Merry Men

Copyright Daniel Myers © 2005

Edited by Peter Mork for The Guild Companion

"Where variations differ and holes appear, logic, imagination, interpretations, and pure fantasy are used to fill in the holes"

Introduction

Author's note: This article is a supplement to the article "Robin Hood for MERP," which appeared in the September 2004 issue of The Guild Companion.

This article provides character information on the legendary Outlaws of Robin Hood and recounts tales of their deeds and exploits. [1]

The descriptions are divided into three sections: Other Outlaws, Merry Men, and Tyrants. Other Outlaws describes Medieval Outlaws that have made their deeds into ballads outside the stories of Robin Hood and his Merry Men. The Merry Men and Tyrants are characters that are mentioned in the legends of Robin Hood. They either played a minor role in Robin Hood legends or were recent addition to the legends.

Please note that there are numerous variations upon and holes within the ballads. Where variations differ and holes appear, logic, imagination, interpretations, and pure fantasy are used to fill in the holes. Therefore, if some fact or detail about an Outlaw or Merry Men seems implausible, it should by all means be changed. In addition, the description of the characters is just a summary of events with many details left out. For an in-depth character overview of a particular hero, consult a book on Robin Hood or Medieval Outlaws. Refer to the bibliography for a sample of books to consult on these topics.

The last section provides MERP and RM game statistics for the Outlaws.

Other Outlaws

Robin Hood is by far the most famous Outlaw but he is not the only Outlaw. Other Outlaws of lesser renown defended the poor against wily Sheriffs and money hungry Barons and Counts. This section details infamous contemporaries of Robin Hood; their game statistics are provided in Table 1.3. All the Outlaws presented operated in or near England, and the GM could have the PCs encounter these Outlaws as foes, rivals, or allies.

Eustace the Monk

Famed conjurer, renegade monk, outlawed knight and daring pirate describe the various careers of a historical figured named Eustace the Monk. Through the centuries the ballads of Eustace's exploits have been exaggerated and transformed into the stuff of legends. A contemporary of Robin Hood, Eustace sold his naval expertise to the highest bidder working under the payment of King John of England or Prince Louise of France. His only real passion was to wage war against the powerful Count of Boulogne who had cheated him out of his family inheritance.

This renegade was once the son of a knightly house in the province of Boulogne, France. As a young man, he was very ambitious, gaining admission to a cryptic monastery in Toledo, Spain. There he learned magic arts from his abbot and became something of a conjurer, performing feats of magic and trickery. He later retreated into a monastery in Boulogne next to his father's lands, to become a monk. His father was ambushed and killed in a land dispute. Eustace left the monastery to claim his inheritance and to demand, unsuccessfully, justice for the murder of his father from the Count of Boulogne, Renaud. The Count who coveted his father's land, took the fief as his own and falsely accused Eustace of wrongdoing. Eustace escaped to the woods to become a trickster outlaw using trickery and enchantments to rob merchants and the Count's men. His fame grew as an outlaw and was recruited by both the King of England and the Prince of France to terrorize the English Channel. He was probably the greatest sea captain of his generation razing several ports to the ground. His name was enough to strike terror into the hearts of seamen. As an outlaw, Eustace took up the causes of the poor and those oppressed by the tyrannous Count.

Adam Bell, Clim of the Clough, and William of Cloudesley

These three English yeomen were born on small farms in Cumberland, located north of Nottingham. They were spied hunting deer in the King's forests, which carried the penalty of death, but avoided capture. They fled to Inglewood Forest and became outlaws. Like Robin and his men, they began to prey on merchants, abbots, and the sheriff's men while assisting the destitute. In time, they became famous for their archery and daring exploits.

Adam Bell is the oldest and leader of the band. William of Cloudisley is the youngest; hot headed, arrogant and very much the family man. Whenever he gets a chance, he visits his devoted wife, Alice, and his three sons. Of the three, William is the best archer. Clim of Clough is the trickster of the group, often donning disguises and mimicking officials in his deceptive schemes. He is level headed and down to earth although his one blinding fault is his hatred of Normans.

In some ancient ballads and modern stories, Adam Bell and his band interact with Robin and his Merry Men either as rival outlaws or allies. The GM could have Adam Bell and his gang compete with PCs in some fashion.

George-a-Green (of the Green)

George-a-Green lived in Wakefield, a small town near Sherwood Forest. Although mentioned in ballads of Robin Hood, he is a hero of his own set of tales outside the Robin Hood legends. As a youth, he was often in trouble with the law. He was placed at school under a surly tutor but ran away. When he grew up, Robin Hood, who was always on the lookout for spirits of this kind, secured him a place as one of the Merry Men. He served with Robin for some time until he commenced a small revolt against the local authorities, which was promptly put down.

He later became a Pindar, a town official whose duty is to watch over the livestock and protect the local crops. In some tales, he is referred to as the Jolly Pindar of Wakefield. His most famous deed was protecting Wakefield manor from Robin and his Merry Men. While acting as a Pindar, he challenged and defeated Robin, Little John and Will Scarlet in a duel over the town's property. Although they did fight, Robin Hood holds no grudges and still assists George-a-Green in some of his adventures. At best he is considered a semi-member of Robin's band. He will assist them in times of need; but only if it does not contradict his public duties as Pindar, which is to protect Wakefield. He knows most of the Merry Men personally since he adventured with them in the early part of his life. Others he has known since childhood such as Much the miller' son who also grew up in Wakefield.

George-a-Green is a jolly fun-loving man sporting a thick curly mop of hair and beard. He is in his late thirties and his hair is sprinkled with gray. He has some convictions and prefers to handle things on his own. But he is no fool; if he thinks he will need help he will ask. He enjoys a good laugh and rarely is still for long. As Wakefield's Pindar, he carries a sword, which he uses with great skill, and a yew bow. The GM can insert George-a-Green as either the PCs' ally or an opponent who later becomes a friend of the PCs.

The Merry Men

The Merry Men are not your average peasants. They are highly skilled middle-class yeomen who, due to chaotic social conditions of the times, took to the forest to protest the repressive regimes of greedy Barons and power hungry knights. Merry Men are comprised of tradesmen, potters, tanners, cobblers and farmers. Even though they are members of Robin's outlaw band, many still ply their trade with the locals. Due to their various talents, they are able to maintain a decent standard of living deep in the heart of Sherwood Forest. Things they cannot make or grow in the forest, they are able to barter for with the locals. After awhile some even return to their respective line of work as the village cobbler or tanner. The legends state that Robin Hood and his Merry Men are seven score strong. And despite modern tales, they lack horses. Horses are not mentioned in the old ballads. The reason for this is that horses are time-consuming to maintain, hard to hide, and expensive to feed in a dense forest with underbrush.

Merry Men are not just skilled craftsmen but hardy warriors. All carried a long bow that is used with great skill and most had a stout staff, which serves more as a deadly weapon than a walking stick. Most Merry Men have a history of disobedience (the reason why Robin Hood recruited them). The locals are sympathetic to their cause and situation. The following is a list of the more prominent Merry Men that have made their name into ballads and songs.

Arthur A'Bland

Nearly as tall and strong, but not as sharp, as Little John, Arthur A'Bland is Little John's cousin. He is a stocky muscular man with wide shoulders and a deep chest. His hair is dark and curly and he sports a rough black beard. A tanner by trade, he joined the Merry Men when he bested Robin Hood in a combat of staves. He carries a stout black staff and wears a hardened cowhide cap, which he tanned himself and which protects him as a helmet would. Despite his menacing appearance, Arthur is an easy-going, good-natured fellow.

David of Doncaster

Although withdrawn and quiet, he is popular with the locals and often acts as a spy for Robin Hood by venturing into villages to obtain information. David is one of the youngest members in the band. He is so young that he has yet to grow facial hair. He is a rather good-looking chap with corn blonde hair and deep blue eyes. Like most Merry Men, he is a craftsman, a cobbler by trade. An excellent shot with the long bow, he is one of the better archers in the group and partakes in nearly all of Robin's schemes. He is a valuable friend to Robin Hood.

Much

He goes by many different names such as Much, Midge, and even Nick. In the modern tales, Much is portrayed as a dim witted puny young man. This portrayal is inconsistent with the early ballads. In the early ballads, Much appears as the miller's young son and is a wily and dear friend of Robin Hood. He is generally mild mannered unless provoked, when he possesses a violent temper. He plays an integral part of most of Robin's adventures and schemes. One thing that has not changed through the ages is his portrayal as the youthful mascot of the band. He represents the little people that tyranny steps on. Much appears as a small energetic youth with dark features. He normally carries a short sword and longbow.

Sir Richard of Lee

Sir Richard is not one of the Merry Men but a sympathizer of the Merry Men's cause. Several times, he has given Robin and his Merry Men sanctuary in his castle during times of need. He is a respected knight who once fell heavily in debt to the local abbot. Robin caught him in the woods, listened to his sad tale and helped Sir Richard repay his debts. Ever since, Sir Richard has helped Robin and his Merry Men. He appears as a tall well-mannered knight and carries himself with pride and dignity. An honorable man, his word is his bond. His son, Walter, is currently Crusading in the Holy Lands. When not wearing chain mail, which he covers with a white embroidered robe, he wears a cotton shirt and leather embroidered doublets. His favorite weapon is his two-hand sword, which he uses with great skill.

The Tyrants

In the twelfth century, the King's authority only extended so far, and it was up to the local barons and knights to govern their lands as they see fit. They raised their own illegal taxes and hired men like the Sheriff of Nottingham to maintain their power on the lands. It was because of their repressive actions that middle class yeomen like Robin Hood and Little John rose up and took to the forest to combat their tyrannical regimes. The following are some of the tyrannical Barons and Knights that Robin Hood and his Merry Men faced.

Baron de Belame

Baron de Belame appears as a respected and upstanding Norman Noble with considerable wealth, which he gained by exploiting peasants and yeomen. He dresses, as one would expect a Baron to, in rich black tunics, ermine-tipped cloaks and fine leather boots with a lot of gold jewelry such as chains and rings. In appearance, he is gray haired, lean and often scowling. Abbot Hugo considers Baron de Belame an honorable person and often confers with him on his schemes against Robin Hood. A close cohort of De Belame is Sir Roger of Doncaster. Sir Roger has played a part in some of his more nefarious plots.

Unbeknownst to all, he dabbles in dark arts and is wicked. The locals call his residence, Belame Castle or the 'Evil Hold' and fear to tread near it citing strange incidents, which occur at night and during the summer solstices. Baron de Belame's one passion in life is power. It is his passion for power that drove him to the 'dark ways.' And it is Robin Hood who thwarts his plans time and time again. If the Abbot or the Sheriff ever found out about his 'nightly activities,' they would be very shocked and the Baron would be in trouble.

Baron de Belame is a relative new addition to the Robin Hood legends. In some stories he is an evil man with few moral values and in others he dabbles in dark magic. The statistics provided in the Table 1.1 are for the Baron as a magic user. If the GM does not want to have magic used in his campaign then simply make the Baron, a scholar with mystical knowledge of such mysteries as herb or potion lore to give him a 'magical feel.'

Sir Roger of Doncaster

Because of his violent and bullish behavior, Sir Roger of Doncaster is sometimes referred to as 'Red Roger.' He is a cruel and vile knight from Doncaster. Roger and David of Doncaster know each other well as they are from the same village. It was Sir Roger's malevolent reign over Doncaster that forced David to join Robin's Merry Men. He has dark features: tall, husky, strong, and sporting a stylish goatee. He often acts as a henchman for Baron de Belame and partakes in some of his nefarious plots. His ambitions are wealth (lots of it) and power. Robin has had several nasty run-ins with Sir Roger. In the ballads, Sir Roger badly injures Robin and on being taken to Kirklees Abbey for attention, is bled to death by the Prioress through a plot hatched by Prioress of Kirklees and Sir Roger.

Table of Outlaws, Merry Men and Tyrants

The tables below provide statistics for NPCs taken from the Outlaw legends. Some of the NPCs such as Baron de Belame are derived from modern interpretations of the Robin Hood legends. Others, such as Much the miller's statistics, are derived from the early interpretations. The Tyrants represent the villains in the legends whereas the Merry Men are the heroes of the Robin Hood tales. Those NPCs not listed above have been listed in the Robin Hood Campaign and are included here for quick reference.

The table lists not only the mentioned Tyrants in the article but also other villainous characters found in Robin Hood Campaign.

Table 1.1: The Tyrants of Robin Hood
Name Lvl MM Hits AT DB Shld Melee OB Notes
Baron de Belame 10 0 35 No 10 N 30sw 35da Noble, Evil Cleric. An evil Norman dealing in dark Magic. Wants to marry Maid Marian. True Power
Very tall man, +5 short sword. Various potions and scrolls of minor power (level 5 max). PP20. DS 85 BS 10. Knows 3 Open Channeling to 5th level and all Evil Cleric list to 10th level.
Sir Roger "the cruel" of Doncaster 9 15 113 Pl 25 Y 101sw 63cb Mercenary, Warrior. An Ally of Baron Simon and Abbot Hugo. Robin runs afoul of Sir Roger on several occasions.
Cruel knight. Plate amour, +5 long sword and war-horse.
Prince John 10 10 109 Pl 30 Y 111bs 121sp Noble, Warrior. Prince and acting Regent of England. Fate: John is destined to be King after Richard's death and signs the Magna Carta. Any alteration of this fate would drastically change history.
Selfish Prince of England. +10 Equipment.
Robert the Sheriff 9 10 65 CH 20 N 74ss 54cb Noble, Bard. Sheriff of Nottingham. Archenemy of Robin Hood.
+5 Chain Armor and sword.
Abbot Simon of Gresham 4 5 38 No 0 N 15qs --- Noble, Scholar. Brother of Robert the Sheriff. Scheming and shifty Abbot.
Sir Guy of Gisburne 7 15 78 CH 35 Y 93sw, 98ml, 48cb Mercenary, Warrior. Brash and arrogant knight.
Sword, chain armor, and war-horse. During tournaments he will wear plate armor.
Baron Richard of Blyde 7 5 79 CH 15 Y 68bs 55cb Noble, Warrior. Resides at Tickhill Castle, a crony of the Sheriff and supporter of Prince John. Hates Robin Hood.
Sword, chain armor, and crossbow. Is still energetic despite his age.
Map of Churchby 3 5 56 Sl 15 N 45bs 59lb Peasant, Warrior. Henchmen of the Sheriff also the King's Miller in Churchby. Good shot with the bow.
+10 Longbow finely made.
Malgar the Sergeant 3 0 62 Rl 25 Y 53sw 29cb Peasant. Warrior. The Sheriff's right hand man. Often very clumsy.
Sword, leather armor, and shield.

The table below lists the mentioned Merry Men as well as other prominent characters in the Robin Hood tales. Their character descriptions are provided in detail in Robin Hood Campaign.

Table 1.2: The Merry Men of Robin Hood
Name Lvl MM Hits AT DB Shld Melee OB Notes
Sir Richard of the Lee 8 15 97 CH 30 Y 76sw 86sp Noble, Warrior. A knight who is sympathetic to Robin and his Merry band. Dislikes Abbot Simon.
Knight of Lee, Sword, chain armor, and war-horse.
King Richard Loinheart 14 20 132 Pl 40 Y 123th 82lb Noble, Knight, King of England. Fate: Richard is destined to die in battle in France. Any alteration of this fate would drastically change history.
King of England. +15 equipment.
Much 3 5 60 Sl 25 N 35bs 56lb Peasant, Warrior. A simple Fyrdman and friend of Robin from his pre-outlaw days.
One of Robin Hood's Merry Men. Broadsword, longbow, leather armor.
Little John 7 10 136 Sl 15 N 103qs, 80lb, 35ro Apprentice, Ranger. Companion of Robin Hood. Hardy, Throw Rock.
+5 Shepherd's staff. This quarterstaff is in the form of a crook and can be used for an additional Grab/Grapple maneuver.
Alan a Dale 7 10 66 Sl 20 N 65bs 47lb Apprentice, Bard. Semi-member of the Merry Men. Moody. Ability
A moody mysterious man of many talents. Knows Disguise 64, Pick lock 22, Trickery 55, Underworld 50, Music 45, Gambling 20, Legends of England Lore 25, Magic Symbol Lore 20.
Arthur A'Bland 6 10 88 Sl 20 N 76st 74lb Apprentice, Warrior. A tanner by trade. A cousin of Little John and a valiant member of the Merry Men. Hardy
He carries a stout staff and wears a cowhide cap, which provides +5 DB and acts as a helmet but without restrictions.
David of Doncaster 5 15 76 Sl 25 N 66sw 78lb Apprentice, Rogue. A cobbler by trade. Young member of the Merry Men. A trusted friend of Robin and John.
He carries a +5 sword.
Will Scarlet 9 15 125 Rl 20 N 108bs+75da, 87lb Mercenary, Rogue. Former Mercenary and friend of Robin. Ambidextrous, Lightening Reactions.
+5 Broadsword.
Friar Tuck 9 10 77 No 15 +5Y 50ss 30sb Monk, Animist. Once under the direction of the Abbot Simon. Unorthodox Monk.
Trusted advisor. Wears a helmet and carries a +5 round shield and short sword. Knows First Aid 77, Pagan Lore 15, Herb Lore 25, Perception 78 and numerous languages.
Robin Hood (of Loxley) 12 25 96 Rl 50 N 100bs 130lb Noble, Ranger. Leader of the Merry Men. Sixth Sense, Charisma, and Supernatural Archery.
+20 Long Bow of Green Wood, this enchanted bow has the following powers; fumbles only on 01, fires 3 times every two rounds, and has twice the range. +5 Broadsword.
Maid Marion 8 20 48 Sl 20 N 48qs 67sb Apprentice, Thief. Robin Hood's love to be. Numerous suitors. Nimbleness.
+5 Short bow from her father's heirloom.

The tables below provide game statistics on the other outlaws that fall outside the Robin Hood tales. The Green Man is also included. He is a mystical being representing the forces of nature. The statistics are taken from the Robin Hood Campaign with a few modifications.

Table 1.3: Other Outlaws of Robin Hood
Name Lvl MM Hits AT DB Shld Melee OB Notes
Eustace the Monk 9 15 77 Rl 25 N 64sw, 56lb Monk, Conjurer. A wily trickster Outlaw and pirate who studied the magic arts in Toledo, Spain. A man of disguises. Charisma, True Power
+10 Sword (family heirloom). One or two scrolls of minor power (level 5 max). PP27. DS 65 BS 9. Knows the following Spell Lists; Weather Ways, Sound & Light Ways, Calm Spirits, Curses, and Concussion's Way to 9th level. Knows Acting 55, Herb Lore 30, Magic Symbols 35, Rune Craft 15, Sailing 35, Military Tactics 35 and Disguise 45.
Hainfrois 5 10 72 CH 25 Y 63sw 52cb Noble, Warrior. Knight of Hersinguehans. A rival of Eustace and murderer of Eustace's father. Works for the Count.
Sword and horse.
Count Renaud 7 5 50 Sl 25 N 55ss 40da Noble, Scholar. Rich Count of Boulogne. Chief Antagonist of Eustace the Monk. Possesses a lot of men and money. Tyrant.
Knows several languages and lore.
Adam Bell 10 25 89 Rl 25 N 77qs 86lb Apprentice, Ranger. Oldest and leader of the outlaw band. A fair and just man. Nimbleness
Staff, +5 longbow, and rigid armor. Foraging 35, Tracking 60.
Clim of Clough 7 15 102 Rl 20 N 83ss 78lb Peasant, Rogue. Hates Normans. Often performs trickery for the band such as disguises and acting. Hardy
+5 Short sword. Disguise 35, Trickery 45.
William of Cloudesley 8 20 77 Rl 25 N 74ss 97lb Apprentice, Ranger. Hot headed and loves his wife Alice dearly.
William carries a short sword and a great longbow +10.
George-A-Green 8 25 87 Rl 25 N 81bs 75lb Peasant, Rogue. The Jolly Pindar of Wakefield; a semi-member of Merry Men. A hero with his own tales. Nimbleness
George carries a broadsword +5 and a long bow.
The Green Man 25 60 125 Rl 75 N 75qs 125Lb Ancient Forest Spirit. Skin is green. Immortal, Lore, Strength of Spirit, Resist Elements, Merging, Ward of the Greenwood, Healing Plants & Animals, and Large Creature Critical.
Ancient legendary being with the power to control plants. +20 Staff (Old Stave) A simple gray willow staff, it is also a x3PP. The staff enables the wielder to communicate with any plant (with a range equal to 1'/level of the wielder). The plant will respond according to its gift of spirit, but the wielder can always ascertain the exact nature of the plant and its feelings. +20 Magical Long Bow (Green Bow) makes no sound when fired, fires every round, and only fumbles on a roll of 01. Neither the bow nor its bowstring will warp or break. Pouch of Herbs contains an unlimited amount of various herbs. The coat and clothing act as rigid leather and provides extra protection. PP50x3, DS80, BS25, knows all Animist spell lists to 25th level, knows all Open & Closed Channeling to 15th level, and knows Repulsions, Inner Walls, Far Voice, Starlights, and Starsense to 10th level.

Bibliography

Staplehurst, Graham. Robin Hood Campaign. Charlottesville, VA: Iron Crown Enterprises, 1987.

Charlton, S. Coleman, et al. Middle-Earth Role-Playing, Second Edition. Charlottesville, VA: Iron Crown Enterprises, 1994.

Roberson, Jennifer, Lady of the Forest, Kensington Publishing Corp, New York, 1992.

Knight, Stephen and Ohlgren, Thomas H., Robin Hood and Other Outlaws Tales, Michigan, Western Michigan University, 1997.

Holt, J.C., Robin Hood, New York, Thames and Hudson Inc., University of Cambridge, 1982.

Godwin, Parke, Sherwood, William Morrow and Company, New York, 1991.

McSpadden, J. Walker, Stories Of Robin Hood And His Merry Outlaws, Project Gutenberg, 1904.

Gilbert,Henry, Robin Hood, Kellscraft Studio, 1912.

Pyle, Howard, Robin Hood and His Merry Band, Penguin Publications Company, New York, 2001 ed.

Keen, Maurice, The Outlaws of Medieval Legend, Dorset Press, New York, 1989.


[1] Original material copyright © 2004 by Daniel M. Myers. Rolemaster(TM) and its component parts, including Robin Hood Campaign, are the property of Iron Crown Enterprises. Fantasy Hero(TM) and its component parts are the property of Hero Games. Both are used by the author in the context of producing a role-playing game supplement.