When someone says 'Mercenary' these days (especially in the same breath as D20 Modern) you think of former soldiers scampering around Africa or Afghanistan shoring up local warlords for a fat pay packet. Back in the mediaeval and renaissance eras, however, there were plenty of people who earned their keep by sword, pike and (in later years) musket, and this supplement is designed to enable you to play such as a Swiss mercenary or German Landsknecht... or at least to have the skills and abilities of a professional soldier whatever his employment.
Here we have a comprehensive advanced class giving all the details and skills required. Talents such as Scrounge - for many sellswords particularly in the mediaeval period were expected to find all their own supplies, they just got paid for fighting - and Push of Pike, which effectively models the use of the pike on a 17th century battlefield are available.
The GM will have to take a long, hard look at the range of abilities, though, to provide the degree of historical realism he requires for the game. There are feats and talents related to the use of firearms, for example, which will not be of use if he does not allow gunpowder.
For those who wish to work forwards from fantasy - or who prefer to allow the parallel use of magic and gunpowder - the rules are also presented in a format suitable for bolting this class on to a Dungeons & Dragons character.
This work is very clear and straightforward: it will be easy to incorporate into your game and to use when a player wishes to take this class. There is just one glaring mistake - in the opening paragraph it states that mercenaries were regarded as the 'dredges' of society, when I think they intended to say 'dregs - but if that's all I can quibble about there's no real fumbles here!
Overall, this shows a clear understanding of the capabilities of a mediaeval to 17th century mercenary/professional soldier and of both the D20 Modern and Dungeons & Dragons rulesets. It's also nicely illustrated in an understated way with pictures from the appropriate periods - although one picture does depict an atrocity in which a large number of defeated mercenaries were hung from a tree... so be warned if you intend to play one!
Return to The Mercenary Advanced Class page.
Reviewed: 25 July 2006