Until the inevitable decline following their Pyrrhic victory against the Cosmarchy of the Naga, the armies of the Arameian Empire were both famed and feared for their discipline and ruthlessness in their service to their Emperor. The reforms of a half-dozen emperors during the birth pangs of the Empire crafted the disparate populace of Aram and the conquered territories into a single, well-organized and well-drilled fighting force. Against the scattered tribes and barbarians, the disciplined ranks of spear, sword, and shield could crush and grind their enemies to pulp even if their leaders failed to gain supremacy by manoeuvre and clever feints. Ultimately, however, the cost of maintaining an immense central army (and without the additional conquest to secure plunder) was the downfall of the Arameian Empire. Discipline and manoeuvres faded; the soldiers becoming little more than ill-paid shadows of the warriors who’d cut an empire from the chaos of the outlands.
When the Empire began splintering into the seven kingdoms, the soldiers either threw in their lot with the local nobles or marched with the increasingly weak minded Emperors on vain attempts to reunite the empire. Most noblemen nowadays maintain a collection of men-at-arms and knights to guard their fortresses and lands during times of peace. During times of war, they are compelled to raise armies from their serfs to support their lieges in battle. The quality of these soldiers varies greatly from one fief to the next and even more over the seven kingdoms. The northern kingdoms, for example, are known to consider war merely another tool of politics and constantly skirmish with their neighbours. No firstborn worth his armour receives his own fief without proving himself brave, cunning, and lucky on the field of battle. His house guards are frequently veteran retainers who’ve fought with their families for generation after generation.
The southern fiefs, in contrast, are far more rich and peaceful owing to plentiful land for agriculture. They alone maintain a standing kingdom-wide army in the tradition of the old Empire, the troops usually drawn from amongst their most loyal supporters. Military forces aren’t the only soldiers the nobles of Adylheim employ. Most, recognizing the importance of trade and general safety, maintain a sort of police responsible for keeping safe the highways and forests of their lands. In addition to their sworn duties to their lords, the rangers usually maintain the handful of small armouries designed to equip militia during times of trouble. On one hand, they offer a measure of professionalism and discipline among the famously unreliable peasant levies. On the other, they ensure that the armouries are not turned on the lords should the serfs grow particularly restless.
Specialists are particularly hard to find, and the more powerful nobles are more than willing to spend their precious wealth keeping the service of skilled individuals. Siege engineers, for example, are considered worth their weight in gold and frequently assigned ‘special bodyguards’ to ensure they don’t defect to a wealthier client. The southland armies are particularly notable for their willingness to employ groups of well-paid mercenaries to fight their wars and conflict.
Mages rarely part from their studies to indulge in such loud and messy behaviour as warfare, but when they throw their lot behind a nobleman his enemies are quick to take note. Immense resources including small armies of assassins have, in the past, been used to silence troublesome mages who’ve ventured out of their ivory towers to attempt to meddle with politics and warfare.
Only the four kingdoms bordering the Great Sea maintain navies of note though the other kingdoms (Nerin in particular) maintain fleets of river-going vessels. Due to their cost and upkeep, true warships are almost entirely the domain of the rulers of each kingdom. Teslan and Andragoria, in particular, are famous for commissioning immense warships sporting all manner of siege weaponry, hundreds of soldiers, and a small cadre of mages used to control and manoeuvre entire fleets of smaller warships. Noblemen and traders, however, frequently commission guard ships and privateers to protect their convoys or (more secretly) raid their rivals.
A Sampling of ForcesEdit
Second Army: Wind of HeavenEdit
Commander: Zho Tzuwu. Bald monk of Therium, one of the few High Mages known to serve a liege. He’s an accomplished scrier and adept at summoning storms and mists to confuse his foes. General Zho is considered one of Andragoria’s best commanders having lead several successful lightning campaigns against a number of foes.
Force Breakdown: (1,000 soldiers)
- 150 Heavy Cavalry. Andragorian horseman are generally lighter armed than their northern counterparts, fighting more like cataphracts than knights.
- 100 Horse Archers.
- 50 Light Cavalry. Used primarily for scouting.
- 500 Spearmen. Armed with spear, sword, small shield, and medium armour.
- 200 Archers. Mixture of composite bows and crossbows.
Background: The Armies of Andragoria are famous for being well-drilled and well-trained, but they largely lack the experience that makes the armies of their northern neighbours so feared. The Second Army is an exception to this rule. Zho Tzuwu, a close confidant of the current Duke, uses the Second Army as a mobile reserve, striking at foes who dare to threaten the chain of border-forts. He uses his infantry (and, particularly, the high number of missile troops) as an anvil whist encircling and harassing his opponents with his cavalry.
Lord Rhutherton’s LevyEdit
Commander: Lord Rhutherton is a moderately powerful nobleman whose fief lies on the very border of the Old Woods. At the age of twenty seven, he’s a veteran campaigner who’s campaigned against domestic and foreign enemies alike.
Force Breakdown: (250 soldiers)
- 15 Knights.
- 50 Men-At-Arms.
- 25 Rangers. Armed with bows and light armour.
- 170 serfs. Badly armed and armoured.
Background: Lord Rhutherton is a typical example of the type of force a typical Arameian nobleman can raise during times of dire need. There is little cohesion among the various social classes during battle, each group splitting up to fight with their peers in a single, mass formation.
Erik Bjorsten’s Frozen GuardEdit
Commander: Erik Bjorsten holds a large fiefdom on the northern borders of the Archduchy of Starkwater. His neighbors consider him a consummate general and ferocious warrior despite his advanced age (nearly fifty years of age). He lost his eye during a battle against a tribe of barbarians attempting to invade from the north but, in the same battle, claimed the heads of five chieftains in single combat.
Force Breakdown: (200 soldiers)
- 50 Huscarls. Heavily armed and armoured charged with the defence of Erik and his castle. While they mainly fight on foot, they are also familiar with mounted combat.
- 100 Men-at-arms.
- 10 Rangers.
- 40 Archers.
Background: Erik Bjorsten, as one of the northernmost lords of Starkwater, protects the heartland against the wild barbarian tribes in the Northern Wastes. His Frozen Guard wears grey clothing and blue cloaks with the sigil of their homeland: the snarling wolf. Mounted combat is difficult and largely pointless in the valleys and mountains of the north. Instead, the Frozen Guard puts great emphasis on personal skill and ferocity. Stories of a handful of men standing against long odds in a snowy pass are common.
Commander: Sea-Lord Brian Tsugen commands the Home Fleet from the deck of the pride and joy of the Teslan navy. Chosen from amongst the younger sons close relatives of the Duke, the Admiral holds no fief of land. He instead guards (and taxes) the seas surrounding the capitol of Salen.
Force Breakdown: (200 soldiers)
- 50 Marines.
- 50 Archers.
- 20 Artillerymen.
- 80 Sailors.
Background: Sea-Lord Tsugen commands the Home Fleet from inside the heart of the Indomitable surrounded by a cadre of mages tasked with coordinating his fleet and spying on his enemies. The great sailing ship is often first in the line of battle, using its catapults and ballista to wreak havoc on their foes.
Commander: Bernard was once a man-at-arms for an Arameian nobleman. However, when caught romancing his lord’s daughter, he was banished to the north. There, he gathered a handful of rogues and peasants and instilled into them a measure of discipline.
Force Breakdown: 30 spearmen.
Background: The Freepikes certainly aren’t veteran troops and are only moderately reliable. They are, however, very useful in times of trouble for the nobles of . Erik Bjorsten employs them as a sort of ‘moving shield’ for his Frozen Guard. After all, dead mercenaries don’t need to be paid.