Armies

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Contents

Introduction

Whilst Emperor Amora liked to believe and have the people believe that he commanded vast armies of Legions this is somewhat further from the truth. Had his armies been as strong and flexible as he portrayed them he would have had small need to create the Mercenary Caste. The Empress takes a more pragmatic view and sees the Bastion for what it really is and has in the main discarded the terminology that her father Amora created and uses language from previous times, not feeling the need to change the past or hide from that which went before. Certain military men may refer to the Legions but in truth the Empire has far fewer standing armies than perhaps believed. However those hardened professional warbands, whether Mercenary Helds, private Warbands or Bastion Warbands provide the backbone of the Empires military might.

The Rabble

Spearmen

The bulk of the Legions are made up of spearmen. The spear and shield combination is arguably the best combination of arms in the Wall and even when a Sire pays and trains his followers to use different weapons the common term for a warrior (or soldier) is ‘spearman’ – or just ‘spear’. Spears are the backbone of any force and are reliable, solid men and women who can be trained in any fashion studied and directed by their Sire. Spears are paid for their efforts, being waged warriors who work for three years between signing on to a particular Host. They are experienced fighters for the most part but don’t get swayed by high causes – they may well be loyal followers of St. Michael, but primarily they are also loyal followers of St. Michael they get paid regularly.

Militia

Citizen soldiers, Militia are raised and formed by the cities Commisent and are purely part timers who put in hours for the good of their settlement. Whilst small groups of them act to support the Commisent’s concerns about threats to the city it is in defence of the city that they are most effective. Militia are surprisingly staunch defenders of their city walls and the settlement might even find some avenue or Faction Tag that adheres to them. They do not fight away from home though and most Militia are often members of the cities Guilds and other upright citizens. Militia can be effective in their own areas but man for man they are not a match for hardened Spears.

Levy

The dregs of war, Levy are swayed by preachers and demagogues, formed in masses to throw themselves at an enemy or root out that which their leaders tells them is wicked. Levy are most commonly found in the armies of the larger Churches where their devout faith makes them perfect sword fodder. More than once though a Levy horde has torn apart a formerly sturdy Wall as a skilled preacher whips them into a frenzy! Alternatively, and less often seen, are Levy’s formed by charismatic Hooded Men (warband tag) and these can actually be trained to some degree. These (often rural) bands are never going to take to open battle unless there is no other option but they can be excellent in defending the rural lands in much the same way as militia defend the cities. Don’t expect hardened ninja though.

The Spears

Though the pay for a Spear hasn’t gone up in over two centuries it is not the amount that concerns the average warrior - it is the regularity. Whilst on a war footing an Imperial Spear can expect to get eight centuries a month (about what most Guilded craftsman pay in taxes…) but normally this is halved when the Legion is merely killing time. And there is a lot of that. For most of the Spears the benefits come in regular food and barracks suitable for their status. Most of the time the Empire is not at war and the most active legions are those with lighter troops (for mounds of armour do not go well with endless marching) – so for a Spear of the Wall they often get to lounge about for months on end, only stirring when an enthusiastic new Master wants to see them upright and shiny once again. Spears mostly smoke, drink when given permission to and either blow their grulls each month or let the Legion save them for the three years.

Everything is supplied by the Legion. What uniforms there are, are a matter of similarity of style than any real attempt at conformity. In Halgar there is a seemingly never-ending supply of brown cloth that the Spears are given each season to fashion for themselves new clothes. Apart from that (and many of the Spears wear their own clothes anyway) what uniform there is can only be seen in the black surcoat of the Empire (surmounted by an arrow whose colour varies by Legion) and the style of helmet and shield widely used. Since the Empire has got stores of the wide-brimmed helm and triangular shields these are the most commonly used. Any other equipment is supplied by the Legion’s Sire. Often the Senator may grant the Legion funds to purchase armour but again, a suit of chainmail may be affordable for one adventurer - but times that price by several hundred and it gets worrying…

Legion Composition

Under orders from the Empress, Senator Trakand was instructed to study the documents she had found pertaining to the roots of the Legions. As both a name and a concept they far predate the Empire itself and it was the Empresses concern that they reflected still the shape and desires of Madrak through his influence with the then Emperor Cerus Amora. Whilst the term Legion (and the numbering system used by the military) was clearly something entrenched in the minds of the soldiery the actual organisation of said stood out at an angle to the rest of society. Much of the ranking system brought in by the early Empire was deliberately set up to put it at odds with the traditions of the Magiarchs, who themselves merely carried it on from earlier regimes, and thus show cleanly who were the ‘Loyalist’ Legions. It also pleased Madrak/Amora to remake the world according to their words as later typified in the Night of Levity. A Legion is made up therefore of the following:

The Host

Made up from between six to ten Helds (qv), the Host is realistically the largest single body of Spears within the Legion under the command of a Sire (qv). Formed of people trained to fight in the same manner it is often too big for anything other than rare battle and thus is broken down into its smaller parts as required.

The Held

Made up of sixty to a hundred Spears depending upon the age of the Held (for footsloggers or about half that for a mounted force) the Held is the most commonly seen formation within the Legions as a Held is sufficient to man a fort or organise an effective patrolling force. Under the command of a Master most Helds are used to operating on their own and many build up their own core of useful camp followers. It is not unusual for the Host’s Sire to make up one of his subordinate Held’s with his own Warband, acting as its Master on a day-to day basis. Such are known as the Grand Held and are the clearly the most famous, dangerous and determined of the Hosts warriors.

Free Helds

It is not unusual for a Host to have several Free Helds attached to them. Whilst still a part of the Legion the Free Helds don’t have quite the same glory attached to them as they are, by their very nature, different to the Traditions (qv) of their parent Host. Free Helds are used to fulfil roles not easily covered by the Host such that a Host of the Wall (qv) might well have a few Hound Helds with them to scout around, take broken grounds and generally skirmish. There’s often a mix though with the few Free Helds having to cover all the ground that might be needed. Free Helds are generally bunched together under a single Master and are a place where a master can learn the trade of the Sire and the Reeves that of the Masters without overly risking the Host proper!

Camp Followers

It is a rare Host that does not possess its own set of followers. Indeed, only if garrisoned for a long time in a decent sized city will there be no use for the sort of baggage train that clutters up the rear of most forces on the march. Tinkers, armourers, whores, wizards and washerwomen (to name but a few) make their way in the world on the tails of the Legions.

Rank and Authority

Whilst the Senator for War is the supreme military authority in the Empire he relies on a number of deputies to fulfil whatever roles he sees fit and recently posts have been scrapped so that he can delegate to two Warlords – to each of whom he’ll grant Legions to instruct. Within a Legion itself though rank is -

Sire

Or more correctly ‘War Sire’, the full title if often considered a bit much and most such leaders simply take the title Sire as it is in all ways equal in social rank to a Guild or Merchant Sire (see the previous Companion for more details). It is a Sire’s role to decide on overall strategy given his orders from the Senator. Although he may well act as Master to a Hold as well, the Sire’s job is to decide on what needs to be done and by whom amongst his Hold Master’s (strategy) – but then leave the actual how it is to be achieved to the person or people so charged (tactics). Although in overall command, once a duty is given to a Master the Sire is not supposed to interfere further beyond agreeing or disagreeing to any materials or support the Master may request.

Sire’s often make a point of not wearing any sort of uniform as they are supposed to be figures of distant myth to the common spearmen. The official badge of rank for a Sire is a wide, embroidered black sash worn across the chest from the shoulder, under the sword belt and with the tied ends hanging under the scabbard (or down the leg if such is not worn, or is done so at an angle). Aside from this a black wreath is worn about the helmet or forehead if so desired.

War Master

The most senior Master in the Held, the War Master is directly subordinate to the Legions Sire. Whilst he performs all the duties of any other Master in the Held the War Master is an intermediate rank where Master’s often learn the skills and develop the experience of a Sire. When the Legion needs to be split for different duties it is the War Master who takes command of those Helds not remaining with the Sire. There is not always a War Master within a Legion but in all cases the War Master commands one of the Helds just as any other Master in the Host.

Master

The Master of a Held is, as his name suggests, the supreme power within the body of a Held. The Sire may be a more senior figure but the common spearmen rarely see him other than from afar and the man who is truly the Master of their lives metes out all their lives, duties and punishments. As with Sire above, the rank is also a social title that appends to the beginning of the holder’s name. A Masters task is to accomplish whatever task is set before him by his Sire and never to contradict the more senior man in the presence of others. In private, a Master is expected to air his views of any matter he chooses – but conversely must always accept the final word of his Sire. Master’s often wear a more richly formed or well-made version of their followers dress though their actual badge of rank is a wide, black sash worn under the sword belt with the two ends tied and hanging to the left knee. If a helmet is worn then black feathers, a plume or a scarf are mounted on top.

Reeve

A Master is at liberty to assign the position of Reeve to selected Spears within his Held. Officially the ‘Masters Reeve’ such men are used to command sentry duties, carry out punishments or really anything the Master decides. Since a Reeve acts with his Masters authority they have the capacity to command anyone else in the Held, but no actual authority out of it (though clearly they are respected within their own Legion). A Reeve wears a black armband to signify his position.

Traditions

Traditions determine the style of a given held, there are 3 main Traditions. Whatever the conventional faction looks like it has one prime Tradition, one of the following in fact. Within these the borders can become more blurred as you’ll see – but as a basis point they are extremely different to one another. Within these Traditions though are the more specialist Paths that come through personal preference, training and equipment. Whilst it is possible to retrain warriors to a different path this will drive their original training from them – troops don’t multitask very well. Example Paths are added, but there are many more.

Wall

The most common, Legions trained this way take their place in the main bulk of the fighting as part of the Wall. Whilst there are all sorts of snaky bits that go before, around and after the clash of the armies Walls none of them will actually win the battle for a force for the Wall is not just the very guts of a battle but in most cases the battle itself. The various paths for Wall Hosts are all tough and it is here that your actual warriors will be found.

Paths include Guardian Helds that are excellent at defending a position, especially a fortified one. Iron Helds which are coated in armour and are used to blunt the best the enemy has and Shadow Helds which move as fast as Hound Helds about the map but can fight in the Wall (but are poorly armoured and don’t do the raidy skirmish thing). There are lots and each comes in the normal five stages that means that specialisation gets more flavoured with each level such that Guardian Helds end up equally good at attacking defences or even helping Craft Helds build war engines.

See also Jaeger, Light Wall and Heavy Wall

Hound

The Hound are the skirmishers, the archers and any foot troops that rely on covering large distances, scouting and generally harassing more than pure open battle. Hound do not take a place in the battle lines as they’d get slaughtered but they are excellent scouts, raiders and ambushers.

Paths include Skirmisher Helds (which are your traditional annoying force), Reaver Helds which sack, pillage and even bring terror to an area (in advance of the army and, usefully, behind it…) and more racial Paths such as Tunnel Fighter and Rangers. Hound Hosts are of course the coolest but they aren’t actually any good at taking and holding anywhere – and they really don’t want to fight fairly.

Mount

Cavalry. With the scarcity of horses in the Empire there are few enough Mount Helds though this is not entirely true for other lands where the Far North has its pony-tribes, the Baronies their cavalry and the Foe the weird variety of creatures that they use in much the same way. Mount can be excellent shock troops and the lighter varieties are the best pursuit option available but Mount studies are the most difficult to develop and the mostly costly in XP to exploit.

Paths include Chapter Helds (heavily armoured, often religious followers of knights), Gallopers (lightly armoured pursuers and patrollers) and Wild Helds (which live completely self-sufficiently, acting on the orders of a higher authority but able to live off the land when others rarely can).

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