Lands of Autumn: The Riverlands and the Bitter War Pt. II

Karaash stands immutable, an ossified leviathan squatting in the heart of the Lands of Autumn. Weathered by the long ages since the Calamity, Karaash is defined by its dogged persistence and utter stoicism in the face of whatever challenges the Age of Dusk throws at it. Indeed, when the Harrow Kings arose from the ashes of the Calamity to unleash upon the Lands of Autumn a reign of atrocity, it was Karaash and Karaash alone that resisted with any degree of success.

It is said that when the Harrow King Skraegh-Hannoeth marched upon the bejewelled palaces of the City of the Thousand Temples That IS The Shining Jewel in The Crown of Karaash the Proud and did lay waste to its garrison and took its population prisoner, he offered them clemency in exchange for a renunciation of their loyalty to Karaash and a pledge of eternal service. And it is said that Rathtip Pervudasan, scion of the Blood and Voice of Karaash, by his noble example, inspired the multitudes to renounce this offer to the last man. Skraegh-Hannoeth is said to have personally flayed each captive, and to have ended with the Voice, who never budged nor uttered a cry. It is said Skraegh-Hannoeth was so moved by his intransigence he wore his flayed face from thereon out and did turn around his host to prey upon the lands of the east instead.

So endures Karaash the Proud.

The Legions of Karaash:

The most common unit to be found in the legion is, unsurprisingly, the Legionary. They may be recognised by their ornate, feathered helmets, brightly painted shields and lamellar armour. The legionary is trained in use of the spear, scimitar, dirk and short bow, with officers bearing armaments forged from Karaashi steel where applicable. Their eery wailing songs of war and high-pitched battle cries may be heard from miles away. Each legionary wears a collar of Bronze that can only be removed upon his death, with a gemstone embedded for each ten years of service. Distinctions and medals are customarily tattooed upon the face.  Legionaries are 1st level fighters, with officers of 2nd-4th level. Troop quality is Average to Good. Morale 10. Penalties for desertion or disobedience are invariably harsh, ranging from mutilation to impalement. Legions that rout can expect to be “septimed,” meaning 6 out of 7 are killed.

Karaash makes frequent and horrifyingly effective use of its Dragoon companies. They are mounted upon the Kresh, a flightless predatory bird not unlike the phororacos or terrorbird with brightly coloured plumage like a bird of paradise. The Dragoons bear long lances with banners every bit as colourful as their mounts. Leather armour with chain-mail and conical steel helmets with mounted pikes is their protection. Face-paint and Kresh-feathers are used as rank insignia. Dragoons are 1st level fighters, with officers of 2-5th level. Troop quality is Good to Excellent. Morale 10 (8 unmounted). The piercing hunting cries of a Kresh charge will force the enemy to check morale where applicable.

Karaashi auxillia consist of its many indentured battalions, most of them levied from the Jungles of Gyrr. These lightly armoured troops (hide/cotton) are deployed in front of the advancing legion to harry the foe with spears, darts and slingstones with the aim to draw the enemy out of formation. Their cotton armour is daubed with pictographs drawn from the religious iconography of Karaash, giving them a distinctive stench that may be picked up by those displaying even moderate olfactory sensitivity. Punishment for fleeing is always the death by impalement of the entire company. 0th level, 1st level officers. Troop quality Untrained to Fair. Morale 9 (7 when not fighting alongside Karaashi troops). The Karaashi allow them to retain their cannibalistic practices, though any auxilliary feeding upon fallen Karaashi troops is punished severely.

The Iol – Atun (trans. Fire Blow/Cut/Blade) are an elite unit fielded only in Karaashi legions that are under the direct command of one of the Scions of the Blood (a rare honour, reserved only for those battles that are to be the glorious climax of a succesful military campaign or, more rarely, the mad whims of one of the Scions). The Iol-Atun are covered head to toe in bright red paste made from the fire-resistant Trashiq root , but are otherwise unarmoured, their only protection great wooden shields (also coated). Iol-Atun are shorn so they are almost entirely hairless. They carry bandoliers of containers filled with highly flammable naptha, stone maces dipped in slow burning pitch that are lighted when they charge and an astonishing variety of ornate torches. Charges are preceded by setting fire to the grassland in favourable wind conditions (check morale where applicable). The coating means they can absorb the first 10 points of fire damage and afterwards take half fire damage (and +2 to saving throws vs fire). Troop quality invariably Elite. Morale 11. Iol-Atun are 2nd level, with commanders of 5th level. Iol-Atun may be recognised by their burn-scarring and older soldiers often have damage to their eyes as a result of the heat.

The Karaashi, like any sensible civilisation, have a distrust for the power of sorcery bordering on outright hatred. However, Sorcery is a weapon too potent to ignore. Rather then relying on mercenary sorcerers of dubious loyalty, Karaashi sorcerers are exclusively drawn from the sage caste. They are blinded and crippled and carried into battle on heavily armoured palaquins, guarded by the Shiv-Assun, bastards and illegitimate offspring of the Scions themselves. By sorcerous sight and careful instruction from their caretakers, they may direct their powerful magicks at the foes of Karaash. Levels 5-12+. A signature sorcery of these wretches is the Body of Fire and Gold, an incantation that requires a cauldron filled with molten gold (circa 25.000 gp worth of gold), that is animated with the spirit of the Sorcerer. The body is of equal HD to the sorcerer, immune to nonmagical weaponry and fire, inflicts 1d10 damage (save vs spell or catch fire), MV as plate, 1d6 fire damage to anyone within 10 feet, attack as fighter of equal level. The Sorcery lasts as long as the Sorcerer can concentrate. After the incantation dissipates the gold may be collected, but doing so might take some time. It is rumoured the Opalescent Holdfast, domain of the Twin Emperor, holds a great pit capable of containing over 100000 gp worth of molten gold, which is animated by the combined spirits of his court sorcerers in the event of attack.

Most feared of the War beasts of Karaash are the rare Earthshakers, gigantic reptillian beasts (15 HD, AC (Plate) MV 30 or 120 charge, Tusks 2d12 or Trampling Charge 10d6 (save vs breath for none) or bellow 1/turn anything below 4 HD must save vs paralysation or flee in terror), crowned with armoured nests of archers and spearmen. Morale 12. Can contain over 30 troops. May be targeted with siege weaponry. Logistical restrictions means these behemoths are generally not fielded by armies of less then 3000 strong, and ham-stringing the food supply of these enormous creatures has become one of the few ways of effectively stopping them.

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