- "Incredible! We stood quietly robbing carts while two armies were engaged in a scrapping, happily, a child's play, when we came face to face with a bunch of halflings walking away from the scene of hostilities. Easy prey we thought. This was my first mistake..."
- —Ricco, the leader of a band of robbers captured at the Battle of Dunroamin[1a]
Lumpin Croop's Fighting Cocks are a famous band of Dogs of War mercenaries that hail from the peaceful and agricultural farmlands of the Moot, the homeland of the Halfling race. Halflings are generally thought of as peaceful, well meaning, honest and sociable people, slow to anger and distainful of violence. This, at least, is the common view, and it is a view readily encouraged by the sight of rosy cheeked, well-fed Halfling faces and broad Halfling smiles. Such are nature's gifts to that race, and the bountiful lands they occupy within the Empire of Man.[1a]
However, even amongst this tolerant and easy-going people, there is the odd proverbial rotten apple that spoils an otherwise toothsome batch. In this case, the rotten apple goes by the name of Lumpin Croop and the batch in question is known as Lumpin Croop's Fighting Cocks. Extraordinary trackers and excellent marksmen, this band of Halfling game-wardens and hunters have fought many battles under Lumpins leadership, using their expert tracking skills to lead their allies through thick wilderness to ambush enemy armies without being notice.[1a]
Lumpin Croop himself was a former thief and poacher before he became a mercenary, using his skills of stealth and tracking to mold the Fighting Cocks into what they are today. Ever since then, Lumpin had shown great compassion towards his fellow Halflings, staying up for hours to create an ingenious plan that would hopefully bring him and his company victory upon the battlefield.[1a]
- "Ye World Renown.....HALFLING FIGHTING COCKS.....Expert Marksmen....Trackers and Woodsmen.....Baggage train guarding a speciality....Ask for Lumpin at the sign of the Fat Pig!"
- —An employment sign for Lumpin Croop's Fighting Cocks[1a]
Lumpin Croop was born in the northern Moot, in a backwater village, on the wrong side of the river. His mother was the blacksmith's daughter and his father an itinerant carrot salesmen. Unfortunately, Lumpin's father chocked to death on a horseshoe sometime before he was born, making the young Halfling's childhood a rather unpleasant experience. His grandparents resented and disliked him, and could never forgive their daughter for her unwise liaison to such a lowlife carrot salesmen.[1a]
Lumpin's bright orange hair was a painful reminder of his parentage. Young Lumpin was forced to work long hours in the family forge. His grandfather set him to arduous and demeaning tasks such as poking the fire and straightening horseshoes. His mother suffered greatly from the unremitting disapproval of her parents. She became so distraught and that she began to take up drinking. Not surprisingly, Lumpin ran away from home as soon as he could. By this time he had already fallen into a life of pick-pocket and a con man.[1a]
These were talents doubtlessly inherited from his father along with his passion for root vegetables. In time, Lumpin Croop became an illegal poacher. His extraordinarily acute night vision proved a great advantage on dark moonless evenings, eventually learning to support himself from the surrounding farms and gaming estates. This was an annoyance to the many gamekeepers who found their game stocks and reputations plummeting fast.[1a]
One day, Lumpin happened to visit the Old Pig and Bucket, a shady hostelry in the otherwise attractive village of Beggar's End. The inn's landlord, Raggo Barrelgut, had been an eager buyer of poached rabbits in the past. On this occasion, however, rabbit pie was noticeably absent from the menu. Instead, the bar was brimming with a mob of angry gamekeepers led by the notoriously crazed Ned Hamfist. The gamekeepers were all armed with cudgels and surrounded poor Raggo, who was hiding in the corner looking embarrassed and a bit frightened.[1a]
Anticipating a sound beating, Lumpin immediately launched into a long and complicated story. Once he had begun, he soon found himself spinning a yarn of excitement, treasure and vast banquets waiting to be had in the lands over the mountains. The gamekeepers were taken aback by the young poacher's tale and soon put all thoughts of vengeance aside. Eagerly, they found themselves signing up to join Lumpin in his bright and exciting quest to the lands of Tilea. Ned Hamfist bought drinks to toast their bold venture and some bright spark came up with a name for their band - Lumpin Croop's Fighting Cocks.[1a]
From that day onward, Lumpin had tried hard to give the Fighting Cocks the slip. However, the gamekeepers are even better trackers then even Lumpin and have always manage to find him and insist that he take them along on his adventure. Lumpin's regular attempts to escape are thought to be "training exercises" by his fellow admirers. Similarly, his efforts to misdirect the Fighting Cocks away from Tilea and any chance of fighting are considered to be "initiative tests". Unfortunately for Lumpin, the Fighting Cocks are extraordinarily good at direction finding, being experts at navigating their way around quietly in the dark. Their faith in Lumpin and their belief in his adventure is almost unshakable.[1a]
The truth is that the Fighting Cocks are really rather good. All of the "training exercises" and "initiative tests" have honed their natural skills to a point where they are expert trackers and woodsmen. Their marksmanship is, as you would expect, second to none. Their woodsman's clothing and pelt-caps adorned with feathers are memorable to say the least.[1a]
Thanks to several remarkable battles, the Fighting Cocks have acquired a well-deserved reputation, and their services are now in great demand. On one occasion, Lumpin was credited with saving an entire army from the brink of slaughter. An enemy force had worked its way behind the army's lines and was preparing to launch a devastating attack. At the same moment, Lumpin happened to be leading the Fighting Cocks directly away from the sound of the fighting. Unknown to him, his route was taking the Halflings straight towards the encircling enemy. In the ensuing clash, the Fighting Cocks fought with great enthusiasm and the enemy was soon scattered. Everyone was very impressed by Lumpin's foresight; not least Lumpin himself, and soon the Fighting Cocks were showered with offers of employment.[1a]
Indeed, money has started to flow into the band's coffers, and Lumpin's impromptu tale of fame and riches is starting to come true. His troops believe in him utterly and takes great pride in their leader's growing reputation. Lumpin himself is learning to live with his sudden change of fortune. He is becoming unexpectedly fond of the Fighting Cocks. Such is his dedication that even on the eve of battle, he can be found in his tent working hard at devising new training exercises, hoping to ensure that his lads will be able to survive the battles to come.[1a]