Master of Firin’ Sword CH4: Human Resourceless

By Rutskarn Posted Wednesday Dec 7, 2016

Filed under: Lets Play 50 comments

After a day or two in Snechko I find my coffers, and palette of Polish obscenities, greatly expanded. From my interactions with the populace I’d allow that this village provides apprenticeships to all of Poland’s artisanal whiners. One strange Swede rides in and collects taxes at gunpoint on behalf of a warlord and they cry “coercion.”

I intend to give them some perspective on the subject.

But amassing riches isn’t all I care about. All the wealth in the world is worth nothing measured against the company of friends. This is why I’ve elected to buy some.

Behold; the friend merchant.
Behold; the friend merchant.

My newest twenty companions join me outside the camp. I give them my most charming and ingratiating smile; they assemble their scarred visages into a pleasanter scramble.

“Thank you all for coming,” I say. “May I just say that I intend this to be a stable, productive, and mutually mercenary-warlord relationship. No hiring you and throwing you into the grinder for me, no, sir! I intend to get my money’s worth!” I wag my finger. “That means none of you better die before payday, aha!”

Someone spits.

“Let’s start with the ‘big picture.’ My ultimate goal, which I hope you’ll come to share, is to provide a bulwark of comfort and economic security to last through these troubled times. I will achieve this through ownership of multiple businesses in stable regions of the…”

“What about right now?” pipes an earless brigand.

“Short term goal, loot and burn Snechko.”

Which sounds all well and good to my staff, thankfully–candidly, my motives for pillaging the nearest township aren’t entirely pure.

Mercenaries do expect to be paid weekly in hard thaler. I don’t recall precisely how much their wages amount to, but I gather it’s more than, say, fifty thaler. On a grimly relevant note:

So it is true that I’ve acquired an asset, twenty armed and loyal men, and that my fortunes are improving. And it is in another and very real sense true to say that what I’ve actually done is surround myself with twenty armed evil men to whom I now owe money.

So why plunder Snechcko? Because it is very nearby.

Perhaps you’re wondering what I hoped to accomplish by purchasing lackeys unsustainably, by the score. If you are, then I’m afraid that shows what you know of ignoble calculus. There is a tipping point, you see, where a peasant will glance through the kitchen window and reach for a fresh pair of trousers instead of his musket. According to my calculations, experience, and unimpeachable judgment of rural character, twenty men is what separates a clean honest pillaging from a deplorable and senseless waste of my life.

So me and my chosen twenty spur our beasts to Snechko. And…

…spur our beasts briskly away from Snechko.

This is vexing. I’ve no capital to acquire more men, no means to pay the ones I’ve got, and apparently no quorum for accomplishing robbery. Doubtless my men are curious why we’re riding east and what I mean to accomplish; I can’t say for certain what they’re thinking, as I haven’t made eye contact with any of them in about sixty miles. I’m too busy trying very hard to come up with a reply if someone does ask. Ideally, one not dependent on the word, “please.”

As we come to the outskirts of Lublin, my need becomes pressing–undeniable. I’m already several days into my lease on these murderers. I require a little money for a few more men, which I will use to get a fantastic amount of money, which I will use to get rather a lot of men, which I will use, all being well, to find meaning and contentment in life. Fortunately, this is when an opportunity presents itself.

Not far away is a band of seven deserters:

Deserters, you see, are bandits and cowards. Ripped from the bosom of some Slavic king, these desperate and brutal men rake fortunes from the bones of the weak. They are guaranteed to have treasures about them–treasures won at the tip of a saber or point of a musket, treasures to slake their lust for gold and smoke and bloody murder.

Which, well.


I believe I mentioned an opportunity. Well, there are several peasants nearby.




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50 thoughts on “Master of Firin’ Sword CH4: Human Resourceless

  1. Jimmy McAwesome says:

    So were they actually poor innocent farmers that you brutally cut down? Or was there bounty to be had?

    1. Syal says:

      Poor, yes. Nobody’s innocent around here.

    2. Rutskarn says:

      They were completely innocent, yes.

      I did say I was going to demonstrate how to SUCCEED in this game. There are secrets, and I do know them. They’re just all really horrible.

      1. Which, well.
        I believe I mentioned an opportunity. Well, there are several peasants nearby.

        In the last few you explained he was a hero, or at least trying to be. Why is he preying on the innocent and hiring evil mercenaries he can’t pay? Rutger is, by far, the worst hero in the history of heroes.

        1. Syal says:

          History will decide his merit, once he dictates it at gunpoint.

        2. Felblood says:

          When reading Rutgar Skarsgard’s dialogue, you may need yo put giant, neon air-quotes around the word “hero.”

          1. Already preparing myself to air-quote every time I include the word hero.

        3. Rutskarn says:

          To be clear: all of Rutger’s narration is how he views HIMSELF, or at least how he attempts to portray himself.

          Rutger is a gutless coward, a backbiting wretch, and an all-around psychopath. All his pomp and posturing is meant to be humorously contrasted with how terrible he is.

          1. AdamS says:

            So, a bit like Star-On-Chest, only moreso.

          2. baseless_research says:

            Ah, the Zap Brannigan school of writing.

        4. Daemian Lucifer says:

          Just because they are mercenaries does not mean they are evil.Dont be a mercenarist.

          Also,just because these peasants appear to be innocent does not mean they actually were.Last I heard,one of them crossed the street where there was no pedestrian crossing!

          1. WJS says:

            The fact that pedestrian crossings won’t be invented for another 300 years is irrelevant!

  2. ehlijen says:

    Huzzah, another band of unrepentent river dancers removed from the world!

    Now…how much did this actually net our protagonist’s friend business empire?

    1. Disc says:

      He might get a piece or two of produce if the farmers hadn’t arrived in town and sold it yet which, if lucky, might give him another week’s worth of wages. Otherwise the loot you get is pretty worthless. A more profitable way of dealing with them would be to capture them by knocking them down with blunt weapons and then selling them to a ransom broker, even if peasants are next to worthless, being on the very lowest tier of “troops”, as the game classifies them. Whether our intrepid protagonist learns this or not remains to be seen.

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        He might get a piece or two of produce if the farmers hadn't arrived in town and sold it yet which, if lucky, might give him another week's worth of wages. Otherwise the loot you get is pretty worthless.

        Wait,you get more value by capturing their goods than by capturing the money they get for selling said goods?What kind of crap barters are these peasants?

        1. Disc says:

          It’s because of how the loot system works. Whenever you win a battle, you’ll only get an X amount of items the game randomly picks from the enemy party’s collective inventory. I’m not exactly sure how it calculates looted money, but I’d presume it’s a relatively small percentile of the total. It gets higher with bigger parties and higher tier enemies, but it’s not that good or reliable source of income. From the peasants, I’d say he’ll be lucky to get 10 thaler.

          You can increase the amount of loot you get with the Looting skill, but it’ll still always be a random selection.

          1. Daemian Lucifer says:

            But that makes no sense.I get why produce would be lost during a fight,but metal money?

            1. baseless_research says:

              IIRC The player can also be captured by enemies when defeated in battle, if you escape or pay a ransom you’ll have lost part but not all of your money and supplies/equipment.

              I wouldn’t be surprised if the amount of goods/cash you can lose is similar to the amount you can loot.

            2. ehlijen says:

              I doubt the player character is the one actually doing all the looting. There are 20 armed strangers with him, no doubt quite a lot of stuff doesn’t make it from lootable pocket to counting pile.

            3. Disc says:

              Beats me. It makes even less sense with horses. It’s possible to steal a horse in the battle mode by killing the rider and then chasing the horse down. You’d think you’d get to keep it, but no, even if you’re still riding when you win, it’ll be gone forever after. Only way to get enemy horses is via the loot lottery, and they’re pretty rare drops. More often than not they’re even lame, so they’re not even that useful other than as pack mules, though you can wait (a good while) for it to heal.

              1. Leocruta says:

                The whole “inventory changes in battle don’t count” thing really bugs me. There were many occasions where I’d grab an amazing weapon in battle, but as it wasn’t available in the loot screen, my character decides “Oh, I actually didn’t loot this sword. Guess I have to drop it.” I would have gotten a mod to fix it, except all the mods I’ve seen also make you lose weapons you drop, and I have, on occasion, accidentally dropped my weapon in the middle of a pile of corpses, never to be seen again.

  3. MichaelGC says:

    My hero.

    Perhaps you're wondering what I hoped to accomplish by purchasing lackeys unsustainably, by the score.

    I had been, actually! Although my brain hadn’t lined up the words quite so wonderfully. “Fuck is he affording 20?,” was more my speed.

  4. Brendan says:

    What I’m not getting is why he ran away from Snechko. Was he expecting the peasants to roll over while he and his mercenaries pillaged and looted their town with no resistance?

    Wait, okay, I get it now. He totally was.

    1. Shoeboxjeddy says:

      He specifically stated that he hired 20 men instead of say, 5, in order to inspire the townsfolk to roll over without fighting. They were brave or angry enough to fight anyway, and either the odds were bad or he’s just a huge coward on that one, so Bravely Brave Sir Robin, Bravely Ran Away.

    2. Viktor says:

      I had thought the plan was: Hire dudes, throw dudes into a meat grinder, loot their corpses and the town in order to pay the 2.6 survivors. Him running away really confused me.

      1. Syal says:

        There are a lot of peasants in towns. Triple digit stuff.

    3. Rutskarn says:

      They actually do roll over if you have enough, but the critical number is either randomized or I misremembered it. Not to worry!

  5. Grudgeal says:

    This is a rather good re-enactment of how The Deluge went in real life.

    Well, at least at first. Next you need to use the peasants’ money to hire even more mercs and then burn the town to the ground.

  6. Awetugiw says:

    Ah, banditry. The most reliable way to make people hate you. Including powerful people. Who command lots of men with lots of pointy sticks and lots of guns.

    I can’t see this going wrong in any possible way.

    1. Chauzuvoy says:

      Ah, but that’s when you leave Poland for some similarly-principled land (let’s go with Prussia because why not) and take your well-earned rewards to recruit an honest army for yourself. Then you go back with said army and, to make amends for your earlier raiding and pillaging, bring the whole nation under your benevolent rulership, thus ensuring both their and your future in the coming tumult.

  7. DGM says:

    > “candidly, my motives for pillaging the nearest township aren't entirely pure.”

    The Hell you say.

  8. Christopher says:

    This week’s installment was an adventure! Poor peasants indeed.

  9. baseless_research says:

    How will I explain this?

    Those peasants were clearly planning an uprising. One of them was a Dark Lord in training. They had camouflaged weaponry. Erm, …

    I had nothing to do with it, they fell down some stairs.

  10. Mintskittle says:

    Having never played a Mount and Blade game, I could use some context. Just how much resistance can the average peasant town put up? Are we talking your average game where a couple dozen people constitutes a thriving village, or are the numbers more realistic?

    1. Rutskarn says:

      More…more realistic.

      Let me put it this way: if the difficulty is set to “normal” (which is the highest), and anyone ever goes out of their way to attack you for any reason, it is because they’re damn sure they’re gonna win.

      1. HeroOfHyla says:

        I have a very skewed understanding of these games because I play them on the easiest settings. I expect to come out on top when outnumbered 4 to 1 (assuming my troops are fully upgraded).

    2. Syal says:

      I want to say my looting of a town in original M&B ended up with me killing 173 peasants. I think original has lower numbers than the others.

      Not something you should be trying at low level with low-level gear.

  11. John says:

    I can never bring myself to loot villages in Mount & Blade. I’ll attack caravans, but never villages. All the villages look so barren. It’s hard to imagine that they have anything worth taking. And I hear that some named companion characters get really upset if you start pillaging, too. I don’t know if that’s a thing that happens in Fire & Sword, but if it is then Rutskarn must do it because I really want to see his treatment of that kind of conversation.

    1. Rutskarn says:

      “It’s hard to imagine they have anything worth taking.”

      I don’t blame you. I didn’t either. But…

      Just…stick around.

    2. Michael says:

      I can’t speak for Fire & Sword, but in the original games, Villages were a goldmine.

      1. Disc says:

        Raiding them also affects the economy locally plus denies the ruling lord from income and hinders their troop recruitment.

  12. Genericide says:

    Just popping in to say I love the direction this is going and the way you’re writing the main character. He’s the most charming, affable and amusing COMPLETE MONSTER I’ve read in some time.

  13. tzeneth says:

    Isn’t the real way to make money, trading? I’m not sure if it’s randomized but I’m the powder king in my game I started based off this. I started with nothing and grabbed a few quests while running and paying off any bandits, then I got the tax collection quest. Got the money, got my butt killed by peasants before they fully paid and then ran off to buy some mercenaries and some powder which then turned into huge profits, especially when you’re buying powder at 2-300 a pop and selling them for +700. Then I got enough money from trading to get a large enough group to not be bothered except by the more dangerous gentlemen who I could run away from with my band of men and a decent pathfinding skill. Then I started looting the Polish and put large amounts of money in the bank.

    On a different note: is it actually possible to find any of the double-shot weapons actually being sold by arms merchants and not have to pay the insane price from the weapon crafter?

    1. Rutskarn says:

      No, only the arms craftsmen. Double-barreled dutch pistol, though? Best 120,000 thaler I ever spent.

  14. Abnaxis says:

    The shift in character from “I’m a pusillanimous coward who devises half-hearted rationalizations for my deeds that will surely be sung about by bards for generations once I’m recognized as the hero I am” to “I’m an unapologetic bastard who won’t bat an eye at beating innocent peasants and stealing their stuff” is slightly jarring. Not terrible, but it seems our intrepid hero had a noticable change in world outlook from the last entry to this one.

    1. djw says:

      I dunno, I was getting a “Cugel the Clever” vibe from him from the start.

    2. Ilseroth says:

      Go back and actually re-read that bit.

      “I will do whatever I must to keep the wealth of the people from falling into other, unrighteous hands.”

      He never suggested any heroic intentions, just that he didn’t want others getting said wealth.

      1. Abnaxis says:

        Except the “unrighteous” bit in that sentence makes it sound like our protagonists hands would the the “righteous” ones that truly deserve the ill-gotten gains. It’s like he was a Raskolnikov without the guilt trip–as long as you’re one of the Great People, murder and larceny are justified by your inherent Greatness. Rutger was a craven asshole, but he felt justified in being a craven asshole because he had an inflated ego.

        The difference between then and now, is that the ego is missing. Rutger’s fully admitting that he’s a craven asshole and “screw these peasants it’s either their skin or mine.” There’s not so much a contradiction, it’s more like there’s something missing that was there before.

    3. MichaelGC says:

      I’m not seeing any large contradictions between your two (rather good!) pen-portraits, there! Leaving all context aside for the moment, wouldn’t it be possible for the coward to devise half-hearted rationalizations for the attack on the poor innocent peasants? He’s perhaps strayed further from ‘heroic’ than he might’ve originally intended, but that’s the way of rationalizations…

  15. Zak McKracken says:

    That took a rather dark turn rather faster than expected.
    I’d expected the protagonist to make up some reason those people owed him money, then narrates how they grudgingly accept his “arguments” and comply…

    Not that I require a “good” protagonist but … I find it a bit strange that there does not seem to be an option to follow the good old tradition of robbing people at gunpoint (or sword or whatever), but rather you either kill all or let them go?

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