With Fire & Sword – Captain Smith, Pt. 2

And Lukasz never complained about an itch on his face again.
Part one of Captain Smith’s adventures in Mount & Blade: With Fire & Sword saw me learning the lay of the land. Specifically, a very small patch of land directly underneath my face after discovering the sodding Thresh of musketmen and being shot off my horse. Taken prisoner by the very bandits I sought to eliminate, the fate of Captain Smith is looking bleak…

Or is it?

Having bravely run away, I bravely conceal myself under a tree and take stock of my assets, my army, and the other logistical inventories that a good leader should examine on a regular basis. I come up with the following action points:

  • My boots are missing. I have no shoes on. I should probably get some shoes.
  • I have no soldiers.
  • I still have a horse!
  • I am poor.

I decide that this leadership thing is all in a man’s mind. Yes, I have no funds at present. Yes, the horse I’m riding sounds like it’s breathing through a straw. Yes, there’s a bullet lodged somewhere in my elbow. But so long as I know myself to be a leader of men, the men will follow. I’m going to ride back to that city, use the very last of my coin to buy some men, and also probably some boots, and I’m going to come back to Zamoshye the LAST TIME and pluck these bandits from the Earth like apples from a tree.

True to my word, I return several days later leading a force of “marksmen” who insist on all dressing in different colours, making them look a bit like an angry band. Myself and the disco marksmen are feeling confident as we ride out to face my old foe and COCK COCK NO NONONONO

AGAIN I am toppled from my horse by fucking Solid Snake over there with the arquebus. You know what? Horses are so last century. From now on I march into battle with my boys. Or perhaps behind them.

My “boys” end up coming through, dragging me from the fighting and fending off, if not defeating, the bandits. Two of our number are dead. That might not seem like much, but it means we can’t hope to come at these bandits again and finish them off.

For the umpteeth time I return to the nearby castle town with the intention of spending my money, but this time it won’t be on soldiers. No. I’m quite literally spent. I have enough for a jug of wine and that’s what I intend to buy.

But what’s this?! Fate! Fate intervenes once again!

Let’s do this. I take a deep breath. Also, I take a pull of wine. And then another. Awaiting the perfect moment, I finish the jug for good luck.

Bafflingly, the townsman overcomes my cat-like reflexes and immediately demands a duel outside the tavern. So be it! I was intending to take your money bloodlessly, good sir, or should I say shitty sir, but if it must come to this, if this is what it has come too, well, then that’s what we will do, you and I. You and me.

Now, I’m not saying this fight went badly. But I will say that when a furious, drunken Polish man with a sword like a cross between a machete and a banana comes running at you, in the black of night, after you’ve had a few drinks, it can be quite tricky to load and aim your firearm. That’s all I’m saying. In the end the man delivered a litany of cuts to my chest and left me for dead.

Every time I think I’ve reached rock bottom in this game, those rocks come bursting apart to reveal another level below them. Before I was just poor. Now I’m poor, hated and recovering from several horrific injuries, with two paltry, effeminate riflemen on my payroll who I can’t actually pay. Still, it can’t get any worse, right?


I find the mayor of this horrible city, the one I asked to lower Zamoshye’s taxes all those weeks or days or hours ago to see if he has any work for me. As it happens, he does. He wants somebody to take five hundred thaler – more money than I’ve seen in my life – to a bunch of bandits far to the North West, who are holding his daughter hostage. Clearly he hasn’t heard about my antics down the pub last night, and I intend to accept the work and flee before that happens. With the money delivered to the bandits, I’m to escort his daughter home. I have thirty days in which to complete the job, but by my estimation it shouldn’t take longer than a week.

And just like that, Captain Smith is back on his feet again!

This lasts for about three days.

Myself and my two marksmen are about a day’s hike from the bandits (who are located along the Swedish-ruled Northern coast) when I’m approached by a man (see above) who looks like he emerged from his haircut like a horrible plant from a huge seed. They are bandits. They want money.

In an agonising decision, I end up leaving one of my two disco marksmen behind as bait while myself and the other make good our escape. I’ll do whatever it takes to keep their hands off this ransom money.

“I’m sorry,” I would have told my soldier, if there had been time. “But since arriving in this land I’ve been shot, cut, turned away by my lessers, taken prisoner, had my boots stolen and shot again. All I have left is my honour. Do you understand that? So yes, I will abandon you to these ruffians. Because some things in life are more important than blood and friendship. Honour is that which we are gifted with that is closest to godliness, and I will not abandon it.”

So imagine how I felt when, not five hours march from the scene of this horrid decision, another group of ne’erdowells ride up with the intention of mugging me. Thirty of them, this time. Swedish deserters. Worse, abandoning my men to make good my escape isn’t an option. Of the five hundred thaler of ransom money in my pocket, the deserters ride away with three hundred of it, leaving me with no way to rescue that mayor’s daughter.

I feel like a mass-produced, boil-in-the-bag failure as myself and my sole remaining mercenary drift into the nearest Swedish town. It’s after my second jug of wine that I dimly realise that I still have two hundred thaler. More than enough to assemble another gang of mercenaries and continue playing at being a leader. Miserably, I hire the pikemen drinking in the corner and ask the mayor if he has any work.

He informs me that he could use a party of mercenaries to escort one of his caravans. I agree to the job, seeing as it sounds like something that even a worthless captain like me could manage.

As it happens, it really is. Over the next two weeks I escort several merchant caravans in succession, earning myself a tidy pile of thaler for each one. I’m still reeling from the fact that I’m earning money succesfully when the inevitable happens. Down South, in Crimean territory, I realise with mounting horror that the party of Tatar raiders at the very edge of my viewing distance are racing after the caravan. Between the caravan guards and my growing force, we have twenty five men, one of which is me, and I don’t count. And there are… thirty five Tatar raiders. Oh no. Oh, no. It was going so well for a minute there.

Oh, fuck it. Sometimes you’ve just got to dip your balls in the bathwater and see if it burns, as my grandmother used to say. At least I’m not riding a stupid bloody horse anymore, so I’m unlikely to get sniped. Give ’em Hell, men.

I– are they? Oh no. The Tatar raiders are all on horseback. The seconds before the cavalry charge hits pass like fat grapes being crushed, one after another.

It ends up being an educational battle. To start with, I learn that not being on a horse leaves you open to being bounced around ceaselessly, as if the battlefield were some medieval mosh pit. But more importantly, I learn that Tatar raiders are shit, and lightly-armoured horsemen aren’t so good against pikemen or musketmen. As I’m being knocked back and forth, I’m dimly aware that Tatars are getting clotheslined off their horses constantly.

As the dust settles, I realise we’ve won an incredible victory! The final tally is thirty of their dead and six of ours, and only two of which were mine. The rest were caravan guards. Amazing. There’s even a robe on one of the corpses that offers significantly better stopping power than my original clothes.

Hmm. Less Jacob’s technicolour dream coat, more Jacob’s Ladder, but I’m not picky. Besides, look at me! I’ve gone native.

A week passes. After this caravan, I take on a similar mission delivering a herd of cattle. Work is work, eh? With the cows safe and sound in their new castle I find myself browsing my quest log and see that I’ve actually still just got time left to complete that hostage rescue mission. I’d completely forgotten about it! And here I am, fannying around with cows? What’s wrong with me? I long since recouped the 500 thaler that was originally stolen from me.

Racing north, I carefully lead my party away from any potential ambushes, all the way to the meeting point.

The deal is done, and the Mayor of somethinsomething’s daughter has joined my party.

I might just make it as a hero after all.


  1. McDan says:

    Brave captain smith ran away, he ran away, brave captain smith fled in fear, fled in fear etc.

    • Quintin Smith says:

      Captain Smith will run away from as many men as it takes to get the job done.

    • McDan says:

      I have to agree though, it’s the only thing that works when you’re really not good at the combat at all. I’ve left so many men to die just so I can escape…

    • Burning Man says:

      When danger reared it’s ugly head, brave Capt. Smith turned and fled.

    • Teddy Leach says:

      Bravely bold Cpt. Smith
      Rode forth from Zamoshye.
      He was not afraid to die,
      Oh brave Cpt. Smith.
      He was not at all afraid
      To be killed in nasty ways.
      Brave, brave, brave, brave Cpt. Smith.

      He was not in the least bit scared
      To be mashed into a pulp.
      Or to have his eyes gouged out,
      And his elbows broken.
      To have his kneecaps split
      And his body burned away,
      And his limbs all hacked and mangled
      Brave Cpt. Smith.

      His head smashed in
      And his heart cut out
      And his liver removed
      And his bowls unplugged
      And his nostrils raped
      And his bottom burnt off
      And his peni–

  2. UW says:

    I just want to say: this is brilliant. This style is where you really excel.
    More of this sort of thing!

  3. Freud says:

    Now I know where the phrase “earn your stripes” comes from.

  4. Legionary says:

    Oh Captain Smith, he so crazy.

  5. mcwill says:

    Yep. Sounds a lot like my experiences. Deserters, in particular, keep eating me for breakfast until I can get up to about 50 men.

    Generally my strategy goes as follows:

    – Press F1 then F2, to make your men stick with you instead of running wildly at the minute.
    – Find the button for “Marksmen”, whichever number it is.
    – Head over to the nearest big hill
    – Stand on top of it, press F1/F1 to make the Marksmen sit on it
    – Ride either backwards or over to one side, staying in cover as much as possible.
    – Once the enemy get close to engaging you in close combat, press 0 for “Everyone”, followed by F1/”Charge” to make your Cavalry and Infantry absorb the close combat enemies.

    In other words, the key to success appears to be “don’t ride at men with guns”.

    • JB says:

      Assuming they carried this command over from Warband (I’ve not played F&S), you can hold F1 and it gives you a flag under your crosshair which you drag to a location and release F1, your men will then hold that location. Handy for standing your different troop types in different locations without having to run around like a loon yourself.

      If that makes any sense.

      Also, keep it up Quinns. Things (including your robes) can only get better!

    • Alistair says:

      Is that true? You can point out an area for your troops? I’ve just finished about 600 (in game) days of Warband and I didn’t know that. Jeez.

    • SvDvorak says:

      JB, you magnificent man! I was using the map backspace overlay but that was too fiddley when you want your men at very specific points (at the top of a hill for example). Why are these things never mentioned in the game… (especially considering the vast wiki they have ingame, one would think there would be a playhelp-part too)

    • mcwill says:

      Really? Holy hell! I’ve not played any M&B since I nearly destroyed my life playing Vanilla to death, so I’m unaware of the upgrades to the combat interface. This makes me wonder what else is new that I missed.


    • Jhoosier says:

      Yeah, 1200 days here, just on my most recent character, and I didn’t know that. Oops.

  6. westyfield says:

    Way way back many centuries ago,
    Not long after the middle ages began,
    Captain Smith lived in the land of Crimea –
    A fine example of a cowardly man!

  7. disperse says:

    Mount & Blade has a fairly unforgiving learning curve. It starts out difficult and doesn’t start to get easier until you have several levels under your belt. This is made even worse by increasing damage received to 100%. My one problem with Mount & Blade is the grind and I modded my copy to increase experience rewards by a factor of 10. I named the mod ‘Ripping Yarns’.

  8. Latedavid says:

    Not a fan of the guns I have to say. This is fantastic writing but I think it would be even better if Quinns gave Warband a go. The ability to enter tournaments, attack your own villages and get yourself kicked out of your own faction are areas that are begging for the ‘wrong’ man to lead an army of ne’erdowells from the rear…

  9. DrazharLn says:

    Brilliant. Let’s try and finish this one, though. I know you RPS fellows and your diaries.

  10. KauhuK says:

    My first days didnt go that badly. The trick is to get some men hired first before going to the first quest town. I think I should continue my game again but Terraria has me hooked. And also I’m waiting for my copy of Witcher 2 to come. ARGH.

  11. Okami says:

    Here’s a little tip for firearms in WF&S: Aiming in 3rd person mode is slightly bugged and works much better if you switch to first person mode. I never seemed to hit anything, eventhough the targeting cursor was directly above my (very close) target – then I switched to first person and everything suddenly got much easier.

  12. Mr_Hands says:

    Love this game. I will completely cop to getting in bareknuckle brawls for weeks at a time so I can afford to pay my troops.

  13. The Innocent says:

    I’m loving this series, even if I’m a Warband fan who can’t stand WF&S. Still, awesome writing Quinns. I’m looking forward to more of your escapades.

    • Dreamhacker says:

      I can’t even stand Warband, much less WF&S, yet I really love this series!

      Cpt Smith makes bad games read like great games play!

  14. Drake Sigar says:

    I’d follow captain Smith to the gates of hell.

    • Baboonanza says:

      That’s lucky, Cpt. Smith has been captured by Satan and has a cunning plan for escape if only you will join him…

  15. Faldrath says:

    Excellent stuff, Quinns. By the way, the best way to make money is to run your own caravans, instead of escorting someone else’s. Get spice or velvet from the southern cities and bring them north.

  16. gwathdring says:

    This sounds a lot like my first run at Warband. Brave peasant Gwathdring of Sargoth went a wandering, gathered a great load of men and influence … and then my small band was slowly pulled apart by deserters. Then I got attacked by a bandit party of twenty or so, surrendered to save my men, and then charged them after I escaped. Twenty men fell that day, and all of my men, plus some extra prisoners, were rescued. That felt damn good. So I continued to build up my forces, got a cushy mercenary post with the King who never really seemed to ask me for anything but offset the wages I owed my men substantially … and then discovered that being on the King’s payroll, rather than simply meaning free cash, means free cash and getting the hell kicked out of you in the territory of the King’s enemies. So my twenty men met a war party of 119 Khanate soldiers. I surrendered to spare my men, since running away was not an option, and then, furious at my sudden change of fortune, charged those bastards about six times. I think I killed two of them. I lost everything except my sword and lance. It’s rather demoralizing to walk into town in your skivvies to hire a few measly men and then escort some cows after taking on bandits and helping take over a castle.

  17. Jeremy says:

    So, I’ve played Warband for some time now, and I’m a bit addicted. How does the new expansion compare to that? Does it add quite a bit of goods to the game?

    Also, great write up, it really does remind me of my first run through in the early game. Completely unsure of what to do, where to go, how to fight. I remember my first 20 battles or so, hopelessly swinging my sword and getting a -100% speed penalty to damage.

    • QuantaCat says:

      I find myself fighting for the swedes, having a mission where I need to “imprison 5 noble guards”, but I have no clue where to find them. And if I do, they usually die.

    • Berzee says:

      If it’s like Warband, then you need to equip a blunt weapon and there should also be a keyboard command to tell your soldiers to only use blunt weapons as well. This will ensure that you get prisoners instead of corpses.

  18. thesundaybest says:

    “Now, I’m not saying this fight went badly. But I will say that when a furious, drunken Polish man with a sword like a cross between a machete and a banana comes running at you, in the black of night, after you’ve had a few drinks, it can be quite tricky to load and aim your firearm. That’s all I’m saying. In the end the man delivered a litany of cuts to my chest and left me for dead.”

    You’re my hero.

  19. QuantaCat says:

    This game has a habit of kicking you in the shins every so now and then. Though it did help my travel speed, having only riders, and giving my companions all horses. The best 2000 thaler I ever spent..

  20. ezekiel2517 says:

    I still regret not buying M&B complete for like 19 dollars.

  21. MDS says:

    Look… I really am very sorry to say this, because RPS is my favourite gaming site ever, and your articles (inc. this series) are fantastic… but if it’s not too much trouble could you possibly do our wonderful language a massive favour and look up the correct usage of “myself”?

    Sorry ._. I’m a HUGE fan of emergent player narratives so gj :)

  22. FRIENDLYUNIT says:

    MOAR…”emergent player narrative” pls.

  23. Munken says:

    Poor Nick Cave seems to have fallen on hard times and decided on a life of mayoral daughter theft.

  24. Ondrej says:

    “Yes, the horse I’m riding sounds like it’s breathing through a straw.”

    That gave me a good chuckle in this rather shitty morning. That’s why we love RPS!

    Well done, Mr. Smith.

  25. Ricotta says:

    It’s actually easier to go get 20 men and start pillaging villages, you can get 20k thaler, a full 120 party, and some good armor in 2 hours or so.

  26. Darko Drako says:

    Hilarious – loving this Mr Smith!

  27. dijibell says:

    Holy hell, I can’t remember the last time I laughed out loud simply reading something. I just had to register and say that this and part 1 absolutely made my day. I don’t think I’d have the – what, heart? – to set a character up for failure like that and still try to see it through. Here’s to Cap’n Smith and his ongoing near-death experiences.

  28. A-Scale says:

    Reminds me of the hilarious Livin’ in Oblivion.
    link to livinginoblivion.wordpress.com

    I love this. Keep it up.

  29. roethle says:

    Need another one of these.