[LoM] Cost of Mercenary Units


Page 104 of Lords of Men lists the cost for mercenary units (group of five.) But it is not stated for how long you have the mercenaries. Can we assume that the costs are given for a season service?

The rule of thumb from Covenants says that a wage of a penny per day amounts to a pound a year (1 pound = 20 shillings = 240 pence, but I assume you don't get paid on Sundays and holidays.) Page 108 of Lords of Men states that Richard the Lionhearted paid his knights a shilling a day, his sergants four pence and soldiers two pence a day. This means that a group of five knights paid 12 pence a day each would be paid 60 pounds a year, a group of sergants 20 pounds a year and a group of infantry 10 pounds a year. This equals 15 pounds a season for knights, 5 for sergeants and 2,5 for infantry. If we round down the infantry cost to 2 pounds a season, this matches the costs given on page 104.

Assuming the costs are given for a season service also matches the mercenary budget for landed nobles on page 103. Page 31 of LoM states that a landed noble has ten pounds a year for largesse or war, a wealthy landed noble twenty. This would break down to 2,5 pounds a season for a landed nobel, five pounds a season for a wealthy landed noble which matches (after rounding down) the table on page 103.

I would like to know if my interpretation is correct so far, or whether any of you have comments on it. With this interpretation, most contradictions in LoM and between LoM and Covenants are resolved.

If my interpretation is correct, the mercenary budgets for barons and earls (dukes) don't match their disponible wealth given on page 32. By dividing their budget on page 103 by four, we will get how much they can afford each season on mercenaries. This should probably be errataed, if I'm right.

Why Atlas Games has chosen to represent cost in such a way is probably another discussion.

I think your math and assumptions sounds reasonable.

As for the mercenary budget for Greater Nobles, my guess would be that while they have a larger "discretionary budget" they probably have to hold some of it aside for largess for their own vassals.

The interpretation of this seems to never cease to come up in our games. I would be glad if more of you could tell how you interpret this.

I didn't write the massed combat chapter, but for the sake of discussion, let's go with this. I can see good reason why you'd only hire your mercenaries for the campaigning season, in some cases.

Good, let's go with that then.

No, you're right in that there's an error there, but your way of dealing with it is off. It looks to me like the first line of the table should read 0/10/20.

I don't think it's a matter of division: I think it's just an error in the first line. Indeed, given that in City and Guild we needed the Labour point system to get around negative feedback concerning the division by ten, I'm certain no-one anywhere is dividing anything by four in an Ars supplement.

Their numbers are their correct annual figures. You seem to be taking the broken line, accepting it, and then saying all the others are broken. Instead I'd suggest that all of the other lines are correct (that a lord can spend one year's surplus on mercenaries per year) and that it's the landed noble line which should be higher. I don't think it's one season's income per season because wealth in Mythic Europe is basically agricultural, and so it doesn't come in steadily (Harvest time it rolls in, winter not at all.)

Ars Magica uses an annual system for tallying up covenant funds, so I'd suggest continuing with the annual system here, rather than using a seasonal system.

Have you seen Pendragon? It's brilliant for this sort of thing. It's exactly the opposite of what I wanted, but if you really want ot be throwing armies of mercenaries at each other, that's a great game with a lot of ideas you can steal.

It "never seems to cease" sounds more like a "guys, we need to sit down and have an adult conversation" problem that a strict interpretation problem. Either playing it one way or the other would work, provided your troupe stuck to that decision. That you are ceaselessly debating an issue isn't so much a rules problem (because the rules are just the starting point for your play contract discussion) as a troupe-not-functioning-as-a-social-group problem.

Thanks for your reply, Timothy!

That's of course a good interpretation, seeing the table on page 103 as the annual disposable income with an error in the first line and the Mercenary Units table on page 104 giving the seasonal cost for mercenaries. That makes good sense even though I wish the text and tables had been more explicit. I think our troupe can handle this disagreement as adults, I certainly hope so at least :slight_smile: Coming close to the conclusion of The Gathering Storm story in Tales of Power, they are looking for any opportunity to increase their military power. But what's good for the covenant is also good for their enemies...

You are not the first to recommend Pendragon, so I probably should give it a look. But I think it will take more than a great system for playing out battles to make me quit playing ArsM.

Pendragon is an elegant, well-researched game with a beautifully simple system and it deserves every word of praise it has received over the years. I've run it many times, but not nearly as much as I'd like.

It's a wonderful cousin to Ars, because while Ars is focused on the wizard PC, Pendragon is explicitly about the knight PC. And just as no two wizards are alike, so no two knights are alike. This is a surprise to most Pendragon players, who presume that every knight is basically the same, and playing one would be boring.

The game is a treasure trove of story ideas for Ars, as it was written by Greg Stafford, who is wonderfully well read and a design genius.