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In Eberron during "The Last War" House Deneith, like all dragonmarked houses, remained neutral and sold their services to the highest bidders. But as mercenaries/soldiers this could lead to some unique problems.

One of which is: what would happen if two opposing countries both had House Deneith soldiers they'd hired opposing each other on the same battlefield? Would the House Deneith mercenaries fight their kindred on the opposite side or did they have some contractual limitations to their services that excluded such a possibility?

Was this situation ever addressed in any official material?

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Dragonmarked, a supplement dedicated to the Dragonmarked Houses, lacks any information on this issue.

The Forge of War, an adventure written during the Last War, brings this issue up at the outset of its House Deneith section:

After the outbreak of war among the Five Nations, House Deneith was thrust into a precarious situation: Its services were more in demand than ever, but it could not provide those services to all that desired them without sending mercenaries to fight each other. Taken to an extreme, the Last War could have evolved into a conflict fought entirely by opposing groups of Deneith mercenaries. Even in the absence of that extreme case, House Deneith was hard-pressed to avoid the same kind of schism that tore House Phiarlan into two houses.

But later describes only minimal precautions against it:

By unwritten code, Deneith forces did not engage other Deneith forces on the battlefield, and at least three minor battles during the war ended with only small groups of Deneith mercenaries left on both sides of the conflict.

This appears to be all there is available on the matter.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ That’s curiously less extreme than what Swiss hired armies did: Switzerland would simply refuse to hire them out if the opposing side had also hired Swiss armies in a kind of first-come-first-served scheme. \$\endgroup\$ – David Foerster Sep 7 '18 at 13:49
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They had an 'unwritten policy' that Deneith Mercs wouldn't fight each other

From The Forge of War...

The problem is brought up here (p66):

After the outbreak of war among the Five Nations, House Deneith was thrust into a precarious situation: Its services were more in demand than ever, but it could not provide those services to all that desired them without sending mercenaries to fight each other. Taken to an extreme, the Last War could have evolved into a conflict fought entirely by opposing groups of Deneith mercenaries.

And the 'resolution' is stated here (p67)

Deneith commanders serving with national armies stayed willfully ignorant of the larger plans of the allied forces as well as any movement of Deneith forces on opposing sides. By unwritten code, Deneith forces did not engage other Deneith forces on the battlefield, and at least three minor battles during the war ended with only small groups of Deneith mercenaries left on both sides of the conflict.

In short, Deneith commanders would avoid strategy meetings and not stay in contact with one another to avoid 'peeking' at what their opponents were up to...but Deneith Mercenaries simply wouldn't fight one another.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ 1st, I find the 2nd part hilarious but for your last paragraph do you have a source for that as well or is that inferred? \$\endgroup\$ – Ben-Jamin Sep 6 '18 at 12:44
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    \$\begingroup\$ It is not a direct, precise quote...but the second quote I posted is in the context of "How Deneith maintained their neutrality, despite having soldiers on all sides of the war" and stated that one of the ways is that they "stayed willfully ignorant of the larger plans of allied forces, as well as any movement of Deneith forces on opposing sides." It's not a stretch at all to put together that they did so to maintain their neutrality (and thus trustworthiness). After all, if you thought your hired Mercs might be spying on you to feed intel to other Mercs from the same band... \$\endgroup\$ – guildsbounty Sep 6 '18 at 14:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ I saw your sourcing for the 1st 2 points and I wasn't being critical of your last point just curious. \$\endgroup\$ – Ben-Jamin Sep 6 '18 at 20:42

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