Darryl Speed's Collection of Characters
Hedge Knights, Warriors With No Banner
In lands mired in conflict, mercenaries hover like vultures over a carcass. Similar to adventurers, once mercenaries enter a region combat seems to go on for eternity, the wars and leaders may change but the battles continue for lifetimes. Wars devolve into bands of professional soldiers becoming de facto leaders of whatever province they find themselves within, collecting their own breed of taxes from the lord in exchange for “protection.” This kind of extortion has soured public opinion of these “brigands” and has lead to many communities packing up their things once mercenaries come into town(sometimes militia skirmishes with them to scare them away). Most of the time the mercenaries can stick together for their own protection, as the peasants and minor nobles rarely can confront them in a direct engagement. When mercenary bands break down is when things get hard. When mercenary brands dissolve, hedge knights begin to scatter to the wind. With little to no training for standard work after a lifetime of battle, hedge knights are often among the poorest individuals. The lucky ones becomes guards and break up bar squabbles and find children lost in fields, the not so lucky ones linger in taverns and sleep in pigpens.
Often forced to drift from town to town, kicked as soon as the tavern owner realizes that his tab won’t be paid. Hedge knights try their best to sell their service but more often than not a town would rather have their guards(or some potentially more dangerous adventurers) handle a given situation rather than a washed up drunk with a dulled blade. Writers and intellectuals love to muse about the plights and suffering of the hedge knights, but when asked for food they often scoff and offer nothing but condescension. “The Ballad of the Hedge Knights” is known by every bard and while often used mockingly toward friendly company, most remember its somber original intentions.