There is very little in the life of a mercenary that is ever consistent or guaranteed: money, work, equipment, comrades – even one’s survival. These things fluctuate and change with the tides of fortune. Yet, there is one aspect of their profession that mercs expect to be reliable, and that is the contract. Contracts are the legal agreements through which business between client and employee is hammered out and solidified. It is the contract that gives clarity to a mercenary’s assignment and acts as a guarantee from both parties that each will follow through with their respective responsibilities.
Who Makes a Contract?
Contracts are generally expected to be written up by the client, though it is not unheard of for a mercenary unit to produce its own contract to present to the employer. However, it is usually only merc companies of great skill and reputation that can construct contracts which will be recognized by clients. By and large, it is the individual or group requiring mercenary service that is responsible for writing up the legal agreement.
Unless the assignment is simple or small in scale, the process of generating a contract is almost always a protracted one that involves copious amounts of negotiation. The longer, riskier, or more complicated the mission in need of completion, often the more extensive and complex the contract becomes. Logically, both parties want to get as much as they can out of the business agreement. As such, contract generation includes a great deal of haggling and revision work. Each clause, at least if everyone involved is smart, gets carefully examined and dissected in order to verify that all aspects of the arrangement are suitable. It is not uncommon for a contract to be reworked dozens of times until each side finds the agreement acceptable. Only a foolish merc unit would consent to a contract without first inspecting it.
Negotiations during the contract-making process are straight forward and concise in order to get the contract finished as quickly as possible. Each side is required to make concessions and compromises, though that doesn’t mean that everything is resolved fairly. A strong current of bluffing, pretense, and intimidation commonly accompanies negotiation sessions. Both parties try to get away with as many contract advantages as feasible, and this behavior is anticipated by everyone involved. However, care and restraint are necessary. Only the best mercenary companies can be excessively demanding. Otherwise, mercs may find the client moving on to seek less particular employees. Similarly, clients who are too rigid in their dealings may discover no mercenaries will sign their contracts. Consequently, a successful contract requires some give and take from both sides.
Once a contract has been finalized, it must be signed by both the client and the mercenaries. Large merc units simply need the signature of the highest ranking officer. In some cases, signatures are not necessary at all, but rather, fingerprints, voice confirmations, or retinal imprints. These are often used for illiterate mercenaries. However, it is more common for such forms of consent to supplement the signature, not replace it.
The moment the contract has been signed by each side, everyone concerned is bound by it.
The Breakdown of a Contract
The Rules of Engagement
This is the first and most important part of any merc contract. It is the longest of the contract clauses and concerns the specific conditions within which the mercenary unit must operate. It is a critical section because any violations of this clause are direct breaches of contract and possible grounds for Cancellation. Consequently, mercs who want to get paid follow this portion of a contract to the letter. The Rules of Engagement are broken down into various subsections, the five most significant ones described below.
- Terms of Fulfillment: This subsection fully details exactly what objectives the mercenary unit must accomplish. These objectives are clearly and concisely defined so there can be no misinterpretations or disputes as to the conditions necessary for mission completion. Also detailed here are the times, dates, and locations concerning the assignment. Any deadlines or time frames (if appropriate) are revealed here as well. The successful completion of these objectives means the mercs can collect their pay.
- Contact Operandi: These are the specific methods, times and locations at which the client can be contacted. Certain employers may require that mercenaries only contact them through particular means, such as secured radio frequencies, comm lines, net posts, encrypted messages, middlemen, protected locations, or even via magic or psionics. They may also lay out very specific times and days when contact may be carried out. Some clients may also stipulate that once the assignment has begun, the mercs can only make contact upon completion. Such demanding specifications are usually made by clients who wish to hide their identities or protect their interests. Contacting employers without following their communication procedures is a breach of contract.
- Rules of Conduct: This subsection outlines behavior that is acceptable and unacceptable from mercenaries during the course of their assignment. Certain ethically-minded clients might use this part of the contract as damage control, to reign in malicious or careless Soldiers of Fortune. Alternately, a client may institute conduct rules to protect his own interests. Specifications for Rules of Conduct vary, but might include no civilian casualties allowed, no torture, prohibited use of particular weaponry (usually biological and chemical agents), no actions taken against innocents/women and children, no looting, etc. There may even be stipulations against the indulgence of minor vices like drinking and smoking during the assignment. If a client can prove that the Rules of Conduct have been violated, this qualifies as a breach of contract.
- Anonymity Sub-Clause: Some clients desire to keep their identities confidential. If the mercenaries know their client’s true identity, a client who values his privacy may introduce an Anonymity Sub-Clause into the contract. Any merc who betrays the client’s identity during the course of the assignment or in the future, will have violated the contract. This includes the betrayal of information that may indirectly allude to the client’s involvement in the merc unit’s activities.
- Confirmation Agreement: There are many aspects of a mercenary’s performance that cannot be monitored by the client. For instance, an employer can’t know whether the merc unit he hired is adhering to his Rules of Conduct when they’re fighting a hundred miles away. Likewise, an employer can’t know for certain whether a mercenary he’s contracted revealed any information under torture to the enemy. In situations like those, the client only has the merc’s word. However, rather than taking the Soldier of Fortune at his word or hiring out a specialist to tail the merc unit (which is another expense and can be more trouble than it’s worth), a client can include a Confirmation Agreement in the contract. This sub-clause gives a client the right to, psionically, magically, or otherwise, test the mercenaries in order to confirm their adherence to the Rules of Engagement and other contract clauses. Merc units who agree to this subsection must submit to an assessment of their words and actions, if requested by the client, after mission completion by a psychic or mage. Refusal to allow such a test after this sub-clause has been accepted, or any detection of resistance or subterfuge will be regarded as a violation of the contract. This is a valuable subsection to employers, not only because it confirms abidance to contract stipulations, but because it also acts as a deterrent to dishonest behavior. Mercenaries who know they may be magically or psychically tested after completing an assignment are not very likely to attempt to secretly violate the contract, cheat a clause, or “pull the wool” over a client’s eyes. Commonly, a deep telepathic scan or the General Invocation Words of Truth are used to determine the legitimacy of a merc’s answers. In small merc units, each member is usually tested. In large units, leaders and high ranking officers are the ones assessed.
Also called “Clientelligence”, this is client-provided information designed to assist the mercs in accomplishing their mission. This subsection can be rather large, consisting of data already accumulated by the client prior to the involvement of the mercenary unit. Depending on the quantity and quality of the information, this part of the contract may save a merc unit a great deal of time and effort gathering info on their target objective. The Preassembled Intelligence subsection may contain anything from psychological profiles detailing target tendencies, to maps and schematics of target compounds and security systems. The reliability and usefulness of information in this subsection varies greatly depending on the client. Government and military clients tend to provide better intelligence than private clients.
Upon signing the contract, the client has guaranteed that all information he has provided is accurate to the best of his knowledge. However, in the end, the information is only as good as the client.
This is the pay that mercenaries can expect immediately upon signing the contract. Not every contract has a signing bonus, but this clause is considered standard on big jobs with base rates of 200,000 credits or higher. The bonus is generally a modest to impressive sum, approximately 3-5% of the base rate. It is meant to express the client’s goodwill and wet the merc unit’s appetite somewhat.
This clause represents a pay upgrade that takes effect in the event of certain adversaries or risks.
This clause describes the degree of free medical care a mercenary unit is eligible for under contract stipulations. Either the client provides for the medical care himself or he simply reimburses the mercs for any medical expenses that arise over the course of the assignment. It should be noted that Medical Provisions only apply to injuries suffered in trying to complete the mission objective. This means that wounds acquired through battles, exposure, accidents, or other acts performed out of necessity to fulfill the goals of the contract are covered under this clause. However, any injuries incurred through actions taken outside of the Rules of Engagement are not the responsibility of the client. For example, fighting one’s way into a compound to steal secret plans, setting off an enemy booby trap, becoming ill after scouting enemy territory, getting hurt loading a vehicle in preparation for a raid, or being attacked by Simvan en route to a mark’s location – all are situations in which the Medical Provision Clause is applicable (assuming everything occurred within the bounds of the Rules of Engagement). Alternately, attacking the Simvan en route to a mark’s location in order to make some extra credits or deciding to get into a drunken bar fight while waiting for one’s unit – these are extraneous actions that the client is not obligated to tend to if injuries arise.
There are generally two types of Medical Provisions.
· Full Medical: A Full Medical Provision Clause means the client is compelled to provide or pay for any and all injuries suffered by the mercenaries through the pursuit of the mission objective. This includes treatment for infections, diseases, and effects suffered from exposure to toxins, gases, and poisons. Also included are surgical procedures and biosystems. Additionally, cybernetics and bionics are taken into consideration under this clause. Repairs to these systems are provided for, as are new cybernetic or bionic implants if necessary. Contracts with Full Medical are relatively uncommon because they can be very expensive for the client (especially if an entire unit is involved). This type of clause is usually only offered by large governments or organizations like the Coalition States, Lazlo, and Northern Gun.
· Partial Medical: Partial Medical is the most common type of Medical Provision Clause found in a contract. The restrictions and limitations that set it apart from the Full Medical option can vary. Some Partial Medical Clauses aren’t much different than Full Medical, while others are only a step up from having no Medical Provision. Generally though, this type of clause is identical to Full Medical except that cybernetics and bionics are not included. While all flesh and bone injuries must be treated, any damage suffered to cybernetic or bionic systems is not the responsibility of the client. Nor is the client obligated to pay for new ones. Vital organs may still be replaced with standard, baseline biosystems, but anything else (like lost limbs, eyes, ears, etc.) is simply treated and left as is.
This clause stipulates that the client is obligated to pay any legal expenses incurred by the mercenaries as a result of their pursuit of the mission objective (provided that they acted within the Rules of Engagement). It covers all legal expenses, such as fines, court costs, expert witness fees, penalties, bail, and legal representation fees (lawyers). Since laws change from area to area, it benefits mercs to be mindful of local regulations. Obviously, clients expect mercs to avoid confrontations with the law whenever possible, even if they are contracted to perform something illegal (which is often the case). When viable, employers desire Soldiers of Fortune to work within the law (or establish the guise of doing so). Mercenaries who incur legal trouble by performing actions outside of the Rules of Engagement must pay legal expenses out of their own pockets. Additionally, incurring too many unnecessary problems with the Law over the course of an assignment may make the mercenary a detriment, and therefore, grounds for Cancellation.
In the wilderness where Nature rules, this clause is needless. However, in places with highly developed judiciary systems like Lazlo, New Lazlo, the Coalition States, Kingsdale, and others, the Legal Liability Clause is more valuable than gold.
Eligibility to Spoils
This part of the contract indicates what exactly mercenaries are in their right to keep as “spoils of war”. Though acquiring booty from fallen or defeated opponents is often considered distasteful by many clients, most are also aware that, for mercenaries, the notion of potential good plunder is attractive and works as an added reward or incentive. Mercenaries contracted for warfare are not just motivated by the pay they’ve been promised upon mission completion, but also the opponent’s equipment, weapons, vehicles, holdings, and other items that are likely to survive the battle. These things can be sold by the mercs for additional credits. Alternately, they can be used to replenish or replace dwindling supplies and damaged hardware, saving the mercs money out of their own pockets. That being said, it should be noted that some contracts, under the Rules of Conduct, forbid looting of any kind.
The booty to which mercenaries are entitled depends on the contract. In some contracts, mercs are permitted to keep everything they “acquire” in the course of a mission. Other times, the clause requires that a certain percentage of their spoils go to the client. Likewise, the contract may specify that the client has first dibs on the spoils before they’re divvied up, or that he has right to a particular type of booty (all the guns, all the vehicles, all the data files, etc.) and the rest goes to the mercs. For cases where the employer is entitled to some of the plunder, the merc unit is expected to write up an honest inventory of all the booty accumulated during the mission and present a copy to the client. Attempting to cheat a client out of spoils is a breach of contract.
Any spoils acquired through actions taken outside of the Rules of Engagement are not subject to this clause.
Compensation for Time Incarcerated
This clause provides a bonus to mercs who are captured and spend time imprisoned as a result of their pursuit of the mission objective (provided that they acted within the Rules of Engagement). It retains validity whether the imprisonment is by the enemy or local law enforcement (for committing an illegal activity on behalf of the client). The bonus is generally a preset sum that never alters, regardless of the length of time the mercenary spends in incarceration. The only condition for this clause to take effect is that the mercenary must have been captured for at least 48 hours (this prerequisite holding time may vary from contract to contract). Some contracts may compute the bonus based on the duration of the confinement period, though this is very uncommon. On average, the bonus may range from 10,000 to 50,000 credits depending on the importance and scale of the assignment.
Compensation for Time Interrogated
Also referred to by mercenaries as “Pain Pay”, this clause provides a bonus to mercs who are tortured by the enemy. Assuming the mercenary escapes or gets rescued, the bonus he receives will vary. For a one man operation, the bonus is double the full base rate. For merc units, its double that specific merc’s share of the base rate. In the event that the merc revealed absolutely no information to his interrogators, he receives triple the base rate or triple his share, if part of a unit.
This clause and the Compensation for Time Incarcerated Clause are cumulative, meaning that a mercenary who is imprisoned and tortured receives an Incarceration bonus on top of his Pain Pay.
Optempo is a contraction of “Operations Tempo”, a military logistics term referring to the estimated accrued costs for maintenance, fuel, and overhead for a vehicle based on its mileage during a given period. Over the course of an assignment, mercenaries use up fuel and put wear and tear on their vehicles. This is especially so on extended missions or contracts that require traveling long distances. For vehicles without nuclear reactors, gas, diesel, and jet fuel can all add up. However, this clause makes the client responsible for the payment or provision of fuel, as well as the general upkeep that becomes necessary with constant vehicle usage (flat tires, oil and coolant changes, alignments, hover jet flushes, etc.). The Optempo Clause is common for contracts dealing with long term assignments or heavy travel.
This clause does not cover vehicular damage resulting from battle, accidents, or anything that is beyond basic wear and tear (see Vehicle & Hardware Repair Provisions).
Vehicle & Hardware Repair Provisions
Under this clause, the client is obligated to provide or pay for repairs to mercenary equipment damaged in the pursuit of the mission objective. This section is similar to the Medical Provisions Clause, but concerns hardware and transportation rather than the mercs themselves. The term vehicle applies to land crafts, air crafts, sea vessels, hover vehicles, power armor suits, and robot vehicles. Hardware usually only applies to weapons and body armor. There are different types of V&HR Provisions. Since this is an expensive clause for employers to include in contracts, the best Provisions are reserved for very significant, high risk assignments or mercenary companies with distinguished reputations. Only damage incurred through activities taken within the Rules of Engagement is eligible for repair. Contracts with Repair Provisions (especially the valuable ones) usually include Confirmation Agreements.
- Full Replacement Sub-Clause: This is the mother of all V&HR Provisions. Under this type of Repair Provision, the client must replace any equipment or vehicles that are damaged beyond repair. The Full Replacement option is very rare and offered exclusively by large governments or organizations with credits to throw around (and only to the best merc companies). When this sub-clause is used, it is usually in addition to the Full Vehicle & Hardware Repair Provision. If by chance, a particular item or vehicle cannot be replaced (perhaps it is no longer made, or was a one-of-a-kind construct), then the client can reimburse the mercenary with credits or something of equal value to what was destroyed. Stolen or lost items may or may not be included in this sub-clause. Generally, stolen or lost weapons and body armor will be replaced, but not vehicles. Magical items or items with supernatural properties are not covered by this provision (see below).
- Full Vehicle & Hardware Repair: This is a valuable provision that can only be made better with the inclusion of the Full Replacement Sub-Clause (see above). The Full Repair option makes the client responsible for the repair and restoration of all equipment and vehicles used by the mercenaries. Whether the damage is combat-related, environmental, or accidental, the employee must pay or provide for all repairs (as long as the damage was incurred within the bounds of the Rules of Engagement). The repair work is all-inclusive, meaning that not just mechanical and electrical repairs are made, but cosmetic ones as well. For vehicles, this includes weapon systems, sensors, armor, paint jobs, vehicle interiors – the works. For weapons and body armor, these pieces of hardware are fully repaired, cleaned, and every system fixed, no matter how insignificant. Often times, equipment and vehicles subject to this Provision come out after the assignment in better condition than they were before the contract was signed. Miscellaneous equipment is fully replaced in this option. This involves items that are relatively inexpensive, such as tents, clothing, survival gear, knives, rope, binoculars, canteens, etc. However, vehicles or hardware that is lost, stolen, or damaged beyond repair is not replaced under this provision.
- Partial Vehicle & Hardware Repair: This provision is the most varied of the different types. Some Partial Repair options are almost as good as Full Repair, where as others are only slightly better than Basic Repair. For vehicles, commonly a Partial Repair Provision obligates the client to restore all damaged mechanical and electrical systems to full capability. Sensors and weapons are not overlooked. Even secondary systems are required to be repaired. Only the most insignificant auxiliary systems (like certain amenities or entertainment-oriented features) are left untouched if damaged. However, cosmetic damage is ignored, meaning that dents, bangs, blast marks, burns, and scratches are not the client’s responsibility to fix. Even cracked windows, unless detrimental to the vehicle’s operation, are sometimes left broken. The same with weapons and body armor. Though all but the most unimportant systems will be fixed to full operation, cosmetic features are considered negligible. Alternately, in some Partial Repair options, the client is only obligated to repair a specific type of item. This could be only vehicles, or perhaps solely weapons and body armor. Miscellaneous gear may or may not be replaced – client’s discretion.
- Basic Repair: On small contracts, this is the most common V&HR Provision. It consists of baseline, nominal fixing. The client is only obligated to pay or provide for the minimal amount of repair work necessary to ensure that everything works. For vehicles, this means absolutely no body work and no repairs to weapons systems. Repairs are performed solely to the point that the vehicle can function (if air or water travel is a capability, that too must be functional). Anything not essential to the vehicle’s ability to operate is overlooked. For weapons, they must still be capable of firing, but scopes, targeting systems, and auxiliary functions are also overlooked. For full environmental body armor, MDC need only be restored to 50% and life support systems (air circulation, temperature control, etc.) must be operational, but any other systems (including weapons and sensors) are not necessary to mend.
- 'Arcana': In the event that a merc unit has wage mages or perhaps one of the members owns a magical item, this additional provision can be included. It obligates the client to pay for the repair or replacement of magical objects. However, this option is only provided by clients who practice magic or have access to it, like Lazlo, New Lazlo, the Federation of Magic, various occult societies, independent mages, etc. Many technologically-oriented clients, like Ishpeming or the Manistique Imperium, have no means of repairing or replacing magical devices (at least not without great effort). Consequently, though they may employ practitioners of magic for mercenary work, the Arcana Provision is never used in their contracts. At best, the mage will get reimbursed with credits. Some clients (like the CS) would never knowingly employ mages to begin with.
Also known as the “Play or Pay” Clause, this section of a contract exists for the sole purpose of protecting the mercenary company’s interests. It stipulates that if a client cancels an assignment before the mission objective has been reached, he is still obligated to pay the mercs for their trouble. Normally, a client is only in his right to terminate a contract if the mercenaries violate a clause (cancellation for any other reason is a breach of contract on the client’s part). Pay can vary. Under some Cancellation Clauses, merc units receive the full base rate if the client prematurely calls off the mission. In other cases, the mercs receive a portion of the base rate, usually in proportion to how close they were to achieving the Terms of Fulfillment (the closer they were to the mission objective, the higher the cancellation fee becomes). If a client cancels the contract because of a violation on the part of the mercenaries, then this clause does not come into affect.