Deep within the Spur Mountains there lies a narrow pass that leads from the stone fields of the Scar to the civilized realms of mankind. This mountain pass, called the “Chasm of Gorgamela” has forever been a migratory route for Giants, Orcs, Ogres and Trolls to travel along in search of bloodshed and plunder. Just over two hundred years ago the Dwarves of the Forgekingdoms and the men of the Krown Empire formed an alliance to prevent the humanoid tribes from raiding the south. Together they built a massive wall to block the chasm cut from nearby basalt stone. The Dwarves cast a massive bell of brass to be hung from the fortress that guarded the wall as a way to summon aid should the defenses fail. The bell was so well tuned it was said you could hear it ring over 300 miles away. Named “Bellsover Break” this fortress was so mighty it was deemed impregnable. Less than a year after its construction it was tested when a tribe of Hill Giants attempted to use the Chasm of Gorgamela to raid the southern lands. The Giants assaulted Bellsover Break for fourteen days and nights before retreating.
Bellsover Break was attacked almost yearly for a decade before the humanoids of the barren lands of the Scar realized the Chasm of Gorgamela was now impassable. This forced these blood thirsty creatures to use other ravines and passes through the Spur Mountains in search of plunder. Many of these routes are prone to rock slides and avalanches. Others are terribly narrow and treacherous. All of these alternative passages limit the movement of large groups. The Krown Empire and the Dwarven Forgekingdoms could finally enjoy peace and prosperity.
In the Common Year 2751, 36 years after the construction of Bellsover Break the fortress was placed under control of the mercenary armies of the newly formed Shieldhood. The Shieldhood is a collection of independent free-companies who dwell together in a city-state located in the eastern edge of the Spur Mountains. The Shieldhood boasts a population of roughly 13,000 inhabitants. Not all who dwell within the fortified city-state are sell swords; the Shieldhood has many who act as support staff for the mercenaries including scribes, carpenters, surveyors, cooks, smiths, whores, merchants and barber surgeons. Leading the city-state is the “War Captain”; all mercenary companies pay allegiance and swear a blood oath to the War Captain but are independently established and governed. Not only is the defense of the Shieldhood itself considering part of the duties the free- companies share but also the maintenance of several forts and guard posts. Bellsover Break is one of these locations.
You are members of the Bronze Dogs a small to mid-sized mercenary free-company established two decades ago by Exarch (equal to a Colonel) Lubomir Gizela. Lubomir was born the son of common farmer in village of Bulnik during the conquest of the Eastern Kingdom of the Krown Empire by the Sons of Samalin. When Bulnik was conquered Lubomir became a member of the resistance and fought in the city of Pelshuh during the occupation. After the Eastern Kingdom was liberated from the Sons of Samalin Lubomir became a soldier and later served in the army as an officer. When Lubomir left the service he gathered together a small but elite force of combatants for special assignments. He named them the Bronze Dogs.
Lubomir Gizela is in his late forties with a head of dark hair, dark eyes and a full beard. He walks with a noticeable limp having been injured during the liberation of the city of Pelshuh.
After the war to free the Eastern Kingdom a large number of professional soldier were left unemployed. Lubomir’s goal was to create a small specialized free-company. First he looked for men and women with experience. He hand-picked those who he believed would follow orders and perform their duties with a high degree of professionalism. Lubomir wanted no contention to his rules. No looting unless instructed, no rapine and no chance of mutiny. Next Lubomir looked for highly trained specialists, those skilled in living off the land, talented masters of stealth, urban combatants and those skilled in the mystical arts. During his time as a soldier Lubomir had first hand witnessed the failure of many armies and it was his desire to avoid these pit falls. He wanted a company of talented specialists who could avoid such disasters by the merit of their individual skill sets. Lastly he wanted to make his policies clear to both his mercenaries and those patrons they would serve. Lubomir Gizela wrote up a series of articles of the free-company to be signed by all members from support staff to mercenaries. Failure or breeches in the articles carried the sentence of death by execution.
Lubomir’s first member of the Bronze Dogs was a longtime friend. Sir Audwine Sterz was the bastard of a count from the Northern Kingdom of the Krown Empire. Raised as a knight but unable to inherit any lands Sterz was forced to seek riches elsewhere. Serving as the second in command of a free-company was Audwine Sterz’s path to a life of leisure. A master of tactics Sterz was an excellent addition to the company and serves as the Archon of the Bronze Dogs. Of average height and thickly built Sterz is well known as a talented fighter in hand to hand combat as well as skillful rider. At 60 years of age the silver haired Archon (equal to a Major) maybe be considered past his prime although none would say it to his face.
What the Bronze Dogs do that makes them unique is that they fulfill the roles few free-companies do. While the Bronze Dogs have engaged in open conflict it is not the free-companies forte. The Bronze Dogs often guard supply lines and baggage trains. They act as an unofficial police force in conquered areas preventing pillaging by rival mercenaries and displaced members of local populace. The Bronze Dogs breaks up riots and rebellions for local rulers. They actively hunt down roving groups of bandits raiding the villages or farmsteads. The Bronze Dogs excel in scouting territories and in forging the countryside for supplies. As Lubomir has proudly stated to his employers the Bronze Dogs free-company can do more with less.
The Bronze Dogs number under two hundred members including support staff. To date you have never been defeated!
In between contracts the Bronze Dogs reside in the fortified city-state of the Shieldhood. They dwell in what is commonly referred to as a “Soul”; a compound that includes barracks, stables, and a small training field. Life in the Shieldhood is easy, most mercenaries spend their time training, drinking, gambling and whoring in what is considered a soldiers paradise. In the spring many free-companies leave the city-state to fulfil contracts of service in various foreign nations. Most return to the Shieldhood in the winter before the snow makes the roads impassable and wait for spring and their next contract.
The early spring assignment
The Bronze Dogs have been selected by the War Captain of the Shieldhood to defend Bellsover Break for a period of 4 months before being relieved by another free company known as the Sorrowful Companions. This is a common assignment and the Bronze Dogs have done this task before. Archon Audwine Sterz is the acting leader of this force. Each member of the Bronze Dogs is asked to blindly select a stone from a bag. Those who draw forth a black stone are given duty at Bellsover Break. You have drawn forth a black stone. You and your fellows leave the Shieldhood and travel three days to the famous fortress.