There's been a lot of talk lately about Mount & Blade on these forums in various threads, and since I've been on a romb again playing the game like crazy these past few weeks, I thought it could be to do a little writeup about the game and the mods that I personally find to be the best currently so that newcomers to the game see what the game is all about, and how many wonderfull options one have when playing the game.
I forgot about Companions : besides the million different troops in the game, you also get to hire companions, which are basically heroes you level up as you level up yourself, assigning skill points and selecting and buying equipment, weapons, and horses for.
The Sieges are some of the most fun I've ever had in games - Once you tried to withstand 1200 men with your silly 200 from a castle and actually win the day due to tactics and good men and high walls, you'll never be the same again ;-)
Basically, the meat of the game is the battles, where you can fight as European armies, desert raiders, in towns, sieges, plains, deserts, during snow blizzards, desert storms where you cant see a anything ahead of you just hear the screams of battle, and in any way you choose - Sword, shield, lance, bow, crossbow, even sickles!
About the game itself. M&B Warband is a sandbox world simulator, where various factions vie for control of the lands. They each have lords that leads armies, and castles and towns with villagers attached to them. As a player you have the freedom of the world in that you are free to do anything you want, within the scope of the game. That means, you can roam the lands, killing everyone you meet if you so wish..or try - the lords will usually make mincemeat of you at first. You can also join a kingdom as a mercenary company, getting pay each week, or even join the faction as a Lord of the Realm, once the king / Faction leader trusts you enough. The final option is to become king yourself - either for an existing faction, or make up your own kingdom! A select few mods even lets you fight as a common soldier in the armies of the lords, rising in the ranks through experience (Freelancer mod).
You can build a merchant empire, trading all over the world to make money as well, but few choose to do that. Most new mods also allow for ships, letting you become a Pirate.
Floris Mod Pack: Floris is a mod pack that is basically a compilation of many, many MANY mods, allowing you a great deal of choices. There are more different troops, more diplomacy as a lord, and of course a lot of minor changes like the Tournaments are changed quite a bit. Personally, after playing it a few days I find it a bit soulles - Lots of options, but its basically the native game, with a few more options.
Prophecy of Pendor : This is my favorite mod, as some of you may already know ;-) Its basically a complete overhaul of all the factions and its troops, the world and a TON of new stuff. Its does contain fantasy elements that may put off some, like Noldor (Elves) that roam a giant forest and amazing archers. Demons roam the land in packs, as does witches (no magic, though) and gods occasionally give you a gift or voice their concerns.
That said, it has Knighthoods for each faction, that you can upgrade and train, and even become a part of, hell, the new patch coming soon will allow you to create your own knighthood! Knights are very expensive units but very lethal.
What I really like is the tight focus the mod have, letting all the different addons play together to create the mods, and not just add options because they can, but because it gives the player real choices - Choices are important! My ultimate goal is always to reunite the world under the Pendor faction, the old kingdom that all the above were part of once.
Brytenwalda : Brytenwalda is...really unique - its the single biggest and most comphrehensive mod I've ever seen for a game. Again, its a total conversion to the dark ages Brittania, right after the fall of the Roman Empirewith a LOT of small factions vying for control over the lands, different religions competing. One of the most unique things about the game, is that horses are very rare, and bows are quite poor, making it a VERY different experience than other M&B mods. You rely on infantry, throwing weapons, and skill to make the day. You can also become a Bard in this mod, as well as a pirate if you so choose, although there isn't much to do as it.
It does have a TON of random going on's, special locations (Ancient Roman ruins) and a real sense of history that permades everything in the mod. Its easy to see this is a real labor of love for the team, and also one that a LOT of research has gone into.
Sword of Damocles : Unfortuantely this mod isnt anywhere near done, but its still quite fun. The basic idea is that in 400 days a major invasion will take place, and you need to unite the world before that, or perish in the onslaught. It also has some unique ideas in it that I really like.
There are many, many more, like Clash of Kings which is a Game of Thrones mod that is actually quite good, but I'll leave the rest for now - The above should be enough for 2-300 hours of fun ;-)
Feel free to add to the post, or comment as you please - I just thought I'd give a helping hand to those that were interested in trying out the game :-)