View Full Version : Mercenaries

19-04-2009, 22:31
Hi guys,

I was wondering if there has been any serious fluff/background for mercenaries in 40k?
(I have never read any of the background fiction)

We all know of the Kroots (and even Human Auxilaries for the Tau), but have there been cases where human, eldar, tau, ork, [whatever] forces have gone AWOL and mercenary?

Also, a related question - are there any rules for such mercs? (again, apart from kroots and human aux).


19-04-2009, 22:35
I remember back in the RT days there were Merc Eldar and the Imperium hired them from time to time

But this was during the days were half eldar/human offspring were viable and Space Marines were simply brainwashed super criminals. :)

19-04-2009, 23:17
The DE are known to operate as pirates and mercenaries at times.

Orks pretty much are mercenaries - they will fight for you if they have strong opposition (the blood axes are particularly known for this), doesn't stop them then turning around and killing you (hmm, I guess the DE would do that as well).

You could also argue that the harliequins are the mercenaries of the eldar world, though their relationship with the eldar factions is pretty unique.

[edit] Rogue traders vary from upstanding members of humanity who extend the borders of the imperium to pirates and mercenaries seeking nothing more than personal gain.

Brother Siccarius
19-04-2009, 23:28
We all know of the Kroots (and even Human Auxilaries for the Tau), but have there been cases where human, Rogue traders, Human Pirates, Red Corsairs

Eldar Corsairs and pirates, Dark Eldar, Eldar Rangers(?)

Possibly the Farsight Enclave, not much has been known about them since thet ceased contact with the Tau, except for the reasons why (War of Dakka).

All orks have been known to be used as Mercs if the need arises. Eye of Terror for instance, they merced out for Abbadon in exchange for weapons. Though I'd point out that they will inevitably try to turn on their employers with their loot.

Freebooter Orks are the most notorious for hiring out, though Blood Axes are the only (?) ones who will hire out to "Oomies".

20-04-2009, 02:56
There are human mercs briefly mentioned in the last chancers series. Basically most races have some mercs, from bored eldar to the hrud.

Also the kroot are completely mercenary, its just that they like the Tau a lot ... for now.

20-04-2009, 07:54
They don't seem to have lots of whole mercenary armies out there beyond the ones mentioned, but small groups of muscle for various power figures seem extremely common in the Imperium. If memory serves the ones I can recall were usually mentioned as "bonded mercenaries", which suggests there's a licensing process in place in some locations at least. So there are plenty of mercs of various sorts out there, they just don't seem to be usually allowed to be big enough to be a threat to actual Imperium military (i.e. no big merc regiments, maybe company-sized units at best) unless they're de facto house troops for a govenor or the like. As always, hard to say with the Imperium as a whole, but considering even assassins seem semi-tolerated a few mercs is nothing probably.

20-04-2009, 10:03
RT had a whole range of Mercenaries (as well as pirates too). There is also a xeno race called Viskeons who act as Mercs since their world was eaten by nids.

p.s. theres also the Galgs : http://wh40k.lexicanum.com/wiki/Galg

20-04-2009, 14:52
Theres also Loxatl, usually found as mercenaries for Blood Pact armies:


Col. Dash
20-04-2009, 16:30
There was a last chancers novel that had the Tau hiring them and other humans as mercs plus kroot are mercs too. It would surprise me if there were not whole merc units operating within the Imperium doing odd jobs and such.

20-04-2009, 18:16
In Eisenhorn there are the Janissars, very skilled and very expensive Mercenaries which hailed from a world dominated by Mercenary-Clans.

20-04-2009, 22:09
Thanks a lot for the rapid responses guys.
A lot of stuff to look into. :)

I might have a shot at the Loxatl, trying to model some as a side project.

As for humanoids (tau, eldar, etc...) how would you model/paint them to represent mercs instead of regular troops (apart from removing army/faction/race insignias)?

20-04-2009, 22:38
you wouldnt, even though theyre mercenaries they probably wouldnt dress differently just to be different: a merc isnt going to be sent into a jungle type warzone, see catachans already wear camo so deciede to wear bright blue himself just so people recognise him as a merc

20-04-2009, 23:15
I might have a shot at the Loxatl, trying to model some as a side project.

Hmm, WHFB lizardmen as a basis?

21-04-2009, 03:09
In Eisenhorn there are the Janissars, very skilled and very expensive Mercenaries which hailed from a world dominated by Mercenary-Clans.
For more on the Vessorine Janissaries (admittedly not all canon, but all in the same spirit of the Eisenhorn novels) check here (http://www.scholaprogenium.com/vessor.html)

21-04-2009, 09:06
@Mannimarco: If you look at modern day mercenaries, they do dress differently, use different guns, etc. etc... than modern day armies.
Blackwater is a good example of this.
Using IG, I'd give them varied coloured (although within a beige, brown, green, grey scheme) pants and jackets, use catachan flak jackets and buy some heads that don't wear helmets. And I'd give them autoguns or something different than the standard las.

@Havarel: I'm gonna have a shot at a few different methods. First up is using catachan torso and arms, greenstuffing the rest, and adding the gun to the chest. If I can't make that look good, I'll try some Lizards - but none of them are quadruped-looking (except for the few huge monsters), so that's gonna be tough too.

@Schoon: Thanks! I'll look at it.

Edit: Perhaps the Lizardsmen Razordon is a possibility?

21-04-2009, 14:49
Certain Chaos Warbands i guess could act as mercenaries aswell, most notably Thousand Sons.

Terror of the East
21-04-2009, 15:40
There are lots of mercenary races, and races that hire themselves out for pay such as ork bloodaxes, DE, Kroot and so on.

Ogryns..if i rember corectly could be used as mercenarys, by Orks and Chaos.

22-04-2009, 08:18
There might be a lot of mercenaries, but 40K doesn't give much scope to using them, at least not in large unit sizes.

Expensive specialists might prevail in the Imperium, since bureaucrats might be a tad nervous over large standing forces they have little or no control over. Thugs might be used on a local level, private security firms for more qualified personnel.

22-04-2009, 14:06
Hell yeah, definitly hope you have a go making some Loxatl or whatever else you might find interesting. This is what I love about the hobby personally :D

22-04-2009, 15:34
Many black library books, particularly Eisenhorn, mention the existence of House Militia and things of that sort. They're essentially private armies financed by the aristocracy.

In fact, I think a representation of noble mercenaries wouldn't be out of the question in 40k. The Imperial government is ossified and hoorendously inefficient, and when war comes to a world, aid may be years away at the earliest. However, if there are opportunistic, small groups of well-armed mercenaries with light corvettes willing to respond to calls for assistance for the right price, a mercenary army could quickly swing into an embattled system and throw off the invaders with more velocity than force (as opposed to the Imperial method of force over velocity). Like Rogue Traders, but more combat and less exploring focus.

Does anyone else like this direction?

22-04-2009, 17:00
Sure, but I find the limiting factor transport and communications. Considering the size of the space ships involved, I doubt that one could be found at Crazy Mike's Discount Starship lot.

22-04-2009, 17:19
rules wise, mercenaries don't quite fit into 40k as they muddy up an army's archetypical style. 40k's creators like strong archetypes, both in fluff and gameplay.

WHFB had the problem of chaos or other traditionally weak shooting armies suddenly getting dogs of war cannons.

So rules wise, I think the best would just be 'counts as' your existing units. Ex: Sly Marbo is a i5 Eldar assassin, penal legion are your savage xenos assault troopers, allied inquisitors are actually the mercenary company of X and their famous units of Y

Though if you're playing with friends, do whatever you want, 40k is meant to be open ended in this way.

22-04-2009, 18:40
@Will: Yeah, I guess so, but hiring chaos forces might be risky at best. :) Also, I'm looking into this to bolster imperial forces, so chaos is somewhat no-go. ;)

@Terror of the East: Aha, Ogryns, that's interesting. I could model them to look non-imperial and mercenary-like, and still have them in the regular force organisation chart. That's worth looking into. :)

@Condottiere: Rogue Traders might be such expensive specialists. Tempus Fugitives has rules for those.

@TimLeeson: Thanks mate! :) I'm glad people aren't all "naah man, stick to the rules and existing models...". That'd suck. Your attitude is what I love about this hobby. :)

@Landsknecht: Very interesting indeed. Rapid Reaction Mercenaries? I like the idea of a wealthy noble and his militia/merc force. I might have to look into that too.

@Condottiere: I think a wealthy noble could own a small space ship? (again, I haven't read any BL books or anything)

@Kikkoman: Yeah, I guess 'counts as' existing force chart org. units is the easiest way to go, but I find it pretty limiting. I'll look into the new Guard 'dex when it comes, perhaps it's versatility will allow what I try to do here.

I've tried to model the Loxatl, but it's ******* hard. ...my GS skills aren't good enough to sculpt entire things, more like patching stuff up and minor modifications. So I might look into some Lizardmen stuff, but that project is probably on hold for now. I'd love to get back to it though.

The wealthy noble's Rapid Reaction Mercenary Force sounds interesting though, and easier to model. Could make for a very characterful addition for an army.

Oh, and I'm playing with friends, so it's not too strict on rules and stuff - as long as it's been playtested or made by some skilled people who've been doing it for a while, they are ok with non-official rules.

23-04-2009, 02:45
There really aren't "small" spaceships, at least for humans. Even inquisitors have to hire a ride often as they don't have a ship.

Counts as will probably be the best bet.

23-04-2009, 10:08
theres plenty of small scale ships, namely cargo haulers and stuff, look at a q-ship its a fairly small freighter retrofitted with limited weapons

your mercenary force could probably get their hands on one of these

23-04-2009, 10:56
The limiting factor for an interstellar mercenary unit in 40k would seem to be the restrictions on transport to get from planet to planet.

The main way I can think of to sidestep this is the idea of a Rogue Trader commanding a merc unit, with them providing the transport and the veil of legality from the Imperial authorities that would otherwise frown on combat units moving around independently.

There's probably a minimum critical mass of at least a battalion or two to make it worthwhile to dedicate a ship to it, though you could have many Rogue Trader who don't mind renting out their retinue when they find themselves with an opportunity for some extra income.

23-04-2009, 11:00
agreed, i like the idea of making it a rogue traders merc unit

this could lead to several traders banding together and their units forming together, this would allow you to really mix things up and have several unique looking squads and not a uniformed appearence

you could even justify it in the fluff: rogue traders are usually out on the outskirts of civilisation, who knows what dangers there are out there and one trader is going to run into trouble fairly quick,, several with their own units would be safer so its obvious they would band together

23-04-2009, 13:32
You have some good ideas people! :)

Personally, I prefer the idea/concept of a wealthy man's private bodyguard, but to achieve interstellar travel, an allied Rogue Trader could be useful. Perhaps mutual interest could band these guys together? I mean, the RT would need protection, and the Mercs would need transportation, and splitting the money is always an option. :)
Of course, bulking this concept up with additional rogue traders and small merc factions is possible.

I know absolutely nothing about 40k spaceships, but is it possible to have an interstellar ship with a transport cap of around a few hundred passengers/troops? And how much crew would that require?

23-04-2009, 13:47
look at some of the battlefleet gothic ships and their background, rmember that the q ship are just armed frieghters so they would have a fair sized capacity and only need a skeleton crew

23-04-2009, 14:42
A Merc company (in the corporation sense) doesn't need to have it's own starship, but it would need access to reliable transportation. Said transportation would need to deliver the unit at a specific time, at a specific place, otherwise there wouldn't be much point in hiring the Mercs.

26-04-2009, 23:42
I guess you're right guys.

How about a smaller unit, say, 10-50 guys, really really specialised. Space Hulk boarders or "looters/pirates", with extremely good demolition/close quarter battle/breaching skills. I could imagine guys like this being quite popular in demand with a lot of different armies.

27-04-2009, 00:39
space hulk looters are going to be popular for one reason, im not sending any of my men on that god forsaken, potentially genestealer infested deathtrap when i can pay you to do it and (if you survive) bring me the goodies on board

space hulk looters arnt going to last very long, the survivors are going to be very highly trained, demolitions and close combat specialists, engineers and techies

im thinking if thats the way your theming this you would want to look at a darker colour scheme, weathering and ragged appearence on the models

to get across their skills you will probably want to use carapace, vetrans, probably demo charges and heavy flamers/flamers

27-04-2009, 06:48
Terminators have problems with space hulks; I think a well equipped outfit would be using power armour.

27-04-2009, 09:13
Is it possible to have marines as mercs?

27-04-2009, 10:24
I guess "counts as marines" are possible, but Adeptus Astartes aren't really the bolter-for-hire -type, are they?
But powerarmoured humans, that has happened before.

So yeah, a really well-equipped/funded unit would be wearing power armour, but assuming they aren't that rich, I'd go with a Veteran Imperial Guard units, with the Grenadiers (Carapace Armour) and Demolitions (Meltabombs & Demo charges) Doctrines*, add 3 Meltaguns (converted to look like big lascutters etc...), and give the rest shotguns or lasguns. Might give the sergeant a powersword represented by converting something to look like a jaws-of-life-thing.

The fluff would be that these guys really aren't all for combat and fighting, but are more specialized in breaching and securing the way for heavier armed forces (we wouldn't want that terminator to fall through the floor, would we?) who take the fight to the enemy.
In my IG army, they'd often be forced to fight alongside the troops in a tank-hunter role. ...for an increased price, of course. :)

*Question: Would giving them the Forward Sentries Doctrine be far-off? (Camo-cloaks and Snare Mines/Defensive Grenades) That could represent that they are used to fight in cramped areas and know how to make the most out of any available cover - and that they're well equipped with even more explosive stuff (defensive grenades). :)

Simon Sez
27-04-2009, 11:09
Terminators have problems with space hulks; I think a well equipped outfit would be using power armour.

I thought the entire point of terminator armour was boarding actions on space hulks?

27-04-2009, 12:33
it is but termy armour is big and bulky, space hulks can be narrow and confined, its a logistical nightmare trying to get around

im sure termys would have mappers and people scouting routes for them

27-04-2009, 20:18
Also, I doubt Terminator armour is available in the open market, even if they could rig it so that an ordinary human could use it.

I'd bet that Power Armour is difficult enough to obtain.

27-04-2009, 20:53
im sure there powered suits out there, might not be as good as power armour and termy armour though

basically it would just be heavy armour plates with some form of power unit so you can actually move in it, think mega armoured nobz

28-04-2009, 05:37
Exo-skeletons should be possible, maybe modified construction suits (assuming 40K has an equivalent).

28-04-2009, 11:14
probably is in the civillian sector, using stuff like that would probably further theme the army as space hulk looters

techies and engineers would probably use a suit like that (sort of like dead space id imagine)

28-04-2009, 19:50
I could make a counts as Techpriest Enginseer in civilian pattern power armour to go with the veteran team.
I'd imagine it being preeeetty bulky. Probably the size of a terminator armour, if not slightly bigger, for the Sv 3+. Not some sleek astartes/SoB powerarmour...

@Mannimarco: Do you have any pics of what armour you are referring to?

28-04-2009, 19:53
not at hand no, just google the game dead space, you play an engineer trying to salvage a ship thats gone offline