The Imperial Army
Since the earliest days of the Empire, much of its strength lay in its military might. As Medaka unified the various kingdoms and states into the one great Empire, he also saw the need to unify the various fighting forces and armies in to one great army. Advised by Lord Almeida Kassar, formerly of the Tawdonian army, Medaka was shown the three main reasons why this was necessary. First, an army is only as good as its discipline. Without a unified command structure, rigorous training regimens, and a common knowledge of usage of tactics and strategies, the army was little more than a glorified band of ragtag warriors (albeit a very large band). Second, for the various units to work together, there had to be a sense of unity and camaraderie amongst the soldiers. After all, the army was now made up of various troops which not long earlier were serving the Pentaverate states in wars against one another. Thirdly, by unifying the armies into a single body, rather than maintaining the old feudal troops, all authority and command ultimately emanated from the Emperor, not the traditional Lords and nobles the soldiers had followed in the past. In this way, Lord Kassar began the foundations of the great Imperial Legions which would, over centuries, become the vast war machine of the Empire.
In the earliest days of the Imperial Army, there was often a great variance in the weapons and armour used by the Cohorts, as most continued to use what was their traditional regional equipment. Lord Kassar saw this as a possible advantage, and even went so far as to encourage this. He then began to mix the various regional troops, blending artillery, light, and heavy Infantry into the Cohorts. Often, the artillery and light Infantry came from the local tribes and more “savage” cultures, while the heavy Infantry generally came from the larger cities, though this is not always the case. In many cases, large numbers of these troops were organized into several Cohorts, with the Cohorts being spread throughout the Legions. So, for example, you may encounter the Gallinule Lancers, 8th Cohort, in the 4th Legion, and the Gallinule Lancers, 3rd Cohort, in the 7th Legion.
The basic unit of the Imperial Army is the tent or squad. A tent consists of nine men, who live, eat, slept, and fight together. When in the field, each squad share a tent, a donkey and cooking equipment. Each squad contains eight Legionnaires and one Sergeant. Groups of nine tents are organized into a Column, with the nine Sergeants reporting to one Principle. Six Columns make up each Cohort, led by a Centurion, and nine Cohorts comprised a Legion, commanded by a Legate. So in total, a Legion is made up of just over 4,400 men, including all officers. Attached to the Legion would be several hundred additional men serving as armourers, weaponsmiths, bakers, medics, scribes, and other support staff.
A typical Cohort divided its Columns into three groups. Two Columns would serve as artillery and range fire, typically armed with bows or crossbows, but also trained to act as light infantry should they be overrun or required for reinforcements. The next two Columns would be the light Infantry and skirmish troops. They generally wore light to medium armour and, in addition to their melee weapons, carried some thrown weapons as well. They would serve as scouts, advance parties, and reconnaissance troops, focusing on speed and mobility rather than sheer force. The last two Columns would be the heavy Infantry, generally armoured in full plate and often armed with polearms, and equipped with a melee weapon and shield as well. These were the Cohort’s shock troops, serving as the heavy might. They were most often the last into battle, more often guarding the Cohort’s base camp until the enemy was pinned down and engaged. Their speed and mobility were sacrificed for sheer staying power in battle.
Within each Legion, the first Cohort is made up of specialists including siege-craft engineers, military alchemists, healers and, increasingly since The Plague, battle mages. Ranks differ in the specialist cohort as does the pay. The other 8 Cohorts are made up of legionaries. When it is necessary to split up the cohorts, the columns of the 1st Cohort can be assigned to travel where ever needed.
During war, the 486 man Cohort, along with its support staff, would make camp every night while on march. Guards would be posted from each of the six Columns. Each daybreak, the camp would be broken down and the march resumed. As they neared their objective, semi-permanent camp would be made, and light Infantry would begin the search of the area for enemy forces if necessary (in the case of an assault on a known location or settlement, camp would be made just outside the target). At this time, the heavy Infantry and artillery troops would remain in camp until the target was located. Once the target was located, the artillery would be deployed to “soften them up” prior to the full advance of the heavy Infantry, with light Infantry often serving on the flanks to dispatch any enemies who were routed by the main force, or prevent flank attacks from enemy troops. This system could be used with as few as one Cohorts, or several Legions in concert together.
Joining the Imperial Army
There are two main methods through which men join the army. A small group volunteer. The volunteers are mostly men who currently have their citizenship but can not afford to renew it. They view joining the army as preferable to becoming a slave up for claim. The majority joins through the levy. New soldiers are levied from the rich as part of their taxes.
A new recruit with in his first year joining is called a Tyro. Tyros receive no pay beyond the food and board. Once this training period is over they become full Legionnaires.
Legionnaires are expected to provide their own armor. All Tyros are provided with a sword but these are of very poor quality and most will save money to replace them if they desire to survive battle. The poor qualities of these weapons are so legendary that the term “Tyro sword” is used as a general way to insult the quality of someones weapons.
Leaving the Imperial Army
Once in the army there are only two ways to get out.
1) Citizenship: If at any time, a soldier raises enough money to buy his citizenship, he is free to leave. However, many stay. For most of the soldiers the army has become home and citizenship is seen as a way to become a commissioned officer.
2) Time Served: Those soldiers who serve 25 years are allowed to go. They are given special papers making them a citizen for the rest of their lives.
At its height (prior to the Plague) the Imperial Army had 11 legions. There are currently 5 but they are all at full strength.
- 1st Legion: The Legion of the Emperor – Guards the Imperial City and other important centers
- 2nd Legion: The Legion of the Sun – Guards the Southern borders
- 3rd Legion: The Legion of the Sand – Guards the border with the Wastelands
- 4th Legion: The Legion of the Snow – Guards the Northern and Northeastern borders
- 5th Legion: The Legion of the Eagle – Guards the Southeastern borders
- 6th Legion: The Legion of the Bear – Currently Defunct
- 7th Legion: The Legion of the Great Tower – Currently Defunct
- 8th Legion: The Legion of the Flame – Currently Defunct
- 9th Legion: The Legion of the Owl – Currently Defunct
- 10th Legion: The Legion of the Forest – Currently Defunct
- 11th Legion: The Legion of the Plains – Currently Defunct
The Imperial Navy is called either The Twelfth Legion or The Legion of the Shining Sea.
Over the centuries, there have been many notable Cohorts, such as the following:
Hailing from the woods at the mouth of the Menhaden River, near the coast of the Northern Sea, the Watch are generally armoured in leathers and hides, armed with short bows, dagger, and hand axe. Most members are excellent trackers and scouts, specializing in woodland skirmishes.
White Wolves-Light Infantry
Originally from the areas in the Northern Wilds and south of the Frozen Marsh, the Wolves are skirmish fighters and raiders. Armoured in studded leathers and ring mail, adorned with furs (most often wolf pelts), they are trained in battle axe and throwing axe. Standard tactic is to launch several volleys of throwing axe before charging with the battle axe. Formation is very loose, and these troops serve best in light woods conditions.
Gallinule Lancers-Light Infantry
The city guard and army of old Gallinule traditionally consisted of light to medium infantry, armoured in chain mail and shield, and armed with long sword and short spear. These troops were very well trained in tight formation battles as well as loose formation skirmishes. They serve equally well in open plains and light woods, since Gallinule did once have large tracts of woodlands prior to the advance of the Great Waste.
Jungle Cats-Light Infantry
Although the appearance of the Kaern has prompted many to suggest that this unit be re-named, the Cats date back to far before the Plague. Made up originally of warriors from tribes around the borders of the Southern Forest, they specialize in scout and skirmish maneuvers. Often totally unarmoured, they generally are armed with javelins and short sword. This unit is renowned for its ability to move quickly and silently through even the thickest forest, and is very often used for night maneuvers. They are also experts at living off the land, and not a few are well versed in the uses of Alchemy for healing and poison.
The old House Guard of Tor’Jadin centuries before the Plague, the unit survived only because so many were stationed elsewhere when the great city fell during the Plague. These soldiers were some of the most elite fighting men in the Imperial Legions. Traditionally armoured in plate on chain, they fought with halberds or poleaxes. Although only suitable for large open battle areas, their courage in battle is second to none in the Legions. The Aer’Tor have the distinct honour of saying that never in their history have they retreated from a fight.
Hammer of Fairlock-Heavy Infantry
Originally an ancient order of knights from Fairlock, the unit now is made up of common soldiers as well as a few remaining knights. This unit is not known for its tight formations, fighting with two handed sword as the weapon of choice, but their ferocity in battle is legendary. Generally armoured in plate on leather, they are known for charging opponents of much greater size. Although honourable warriors, they are not afraid to retreat, and often charge, inflict massive damage on larger forces, then retreat under the cover of artillery to regroup, and prepare another charge.
Although by far not all of the legions units, these are some of the ones which have risen to notoriety over the centuries. It may be of interest to note that none of the units hail from Tawdic, and the reason for that is simple. Tawdonians do not serve in the Imperial Army, but in the Tawdic Guard.
The Effects of The Plague
The Plague had a devastating effect on the Empire, and naturally, on the Legions. Since living conditions in military camps were never great at the best of times, the Plague spread rapidly through the ranks. As was the case in the larger cities, entire Columns and Legions were wiped out by the fast spreading illness. However, three things happened to help restore the Legions to a semblance of their once greatness. The first was the continual infighting in the Senate, both before and after the Plague. With heavy fighting and fears among the Senators, Councillors, and even Emperors, it was seen that the best way to settle some fears was to build a bigger, stronger army. The Army was immense prior to the Plague, and even after the heavy losses they sustained, a sizable fighting force was still left behind. Continual effort to grow the Army again following the Plague helped to bring them back to the once mighty military machine they were. Also, problems of succession in places such as Menhaden and Thulud led to drafts and more growth in the fighting forces. And as these cities were brought back under Imperial control, so too were their armies and soldiers.
The second event to aid the re-growth of the Legions was the child birth programs established by Sidram III. During the years of 357-364, under his reign, the Empire grew, and with it so did the Legions. Under Emperor Dante, the Empire again saw a growth spurt, and again, so did the Legions. Even during their greatest crisis, the desertion problems of 380, the Army maintained its order. Through combined programs of harsh penalties for desertion, and propaganda campaigns aimed at reasserting that the growth and survival of the Empire and the Legions were codependent on one another, the Army held together, and somehow, against odds, continued to grow.
The third element which added to the growth of the Army was the appearance of the Fey. From the Imperial General on downwards, propaganda and misinformation, often aided by the Church, was used to instill a sense of necessity to maintain the strength of the Legions as the last defense against the encroaching Fey. By using the Fey to take the place the Confederates once held as the great enemy of the civilized Empire, the Emperor managed to hold the Army together (though this garnered no small amount of opposition, particularly from Tor’Jadin and those who supported the Fey there). Although this stance was short lived, it did assist in reducing the desertion rate and encouraged many young candidates (particularly from rural areas) to enlist. By 397, Emperor Zuffrin denounced this position, risking the wrath of the Church, and formally apologized to Tor’Jadin, going so far as to invite the forces of Tor’Jadin to join with the Imperial Legions, to serve as Auxiliaries under the command of the Governor of Tor’Jadin.
Today, the Imperial Legions are alive and well. With Supreme Grand Commander, General Torvald Isenulf, at their head, the Army is once again the armed, armoured backbone of the Empire. Working together with the Tawdic Guard, the Imperial Auxiliary Forces, and the various Orders of the Church, the Imperial Legions once again march out across the world, for the glory of the Empire.
The Imperial Navy
The Imperials do not have a strong tradition of seamanship. They would much rather fight a battle on land than on sea. The Navy mainly exists to combat piracy and to support the other activities of the army. The sailors are trained to transport both troops and supplies. The Imperial Navy is divided into two main fleets. One is stationed on the Northam Ocean and the other one on the Minor Ocean and East Hurn Sea.
No matter its size, each ship is considered equivalent to a Column and is captained by a Principal. The men on the ship are divided into three watches, the members of which eat and sleep together in the same manner as an army squad. The ships are grouped into rough Cohorts roughly equaling the same number of men as a Cohort in the army.
The only true regular Auxiliary forces the Empire maintains are the forces of Tor’Jadin. Most notable among those are the Tor’Jadin Lions, an Elven regiment of great renown. The Lions are believed (in Tor’Jadin) to be the greatest fighting force in the world, and few seek to question that opinion. Rarely called upon by the Empire, other than to deal with “Fey issues”, the Lions serve the governor of Tor’Jadin as the elite force of the province.
Other regiments include the Bloodmoon Orcs of the Rocklands and a small band of Imaskeri in Secaucus, in the Great Wastes. This forces are used more for information and advance scouts on the frontiers of the Empire than for actual battle troops, but at times Legionnaires may be sent to assist them and gather reports.
In addition to the Tor’Jadin troops, in times of great need the Empire will also employ mercenaries on a case by case basis. Most often this is for a specific task, such as when the sailors of the Crescent Islands were hired to transport troops across the treacherous waters of the narrow channel separating the Northam Ocean from the Great Ocean, or when the Steelpick Clan of Dwarves were brought in to attempt an expedition into the Thunder Mountains. Most often, these Auxiliaries are not even Imperial citizens, and are attached to Imperial troops as support.
THE TALON: The Knights of NOS
Since the emergence of the Aspected One in 44MC, the followers of NOS have long known the strength of faith was a power that creates and destroys empires. Long years of persecution and hunting by the pagan churches of the time showed the founders of the Nosian religion that a fighting order was required to defend their faith and chosen way of Life. Until 64MC, when the Nosian religion became the official religion of the Empire, ex-soldiers who were baptised into the ways of NOS were employed as its protectors. These soldiers trained, slept, ate and lived together at all times, to form a powerful bond between themselves and their place with NOS.
In 77MC, Primus Vadoulli Sildor saw the potential within the soldiers of NOS – having once been a knight of the empire himself – and set about creating the Knights of the Talon, NOS’ holy knights and defenders of the faith.
Following ancient codes of honour and conduct, these noble knights were the sword arm of the Primus, performing bodyguard duties to the Imperial noble families, to guarding the holy Cathedral of NOS in Tawdic. During these times, the Talon was well-respected by all, feared by the unjust, and a growing power within the empire.
The life of a Talon knight during these times was long and arduous. Despite hours spent in prayer, training and learning, only the “cream of the crop” made it into the knighthood. Inner turmoil within the Empire and the church also led to many a Talon knight of these times being laid to rest. These sacrifices lead to the imperial decree that ANY member of the Knighthood of the Talon would be granted a full citizenship in the empire without cost. This practice holds even to this day.
Eventually, the Knighthood of the Talon grew to command great power and influence. It could no longer avoid the political eyes of the Empire and years of war and civil unrest followed. It led to the death of the inner circle of the political empire, and naming of the Primus of the Nosian church as leader of both the Church and the Empire. This was the turning point in the once pure knighthood.
The rank structure of the knights is based on a factor of Five. Why it is so has been lost in time but the tradition survives to this day.
A Regular Knight without rank is simply a Knight of the Talon. Four Knights of the Talon are lead by a fifth Knight who bears the title Templar-Knight. The group of Five is called a Fist. Five Fists comprise a Flight and are lead by an Archon-Knight. Five Flights make up a Garrison and it is lead by a Commander. There are presently three Garrisons active within the Empire. These are commanded by the Grand-Marshal, the most Blessed of NOS’ Knights, and he reports directly to the Primus. Sildor Garrison has the distinct duty of residing within the Cathedral of NOS in the Capital City. Tannok Garrison is based in Battlekeep and maintains order on the Frontier. Sidram Garrison’s primary function is training and recruiting of new knights. They run the School outside of Tawdic. There are always three Fists patrolling the Empire recruiting from town to town while the remaining two are used as Instructors. The instructors are mostly made up of older knights or those wounded beyond Battle fitness. Meant to be an honour, most Knights look at a posting as an instructor as a step down, preferring the life of Combat. To a Knight of the Talon, there is no greater honour than to give his life for NOS.
Becoming a Talon Knight
To become a Talon Kight you must be:
- A devout follower of NOS
- A Citizen of the Empire
This is followed by 4 years of formal training made up of a 1 Year Squirehood under a recognized Knight and 3 Years formal knight training in Tawdic. While not a prerequisite, it is common for the squires to be younger sons from noble or rich families as the training is expensive.
Knights of the Talon are permitted to take a “Sabbatical” once every 5 years in order to reflect upon their performance of the duties of NOS. Only during times of war can these Sabbaticals be interrupted and the knight be recalled. During these leaves of absence, the knight is expected to travel and discover if he is truly fulfilling his task in NOS’ plan.
Once a month, a Knight of the Talon must fast for a 24-hour period, drinking only water and contemplating his following of the Code and Virtues. He is not restricted to the temple but cannot travel more than a few kilometers that day. He can only engage in combat to protect himself or others under his charge. He must strive to maintain calmness in his manner and thought. It is believed that only through the monthly ritual that the Knight can truly dedicate time to bettering himself and thus better serving NOS. These fasting times are called “Cleansing” and it is believed that during these times that the Knight actually is “seen” by NOS.
All of the command positions within the Knighthood are held by knights from noble houses. Even the devout knighthood is not immune to the power of the gold sovereign. Many years of schooling and expenses in obtaining the prerequisites dictate that it is so. Even finding a teacher with the ability to instruct at that level can prove an almost impossible task, thus a noble house’s resources and influence can be of no small benefit.
Talon Knight Code of Conduct
The Knights of the Talon live by a very strict set of Codes and Virtues that they must follow in their day to day lives. Being living representatives of NOS’s teachings, they must strive to be their best and set an example for all others. Although the ancient vision of the founders of the Talon Knights seems lost due to corruption and political ambition, there are a few who still uphold the code of old, although most must do so in secrecy to prevent persecution. Scrolls dating back to the dawning of the Nosian religion list the codes that Talon Knights swear to uphold and live by even today. Most have found ways to pervert even these holy laws.
- Defense of any Charge or duty until death.
- Lawful Service rendered without question.
- Courage and bravery in performance of duties.
- Respect for all peers and equals.
- Honour and obedience to those above your station.
- Understanding and patience to those below your station.
- Scorn for those who prove lowly, ignoble, dishonest or cowardly.*
- Courtesy to all ladies, be they higher or lower of station.
- Truth and honesty in all words and actions.**
- Death before dishonour or cowardice.
- Wisdom and military prowess before and during battle.***
- Personal glories and thus glories for NOS in combat.
- A knight’s word is his bond. *
- Loyalty to one’s God before mortal matters or concerns
*Knights of the Talon will NEVER remove their armor to hide who or what they are, or for stealth and surprise. They understand that spies are a necessary evil in times of war but only tolerate them at a distance. They will not tolerate known thieves, liars, cheats or cowards.
**Knights will never tell a falsehood but rather use what is referred to as “Knight-speech”. This is a way of saying something so as not to offer offence or disrespect. Example, A noble lady has dyed her hair blue and placed a bird’s nest in it because it is the “Trend” in Tawdic. She asks a Knight of the Talon what he thinks, and he may respond, “My Lady, you will certainly be the talk of the other ladies you encounter today”. The receiver of Knight-speech may draw his or her own conclusion.
***The Plague ravaged the ranks of the Knighthood as well as its pool of resources to draw soldiers from. Wasted lives or equipment is not acceptable unless for a greater cause.
The Talon Now
The Knights are a powerful force against the enemies of the Nosian religion, both outside and within the Empire. Their longstanding feud with the Confederacy is rumoured to be in question within the Cathedral of Tawdic. It is spoken in hushed tones that the fight is of more benefit to the Empire than to the Nosian Church and that Talon lives and resources have been squandered to build a larger Empire and not to bring the Truth of NOS to the Confederates. This is only rumour and tavern talk.
History of the Guard
In the early days of the Empire, as Lord Almeida Kassar unified the Imperial forces in the name of Medaka, he encouraged the Emperor to only allow those of true Tawdic blood to serve in the capital, particularly in the Emperor’s palace. And so, it was decided that the Imperial Legions and the Tawdic Guard would forever be separate. Although the Tawdic Guard follows the same structure as the Legions, it is comprised of much smaller numbers. In total, the Tawdic Guard only amounted to five Legions, divided into two groups. The first was the Tawdic City Guard. This was made up of three Legions, and was solely responsible for maintaining the peace and protection of the Capital. Easily recognized by their white tunics, the City Guard enforced law and order in peace times, and defended the city in times of war. While any Imperial citizen could join the Army’s Legions, only a true Tawdonian could ever serve in the City Guard. The remaining two Legions of the Tawdic Guard were the Praetorian Guard. In their purple capes, the Praetorian Guard held the sole responsibility of protecting the Emperor and his family. For centuries, these two units changed little to none.
Then and Now
Throughout all of the conflicts, infighting, and difficult times, the Tawdic Guard survived. The City Guard was more necessary than ever, as Emperors changed almost yearly, the population was stricken by plague, the Legions of the Army crumbled, and war erupted between Imperial cities. Today, they are still highly visible throughout the capital, keeping the peace, enforcing the laws, and protecting the people. They serve as the city’s police, fire brigade, prison guards, and at times even magistrates, judges, and executioners. In order to enlist, a person must be able to prove at least five generations of Tawdic blood line in their family. Terms of service range from ten to forty years, and during this time, the Guardsman, their spouse, and their children are exempt from the ten sovereign citizenship fee as part of their benefits. Retired Guards often go on to become local magistrates outside of the capital, and their judgment carries a great deal of weight with Imperial citizens both inside and out of the Empire.
The Praetorians are the elite even amongst the Tawdic Guard. Garnered from within the City Guard, these soldiers serve for life. The Praetorian Creed places the unit above all other allegiances, and all swear a blood oath to the Emperor. Due to the high turnover of Emperors, as well as the Praetorian presence in all aspects of the Emperor’s life and dealings, all also swear an oath of silence, allowing them only to speak with other Praetorians. In this way, any information they may be privileged to during their term of service never leaves the unit. Rituals are performed to enforce this blood oath, and the penalty for breaking these is final death. On rare occasions, a Praetorian may be relieved of active service, most often due to illness or injury which prevents them from being able to serve. In the past, this relief of service used to come at the hands of a blade, but today, they are allowed to live even after their release from the Guard. However, they are not allowed to leave the Capital City, and must maintain their vow of silence. They may also be recalled at any time.
Today, the City Guard is led by Senior Legate Marius Tyr of House Daoud. A veteran of the Guard, he is a just man, who keeps the peace of the capital with unwavering iron rule. He answers directly to the Emperor alone, and his authority supersedes even that of General Isenulf’s, although the two cooperate quite closely and maintain an amicable relation. The Praetorians are commanded by Honour Commander Iberiano Debrez, who has held the position for over three decades. An aged man, he served as a City Guardsman during the Plague, and moved to the Praetorians in 361. Little is known of him outside the Praetorians, other than that he has served the Emperors faithfully for his entire career.