22 December 2017

Mercenary Undead

Combining my fondness for the undead, and skeletal undead in particular, with the desire to create a larger pool of "regiments of renown" style mercenaries, I started working a few initial figures as a sort-of proof of concept...

The Tilean city-states are well known for the rising and falling nature of the many fortune seekers looking to profit from the unending intrigue and war.  Maurice Dellamorte is an unusual product of that environment. A mage of middling abilities, he spent nearly two decades employed in both courts and battlefields. A practical man, what Maurice lacks in arcane talent and social skills, he makes up for in shrewd tactical creativity.

After failing to rise through the ranks of either social and military circles, and meeting failure at his initial attempts to found a mercenary company of his own, he turned to darker methods. Although he did find some employment, desperate use of his company of "skeletal commandos" was viewed with distaste by most of the populous -- friend or foe.

Having worn out his welcome in Tilea, Maurice has taken his company on the road. His travels have recently taken north to the Wasteland, advertising his services with progressive slogans as, "Mo' Death for your Money" and "Silent But Deadly." 


I like the way these Maurice and the two test skeletons turned out. So I plan on painting the rest of the unit like this. It's a long lingering idea I've had for a necromancer who paints his skeletons black an uses them for night raids.

In practical game terms, I'm thinking about making them something like scouts or flanking unis. Or, obviously, scenarios involving night time raids.

I think I need to come up with my own catchy alternative to "Regiments of Renown."

Mercenaries of Murderous Machinations?

Sell-Swords of Sinister Services?

Uh... maybe I need to work on that a bit.


  1. The lost and in-demand?

  2. Maurice looks awesome but I have to ask, does he speak of the pompitous of love?

    1. I almost added a bit in the description about his aliases, such as the Warp Cowboy, and the Gangster of Death. But I thought it was a stretch. I *DO* want to create a scenario in which he and his undead raid the royal orchard, and need to shake trees in order to gather and make off with the prized peaches...

    2. I think you mean "need to create" not "want to create." 😂

  3. The black skeletons really work, though my immediate thought is that they looked burnt, rather than painted black. It's a clever way to distinguish these undead from the Undeadish undead, too.

    1. I've been thinking about this for quite some time. The main "Army of the Dead" is based on the idea of an undead army that is devoid of human trappings, meaning, etc. So everything's unadorned & plain because why would the undead care?

      On the other hand, if I was a living necromancer, I think I could come up with some interesting ways to accentuate the psychological impact of an undead army. One of my favorites is the idea of the black painted skeletons silently creeping up on unexpected victims in the night. I've got some worse/gorier ideas as well. But I've really been wanting to do this one and finally jumped on it.

  4. I remember you wondering if some necromancers had their troops jump into a tub of whitewash, I think.

    There's a lot of potential here, though. I love the idea of enhancing the fear factor of skeletons with black paint, red paint, glow-in-the-dark paint, scary masks or whatever. But imagine the practicalities of "owning" skeleton troops or servants. Do you want them stinking the place up with gore and carrion? Attracting crows and rats and insects and even ghouls? Or do you want them neat and tidy and presentable? In Warhammer, undead are typically raised by Necromancers, who are crazy, evil, half-undead monsters themselves, and don't care about image. But in other fantasy worlds, skeletons are seen as handy tools or servants that you don't have to feed - simply a ready-made framework for the magic that animates them, not trapped souls or inherently evil things. We even had a discussion in our D&D group long ago about whether "Animate Dead" would magically "clean up" the bones of the more recently deceased if you used it to make them into Skeletons rather than Zombies! Of course, in AD&D animating the dead is a non-good rather than an evil act. In more modern moral terms, it could even be argued that using Skeleton soldiers was a "good" deed because it saved you risking living people, much like today drones save putting pilots in harm's way.

    All of which is a round about way of saying that, yes, if you were a non-insane wizard trying to create an army for hire, you might burn your skeletons clean, or paint them black, or march them through a white-wash dip.

    1. I keep mulling over some ideas that you touch on, in regard to my campaign ideas, and I've thought about getting back into RPGs again -- perhaps blending the two.

      There's so much fertile ground in the ideas of necromantic magic and creatures.

      And yes, I had a friend who talked (long ago) about building a diorama of necromancer overseeing a line of skeletons going through a tank of bleach to clean them up.

  5. I like where this is going. I vote for Murderous Mercenaries, but they're all good.