Mercenaries are unaligned soldiers that can be hired by various factions to fight in their armies. The term “mercenary” was once used as a slur among fighting men. In certain kingdoms, notably Khador, the term is still used as a disdainful appellation for those who have no attachment to their homeland. Nevertheless, where war and wages thrive mercenaries inevitably follow. As the nations of the Iron Kingdoms war on each other, there are great profits to be made by those willing to risk life and limb in pursuit of coin. The mercenaries of Immoren are as diverse in appearance and approach to combat as they are in motivation. Many of them operate almost as businesses and utilize official charters detailing their conduct and under what circumstances they will sell their bloody services. Other mercenaries have more dubious reputations as bandits, assassins, traitors, and pirates. All find their services in demand by the commanders of Immoren. However not every mercenary is solely motivated by wealth or adventure as some sell their services to fund their own private agendas or personal wars. Although mercenary forces are not as well supplied as the standing armies of the Iron Kingdoms, their inherent diversity is their strength. Groups of highly trained specialists form armies of incredible flexibility.
Some leaders hire mercenaries as political and fiscal displays of power to intimidate their enemies. Battles have been won by the mere presence of an overwhelming force, and mercenaries can help pad a weak army. A mercenary force can turn a rich man into a dangerous one. Conversely, mercenaries make for expensive friends. Unpopular dictators gladly pay for fighting men they feel they can trust. Since mercenaries have no political affiliation, they are viewed by some as the ultimate neutral force and a means of “fighting bitterly while keeping the peace” . It goes without saying that this parasitic relationship can quickly turn predatory if an employer fails to keep his mercenaries well paid.