The Empire strides forth, the dawning of a new age has arisen as young Generals take hold of powerful Imperial armies and set forth to make their mark upon the history of the Empire.
In the ashes of the last Emperor’s death, the teenage Empress has made a ruthless name for herself, with the threat of rebellion to her vulernable rule, she has ordered the Imperial Talon’s to execute nearly half of the Imperial Militaries leadership and take numerous hostages to ensure compliance.
In this SD, you play an Imperial Fist, either a surviving member of the old establishment deemed too valuable to kill, or loyal to Bastion Gradun or a new Fist, promoted from within the military.
The Role of Fists throughout the Empire’s history has been either as Governors of territories, or leading one of the Tezlan Empire’s many legions. Now you shall lead one of those legions, to make a name for yourself in the history books and accumulate enough wealth for you and your men to retire in luxury or continue to serve the Empire, rising throughout the ranks until perhaps you are the First Sword of the Empire.
The Empire was formed from the ambitions of several men. An aging soldier, a ‘aspiring’ mage and an weary politician. Though many would recognise but one man, Emperor Coltanicus E’nathand. Who roused the soldiery, commanded the aspects and manipulated the councillors of Trezla, or so history would have it. One cannot be sure of the real path to power, only that it started in the city state of Trezla and ended on the island city of Corral, on the night of knives.
The Empire held within it’s grip the continents of Unta and Ebrona. It stretched its Talons towards Cruzon and Tempris also, with an embattled campaign also raging in the distant land of Assozorus. Within the central freshwater sea of Unta, the Empire was commanded from the capital of White Corral, a once thought imperivous city built on basalt, sheer natural walls of black obsidian. Once known as Black Corral, it is said the Emperor left it gleaming White with marble, a testament to the vast destruction wrought upon it during the infamous siege which made the Empire and could so easily of broken it. From E’nathands victory at Corral, rose the idea of Trezland dominance, doubt assailed it’s enemies and it was within this doubt E’nathand sowed his ultimate victory on the continent of Unta.
The Night of Knives
Though the Emperor’s body was never found, nor were the assassins ever identified though many were killed, he was assumed dead. Residing in the Imperial Palace, the magical defences were somehow breached and assassins poured into the Imperial chambers in their dozens, overwhelming the defenders and most likely killing the Emperor. Hero of the Empire Bastion Gradun however saved the heir of the Emperor, his adopted daughter, Elisann E’nathand. Sadly however, he was mortally wounded and died days later, leaving the Empire without it’s most precious General.
Continents and Campaigns
The continent of Unta is the central region of the Empire which arose from the city state of Trezla. Powerful Kingdoms and Confederations once ruled Unta, until the Emperor shattered them one by one. From the northern steppes to the southern port cities, he bound nomadic horse warriors, subdued entrenched cities and captured powerful fleets.
The Principle Regions of Unta are as follows:
The Eliskan Plains
The northern plains and steppes are home to numerous clans of horse breeders, living off the land for centuries, they have developed a strong cultural identity and powerful horse archers and light cavalry. In some ways, they were the most difficult to subdue, their unusual style of warfare and fragmented nature prevented singular open battle. But the Emperor’s resolve and the offer of financial rewards in exchange for becoming a ‘protectorate’ of the Empire were soon enough to convince them to accede to the Empire. The Emperor’s respect of their native culture enamoured the Emperor to them and they have provided more than a few Imperial Fists of their own over the decades.
The Western Confederation
Ruled by powerful merchant interests, the Western Confederation was divided, it’s greed dragging it in two directions. They were well aware of the financial benefits of an Empire, but torn by the fact they were unlikely to be placed at the top of the pedestal of power.
Black Corral was a city built in the volcanic caldera of an ancient supervolcano. On a steep cliffsided volcanic plug, a city was built, surrounded by a massive lake, rich with life. Considered impenetrable, Black Corral ruled a Kingdom that had often included the much battered city Trezla, a backwater port rife with pirates.
That the Emperor conquered Black Coral, shook the continent of Unta and provided the prestige, the fortress city and the material wealth that allowed him to conquer it. Though he stripped its coffers bare and left the city barely a ruin, he returned with an Empire and bestowed upon the city marble and gold in extravagant amounts, renaming his Capital, White Corral.
The Councillers of Trezla, were all former pirate lords and they ruled Trezla, ensuring its independence through control of the continents black market. How the Emperor exploited them is not fully known, but he gained their allegiance nevertheless and used their clandestine network to thrust many of his plans into motion. Trezla was ever only briefly the Imperial Capital, never a strategic port, it’s only real benefit was its seclusion which allowed piracy to foster. With the establishment of the Imperial Navy, Trezla is nothing more than a sleepy backwater city, famous only for its history.
Others Other various citystates, small Kingdoms and wild tribes existed and continue to have their own cultures within the Empire’s heartlands.
The Cities of southern Ebrona are jewels spread on a bed of sand, all tapping the vast underground river, that has given life to the region for generations. Once fiercly independent city states, they were bound together in a lightning campaign conducted by First Sword of the Empire, Bastion Gradun. The vast irrigation schemes constructed by the Empire supply much excess grain to the Imperial Capital and other parts of the Empire. With the death of the Emperor, several Ebronan cities are rising up in open rebellion, only the Continental Capital looks set to remain in Imperial hands, as garrisons are overwhelmed by fevourant locals
It was Cruozon that gifted the Empire it’s alchemical arsenal. A cold temperate continent, its boggy terrain and myriad forests gifted the locals a number of strange substances.
The Empire’s hold on southern Tempris is secure, through potentially precarious, the harsh campaign almost faltered in the face of the immense wealth of the Free Cities League. When the Emperor himself personally took charge of the Campaign and boldly crushed the city of K’valor, the Free Cities League were quick to offer tribute to the Empire’s hungry coffers, preferring brief destitution to the Emperor’s wrath. The conquered lands have long since prospered, the Emperor investing the funds much to the dismay of the northerners upon it’s conquered southern neighbours, soothing the populations and inciting disharmony amongst the north.
The Empress has little regard for the old treaty with the merchant cities and neither does her chief Advisor, Mallock Nobellius. It is rumoured legions set sail from White Corral along the Imperial canal to launch a surprise invasion from the north.
Assozorus is an alien land, ragged rock juts kilometres into the sky, while craters lie filled with murky water, frothing with algae. It’s inhabitants are sickly folk, wrought with strength endowing magic’s and clad in twisted armour of living bone, that cracks with agony at every strike. Assozorus is known as the short straw campaign, a bitter battle across a landscape who’s only worth is buried in the ground. Seemingly the only food sources in this devilish realm are the mushroom fields and algae choked lakes, a fact that has placed bitter strain upon the morale of soldiers, kept honest only by their increased wages, harsh discipline and a will to stick it to the locals. Those who serve on Assozorus are known as the Bonehunters,
Magic as exists in the world, comes to mortals through an Aspect, a facet of Crystal Prism at the centre of creation through which the primal force of magic flows.
There are innumerable aspects, though the main ones are listed below.
Aspect of Life: Allows for the healing of wounds and of ailments.
Aspect of Death: allows animation of corpses, communication with spirits and control over demons
Aspect of Fire: Powerful blasts of arcane fire, allows the summoning of fire elementals
Aspect of Sky: Allows control of air and of flight
Aspect of Shadow: Allows concealment and casting of illusions
While lesser use of the aspects requires nothing but concentration and energy from the body, High Magic requires the use of energeas stones, which are usually bound to a particular mage. Magic can be used until the energist is almost depleted, then carefully swapped to a fresh one. As energists are bound to the souls of the Mages that use them, a mage who uses magic beyond his means may consume his very lifeforce if he is not careful, killing him instantly.
The Vital Three
The world has immunerable resource, of vast and varied types. These however do not concern you overly, they are secondary objectives in your quest for power, as there are more immediate concerns for the leader of an army. Water, food and gil are the three vital components to keep an army functioning, water to drink, food to eat and gil to placate the material desires of men.
Water: Unlike fabled dwarfs, men cannot survive on alcohol alone and require plentiful supplies of water to stay alive, being alive constuiting a major part of a soldiers usefulness to any army.
Food: An Army Marches on its feet. Though without food soldiers are liable to gnaw on their feet, so it’s important to keep them fed.
Gil: Soldiers like pay, a lot. Without gil, they can’t get wenches, gamble or buy more alcoholic piss from whoever's selling. Sex starved, bored and sober soldiers are known to be immensely dangerous to their commanding officers.
The Not So ‘Vital’ There are various resources in the world that are not strictly vital to an army, but find utility nevertheless.
Energists: Energeas are relatively rare and are usually the preserve of only High Mages, who use them to wield strategic level spells, that are far more incrediable than the ‘cantrips’ used by cohort level mages.
Batch Size: Variable upon mustering
These are hastily put together fighting forces, usually made up of slaves, peasants and whatever lowlife scum you can dreg from your prisons. Handing them a few weapons and drilling them for a day or two costs a minimum of gold. Poorly disciplined with awful equipment they should only be used when you are in dire need. On the other hand, it is quick and easy to raise large numbers of Levies and can easily bulk up a fledgling force of more skilled warriors.
Batch Size: 1000
The Militia is a stopgap between Levies and truly professional forces. Drawn from towns and cities Militia are weekend warriors who have usually given up an afternoon or weekend every week in order to train and defend their home. While not as well trained as professional infantry, they generally armed with similar weapons to the lowest cost professional unit and suited to garrison duty.
Standard Infantry Cohort
Batch Size: 500
A common infantry, type, though less popular in Imperial home armies. Standard infantry are equipped with light to medium armour with a shield and armed with either a spear or a sword. They are relatively low priced, but disciplined forces with decent mobility.
Heavy Infantry Cohort
Batch Size: 500
Heavily armoured and armed with tower shields and swords, heavy Infantry are the main force of an Imperial army, who prefer their reliability on the battlefield. Suited to fighting with sword and shield to push back the enemy until they break, allowing lighter infantry elements to run them down.
Marine Infantry Cohort
Batch Size: 500
Lightly armoured often in scale mail or chain mail, Marine Infantry are a Trezland invention, armed predominantly with crossbows and long swords, they are a highly trained versatile part of an imperial formation and well suited to boarding operations and city fighting.
Batch Size: 500
While Sappers are inducted as Cohorts, they are usually spread throughout a legion to support individual squads, keeping them together is considered to be rather dangerous. They are experts at demolition, siegecraft and coming up with bizarre often dangerous ideas.
Batch Size: 500
Usually spread through a legion to support individual squads (thus in a legion of 5000, usually one cohort suffices unless you wish to increase the density of mage support) mages offer valuable services to their squads, from healing, to getting out of a sticky situation or combating other mages.
Batch Size: 500
Relatively mobile and lightly equipped infantry armed with ranged weapons. They are low cost infantry whose’s purpose is mainly to harass enemy formations with arrows, rocks from slings or more shorted range javelins and throwing spears.
Light Cavalry Cohort
Batch Size: 500
Imperial Non-standard Auxilaries
Imperial armies are based around a core of heavy infantry and standard auxiliaries such as sappers. However, Imperial Armies are often augmented with non-standard auxilaries, either mercenaries, recruited locals or sometimes even entire barbarian tribes who have recently acceded to Imperial ‘protection’, usually as a method to eliminate their rivals and establish themselves foremost in the new power structure.
Batch Size: 250
Trezlans have no concept of Heavy Cavalry, the Eliskan tribes are steppe warriors, with horse archers and light cavalry forming the ranks of their tribal armies. The Trezlans first encountered the formidable concept of Heavy Cavalry from the noble kingdoms of Tempris, who’s wealthy merchant families could afford to maintain elaborate armour and stabling for the mighty beasts required.
Batch Size: 250
Armed with powerful bows, these soldiers can deliver harrowing ranged attacks though they are not as common as skirmishers, being recruited from barbarian cultures and not a formal part of a standard legion.
Batch Size: 250
Though most Eliskan's are settled, some are not and Horse Archers form a strong part of their culture. Equipped with bows and light agile horses, these auxiliary forces are incredibly useful as fast skirmishers.
Batch Size: 250
Described usually dirty unwashed barbarians who engage in spirit magic and frantic totem pole waving, the reality can often be different. Sorcerers are mages who do not use the traditional aspects of magic and engage in a multitude of forms of spirit or earth magic and can be anything from a devout druidic shaman covered in furs to a dignified clan warrior, dressed in the finest of silken garbs.
Your Retinue are various hangers on and your immediate subordinates.
An Imperial High Mage is a true master of at least one aspect of magic. A formidable opponent on the battlefield, they are often useful at other more subtle tasks as well.
High Priests are usually respected figures and lend you considerable credibility with members of their religion, some also have magical abilities.
Master Black Talon
You have a Master Black Talon at your disposable, a useful tool and a dangerous partner, his loyalty lies ultimately with the Empress and he would have few qualms with slitting your throat in the night lest you become too ambitious.
Exalted Champions are brute warriors, able to smash apart typical cohorts of mere men. They are unsubtle additions to an armies prowess. Relatively rare in Imperial armies who distain individual valour in favour of cohesive discipline, some of the more unruly barbarian auxileries revel in them.
You’re holding a person who’s important to somebody and they’ll probably do at least some of your bidding to ensure the safety of their loved one/friend/etc. Holding hostages can be an important method of ensuring compliance from nobles and other important figures.
One of the more wild Sappers in the world has lent their talents and misfortunate accidents to your army, while you benefit from improved siege weapons and alchemical munitions, be weary of random explosions.
Cities in the world of Trezla, dominate the surrounding terrain. They are the focal points of power in any given expanse of territory. Often fortified with walls, they provide protection and political stability to a region and are the primary concern of invading armies, for capture and subjugation.
City Resources Cities have several resources, either from within the city, or from associated farmland. In a few rare cases where rivers or canals allow, food may come from distant stores, such as the Imperial capitals grain ration.
Food: This is divided into the cities grain stores and the typical output of its associated farms. Water: Stores/Source Gil: The cities coffers/Taxation Rate Prestige: The importance of the city and the prestige earned in capturing it. Potential Draft: Depending upon your actions and prestige, you may be able to impress some of the populous into your army.
Minor City Food: 25/5 Water: 25/5R Gil: 100/10 Prestige: One Sue Potential Draft: 5
Middling City Food: 50/10 Water: 50/10R Gil: 200/20 Prestige: Three Sues Potential Draft: 10
Major City Food: 100/10 Water: 100/10R Gil: 200/20 Prestige: Six Sues Potential Draft: 20
Regional Capital Food: 150/15 Water: 150/10S Gil: 300/30 Prestige: Nine Sues Potential Draft: 35
Strategic/Special Locations are various important pieces of land that require attention. This could be a river ford or bridge, a mountain pass or areas of special significance that require securing for military or economic (paying your troops) purposes such as a precious gem mine, source of alchemical materials, or perhaps a particularly (in)famous brothel (one Imperial Fist is famous for the fact his conquest route coincidently coincided with several famous brothels and drinking dens).
Warlord is a catchall term for your character. In this section you will create the initial parameters of your main character.
You have several ability categories, each with a dot rating of 0 to 6, with each dot representing an increase in ability. 3 Represents an average ability and you start with 16 dots.
Strategic Command: The Ability of your warlord to direct the progress of the campaign as a whole, seizing opportunities on a grand scale.
Tactical Command: This is the ability of your warlord to direct the battle itself.
Prestige: The current prestige rating of your Warlord, the higher the rating, the more respect he has attained and the more seriously his claim to fame.
Valour: Important for the morale of your soldiers, this measures your personal bravery on the battlefield.
Diplomacy: This is a measure of your oratory ability and political skill. It can be used both upon your own army and to persuade the enemy to surrender their city etc, or encourage locals to join your legion.