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"Financing mercenary campaigns?" Topic

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377 hits since 27 Dec 2018
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Stryderg27 Dec 2018 1:10 p.m. PST

Are there any quick and dirty rules, blogs or discussions about the economics of using merc forces in the far flung future? I'm wanting to do a Hammer's Slammers type campaign using either Alpha Strike or 5150 Star Army (or maybe a mash up of both).

(That'll teach me to hit the submit button ONE TIME)

Oberlindes Sol LIC Supporting Member of TMP27 Dec 2018 2:59 p.m. PST

Basically, it's like any business:

You decide on how big you can start based on who you know in the government who will give you a contract.

The amount of the contract is your initial budget for the first contract period. You'll have to pay for employee compensation, insurance, supplies (i.e., ammunition and fuel), equipment (vehicles, weapons), office rent, travel expenses, etc.

After you've done your initial cost analysis, add 25%, and then submit a request to be paid for a cost overrun pursuant to the contract. That will mostly go to your salary as CEO and Unit Commander, but you'll have to share it with the CFO/Exec and your other top people.

Now you send your unit to wherever to do whatever. Write a good monthly or quarterly report to your government contact and keep that money flowing. You'll soon be a mercenary general, maybe running a mercenary hedge fund. Good luck!

P.S. Traveller covers mercenary costs and budgeting.

whitphoto27 Dec 2018 3:21 p.m. PST

Are you running an accounting game or a wargame? The economics of using mercenaries now in 2018 is probably at the point where only the richest nations can afford it, start adding in interstellar travel and logistics and the few Hammer's Slammers stories I've read of one backwater government hiring them to fight another backwater government is probably not realistic. Dozens of the highest tech tanks, plus companies of infantry and all of the support and logistics to keep it running plus a starship? Millions of 'dollars' a week plus some sort of bonus just to show up? Billions of dollars of liquid assets for even a short operation (Hammer's Slammers isn't working for an IOU or a shipment of raw ore). Hand wave it, throw some dice!

Stryderg27 Dec 2018 4:15 p.m. PST

Oh, war game, definitely.
The general idea is to start with a platoon of infantry and handful of second/third line tanks (the good stuff can be found closer to the galactic empire's center).

The problem is to setup a simple way to decide which contract to take (ie. is it close, does it pay, what's the risk). And to figure out how to pay for replacements and upgrades afterwards (because everybody wants a shiny new tank).

Thanks for the tip, Oberlindes.

zircher27 Dec 2018 4:48 p.m. PST

Well, one way to run it that your costs is the minimum guaranteed pay. Your troops cost X to keep and the client pays X. The actual value does not matter except to NPC bean counters. You know X goes in and X comes out. What you negotiate is the pay above and beyond, mission bonuses, salvage, retention/extension of contracts, salvage, and tech.

JSears27 Dec 2018 6:52 p.m. PST

Last summer my son and I messed around with a short Battletech Campaign using their "Campaign Operations" rules. It's chock full of ideas, systems, scenario generators and all sort of other goodies. You might be interested in taking a look since it handles creating a mercenary force, figuring out upkeep costs, getting contracts, reputation, etc.

You may not be playing Battletech, but I think its worth a look. I especially like the "warchest" system, which abstracts much of the paperwork and could be adapted to other universes/systems.

A word of warning… the book is a real mish mash of ideas. I found the different subsystems didn't mesh well together and required some handwaving to overlook some of the fiddly bits.

I wrote up our campaign experiences on my blog if you are interested in getting into the details of the campaign system:

Winston Smith Supporting Member of TMP27 Dec 2018 8:16 p.m. PST

I suggest you read Forsyth's "The Dogs of War".
It gives a nice summary of the ethos of the Mercenary.
The "French Guy", Langarotti (Corsican actually…) merely wants to know if the Operation will be against the interests of France. It may not be patriotism, but merely wanting to be able to go home.

In my humble opinion, the mercs in the novel weren't paid all that much. But that was back in the 70s. Maybe it was a nice pay.

Maybe that's all they know how to do.
Or maybe, like Hessians, they just happened to be passing through, and got conscripted and rented out.

It seems to me that you can construct the economics, go with it, and then ignore it once you have a good scenario generator.

Thresher0127 Dec 2018 9:04 p.m. PST

Check out medieval Italy, and how that worked, and/or didn't work for some/many nation states.

Lion in the Stars27 Dec 2018 10:55 p.m. PST

Agree that Battletech probably has the best system to keep track of that stuff.

Though you probably want to abstract as much as possible, or roll it into a 'client pays all ammo and repair costs' thing.

No mercenary is ever going to get rich as a mercenary. (You don't want to know what medevac insurance costs! I looked it up once when I was in college 10 years ago and I think my butt hasn't unclenched yet.). Even with a 2x or greater combat multiplier.

Though if you're just running leg infantry, the Deluxe RECON rpg from Palladium is another decent source. Prices are about right for 1970s, just before that nasty stagflation (stagnant economy and hideous inflation) in the late 1970s/early 1980s. Add a zero for today's prices, maybe more due to some legal changes (machine gun prices went through the roof in 1986, for example, at least for civilians. It did about the same for mercenaries, since their semi-legal supply dried up)

In the Slammerverse, you also get to run with the Bonding Authority, which ensures and insures your pay. Meet the contract, get paid. Employer tries to kill you off to stiff you out of the contract, the employer gets stonked by the best mercs out there, up to, including, and even exceeding the entire Slammer's force!

Stryderg28 Dec 2018 6:17 a.m. PST

zircher: I get the feeling that's the way to do it, come up with some tables to see what the outcome of each contract is.

JSears: I love the liaison's report after the 2nd mission! Nicely done.

Winston: Thanks for the suggestion (I think I watched the movie ages ago). I read a merc's, sorry, freedom fighter's memoirs of his time in Syria back in the 70's or 80's. He didn't get paid much and like most soldiers didn't really know what was going on in the big picture.

Trierarch28 Dec 2018 9:12 p.m. PST

As mentioned Traveller has the Mercenary supplement (Book 4 in the LBB series is the one I have), it has a section on mercenary tickets including an outline of Legal conditions, Hiring on, Remuneration and some sample tickets.
PDFs of the LBBs and the Mongoose versions can be acquired from Drive Through RPG.

Of course the funding model is based on the Third Imperium economic model which may or may not fit with what you have in mind.


Lion in the Stars28 Dec 2018 9:57 p.m. PST

And a couple snippets of fiction that are *excellent* advice for players new to the idea of high-tech mercenary work:


Yes, fantasy adventurers can (usually) get away with looting. That doesn't work so well in high-tech settings.

Stryderg29 Dec 2018 7:20 p.m. PST

Wow! link puts it simple and short.

Apache 604 Jan 2019 8:17 p.m. PST

Another option would be to have the mercenaries hired to train and advise local forces. It's potentially cheaper and more effective.

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