George is a middle-aged ex-soldier with a receding hairline and a greying beard. In his younger days he was strong and healthy but has clearly let himself go of late, as his muscles are beginning to sag and his waistline is considerably larger than once it was.
He never goes anywhere unarmed (an old habit from his soldiering days). Normally he wears an unadorned but well maintained short sword of the type that was standard army issue about a quarter of a century ago.
Born the sixth son of a poor farm labourer, George seemed destined for a life of back breaking toil and grinding poverty. At the age of fourteen, with little more to look forward to than a one-sixth share in a smallholding barely large enough to feed a mouse, young George started looking around for something better to do with his life.
At this point, as often happens, fate choose to take a hand - in this case in the form of an army recruiting sergeant promising high adventure and glorious victories to any brave soul who would take the Kings Shilling. George signed up on the spot.
Army life turned out to have a lot more to do with hard work than high adventure, but at least he always had food in his belly and a little money in his purse (neither of which he could rely upon back on the farm), so he stuck it out.
After two years as a drummer boy he transferred to the infantry where he served a full ten-year term. During this time he saw battle in one major campaign and several minor boarder skirmishes. Although he never truly distinguished himself he never disgraced himself either, and his officers came to regard him as a competent and steadfast man who could be relied upon not to run from a fight.
After leaving the army he joined the famous (some would say infamous) Hightower Skirmishers, a mercenary regiment specialising in hit-and-run guerrilla tactics. During his five years with the Skirmishers he learnt a variety of unconventional combat techniques as well as a few minor battle magics.
There followed a short, but largely unsuccessful, career as an independent adventure before he heard of the Bryford Dragon.
The Bryford Dragon
The story has it that the small village of Bryford was being plagued by the attentions of fearsome dragon (maidens being carried off in the night, livestock being massacred, etc) and that consequently the villagers were offering a staggeringly huge bounty for the monsters’ head.
There were of course several flaws with this tale, not least of which was that no true dragon had walked the earth for more than three millennia. Besides, Bryford was a poor goat herding community in the foothills of the Eastern Mountains and could never raise the kind of reward the storytellers were quoting. Nonetheless, since he was in the area anyway, our would-be hero travelled to Bryford to check the story out. After all, it would cost nothing to take a look.
The tale did indeed turn out to be somewhat exaggerated. The dragon was actually a large rock lizard that had strayed a little too close to the village and taken a couple of the villager's goats. The reward turned out to be a few minor valuables the villagers had scraped together (a little jewellery, a cheap pocket watch, a few coins, etc).
To Slay a Dragon
At between five and six feet long, with three-inch incisors set into a jaw that could tear a man’s arm from its socket, a fully grown rock lizard is a truly fearsome beast. But it is just that, a beast. A perfectly natural predator, common enough in the Eastern Mountains and rarely a threat to mankind.
The specimen that had been terrorising the good villagers of Bryford was, at a little over six feet long, one of the largest ever recorded. Furthermore it had, for reasons that nobody could adequately explain, migrated down to the foothills, well below its normal range. There it had found the villager's domesticated animals to be easy prey and had simply stayed put.
Now this was indeed a dangerous beast, but surely no match for a professional soldier with ranged weapons at his disposal. And so, with a sword and a pistol on his belt and a musket over his shoulder, the would-be hero set out to slay the beast.
As predicted the rock lizard never really stood a chance. In fact a single musket shot was all that was required to bring it down, and George was soon heading back to Bryford with its head as proof of his success (and of course as a trophy).
The Dragons Head
George had at last achieved the glory his recruiting sergeant had promised all those years ago. He was now a genuine hero, albeit a local and very minor one. Having finally achieved this long sort-after goal George, now known locally as the Dragonslayer, settle down to the fate reserved for ex-adventurers everywhere (especially the less successful ones). He opened an inn right there in Bryford, which he called The Dragons Head, easily recognised by the stuffed dragon head that hangs over the front door. (Everyone knows that it's really a rock lizard of course, but the villagers consider it the height of bad taste to say so.)
That was ten years ago and George has done fairly well for himself as an innkeeper (well it beats a one-sixth share in a small holding) and he quite enjoys the role of local hero. He still hunts any dangerous animals that threaten the village from time to time (resulting in an impressive array of trophy heads mounted on his walls) and also trains the village militia, a ragtag band of amateur fighters equipped with a variety of farm tools and improvised weapons.
A bandit gang has taken to raiding the village of Bryford. This is considerably more that George can deal with, even with the aid of the village militia. What he needs is some experienced fighter types (enter the PCs) to attack and harass the bandits in their camp while he tries to organise some kind of defence at the village.
He can offer very little in terms of payment but the PCs will get first call on any booty taken from the bandits. Unfortunately the bandits do not have much of any value, if they did they would not be raiding a poor goat-herding village like Bryford.
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CodexThe Hightower Skirmishers ( Society/ Organizations ) Combative - Country/ State
Mercenary companies are usually little more than bands of low-level thugs. This one is a much more sophisticated organisation, with its own history, regulations and culture.