Monday, November 6, 2017

The Blackened Brigade

"They would send outrangers under black flags to treat with the lords of the lands in their path; a suitable tribute of grain and livestock would redirect the Blackened Brigade onto the lands of a rival (with the tributary lord often raising his own troops to make war and take loot in concert), while a cold welcome would earn iron and fire."

"Unique among conquering armies, it was fit men of fighting age who were spared, and women and children and elderly who were butchered or sold. Those remaining men, dispossessed by the Brigade's depredations, from serf to sovereign, were given the choice to remain and starve in the oncoming winter, or to join and share in the spoils taken from their own lands as the Brigade moved ahead of winter to warmer climes; unsurprisingly, many did join, knowing their crops to be despoiled, their lords humbled, and their families dead. They would take the ash of their former homes and blacken their blades and their hands, made permanent by a chemical fixative of the Brigade's devising."

By Delun
"Thus, the Blackened Brigade would march on, ranks ever growing. An army of those with nothing but their blade, plundering to stay alive, creating more hopeless men to join their ranks. A self-perpetuating mass of misery, each man knowing that every Blackened companion was of the same fate and knew their same pain, creating a shared resolve of iron."

"It has been decades since the Brigade has come reaving around the Inner Six, since the Brigade marched southward on the wings of Winter, not returning in the Spring as was their wont. Perhaps they ventured into the Sands and perished; perhaps they found deeper and richer lands further south, as wild seafarers and foreign tradespersons have hinted at; perhaps they took ship beyond the seas we know, to an end we shall never know. I, personally, hope never to find out."

- From the writings of Erbius the Lorekeeper, Magus of the Fifth Order

Use the Blackened Brigade in your games. Maybe they haven't gone south yet, and are still around, and approaching the area your PCs are in. Any male PCs of a fighting age are not directly threatened by the Brigade - so finding a way to hide OTHER PCs (those threatened), or to gather enough tribute to save the local village, or to escape to a new location, or to unite enough lords to destroy the Brigade itself, are all possible adventures.

Jank, some players might even want to retire their characters as Brigadiers.

Posts have been slow and few, lately. But I WANT to be active. (I enjoy writing, and thinking.)
So, just for a week, I'm challenging myself to write SOMETHING gameable (monster, NPC, magic, location, item, etc.) each day. To make it interesting: it must be inspired by the first song that comes up on shuffle from my music library each morning. (I listen to a lot of weird stuff like death metal, post-rock, and dark ambient, so I'm not worried about finding inspiration.)
The above post was inspired (loosely?) by "A Farewell to Arms" by Machine Head (Spotify, YouTube).


  1. Hey, song-based posts! (wait is machine head rated W for "weird" now?!)

    This kind of "huge force messing up the stable social order" looks kind of fun. It seems like a few entrepeneuring people could pay tribute for one city only, let the rest of the kingdom burn, and then take over the ruins. (or is the brigade just an unusually large party of PC's?)

  2. Well, not that weird, haha, but still not something most people would dare to listen to here in America. (Maybe things are different in Sweden?)

    Yeah, I'd really love to see what clever players could do with it. The tribute is paid in food, not coin, so it would involve some planning ahead in terms of stockpiling grain (and ruining the summer crops of rivals, haha).

    I'd imagine the Blackened Brigade to be a wonderfully suitable place for "failed" PCs to retire. Successful adventurers with money or fame would steer clear (no luxuries, unrelenting schedule, most of your compatriots are emotionally or mentally screwed in one way or another), but a great place for desperadoes who love getting their hands bloody (i.e., yes, murderhoboes XP ).

    1. Eeh, I guess most people don't listen to machine head here either. I just felt like, on the grand scale of weirdness, they wouldn't be that high up, haha.

      I guess the food thing could be fixed by some clerics with "create food and water" if they exist / are around. (Though that doesn't sound near as interesting).