What follows is an overview and breakdown of the armies of Eletreus, starting with the big two – the Imperial Aelutian Army and the Escian War machine.
THE IMPERIAL AELUTIAN ARMY
The Aelutian Empire has a professional standing army of approx 100,000 soldiers divided into 10 legions of 10,000 foot soldiers, skirmishers and mounted knights with 20,000 new recruits currently in training.
To become a soldier in the modern Aelutian army one must be male and 16 years or older, undergoing an intensive training period of 6 months by the end of which the raw recruits is turned into a hardened, but green, warrior – highly disciplined and physically at the peak of their performance. Upon graduation from the Imperial military academy in Central Aelutia (Calsley Fortress) they are provided a suit of heavy Aeultian armor and given a Coronatite Gladius, which will be theirs to keep upon retirement after serving 25 years along with a plot of land and other benefits.
Their equipment consists of their armor, uniform, sword, shield and 3 pilum on their backs (javelins). They are trained in many different aspects of warfare and can switch between standard battle formation to skirmishing upon command almost instantly. The concepts of versatility and utility are enhanced by their equipment. For example in addition to sword and shield, they can detach the handle of the gladius and attach it to a pole to create a long spear like polearm for dealing with cavalry. Against archers, they typically lock shields to create an almost impenetrable wall and send in heavy cavalry.
Soldiers are backed up and supported on the battlefield by the strategic use of sophisticated machinery with a high rate of fire that they wheel out onto the battlefield as well as by battle mages trained at Notarikon – and with only a few units can replicate the effect of thousands of archers. In close combat, they typically use solid battle formations and attempt to squash their enemies between the walls of shields and stabbing, slashing armor piercing swords.
Each legion of 10,000 men is divided into 10 cohorts of 1000 men, and each cohort is further divided into a century of 100 men commanded by a centurion, the lowest of the officer classes.
In addition to footsoldiers, the Aelutian Army also fields its own cavalry, the Cataphracts – mounted warriors using lances and long bladed swords. The Cataphracts also include the fiercely loyal Centaur Cavalry Brigade, some of the bravest and most battle hardened members of the Aelutian army that serve as shock troops and break enemy lines with the footsoldiers following in their wake.
The most prestigious members of the Aelutian army however are the Sky Templars. The Sky Templars are a holy order of Paladin knights who are mounted on Griffins and whose leader currently bears the holy Sword, the Seraph Aegis. While there are only 100 members of this order, they are some of the most experienced and skilled warriors in all of Eletreus, and because they are very hard to replace, are usually kept in reserve and only used when their casualties will be minimal.
Being a member of the Imperial Army is a position of high social standing – if a member is killed in the line of duty, their family receives enough money to cover their living expenses for the rest of their lives and the soldiers are trained not to leave any man behind, nor needlessly sacrifice the lives of their men.
Currently there are approx 100,000 legionaries in the army (10 legions of 10,000 each). Two legions are stationed to the North, one garrisoned and the other mobile, and protect the great western road to Silverleaf against incursions from the Badlands and mans the Northern defenses against the Northmen. Another legion is in Paragonia, and are assisting in the training of an additional 20,000 new recruits. The remaining 70,000 soldiers face off against a combined force of approx 100,000+ Escians at Windkeep Fortress and are encountering frequent supply problems as the Escians are directing their attacks against the supply lines and laying siege to the Fortress, which has changed hands twice this year alone and cost thousands of lives on both sides..
The Escians are a militant people with the highest per-capita soldier to civilian ratio of any civilization in Eletreus barring the undead armies of the Lich King. Soldiers are born into a hereditary military class and serve alongside their brothers, cousins and other members of an extended family and are trained in the art of their national weapon, the Castir, from as soon as they are able to walk. Unlike the Aelutian army, soldiers are both male and female, though the majority (75%) are male.
Wearing light armor and relying more on a fast and mobile fighting style, the Escians are masters of guerilla warfare and are not at all adverse to dying on the field of battle. In some cases, entire units commit to suicide missions from which they know they will not return, compiling a final battle poem before embarking on their final fight. Such warriors are extremely hard to defeat and are used as shock troops to break through enemy lines, attacking with a fury that causes even the most battle hardened Aeultian soldier to give pause.
In addition to their personal Castir, which is either made for them or handed down through the generations, Escians are skilled archers and horse riders, often using their light cavalry to harass and harangue the enemy.
Silverleaf has the third largest army in Eletreus, with around 25,000 trained soldiers, the vast majority consisting of archers, skirmishers and fast moving cavalry and cavalry archers. Despite being well trained, they are for the most part not battle hardened – though historically this has often been the case and they have a reputation for rising to the occasion.
The Northmen have an army of between 5,000 to 10,000 warriors at any one time – typically hovering around 8,000. Soldiers are often quite young and extremely aggressive, organized into warbands for the most part but capable of uniting and acting with surprising discipline. Due their physical size and demon inspired ferocity, it is said that one Northman is worth 3-5 Aelutian heavy infantry in close combat.
The LARGEST army in Eletreus is also the most inactive – that of the Land of the Dead, which boasts an army of 150,000 undead warriors.. Requiring no food or shelter, this army garrisons in huge numbers and most of the time, the soldiers are in a kind of stasis. Purely defensive in theory, if this army was ever mobilized the only thing that could hold them in check is the Holy power of the Sky Templars.
The Southern Kingdom of Lhasa has an unusual attitude to warfare, with only 14,000 full time professional soldiers (2,000 per province) – but each province can levy a militia of an average of twenty thousand men or more in times of need. With few external enemies, historically they have only levied militia during infrequent periods of civil war.
Most other Kingdoms have their own small standing defensive armies and militias – of these two are particularly noteworthy. Pomedica has the most modern army and a disproportionately powerful navy, thanks in part to the early adaptation of gunpowder weaponry. And finally, the inhuman hobgoblin army of Kharag the Magnificent and his 3000 loyal Hobgoblin warriors has taken firm control of the central Badlands and the worlds last known deposits of the magical wonder steel Coronatite – seemingly immune to the mutations that plague most human settlements in the Badlands.
MAGIC ON THE BATTLEFIELD
Magic can and often does play a critical strategic role in many battles – and its prevalence can make or break the outcome of a given conflict. However, as fully realized magicians are exceptionally rare, they are not common and used more to enhance an armies effectiveness, give it a strategic advantage and/or protect it against hostile wizardry rather than engaging directly on the battlefield, though the latter, when it does happen – tends to be spectacular.
Each legion has one fully trained battle mage, just one step down from an archmage. Escians shun the use of magic on the battlefield, and are largely immune to most effects with units supplied with defensive magical talismans. Northmen tend to be given short lived magical boosts from their Fallen masters, magical weapons of ill repute and war bands assisted by malevolent priests who serve their dark gods.
Necoromancers are the generals and commanders of the armies of the Lands of the Dead, and can wield tremendous power, able to re-animate the dead as they fall on BOTH sides of the conflict.
But in general, magic is used strategically – for espionage, communications (scrying mirrors are frequently employed to relay orders between generals and the administration for fast decision making capabilities), misdirection (invisibility and mass hallucinations) and summoning elementals and animating golems to fight alongside the flesh and blood soldiers.
There are currently three hot spots in Eletreus – the siege of Windkeep Fortress, the endless Northman invasion and the Orc pushback against Colonists in the New Territories in Thane.
Of the three, the siege of Windkeep is the most fever pitched – and what has been no more than a series of skirmishes and border conflicts has escalated into all out war. Currently between 50-70% of the Aelutian army is stationed in and around the area facing off against 50 to 100,000 Escian warriors and the fortress was lost twice in the early days of the siege but is now firmly entrenched and the war has shifted to one of attrition and disrupting enemy supply lines.
The second area is one that has not known peace for thousands of years, the border regions between Aelutia and the Land of the Northmen. Here some 2 legions are required at all times to both repel the continuous testing of the areas defenses by small scale Northman raids that can turn into a flood of warriors at the slightest sign of a chink in their armor and the need for extensive patrols to keep the Great Western Road to Silverleaf open against opportunistic bandits from the Badlands.
The Northmen themselves have no real fortifications in the area, but instead probe the eastern peninsula with their longships and have been known to land en masse and attempt to enter the lands beyond between Boltan Citadel and Baldon Fort. In addition to the 4 main fortifications in the area, the 2 legions who are stationed here also extend to fortifications along the great Western Road to the West of Tharfield Fort and into the nearby town and villages, all of which are semi-fortified.
The third and final main source of conflict currently in Eletreus is in the New territories and colonies of Thane.
For the last 30 years since the curse of Thane was lifted, opportunistic and brave, hardy individuals and families have moved in to the resource rich areas of the broken Kingdom – clearing away Orcs and other inhuman monsters who bespoiled these otherwise fertile and promising fields.
Aelutia has 2 territories in Thane, one officially sanctioned known as the New Territories and the other unsanctioned and technically illegal, the independent Northern Colonies. Silverleaf too has a modest colony that extends their borders, and has laid claim to the lands beyond up to the Vlecks river.
However in this year an unexpectedly large pushback by Orcs pouring out from the Broken Outpost and the Dark Harbor – the ruins of the ancient evil Thanish civilization – has seen the Royal army of Silverleaf called in to protect its new holdings and assist the other colonies. If not for the war with Escia, the Aeultians could easily send in a clearing force of soldiers to cull the Orcs back down to managable numbers, but with no available soldiers, has resorted to hiring mercenaries and receiving aid from Silverleaf.
For its part, the Silverleaf army – whose army of longbow men and women are largely green – has stepped up to the occasion. However, early victories have given way to a series of running withdrawls as a much larger, and more disciplined force pushes back.