It's just as important to know how to make money in Mount & Blade 2: Bannerlord as it is to throw a javelin through a dude's head while riding horseback. If you have dreams of commanding an army and leading a kingdom, the size of your bank matters as much as the sharpness of your sword.
Success on the battlefield begins with recruiting soldiers, and those soldiers need to be paid wages—and it costs even more to promote them. Hiring companions begins with paying off their debts, often hefty sums that can climb to the thousands. Gear, supplies, food, horses, pack animals, bribes, getting hitched: these all cost money.
It's a challenge to keep the denars coming in faster than they go out. So here are some tips on how to make some serious Bannerlord money, starting with the basics to help you earn a few extra medieval bucks when you're starting out and working toward a long-term, sustainable income.
My top tips to help you make money in Bannerlord
Hunt looters and bandits
Hunting small packs of looters and bandits across the map is your starting point for making money with your sword. These scruffy peasants don't have much loot, but after defeating them you can sell their basic weapons and gear in towns and cities for a few denars. You can also ransom the characters you capture (more on that below).
Be mindful of trade rumors
Trading goods isn't the most exciting activity, but it's not a bad way to make a few bucks when you're just starting out. Visit a town or city and enter the trade or buy products menu to see what a vendor is selling. Make sure you look at the trade rumors about the item's price in other locations, too—hover your mouse over an item to see the rumor.
At first you won't be able to transport many goods at once until you've earned enough to buy some additional horses and pack animals, but there's still decent profits to be made anytime you buy low and sell high.
In addition to consumables like grain, butter, beer, and others, you should familiarise yourself with the different types of horses and how much they sell for in different regions. The menu won't show trade rumors for horses, but once you've visited a few different towns you'll get an idea of what a good price is, and know when you can buy for a bargain and sell for a big profit.
Back your combat prowess in tournaments
If you're confident in your fighting ability, entering a tournament in a city is a good way to make some cash. Bet the maximum on yourself—just be sure to win. Tournaments aren't always happening, but you can speak to the tournament manager in the arena to find out which cities are currently hosting them. Remember, you don't get to choose your weapons in a tournament, so you may wind up fighting with something you don't have much skill against yet. I'm not suggesting you save scum, but it's an option.
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Bannerlord tips: Our full beginner's guide
Bannerlord difficulty: Which to choose
Bannerlord mods: The best player-made additions
Bannerlord marriage: How to start a family
Bannerlord combat: Battle and 1v1 tips
Bannerlord factions: Which should you choose?
Bannerlord workshop: Make easy money
Bannerlord caravan: How best to trade
Ridding a city of thugs is a multi-step process: It can be challenging, and you may want to wait until you've hired a companion from a tavern and have a handful of dependable soldiers before you try it, but it's a great money maker.
Enter a city and walk around. Head to locations labeled Clearing, Waterfront, and Back Alley (holding the Alt key will bring up a city's labeled areas while you're walking through it). There you'll find a handful of thugs, and a quick conversation will allow you to fight them. Make sure you've equipped a good civilian weapon in your inventory—these thugs are no joke.
If you defeat the first batch of thugs, you'll get the attention of their leader, and after a bit of waiting you'll enter a second bout of combat with a few of your soldiers. Defeat the second gang of thugs and you'll gain a nice amount of loot to sell, often including some valuable crafting resources.
In most towns and cities you'll find a radiant quest or two—NPCs with a quest will be labeled with an exclamation point. The best quests for making money are:
- Poacher quests: Nets you extra resources.
- Caravan escort quests: Follow and protect a caravan as it travels. Expect a fight.
- Smuggling quests: Nice payoff, but you run the risk of being caught and you'll lose some goodwill with the town in which your crime takes place.
After a battle (except for thug battles, unfortunately) you'll likely end up looking after a few prisoners—the bigger the battle, the more captives you'll take with you. If you keep them in your party for a while there's a chance they'll escape, so it's best to head to a city directly after a battle and sell them.
Visit the tavern district and you can sell your prisoners for cash. Looters, bandits, and other generic prisoners won't net you a whole lot of money—sometimes just a few bucks. Specialized soldiers fetch more, and named prisoners sell for thousands, depending on how noteworthy they are.
Follow a big army around
One of the most profitable things to do is attach yourself to a massive army, follow it around, and take part in the battles they fight. Pledge your service to a king or other powerful leader and you'll find yourself amid tremendous battles that will leave you with tons of loot and lots of prisoners. Make sure the army you follow is large enough to guarantee you're on the winning side.
Think twice before raiding
Raiding isn't quite as profitable as it was in earlier M&B games: there's not a huge payoff of goods, plus reinforcements may be sent from the city protecting the town you're raiding, which makes things even riskier. It could cause you lots of trouble in the future, too, as you'll make a lot of long-lasting enemies in your targeted region.
Smelt weapons into raw materials to sell
When you visit a smithy inside a city, you can smelt weapons and tools into raw components. You can use these components to craft new weapons to sell, naturally, but you can also sell those base materials and make some quick cash.
Invest in your own workshop
Once you've accumulated about 13,000 denars, you should think about buying a workshop. You'll find them by walking around in cities. If you hold down Alt you'll see icons for pottery shops, breweries, wood workshops, silversmiths, and other businesses you can buy. They can be purchased by talking to one of the workers inside, and when you buy a shop you can instantly convert it to whatever kind of business you want.
If you buy a workshop and notice it isn't profitable within a couple of weeks, you can change its shop type by for another 2,000 denars—enter your Clan menu, choose the Other tab, and select 'Change Production.'
Caravans are expensive, too: they cost 15,000 denars, which you can do by speaking to any merchant in a city. You'll also need a companion you can assign to the caravan, and they'll have to leave your party, so keep that in mind.
Caravans take longer than workshops to show a profit, though after a few weeks they'll be bringing in considerably more than a workshop does. There's a lot of risk, though, because they're out roaming around the world, susceptible to ambush. I've had an entire caravan wiped out and my companion taken prisoner before. They eventually escaped to a town and was able to rejoin my party, in case you were wondering.