|Affiliation||Various private armies|
The name “Blackmark comes from the typical heavy armor that the warriors wear which is traditionally painted black, or overburned, to create a heavy soot layer to dull the metal’s appearance. The name is also further reference to their rather ruthless discipline in training, a further and cruel lack thereof on the battlefield. Many would claim that Blackmarks engage in unnecessary violence and gore in the field, adding to the belief that the mercenaries are a “black mark” on the proud reputation of the more upstanding military organizations.
The first Blackmark company was founded by Carl of Blackmoor, the Petty King of Varminth, during the Ceardian Warlord Era. Known for his brutal savagery with a mace and his violent and aggressive temper which struck fear into his own kinsmen, Carl ruled through his might alone. With his successful conquests drawing followers to his banner to learn from this warlord, Carl would eventually be assassinated in a plot arranged by his followers after he murdered one of their own for failing to laugh at one of his crude jokes. He was succeeded by Wulfryc Hestaingh, who claimed the warlord title and founded the Petty Kingdom of Hwiccai, as Ceardian petty kingdoms were notorious for collapsing and moving around.
Under Wulfryc, the Blackmarks that remained actually protected the people under their banner rather than oppressing them as they did under Carl of Blackmoor. Following his death (and the collapse of the Petty Kingdom of Hwiccai as a result), the first Blackmarks started becoming swords for hire, roving around the Ceardian countryside to seek the employment of other petty kings. Eventually, some of these Blackmarks sailed away from Ceardia and became the first in a long legacy of formidable mercenaries that are present in every known Ailor state.
Becoming a Blackmark mercenary is often seen as the choice for brigands, criminals, and the black sheep of families who lack any moral compass. Nevertheless, those who meet the expectations of whatever mercenary camp they come across can expect to enter their ranks if they prove competent enough. As such, most prospective Blackmarks are already capable warriors themselves, having abandoned whatever life they had before for the pursuit of coin doing what they do best.
The Blackmark Commanders are the leaders of various individual Blackmark companies. They are considered the toughest warrior in the company, as a weak Commander is sooner murdered by his own followers than allowed to remain in power. Due to the ragtag nature of Blackmarks, the only thing a Commander is expected to do is be a strong leader, which means delegating duties to the Captains to ensure the company remains profitable.
The Blackmark Captains are the officers within a Blackmark company, handpicked by the Commanders for their loyalty, martial prowess, and competence. Captains usually have set tasks to do for the Commander, such as obtaining contracts, dividing out the plunder between the mercenaries, and finding locations to camp out when on the road.
Armies for Hire
Blackmarks are first and foremost mercenaries who use the reputation of brutality and ruthlessness to earn valuable contracts from patrons who require the intimidation factor to defeat their enemies in battle. Blackmarks often serve as shock troops in armies to cleave through the first few lines of troops, lowering enemy morale in the process with the display of their black armor and heavy weaponry. Blackmarks are equally notorious looters. When the battle is over, they will sack and pillage anything of value they find in the vicinity, only adding to the overall wealth they accumulate after the contract is paid out.
As the fear of facing down a Blackmark is often enough to deter any armies from open battle, some patrons hire these warriors to serve as security for valuable locations of persons. In times of peace, this is the most common form of employment for a Blackmark company, until the next petty skirmish occurs and they can return to the battlefield.
As the Blackmarks are spread out across Aloria, there is no set headquarters for all the mercenaries to call their own. The Keep of Varminth was once considered a quasi-pilgrimage site for some Blackmarks to visit, but the Destruction of Ceardia saw the location wiped from existence.
The Blackmark companies remain an infamous group of warriors to this day, carrying on the formidable legacy of Carl of Blackmoor through their actions. Every reputable military organization condemns the Blackmarks for their savagery and lack of conduct but are nevertheless seen working for patrons who value their intimidation over minor things such as decency.
- The Iron Duke of Vultaro is a Blackmark Commander himself, with his captains sporting Blacksteel armaments rather than cruder materials such as Ferr-Iron.
- Blackmarks are often loyal to the mercenary band they were raised in, but they will sometimes change loyalty if the price is high enough. Despite the loyalty that most mercenary bands demand, they are in essence still paid warriors who seek glory with gold.
- It was a Blackmark company that saw the defeat of the Kade and van Sherburne host at the Battle of Lausitze near the end of the Drachenwald Crisis, once it was clear that they would not be getting paid enough in their eyes.