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

Update: EDITED TO TRY OUT NEW TERSE FORMAT.

The hosts of Gal’Alor currently contesting the riverlands, though often compared to a swarm of masked locusts by the local populace, are not without guidance or direction. Eight powerful men command the bulk of the soldiery within the Riverlands, with numerous mercenary companies, freebooters, volunteers and smaller armies operating in semi-autonomous fashion alongside of them. These are the champions Great Gal’Alor sends to wrest the Riverlands from the hated Karaashi.

(TERSENESS STARTS HERE)

Merchant Prince Illusir IV of Vadrir (Ftr 12) – The Rising Sun:

Merchant Prince of bountiful Vadrir. Assasinated/Ruined 5 of his siblings. Ambitious. The location of his kingdom ensures his trade will be sapped of profits via the taxations of his surrounding peers. Emptied coffers to raise great army to conquer/settle the Riverlands and return home laden with spoils.

Charismatic and quick-witted (Cha 16). Risk-taker. Takes to battle in Nzembarese armour (AC 0, negates magical bonuses to hit). Golden mask sculpted in own image and incorporates halo of blades. Always accompanied by cohort of elite slave bodyguards with no masks. Glorious in victory, terrible in anger. Leads troops from the front. Considered a dangerous radical by his peers. The city of Nol was conquered by his wiles, cunning and bravery.

Host: 10.000 strong. Battle-hardened mercenaries from the wars in the east. 25% civilian levies from Vadrir (very unusual in Gal’Alorian armies). Morale Great whilst the streak of victories last and the spoils keep flowing in. Has promised liege-lordship of conquered territories to his troops. Unusually well-fed and supplied for a Gal’Alorian force (caravans from bountiful Valdrir the envy of other forces. Troops are based in Tarentum, a frontline township.

The Riverlands will see him broken and trampled in the dirt before war’s end.

Lord Commander Rillis of Tal’Amor (Ftr 15) – The Seventh Son:

7th in the line of succession. Offered clemency by his more powerful brother. Past his prime. Capable general (many victories over the Mazhurians). Wife and children at home in his estate. Sent to the Riverlands to die by the machinations of his nephews and nieces.

Wiry. Wears leather armour of exquisite craftsmanship and looted Karaashi steel scimitar. Old but still in great shape (Con 15, Age 60). General humidity of the area causes joint pain. Not cruel, but desperation and lack of supplies have made him commit many atrocities against Riverlander and Gal’Alorian alike. Capable and meticulous if overly cautious. Prefers ambushes/subterfuge over brute force. Cut off from all aid, must forage/pillage/raid for supplies. Looked upon with contempt by his peers. Prone to melancholy and outbursts of rage. Has no hope the war will be won in his lifetime. Silver mask shows scratches from previous engagements, several gems removed to pay off Sial-Atun.

Host: Mercenaries 3000 strong (men have campaigned under him for years, loyal). 2 companies of Sial-Atun paid from his own dwindling fortune/spoils of war (will abandon him if not given adequate recompense). Rest of his forces have long since deserted. Force situated in inhospitable swampland technically behind the enemy frontline. Raids supply-lines and harries reserves.

Secret: Karaashi know of his situation and are attempting to bribe him into joining their side. He is considering the offer.
Complication: Swamp is inhabited by several Children of Autumn. They will begin hunting soon.

Lord Commander Vald of Karad’Syn (Ftr 1) – The Lecher:
One of many sons of the mightiest Merchant Prince of Gal’Alor, Vald is an effeminate pervert, sent to the Riverlands by command of the Prince among Princes. He is a coward, a drunk and a lecher utterly unsuited for the buisness of war.

Vald commands the largest host of all Gal’Alor, over 35.000 men, over half of them slave troops. He retains nine companies of the Sons of Morat to keep some manner of order within the ranks. Amply supplied by the vast wealth of his father, he keeps his base in the occupied city of Nol, which he has turned into a vast bacchanal of wine, orgies, animal-fighting, gladiatorial contests and other sordid indulgences. The doe-eyed boys and girls that make up his slave troops are the laughing stock of Gal’Alor and Karaash alike. He has little interest in the war, leaving the actual fighting to his subordinates and many advisors of the Purple Guild, who are using the population of Nol for rather more heinous purposes. He is looked on with universal contempt, but Nol serves as an important supply station for the rest of the host, thus he is at least given nominal deference. His troops are drunk and undisciplined. He thinks himself a king and is easily provoked to anger, but will back down if offered any sort of challenge. Thus far he has been content to send his men out to fetch more slaves for the festivities and supplies for the games. Several battles have been won by sheer brute force and attrition, rather then finesse.

Vald is a fat gluttinous oaf, dressed in a wide tunic of the finest silk. He is seldom seen without his Nzembarese concubine and Purple Guild advisor. His mask is made of gem-studded platinum and is shaped like a fat, ram-horned buddha.  He never goes into battle and would surrender if seriously threatened. If the spoils were to run out (unlikely), his troops would turn on him in a heartbeat.

The true power behind Vald is Nix Therak (Assasin [purple guild] 8), adept of the Purple Guild. His whispered words are the catalyst behind any decision of Vald. He is dressed in the manner of the purple guild, entirely covered in the purple cloth, his bird-like plaguemask a thing of subtle beauty. He seeks the apostate Kyras the Flayer, and would gladly sacrifice the lives of the entire army if the apostate is found and killed or preferably captured and interrogated first. The Sons of Morat are under his control.

The experiments upon the population of Nol have borne some fruit. Within the catacombs beneath the city, ravenous beasts with the faces and shapes of men are imprisoned within armour black as Final Night, waiting to be unleashed upon any who are bold enough to assail the city of Nol. He has several hundred of the creatures prepared thus far, and the largest supply of Nethrene in the Riverlands.

Cor-an-Obek-Sial-Atun-Loas-Ilurim (Ftr 12) [The One who Commands the Sial Atun in Glorious Battle]: The Golden Dog/The Burner of Cities/The Skulltaker

Cor-an-Obek, Commander of the Sial-Atun, has been offered vast wealth on behalf of the principalities to fight on behalf of Great Gal’Alor. Taking 2.000 of the unstoppable warriors under his personal command, he has set forth into the Riverlands to bring fire and war to the Karaashi (and all others who would contest his might). The burnt out husks of seven towns and the city of Imrin stand as a testament to his success.

Fearsome in his armour, painted gold, and adorned with the gilded skulls of his defeated foes, each one slain in sacred combat, the Golden Dog has become a sight to be dreaded upon the battlefields of the Riverlands. His true identity remains a mystery, for in twisted imitation of his Gal’Alorian paymasters he bears a golden deathmask in the image of Saetrik Nur, Harrow King and blessed first master of the Sial-Atun. Unlike the mercenary scum of his allies, the Golden Dog actively encourages his men to engage the Karaashi in honour duels before the battle proper, so their morale may be sapped and their spirits be broken. He has made a vow to leave the Riverlands victorious or nailed upon a crucifix. Feared by other commanders.

His host, though small, remains a potent shock-troop, capable of acting in concert with larger forces or on its own. Their cruelty and ferocity is by now, legendary.

Cor-an-Obek has heard the fireside tales of the Knight of the Sun and the Moon, a legendary warrior of unstoppable prowess said to appear on the bloodiest of battlefields, sometimes on the side of Gal’Alor, sometimes on the side of Karaash (or even the Riverlanders). Though they tales have been going round since the war began long decades ago he believes it to be true and seeks nothing less then to test his prowess against this mythical apparation, achieving death in battle or glory for the Sial-Atun.

The Hated Sorcerer Taal (Wiz 12): Tried out a new descriptive format.

The bottomless coffers of Gal’Alor reach out across the Lands of Autumn and draw in those willing to shed blood and commit atrocity in exchange for mere coin. From the distant Bleached Lands hails the sorcerer Taal, lending his talents in exchange for a treasure that could buy a kingdom.

Handsome, tall and muscular (Str 16). Spends hours each day in Astral Possesion. Finds omens in everything. Loincloth and enchanted staff carved from giant sequoia struck by lightning (traps souls on hit, husk becomes living zombie). Fasts often, eats no meat. Uses sorceries of fire often and indescriminantly. Uses empty husks as troops and can possess any one of them.
Knows Conjuration of the Immaculate Host (secret). Searches for ancient Sybarran Tomb with control baton to perform ritual, raise Host, conquer lands for himself and rule an empire of carrion and puppets (super secret). Loathed and feared by other commanders.

Host: 5.000 strong. Mercenaries (foreign/gal’alorian) and empty husked puppet men (all sides). Morale terrible. Sole purpose to delay enemies whilst the sorcerer rains fire down on them. Will use husked troops of the enemy side to sap morale. Special: Single Immaculate Host Legionaire functions as personal bodyguard/assassin. No one is aware of its true nature (Karaashi sorcerers suspect).

Lord Commander Tuxinat of Tal’Sybar (Ftr 7) – The Watcher. The Rearguard. 

Twelth in line for the throne of Tal’Sybar, defacto capitol of the principalities. Sent to keep others in check and watch for possible rebellion/secession. Ordered to ensure the war does not end before Illusir IV/Rillis have fallen and others are severly weakened.

Short, delicate, very fast and observant (high dex/wis, low con). Obsessive but unfailingly polite. Meticulous and detail-oriented. Careful. Eiditic memory. Ornate tunic and platinum mask without ostentation. Expert knife fighter (has been known to use poison/trickery). Extensive spy network in other forces.
(Secret) Plots have Vald assassinated and frame the Purple Guild.
(Secret) Intends to claim Riverlands for himself. Plots secret alliance with the Lord Rillis.
(Secret) Riverlander concubine has his ear.

Host: 8.000 strong. Elite companies of the Naked (voluntary slave warrior class who forego facial covering) alongside mercenaries (Tal’Sybar only). Acts as reserve force/rearguard. Morale good because of comparatively light duty. Highly compartimentalised to guard against betrayal. Treated with contempt by other forces. (secret) Employs the Assasin Mathematicians of the Three and Twenty Seven only against fellow Gal’Alorians/Purple guildsmen (secret). Employs the Purple Guild against Karaashi & Gal’Alorian commanders (to avoid suspicion).

Lord Commander Ithraxin of Il’Alor (Ftr 8) – The Blunderer. The Fading sun. The Madman.

Third in line for succession of Il’Alor. Has held the northern flank of the contested riverlands for five years. Known for losing ground and losing more men to reclaim it.

Brute of a man. Impetuous. Stupid. Brave. Sanguine. Charming and constantly active. Fond of gambling (terrible at it). Thick plate-mail and Karaashi-steel longsword (bought at great expense). Makes elaborate plans but ignores crucial details, causing them to fail often. Attitude of relentless optimism has spread the rumour he is mad. Considers himself the saviour of the Riverlands. Relatively well-liked by the Riverlanders for his altruism and harsh persecution of atrocities by his own troops (still hated). Despite failings as a commander, has managed small handful of victories by luck and boldness. In fit of misplaced generosity, has exchanged ornate golden mask for simple iron mercenary mask (golden mask lost in disastrous assault). Quietely loathed by his own troops and commanders. Retains huge harem of riverlanders/concubines. Treated with cordiality but subject of quiet mockery from his peers.

Host: 9.000 remaining (has lost over 20.000 in five years, many because of starvation/weather). Other commanders ensure only the worst mercenary troops are sent to the northern front. Insistence upon personal heraldry and custom uniforms impractical. Morale terrible. Desertion frequent, prompting harsh discipline ( companywide removal of left hand, front line combat duty afterwards). Several disastrous engagements would have caused his removal if not for pressure from the other commanders (no one wants to lead the northern front). Would have lost long ago if not for constant influx of fresh troops facilitated by other commanders. Does not know this.
Employs “volunteer” cadres of riverland troops (poor quality and morale).

Under Commander Fuego of Il’Alor (Ftr Lvl 10):

Lower nobility. Has held the southern front for 8 years. Numerous victories. Took over command after his liege lord, the honourable Ithkaeden, fell to Karaashi spears.

Piercing eyes. Deep, flat inflection. Lean and wiry. Body is ritually scarred in the manner of the Karaashi. Mask reforged to resemble Karaashi Scions of the Blood. Obsessed with Karaashi culture and tactics. Wears looted Karaashi armour and weaponry taken in personal duels of honour. Rumoured to have converted himself to the worship of the Ten Thousand Gods before executing Karaashi priest and burning down Karaashi occupied settlement (true).
Inspired commander, very adaptive. Hated and feared by Karaashi and his Peers alike. Distrusted by his troops, but victories speak for themselves. Strange obsession with Karaash deepens. Has no intention of leaving the Riverlands. Has begun emulating the human sacrifices of the Karaashi temples.

Host: 7.000 strong. Gal’Alorian mercenary troops and captured Karaashi slave troops. Morale average. Poor supply lines have made Fuego turn on and raid supplies from his own side if not properly supplied. Has on occasion burned his own supply depots to prevent desertion (fleeing troops will starve).
Inhospitable terrain ensures many bottlenecks and ambush sites, making censure extremely difficult. Troops are encouraged to wear looted Karaashi equipment. Discipline ensured by frequent executions/monetary reward/extra rations.

Despite all appearances Fuego will never join Karaash. Will fight them at every opportunity, and will extend the war if this means that he may continue his war.

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5 thoughts on “Lands of Autumn: The Riverlands and the Bitter War Pt. III

  1. This style works for you. Freed of excessive prose, your concepts become more clear and reference becomes possible. I still detect elements of your usual flourish in there and they are doing no harm.

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    1. Thank you. I’m working on improving my writing (and retroactively spellchecking my prior posts) and have of late tried to temper my often excessive purple prose with some discipline and efficiency. Brevity is the soul of wit, as a guy named William Shakesman once said. I still struggle with the tendency to convey too much information in a single sentence but I feel that with practice I can improve.

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      1. Disregard my previous post. My arms have grown weary from casting the boulder-sized pearls of my elfgame poetry, every last one akin if not superior to the liturgical ambrosia from which William Shakesman spun his golden works the Rogue Warrior series, afore the unwashed, lice-ridden and pipe-smoking proletariat. Like Zarathursra, I have consented, with no other motivation then the instinctive pity of the sighted man for a blind, leprous beggar, to descend from my lofty olympian perch to mutilate the gilded sculptures of my dreams into the stunted, malformed rocks fitted for consumption by you, the dull-eyed Anglo-Saxon rabble that composes the bulk of my audience.

        [I never said you were not right sirs]

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