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Merchant Caravans

Grade: 1c
Source: Border Town Burning (PDF)
Setting: Cathay Borderlands

Money. There are three ways to gain it – inherit, steal, or earn. Earning it is the most honorable means, since no one who has spent a life working hard is begrudged any comforts on their deathbed. But how it is earned is another matter! For some, a long life spent toiling for pittance is a life wasted, and they seek ways to gain affluence more rapidly. For opportunists, the chance to make a lot of money in one go is too much to pass up.

Blackguards attach themselves to merchant caravans traveling towards distant lands to line their pockets. Sometimes the destinations are to Lustria or the Southlands, ship-bound for the best part. When the journey remains on land, their destination lies in the far eastern lands of Ind and Cathay, lands shrouded in myths and legends, tall tales, and rumors. From these lands, a merchant can make their name and fortune in a single journey, if they survive.

For between the Old World and traders paradise lay the Dark Lands and the Mountains of Mourn, realms where lives fall at the mercy of the environment, where the predations of natural creatures are lethal beyond imagination, where the dead roam eternally, where bands of pillagers seek to replenish supplies, where death awaits the unprepared and the bone idle. Even the largest caravans are in peril every minute of every day they travel. Safe havens are few and far between and only deemed safe as long as you have the coin to pay for their protection.

Only one in every ten caravans fulfills a successful destiny. Because fortunes can be made from an individual venture, the risk is more than equal to the reward, if not lessened. A greedy merchant will not stop at one expedition when in returning there is an expectation of further and greater profit. That so many would gamble their lives time and again speaks volumes of the wealth to the East. Even when alongside an army of sell-swords who drain the purse to protect the investment, the lure is more than enough for an Arabyan trader or one of those racketeers from Marienburg. Each trip may take years to complete, but the Silk Road remains open for anyone wishing to use it.

Since the Tilean brothers Ricco and Robbio opened this dangerous yet lucrative trade route, it has attracted the most daring or foolhardy of merchants regularly. Each of them dreaming of the golden realm that lies beyond the horizon. The wastes are littered with the tattered and broken remnants of those who failed, a warning that their folly came at too high a price.

Special rules

Merchant: The Merchant is the warband's leader (any Warrior within 6“ of him may use his Leadership when taking Ld tests) and the one who is in charge of the business. If the Merchant leaves the caravan (e.g. dies permanently through Serious Injuries), a new leader is determined as normal. The new leader gets the Merchant special rule, allowing him to choose new skills from the Merchant's special skills section. The model counts as a Merchant for all purposes just as the previous Merchant used to. If no model in the warband is allowed to become the leader, an Apprentice must be bought as soon as possible to become the leader.

Trade: Instead of searching for rare items the Merchant may sell a rare item that has been stored in the Trade Cart during the preceding battle. This must be done before Heroes of either warband search for rare items. Roll a D6 to determine how many gold coins the Merchant would get for the item.

D6Gold coins
1-2Half the item's basic price
3-4The item's full basic price
5-6Full plus half the item's basic price

Note that the Merchant may decide whether he wants to sell the item for that price or if he wants to try again after the next battle. This can be combined with the wholesale skill to sell up to D3+1 items each game.

Open for Business: All players may choose to send any of their Heroes to the Merchant instead of having them search for rare items. A Hero doing so may buy one item from the warband's stored equipment if the players can agree on a price (including exchange deals with items and Treasures). Instead of buying an item, a Hero may also go to the Merchant to sell any one item (rare, common, magical, treasure counters) to him. If players cannot agree on a price, no deal is closed and the visit is wasted.

Rarity: Any rare item that is reduced to Rare 2 or Rarity: below by the Trade Wagon's Reputation rule, the Streetwise skill, etc., can be bought as Common items.

Hired Swords: Merchant Caravans may hire every Hired Sword that is available to Mercenary warbands.

Choice of Warriors

A Merchant Caravan must include a minimum of three models. You have 600 gold crowns which you can use to recruit and equip your warband. The maximum number of warriors in the warband is 12.


Merchant: Each caravan must have one Merchant – no more, no less!

Apprentice: Your warband may have one Apprentice.

Knights Vanguard: Your warband may include up to two Knights Vanguard.

Magician: Your warband may have one Magician.


Sell-swords: Your warband may include any number of Sell-swords.

Marksmen: Your warband may include up to five Marksmen.

Blackguards: Your warband may include up to three Blackguards.

Trade Wagon: Your warband must include one Trade Wagon.

Starting Experience

A Merchant: starts with 20 Experience.

An Apprentice: starts with 0 Experience.

Knights Vanguard: start with 8 Experience.

A Magician: starts with 8 Experience.

All Henchmen: start with 0 Experience.

Characteristic Increase

Merchants and their retinue are humans and so use the Human maximum profile.

Merchant Caravan Skill Table

Knights Vanguard

Merchant Special Skills

Merchants may choose to use the following skill list instead of the standard skill lists.


Whenever the warband has to take a Rout test, the Merchant may talk his hirelings into staying a little longer and face the danger. He may immediately pay 5 gc per non-Hero warband member (including Hired Swords!) still in the game. If he does, one member taken out of action already does not count for Rout tests. If after that, a Rout test is still required, test as normal. This skill may be used as many times as required so long as the coffers aren’t empty!

Dubious Income

The Merchant has set up an underground business that proves to be quite profitable. After every battle in which the Merchant was not taken out of action, he may choose to use this skill before the trading phase (i.e. before any gold is spent). If he does, he must pass a Ld test. If the test is successful, the warband receives one gold coin per Experience point the Merchant has. If the test is failed, the warband loses up to the same amount of gold coins.


The Merchant is known for buying items in greater numbers and so is especially welcome at the other merchants. He may search for D3+1 rare items after each battle instead of one item only (if he was not taken out of action, of course!).

Deal Breaker

When trying to sell items through the Trade special rule, the Merchant gets a +1 bonus on the roll to see what the item would fetch.


The Merchant knows many retailers and ways of getting hold of rare items. Instead of searching for rare items as normal, he may visit the local black market and its fencers. If he does, he may search for items from the following table, applying the normal rules.

Dispel Scroll50 + 4D6 gcRare 12see Mordheim Annual 2002, p. 31
Lesser Artefact200 + D6x15 gcRare 16roll on the Lesser Artefacts table
Magical Artefact350 + D6x25 gcRare 18roll on the Magical Artefact Table from the Mordheim rulebook, p. 141
Magical Scroll100 gcRare 14roll on the Lesser Artefacts table

Note that though the Merchant may buy items using the table above he can never sell them back again (and must hope for other players to be interested in them).

Merchant Caravan Equipment List

The following lists are used by Merchant Caravan warbands to pick their equipment.

Hero Equipment List

Hand-to-hand Combat Weapons

Dagger1st free/2 gc
Hammer3 gc
Sword10 gc
Rapier15 gc

Missile Weapons

Pistol15 gc (30 gc for a brace)
Duelling pistol30 gc (60 gc for a brace)


Light armour20 gc
Heavy armour50 gc
Shield5 gc
Helmet10 gc

Miscellaneous Equipment

Cathayan silk cloak40 gc
Warhorse*40 gc
Trading Wagon**180 gc

*Knights Vanguard only
**Note that a starting warband must always include one Trade Wagon!

Henchman Equipment List

Hand-to-hand Combat Weapons

Dagger1st free/2 gc
Hammer3 gc
Axe5 gc
Sword10 gc
Pike*10 gc
Halberd*10 gc

*Sell-swords only

Missile Weapons

Crossbow25 gc


Light armour20 gc
Heavy armour50 gc
Shield5 gc
Helmet10 gc

Cathayan Equipment List

Hand-to-hand Combat Weapons

Dagger1st free/2 gc
Club3 gc
Sword10 gc
Double-handed weapon15 gc
Katana20 gc

Missile Weapons



Light armour20 gc
Heavy armour50 gc
Shield5 gc
Helmet10 gc

Special equipment

Trade Wagon

180 gold crowns to buy

Availability: Common, Merchant Caravans only

The many vulnerable items such as Cathayan jewels, spices and silk cloths are stored in the Trade Cart.

Draft Horse810331305


Wagon: The Trade Wagon is a wagon and so follows all rules for Wagons (see Empire in Flames Supplement, p. 30–33). The cost of the Trade Wagon includes two draft horses. Remember that one model from the warband needs to act as the wagon driver.

Storage: All the warband's stored equipment and treasures are stored inside the Trade Wagon. Note that this does not include the warband's gold crowns. If the Trade Wagon is destroyed, all the warband's stored equipment and treasures are lost. Until a new Trade Wagon (or Stage Coach, if the player wishes) is bought, equipment cannot be stored. Any treasures gained after a battle are lost if they are not sold before the next game.

Reputation: For every five different rare items stored inside the Trade Wagon, the Merchant gets +1 to his rolls for finding rare items.

Abandoned: If the warband fails its Rout test and no model is driving the Trade Wagon, then it is abandoned. The wagon falls into the winning warband's hands. They may choose to steal the contents, to keep the wagon for themselves if allowed to (treat as Wagon or Stage Coach), or agree to cut a deal (using the ransom rules in Captured from the Serious Injuries chart on page 119 of the Mordheim rulebook) with the Merchant. A warband capturing a Wagon from a Merchant Caravan may not search for rare items following the battle unless every model from the Merchant's warband was taken out of action, as word of it spreads and they are avoided by the fearful local traders.


10 gold crowns

Availability: Rare 8, Merchant Caravans only

A Pike is comparable to a spear, though its length exceeds the one of a common one. The Tileans use them in their civil wars, and with the silk road, they came to the outer border towns of Cathay.

Range: Close Combat
Strength: As user
Special rules: Two-handed, Strike first


Two-handed: A model armed with a pike may not use a shield, buckler, or additional weapon in close combat. However, it gets an additional +1 armor save bonus against ranged attacks if it carries a shield.

Strike first: A warrior with a pike strikes first in the first turn of a hand-to-hand combat. For that turn, he gains +1 Initiative representing the pike's long shaft that allows him to attack even before the enemy reaches him.


1 Merchant

50 gold crowns to hire

Only the bravest – or most greedy fools – among merchants travel north to trade with the barbaric Norse tribes that dwell in the icy wastes. Others risk their lives on the Silk Road before reaching the safe haven of the Sentinels. From this trading post, the road forks. The Spice Route leads south to the Land of a Thousand Gods. The Ivory Road leads on east through uncountable dangerous tribes of warring Marauders and Hobgoblins, not to mention the many terrors encountered in the Ogre kingdoms.


Weapons/Armour: The Merchant may be equipped with weapons and armour chosen from the Hero Equipment list.


Merchant: A Merchant is always the warband's leader. Refer to the special rules for when using a Merchant.

0 – 1 Apprentice

15 gold crowns to hire

Less than desirable duties must be diligently fulfilled during an apprenticeship with a merchant – packing mules, carrying crates, or driving the wagon.


Weapons/Armour: The Apprentice may be equipped with weapons and armour chosen from the Hero Equipment list.

0 – 2 Knights Vanguard

45 gold crowns to hire

Serving as the vanguard for a merchant's escort are former knights. Imperials, Bretonnians who used to own land and servants of their own, or ronins from the east. Nipponese and Cathayans alike will fight for fair pay in the service of merchants. All are well-traveled enough to be equipped with the finest arms forged by the swordsmiths of Grand Cathay.

Knights Vanguard443331417

Weapons/Armour: Knights Vanguard may be equipped with weapons and armour chosen from the Hero Equipment list and the Cathayan Equipment list.


Lightning Reflexes: If the Knights Vanguard is charged, he will ‘strike first’ against those that charged that turn. As the charger(s) will also normally ‘strike first’ (for charging), the order of attack between the charger(s) and the Knights Vanguard will be determined by comparing Initiative values.

Ride Warhorse: The Knights Vanguard is trained in riding Warhorses.

Hirelings: The Knights Vanguard is a hireling, paid by the Merchant and therefore can never become the warband's leader.

0 – 1 Magician

40 gold crowns to hire

Often warlocks, alchemists, and sorcerers seek the protection of an influential merchant to escape the stakes of the fanatical Witch Hunters. As part of his escort, they secretly continue their forbidden studies incognito. Opportunities arise to test the results of their ability on the raiding creatures of the Wastes.


Weapons/Armour: The Magician may be equipped with weapons and armour chosen from the Hero Equipment list.


Wizard: A Magician is a wizard and uses Lesser Magic. See the Magic section in the Mordheim rulebook for details.

Hireling: The Magician is a hireling, paid by the Merchant. He can never become the warband's leader.



25 gold crowns to hire

Well aware of the attraction his caravan holds for highwaymen and raiding parties, the merchant keeps bodyguards. These roguish adventurers ensure that both the goods and their paymaster survive the journey undamaged. Sell-swords are the unfortunate scoundrels that earn their living as caravan escorts.


Weapons/Armour: Sell-swords may be equipped with weapons and armour chosen from the Henchman Equipment list.

0 – 5 Marksmen

30 gold crowns to hire

The marksmen from Tilea are well renowned for their excellent skills in the use of crossbows.


Weapons/Armour: Marksmen may be equipped with weapons and armour chosen from the Henchman Equipment list.

0 – 3 Blackguards

35 gold crowns to hire

In the outer Cathayan cities, a wealthy foreign trader is showered with offers from fortune-seeking outcasts. These mercenaries who dream of leaving their homes for wealth and fame bring strange weapons and fighting styles with them to join the merchant caravan.


Weapons/Armour: Blackguards may be equipped with weapons and armour chosen from the Cathayan Equipment list.


Strongman: Blackguards are capable of great feats of strength. They may use a double-handed weapon without the usual penalty of always striking last. Work out the order of battle as you would with other weapons.

Unreliable Hirelings: Blackguards are only hired by the Merchant to serve him by protecting his cargo. They are not much trusted or granted with any responsibilities. Therefore they may never become Heroes. Re-roll all results of ‘The lad’s got talent’ for them.