Previously, we mentioned that the early-game experience in Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord is all about turning looters and bandits into punching bags. Once you hit your stride, however, the game kicks into overdrive. That’s when you go from being an independent vagabond to a mercenary, pursuing contracts for your client kingdom. Much later, you can be a vassal, if you like. We’ll tackle these concepts in this mini-guide.
Note: This guide is intended for Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord‘s early access stage. It’s possible that some mechanics may change in due course, so please inform us if we need to update certain details. For more information, check out our Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord guides and features hub.
Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord – Becoming a mercenary
Becoming a mercenary and, subsequently, a vassal for a kingdom is quite straightforward enough, though a little time-consuming. It involves increasing your Clan Rank. This is down through renown which is obtained after victorious battles, tournament wins, or from certain skill perks.
In the case of battles, the bigger the battle you fight in (and the more enemies you defeat), then the higher the renown boost. The going is a little slow early on in Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord since you’re probably just chasing down brigands to make some money, but keep at it and you’ll eventually rank up.
Once you’ve reached Clan Rank 1, you’ll finally be allowed to join a kingdom as a mercenary. Speak to a noble and you’ll see two dialogue options:
- “My sword is yours. Fight for the right sum.” – This lets you become a mercenary.
- “I would pledge allegiance and be counted as one of your loyal followers.” – This lets you become a vassal (more on this later).
Note: The “Join kingdom as mercenary” mechanic is very much different from the “Mercenary Army” sidequest which might be offered by the same lords. The sidequest simply has you asking other NPCs to hire that lord’s mercenaries for a price (seen below).
As a mercenary, you’re paid a measly sum of 15 gold per battle victory. These victories also have to be against a force that your chosen kingdom is at war with. For instance, if Vlandia is at war with Sturgia, then each party you defeat in battle nets you some gold and, of course, renown. Since you’re contracted as a mercenary, you can lead the vanguard alone, or you can participate in engagements alongside other lords.
Unlike in previous titles, Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord‘s mercenary contracts system has an indefinite period; the contract won’t end even if several days have elapsed. I’m not sure if this is working as intended or if it’s a bug.
If you do wish to cancel a mercenary contract, you’ll either have to become a vassal or speak to the kingdom’s ruler and ask to be released. We’ll explain more in a short while.
Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord – The perks of being a vassal
Becoming a mercenary in Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord is a fast-track to becoming a vassal as well. That’s because vassalage requires reaching Clan Rank 2 (around 150 renown). Again, the going may be tough, but you’ll eventually get there as you continue participating in battles.
Let’s say you’ve finally reached Clan Rank 2 and you’re ready to become a vassal. Remember that dialogue option earlier? Choosing that option when speaking to a noble won’t let you become a vassal yet because you need to speak to the kingdom’s ruler. Open your encyclopedia (N), pick the kingdom that you’re fighting for, click on the ruler’s name and mark their location.
Head over there and speak to the ruler. You’ll be allowed to join the kingdom as a full-fledged vassal by swearing an oath. This will also end your existing mercenary contract with that kingdom.
Once you’re a vassal in Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord, you can partake in a bit of politicking such as controlling fiefs. Let’s say your army just captured a settlement, you don’t automatically own that despite claiming all the glory — that’s because the other vassals still need to vote.
You’ll need to use your influence — increased via the Charm skill — so you can swing the vote your way. Should you be successful, you’ll finally have lands to call your own. Don’t forget that the Steward skill also has a couple of perks that increase your party’s size based on the number of fiefs that you control.
Note: Influence is an important part of playing politics and acquiring fiefs as a vassal. Read our mini-guide to find out more about this mechanic and other quirks about being a kingdom’s vassal.
Canceling your mercenary contract or vassalage
Whether you’re a mercenary or a vassal, you can ask a ruler to grant your independence once more. This dialogue option will lead to you relinquish your controlled settlements and you’ll suffer a diplomatic relations penalty with the lords of your former kingdom.
Update: Previously, ending your mercenary contract incurred a diplomatic relations penalty with your chosen kingdom. That’s no longer the case after patch e1.0.9’s recent fixes.
There’s also the “leave kingdom” option in the Kingdom panel which presents two options:
- Relinquish all holdings – Has the same results as above.
- Keep all holdings – You get to keep your lands, but this will be an automatic declaration of war against your former comrades. This will also erase all your stored influence. You can earn influence again after rejoining a kingdom or making your own.
- If the kingdom you join (either as a mercenary or vassal) is at war with another, you can get locked out of potential dialogue options when attempting to complete the “Neretzes’ Folly” main quest. You’ll end up having to look for other nobles to talk to.
- Reaching Clan Rank 2 also has additional options such as creating a new party led by a companion.
- Reaching Clan Rank 3 lets you form your own kingdom. We tackle this in our “Dragon Banner” quest guide.
- After forming your own kingdom, you’ll also want to know how to manage your settlements, vassals, and influence gains.
- If you’re part of a kingdom, or you rule one, you may recruit other lords to your cause.
Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord is available now via Steam’s early access program. For more information, check out our guides and features hub.