Into the Wild (KingMaker AP)
The River Kingdoms are rife with temporary causes, flash-in-the-pan territorial conflicts, and leaders who temporarily have more money than warriors to back them up. As such, the area is a prime breeding ground and destination for mercenary groups of all persuasions.
The Bloodstone Swords are well known not only for their battle prowess, but also for their benevolent treatment of the noncombatants they move among. As such, they are highly sought after by settlements who seek protection but don’t want to risk becoming the target of those they hire.
Goal: Protection at a Price
The Bloodstone Swords are in the mercenary business to make a living, but prefer to do so without harming common folk. Most missions the Swords take on involve protecting innocent villagers from bandits or monsters, and their relationship with their immediate neighbors is peaceful and protective. On occasion, however, they have been known to hire themselves out to guard caravans,
barges, and even visiting diplomats.
The Bloodstone Swords see examples of failed authoritarian governments all around them; they have ample reason to treasure the freedom of the River Kingdoms lifestyle and want to maintain it. At the same time, they’ve seen the destruction and desolation lawlessness can bring. They provide a service and expect to be paid for it, but consider themselves several steps above the common bandits who prey on travelers. They do not hold slaves, obstruct travel, or break an oath freely given. They understand that the strong prey on the weak, but while they don’t make themselves predators, their protection comes at a price.
Born and raised in the River Kingdoms, like many of his followers, Nemas Ricasso saw that people without a way to defend themselves were constantly being subsumed or destroyed by more
aggressive forces. His own village was nearly bled dry by bandits until the villagers called upon the newly formed Bloodstone Swords. After seeing the Swords defeat the bandits, Nemas joined them when they left.
For 20 years Nemas worked his way up through the ranks and has finally become their captain. His sun-leathered features surround merry eyes and a ready grin, and the years of conflict do not seem to have added any cynicism or fatalism to his countenance. Captain Ricasso is beloved by his men as much for his optimistic outlook as for his logistical and tactical expertise.
The headquarters of the Bloodstone Swords is a tor of gray stone veined thinly with bloodstone, abutting one of the numerous tributaries of the Sellen River. The massive rock is hollowed with dwarven tunnels and features many small peepholes disguised as f laws in the stone, which allow the Swords to observe river traffic. Capped with a small fort that serves as a barracks, Bloodstone serves as a base of operations for the group. The Swords patrol an area several miles around it, keeping the land clear of bandits and monsters. A few farmsteads in the area provide the Swords with food and basic supplies in exchange for this protection.
Officially, the Swords accept anyone who believes in the River Freedoms and agrees to abide by the chain of command of the mercenary company; unofficially, the Captain is free to reject anyone he wants, and Ricasso makes a point to not allow anyone who seems disreputable or has a history of banditry. Most members get a tattoo or brand of the company’s symbol to show their allegiance.
The Swords look favorably on individuals who keep their word, make an effort to not endanger the common folk, and do their jobs with a minimum of fuss. Those who provide tactical knowledge to the company or tools or services that augment Bloodstone itself can gain prestige with the mercenary company.
The signature resource of the Bloodstone Swords is armed might. The Swords number around 200 individuals, though at any time 50 to 100 are away on missions. The company has small offices in Andoran, Druma, Nirmathas, Lastwall, and Taldor, though on short notice these offices normally have access to at most a dozen Swords.
The Swords are experts in mixing fighter, ranger, and rogue f ighting styles, and can train members in these techniques. This training requires 1 week per technique learned, and a character can train in multiple techniques.