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"Do not harm the innocent. You cannot fight for justice by unjust means. Uphold justice where law has failed."
—The Code of the Herrimaults[1b]
Warhammer Bretonnia Herrimault

A Herrimault wearing the hooded cloaks they are named so famously after

The Herrimault, known also as the Merry Men are a vigilante band of outlaws that fight against the oppresive nobility of Bretonnia. Herrimaults are outside the laws of the nobility, but they fight for justice, robbing the rich to feed the poor and overthrowing oppressive nobles condoned by their peers. They are a popular subject of peasant tales, and over the years, these stories have come to be attributed to a single group, led by the Faceless, which acts all over Bretonnia.[1a]

The very term "Herrimault", was a style of hooded cloak popular a few centuries ago, worn by the characters in these stories. The name has come to be applied to the men themselves, who are also called Hoods, Hoodies, Wood Hoods, Woodies, and Herrings. The Faceless prefer that but are also called Crownless Lords, Nameless Men, Him Out Back, and Cod. The fish names are not particularly respectful, but even so, using them distinguishes the Herrimaults from common outlaws, so almost no nobles do so.[1a]

Structure

"Ask no questions of your fellows' pasts. Every Herrimault has his reasons for fighting and should be judged on his actions now."
—The Code of the Herrimaults[1b]
Warhammer Bretonnia Herrimault 2

Though they may be of many different backgrounds, the Herrimault believes in the ideals of true justice and chivalry

Herrimaults have diverse backgrounds. Many are peasants who served in their lord’s army and saw enough of the world to want to help the unfortunate. Other peasants started by trying to right a local injustice, were condemned to outlawry in the process, and joined the Herrimaults to continue their quest. Some groups form in response to a particularly evil noble, drawing mainly from his lands. Many women who are caught passing as men flee justice to become outlaws, and most of them join the Herrimaults.[1a]

Ironically, they must still conceal their sex, even among outlaws, because the sexist attitudes of Bretonnia persist. Finally, some Herrimaults were noble-born but made outlaws because they tried to right an injustice committed by a more powerful noble who was able to turn the courts against them. These individuals expect to become leaders, and their military training means they are often suited to the role.[1a]

Herrimaults live by a code of honour that is clearly set out in the tales of the Faceless. The order of the injunctions is roughly their order of importance. Groups of outlaws who harm innocents lose any claim to be Herrimaults, even if the harm was caused in the pursuit of justice. Loyalty to one another is, of course, vital among outlaws, as is the prohibition on asking about a member's past. Peasants and even nobles who wish to leave some traumatic event behind often join the Herrimaults, concentrating on their new goals.[1b]

Recruitment

"Take the excess from the wealthy to feed the starving. It is no harm to lose money that you do not need. Be true to your fellows. Betrayal is a foul deed, worthy of Greenskins and Beastmen."
—The Code of the Herrimaults[1b]

Becoming a Merry Man (a member of the Herrimaults) is simple; become an outlaw, and declare yourself to be one. If you uphold the Code, others will recognise you as such, and you gain the benefits of their good reputation. However, lone outlaws do not survive for very long, so most aspiring Herrimaults look to join an established group. Traditionally, as described in the story cycle, applicants walk through the forest where the group hides, loudly declaring their intent to join. An applicant who survives doing this is clearly competent enough to join; the chances of avoiding being attacked by beasts, Beastmen, or Orcs are very slim.[1b]

The applicant is confronted by the Herrimaults and required to swear to the Code. These probationary members are watched carefully for some time until The Faceless judges them to have proved their loyalty. Infiltration by spies is a constant problem for bands of Herrimaults, so wise Herrimaulted Men organise their bands so that they can survive any single member turning out to be a spy. The normal method is to split the gang into groups with separate hideouts and never tell anyone in advance when they plan to gather the whole band.[1b]

Bands of outlaws that hold to the Code of the Herrimaults are very popular among the peasants, who call on them to right perceived injustices. It is common for Herrimaults to steal shipments of heavy taxes and return the food and goods to the peasants who paid them. Groups that have survived for some time know how to do this without arousing the suspicions of the lord. Herrimaults also rescue peasants sentenced to hang, protect villages from Beastmen and Greenskins, and attempt the overthrow of particularly oppressive nobles. They are also very protective of their reputations. Anyone not a member of a band of Herrimaults who claims to be risks being executed as a warning to others (such liars are not innocent). Similarly, bands of outlaws who claim the name but do not live up to the Code are the first targets of genuine Herrimaults in the area.[1b]

Most nobles regard the Herrimaults as criminals and revolutionaries, to be put down as quickly and brutally as possible. Many merchants share this opinion. The most just nobles, however, find that they have few problems with the Herrimaults personally and generally admire their aims. Some even help them secretly without giving up their noble positions, and a few Faceless sleep in a castle most nights.[1b]

The Code of the Herrimaults

  • Do not harm the innocent. You cannot fight for justice by unjust means. Uphold justice where law has failed.[1b]
  • Take the excess from the wealthy to feed the starving. It is no harm to lose money that you do not need. Be true to your fellows. Betrayal is afoul deed, worthy of Greenskins and Beastmen.[1b]
  • Ask no questions of your fellows' pasts. Every Herrimault has his reasons for fighting and should be judged on his actions now.[1b]
  • Reject the Ruinous Powers, and fight against them even alongside tyrants.[1b]

A Day Among the Trees

Despite what tavern talk would suggest, herrimaults do not plot the downfall of despotic nobles at all hours. As with any life, there are the everyday aspects overlooked by those who glorify this vocation from the outside looking in.[2a]

Herrimaults, living on the run from local law enforcers, often have makeshift camps within many woods and copses. Home is rarely more than a tent or lean-to, pitched daily to allow movement at a moment’s notice. Only those far from any pursuit can afford to settle in lodgings that are more permanent. At their most secure, the best herrimault camps are caves in which they might live until discovered.[2a]

Foraging and hunting for food takes most of one’s day, since a herrimault can’t go to market or risk approaching a friendly farmer for food. Hunting and foraging adds to a herrimault’s problems, as nobles often consider any game or wild edibles to be their property and anyone else consuming them is guilty of poaching.[2a]

Next in importance is the maintenance of a herrimault’s weapons and tools. This constitutes everything from cleaning and sharpening blades to crafting new arrows. A life constantly under threat of attack or capture increases one’s reliance upon weapons especially when such equipment is not easily replaced.[2a]

Only after solving daily survival issues do herrimaults scheme on how best to force an end to the abuses of power within Bretonnian society. They know the best way to end corrupt actions is to expose said noble (or his activities) before his peers or betters—honourable people who can truly censure or prohibit abuses a noble visits upon vassals.[2a]

Source

  • 1: Warhammer Fantasy RPG 2nd ED -- Knights of the Grail
    • 1a: pg. 34
    • 1b: pg. 35
    • 1c: pg. 97
    • 1d: pg. 98
  • 2: Warhammer Fantasy RPG 2nd ED -- Career Compendium
    • 2a: pg. 102

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