I like playing mercenary factions in miniature wargames. Even though it’s fun to command forces with tight factional themes, I like the diversity of unit options and variance in aesthetics and style – whether my force is composed entirely of them or if I just take one or two units as auxiliaries to another force.
Having yet to dive into the Infinity miniature game I’m not sure how mercenaries work there, but I’m happy to see this book as “mercenaries” is a classic framework for any RPG – especially one with a cyberpunk-esque setting like Infinity.
Disclaimer: This title has been provided for purpose of review.
The book opens with an overview of mercenaries/PMCs, from their earliest forms in ancient times, to their controversial employment in the 20th/21st centuries, to their current status as operatives in the Human Sphere. Employed as private security, bounty hunters, or deniable assets, mercenaries in the Infinity era can be a great benefit to the O-12 nations. Among the discussions of the legalities of their actions are details on the War Market and other frameworks that attempt to legitimize mercenaries. I really like that attention is given to the fact that they are companies, so marketing and public relations are an important part of their operation, especially as programs on Maya glamorize their stories.
I also like how the regular life of a mercenary is analyzed, including elements like how they operate with locals and local law enforcement, handle weapon-carry laws, and deal with fame.
Running mercenary characters in Infinity also receives treatment and it’s good that it’s early in the book – that way it can stay in mind as the rest is digested. There’s discussion on bringing a group of mercenaries together, how to include them in a Bureau Noir game, issues of morality and trust that may arise – lots of good gameable material. In fact, the first chapter is really good for that and will help GMs inject lots of flavor into their games.
Chapter 2 covers notable Mercenary Companies, including their assets, recruitment methods, notable operations, key NPCs with roleplaying tips, and specific standout elements of each PMC. 6 major PMCs receive that treatment and 6 well-known mercenary units are given briefer overviews. There’s an interesting mix: the underworld outfit of Druze Bayram Security, the stylish and media-savvy Foreign Company, the noble Free Company of the Star, the Tohaa-human alliance of Spiral Corps, and others. Any of them would be great as allies or antagonists, or even as the focus of a game. Some are much more specialized than others, so would make for interesting and focused stories.
The use of mercenaries among the factions is the focus of Chapter 3. Almost all the factions save Ariadna employ them in one fashion or another and the chapter goes into detail about how they’re regarded and what jobs they may be hired for. Plot seeds in the form of jobs appear throughout the text as sidebars.
In order to provide some degree of order and stability, the War Market was designed to keep tabs on PMCs and prevent them from running operations without some degree of oversight. The O-12 factions also supported the legislation to create a further economic ecosystem. Chapter 4 covers the ins and outs of the War Market and how one goes about hiring a PMC. While a little more clinical, the subject matter discusses what to look for when hiring, what information is available on the Exchange, how to handle contracts, etc.
Chapters 5 and 6 include new gear and vehicles. There’s a healthy array of weapons and ammunition, combat drugs and armor, programs and other technology.
Chapter 7 gives new rules regarding creating Mercenary Faction characters. There are new Lifepath tables for Adolescent Events, Careers, and Career Events. There are 10 new careers profiled and a new optional rule for accumulating Debt. The new careers are nice – I like Recruiter Agent and Warmonger for being less in-the-thick fighters.
Chapter 8 is great, as it covers how to set up mercenary campaigns and structure games around that framework. It’s really great how chain-of-command and player dynamics is addressed – there’s some good advice on managing the group so that roles are maintained and everyone can still have fun. There’s a brief overview of moods and themes and conflict resolution involving Psywar – which could be incredibly beneficial to mercenaries needing friendly faces in unfriendly territory. Quartermaster players will love the inclusion of structured rules for creating and running a PMC. They involve managing and maintaining funds and assets, negotiating contracts, and optional rules to provide flavor based on the style of PMC.
The Adversaries in Chapter 9 look good. A mix of Trooper and Elite characters, there are entries for members of a number of the PMCs detailed earlier in the book. There’s a group of interesting named NPCs, who I presume are likely named characters in the wargame and would provide excellent supporting characters, allies, or antagonists.
Infinity: Mercenaries is a great book. It’s well-written, full of useful information about mercenaries if you’re playing a standard Wilderness of Mirrors game, and essential information for playing a Mercenaries game. If you want to introduce the intricacies of PMCs to your Infinity game you can pick up the book from the below Affiliate link and help support this site!