My fantasy project of ''Diggoran'' ( pronounced as Die-Ah-Ran ) is set on the continent of Diggoran which is a large and fictional continent located on a fictional planet in its own universe with no connection to our own. Likewise, the continent of Diggoran has a level of social, technological, economic, political and industrial development similar to our own albeit it is a bit disorganized and ''shattered''. However, I am aiming for mercenaries and bounty hunters to be a widely existing and semi-tolerated presence across the world. The two main protagonists are supposed to be freelance mercenaries who like all mercenaries can be hired for a wide variety of jobs which usually involve killing.

In our modern world things like mercenaries and bounty hunters have gone the way of the dodo, such lifestyles are no longer tolerated or even sustainable so I am trying to figure out how I could make mercenaries an existing and tolerated presence in a world with modern forms of development. What government action would have to be taken to either protect or ignore the activities of these people and how would they live?

The other issue is weapon availability. I've experimented with the concept of giving every country limited gun laws so that Diggoran can have a semi-medieval style of weapon ownership but many have argued that this would result in a repeat of current political issues. Could different cultures phase this out or what?

I tried to word this question as best as possible but it may not seem that way to other users so apologies in advance.

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    $\begingroup$ I strongly disagree with the claim that mercenaries have done the way of the dodo. See, for example, Blackwater and its successor companies Xe Services and Academi. The US government now uses mercenaries for many jobs that used to be done by marines and other uniformed military. $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 10, 2019 at 1:52
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    $\begingroup$ Private military companies, all the rage in modern nations. we also oddly still use bounty hunters. $\endgroup$
    – John
    Commented Nov 10, 2019 at 3:50
  • $\begingroup$ Steven Pressfield, The Profession, 2011. Very highly recommended. $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Commented Nov 10, 2019 at 14:53
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    $\begingroup$ Probably, the mercenaries will not call themselves "mercenaries". They will be "security consultants", "logistics services", or some other euphemism. $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 10, 2019 at 18:37

2 Answers 2


A world where government is weak is likely to be one where mercenaries and bounty hunters will thrive. If a government cannot enforce its authority or wage war through its own military power, then it will be forced to rely on hired help to do so. That's where your mercenaries come in.

Mercenaries are actually quite active in the real world. But they tend to operate and do business in places like Sub-Saharan Africa, not Canada or Belgium. Strong governments don't need them.

  • $\begingroup$ and see that's a problem. I don't want to make my all of my nation's governments weak. Would making them intentionally or unintentionally weak in certain areas help? $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 10, 2019 at 3:37
  • $\begingroup$ You don't have to make all of them weak. Just make them (even temporarily) weak wherever you want mercenaries to gravitate towards. $\endgroup$
    – Priska
    Commented Nov 10, 2019 at 3:38

I could think of a few.

Contested lands. Something like a large country/continent with just too much trouble for it to be of any use to the big countries. So merc and bounty hunters thrive in those areas as they provide a useful service to the people.

These areas could also suffer as a buffer zone which is actually realistic. Think of something like a large piece of desert or forest or whatever between two large and strong countries. Now this area is already a zone of absolute nightmarish qualities. The people are rebellious, monster roam the lands, terrain is awful...etc. So both countries kind of agree that this area is a buffer zone and that neither will directly control it. You get a lot of spying and political playing in there, but it still active as free area.

Large city states as the norm. They had no empires. No Roman or Persian empires. Imagine no Russian, Ottoman, English...etc empires or expansion and conquest and all that. Basically people make a much smaller unified groups that never reach our current country levels let alone large global alliances.

Obviously you will need to change a lot from our world as we tend to get together more. But if the people in your world and more individualistic then you can get away with it.

Think how a man from Spain or Syria might fight for Rome for the right reason like money or his future but in your world he will not even fight for his country, just family/tribe/city. So the entire world is more cut into smaller groups with aversion to long time mixing and working with other groups.

So if people went that way then they will have smaller states that can only control so much land and then they have less access to people to begin with. Think of how Rome could bring to bear resource from the entire Mediterranean while Sparte could only arm and armor a few thousands men at best. Then imagine a world that is only made of Sparte and Athens and Thebes...etc.

Less resources. Controlling land requires expenditure of money and men and wood and stone...etc. So with less resource the smaller the states become. No point in spending valuable resources protecting a large swamp because your grandfather was there. Obviously that would mean that the more land a state controls the richer it is. And it becomes a trade off. You spend more resources watching and protecting larger borders in order to give you an advantage in an upcoming war. So you traded resources for that advantage. Another state won't.

Culture. Comes in many forms.

People don't think as big as we do. Why is this useless huge desert a part of our country that I should bleed and die for? Who cares! So don't spend my tax money controlling it.

Maybe people think that it is a necessary part of life to do, or be able to, this or that. Like either we have a lot of desire for bloodshed that being a merc can satisfy. Or maybe they have a bit of a tradition that kick in you reach a certain age. Once at that age you are expected to do a sort of pilgrimage or soul searching or whatever. You just pack your stuff and go find your own calling. For obvious reasons many would first choose to become mercs.

Another is that is deeply impeded in their religion/ideology. Perhaps bounty hunters are seeing as doing the God/gods will. Maybe the world is plagued with enough monsters that they really do need bounty hunters and mercs.

  • $\begingroup$ and the problem with that is that there is very little contested land on Diggoran with 4 out of 12 countries equally holding claim to ''the strongest nation''. $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 10, 2019 at 3:38

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