Mercenary, wanderer, outlaw, fortune-hunter, free- booter—the cities of Thule are full of hard-nosed adventurers ready to earn a living with a strong sword-hand. Monarchs and nobles are always looking for skilled soldiers, merchants need bodyguards, and forgotten treasures lie waiting for the audacious ex- plorer bold enough to dare deadly jungles and cursed ruins and claim them. The free blade is a true soldier of fortune, a sell-sword who may try out a dozen dif- ferent careers as he or she searches for that one bold stroke that might make a mercenary into a lord ... or even a king.
Whether you’re a professional mercenary with a careful eye for the odds or a bored barbarian look- ing for adventure, you keep your sword loose in the scabbard and your coinpurse where you can see it. You’re ambitious, resourceful, and pragmatic—all the gold in the world is worthless to a dead man. Above all, you are a great believer in the power of opportu- nity. No matter where you are or what you’re doing, you never stop looking for your next big chance. If it involves making enemies or breaking laws, so be it.
Fighting skill is the stock in trade of the free blade—anyone following this path must be handy with weapons and willing to fight for pay. Free blades come from almost any culture or background. Some are wandering barbarians, some are desperate street thugs trying to get ahead, and a few are high- born swordsmen or swordswomen forced by family circumstances to carve out their own place in the world. Even nonhumans such as dwarven mercenar- ies or elven duelists are found in this opportunis- tic trade.
Key Identity: Barbarian, fighter, ranger, rogue.
Free Blade Benefits
Even if you’re just beginning your career, you’ve al- ready been to more places and seen more things than most people. Free blades are defined by their wander- lust; you’re familiar with a lot of different places, you have a knack for languages, and you have an uncan- ny ability to fit in wherever you find yourself. As a veteran of many skirmishes, riots, and tavern brawls, you have learned how to finish fights fast when you get an opponent at a disadvantage. It might not be particularly honorable, but honor isn’t something you worry about too much. As word of your prowess spreads, you’ll find that you are never really without a job—there’s always someone hiring mercenaries, or a band of outlaws in need of a leader.
Free Blades in the World
Rootless adventurers are common in Thule. Some are city-born men and women of the lower classes who set out to win wealth any way they can. Others are barbarians curious about civilized ways (or, perhaps, unwelcome in their own homelands) who have noth- ing to sell but their blades. Low-born Thuleans often romanticize the free blades’ way of life, so you have many friends among the common people.
Over time, you will naturally cross paths with other free blades who have their own ideas about the opportunities you come across. Competition, rivalry, or outright treachery are the usual results— your worst enemies are all too often free blades just like you.
Personalising the Free Blade
The hallmarks of a free blade are adaptability and wanderlust. They’ll do anything to get by, taking on boring or dangerous work until something better turns up, and they think nothing of setting out to see if the next city offers better opportunities.
The barbarian clans of the Ammur Hills are a strong, settled Dhari tribe that has at various times fought off incursions from Lomar, Quodeth, and Marg. Many young Ammur warriors leave their homeland to sell their swords in the rich city-states. Unlike most barbarians, who know little of civilization before they arrive at a city gate, you are acquainted with civilized ways—you just don’t think much of them.
The people of Lomar are known for their martial spirit and prickly sense of honor. More than a few of Lomar’s warriors find that better prospects await them in the wide world beyond Lomar’s mighty walls. Some of these exiles leave voluntarily, unable to find a place that suits them in Lomar’s rigid society. Others fail to live up to the unforgiving standards of Lomari society and leave in disgrace. Whatever your reason for leaving Lomar, you now earn the best living you can by selling a lifetime of martial training to the highest bidder. What drove you to leave? If you could go back, would you?
The city of Marg has a deservedly evil reputation as the center of Thule’s slave trade, but not every Marg is a slaver. Most are ruthless merchants and traders—commonly called “wolves” in Marg and nearby lands—who deal in any com- modity that comes their way, or turn to robbery and plunder if legitimate trade is hard to come by. Part mercenary, part trader, part outlaw, a Margish wolf has an evil reputation, but everyone knows that you will do whatever you must to get ahead.
You are a dwarf of Kal-Zinan, the City of the Iron Gate. Kal-Zinan is renowned for two principal exports: Iron arms and armor, and the toughest mercenaries in Thule. You’re one of the latter. Free blades in general have a reputation for being opportunistic and unreliable, but you consider yourself a professional and prefer to honor your contracts as long as your employer holds up his end of the bargain.
You are a soldier of fortune, and while you roam free, the price of your sword isn’t. You don’t spill blood out of malice, it’s just the price of doing business—a price that someone else gets to pay. You are always looking out for the next opportunity to earn your moment of fortune and glory, and maybe win a bit of fame or notoriety along the way.
D&D 5th Edition
Skill Bonuses (1st level): Your travels and business associations have provided you with a certain breadth of knowledge. You gain a bonus language selected from the following: High Atlantean, Dhari, Kalayan, Lomari, Nimothan, Urgan. You are also trained in Intimidation.
Opportunist (1st level): When you make an opportunity attack, you gain tactical advantage. Instead of making an opportunity attack, you can use a combat reaction to move up to your speed.
Sellsword (6th level): Whenever you are paid gold for your services, you get 50% more gold. In addition, you gain tactical advantage on skill checks made to interact with mercenaries or other soldiers for hire.
Company of Blades (10th level): You have worked for, with, and against many other sellswords and earned their respect. You now have a company of elite warriors at your call (see Followers, under narrative bene ts). e warriors of your company are equivalent to berserkers or legionaries (see page 79); you can choose which you prefer. When you reach 15th level, they improve to veterans..
Skill Bonuses (1st level): Your travels and business associations have provided you with a certain breadth of knowledge. You gain a bonus language selected from the following: Low Atlantean, Dhari, Kalayan, Lomari, Nimothan, Urgan. You also gain a +2 bonus to Knowledge (local) checks and Profession (soldier) checks, and a +2 bonus to Diplomacy checks when gathering information or negotiating for a job.
Opportunistic Action (1st level): When you would normally be able to make an opportunity attack, you can instead spend a hero point to take any standard action or move action. Hero points you spend to perform an opportunistic action are not permanently expended, and are regained at the end of the day.
Sellsword (6th level): Whenever you are paid gold for your services, you get 50% more gold. In addition, your free blade skill bonuses increase to +4.
Company of Men (10th level): You have worked for, with, and against many other sellswords and earned their respect. You now have a small company of guards at your call (see Followers, under narrative benefits). You decide whether your company is a band of outlaws, soldiers, mercenaries or something in between. You also may choose a base of operations, such as a hall in a city-state, a watchtower on a road, or a hidden cave near a trade route.