept my RP quick and dirty, “Scars just add character”, avoided Cleave calls as broken bones and RP’d them as dislocations instead for more satisfying interaction, Packed armour with bandages and tightened ect. (all this armed in heavy plate and a halbered. It was lots of fun)
In Anvil I worked with a couple of apothecary’s to source potions and herbs for the company, and that grew into more general trading (for the people with military units who didn’t want to walk the camps) and it grew from there. I had a lot fun exploring the different camps, chatting, trading make in contacts, learning who wants what, buying a speculative batch of dragon bone to make a couple crown profit. Was very fun.
Currently I’m playing a priest in the same free company. so I’m arms deep in the synod and pushing the virtues.
The short answer on what to do in anvil, Is to pick something general IE, Magic, Trading, politics, religion, boozing, gambling ect, and try and make that fit in to the free company.


You know someone’s good at RP, when even their forum posts make you want to start RPing with them in a random thread.


Thanks again @Mr_Haystacks I appreciate your help. : )

That definitely sounds fun, and I love the MASH influence for your medic. I’ll definitely have a good think about how to make the rp more fun and interesting. I might make some bloody surgical rags, prop leeches and offer anaesthesia in the form of a blackjack club. (But still play the character as if he’s offering some sort of amazing customer service.)

The idea of walking around the camps trading for supplies sounds good too me as well. Could be a good way for me to get stuck in with all the other nations and learn the trading aspect of Anvil. You have been a great teacher, I owe you a beer for sure. : )

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