The Freeborn themselves are the Vardari – the people of the many vardos (house) of Antarean space. Each household comprises a vast fleet that plies its trade between groups of worlds. The ownership of these trade routes is in part hereditary and the source of every Vardo’s wealth. When routes become contested, rival Freeborn will go to war, as happened between the Oszon Mercantile League and Ky’am Freetraders. Feuds between the Vardari are deeply felt family affairs and matters of honour. Feuds can last for generations and are rarely forgotten even after hundreds of years have passed.
Relationships between the households are complex and are often settled by intermarriage between ruling families and political arrangements made between one vardo and another. Given the dispersed nature of the houses, a ship captain is an important figure, often the head of a family, or doma, as well as being in command of a ship. However, there is a huge variety in social structures, customs, technology, trading approach across all the houses and, frequently, even within a house amongst its different domas.
The Freeborn don’t just deal in commodities and knowledge, they also deal in human services, including those of mercenary fighters. These mercenary soldiers are recruited, trained and equipped by the Freeborn from amongst the more primitive worlds of the Determinate and the Spill. When a Vardo goes to war its forces are made up of both Vardari and mercenary troops.
Freeborn have access to all the weapons and armour of Antarean space, but, with an eye to cost and practicality, tend to favour Mag Guns and Reflex Shielding as basic, field-hardy equipment. Amongst the ruling family and their close relatives anything goes, from expensively re-sharded Isorian phase armour to compression carbines and all manner of alien exotica. Their guard troops – the vardanari – are normally equipped with plasma carbines.
The logo or badge most associated with the Freeborn is not that of the Freeborn as a whole but of House Oszon. The Oszoni are one of the most powerful, influential and widely spread of all the Freeborn Houses, so it is not surprising that in some aeras their badge is seen as synonymous with the Freeborn. The reality is that every, fiercely independent, house has its own badge or logo.
See Rulebook, p.232ff. Free Online Army Lists are available from this central Nexus article.
The vardari use whatever equipment they can manufacture or obtain in a cost-effective fashion. Their equipment, then, depends on where they trade the most, houses like Oszon and Delhren being biased towards Concord designs.
The nexus contains a two-part article on the weapons of the Freeborn.
Not yet available: Feral Tamalair
Not yet available: Meld Skark – M50 Type Heavy Combat Drone
Weapon Sprues (all in store)
How do the Freeborn play?
As might be expected from a list for interstellar traders, the Freeborn have a wide variety of troops, some excellent, some less so. Their command squads have exceptional options, whilst their vardanari (guard) are equipped with plasma carbines. Whilst both have reflex armour, they also have impact cloaks to help in hand to hand. Similarly, the Freeborn Striker skimmer, transport and combat drones match any of the other factions.
However, the other infantry are variable, being either lighter versions of, say, Algoryn AI in the form of Freeborn Domari, or Ferals conscripted from backward planets. Sometimes the ferals must be implanted with soma grafts to suppress their natural instincts: whilst they are light troops, they can be very fierce. They can be supported by misgenics – humans or creatures who have been altered by the NuHu genetic experiments.
And talking of the NuHu, the Freeborn’s are possibly the most powerful in Antarean space, experimenting with their own combat meld. Whilst powerful, this blends the minds and individual shards of the NuHu involved so can be dangerous for the survivor if one or the other is killed.
If that sounds mixed, it becauses it probably is: in keeping with their flavour, a Freeborn army is highly varied and requires subtlety and finesse. Whilst they have similar options to other lists (including feral beasts!), they are typically a lighter equipped force, requiring the right components at the right time.
The options make for extremely interesting and customised play. As a result, the natural tendency for many Freeborn players is to make up their own Freeborn house with its own background: the Delhren of Prince Batu being one such (their symbol is to the right) and which were introduced into the supplement The Chryseis Shard!